Whiteface Mountain, Gore Mountain, Lake Placid ski areas in danger of losing major funding

Posted By: The Ski Channel on March 23, 2010 5:21 pm

The New York State Senate has proposed a new budget for the state. The proposal would cut $6.6 million that would otherwise go to support the Olympic Regional Development Authority, or ORDA. ORDA runs Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington, Gore Mountain Ski Center in North Creek and the Olympic venues in Lake Placid. “If they were to proceed with that line of action, it likely would bring ORDA to its knees, and it would totally destroy the economy of Lake Placid,” village Mayor Craig Randall said Tuesday. “Obviously I’m shocked that they would propose such a thing without any investigation or consideration of the impacts it would have.”

ORDA President and CEO Ted Blazer revealed that a lobbying effort is under way to counter the Senate’s proposal. “Our chairman has fashioned a response that we’re sending around to the different leaders in Albany that states our position,” Blazer said. “It’s something we have to follow and we’ll be monitoring closely.”

The lobbying efforts are supported by many local officials, including Roby Politi, supervisor of the town of North Elba, which owns the Olympic venues in Lake Placid. He said, “it bothers me that we have an entire region being thrown under the bus to satisfy some political agenda. It’s disappointing, as a community leader, to have to react to this kind of nonsense. It’s just so ridiculous.”

Politi believes the politicians fail to recognize the cultural and social implications of what ORDA represents. “My guess is [the Legislature] probably have a better idea where Grant’s statue is in Brooklyn than they do the Olympic ski jump towers here,” Politi said.

The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism is asking local people to write or e-mail state lawmakers to share their concerns about the proposal to eliminate ORDA’s state funding. Contact information for several Democratic leaders in the Senate has been posted at www.lakeplacid.com/orda, along with a sample letter.

“If this were to happen, I think it would put some real strain on keeping some of these venues operable over the next few years,” said James McKenna, president and CEO of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, which is based in Lake Placid.. “We just have to let it be known that we’re not going to stand for this up here. We’ve got to let our opposition to this be known.”