(file photo: Ski Big Tupper)

Big Tupper to Reopen This Winter

Tupper Lake, NY – A team of volunteers has confirmed that it will run Big Tupper ski area in New York State’s northern Adirondacks this season.

Members of Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving Their Economy (ARISE) announced on Friday that they’ll operate Big Tupper again this season after keeping the resort dark last winter in the face of financial and legal challenges. Those challenges, however, haven’t disappeared, and they indicate that even with an all-volunteer staff it will cost over $100,000 to open and operate the ski area this winter. Lifts have been inspected, trails are being mowed, and the ski area’s operating application to the Adirondack Park Agency has been submitted. After all of that ARISE had enough money left in the coffers, boosted by selling a groomer last year, to open Big Tupper once again this winter. They’ll still hold a couple of fundraising events, including the upcoming OkTupperfest at the ski area on Sept. 28, to help with some of the larger expenses, including insurance and grooming.

(file photo: Ski Big Tupper)
(file photo: Ski Big Tupper)

ARISE first reopened Big Tupper in the winter of 2009-10 for the first time in nearly a decade, and by the following season had three of the shuttered ski lifts back up and running as an amenity associated with the proposed 6,000-acre Adirondack Club & Resort (ACR) project. According to the project’s plans the ski resort was to be rebuilt with replacements for the ski area’s existing lifts as well as new lifts and trails and a replacement base lodge. The project also called for construction a new marina on Tupper Lake and housing at the resort that would consist of up to 206 single-family and 125 multiple-family residences as well as a 40-unit inn and 15 new single-family Great Camps. Over 4,000 acres were to be preserved as open space.

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The ACR proposal was approved by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) in January 2012. Two months later, PROTECT and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the APA, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Preserve Associates, the group led by Michael Foxman as developer of the resort, challenging the APA’s approval of the project by alleging that illegal negotiation took place between counsel to the developer and APA Counsel and Senior Staff while working out the final language of the APA’s decision and permits to the satisfaction of the developer, and in violation of numerous other APA regulations.

Big Tupper lost money in each of the three seasons operating under ARISE’s purview as donations continually declined. Along with the financial obligations, the pending litigation challenging the APA’s approval of the ACR project was enough to dissuade ARISE from opening Big Tupper in 2012-13.

With the lawsuit still pending, this year’s solution centers around an all-volunteer operation, eliminating the ski area’s four paid positions. ARISE remains optimistic that this will be the last season that they’ll have to depend upon volunteers and donations.

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“Even though the operation is all volunteer, the people involved bring incredible experience and knowledge about the ski industry,” said ARISE Chairman Jim LaValley. “And even though the ski experience will be a no frills operation, it will provide a great ski experience.”

Big Tupper will not be selling passes in the pre-season this year, but will instead wait for enough snow to arrive before offering any ticket sales. Day passes will cost $25, and ARISE is working on discount pricing for books of five or 10 passes.

“Because we do not have snowmaking, we thought the best financial approach for the skiing public is to wait until we have enough snow,” explained ARISE Board Member Russ Cronin, Jr. “We are hoping for a great skiing winter.”

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