January 15, 2007

Economic loss from warmth $2.5M


Bob Ellis/staff photographer    
Rep. Michael Arcuri, right, chats with Rick Bunnell, director of marketing and snow sports at Labrador Mountain Ski Resort in Truxton Saturday afternoon. Bunnell was describing how business at the ski center has been the worst he’s seen in 30 years because of lack of snow. Cortland County Business Development Corp./Industrial Development Agency is working with the Cortland County Emergency Management Office in seeking an economic injury declaration to assist local businesses in applying for state disaster loan assistance. 

Staff Reporter

TRUXTON — On a rainy, overcast afternoon, Rep. Michael Arcuri visited Labrador Mountain Ski Resort Saturday to support a request for state disaster aid for area weather-dependent businesses harmed by the mild winter.
Eleven businesses have sustained more than $2.5 million in losses and 398 job losses, according to a press release issued by the Cortland County Business Development Corp./Industrial Development Agency.
As a result, the county is working on an application for a Small Business Administration disaster declaration from the State Emergency Management Office.
Arcuri (D-Utica) said he would appeal to the governor to try to have an economic emergency declared in the county. If the county is declared as such, businesses affected could apply for low interest loans through the state Small Business Administration, he said.
“The lack of snow has hurt some businesses,” Arcuri said. “They are opened less than half the time.”
DeRusso said she has a meeting Tuesday in Syracuse about the relief. Information on revenues and employment will then be forwarded to Albany, she said.
She expects the governor will make a decision about whether Cortland County businesses are eligible for the loans by Wednesday or Thursday.
She said as long as businesses can prove they have lost 40 percent of their revenue as a result of the warm weather, and that they will be able to pay back the loans, it is pretty much a given they will get the loan.
Rick Bunnell, director of marketing and snow sports for Labrador Mountain Ski Resort, said business has decreased by 60 to 65 percent because of the warm weather.
Bunnell said since its opening day on Dec. 9, Labrador Mountain has been open a total of 15 days. Under usual circumstances the resort would have been open from 45 to 52 days during that period, he added. Bunnell said the resort has lost about $400,000 in revenue since Dec. 1 and has only used about 30 of its 300 employees.
That drop in work hurts the winter tourism industry and the community as a whole, he said.
The survey of affected businesses does not include hotels, which are doing 20 percent of their business, said Linda Hartsock, executive director of the BDC/IDA. Total loses may exceed $3 million, she added. Doug Clark, owner of Doug’s Powersports on West Road, said his business has taken in $120,000 less in revenue this season than it had at this point last year.
A lack of snow at the beginning of the ski season has played a major role in the revenue drop, he said.
“It has affected us immensely because people in our industry buy early in anticipation of a good winter,” he said.
Clark said his business will likely apply for a low-interest loan if is eligible to do so.
DeRusso said other counties, such as Delaware County, are applying for the loans. This is the first time the county has sought aid for businesses hurt by warm weather, she said.
She said the county has received state aid for weather-related economic emergencies before. Farmers have received aid during droughts and when conditions were too wet for them to plant.
She said the last time farmers received aid was in summer 2005. Flood conditions in April kept farmers from planting, while dry conditions in the summer hurt their harvest, she said.
Not all businesses hurt by the warm weather plan on applying for the loans.
Dave Law, who owns CNY Power Sports on Route 11 in Polkville and has seen snow-related business drop by 50 percent, said his business will apply for the loans as a last resort. He said he hopes revenue from sales of non-winter-related products will offset the revenue losses.
Bunnell said his loses cannot be recouped, but the loans would help.
“This is a working capital loan to get them through this stretch,” Hartsock said. “Hopefully they can keep their payrolls and keep people employed.”
Staff reporter Christine Laubenstein contributed to this article.



Icy weather statewide causes accidents, 1 death

Less ice means fewer problems in the Cortland area

ALBANY (AP) — Icy roads caused dozens of accidents and at least one death Sunday as eastern New York got its first blast of treacherous winter weather in an otherwise mild season.
Cortland County received its dose of severe weather early this morning, said Bob Hudgins, a hydrometeorological technician with the National Weather Service in Binghamton, but area police agencies said they had not responded to any serious accidents in the county.
A winter storm warning was issued at 7 p.m. Sunday, and Hudgins said it should remain in effect until 6 p.m. today. The National Weather Service received reports of downed power lines in Cortland County.
The only local weather-related cancellation announced as of this morning was for a Homer Intermediate Ski Club outing Tuesday at Labrador Mountain Ski Resort in Truxton.
The National Weather Service issued winter weather advisories Sunday morning for freezing rain, but said the worst weather was expected overnight Sunday. A storm moving northward from the Ohio Valley was expected to bring a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain.
Winter storm warnings were issued for much of western and northern New York Sunday night. In northeastern New York, total snowfall was expected to be 2 to 3 inches, but heavy ice accumulations were possible. Snowfall could total 5 to 10 inches in the Adirondacks.
In Western New York, accumulations of 5 to 9 inches of snow were expected from Niagara Falls to Rochester, with as much as 6 to 12 inches over Oswego County.
The temperature locally should remain in the lower 40s for the rest of today, and Hudgins said the forecast calls for rain switching over to snow sometime after midnight. About an inch of accumulation is expected, and there is a 50-percent chance of snow Tuesday, with highs only in the 20s. The temperature could drop down to about 5 degrees, Hudgins said, with a northwest wind of about 10 to 15 miles an hour Tuesday evening.
Drizzle froze on highways across the state early Sunday, resulting in black ice.
In Syracuse, Interstate 81 was closed for about two hours after about 30 cars were involved in six accidents blamed on black ice early Sunday. Several people were taken to hospitals with injuries.
On the Patroon Island Bridge carrying Interstate 90 over the Hudson River at Albany, several cars were involved in an accident at 2:15 a.m., State Police said. Passengers got out of one of the vehicles to see if anyone was injured.
Peter Deangelis, 22, of Nassau, tried to climb onto the bridge railing to avoid being hit by a sliding car after he had gotten out of his crashed car. He fell about 90 feet to the road below and was pronounced dead while being taken to the hospital, police said.
Staff reporter Evan Geibel contributed to this article.



Dryden DOT barn still in the works

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — Construction of a 58,000-square-foot state Department of Transportation maintenance facility is expected to begin in the spring. The facility in the village would include office and garage space.
Ron Moore, interim village superintendent of public works, said the state has made changes to its original plan, and does not know the current cost. He said the state plans to built a salt storage building first, so DOT drivers can reload there, instead of in either Ithaca or Cortlandville.
The facility was proposed in April of 2003 for the village _of Dryden. The project has yet to _be built and design plans are _not even 50 percent completed, said Anthony Ilacqua the state DOT regional director of media relation.
“Design plans for the remainder of the project are 20 percent complete at this time.”
The project would be built on 10.8 acres of land at the intersection of Enterprise and Ellis drives. Ellis Drive is off Route 13 and Enterprise Drive is off Route 38.
The Village Board of Trustees approved the annexation of about 21 acres, which included this site, in February 2004.
The town approved the annexation the following month in a _3-2 vote.
Ilacqua said the DOT bought the land in August for $365,300. The land was purchased from Gus Katsirumbas, the previous owner of the A-1 Restaurant in Dryden.
The state announced early last year that the project would cost approximately $6.7 million, which includes construction and acquisition of the land.
Ilacqua said the DOT also paid $1 million to have the extension of a water line to the property after the land was purchased. Mayor Reba Taylor said this morning the line connects onto the main on Route 38. She did not know the length of the extension. Moore, who was not in the office because of the holiday, did not know offhand how long the extension was. He said Dryden Mutual also connected to the line.
Ilacqua said the Dryden facility would replace two existing facilities, one on Route 281 in Cortlandville and one on Front Street in Ithaca.
Both are approximately 50 years old. The properties are expected to be sold.