The Lake Placid Olympic Center
The Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) has added two new members to its board.
Joe Kelly will now serve as co-vice chair with standing vice chair Serge Lussi and John Parete will be added as a voting member of the board.
Both men were appointed by Gov. Cuomo and will represent Belleayre, a ski resort in the Catskills.
Earlier this year, a plan was put in motion to transfer control of the resort from the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to ORDA.
“The DEC still has operating control of Belleayre, but once an MOU is agreed upon by both parties, the DEC and ORDA, then ORDA will take over the operations,” said ORDA communications manager Jon Lundin.
Lundin added that the board hopes to have the transition completed within the next two months.
“It’s a nice addition to our family and what we try to do to in terms of promoting winter activities,” Lundin said.
The two new board members were announced at an ORDA board meeting Sept. 19, along with plans to make improvements to the three resorts managed by the organization — Whiteface Mountain, Gore Mountain and soon, Belleayre.
Among the upgrades are: new Sno-cats and programs at Gore Mountain, improvements to snowmaking, grooming and the lodge at Belleayre, the addition of a roller loop and 20-meter hill at the Olympic Jumping Complex, storm sewer and masonry repairs at the Olympic Training Center, regrading shoulders and repairing retaining walls and castle masonry on the Whiteface Memorial Highway, and a major project that will restore the Olympic Center to the way it looked in 1932.
The Lake Placid Conference Center has also been busy booking parties and seminars, which will bring the New York State Snowmobile Association, New York State Rural Water Association, Outdoor Writers Association and CSEA to the region in 2013.
World Cup bobsled, skeleton, luge and freestyle, NCAA Division I hockey, Lake Placid Loppet, eastern synchronized skating and the Empire State Games are also among the events that will take place in the region this winter.
ORDA board members seemed excited to announce their plans for the upcoming winter season, but the meeting wasn’t just about attracting visitors.
Leslie Karasin, program manager and Community Planning Project Coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society, thanked ORDA for its efforts to raise awareness on Bicknell’s thrush.
Bicknell’s thrush is a migratory songbird that summers in the high elevation habitats of the northeastern U.S. and winters on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, primarily Haiti.
In 2007, a Habitat Protection Fund was established with the Adirondack Community Trust and five organizations — the Wildlife Conservation Society, Adirondack Nature Conservancy, Adirondack Council, Vermont Center for Ecostudies and Audubon New York.
WCS is hoping to secure a grant soon that will further help the fund, which supports conservation efforts of Bicknell’s thrush habitat locally and in Hispaniola.
“Whiteface is a phenomenal venue to spread this message,” Karasin said. “So many people come into contact with the mountain and the nesting habitat that’s there, it was a great opportunity to think about conservation.”
Whiteface has two informative panels about Bicknell’s thrush, and there are drop boxes where people can leave money to support conservation efforts.
The mountain represents one of the species’ largest habitat blocks.
“This is the Northeast’s only endemic songbird; you can’t find this bird nesting anywhere else in the country,” Karasin said. “If anybody’s going to care, we should care. We should take pride in the fact that our mountains provide habitat for this tiny little bird that travels thousands of miles. It really is an amazing story.”