In the just-released budget proposal for its coming fiscal year, the state of New York proposes transferring control of the Catskills’ Belleayre alpine ski area from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA).
ORDA was originally founded in 1981 to manage the venues of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, including the Olympic Sports Complex (Mount van Hoevenberg and the sliding tracks), Whiteface Mountain, and the speedskating rink, among others. In 1984, ORDA took over Gore Mountain in North Creek.
If the budget is approved the transfer from DEC to ORDA would transpire at the end of this ski season. ORDA’s fiscal year ends on 31 March.
Although it’s over 200 miles from ORDA’s Lake Placid base, the move is proposed as a cost savings by New York State. While ORDA CEO Ted Blazer has said that ORDA’s goal would be to run Belleayre profitably, it lost $1 million last year.
“The SAGE commission, put together by Gov Cuomo, is looking at efficiencies in government. If we’re going to run [Belleayre], we’re going to try to run it profitably. Our goals are to run it in the black, not the red,” Blazer said in an interview.
ORDA’s last fiscal year ended with a $13.7 million loss, despite increased revenues and aggressive cost-cutting. The loss is less than the previous year’s $18 million loss.