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ORDA Board approves infrastructure improvements at Belleayre, Gore and Lake Placid facilities

WAMC/Pat Bradley
ORDA logo on a plaque

The Olympic Regional Development Authority Board of Directors approved about $38 million in facility upgrades at its latest meeting. Most are related to improvement projects at Belleayre, Gore Mountain and Lake Placid.

The board meeting began with President and CEO Michael Pratt reporting on the agency budget. Pratt told the Board the six-year trend in revenue growth is “incredible.”

“The jump this year from $46 million to $60 million has just been fantastic,” Pratt said. “And I think it's a culmination of many of our decisions that we've made to bring some of our profit centers in-house, managing the capacity limitations well. And in particular, the ski areas is just tremendous growth. The revenue growth at Belleayre just boomed this year. Gore had a huge jump. Whiteface had another big jump. Not everything was great. You know, our operational expenses also rose.”

The first resolution addressed a revision to ORDA’s capital budget. Pratt explained that an increase in maintenance funding requires an amendment to the financial plan.

“The biggest change that I think we're asking you guys to consider is the increase in the capital maintenance line item from $12.5 million to $20 million each year,” Pratt said. “And the rationale behind that is that over the last six years, the assets that we're insuring have doubled in value and we need to take care of these assets and infrastructure has got more sophisticated. There are going to be some more maintenance contracts and it's going to take money to take care of this stuff and keep it working as well as it is.”

After the budget adjustment was approved, the Board then reviewed 20 individual resolutions for improvement projects at ORDA facilities. Among them was an item to approve agreements for Belleayre Mountain Lodges improvements. Pratt explained that the lodges need improvements due to overcrowding and overdue upgrades.

“What we're looking to do is get authorization for engineering architecture, ordering long lead time items and bidding,” Pratt said. “So right now, we would get this resolution passed. We would come back to you in December for the construction contract approvals. Then start construction in April and have occupancy of these lodges ready for the ’24 – ‘25 ski season.”

“This overlook is historic.” Delaware County Board member Diane Monroe interjected. “It's also very challenging. So when I saw the cost of this, it also involves the kind of engineering that's going to be needed to shore that up?”

“Oh, absolutely," replied Pratt. "And I think the other thing that investing in the Overlook Lodge is going to do is it's going to force us to commit to installing in an elevator and, you know, just a lot of the code issues that have been grandfathered by that old building.”

ORDA Chair Joe Martens said he was pleased to hear finances are in good shape and the organization is hosting a greater number of winter events at the venues.

“It's pretty clear from the resolutions that you all just voted for that we're not just taking care of all this stuff, we're looking forward all the time,” Martens said. “And that I think is why ORDA has been so successful. It's constantly looking ahead: what needs to happen next, maintaining what you've got and is on top of the amazing amount of infrastructure. I mean, every one of these facilities is like operating its own little city with infrastructure, from the recreational equipment to the maintenance equipment to the wastewater systems, you name it. And on top of all that we've got a historic structure built at the top of a mountain that we have an obligation to maintain.”

All of the resolutions, totaling $38.3 million in upgrades, were approved by the ORDA Board of Directors.