Belleayre officially shifts to ORDA

By Jay Braman Jr.
Belleayre Ski Center is officially under new management this week, and the man in charge of the facility spoke before the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce membership week in Kingston to assure those listening that Belleayre will cooperate with the privately owned ski centers in the Catskills.

Until last Thursday Belleayre had been under the control of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. But in the spring, Governor Cuomo called for the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) to take over operation of the ski center.
After months of work on the details of that arrangement, the transition has become effective, and all Belleayre employees now work for ORDA.

Speaking to a full room at the Holiday Inn Wednesday, ORDA President and Chief Executive Officer Tad Blazer said that there remains “uncertainty” about how ORDA will handle staff concerns. His remark came in response to a question from Shandaken Town Councilman Alfie Higley, who said that he been fielding concerns from employees who fear for their jobs and also fear wage reductions for those that remain.

Regional cooperation
But Blazer did speak with certainty about the relationship Belleayre will have with private ski centers like nearby Plattekill Mountain in Roxbury and both Hunter and Windham mountains located in Greene County.

There has been a feud of sorts between these private sector establishments and Belleayre. Four years ago State Senator James Seward, who represented the towns of Windham and Hunter, called for a probe into what he described as unfair competition in the state’s outdoor recreation industry, pointing out that Belleayre was offering cut rate admission prices that nearby privately owned ski centers could not match.

Blazer said that this is new era though, and he does not see these other ski centers as competition.
He said that very soon the leadership of all four facilities would meet to discuss joint promotions, because the real competition is in places like Vermont and New Jersey.

Partners in snow
Calling Hunter, Windham and Plattekill “our other partners in snow,” Blazer said it was time to move forward and not look back.

“We’re not going to pick on each other,” he said.
Steve Slutsky, who operates Hunter Mountain, stood up in the back of the room and said “we’ll be looking forward to working with you.”