By Edith Tucker
The Berlin Daily Sun
GORHAM — Jason and Kara Hunter prepared for the New Year on Dec. 10, 2016, by buying the 28-acre Sunset Valley Girl Scout Camp at 34 Jimtown Road, next to the 755-acre Moose Brook State Park.
The couple, who in 1995 bought a house in Berlin, renamed the place Hub North, had it surveyed by Burke York of York Land Services, and successfully went before the city's planning board for site plan review to change its use to commercial.
“We’ve described what we’re planning here — six acres for development as a unique accommodation and gathering and event space and 20 acres in current use.
An existing pavilion with a working fireplace and marvelous view of the Howker Ridge, Mount Madison and Mount Adams that is located on a large relatively flat space will become a multi-functional space, including a kitchen, where groups of 25 or 30 people can gather for a meal or party under a roof, Jason explained.
They have already done work on an existing two-story building with what will be a first floor of shared spaces, plus some private bedroom space. Kara and Jason have brightened it up with paint and refurbished two multi-stall bathrooms.
A tenant remains on the second-floor in space into which Jason and Kara will some day likely move to become resident managers.
A spacious shared kitchen and very large living-dining room are also available as shared spaces in this large well-maintained building.
These facilities will provide support for guests who rent some good-sized tents and yurts on wood platforms — glamorous camping or “glamping” equipment that will feature king- and queen-sized beds with high-count linens. These will likely be available for short-term rentals and a “soft” opening some time in June.
“We’re thinking in terms of a five-year build-out with lots of opportunity to get feedback,” Jason said.
Up to 10 yurts, high-end tents or other unique small outdoor bedrooms can be “sprinkled” around the edge of the six-acre open field, surrounded by woods that will provide “a private feel,” Kara noted.
Campfire rings remain in place.
Both entrepreneurs noted that this is a big undertaking that they expect will evolve as they learn what their customers — outdoor enthusiasts who hike, mountain bike, canoe and kayak, backcountry ski, snowshoe and flyfish — most want.
“We think there is also a demand for some rental meeting spaces where businesses or organizations hold meetings and arrange for a simple catering service with coffee and muffins or quiche,” Kara added.
A former barn will eventually be converted to a large short-term family rental space that could accommodate three generations of vacationers.
Hub North’s skiing, hiking and mountain biking trails link up with the extensive trail system located in Moose Brook State Park. Moose Brook runs through the park and, after passing through a shallow warming pool, feeds a swimming area with cool, clear mountain water.
Perkins Brook runs along the edge of the Hunters’ property.
“We envision Hub North providing a comfortable park-like retreat for outdoor enthusiasts,” Jason said.
“We have WiFi and cellphone service and the appropriate facilities so customers can contract with local caterers or restaurants for special meals or events.
The infrastructure is good; Sunset Valley, for example, already had two septic systems in place.
“We stayed at places like this in New Zealand — called backpackers’ hostels — when we came back from the Antarctic,” Kara explained.
The couple went down to the ice intermittently from 2000 to 2011.
Jason and Kara plan to continue to run Simple Structure, their very successful carpentry and construction business.