Parete and Kelly named to ORDA board

By Jay Braman Jr.
Governor Andrew Cuomo last week appointed two new members to the Board of Directors of the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority, otherwise known as ORDA.

He added Ulster County Legislator John Parete and Coalition to Save Belleayre Chairman Joe Kelly to the ORDA Board. The appointments follow the governor’s decision earlier this year to have ORDA take over management of the state-owned Belleayre Ski Center in the Town of Shandaken. ORDA currently operates Whiteface and Gore ski centers in the Adirondacks.

Good choices
Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, who represents the 101st Assembly District, which includes Belleayre, said Wednesday “I have had the pleasure of knowing Joe and John for many years, and I could not think of better people to be selected for the authority. Furthermore, I am pleased that two people with intimate knowledge of Belleayre Mountain and our region will be involved in future decision making. Both Joe and John understand the importance of this world-class resort to the economy of not only the Route 28 corridor, but our region as a whole,”

Parete was elected last year to represent the new 22nd District; which comprises the towns of Olive, Denning, Hardenburgh and Shandaken. He owns the Boiceville Inn, a restaurant and bar on Route 28 in the hamlet of Boiceville.

Looking ahead
Parete said there has not yet been any communication with ORDA, but he will reach out to both Kelly and the organization soon.

“We (he and Kelly) are on,” Parete said. “ I assume we start immediately.”
Kelly lives in Fleischmanns, which abuts Belleayre. He has been the leader of the Coalition to Save Belleayre since the group was founded in the 1980s when then Governor Mario Cuomo was considering closing Belleayre.

When the ORDA takeover of Belleayre was still under discussion last winter, Kelly announced a number of items the coalition membership wanted ORDA to agree to:

1) The Belleayre community should have meaningful representation on the ORDA Board so that regional concerns are heard and addressed and a regional advisory group formed to provide input to that board on a regular basis.

Emergnecy center
2) The status of the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center as an emergency command and control center for regional disaster relief efforts must be recognized and recognition of its employees as first responders for the safety of this region must be continued. The events of August and September 2011 demonstrate quite clearly the essential nature of this recognition.

3) There must be an understanding that Belleayre is a year-round facility and operates as the economic engine and community “Main Street” to draw tourists to our area. Year-round programs like The Belleayre Music Festival and The Belleayre Beach must be maintained and supported.

4) The employees of Belleayre Mountain deserve a secure future along with fair and decent treatment, wages and benefits. Good employee relations during this transition period will pay benefits for years to come. 

Economic catalyst
Also during the ODRA takeover discussions, Kelly said ORDA needs to understand that Belleayre was created to act as an economic catalyst for the region.
“Belleayre must involve the community businesses in promotions, packages and other cooperative efforts that will attract skiers not just to the mountain, but to local businesses around the mountain,” he said.
ORDA officials are still finalizing the details of the Belleayre takeover with the State Department of Environmental Conservation.