Highmount, NY – A budget deal proposed by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and now approved by the New York State Legislature will transfer operation of Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in the Catskills from the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA).
ORDA already operates both Whiteface Mountain and Gore Mountain Ski Centers in the Adirondacks. In explaining his decision, Governor Cuomo earlier cited economies of scale, efficiencies and synergies that will reduce the taxpayer cost to operate Belleayre.
Legislation to authorize the transfer or Belleayre Mountain Ski Center to ORDA will be included in the final State budget. The authorizing language is contained in the agreed upon budget bills S.6260C and A.9060C. In details of the deal released by State Senator John Bonacic’s (R-Mt. Hope) office on Monday, one additional ORDA board member will be required to hail from each Delaware and Ulster Counties. One of the independent state authority’s two vice chairs will have to hail from one of those two Catskill counties as well. ORDA’s Community Advisory Board will increase from 15 to 19, with two of the additional members appointed by the Delaware County Board of Supervisors and two by the Ulster County Legislature. A local ORDA office will be required to be located at Belleayre.
“I am pleased that we were able to work with the Governor to better ensure a strong future for Belleayre. Belleayre has always been a tourism priority and a job creator for the Catskills. The priorities the Senate sought for Belleayre, were achieved as part of the final resolution,” Senator Bonacic said.
Ulster County Legislature Chairman Terry Bernardo added, “Belleayre is responsible for many jobs in Ulster County. Belleayre and the surrounding region were being bled to death by an agency that treated Belleayre like a piñata intead of the tourism asset that it is. We can do no worse under ORDA than we did under the DEC, and I believe we will do much better.”
“Governor Cuomo has given Belleayre a new direction and we look forward to a new and brighter future for the region,” said Joe Kelly, chairman of the community group Coalition to Save Belleayre, who added that the DEC was not in his opinion really interested in operating a ski business. “Our area has had the twofold effects recently of a cataclysmic flood and a seriously challenged local economy. The Governor was with us during the floods and, by this action, has provided us with the tools to move forward economically. We thank the Governor for his ongoing focus on our historic Catskill region.”