Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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Big Tupper Ski Area to close

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Big Tupper Ski Area to close
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It was announced Tuesday that the Big Tupper Ski Area would not be opening this winter. They cited pending litigation between environmentalist groups and the Adirondack Park Agency. Our Barry Wygel went to Tupper Lake to gage the potential impact on the community.

TUPPER LAKE, N.Y. -- Three years ago, a group of Tupper Lake residents got together and decided to reopen the Big Tupper Ski Area, which had been closed for 10 years.

"The goal was three years ago, I told the volunteers to give me two years and at that point, the Adirondack Club can assume the operation of the mountain," said Jim LaValley, chairman of ARISE.

During this time, there were competing interests on what should be the future of the ski area: Between ARISE, the group which currently manages the land, and Protect the Adirondacks, an environmentalist group. When the Adirondack Park Agency approved ARISE's plan to build a 600 unit resort, Protect the Adirondacks filed an Article 78 lawsuit against the agency.

"When the Article 78 was filed, it yanked the rug out from us receiving that cash," said LaValley.

LaValley claims this led to the closure of the ski area, while Protect the Adirondacks disagrees.

"We are being scapegoated for all types of unimagined consequences and all sorts of things in Tupper Lake that are going wrong,” said Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks.

"I would turn around and ask them, ‘would you invest in something when there is pending litigation?’ That's exactly what's going on here. There's pending litigation and who in their right mind would invest in that?" responded LaValley.

Bauer says that seven years ago, his group proposed a different project for the Big Tupper Ski Area.

"It was a smaller project and it was a phased project and it was differently configured, but the applicants wanted it his way or the highway the entire time," said Bauer.

Bauer says he was saddened by the news of Big Tupper closing, but that the village will survive. Others disagree.

"Businesses have already closed. They opened five years ago thinking, you know, Tupper Lake's going to start booming again, the ski slopes going to be open again, we're pushing for snowmobiling, we have a wonderful museum, but you take something like this, that is a vital part of the winter and take it away, it's huge,” said Sheila Larkin, a Tupper Lake business owner.

Bauer says he expects the lawsuit to wrap up sometime next year.

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