ORDA approves $92 million for ski area upgrades

LAKE PLACID | Capital projects approved by the Olympic Regional Development Authority April 18 total $92 million.

ORDA’s capital spending plan comes from state appropriations, and the 2023 state budget approved last week allocated $205 million for ORDA capital improvements.

ORDA’s Board of Directors approved 16 projects last Monday, allowing CEO and President Mike Pratt to move ahead with construction.

At the meeting, he told the board that supply chain delays are proving problematic for ski industry construction companies.

“We need to secure our slots (with builders) now if we have any hope of completing these projects in 2023,” Pratt said.

Among the most expansive construction plans is the new ski lodge at Gore Mountain in North Creek. The historic lodge there burned down in 1999 and was replaced years later by a yurt.

Pratt provided directors with a brief history of the lodge and the trails at Gore, calling the investment in the new North Creek Ski Bowl “huge”.

“The Ski Bowl was one of the first commercial ski areas in the United States. They welcomed the first snow trains in 1934,” he said, pointing to the early ski industry.

Funding for the new, 18,000-square-foot, year-round lodge at Gore was approved by the board at $19.7 million, according to the ORDA resolution.

The project includes an anchor attraction at the Ski Bowl for summer operation.

Pratt said the attraction is a trolley line with loops and spirals, and is not a harness zip-line or a Mountain Coaster, which have been built at ORDA venues in North Elba, at the ski jumps and at Mount Van Hoevenberg, respectively.

“This is designed and planned to be complementary to the mountain coaster and zip line,” Pratt said.

The estimated cost for the Ski Bowl feature was approved by ORDA’s board at $7.2 million.

Additional funding will support updates to the electrical system.

ORDA also moved ahead on plans to build a new ski lift at Gore Mountain, allocating $8.8 million for materials, services, and work necessary to replace a fixed-grip lift with a detachable four-person chairlift system at the Ski Bowl.

Resolutions include $2.9 million for snowmaking and trail widening at Gore as well.

Snowboarding events for the World University Games in 2023 will be held at Gore Mountain.

WHITEFACE SKI LIFT

Whiteface Ski Center will also get a new ski lift next year, one that connects Bear Den in the beginners’ ski trail system to the Legacy Lodge mid-station.

Pratt said this would better integrate the trails and disperse skiers and riders across the mountain.

As yet unnamed, it’s called Whiteface Lift A in the resolution “to construct and install a high-speed detachable quad chairlift to provide year-round access” from the Bear Den Lodge to the new Legacy Lodge.

“Installation of this lift will require construction and clearing of a new lift line and new electrical service to all three terminals of the lift. Total approximate project cost is $16.5 million,” according to board documents.

This project is pending Unit Management Plan (UMP) approval from the Department of Environmental Conservation. The public comment period for Whiteface UMP amendments closed on April 11, and the changes will be reviewed by the Adirondack Park Agency.

Capital funding will also be used to add a new lift and replace Lift 7 at Bellayre and realign it with the trail system. These projects await Unit Management Plan approvals by state agencies.

SNOWMAKING IMPROVEMENTS

Snowmaking equipment updates at all three ORDA ski centers were approved with significant expenditures planned at Belleayre Mountain in the Catskills.

Work to continue replacing antiquated snowmaking pipe, Pratt said, and realigning the systems to make them more efficient will cost a combined $11.5 million, which includes 32,000 feet of pipe at Belleayre and $4 million in snowmaking upgrades at Whiteface.

ORDA’s board also approved the purchase of a new industrial hauling truck for Gore Mountain at a cost of $151,376 per year for three years.

And $6 million was approved for additional construction at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, to include a new storage building, work on refrigeration infrastructure and new locker rooms.

New projects in the capital budget for Mt. Van Hoevenberg next year include $4.5 million to update and renovate staff and administrative buildings.

Capital spending for ORDA is included in the state budget each year. The Olympic authority was allocated $105 million last year and $145 million in the 2021 New York State budget.

ORDA venues have been in construction for several years, ahead of the Lake Placid 2023 World University Games, scheduled Jan. 12 to Jan. 23 in 2023.

ORDA board meetings and materials are archived online at orda.org.

 

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