Thompson Parks and Rec Member
Against Holiday Mountain's Sale
By John Emerson
MONTICELLO April 28, 2000 -- At least one member of the Town of Thompson Parks and Recreation Commission doesnt think its a good idea for the town to sell Holiday Mountain Ski Area and believes the voters should make the decision to sell the facility.
Commission member Todd Glick is waging an informal campaign to force the issue onto the ballot, if it ever reaches the stage where it can be sold. At the moment, the sale is in limbo, waiting for the state legislature to approve legislation that would permit the sale to go forward.
I am against selling it, he said. The town and the county have a very valuable commodity here. In todays environment with the potential of gambling coming in, giving up control of the future is a very bad idea. The sale price is not close enough to the value if gaming comes.
Cellini and the Thompson Town Board have found a buyer for the ski area and are waiting for a lease/purchase agreement to be drawn up that will keep the ski area open but remove it from the towns control. If all goes well, the new owner of the area will be Craig Passante, the son of the Villa Roma Resorts Marty Passante.
The town has operated the ski area since it opened 40 years ago. Although there has always been spin-off business that helped both the town and the county during the slower winter season, during the last ten years or so, the losses have mounted to more than $3 million. Money has been made up through taxes.
Although Glick acknowledges the perennial operating losses, he argues that those losses are manageable for the average taxpayer. He also points out that, when the loss is divided among the town tax base, the loss per taxpayer is minimal.
If the town saves $300,000 per year, people think their tax bill is going down 30 percent, he said. What it amounts to is only $40 or $50 for the average homeowner.
The agreement calls for Passante to lease Holiday Mountain for two years at $100,000 per year and buy it in the third year for $1 million. Under state law, the sale is subject to a referendum by town voters if sufficient signatures asking for a vote are gathered.
Thus far, Glick has been conducting his campaign to keep the ski hill in town hands on an informal basis. He said he has spoken to a number of people, including members of the county legislature.
In the meantime, Thompson Councilman John Washington, the town boards liaison with the commission, is equally convinced the ski areas sale is in the best interests of the taxpayers.
I know that its great for the kids and valuable for the town and county, but its not right that the taxpayers have to fund it, he said. Government certainly doesnt belong in business. The town has a proven record of non-performance at Holiday Mountain. If it keeps costing you money, it proves its not viable. Weve brought in an entity that can turn this into a profitable venue.
The Passantes have a track record here in Sullivan County and can show they know what theyre doing, said Cellini. Its going to be great.