Oct. 8, 2008: Belleayre review provides no answers

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To The Editor:
Wednesday, Sept. 10: In the early afternoon e-mails begin to circulate stating that the Fall Festival at Belleayre Mountain will not proceed after 29 years. This came from word of mouth from a DEC representative who stated this was a collective decision between Albany DEC and the Belleayre administration.
Thursday, Sept. 11: e-mails indicate that The Coalition to Save Belleayre had a regular scheduled meeting for Saturday, Sept. 13 at 9 a.m. at the Lower Lodge and this would be an ideal time to attend and show support for the ski center.
Friday, Sept. 12: the Times Herald-Record reports that on the previous day Maureen Wren, a spokesperson for DEC states “There will be change at Belleayre, the extent is being worked out.”
In the same article a vendor, who has sold wares at the festival for many years, states that it costs DEC approximately $23,000 to host the festival and that the revenues lost are more than $70,000 above the cost of the event.
Later that Friday afternoon an Albany DEC news release states the 29th Annual Belleayre Fall Festival will be held at a new location. The event will be a partnership between DEC and the Delaware and Ulster Railroad in Arkville. It further states that Belleayre Mountain representatives will also be on-site to provide info about tickets for the upcoming ski season.
Saturday, Sept. 13: a crowd of at least 200 people rallied at the lower lodge to show support for the ski center and the Coalition to Save Belleayre Group. There was a diverse group of speakers ranging from politicians to skiers. Not to be seen anywhere were DEC officials nor Belleayre administrators. Comments and answers would have been welcome by all present.
Wednesday, Sept. 17: A Kingston Freeman news article asked DEC spokesperson Maureen Wren why the festival was moved. She evades the question with this: “The railroad had offered to host it at their location, and we agreed.” She went on to say that the budget-cutting decisions were made inclusive of those who are in charge at the ski center. The next sentence says that the Belleayre Superintendent de-clined comment. Why?
Saturday, Oct. 4: A sign at the intersection of county Rte. 49A and the entrance to the upper Belleayre Mountain Ski Center Lodge indicates a “reception” is being held. Further investigation indicates a private wedding is being held at the summit lodge. A chair lift is in operation with attendants, two “lift maintenance” personnel and a person serving in a supervisory capacity. A Belleayre security vehicle and a maintenance pickup truck were also seen in operation.
Comment: Don’t “we the people” deserve some direct answers from NYS DEC and/or their superintendent at Belleayre regarding not only this ski season but also the “day to day” operations? Does it make sense to cancel a profitable Fall Festival weekend for thousands but yet host a private wedding for a handful of individuals?

Jerry Fairbairn,
Margaretville

Editor’s Note: Mr. Fairbairn is the supervisor of the Town of Hardenburgh.