ORDA OKs new lodge, lifts
LAKE PLACID — The state Olympic Regional Development Authority Board of Directors approved more than $91.7 million in upcoming capital projects on Monday, including the construction of a new lodge at the North Creek Ski Bowl and a new lift at Whiteface Mountain.
The ORDA board passed 16 resolutions that will allow the authority to use its capital budget for the projects. The board also renewed a food service contract and approved the purchase of a new haul truck for Gore Mountain.
ORDA’s capital budget is separate from its operational budget — the hundreds of millions of dollars the state has invested into upgrades to ORDA’s winter sports venues over the past few years are part of ORDA’s capital budget. The state recently approved another $105 million for ORDA projects in its 2023 fiscal year budget. ORDA got $105 million in the 2021-2022 state budget, $144.5 million in the 2020-2021 budget, $80 million in 2018-2019 and $20 million in the 2017-2018 budget.
ORDA Director of Communications Darcy Norfolk said all of the projects approved during Monday’s board of directors meeting would be funded by the 2023 capital budget; however, more than $22 million of the cost of a $27.6 million ski lift overhaul is expected to be pushed into the 2023-2024 fiscal year, according to board documents.
Let’s get lifted
ORDA is spending more than $38 million of its capital budget on replacing, repairing and installing new ski lifts across Whiteface, Gore and Belleayre mountains, according to board documents.
The authority wants to install a new year-round lift at Whiteface that would take skiiers from the Bear Den Lodge to the new Legacy Lodge. ORDA had to submit an amendment to the mountain’s Unit Management Plan to the Adirondack Park Agency for the project. The amendment has to be approved by the agency board before ORDA can green-light construction of the new lift. The public comment period for the project ended on April 11. If the UMP amendment is approved, the project would come with a $16.5 million price tag, according to board documents.
At Belleayre, two projects are also waiting on UMP amendment approval. Those projects would install a new lift on the mountain and replace and realign lift seven, which together would cost $7.2 million, according to board documents. Two other projects at the mountain don’t need approval; lift six will get electrical improvements and parts replacements for more than $1.6 million, and lift eight will get a new electrical system and operator buildings for $400,000, according to board documents.
The authority plans to replace the Hudson Chair lift at Gore Mountain with a four-person detachable lift, a more than $8.7 million project, according to board documents, for year-round operations on the 46er trail. Also at Gore, the authority plans to replace and extend the Bear Cub Poma lift with an aerial lift. That would cost approximately $3.5 million, according to board documents.
ORDA CEO Mike Pratt said the authority is investing in a new lodge at the North Creek Ski Bowl, which is expected to be built on the site of the ski bowl’s former historic lodge. The former lodge was demolished by fire in 1999. The new year-round lodge is expected to be more than 18,000 square feet and cost around $19.7 million, according to board documents. ORDA plans to have dining, ticketing, ski patrol and first aid there. A rendering of the lodge shows a multi-level building with a two-level outdoor patio that’s lined with Adirondack chairs. ORDA wants to construct the building with wood and stone materials as a stylistic homage to the original lodge.
Former state Sen. Betty Little, who sits on ORDA’s board of directors, applauded the project on Monday. She said that she and other local officials have advocated for improvements to the Ski Bowl since the 1980s.
“This is a major, significant development — actually, conclusion — to the dream that they have had for so many years: that the ski bowl would become productive, significant and real part of the mix, and it would bring the business section of North Creek into a whole different atmosphere,” she said.
In December 2002, town of Johnsburg board members approved a contract with ORDA — which operates nearby Gore Mountain ski center — to run the winter facilities at the North Creek Ski Bowl, which is owned by the town. ORDA staff began operating the Ski Bowl tubing run in January 2003 and later the ski facilities and have made lift and trail improvements since that time. The Ski Bowl was established in 1934.
The ski bowl is also getting a new treetop trolley ride up the mountain — which includes switchbacks and spirals along the route — for $7.25 million, according to board documents. The trolley would descend straightaways at around 30 mph. Pratt said there are only two other trolleys like that in the U.S.
The ORDA board of directors approved several other improvements to Olympic facilities, including more than $11 million for snowmaking and trail improvements across Whiteface, Gore and Belleayre mountains, according to board documents.
The authority plans to do some remodeling at the Olympic Center for $6 million, board documents show. That mainly includes rink refrigeration and locker room improvements, a new Zamboni garage, and a new storage and maintenance building. The building is planned to go up behind the 1980 rink, which would give ORDA staff a central access location to all of the center’s ice rinks. It wasn’t immediately clear by press time Monday whether or not this $6 million building project is part of ORDA’s estimated $100 million overhaul of the center or separate.
There’s also another $4.5 million set aside for various projects at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, according to board documents, which includes remodeling and modernizing support buildings there to create more space for administrative staff.
The authority plans to install pre-built restrooms at the Whiteface Finish Arena, at Mt. Van Hoevenberg’s bobsled, coaster, and hiking area, and at Belleayre to replace the port-a-potty there, which has a total project cost of approximately $1.5 million, according to board documents.
Whiteface will also get 3,500 feet of new power lines for $1.1 million, and the North Creek Ski Bowl electrical system is getting a $1.28 million makeover, according to board documents.
The board also approved a change order for a $22.8 million contract for work at the Olympic Center. Pratt said that workers found some additional problems while performing previously contracted work. ORDA is tacking on another $650,000 to the job, for a new contract price of $23.6 million, according to board documents.
CORRECTIONS: An earlier version of this article incorrectly attributed the source of an estimated cost of the new lodge at the North Creek Ski Bowl. The estimated figure came from ORDA board documents, not ORDA CEO Mike Pratt. Also, information about the North Creek Ski Bowl has been updated to include the state Olympic Regional Development Authority’s December 2002 contract with the town of Johnsburg to operate winter facilities at the town-owned property. The Enterprise regrets the errors.