HIGHMOUNT - Don't say they didn't warn you.
When the Olympic Regional Development Authority announced it was taking over management of the state-owned Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, it said changes were coming.
One such change is the end of a longtime agreement under which residents of Shandaken, the town in which Belleayre is located, got to ski on Sundays for deeply discounted rates. The deal also included free ski lessons and rental equipment, both of which are being discontinued, too.
"As someone who learned to ski 30 years ago under this program, I'm disheartened to announce that, at this time, there will be no ski program (for Shandaken residents) at Belleayre," town Supervisor Rob Stanley announced recently. "If you have any concerns or complaints, please direct your calls or emails to Belleayre or to ORDA."
Stanley said he began negotiating with officials from the authority months ago about keeping the Shandaken ski program but could not strike a deal similar to the one that's existed for decades under the state Department of Environmental Conservation's management of Belleayre.
"ORDA has offered us a program that has been drastically reduced from previous years," Stanley said.
Any such program would be for only six Sundays, and none of them could be on a holiday weekend, the supervisor said. Also, he said, the program would be limited to people ages 8-18, and anyone participating would need to pay in advance.
Viewing those terms as unacceptable, Stanley approached the Onteora school district to see if it would become a partner with ORDA for such a program because what was being offered was only for children, but district officials declined.
Stanley said the deal offered by ORDA is the same one it provides to the communities that surround its other ski centers, Whiteface and Gore mountains in the Adirondacks.