UTICA — Utica officials are looking to make investments in the Val Bialas Sports Center, the city’s ski chalet.
The city’s Board of Estimate and Apportionment moved Monday to approve a $14,000 budget transfer to allow Utica to purchase snow tubes, a tube lift and security camera equipment from Mark Ford, Val Bialas’ former operator. Folks already use Val Bialas for skiing, snowboarding and sledding.
City officials will also purchase some minor golf range equipment from Ford, who operated Val Bialas for seven years until stepping away in 2017. Though Ford also has snow-making equipment and other items for sale, the city is not interested in purchasing those at this time, said Public Works Commissioner Dave Short.
“We’ve been going back and forth,” Short said. “Mark’s been very accommodating.”
With the snow-making equipment, Short said city officials are not interested in purchasing it at Ford’s initial offer price.
For his part, Ford said he is happy to be rid of the equipment.
“That’s a really good fit for the city because that requires no skill,” Ford said of tubing. “Any other thing like skiing or snowboarding requires skill. Also, when we had that open, that was making more revenue than skiing and snowboarding was.”
At this point, the city is running Val Bialas as Mother Nature allows. The ski chalet has not opened yet this winter due to a lack of snow and accommodating weather.
City officials and industry experts have said Val Bialas’ continued success requires levels of investment — given the costs of snow-making equipment and necessary water — that officials have thus far been unwilling to make.
Contact reporter Greg Mason at 315-792-5074 or follow him on Twitter (@OD_Mason).