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Whiteface, Gore ski areas honored; conference center construction on deck

May 1, 2008
GEORGE EARL, For the News
LAKE PLACID — Visitors Choice awards, based on nationwide consumer ratings, recently named Whiteface Mountain Ski Center the best in the East for night life while crediting the state’s other ski area, Gore Mountain, with the best terrain, but new development plans may give Whiteface an improved edge on skiing this winter.

A new triple chairlift, four new ski trails and 52 acres of glade skiing are being built at Whiteface Mountain, and cutting of the trails has already begun. Three expert ski trails and one intermediate trail will be open to skiers by December, ORDA spokesman Sandy Caligiore said. The new lift and trails will be completed in October.

The portion of the mountain being developed, called Lookout Mountain, has an old lodge that was built around the 1940s called Porcupine Lodge — a holdover from a time when a few ski trails existed on this section of the mountain, according to Caligiore. The state Olympic Regional Development Authority, which runs Whiteface, Gore and the Lake Placid winter sports venues, plans to run the new triple lift right up to the old lodge, opening it to cold, hungry skiers after many years of dormancy.

“Porcupine Lodge is in terrific shape,” ORDA President Ted Blazer said. “It is very unique, and we think it’s going to be a great place to warm up.”

Other developments include a revamped Kids Kampus intended to make the mountain more family friendly. Parents will have the option of dropping their kids off for the day and skiing on their own. The kids’ center has its own lifts and tickets for kids, but grown-ups will be allowed to come and go as they please, Caligiore said.

Final plans for Conference Center

The deadline for construction bids has been extended and ORDA will be accepting bids until May 22.

The bid for demolition of the old conference center and Lussi Rink will not be awarded until construction plans are finalizd.

ORDA has raised $22 million from the state and $1 million in private money to fund the project, which the authority hopes to complete in the fall of 2009, Blazer said.

ORDA claims the construction of the building will employ many workers and that the completed facility will create about 10 to 15 new full-time jobs as well as additional contracting and part-time jobs.

The design of the building has been controversial; Blazer said ORDA decided to look to the future rather than try to meld it with the older architecture of the 1932 Olympic Center next door. The result is a three-story glass facade that tilts out in the direction of the street. The building plan will contain office space for the Lake Placid/Essex County Visitors Bureau, conference and convention halls, and a third-story ballroom. ORDA spokesman Sandy Caligiore said the building is designed to meet the environmental engineering standards set by the U.S. Building Council to promote energy efficiency.

“The improvements, between the conference center and regional airports, could certainly bump up visitation to the area,” Caligiore said.

Town of North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi said, “It is necessary to continue to upgrade facilities because we need to remain competitive and draw people to the area. This benefits all of Essex County.”

Contact George Earl at 891-2600 ext. 25 or gearl@


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