Pondering the idea of inclusivity 

whiteface ORDA venue
Whiteface file photo by Mike Lynch

State board mulling new mission statement for ORDA-run venues

By James M. Odato

The people running the New York-owned skiing attractions are changing their aspirations, and it could lead to broader access to those venues.

The Olympic Regional Development Authority’s board proposes a new mission statement. A draft includes phrases such as “commitment to environmental stewardship” and creating “economic and social benefit in the Adirondack and Catskill regions.”

But authority board member Elinor Tatum is calling for another version. She noted that the proposed statement lacks any mention of obligations to people with disabilities or Paralympians. And there is nothing in the draft about making the venues affordable, Tatum said.

“Is that part of our mission — to make it accessible to people who live there who work there?”

– ORDA board member Elinor Tatum

Tatum has been the designee the past two years of the state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. She raised the language revisions at ORDA’s February meeting, saying later that ORDA needs to reach for “the idea of being inclusive.” 

Art Lussi, the North Elba member, responded that he agreed with adding Paralympians to the statement.

The governance committee of the board agreed to redo the draft. The board was about to vote on the measure, but the action was postponed.

The current mission

To maximize the economic impact to the upstate region. We do this by increasing visitation to the Adirondack region by operating our venues (Olympic Center, Olympic Sports Complex, Olympic Jumping Complex, Whiteface Mountain, Gore Mountain) in a fiscally responsible manner while at the same time promoting environmental awareness, safety, fun and the Olympic spirit.

Tatum is a part-time ski instructor at Belleayre Mountain, the ski center outside the Adirondack Park that ORDA manages. Other sites include Mount Van Hoevenberg, Gore and Whiteface mountains.

The proposed mission statement was written with input from the board members and was reviewed in advance of the meeting. “Wait a second, I missed this,” Tatum said.

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About James Odato

In a career rooted in watchdog reporting, Explorer editor James M. Odato has been cited as one of New York’s top journalists covering state government, gambling, and abuse and waste of public money. He has written thousands of articles, his byline has appeared in numerous national publications and his investigative stories have spurred reforms. As a staff reporter for five daily newspapers, including the Albany Times Union and Buffalo News, Odato has received more than 30 awards from the Associated Press, New York Publishers Association, the New York Legislative Correspondents Association and other media organizations. In 2007, Investigative Reporters and Editors recognized his reporting with the Freedom of Information Award Medal. In October 2021, the University of Massachusetts Press released his book, This Brain Had a Mouth, Lucy Gwin and the Voice of Disability Nation.

Reader Interactions


  1. Worth Gretter says

    I think Elinor Tatum is on the right track.

    Here is the worst case scenario: People in the cities (the vast majority of the state’s population) decide they don’t care about the Adirondacks because they don’t feel welcome there, so they vote to approve a Constitutional amendment to open the whole thing to development.

    Beyond doing the right thing, our own selfish interest says we need to welcome everyone.

    • Adkskibum says

      That would be a sea change in how non-Adirondack residents vote on changes to the State Constitution re the Adirondacks. Historically they’ve been very supportive of preserving the Adirondack Park.

      If you live in and work in concrete canyons, the idea of having pristine green canyons a few hours away is a dream.

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