Local business association wants longer ski season

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By Jay Braman Jr.
The Belleayre Region Lodging and Tourism Association has launched a drive to convince the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to reconsider plans to close Belleayre Mountain Ski Center early this season.

The state-owned facility, which usually closes in mid-April, is slated to shut down before the end of March this year as part of a cost-savings announced last fall by DEC.
The ski center attracts over 175,000 visitors a year to the mountain, who lodge, shop, and dine in nearby towns, villages and hamlets, providing revenue for the local and county government and supporting hundreds of local jobs. Last October Belleayre supporters fought the plan to close early, saying it would be a severe blow to the region should the ski center not operate for a complete season, but to no avail.

While the DEC would be the agency to make a decision about prolonging the season, the business association is urging skiers to contact elected officials on the matter.
“We here in the Catskills need Belleayre,” stated association leaders in a newsletter distributed Monday. “We ask that you contact the governor and your state legislators and senators to ask them to re-think their decision to close Belleayre two weeks early this year. April has excellent spring skiing. Please e-mail them and tell them that you want Belleayre to stay open for the remainder of the season and that is important to the local community. We need the help of everyone of you visitors to the Catskills to keep this area prosperous to provide you with the vacation time you need all year-round.”

Tony Lanza, the superintendent of Belleayre, could not be reached for comment. However, Lanza said last week that he was considering asking for an extension for this season should the weather stay cold.

He also reportedly said that Belleayre has been having a good year with skier visits comparable to recent seasons and that the facility’s revenues will exceed its expenses this season.

“Visits have been on par with what we have had the past few seasons,” Belleayre spokeswoman Pat McVitty said. McVitty would not comment on Lanza’s other statements.