Greene Co. resorts feeling blue over "unfair" Belleayre competition

By Jay Braman Jr.
Greene County interests remain relentless in their efforts to put Belleayre Mountain’s finances under a microscope. Last week that county’s legislature adopted a resolution urging Gov. David Paterson to sign a bill establishing an independent commission to examine competition in the state’s outdoor recreation industry.
The bill, adopted last month by the senate and the assembly, would establish a blue-ribbon panel to examine the extent of advantages that state-owned outdoor recreational facilities have over privately owned businesses.
More importantly, the commission also would make recommendations to the governor and state legislature regarding methods to promote fair competition in the outdoor recreation industry.
The bill, which is aimed squarely at Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, has reached the governor’s office but has yet to be acted on.
The Greene County resolution deals largely with competition between Belleayre in the Ulster County Town of Shandaken and the privately-owned Hunter and Windham ski facilities in Greene County. It says the state-run Belleayre “continues to operate by giving away thousands of complimentary lift tickets, significantly reduced promotional tickets, discounted lift tickets and specially priced ski days, all of which factor into Belleayre continually operating at a deficit and are uncommon practices that are not conducive to running a profitable ski resort.”
The giveaways and discounts have led to increased skier visits at Belleayre at the expense of Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl and Windham Mountain, the resolution states.
Coalition to Save Belleayre Chairman Joe Kelly reacted with increased frustration to news of the state legislation. “This legislation was pushed through by Greene County real estate interests in protectionist efforts to grab an ever greater share of the skier visits to the Catskill Region,” said Kelly. “We call on Governor Paterson to veto this legislation and urge all Belleayre Mt. supporters to call and e-mail the governor on this matter.”
Despite requests, the Ulster County Legislature has not taken a stance on the matter.
Kelly says people who want to contact the governor may write to Governor Paterson at the State Capital, Albany, NY 12224, or call his office at 518 474-8390. They should ask for a veto of Senate Bill 6835b establishing a state commission to examine unfair competition in the outdoor recreation industry. To e-mail the governor, they can go the link on the Partners for Progress website at www.supportthecompromise.com. More information on the efforts of the Coalition to Save Belleayre is available on the group’s website at coalitiontosavebelleayre.org.