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ORDA board OKs Olympic venue contracts

Lake Placid’s Jack Lawrence speeds down the renovated 90-meter ski jump, complete with new frost rails and lights, on Jan. 9, 2020, in Lake Placid. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

LAKE PLACID — The state Olympic Regional Development Authority’s board of directors met Friday and approved a slate of contracts for work on the winter sports venues the authority oversees.

All of the contracts approved this past Friday were for work on venues in the Lake Placid area, including at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center, Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg, and the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex, all three of which have been under construction in one way or another for the past few years. Local and state officials have presented upgrades at these venues as preparations ahead of the 2023 World University Games.

The first contract the board approved last week is with Salt Lake City’s Doppelmayr USA, a lift manufacturer that ORDA has frequently contracted with in the past. Doppelmayr is the same agency that manufactured and installed the Cloudsplitter gondola at Whiteface 20 years ago and has been contracted to maintain it ever since.

Doppelmayr was asked to upgrade the Cloudsplitter gondola system at Whiteface and install new gondola cabins for more than $2.4 million in 2019. The board last week authorized ORDA to pay Doppelmayr an additional $2.17 million for electrical and control system work on the gondola, with expected completion by July 21.

The second resolution the board approved was for what’s called a change order, an alteration to the price and/or scope of an existing contract. Citing a litany of setbacks during site work at Mount Van Hoevenberg, the change order sought to increase the payout for some of the work there — which included the installation of a wastewater collection and treatment system and other site work — by $553,458, to a total of more than $29.1 million, according to ORDA documents.

The original contract approved back in 2019 was for $25.6 million, but that price has been revised several times since then as contractors discovered more issues.

Some of the problems included the discovery of high groundwater in the area initially set aside for the wastewater system, making it not suitable for the system and necessitating a move; the discovery that the existing wells on site had less capacity than believed, requiring a new well to be installed to accommodate the water demand for the snowmaking system, and modifications to a pump system on site; and the discovery that the basis of a reservoir design didn’t fully reflect the reality of the site, requiring the contractor to revise plans for the reservoir.

The price was also increased because ORDA at times changed the scope of the project. For example, the agency increased the number of electric vehicle charging stations that needed utility hookups at the site from six single-vehicle stations to 10 dual-vehicle stations, according to ORDA documents.

The recent upgrades at Mount Van Hoevenberg include the construction of a new base lodge, expanded ski trails, a new snowmaking system, a new biathlon shooting range and Nordic ski stadium, a mountain coaster and a new hiking trailhead for Cascade and Porter mountains.

The third resolution approved by the board last week authorized ORDA CEO Michael Pratt to sign various contracts with companies related to the ski jumps: upgrades to the outruns, a snowmaking system, and electrical and information technology systems. The total cost of these projects is approximately $11.3 million, according to ORDA documents.

The board also approved a resolution allowing Pratt to sign a contract for an update of ORDA’s worker compensation insurance policy; a resolution adopting a background check policy; and a resolution adopting an open data policy, which will require ORDA to publish some of its operational data online for the public to view.

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