Catskills reacts to news of $8 million in funds for Belleayre upgrades

  1. In a statement applauding the funding, assemblyman Kevin Cahill credited Belleayre's supporters for making it happen -- and played a little fast and loose with local geography. (Belleayre's not exactly in Phoenicia, but hey, it's pretty close.)

    "Assemblymember Kevin Cahill joined others in applauding the inclusion of additional capital resources for the Belleayre Ski Center. Originally passed over in a recent announcement regarding funding for the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), which oversees and operates the resort, Assemblymember Cahill, Senator James Seward and others rallied the community and supporters to demand that the promise of support for Belleayre be kept. The commitment was made when responsibility was transferred from the Department of Environmental Conservation to ORDA. Each year since, legislative representatives have had to fight to include support for this significant local economic engine.

    "Belleayre is the jewel in our beautiful Catskills. It is also the center of economic activity along the Route 28 corridor," Assemblymember Cahill said, "This multi-million dollar commitment, when implemented, will bring the Center to a new level. Together with the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center, the good work of regional economic development and environmental organizations and the rugged spirit of the people in and around this Phoenicia attraction, we all have reasons for great optimism," he concluded."

  2. Jeff Senterman, director of the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, applauded the announcement in a statement:

    "​I am thrilled to see that Governor Andrew Cuomo is supporting improvements to​ ​Belleayre Mountain, a major economic driver for the Central Catskills region​. ​These improvements will increase skier visits, thereby helping our communities, our local businesses and our residents.

    ​I believe it's also important to recognize and appreciate how ​our Catskills community pulled together to let Governor Andrew Cuomo ​​know that this was a priority for our region.​ Working together as a region to speak with one voice on priorities can and does make a difference." ​

  3. Peg Ellsworth, director of the Arkville-based MARK Project, said that the revitalization of Belleayre needs to happen in concert with other efforts to make the Catskills a better tourist destination. Here's her statement:

    "This is certainly a component of much needed funding for tourism sites in the Catskills. Now it's time to connect the dots and recognize our potential as a destination. However, we also need to accept our deficiencies and work to improve our other assets while connecting our Main Streets, our agricultural community, our lodging facilities, and our hospitality industry in a sustainable manner. This needs to happen with respect for the history of of our beloved Catskills, while helping shape the future with innovative approaches to economic development. It is a tough nut to crack, but with plenty of effort and plenty of patience, I am confident we can make progress."

  4. State senator James Seward applauded the funding, and took Gov. Cuomo to task for leaving Belleayre out of his ORDA announcement in January:
  5. "ALBANY, 02/16/17 -- State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I/Ref – Oneonta) today stated his support for the $8 million funding award for Belleayre Mountain Ski Center included in Governor Cuomo’s 30 day amendments to the 2017-18 executive budget proposal.

    “I am extremely pleased that the governor is righting a wrong and proposing a significant state investment in the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center,”
    said Senator Seward. “The $8 million award earmarked for a high-speed gondola and other needed upgrades will help transform Belleayre and make the ski center a more attractive year-round destination.”

    Several weeks ago, the governor announced $20 million for upgrades at ORDA-run facilities at Gore Mountain and Whiteface Ski Center, but no capital budget funding for Belleayre. Senator Seward immediately pointed out the inequity and joined local advocates for Belleayre in encouraging the governor to invest in the Catskills.

    “New York City skiers are consistently driving past Belleayre on their way to New England, taking their tourist dollars with them. Investing in Belleayre will change that trend, leading to more visitors to the Catskills and a boost to the local economy,”
    added Seward.

    In 2015 the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) approved and issued a permit for the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center’s unit management plan for expansion and modernization.

    “Belleayre’s improvement plans are ready but they will be stranded at the bottom of the mountain without state support. The state must make a strong commitment to this vital economic development, tourism, and sport mainstay,”
    Seward concluded."
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