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Big Tupper closes

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TUPPER LAKE — The volunteer organization that has operated Big Tupper for the past three years blamed the decision to close the ski area’s on a lawsuit filed by PROTECT the Adirondacks and the Sierra Club that seeks to kill the Adirondack Club & Resort project.

The groups that have filed the suit, however, blame a lack of operating capital and a winter with little snow for the closure.

“The board and membership of PROTECT and the Sierra Club should be ashamed at the way they have chosen to attack a community by using Article 78 lawsuits in a frivolous manner, and as a weapon against a project that was approved by the Adirondack Park Agency commissioners with a 10-1 vote after eight years of review,” James M. LaValley, chairman of Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving Their Economy of Northern New York, said in a statement.

Peter D. Bauer, PROTECT executive director, said his organization is being used as a scapegoat for a lack of investors interested in making the ski area a showcase.

“Our lawsuit should not be viewed as an obstacle,” he said.

The lawsuit questions the process by which the resort was approved.

“We felt the APA did not follow its law,” Mr. Bauer said.

The failure of the ski area has more to do with a lack of snow-making equipment and last season’s lack of snow than opposition to the resort, he said. He challenged Mr. LaValley to produce an investor scared away by the lawsuit.

“There’s never a real human behind it,” he said.

Local officials have pushed the 6,200-acre project, which would usher in hundreds of new homes along with the roads, sewer and water lines to support them, as a way to improve the economy of a depressed area.

The project includes a lakefront marina and redevelopment of the ski area.

ARISE opened the ski area while the developer worked on APA approval for the overall project.

“We had tremendous enthusiasm the first year,” Mr. LaValley said.

The group initially raised about $80,000, which it has used to carry itself for three years.

However, it costs an average of $160,000 annually to operate the ski area, Mr. LaValley said. Last winter was the worst season because of a lack of snow.

“We’ve been operating in the red,” Mr. LaValley said. “The volunteer well is getting very dry.”

Even if the group was financially able to operate Big Tupper, Mr. LaValley estimated the organization would have to continue its work for three to six more years because of the on-going threat of lawsuits and the time it takes to resolve them.

“We cannot expect the volunteers to continue for that long, nor can we afford to,” he said.

ARISE members agree that the APA will eventually prevail in the lawsuit, which Mr. LaValley believes is frivolous.

“It really was stomping on an entire community,” he said.

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