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Gore Mountain is an anchor for Warren County's winter economy. Photo: Gore Mountain website
Gore Mountain is an anchor for Warren County's winter economy. Photo: Gore Mountain website

Advocates worry Gore Mt. could get short-changed in ORDA transition

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The Olympic Regional Development Authority will begin operating the Belleayre Mountain resort in the Catskills later this year. That's a huge change for the organization, which had focused exclusively on Adirondack venues, in Wilmington, Lake Placid and North Creek.

Once Belleayre is added to ORDA's list of venues, two new members from the Catskills will sit on the organization's board.

But currently, only one board member represents communities in Warren County and the North Creek area. As Andy Flynn reports, some Gore Mountain advocates say they want more representation on ORDA's board.

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Reported by

Andy Flynn
Adirondack Correspondent

When business leaders in North Creek heard that ORDA was taking over the Belleayre ski center from the Department of Environmental Conservation, they realized ORDA’s operating funds would now include one more facility. And they were concerned.
 
The Gore Mountain ski center is a major part of the winter economy in northern Warren County, and without snow, there’s no business.
 
Last year, Gore added 160 snow guns, and the timing couldn’t have been better. There was hardly any snow this past winter, and Gore needed those extra guns to stay competitive. So when much of the North Country didn’t have snow, Gore had excellent coverage on most of its trails. And that brought skiers to town.
 
Members of the North Creek Business Alliance want to make sure that type of investment continues. And it will, according to Gore Mountain General Manager Mike Pratt, who said, “Gore is ORDA, and ORDA is Gore.”
 
When the DEC and ORDA finalize their transition, Belleayre will be sending two members to the ORDA Board, one each from Delaware and Ulster counties. And one of them will become the board’s second vice chair. 
 
Right now, Robert Flacke is the only Warren County resident on the ORDA Board, and there’s room for one more, according to Mike Bowers, a co-chairman of the North Creek Business Alliance.
 
“I’d like to see some more representation there because I’d like to see someone come in there while Bob is still active so that we can continue to follow suit with what we’ve been doing. I still want quality. I don’t want to have somebody appointed that has no idea what we’re actually doing here.” (Mike Bowers)
 
The ORDA Board will increase from 10 members to 12: Two from Belleayre, one from Warren County; and three from the town of North Elba, where there are four ORDA venues, including the Olympic Center. Three state commissioners are on the board, from the Parks Department, Empire State Development and the DEC; plus there’s a Senate appointee, currently held by Chairman Patrick Barrett of Syracuse, an Assembly appointee, Cliff Donaldson of Saranac Lake; and a governor’s appointee, which was vacated last year when Joe Martens became the DEC commissioner.
 
North Creek native Tony Jordan represents the 112th Assembly District, mostly in Washington County. While his district doesn’t include North Creek, he’s interested in making sure Gore Mountain is adequately represented during and after the Belleayre transition. What’s his concern?
 
“Just as the concerns of the Belleayre folks are, that they don’t get lost in this transition, I think that’s to make sure that Gore doesn’t get lost in the transition, Whiteface doesn’t get lost, I mean these facilities … I remember as a kid skiing the big three, and we’re now reuniting them and want to make sure that it improves the value of the experience at all the facilities, that not one of the facilities is short-changed.”
 
Jordan’s not sure if requiring the state to name two Warren County representatives to the ORDA Board is the best solution. That requires legislation. But if he chooses to propose a bill in the Assembly, he has an ally in Senator Betty Little, who lives in Warren County. Like Jordan, she’s taking a wait and see approach before taking any action on the makeup of the ORDA Board.
 
“Certainly I’m going to be watching to see that the takeover of Belleayre does not in any way harm Gore Mountain or Whiteface Mountain or any of the Olympic Centers, so that’s one of the things. I have talked to Tony Jordan about it. I think that this time it might be better to let things go and see where things are with Belleayre. But overall, I think that we’ll discuss it with the board and with the chairman and I’m just certainly committed to seeing that we not lose anything.” (Betty Little)
 
Little said she is in favor of having two Warren County residents on the ORDA Board, but that could happen without legislation; Gov. Cuomo still needs to fill the seat vacated by Joe Martens. She also points out that ORDA operates Whiteface Mountain ski center in the town of Wilmington, and Wilmington doesn’t have a representative on the ORDA Board.

 

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