Business community hoping for holiday snowfall

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By Joe Moskowitz
“Mother Nature hasn’t been our friend for the past three years,” Margaretville businessman Peter Molnar told the News last week. That statement is both a weather report and a financial barometer indicating how much (low) pressure local businesses are under.

At least one forecaster is predicting a moderate storm for the day after Christmas and that would be welcome news for the area’s economy.

There was very little snow until late in the winter two years ago. And then came Hurricane Irene and almost no snow last year. And so far this year, local businesses are dealing with the after effects of Hurricane Sandy and virtually no snow so far in December.
The Catskill Region was spared a direct hit from Sandy, but the storm still created financial damage in the area. Many businesses, including Molnar’s Margaretville Motel and Margaretville Mountain Inn, depend heavily on customers from downstate and New Jersey, communities that were ravaged by Sandy.

Many people, Molnar says, aren’t coming up here because they must deal with problems at home, and some of those who were spared the storm’s wrath are flying west instead of coming to the Catskills. He says it doesn’t cost that much more and good ski and snowboard conditions are virtually guaranteed.

There are certainly no guarantees of great ski conditions in this area. Belleayre and Plattekill were open last weekend, but with no natural snow and with less than ideal conditions to make snow, neither area was close to being fully operational.

Bring it on
Marybeth Mills, owner of Peekamoose Restaurant and Tap Room in Big Indian says,” We are extremely weather dependent at this restaurant.” She said last year was particularly challenging with hardly any snow or ski tourism. But she is optimistic. She expects more people will discover that there is terrific skiing here in New York.

Corine DeBari, co-owner of Oakley’s Place in Arkville says their business has been steady, despite the lack of snow, but she says there aren’t enough people around for all of the businesses to be busy, and that, she says, is what we need.

Unfortunately, inside this dark cloud lies another darker cloud. And that dark cloud is another remnant of Hurricane Sandy. Molnar says advance reservations at his and other area lodging facilities are down. And that includes the vital Presidents’ Week break. He says that’s because many downstate schools will remain open in order to make up for days lost because of Sandy.

This gloomy picture can change if Mother Nature does what Jack of Arkville Bread and Breakfast says: “Bring on the Snow!”