BELLEAYRE - HISTORY
Like the entire ski industry in the United States, Belleayre got a jump-start by returning World War Two veterans from the US Army's 10th Mountain Division. These troops were trained in skiing and cold weather warfare for the northern invasion of Europe that never materialized. Nonetheless many of them became avid skiers and spearheaded the development of the Ski Industry. Among them was Art Draper who played an enormous role in the design and building of Belleayre Mountain as well as Gore and Whiteface.
In 1945 regional civic and business leaders pushed for the creation of a state owned ski area at Belleayre and a bill was drafted to create it.
The proposal for a ski center in the Forever Wild Forest Preserve required a NYS constitutional amendment, which was passed by the voters with an enormous margin in 1947 and construction begun. Belleayre was a great hit. Skiers flocked to the Mountain and the area. New trails and lifts were added and the mountain thrived but by the early 1980s investment in the Ski Center lagged. The lodges had become run down snowmaking was available on only two trails and the Ski Center fell behind.
By 1983, then Governor Mario Cuomo, beleaguered by fiscal woes, submitted a budget that included a line item for shutting down and mothballing the Belleayre Ski Center! Thus was born the Coalition to Save Belleayre. It was apparent to a broad base of regional civic, business and elected leaders that Belleayre was the major economic driver for the entire Ulster/Delaware area of the Rte. 28 corridor. The closing of Belleayre would have immediate disastrous on the surrounding communities. A group coalesced, led by Joe Kelly, to fight this decision. Protests, petitions, lobbying, delivering 15,000 signatures, and enlisting legislators, civic leaders, skiers, vacationers from the entire tri-state area convinced Albany to reverse course.
Since that historic and successful battle, the Coalition has remained active as a constant watchdog, advocating for the needed capital investment in Belleayre and the best management for a vibrant and thriving Belleayre. Some significant issues recently have been the removal of the DEC as the managing agency the Ski Center and its replacement with ORDA- the Olympic Regional Development Authority. The Coalition has also been a tireless advocate and agitator for the issuance of the current Unit Management Plan and adoption and funding for the Agreement in Principal negotiated by Governor Spitzer. This Agreement calls for an expanded, reimagined Belleayre with the incorporation of Highmount Ski Area and the concurrent permitting of the Resort at Belleayre Mountain. After more than 14 years, these projects are closer to reality than ever before.
See the Catskill Mountain News - CMN.com - for the complete story and history
The work goes on.