This past week, reports surfaced that the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) was exploring taking over the management of the Catskills’ troubled state-owned and -operated ski area, Belleayre. Thursday, in a press release, Coalition to Save Belleayre Chairman Joe Kelly cautiously endorsed this possibility. He called this moment “a turning point,” and went on to add that the DEC is “too busy and too distracted to properly operate a ski facility.”
In an interview on NYSkiBlog last year, Kelly’s frustration with DEC management of Belleayre was quite clear. While not directly suggesting that ORDA run Belleyare, he touched upon how a closer working relationship with the authority could benefit all three state-owned mountains.
In the Coalition press release, Kelly says that he thinks most Belleayre supporters will favor the idea of ORDA management, but he expressed caution about how and when the transfer might take place. “We are endorsing this because we want a voice in our future — a voice we didn’t have with the DEC,” he added. “If Belleayre is going to ORDA, there must be local representation on the ORDA board.”
“We would want to know what they have in mind about that before giving our blessing. We are also very, very concerned about the employees on the mountain. They have made huge sacrifices. They have done incredibly great work under the most difficult circumstances possible. They have earned our loyalty and we want to be sure there is labor stability in whatever new entity operates Belleayre Mountain.”
“We bring proximity to a huge metropolitan skier base and tremendous skier loyalty to them,” said Kelly. “They give us an organizational structure that exists for the purpose of running public winter recreation facilities and a track record of success.”