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Some ORDA construction projects to be put on hold

LAKE PLACID — Parts of multi-million dollar improvement projects at Lake Placid’s Olympic sites are expected to come to a halt.

An executive order signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo more than a week ago, and revised recently, directs construction companies to stop all “non-essential” work as concerns mount over the spread of the novel coronavirus. It was initially unclear if construction projects being undertaken by the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, which manages state-owned sports venues, would qualify as essential and be exempt from the order.

Because it’s a state authority, ORDA is exempt from the order, according to ORDA CEO Michael Pratt. But despite being exempt, the authority is evaluating what projects can be stopped for the time being, and which ones can move forward with social distancing practices.

On March 20, Cuomo signed an executive order implementing a 10-point policy to direct the closure of businesses deemed “non-essential.” The initial version of that order included construction companies in the list of essential services exempt from the order. One week later, after concerns arose over the lack of social distancing at some construction sites, Cuomo ordered companies to halt all non-essential construction across the state.

According to Empire State Development, essential construction includes projects such as roads, bridges, hospitals, affordable housing and homeless shelters. It also includes projects where only one person would be working. Non-essential construction is allowed only in the event of an emergency, such as if a project is necessary to protect the health and safety of an occupant or if leaving a project unfinished could be unsafe.

Those who don’t follow the mandate could face a $10,000 fine per violation.

The executive order allows state and local governments, as well as schools, to still move forward with construction projects, according to Pratt.

ORDA is in the midst of working on upgrades to its facilities in preparation for the 2023 Winter World University Games. The games are an Olympic-style event expected to draw thousands of athletes and spectators to the North County for two weeks of winter sports competition.

The state has invested nearly $240 million in the last few years to venues managed by the authority, including Whiteface, Gore and Belleayre Mountain ski centers, the Olympic Jumping Complex, the Olympic Center and the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg.

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