Ski mountain's expansion would double skier visits

By Brian Sweeney
A proposed major expansion for the Belleayre Ski Center in Highmount was also announced last week by New York State.

Information on the public comment period is included in the Belleayre Resort above. The expansion is being proposed as part of Belleayre’s long-awaited Unit Management Plan.
Operational responsibilities at Belleayre Mountain were transferred from the DEC to the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA). The latter organization also operates the Whiteface and Gore ski resorts in the Adirondacks. ORDA predicts that the Belleayre expansion will nearly double annual skier visits from 165,000 to about 320,000.

Mountain makeover
Capital improvements would include adding 16 ski trails, three lifts, three parking areas, a ski lodge and an information booth. Most of this work would occur at the former Highmount Ski Center. The report indicates that the Highmount terrain would address the lack of expert terrain at Belleayre Mountain. The plan also includes upgrades to most of the existing lodges and ski lifts.

A spending breakdown indicates that $27 million would be allotted for utility, snowmaking and parking upgrades; $21 million for new and existing ski trails and lifts and $18.9 million on lodges and information booths. An additional $6.7 would be set aside for contingency.

The report indicates that the improvements would turn an average $600,000 operating loess into an annual profit of about $1.2 million.

Job growth
The DEC estimates that the ski center expansion will create approximately 280 new jobs. Of these positions, 200 of the jobs would be seasonal, 32 would be full-time, year-round and there about 45 seasonal food service jobs would also be created. Salaries for the full-time workers would range from $26,000-$40,500. Pay for the seasonal workers would average approximately $7,500.

The Unit Management Plan anticipates that the ski center expansion and improvement would result in annual revenue increase of about $5.2 million and add more than $220,000 annually in local and state tax revenue, the plan estimates.