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January 18, 2012

Cuomo budget would move Belleayre to ORDA

RAY BROOK — Details of the 2012-13 executive budget indicate Gov. Andrew Cuomo is looking to move Belleayre Ski Center operations to the Olympic Authority.

"The budget authorizes the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) to enter into an agreement to transfer the operations of the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center to ORDA at the close of the 2011-12 ski season," Cuomo's proposed plan says.

"ORDA will allow for more efficient management, utilizing their expertise in the ski industry."

ORDA spokesman Jon Lundin referred questions to the Division of the Budget.

Morris Peters, spokesman for that department, confirmed that Cuomo wants to realign operations at Belleayre.

"It will align core functions and consolidate like resources. ORDA, of course, has a lot of experience running ski facilities — they run Whiteface, they run Gore Mountain, and they have the expertise to do this. This is an attempt to line up these entities under the umbrella that suits them."

REALIGNMENT

The realignment has been under discussion for more than a year, but Cuomo's budget seems to push it toward decisive action.

No officials — neither lawmakers nor state agency leaders — are saying what an agreement between DEC and ORDA would look like.

"There are not a lot of details on how this transition would take place," Sen. Betty Little's spokesman Dan MacEntee said Wednesday.

"Yesterday, the budget was announced. Legislative hearings will begin shortly, and this is one of the areas Senator Little is most interested in learning more about."

Restructuring Belleayre operations is one of many "realignments" included in the governor's budget, which Cuomo said was focused on reform measures to shrink government.

While funding levels are flat, there are additional resources pointed at both capital projects and programs to entice private sector investment.

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