June 10, 2009: Belleayre gratitude is important

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To The Editor:
The Catskill Heritage Alliance is trying to stop a private resort by unfairly attacking a public facility. Their recent letters try to block stimulus money for Belleayre Mt. Ski Center expansion. These supposedly “concerned citizens,” have lost sight of our region’s desperate economic plight. We resent the attack on the ski center, our most viable economic and community resource.
Depriving Belleayre of any funds at all deprives our community of its most valuable life support system. Actual human beings – relatives, friends and neighbors – work there, and their livelihood and healthcare depend on the success of this mountain. Surrounding villages and businesses can’t be successful unless this mountain thrives. The current stagnation due to these incessant attacks is sabotaging our economic future.
It’s important to separate the growth of the state-owned facilities from the private development of the resort. There is no doubt that a resort and state park facility would complement each other but to think that this area could survive without the park is unrealistic. Why are we allowing a few to speak for all of us? Why do some people have the need for personal vendettas at the expense of “our” mountain? This is a facility created for the people, by the people and has been a pillar within our community for 60 years!
The park offers scores of programs, year-around, bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors each year while maintaining a healthy level of contributions to our local community. Many offerings feature affordability plans allowing average income residents to enjoy recreation and cultural activities. We are in awe of the great programs offered for special people of Arc, Adaptive Sports for the disabled, for relatives and victims of 9/11 and for our schoolchildren and seniors. The people of Belleayre reached out to help the business community this winter by putting a BOGO (buy one, get one) stimulus program in place. Spending of $50 at a local Chamber of Commerce business earned skiers a free lift ticket.
Further, the ski center has supported fund-raising efforts of many of our charities such as Margaretville Hospital, Relay for Life, Boy Scouts, animal shelters and the Alzheimer’s Foundation to name a few. Did you know that many staffers at Belleayre volunteer their time to make these programs and fund-raisers available? Last season, the staff took the extra steps to accommodate the withdrawal of promised funding by the DEC – funding withdrawn partly through the efforts of people trying to stop the resort.
The people of Belleayre have repeatedly shown their dedication to our community. Now we must show them we recognize the value and privilege of having them in our back yard. This is truly a mountain owned by “we,” the people. We extend our personal gratitude to the Belleayre family who did a tremendous job of keeping the ski center open in spite of deep cuts and constantly being bombarded by unfair accusations. It was hard to keep your spirits up, but you did a fabulous job!

Mark and Ann Lukin,
Margaretville