Big Tupper will reopen this winter

TUPPER LAKE – As long as there’s snow in the forecast, people will be able to ski Big Tupper this winter.

Jim LaValley, chairman of ARISE (Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving their Economy), announced Monday that Big Tupper Ski Area, which was closed last winter, will be open for the 2013-14 season.

“One of the challenges we looked at last year that made us decide not to go forward with operating after three seasons was, what if we sold preseason tickets and we didn’t get the snow?” LaValley said. “It’s really hard to explain to people that we wouldn’t have the capability of paying them back. We have enough money in the bank now to mow the trails and wait for the snow.”

Last year, ARISE sold one of the the ski center’s groomers, which gave the group a little extra cash. Now, LaValley said, with a little luck and a lot of snow, Big Tupper could turn a corner financially.

To help maximize revenue, the ski center will be completely volunteer-run this winter. Day passes will cost $25. In the past, there have been up to four paid employees manning the center’s 25-plus trails.

Although he wouldn’t get into specifics, LaValley said this is just the beginning of Big Tupper’s role in Tupper Lake.

“You’re going to see some strong relationships being built with some groups,” LaValley said. “Our mission is focused entirely on helping the economy of Tupper Lake, but I think the relationships that we’re building and some of the endeavors we’re about to launch will be very exciting for the Tri-Lakes region as a whole.”

LaValley said he’s confident the Adirondack Club and Resort, which has been tied up in a legal battle, will happen soon. That, he said, will be the beginning of good things for Tupper Lake.

“I’m anticipating in February or March the appellate courts will rule, and at that point I hope the plaintiffs will say they’ve done what they’ve needed to do and leave Tupper Lake alone, and allow the Adirondack Club to happen,” LaValley said. “With that, I’ve always said the Adirondack Club is not the be-all and end-all, but it’s an incredible quarterback to build a team around.”

In the meantime, ARISE will focus on Big Tupper. Some of the proceeds from the upcoming OkTupperfest will go toward the operation of the ski center. LaValley also said a Snow Ball is in the works for December, and the downstate-based Rick Short Band has also shown interest in playing at a fundraiser.

“We want everybody to think snow,” LaValley said. “Think hard, and think snow.”