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interViews: Conversations with Ellicottville-ians

By Jann Wiswall Get to Know: Al Mahar Title: President, Board of Directors, HoliMont and President,  ImageNow by Mahar

A Few Facts: Al Mahar has been coming to Ellicottville since his dad bought a chalet at HoliMont in the 1970s. Now he’s a regular who comes with his wife and son from their home in Rochester every weekend from early December until the very end of the ski season. Al’s no stranger off-season either. He enjoys many Ellicottville festivals and activities year round.

Al is president of ImageNow printing company in Rochester and has served on several HoliMont committees and as vice president over the past several years. His presidency of the board of directors officially began over Fall Fest weekend in October.

Q: What do you think makes Ellicottville special?

A: Ellicottville has that hard to define “it” thing about it. When you drive into town, you just feel good about where you are. Ski Magazine, which just voted Holiday Valley the fifth best ski resort in the Northeast, said that if you don’t believe it, just try Ellicottville. And it’s really true. It’s just magical.

Q: What would you like to see change in Ellicottville in the next five-ten years?

A: There are several specific things I’d like to see change. I’d love to see progress at the Ellicottville Inn. I remember when that was a wonderful gathering place. It would be nice if someone could make something work well there again. Another hope is for the village and HoliMont to come to an agreement about extending Greer Hill. I would like to sit down with village representatives to figure out how to make it work for everyone involved.  Finally, I’d love to see sidewalks be built along Route 242 from HoliMont to the village. I think they keep getting cut from the state budget, but it’s a safety issue.

Q: What would you like to see stay the same? 

A: I love the organic, homegrown shops and restaurants in the village. They really are the fabric of the town. We want them to be successful and we want to support them for the long term.

In so many other resort areas, there’s a big difference between the needs and wants of tourists and local residents. Here, we work toward the same goals. There’s the sense that we’re all in this together. And this sense extends to HoliMont at the board level, too. We know we rely on the community to survive, so we always think about how HoliMont impacts Ellicottville. This needs to stay the same.

At HoliMont specifically, I’d like to retain the same blend of Canadian and American members, which is about 50/50. It makes the membership so much more dynamic.

Q: Are you involved in any organizations/community/volunteer groups outside of your official responsibilities?

A: I have been on many boards and committees in the Rochester area. Boards are important to help run businesses and gain participation in organizations. HoliMont has a committee-structured board, so my first job as president was to ensure that all committees had chairs. Going forward, I’ll rely on those committees for their studied recommendations.

Q: What are you favorite area events/activities?

A: I’m a year-round visitor in Ellicottville and come to town for several favorite events. In the spring, I love Mardi Gras — maybe because it’s a little corny with the silly floats. The kids are adorable and funny. I just always want to go.

In the summer, I come for cycling and golf. This past summer I went to Holiday Valley’s Sky High Adventure Park and plan to bring some friends to try it next summer. They did a great job with it – it was way beyond my expectations.

In the fall, I come with 30 of my buddies for the Rock N’ Roll weekend. The cars are amazing, the crowds are manageable, and it’s just an all around great time.

As for winter, of course, I love the skiing and other sports, but I have to say my favorite weekend is Christmas in Ellicottville when the town is all lit up. I feel like a kid again.

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