By KIM SMITH DEDAM Press-Republican
---- — TUPPER LAKE — When the snow piles up this season, Big Tupper Ski Area expects to be open for skiing.
The decision to renew volunteer operation of the dormant ski center in Tupper Lake was announced Tuesday by Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving our Economy (ARISE).
The group has reapplied for renewal of its temporary-use permit from the Adirondack Park Agency.
Big Tupper is targeted for renovation as part of the Adirondack Club & Resort project, which won APA OK in 2012.
But last year, as litigation challenging that approval was brought by several environmental groups that oppose it, the lifts and mountain trails were closed due to lack of capital investment.
ARISE Chairman Jim LaValley said Tuesday that it became very clear last year that the volunteer momentum persisted to run Big Tupper, both a beloved and important resource, despite the legal contention over land use.
“It will be truly all volunteer this year, but there’s been a willingness for everybody to come back,” he said on Tuesday. “I’m hoping we’re going to have a ton of snow.”
Without capacity at this point to use the mountain’s snowmaking equipment, trails depend entirely on natural snow.
‘FOCUS ON TUPPER LAKE’
The Ski Center is not selling preseason tickets this year, LaValley said. But once the snow flies, Big Tupper will offer books of tickets that people can buy at a discount.
Otherwise, one-day lift tickets will be $25. The mountain usually opens on weekends during the winter season and on school holidays, when the weather cooperates.
Tupper Lake Mayor Paul Maroun said ARISE briefed the village on the plan to reopen this winter season.
“I think it makes very good sense,” he said.
“It’s going to help motels in the area, it’s going to help restaurants and businesses here and encourage economic investment.
“It’s also going to keep Tupper Lake on the map,” he said.
“People are going to travel here and see the mountain and think, ‘Gee, isn’t this going to be nice when it reopens permanently.’”
Running Big Tupper with volunteers will be a lot of work, the mayor continued.
“... and it takes an awful lot of coordination, but I commend them. I think it’s a great idea and is going to help focus everybody on Tupper Lake.”
LaValley said mowers are mobilized to clear the trails next week.
“We certainly are always in need of volunteers,” he said. “And we’re working right now to see if we can get a good lease rate on a groomer.”
The chairlifts have been inspected for use this 2013-14 season.
And the management team is in place: Steve Stevenson has volunteered to coordinate mountain operations; Don Dew Jr. and Kate Bencze will share the jobs of administrative and volunteer managers; Cliff Lamere will return to his post as lift-operations manager, and Bill Mozdzier will once again be trails manager, according to a press release from ARISE.
APA permission to reopen the ski center with a volunteer crew was first issued in 2009, and the Ski Center was run by ARISE that winter season and the following year.
Several events are in planning stages to help defray cost of insurance and fuel this winter, LaValley said.
Coming up first is OkTupper Fest, with the fourth-annual Mud Run, set for Sept. 28.
Email Kim Smith Dedam: firstname.lastname@example.orgIF YOU GO OkTUPPERfest is an autumn celebration raising capital for the all-volunteer operation of Big Tupper Ski Center set for Saturday, Sept. 28 at Big Tupper with a $5 entry cost or $20 per vehicle. Live music, food and craft beer vendors are planned for the mountain celebration, along with a mountain-bike stunt show, free chairlift rides and the fourth-annual Mud Run. Free chairlift rides. Gates open at 11 a.m.