LAKE PLACID — Olympic Regional Development Authority Board members are looking at $76 million worth of infrastructure renovations and new construction at winter sports venues this year.Eight projects, including the new conference center in Lake Placid, have environmental approval, with a total $58 million in funding in place.
"We are continuing with the design portion of elements for the conference center," ORDA Chief Executive Officer Ted Blazer reported this week.Architects, he said, are ready to meet with the board.ORDA Chairman Pat Barrett, who took the helm at the beginning of this year, emphasized the importance of the building's development."This is an extremely important project for Lake Placid, and we have got to get it right."No new renderings were presented at the meeting.Compressor replacement at both Whiteface and Gore Mountain ski areas will consume $5 million and Burnt Ridge development at Gore Mountain another $7 million.Close to $400,000 will be spent to update the Mt. Van Hoevenberg sled tracks, including improvements to the luge start ahead of 2009 World Championships competition.Pump repair at the freestyle jumping pool will cost $50,000.In addition, ORDA directors voted unanimously to borrow $8 million for two projects currently without funding.They plan to build a children's learning ski center at Gore Mountain by next November and start building the Tree Island Pod trails at Whiteface.
Construction on the Pod trails will start once funding is secured, Blazer said.But no construction will take place above 2,800 feet for several months to avoid critical nesting times of the Bicknell thrush, a rare species of songbird that thrives in alpine terrain."No construction above 2,800 feet will be done prior to Aug. 1 or after June 1 to protect the birds' habitat during breeding," Blazer said.The environmentally sensitive schedule was accomplished, he said, in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Conservation and several environmental groups."The crew at Whiteface have done a remarkable job to make sure we're living up to the mitigation measures," said ORDA's DEC representative, Stuart Buchanan.Bicknell's thrush habitat will be closely monitored post-construction, Blazer said.
The controversial Gore Ski Bowl connection and lodge, which was appropriated more than $5 million in the state budget, has not been approved by the Adirondack Park Agency.It is tagged "funded, without environmental approval."Blazer said the application is ready to go before the APA, though several environmental concerns remain in discussion.Aside from the investment, ORDA's numbers are projected to be improved at fiscal year's end March 31, Blazer said.The Olympic venues are projected to close at about a $1.2 million deficit, versus $3.3 million last year.The next ORDA Board meeting will be held April 17.