Kelly steps down as Belleayre Coalition chairman

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Highmount — Joe Kelly, chairman of the Belleayre Coalition and advocate for the ski center and the community stepped down from his post last week after 30 years of work on behalf of the state-owned facility. 

Kelly, who has been appointed to the Board of the Olympic Regional Development Authority, will continue his work for the ski center in an oversight capacity and will be replaced at the coalition by long-time treasurer, Tom White.

In other leadership changes announced, Rosina Montana and Joan Lawrence-Bauer, both long time Coalition supporters were named as vice chairs and Cordell Schachter a second homeowner and ardent Belleayre supporter, will take over as Coalition treasurer.

“Never did I think that when I started writing letters to DEC Commissioners, I would be taking on a lifetime job,” said Kelly of the changes in the advocacy group he started. 

Great challenges
“Getting Belleayre the attention and respect it deserves has been an unending challenge,” Kelly added “and like so many others, I’m optimistic that ORDA operation will be an improvement for this gem of the Catskills.”

Looking back at the history of the Coalition, founded when Belleayre was threatened with closure in the ‘80s, Kelly noted,  “The Coalition represents all Belleayre constituency groups including skiers, local business people, employees, summer visitors, and everyone else who benefits from a vibrant and successful Belleayre. We’re the only organization with an exclusive and singular focus, the betterment of Belleayre.”

“Though I wish we didn’t have to work so hard, it’s good to know that the Coalition will be in such capable hands,” said Kelly.  “Tom has done an incredible job as treasurer and fundraiser for the better part of a decade and Rosina and Joan, have both been there from the beginning,” said Kelly. Cordell adds fresh energy and enthusiasm along with incredible communication skills.  I think as a team, these four will do a great job in advocating for Belleayre and keeping Coalition members up to date on what’s happening.”

Big shoes to fill
Speaking of Kelly’s passion and leadership for more than three decades, White noted his shoes will be hard to fill.  But he agreed with Kelly’s optimism about the ORDA takeover and said that the role of the coalition would change somewhat when the transfer is complete. 

“We are now working with people who understand the ski business; whose sole reason for existence is to run ski centers,” said White.  “That has to make things easier.  While we might still have differing views of what the facility needs and where the priorities should be, at least we all speak the same language.”

White indicated that the Coalition would take a supportive role as ORDA transitions in.  “The transition is actually a long process, a series of steps, that must take place in turn, over much of this fiscal year.  It won’t really be complete for the better part of a year.  During that time, we’ll be getting to know them and expressing our needs.  But we do recognize the need for patience as the relationships develop.”

White indicated that Montana had been the secretary of the Coalition for many years, following the late Dot Costa in the role.  She will continue to handle internal communication, minutes, postings and other similar details.  Lawrence-Bauer, a native of Margaretville and former employee of Belleayre has handled external communications and implemented advocacy events and will continue in that role.  Schachter, a native of the City of Middletown, brings extensive technical and new media skills to the group.  He will assist in social media applications in addition to duties as treasurer.

“I look forward to working with Joe in his new role on the ORDA Board, and with these great folks and the other stalwart members of the Coalition who have supported Belleayre for so long,” said White.  “Belleayre’s future is as bright as it has ever been and we look forward to celebrating many new milestones in the future.”