South Bristol, N.Y. -
The owner of Bristol Mountain Ski Resort has joined a coalition of business owners fighting what they claim are unfair competitive practices of Belleayre Mountain, a state-owned and operated ski facility in Ulster County.
According to the Coalition for Economic Equality, an organization of private companies that are losing business because of competition from Belleayre, the state facility is a threat because it pays no taxes, doesn’t buy health and other types of insurance or workers’ compensation, or pay for dozens of usual and normal operating expenses. As a result, Belleayre can offer below-cost tickets, and competing recreation centers have lost business, the coalition charges.
“Recently, a central New York ski club which had booked a trip to Bristol Mountain canceled at the last moment because Belleayre offered them $15 tickets,” said Bristol Mountain owner Dan Fuller. “We can’t sell $15 tickets and stay in business.
“At a time when state government is facing budget deficits and everyone is having a hard time financially, it seems silly that New York taxpayers are subsidizing millions of dollars worth of ski tickets so Belleayre can give them away or sell them at a loss,” he added.
Fuller said Tuesday that the ski club that went to Belleayre instead of Bristol had about 40 members, and losing that business alone won’t make or break Bristol. But the incident illustrates how Belleayre’s “predatory policies” can hurt private businesses over the long haul, he said.
“All we want to do is compete on a level playing field,” said Fuller.
Rick Roxin, general manager of Hunt Hollow Ski Club in Naples, said Hunt Hollow isn’t directly affected by competition from Belleayre. Even so, he said the state-supported facility makes it even harder for private resorts to be successful, what with escalating fuels costs and other expenses to deal with.
According to the coalition, Belleayre lost more than $1.1 million a year over the past two years despite receiving millions of taxpayer dollars. “This will only get worse,” said Russ Coloton, head of the coalition and president of Hunter Mountain Ski Resort.
Coloton’s resort is in Greene County in the Catskills, and he said the coalition will lobby state officials to place “financial controls” on Belleayre, making it responsible for paying its way like private resorts do. If the state goes forward with a plan to expand the facility without making those changes, “the result is putting a number of private recreation enterprises out of business,” Coloton stated.
“It will mean millions of dollars of local taxes lost, thousands of people put out of work, and it will be bad news for the communities we have been a part of for years.”
For information, visit nytaxpayers4equality.org.
Contact Julie Sherwood at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 263, or at [email protected]