Town changes ORDA board representatives

LAKE PLACID – Two longtime state Olympic Regional Development Agency board members will soon be replaced.

Town of North Elba board members appointed Bloomberg Media Group CEO Andy Lack, whose resume also includes running NBC News and Sony Music Entertainment, and Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO Jim McKenna to the ORDA board Tuesday night.

They will replace Ed Weibrecht and Serge Lussi, both of whom have served on the board for about 15 years. Weibrecht has been serving on an expired term for the last 10 months, and Lussi’s term expires Dec. 31.

“Both of them have served Lake Placid so well for 15 years,” town Supervisor Roby Politi told the Enterprise Thursday morning. “They were outstanding community representatives. They did such a great job. They certainly will be missed.”

Lack and McKenna will serve five-year terms.

The town has one other representative on the ORDA board. Jerry Strack’s term expires Dec. 31, 2014.

Politi said the town board had about 10 people interested in the two seats, and they narrowed it down on a scale basis. Board members decided to go with fresh faces who will bring Lake Placid and ORDA into the future.

Before going into executive session to discuss the appointments at Tuesday’s board meeting, town Councilman Jay Rand said he didn’t have a problem considering new candidates for the board, but he did have a problem with doing it now.

Rand, a former manager of Whiteface Mountain Ski Center, said he’d have preferred to postpone the changing of the guard for a while, as ORDA heads into the winter with three ski slopes to manage. Weibrecht and Lussi were the most experienced people for the jobs, Rand said.

“I just think the timing is wrong,” he said, adding that he thought the decision was rushed.

Councilman Bob Miller said he respectfully disagreed. He said it was time for the town to take its responsibility seriously and move forward.

“We’ve been discussing this for well over a year,” Miller said.

Fresh faces

In the end, Politi said the decision in favor of Lack and McKenna was unanimous. Councilman Jack Favro abstained from voting on the topic. He works for the International Olympic Committee at Lake Placid’s Olympic Training Center.

Politi said the board wanted to find people who had a passion for the community and its sports mission.

“We feel that these two gentlemen have the qualifications, background and enthusiasm to accomplish what’s necessary for Lake Placid going forward in a partnership with the Olympic Regional Development Agency,” Politi told the Enterprise today.

Lack owns a $7.6 million home on Lake Placid, and Politi said “he has a passion for Lake Placid and our Olympic sports mission.

“He also has an amazing background,” Politi said.

As far as McKenna goes, Politi called him “Mr. Lake Placid.”

McKenna said he’s worked with ORDA plenty in the past through ROOST, and looks forward to forging a stronger relationship there.

“It’s a town appointment,” he said. “Our organization reports to the town on a monthly basis, so I think that’s very appropriate.”

McKenna said he has no specific plans going into the appointment, praising the leadership of ORDA Chairman Pat Barrett and CEO Ted Blazer. Working with any new board involves a period of getting oriented, and he said he’s looking forward to getting started.

“I’m very encouraged, I’m very enthused, and I’m very thankful to have the trust of the town board,” McKenna said.

Lack’s assistant told the Enterprise he was in Europe Thursday and couldn’t be reached for an interview.

ORDA spokesman Jon Lundin said the town hadn’t contacted ORDA regarding the appointments as of Thursday afternoon. The appointment still has to go through the state Senate and be approve by the governor’s office.

Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or jcollier@