Belleayre Coalition Cautiously Supports ORDA Plan

Belleayre logoThis 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.”

3 comments on “Belleayre Coalition Cautiously Supports ORDA Plan

  1. With skier visits through the roof, I just can’t see how Belleayre could be in trouble. I know the employees have given up quite a bit. What does the ORDA have to gain with the sight? I know this isn’t a political website, but I’d be happy if hands were changed to prevent any housing development on the ridge line of HighMount that simply smacked of inside deals and nepotism.

  2. From Wiki: Belleayre Ski Center, in Catskill Park in the United States, is owned and operated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Skier and snowboarder visits have grown from 70,000 in 1995 to more than 175,000 in 2007.

  3. Over the past couple seasons, I was told that they’ve been in the 165,000-ish range. Of course, as everyone has noted, that figure was certainly helped by discounted tix. But as Joe Kelly pointed out in the press release, there is an extremely loyal clientele base at Belleayre, one that I don’t see heading over to Hunter or Windham on a regular basis even if Belle were to eliminate most of the discounts under ORDA. That’s the interesting thing about the four Catskill ski areas — each one targets a pretty specific demographic/skier type. Plattekill is the closest demographically to Belle but that extra 25-minute drive between Belle and Plattekill is IMHO what really kills Platte’s ski-day numbers.

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