Former Belleayre Superintendent to be honored
By Jay Braman Jr.
Tony Lanza, the longtime superintendent at Belleayre Mountain Ski Center who was fired from that position earlier this year, will be crowned a “Hamlet Hero” this Saturday at the annual Shandaken Day celebration in Pine Hill.
Each year Shandaken honors several residents for their exceptional community service. This year, Town Justice Tom Crucet and now retired Town Clerk Laurilyn Frasier will each receive a “Pride of Shandaken” award. Also Neil and Babette Jocelyn of Pine Hill will be given a Hamlet Hero award.
This year there will also be a special “Flood Recovery and Response Awards” section to give thanks to several individuals that went above and beyond the call of duty during the Tropical Storm Irene tragedy last year.
While many made significant contributions during that time, Lanza stands head and shoulders above all for his efforts during the catastrophe, when he turned Belleayre into the emergency headquarters for not only Shandaken but the entire region.
Town Supervisor Rob Stanley, who is also a Belleayre employee, said Lanza is due accolades for the hard work he put in when the region was hit by the devastating floods.
“He supervised the conversion of the Belleayre Ski Center into an emergency evacuation center for those displaced from their homes,” said Stanley. “He also coordinated cooking and serving donated food and distributing donated clothing during the disaster.”
Lanza also opened Belleayre’s doors to the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), which made its headquarters at the ski center for weeks after the flooding.
Joe Kelly, former Chairman of the Coalition to Save Belleayre, remarked on Lanza’s contribution to the community during the Irene crisis.
“Belleayre has been a beacon,” Kelly said. “During (the storms) we witnessed a graphic example of the importance of the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in all our lives. We watched our Belleayre employees perform tirelessly and heroically, acting in search and rescue, setting up an emergency medical facility, repairing critical roads, preparing and delivering thousands of meals a day in a multi-county area, and providing care and comfort for the evacuees and homeless. Belleayre was the command center for the National Guard, FEMA and all disaster relief agencies. No rational person can say this is just about skiing or sport; Belleayre is a critical asset.”
Lanza’s job as superintendent at Belleayre went away with the last of the mountain’s snow in May.
As new leadership was preparing to take control of Belleayre last spring, Lanza was dismissed from his position on May 22.
Lanza, who Senator John Bonacic once said “was the best thing to ever happen to Belleayre since snow,” was known for his marketing prowess.
He was also known for keeping the state-run facility closely connected to the communities in the region that surround Belleayre.
Lanza’s dismissal comesas Belleayre is about to be handed off to the Olympic Regional Development Corporation.