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Governor Cuomo Announces New Investments to Increase Tourism in the Catskills and Hudson Valley Region

TOURISM

$9.1 Million to Expand and Modernize Discovery Lodge at Belleayre Ski Resort

Pedestrian-Friendly Olana Roundabout at Routes 9G and 23 in Greenport Now Open to Traffic

Sidewalk from Thomas Cole National Historic Site to Rip Van Winkle Bridge Open for Visitors

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $9.1 million to support the expansion and modernization of the Discovery Lodge at Belleayre Mountain Ski Resort. The project will improve resort offerings, helping to increase year-round visitation, enhance the customer experience and maintain Belleayre's status as a catalyst for the tourism industry in the Catskills. This funding furthers New York's investment of over $30 million into the Highmount ski area since 2011. The project is scheduled for completion in November of 2019.

"With an abundance of outdoor recreation and historic sites, the Hudson Valley is one of the most sought-after tourism destinations across the state," Governor Cuomo said. "By transforming the Catskill's iconic Belleayre Resort into a modern, state-of-the-art lodging facility, and improving the region's sidewalks and roadways to ensure pedestrian-friendly access to these notable sites, we can ensure that tourism remains an economic driver for the Hudson Valley for generations to come."

Pedestrian-Friendly Olana Roundabout 

The Governor also announced the fulfillment of a three-phase, $11.1 million tourism initiative for the Upper Hudson Valley Region. A $4.5 million, pedestrian friendly roundabout is now open at the intersection of Routes 9G and 23 in the town of Greenport, Columbia County. The new roundabout will serve to improve pedestrian and traffic safety, and link two nearby historic sites.

In addition, a sidewalk leading from Thomas Cole National Historic Site to the Rip Van Winkle Bridge is substantially complete, which allows visitors to walk along the Hudson River Skywalk in Greene County and eventually up to the Olana State Historic Site in Columbia County.

An economic analysis was conducted as part of the project, which estimates that new visitor spending generated by the Hudson River Skywalk in Columbia and Greene counties at local businesses, including restaurants and lodging, is expected to be approximately $4.53 million annually, resulting in the creation of 66 jobs. When included with the economic impact of the two historic sites it equates to $16.13 million annually, supporting 340 local jobs.

New York State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas said, "This new roundabout and the accompanying multi-use trails improve transportation for all travelers, whether they are driving, walking or bicycling. With links to Olana, the Hudson River Skywalk and the Thomas Cole site, this project will make it easier to enjoy the magnificence of the Upper Hudson Valley, while also making it easier for residents and visitors to navigate connections between Route 9G and Route 23."

New York State Bridge Authority Executive Director Joseph Ruggiero said, "The Hudson River Skywalk has now reached a critical moment of completion that will benefit the entire Catskill-Hudson Valley region for generations to come. This project showcases the natural beauty and the historical significance of this area while promoting tourism and providing an improved travel experience. This project has been an exceptional example of how a public-private partnership can and should work to achieve collective success."

Sean Sawyer, the Washburn and Susan Oberwager President of The Olana Partnership said, "Olana, the Thomas Cole Site, and the walkway connecting them over the Rip Van Winkle Bridge have now emerged as the centerpiece of an entire Region. Putting their stunning attributes to use in this way enables them to be a source of propulsion for the economies of the two counties and the entire Hudson River Valley."

Elizabeth Jacks, Executive Director of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site said, "The Hudson River Skywalk takes three ingredients - the two historic sites and the bridge - and links them, as never before, to create one catalyst for economic development that is unique nationally. It is visionary on a scale that is worthy of the legacy of Cole and Church."

Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell said, "Pedestrian-friendly paths are vital to the success of our community. The new roundabout and sidewalk will create more convenient and safe travel for visitors as they experience the beauty and history of our region. I applaud New York State for this necessary safety improvement."

Town of Greenport Town Supervisor Kathleen Eldridge said, "Today is an exciting day for the Catskill-Hudson Valley region. The opening of this new roundabout and connecting sidewalk will not only make travel safer and more efficient for all travelers, it will expand access to key historic sites in the region, ensuring residents and visitors alike can enjoy all the beauty and history the Catskills have to offer. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his commitment to increasing tourism in our region and across the entire state."

Discovery Lodge at Belleayre Ski Resort 

The proposed re-design of the Belleayre Mountain Ski Resort incorporates clean lines and a modern feel, paying homage to the mid-century modern structures that were once prominent in the Catskill region. The angled façade joins Scandinavian influence with local and regional materials.

Large aluminum-framed windows will accent dark colored cement siding with open views to the Catskills and surrounding slopes. Natural wood accents will be used in the roof overhangs, soffits and laminated veneer timbers. Steel framing, metal accents and regionally quarried stone from a New York quarry will provide a durable and attractive material in high traffic areas.

Raising the "spine" of the structure and reconfiguring the third floor administrative space will allow the building to utilize passive heating and cooling strategies by encouraging natural ventilation and a thermal chimney. High efficiency cooling and heating systems, new insulated glass with spectrally selective coatings, along with a higher performing thermal envelope will contribute to reducing energy consumption and lower operating costs.   

The expanded facility will allow Belleayre to increase year-round revenue opportunities, allowing the lodge to host a variety of events in all four seasons. With 4,600 square feet facing into the valley, an additional 5,500 square feet being added to the Stone and Copper Restaurant, and another 1,300 square feet being added to the covered deck, a total of 10,000 square feet will be available for event space. 

Seating capacity will increase to approximately 580, plus an additional 70 on the outdoor covered patio. The interior bar counter will also expand by 50 feet, as will the exterior bar counter. The project will also more than double available restrooms, increasing fixtures to over 24. Locker space will increase to over 228 linear feet, providing space for additional lockers.   

An expanded and improved rental shop, along with the use of modern digital technology will allow guests to access the slopes faster, check out equipment more efficiently and avoid bottlenecks with wider circulation paths and clear way finding signage in the newly created floor plan. The new design will also incorporate a new fire sprinkler system.

ORDA President and CEO Mike Pratt said, "Thanks to the Governor's continued support of Belleayre, the resort is experiencing a tremendous amount of growth.  This expansion further positions us as a destination-venue with world-class offerings that are all within driving distance from New York City."

Senator James L. Seward said, "Belleayre Mountain Ski Center is a vital component of the economy in the Catskills and one of the many reasons people visit our region of the state. With the new high-speed gondola and other upgrades already boosting Belleayre's year round attendance, it is crucial that the state continue to support additional improvements that will further enhance the resort's drawing power and generate repeat visits. I was proud to support this investment in Belleayre and will continue to make sure the state is committed to this leading economic development, tourism, and recreation mainstay."

Assembly Member Kevin Cahill said, "The promise to continue to support Belleayre Ski Center is a one that has been kept by the Legislature and Governor Cuomo. Tourism is critical to our economy and Belleayre is the centerpiece of that effort. Thanks to unprecedented investments in Belleayre by the people of New York State, this crown jewel of the region will continue to provide world class outdoor recreation and support economic growth for generations to come."

Greene County Legislative Chair Kevin Lewis said, "The Catskills are a historic tourist destination nationwide, and today's investment will help bring one of the area's premier resorts into the 21st century. I thank Governor Cuomo for this investment that will lead to increased visitation in the Catskills, job growth, and overall economic progress."

Ulster County Executive Mike Hein said, "I couldn't be more grateful to Governor Cuomo for his continued investment in Ulster County to help grow our economy and create new jobs. The Belleayre Ski Resort is one of Ulster County's signature destinations, drawing visitors from across the nation to the Catskills and contributing to our $587 million annual tourism industry. The newly expanded Discovery Lodge will continue to grow that industry by attracting even more visitors to experience our region's outstanding natural beauty and explore our abundant opportunities for outdoor adventure."

Sullivan County Chairman Luis Alvarez said, "New York's tourism industry has been an engine for economic growth and provides opportunities for thousands to take advantage of all the Empire State has to offer. The modernization of Belleayre Ski Resort will play a vital role in contributing to our regional economy and will offer a new and improved customer experience. I thank Governor Cuomo for this investment and for his continued support of communities in the Catskills."

Belleayre Ski Resort has generated increased the following year-round visitation and revenue since 2017:
  • Winter visits increased 28 percent to 140,815   
  • Winter sales revenue from snow sports and activities at the resort increased by over 21 percent to $5.4 million
  • 2018 summer visitation increased Year-Over-Year by over 10,000 guests  
  • 2018-19 Pre-season sales currently pacing at a record level of 56 percent over last year
Tourism in the Catskills 

Since taking office in 2011, Governor Cuomo has made unprecedented investments in New York State's tourism industry, resulting in historic levels of visitors and direct spending. Last year, New York welcomed a record 243.8 million visitors who spent $67.6 billion, generating a total economic impact of more than $100 billion for the fourth straight year. Tourism is now the state's third largest employer, supporting 938,800 jobs annually.

Nearly 12 million people visited the Catskills last year - 268,000 more visitors than 2016, and an 18 percent increase since 2011. Regional tourism generates more than $1.3 billion in direct visitor spending, including $161 million in State and local taxes, and supports more than 18,500 jobs across four counties.

Tourism in the Hudson Valley 

In 2017, more than 20.2 million people visited the Hudson Valley - 365,500 more visitors than the previous year, generating more than $3.6 billion in direct visitor spending. In addition, regional tourism generated nearly $448 million in state and local taxes, and supported more than 58,000 jobs in the Hudson Valley.

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