January 22, 2008


Resorts say cameras deterring ski thefts

Ski centers are addressing perennial problem of equipment theft by installing video systems


Bob Ellis/staff photographer  
A skier heads to the slopes after taking her skis from an unlocked ski rack at Greek Peak Friday afternoon. Local ski resorts are using cameras to catch thieves and recover stolen items. Greek Peak is the only local resort that does not use cameras.

Staff Reporter

Labrador Mountain ski center recently installed a video surveillance system, which it says has helped catch people who steal ski and snowboard equipment.
Ski centers are addressing the perennial problem of ski and snowboard equipment theft by installing video systems, which both police and ski center staff say dramatically help in recovering stolen equipment.
State Police Sgt. Jeff Dorward, who is based in Homer, said perhaps 10 percent of equipment reported stolen is ever recovered, but Rick Bunnell, Labrador Mountain’s director of sales and marketing, estimated that Labrador’s security system increases the odds of recovery to 60 or 70 percent.
Equipment is often recovered within a week, he said.
In Cortland County, State Police estimated stolen skis and snowboard equipment was valued at $10,500 in December and January.
The updated Labrador system uses digital video, which employees can review and use to instantly print or e-mail images of thieves to police, Bunnell said.
“We’ll catch somebody stealing something, print up the image and e-mail it to State police, so they’ll have a picture 10 to 15 minutes after the incident,” Bunnell said.
Being able to immediately identify suspects helps police track down stolen equipment, Dorward said.
Song Mountain ski center in Preble has some cameras installed and there are plans to install a resort-wide camera system in time for next year’s season, said ski center owner Peter Harris.
Greek Peak in Virgil does not use cameras for surveillance to protect against theft.
“Theft of equipment has been an industry issue,” said Kevin Morrin, Greek Peak’s director of sales and marketing.
Morrin said thieves take advantage of skiers and snowboarders who do not take precautions in guarding their equipment.
Dorward said thieves usually steal equipment with the intention of selling it, but Morrin said they’ll often use it themselves.
“Sometimes, we’ll catch them the next day on the equipment (that’s been reported stolen),” he said. “It’s not uncommon for thieves to change the bindings.”
Greek Peak employees sometimes find equipment in the resort’s parking lot, since some thieves drop stolen equipment off in their car or truck and then return to the mountain for more.
Not all missing equipment is theft, however. Skiers and snowboarders sometimes grab the wrong equipment on their way back to the slopes.
Harris said equipment thieves have historically not been a big issue on Song Mountain.
“Maybe a pair per month,” he said. “But traditionally, we have not had a major problem with theft.”
Ski racks at Song are in clear view of the windows of the resort lodge, which Harris said probably discourages would-be thieves.
“Some (apparent) theft is not theft, it’s just mistaken equipment,” Morrin said. “There are a lot of boards out there that look alike.”
Labrador’s staff also stages periodic stings, where a pair of skis will be left unlocked to lure potential thieves.
Bunnell said the ski center prosecutes thieves. Song Mountain and Greek Peak stage similar decoy operations, sometimes in conjunction with State Police.
“We take it kind of personally,” Bunnell said. “We don’t appreciate it when people take our customers’ equipment.”
But while Labrador takes a proactive stance on preventing theft and prosecuting thieves, Bunnell said it is still important for skiers and snowboarders to take responsibility for their equipment.
“Probably 98 percent of the population doesn’t even know where the serial number on their equipment is,” he said.
Without a serial number, it’s hard to prove what equipment belongs to whom, Dorward said.
Bunnell said writing down or photographing equipment serial numbers should be a new ski or snowboard owner’s first priority.
The ski shops at Greek Peak, Song Mountain and Labrador offer specially designed locks to help patrons secure their equipment.
For around $15, skiers can purchase a “Ski Key,” which fits into a universal ski rack system used around the world.
Skis and snowboards can be placed into racks and locked in with Ski Keys, which are small enough to easily fit in a pants or jacket pocket.
“We encourage people to be proactive against theft by either purchasing a lock or renting a locker,” Morrin said. “It’s much cheaper than the alternative.”




Business park dependent on $2M grant

South Cortland site nearly year behind schedule as IDA looks for more funding

Staff Reporter

The Cortland County Industrial Development Agency expects to find out by the end of March whether it has received preliminary approval for a $2 million grant for a South Cortland business park.
The IDA is seeking a $2 million grant through the federal Economic Development Administration for the Finger Lakes East business park on Route 13.
The money would be used to extend water, sewer and power lines to the site, pay for access roads and cover engineering fees.
David Bottar, executive director of the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, said the scope of the Finger Lakes East business park project has held up the notification process. In April, Bottar predicted the IDA would hear about the grant by September.
“The review process has lengthened given the size and complexity of the project,” said Bottar, who helped the county apply for the funds “I’m still optimistic (the IDA will get the grant).”
Infrastructure work to the park, mainly construction of sewer and water lines, likely won’t begin until the summer or fall, said IDA Executive Director Tom Gillson.
Former IDA Executive Director Linda Hartsock predicted in April infrastructure work would begin in fall 2006.
Work will take at least one year to complete, Gillson said.
The future of the $6.7 million Finger Lakes East business park hinges on the grant, with a lack of sewer and water infrastructure at the site and the need for the IDA to purchase 260 acres of land.
The grant would also give the IDA a better chance of securing additional government funding, officials said.
The park has 29 parcels, 27 of which are empty. Essex Structural Steel Co Inc. and Monarch Machine Tool Corporation occupy the two parcels.
The Economic Development Administration could not be reached Monday or this morning.



Cornell bus route to be expanded

Staff Reporter

First Transit is responding to a growing number of riders on a new bus route between Cortland and Cornell University by putting a larger bus into service. First Transit operates Cortland’s public transportation system.
Ridership on the route has more than quadrupled since its inception in June, said Cortland Transit Manager Sandie Perry. In December 553 passengers rode the bus, up from 159 passengers in June.
“We had a vehicle that had 24 seats, and we’re working on a larger vehicle — we’ve got it in the shop right now being brought up to DOT (state Department of Transportation) standards,” Perry said Monday afternoon.
The larger bus would hold about 40 passengers, and Perry said the vehicle had been brought in from another First Transit operation.
First Transit had expected to sell only 24 passes, Perry said, but has actually sold 27 and Cornell has a waiting list large enough to fill up the new bus.
Buses serving the route arrive at Riverside Plaza near Interstate 81 Exit 11 by 6:55 a.m. and leaves at 7 a.m. The bus proceeds to the County Office Building and departs from there at 7:07 a.m., continuing to the former Cortlandville Fire Station on Route 281, and leaving that location at 7:15 a.m. The bus travels along Route 13 to Route 366 and arrives at Cornell Veterinary College building on Tower Road in Ithaca at 7:45 a.m., then driving immediately to SUNY Cortland.
The afternoon trip leaves the SUNY Cortland library at 4:25 p.m., once again traveling Route 13 to Route 366 and arriving at the Cornell Veterinary College on Tower Road at 5 p.m. It departs immediately, arriving at the former Cortlandville Fire Station parking lot at 5:30 p.m. and then proceeds to the County Office Building by 5:40 p.m. to make a connection with the last bus runs leaving from that location. The bus then travels to Riverside Plaza, arriving at 5:45 p.m.
Perry said that starting Feb.1, the route would also add an extra stop on the Ithaca side — East Hill Plaza.