TUPPER LAKE - On Sept. 25, Jim LaValley announced that the Big Tupper Ski Area won't open this ski season.
Then on Oct. 5, his organization sent some paperwork to the state Adirondack Park Agency to help complete its application to operate the ski slope this year.
The APA permit application is still active, and the APA is awaiting final materials to begin a review of the project.
Runners descend a Big Tupper Ski Area trail in the Mud Run at OkTupperFest, a fundraiser for the local group that has run the ski area the last three winters, on Oct. 6.
(Enterprise file photo — Jessica Collier)
"What they will do with that permit at this point, we do not know, but they are seeking a renewal to continue operation for another year," APA Deputy Director of Regulatory Programs Rick Weber told the Regulatory Programs Committee at last week's APA meeting.
"There's still hope there, I guess," LaValley told the Enterprise Wednesday. He's the head of Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving Their Economy, the nonprofit group that ran Big Tupper the last three ski seasons.
"You know, when you see little kids out doing bake sales and stuff, it's like, God, I just keep hoping that we've missed something and there might be an opportunity out there somehow, somewhere," LaValley said.
He said that mechanically, the mountain is in good shape and ready to go, but there are some other loose ends that need to be tied up if the ski area were to operate this year. The APA permit would need to be completed, the ski patrol would need to do a drill before it's prepared for the year, and the insurance is "on the edge" of lapsing, LaValley said.
LaValley declined to put a number to the chance of the ski area opening, but he said it could happen.
"There are some people who are working very diligently to figure out a way to see if there's any possibility at all," LaValley said. "I just want to make sure we've exhausted every possibility."
THE ADIRONDACK CLUB AND RESORT, proposed by a Pennsylvania-based investment group called Preserve Associates, would overhaul the Big Tupper Ski Area in Tupper Lake and build out the land around it with about 700 luxury housing units and various amenities including a spa, a marina and an equestrian center. The project received permits from the state Adirondack Park Agency on Jan. 20 after eight years of negotiating, reworking the application and an extensive adjudicatory hearing.
In March, two environmental groups and three nearby landowners filed a lawsuit to challenge the APA's decision. That suit is working its way through state courts.
In addition to that, the project must also obtain a number of other approvals, including from the state departments of Environmental Conservation and Health, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the local town-village planning board.
The APA requested additional information on Sept. 12. Weber sent LaValley a letter asking for confirmation that ARISE has the authority to operate the Mitey Mite rope tow or to revise the application to not include use of the tow, since two areas of the application imply that ARISE will only operate chairlifts 1 and 2.
Weber requested information about ARISE's lease to use the ski facility. He wrote in his letter that the lease ARISE submitted states that Mt. Morris Property Management LLC is the landlord of the site, and he asks for a copy of the lease agreement between the current landowner and Mt. Morris Property Management and documentation that shows Michael Foxman is the authorized representative of that entity. Foxman is the lead developer of the Adirondack Club and Resort, the development planned for the ski area.
ARISE provided some of the requested information, but not all, on Oct. 5. The Enterprise could not determine which of the requests were fulfilled by press time.
Senior Staff Writer Chris Knight contributed to this story.