State Senator John J. Bonacic (R/I/C – Mt. Hope), today announced that budget bills being passed this week will contain $5.5 million in additional State aid for Belleayre Mountain Ski Center. The funding will be used to construct a new lodge.
The funding is in addition to the $3.1 million being used to currently construct a high speed "quad" chairlift. That chairlift was announced this past October by Senator Bonacic and DEC Commissioner Denise Sheehan. Senator Bonacic has secured funding each year for Belleayre since 2001.
The lodge, expected to be a 24,000 square foot addition off the existing Discovery lodge, will provide additional space for Kidscamp, rentals, cafeteria, bar, nursery, public seating, ski school, restrooms/changing areas, locker room. It will also allow for the expansion of ski patrol, ski/snowboard school, and administrative offices.
"This is another great day at Belleayre. Consistent investment through the Senate and DEC, coupled with great management, has made Belleayre one of the finest ski areas in the Northeast and the best publicly owned ski center in the country," Senator Bonacic said.
Eight years ago, Belleayre operated three antiquated groomers. Today there are five state of the art groomers. Eight years ago, Belleayre had approximately 300 snow guns, today there are about 600. Eight years ago, Belleayre had approximately 28 year round employees, today, it employs nearly 100. Eight years ago, Belleayre had around 71,000 skier visits, today, annual skier visits are typically around 175,000.
Ulster County Tourism Director Hallie Arnold said, "'This investment in Belleayre Mountain is great news for the tourism industry in Ulster County. As an anchor property in the county’s northwest corner, Belleayre’s future is critical to the success of tourism, both in the county and in the Catskills region as a whole. So this project will not only make Belleayre Mountain a better place to visit, but will also be a positive contribution to the regional economy."
Mary Beth Silano, Director of the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce said, "Our Main Streets in Margaretville, Andes, Fleischmanns and elsewhere see a huge influx of customers because of Belleayre. Belleayre means tourism and business in Delaware County."
Senator Bonacic also praised DEC Commissioner Denise Sheehan and John Cahill, the Governor’s Chief or Staff and a former DEC Commissioner himself, for their efforts on behalf of Belleayre. "In many cases, our interaction with the DEC is on controversial problems – the watershed, dam safety, regulatory powers. Here in the Catskills, however, the DEC is also our partner – and they are a particularly great partner when it comes to Belleayre," Bonacic said.
Cahill, the Governor’s long-time Chief of Staff, has been honored with the "Spirit of the Catskills" award by the Coalition to Save Belleayre for his past support of the ski center.
Mapping out the story of Belleayre’s success, Bonacic said, "In 1999, when the first dollars started to flow into Belleayre,we started with the basics – new trails, new snow guns, moved on to better lifts, and now we are starting a new era – a new lodge."
The Senator indicated that DEC staff have informally told him they intend to allocate an additional $2.5 million this year for other improvements to Belleayre. That funding will go toward the construction of a new garage which would house the motor pool, supplies, welding shop, electric shop, carpenter shop, lift maintenance, groomers, and support offices. The new garage will be located at the cross-country ski parking lot, and will also provide restrooms and reception area for the public.
"With the State's investment in the many improvements over the years, Belleayre has become increasingly popular to skiers and snowboarders. The influx of more skiers and boarders is guaranteed to bring economic vitality not only to this resort and the ski industry, but to all of the surrounding businesses in this region," concluded Senator Bonacic.