Tourism group plans march to counter Belleayre's foes

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By Jay Braman Jr.
To steal a phrase from a popular American movie, “They’re mad as hell and they’re not gonna take it anymore.” That phrase can best be used to describe the feelings of the membership of the Belleayre Region Lodging and Tourism Association, which held a special meeting Monday to discuss an ever-burgeoning threat to the livelihoods of its membership.
For several months there have been widespread reports that the privately owned ski centers of Hunter and Windham Mountains in Greene County have been using lobbyists in Albany to try and get the state to stop investing money at Belleayre Mountain. The guys from Greene also claim that Belleayre’s lower ticket prices are unfairly competitive and want the state to raise the price to get it more in line with what the larger private ski facilities charge.
In doing so, Greene is now attacking the private sector around Belleayre because such changes would put an end to the promotions and deals offered by the local lodges and restaurants.
“The prospect of neighboring Greene County trying to halt all expansion of Belleayre Mountain as well as putting a stop to our $15 days, $10 week and the use of hotel voucher discounts as well as all other discounts... is very real folks! Their wheels are already in motion,” said Tourism Association official Don Myers.
“Members...it’s time to take a stand and stop this nonsense. If the livelihood of your business greatly depends on the success of Belleayre Mountain,” he added.
Eric Griesser noted the difficulties the organization faces because of its contractual partnership with the state, which operates Belleayre. Griesser said that the word from the state has always been that the association must steer clear of such matters.
“We are not supposed to be involved in political things because we are in partnership with the state,” he said.
But after discussion about the fact that the Greene County Legislature has become involved by calling for an investigation into the competitive practices of Belleayre. State Senator James Seward, who represents Greene County, has introduced legislation in the senate calling for a similar action, the tourism association feels it’s time to take a stand.
There was discussion as to whether the association should hire a lobbyist to combat Greene’s efforts. Instead, the membership has decided to instead go it alone.
Details are being prepared for a march on Albany. Association members plan to hit the offices of the region’s representatives in the senate and the assembly and demand their support to reverse the momentum of the Greene attack.
Officials targeted on the march will be Senator John Bonacic, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and Assemblyman Clifford Crouch. To date, none have taken a position on this issue.