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Chances of cutting state cuts grow slimmer

Nov 25, 2010 2:21 pm

ULSTER COUNTY -- A report today from Jay Braman of the Kingston Daily Freeman, on the state's refusal to shift stream on its plans to make a majority of full time jobs at state-owned and Department of Environmental Conservation-run Belleayre Mountain Ski Center part time and seasonal , indicates a growing intransigence on the state's part towards the 900 plus job cuts it is instituting as cost-saving measures over the coming month.

"Despite protests from local residents and officials, the state says it isn’t reconsidering its plan to turn as many as 45 full-time employees of the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center into seasonal workers who will be laid off when the current ski season ends," Braman writes. "Although Belleayre is owned and operated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, that agency’s spokesman, Yancey Roy, said it’s not the one wielding the ax.

Erik Kriss, a spokesman for the state Division of the Budget, did not mince words, Braman reports.

“There hasn’t been a change in the plan, and there won’t be,” Kriss said when asked if the department had reconsidered the plan after last week’s Assembly Oversight Committee hearing on the matter.

More than 50 local residents and supporters of Belleayre Mountain had traveled to Albany last week to protest the elimination of so many permanent jobs at the ski center.

According to Joe Kelly, the chairman of the Coalition for Belleayre, the result leaves the ski area where it was when he started pushing for its expansion, and better treatment, 43 years ago.

Which further raises questions about whether the state will ever complete the "Agreement in Principal" former governor Eliot Spitzer signed with a local developer to help spur the creation of a mega-resort at the mountain, stalled since 2007 as all parties seek to complete cooperative planning for the Belleayre Resort, as well as a DEC expansion, as well as concurrent environmental review.

Braman quotes state legislators covering the Belleayre area vowing to continue their fight for the state-owned ski center, which has long been pegged as an economic development engine for the central Catskills.

But from what the Office of Budget's season, such actions may end up being more political than ultimately beneficial.

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