State Senator John J. Bonacic (R/I/C - Mt. Hope), and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Denise Sheehan, today joined with Belleayre Superintendent Tony Lanza to announce another improvement to Belleayre Mountain Ski Center.
Senator Bonacic said, "I've said it before, and it remains even more true today - not too long ago, people in this part of the Catskills thought the State had forgotten about Belleayre. Now, the only people who want to forget about Belleayre live in Vermont. Not too long ago, the question everyone asked was, should Belleayre be privatized. Today, the question everyone asks is, 'what improvement is coming next?'," Bonacic said.
"I'm pleased to say, what's coming next," Bonacic said, "is a new high speed quad lift which will cut lift ride times by more than 60%." The construction of the lift is expected to commence in April and be completed in October, 2006.
Commissioner Sheehan said, "Belleayre has quickly become one of the State's many premiere ski mountains, and a trip down its slopes has become an annual tradition for families and serious skiers and snowboarders across New York State and the entire Northeast. As we get ready to kick off another successful season here in the Catskill region, this new lift is another sign that the State's efforts to improve Belleayre are working. The investment made by Governor Pataki and Senator Bonacic, and the leadership at the mountain, have helped make it a favorite winter destination. Today, by re-investing in Belleayre we are making it an even greater public asset for this region and more enjoyable recreational facility."
Ulster County Tourism Director Peter Carofano said, "Ten years ago, people in this part of the Catskills thought Albany couldn't find Belleayre on a map, much less find money for it. As a result of Governor Pataki and Senator Bonacic's efforts, nobody thinks that way now. The state of tourism in Ulster County today is stronger than ever, thanks in large part to Belleayre."
The chairlift will be manufactured by Doppelmayr Ctec, Inc. That company has offices in Saratoga Springs, NY. The cost of the chairlift is $2.6 million and installation costs are estimated at an additional $500,000. The lift will be paid for with $1.85 million in funding Senator Bonacic has secured over the past eighteen months and funds allocated through the DEC.
The lift will replace The Super-Chief quad lift, lift 6. The new high speed quad lift will carry skiers to the top of the mountain in five minutes, rather than the current thirteen minutes.
In addition to the lift, Belleayre will see three new runs this year, all of which will be double black diamond (expert runs). They will be Belleayre Glades, Winnsook Glades and the Tomahawk run.
Belleayre has significantly improved its number of skier visits during the past seven skier seasons. Skier visits, once near 84,000 are up to around 170,000 in the past few seasons. In addition, for every $1 spent at Belleayre, experts have determined an additional $7 is brought into the region. "Whether the Crossroads project will or won't happen, whether there will or won't be casinos, these are controversial issues which make news," Bonacic said, adding, "but the reality is Belleayre is already going like gangbusters and what is probably the world's premier performing arts venue - Bethel Woods, is about to open in the Catskills. We are going places in this region which were not even contemplated eight years ago," Senator Bonacic said.