Dear Editor, My name is
Andrew Rank. My wife, Jenna, and I are writing to you regarding my
father Henry Rank who is running for re-election to the Town Council.
As many of you may know my mother, Judie, has been very ill this summer
and has been down here on Cape Cod in the hospital since the beginning
of August. As a result my father has not been able to spend as much
time as he would like campaigning for your vote. He takes the position
very seriously and it is very important to him. He has been a member
of the community for the majority of his life, raised his family in
Boiceville, and for the last four years spent a huge amount of time
and effort trying to make your town the place you want it to be.
The time he has had to spend away has truly upset him. But, as you
can imagine, his concern for my mother must take precedence at this
time. We wish you could see his distress at not being able to defend
himself against some incorrect information that has been reported,
his distress that he is unable to personally be there for this significant
time in the town elections. However, my dad is very fortunate to have
so many good friends and colleagues that have been working hard to
get his message out to you. I am sure you have seen the La Mondas
and the Leifelds, among others, out and about. (Thank you all so much)
Anyone who knows my dad knows, only an emergency would keep him away
at this time. And an emergency we have.
Jenna and I wanted you to know just what was happening to keep him
away. We wished to share with you the reasons for my dad’s absence,
and how he torn he is. We know you will keep in mind all the good
work he has done the last four years and all the work he hopes to
continue with for the next four years when you head out to the polls.
We really can’t think of anyone who would work harder or is
better suited to be a member of your Town Council.
Andrew and Jenna Rank
After reading the article “Budget Time” in the September
24th issue of the Olive Press regarding the possible increase in the
Olive Budget of 7-8% for 2008 my concerns shot up.
I say, Hold the line. Cut spending to bare bones, no salary increases.
THE TOWN OF OLIVE BELONGS TO ALL RESIDENTS. There are a lot of senior
citizens living here and many are on limited incomes (like myself).
Our C.O.L.A’s do not increase 7% to compensate for such a tax
Perhaps it is time to elect people to the Town Board who will represent
all the taxpayers.
Peter Friedel wants to represent us. We should give him the chance.
Perhaps this is the change we need.
My feeling is “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!”
This Town Board has worked hard to keep Olive on an even keel during
some stormy times. Vote to let this team continue the good service.
Why do you think that the offices of Supervisor, Town Justice, and
three legislators are not being challenged by other candidates? It’s
because they are doing what’s right and good for Olive. Keep
the two Town Board members on this successful and proven team! Vote
for Henry Rank and Linda Burkhardt.
I am writing this letter as a registered Democrat who is proud to
support Peter Friedel for the Olive Town Council.
Peter Friedel has the leadership skills and energy that are necessary
to carry us forward through some difficult times. Peter is devoted
to this Town and its people. He volunteers his time to the Fire Department
and to the Boy Scouts and has the good of the entire Town at heart.
He never asks whether someone is a Democrat or Republican when he
goes to a fire call. Why should others judge him, or anyone else,
solely on the basis of a political party label?
I urge everyone to look at all of the candidates as individuals and
then vote for those people who best exemplify where we want our Town
to be headed. Peter may not belong to the same political party that
I do and he may not share all of my beliefs about national and world
issues. But, when it comes to the Town of Olive, I know without question
that I will vote for Peter Friedel.
West Shokan, NY
I think Peter Friedel is a fine young man, but I feel he lacks the
background to be Olive’s Town Councilman. To my knowledge he
has attended one Town Board Meeting last spring when a family member
made a proposal to the Board about Senior Recreation Programs and
the last ten minutes of the last public meeting. He did attend a budget
meeting and an audit meeting this October after he announced his candidacy.
He is running against two candidates with extensive public service
in Recreation, Assessment and Town Council. Without the knowledge
of the issues, he lacks the information and experience to make decisions
at a particularly critical time in Olive’s involvement in the
New York City Lawsuit Challenges.
His article states that he attends meetings. Perhaps he does, but
they are not the ones for the office he seeks this time. Last time
he ran for Town Justice. Does he really want to serve on the Town
Board or does he just want to win an election?
It has been my privilege to have worked with Peter Friedel and his
family during the past several years in Olive's monumental effort
to thwart the Large Parcel law. The Friedel's have been a blessing
to our town, and they have generously dedicated their time and resources
to this community. Their work has helped prevent Olive from being
hammered with an unjust tax burden.
Now Pete Friedel is seeking the position of councilman, and I urge
you to carefully consider casting your vote for him. He is educated,
energetic, and most importantly loves our town and his neighbors.
He has served as a Boy Scout leader as well as with the Olive Fire
Department. He will effectively represent us by continuing to devote
the time and effort that is needed to do an efficient and effective
A vote for Pete Friedel is a vote for good government.
John R. Tisch
West Shokan, NY
I would like to urge my fellow voters to re-elect Linda Burkhardt
and Henry Rank to the Town Board. Although our Town Board is made
up of strong, individual voices that may not always agree, they compromise
and cooperate to make the decisions that are best for everyone in
town. Their dedication and experience got us through some difficult
times with assessment, Large Parcel, road closings, and New York City
lawsuits. When towns around us are making headlines with raucous meetings
and unsettled issues, Olive has made level-headed decisions that helped
us through some tough negotiations with the School District, the County
and the City. Go with the team of proven experience and service.
A very good man is running for a seat on the town board of Olive.
I encourage you to vote for him. Peter Friedel is a young, married
man with two children and a wife on the school board. He and his wife
are very committed to serving their hometown.
Peter has had the same employer for 20 years. He’s stable and
dependable. He and his parents have lived here for decades. He knows
Olive and many of the people in it. Peter has been a volunteer firefighter,
involved in school sports, Cub Scout and Boy Scouts for many years.
He is involved in most public meetings, like his father before him
who was very active in Olive Matters.
Peter is wise to be concerned that some of the present board is nearing
retirement, and that their knowledge will be lost, unless passed on
in a periodic turnover of power.
Please put politics aside and vote for this very qualified candidate
that has fresh ideas for the Town of Olive, while keeping its best
interest at heart and keeping its rural flavor. Peter feels diversity
and transparency is needed on the board, along with fresh eyes which
could provide solutions to old problems seen as impossible or undoable.
I believe Peter Friedel is a great choice for councilman and will
do an excellent job as an Olive town board member. He gets my vote.
I am Peter Friedel, a lifelong resident of the Town of Olive, and
I hope to gain the support of our community in my candidacy for Town
Many of you may remember me and I’m still the guy driving the
fire truck while wearing a suit and tie, or you may remember me as
one of the cooks at the Boy Scouts annual spaghetti dinner and pancake
breakfast. Many of you also know my wife Michelle, now serving on
the Onteora School Board and a dedicated teacher who is the recipient
of the 2007 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, and my
two boys, Joseph and Andrew, who attend OCS. We reside in West Shokan.
I grew up here, in Olive, and attended Onteora Central Schools from
kindergarten through high school. In many ways Olive has afforded
me the social and moral foundation for future success. For instance,
participating in the wrestling and track teams, as well as playing
high school and college varsity football has helped teach me the value
of cooperation and community spirit.
This sense of community was also fostered by my parents, Joe and Sandy
Friedel, both of whom were teachers at Onteora High School. When I
turned fourteen, in an attempt to encourage my ingenuity, my father
helped me start my own firewood business. Not only did I learn responsibility
and professionalism from this experience, but also I learned about
the importance of our local economy. Even at that young age, I understood
that I was participating in something very important.
My community involvement continued through school, establishing the
pattern of commitment and steadfastness to which I still adhere. I
became a Boy Scout when I was 8 years old, and have been involved
with the Scouts ever since. Now both of my sons are Boy Scouts and
I was the Pack 63’s Cub Master until my youngest son Andrew
moved to Boy Scouts this year. Presently I am one of Troop 63’s
Assistant Scout Master. At the age of 16 I joined Olive’s fire
department. Now, many years later, I am still one of Olive’s
volunteer firefighters. I also bring commitment and loyalty to my
professional life. After graduating from SUNY Cortland with a degree
in Managerial Science and Economics, I began my career as a sales
representative for Standard Register. My office is in my house and
I have been with the company now for 20 years.
While my education has taught me how to hone my skills, guide my success,
and achieve my goals, my sales career has helped me develop and refine
my ability to judge character and relate to people. These qualities,
along with the resourcefulness, diligence, and perseverance my career
demands, are only a few of those that I would bring with me to the
It is important for me to stress, however, that the qualities I have
gained through my education and career have been invaluably supplemented
by my experience and roots in this community. The foundation of my
success was forged in the character-building experiences of my childhood,
experiences provided for me by my family, friends, and neighbors—the
people of this community with whom I share memories and ties. These
roots have afforded me a spirit of commitment, loyalty, and dedication
that no amount of classroom learning could have offered.
Some may argue that our town would be better served by the current
incumbent Board members. I would disagree. Although the current Board
members have been doing a good job it is status quo. I think the Town
needs a new perspective and a new look at what we are going to be
fast within the future considering NYC’s law suits and our large
parcel issues. I also feel it will be valuable for me to learn all
that Bert and the current board has to offer for the future as some
will retire. In my experience with other organizations that I have
been involved with, when the leadership has been in place and has
not had anyone new sharing the knowledge that is needed to run the
organization, much is lost when the leaders leave the position. This
will be happening in the next few years; this will cause a huge deficit
in knowledge. The years of experience will not be passed down and
will be leaving because know one new has been taught of the inner-workings
of the Town.
I am someone who has spent my life here, who has watched our town’s
spirit, sense of community (as well as our children) grow into something
great—someone who wants to encourage that growth and foster
our values—someone whose heart lives here and nowhere else.
Not only do I have the experience, skill, and character needed to
provide you with exceptional service on the Town Board I have something
else too. I have a sense of devotion to this community, and I am determined
to serve you well.
Thank you in advance for all of your support. If you have any questions
or concerns, please feel free to contact me at home: 657-9395.
West Shokan, NY
The new line on the Belleayre Agreement in Principle (AIP) is that
since it has the backing of what a local pundit has dubbed “almost
everybody of consequence,” resort opponents should now call
it a day. This is the standard outcome in cases like this: local concerns
are invariably made to yield to the so-called bigger-picture goals,
which, as in this case, are undeniably profound and far-reaching.
For the six years of the process thus far, what matters to the people
who live here has played second fiddle in the eyes of the press, the
political leadership, business and civic leaders. Nor is it surprising
that the coalition formed to oppose the resort ultimately dissolved
along local-vs.-big-picture lines. That too happens every time, although
not, one hopes, in quite so ham-fisted a manner as this particular
dissolution. For years, the symbiosis that held the coalition together
worked like a charm: the brand-name organizations, some of them national
in scope, provided the expertise and wherewithal the local grass-roots
groups couldn’t muster, while the locals gave “cover”
and credibility to the name organizations. But when the negotiations
got down to the wire, with the new Governor chomping at the bit for
something he could call a “win,” it was local concerns
that were brushed aside.
Every member organization in the coalition got what it came for—except
the local grass-roots organizations. What those brand-name organizations
came for and got is substantive and important: 1200 acres designated
“forever wild,” stream and reservoir protection, and more.
And while the AIP remains questionable on water issues and allows
precedents that may prove disastrous down the line, these are notable
achievements; I applaud them and am grateful to the achievers, many
of whom I know as friends. That, in fact, is why the 11th-hour exclusion
of the local grass-roots groups from the process was both so puzzling
and so offensive. Puzzling because it was strategically unnecessary
and tactically inept. Offensive because it broke faith.
We get it. We know we’ve now been dismissed as die-hards. On
the other hand, it is our hamlets and villages that will be swamped
by what will be nothing less than the biggest city between Kingston
and Delhi, with its sprawl, its traffic, its noise. It is our homes
and roads that will be flooded when a big rain washes down slopes
that are way too steep to build on. It is our night sky that will
be lost and our view that will be scarred. It is our wallets that
will be emptied to pay for this resort—first in taxpayer money
that’s providing sweeteners and incentives to the developer,
then in higher property taxes to pay for more police and fire protection,
schools, health care and social services for the work force that will
have to be imported.
It’s too bad. The developer, the environmental groups, and the
Governor who promised that “on day one, everything changes”
had a chance here to lead the way to the kind of smart, sustainable
public-private development that could have been a model for the nation.
They blew it.
As always, we who live here will pay the price.
So as the state-mandated review process for this project continues,
we’ll keep on opposing in the great tradition of American die-hards.
For more than eight years, Trout Unlimited has fought a proposed resort
development project that was slated for two parcels of land located
on east and west sides of the state-owned Belleayre Ski Center area
in the central Catskills. The original Crossroads Ventures proposal
for the 1,960 acre Belleayre Resort development called for three,
then later two, golf courses and two hotels, as well as hundreds of
timeshare units to be constructed on steep slopes, with the entire
development expected to disturb more than 573 acres, presenting a
serious threat to local and regional waters.
TU’s opposition to the project has focused on protecting water
quality, water quantity and the wild trout populations of the Esopus
Creek watershed and the East Branch Delaware River watershed. TU chapters,
the New York State Council, and national staff gathered scientific
information and funded expert studies and witnesses to participate
in the environmental review process for this project. I would like
to thank all the TU members who have taken action, contributed funds,
and spoken so passionately about the need to ensure that the project
be fully protective of the critical water resources of the Catskill
The Agreement in Principle that was recently signed by representatives
of TU and six other environmental groups marks a favorable turning
point in this long-running dispute. Like almost every settlement agreement,
this one is not a perfect solution. But looking at it from the vantage
point of our mission, the agreement, if fully implemented, would include
significant protective measures for the local and regional waters
in the Catskills. Those measures include: Complete protection of the
Esopus Creek and Ashokan Reservoir watershed via the permanent protection
of the entire eastern portion of the proposed project site from any
future development. More than 1,200 acres of land would be acquired
by the Trust for Public Land and eventually incorporated into the
Catskill Forest Preserve and protected as “forever wild,”
representing one of the largest state land acquisitions in the Catskills
in recent decades. Permanent protection of 86% of the land now owned
by the developer; Only a single golf course will be constructed, instead
of the two (or three, as originally proposed). The golf course would
be significantly redesigned to be environmentally-friendly, operate
as “organic,” and minimize stream crossings and removal
of natural vegetation. Significant reductions in threats to water
quality across the revised project site, including reduction in total
new road construction from 8.2 to 3.2 miles, use of modern stormwater
management practices for all buildings and infrastructure, and an
unprecedented agreement that no individual lodging units be constructed
on slopes greater than 20 percent.
The Agreement in Principle notwithstanding, TU must continue its work
to reduce the impacts of the proposed development slated for the west
side of Belleayre in the revised project plan. It is imperative that
we diligently work to further downsize the project’s ecological
footprint, identify remaining threats to the East Branch Delaware
River and Pepacton Reservoir watershed, seek ways to eliminate or
mitigate those threats, and ensure that the final plan and the protective
measures described above are fully implemented and monitored.
I urge those who have dedicated so much effort in this battle over
the years to continue their involvement in the upcoming public scoping
process for the revised project that is expected to take place soon,
and the public hearing on the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact
Statement (SDEIS) that will take place in early 2008. We must carefully
scrutinize the SDEIS. The next round of public hearings will provide
a formal opportunity to continue to advocate for clean water, healthy
aquatic habitat, and the region’s trout populations.
Eastern Conservation Director Elizabeth Maclin will coordinate our
continuing involvement in this matter. Please email or call her (email@example.com;
703-284-9437) if you have questions.
Charles F. Gauvin
President, Chief Executive Officer
Is he Prince Charming, or Prince of Darkness?
Erik Prince began his company, the Prince Grouop after his father
died, leaving enough money behind to form Blackwater, and other companies.
The Government awarded contract to Blackwater, followed a line of
sub-contracting - a common practice. It goes from Haliburton, to Kellog,
Brown and Root and then to the Prince Group and finally, it's subsidiary
- Blackwater. A good Christian and a good Republican, Prince is indeed
a handsome and smart young man, who may even believe in his mission.
But what is it's mission in Afghanistan and Iraq? It is supposedly
security to our dignitaries and sometimes to our armed security forces.
Their numbers equal our armed forces numbers, and supposedly, we couldn't
run a war without them, (unless of course, we instituted a draft).
During the recent hearings on a current Blackwater incident, wherein
some Blackwater contractors opened up fire on Iraqi civilians and
killed about 17 of them, much more began to reveal itself.
Henry Waxman brought up an incident that occurred in 2004, wherein
a Blackwater plane crashed into a mountainside in Afghanistan killing
all six on board - 3 Blackwater crew members, delivering 3 US troops
to their post.
As an independed contractor, Blackwater is not under FAA or military
rules, which would include a least one pilot experience with the terrain.
The crew had been in Afghanistan only 13 days. Common military and
civilian practice is to pair a pilot who is new to an area with a
veteran. The two men somehow decided to take a dangerous path and
flew into a box canyon, essentially a dead end bordered by mountains.
According to the cockpit recordings, they were cowboy types. One of
the recordings revealed, heard the pilot say: "They wouldn't
pay me if they knew how much fun this was".
Furthermore, there was no dispatcher to report that the plane was
missing, since they didn't file a flight path, which would have saved
the life of one of the soldiers, who was found outside the plane with
cigarettes and a sleeping bag, to wait for a rescue, which didn't
come in time for him.
Now, to be fair, I must report the general Republican side of this
investigation. It is: Blackwater is paid to protect us when we make
trips to the Middle East. Not one of us has been harmed. We believe
that our lives are more valuable than
our troops, and expedentially more valuable than Iraqi civilians,
so let's adjourn. That's not a quote, but a summary by yours truly.
Watch it on U-Tube if you want further proof.
Now for the numbers:
Blackwater has received over 1 BILLION dollars of our tax money so
far. We pay their soldiers of $400,000 a year, whereas we pay General
Petraeus $180,000 a year. Furthermore, since Blackwater hires mostly
former veterans, they don't have to pay for their training.
When asked about some of these figures, our Prince replied: "We're
a private company, and the key word is private". Well, he lost
me there, despite his looks and charm. So, in summary: We - you and
me - pay for Blackwater's subcontractors with our taxes, but we do
not have the rights that any stockholder would have with
a public company. Supposedly, as citizens we still have some rights,
or so it seems
with people like Henry Waxman representing us.
But if we don't get involved with our government, I suspect, not for
long. So -(MUSIC UNDER) "I hope someday you'll join us... And
the world will be as one".
My apologies to Ronald Deiti of Kingston for editing his wonderful
letter about the hospital scam, in his letter to the editor Oct 11
edition. I wholeheartedly agree, the merger of both hospitals is long
overdue, including Margaretville, is merely a bonus. Currently Kingston
hospital and staff can and will rip the babies from their mothers
wombs they have the space and facilities. BUT there is a bigger issue
at stake here. Kaminski wants his own building where he can perform
abortions and other experiments. Remember Dr. Menendez fifty years
ago. Perhaps Kaminski will include in his plans a modem furnace, but
more efficient, than those used at Auschwitz in Poland, highly capable
of disposing of babies, difficult patients, and the results of experiments
scheduled for the new building. Soon the air over and around Kingston
will smell of burnt flesh. It is not his intention to use the money
for healthcare. His hunger for power affirms that he speaks with false
tongue, only satisfyinghis personal wants and needs. Did you know
the public relations firm that handled hospital affairs quit? Do you
know he has a hand picked goon squad that will stop at nothing to
torture prisoners, and yes, that is the correct word. Once there,
patients become prisoners. He has become an expert in the law, knows
and uses every loophole to satisfy his personnel wants and needs.
I was indeed fortunate to get released before my term of interment
was up. His hand picked goon squad would stop at nothing tosilence
a prisoner, for that was what we were. I received a letter from him
written in a fairy land which he has created in his own mind. He blatantly
lied about all the accusations, which as you know have been sent to
numerous governing bodies for their evaluation. Scars which I have
pictures of, he claims were made by myself, a physical impossibility,
unless I unknowingly am double jointed. Remember they had put me in
restraints, which by the way can only be ordered by my doctor, as
a precaution to hurting myself.
How long before we must sic heil to him. I already have a salute worked
out. Stand tall, feet together, left arm across your stomach, extend
your right arm as far as possible, close you fist, extend your middle
finger to pay homage to this don't know a word that suffices. I sit
behind closed, curtained windows, in fear, awaiting the arrival of
his people because I hide nothing. If anything happens to me it was
him that brought me down. We can't allow these things to happen, I
believe this still is a free country. .
Think of Shokan and many words come to mind - beautiful, rustic, rural,
small, friendly, scenic. After living in Shokan for 20 years these
are the words that I use to describe this wonderful place situated
along Route 28 - a haven from the hustle and commercialism of the
Kingston area. This is why people make their way up to our area and
beyond - to get out into the beauty of nature.
Imagine my dismay when I opened my mail Monday to find out that cute
little PetFare may now be replaced by EIGHT STORAGE SHEDS 100' x 30'
in dimension. Robert and Russell Oakes, who own the Storage Shed business
just up the hill behind PetFare on Ridge Road (two acres containing
seven or eight large sheds and a garage) have applied to the Town
of Olive Planning Board and to the Ulster County Planning Board to:
"demolish an existing commercial use and to construct a 23,400
square foot self -storage facility in the HB zone on 2.1 acres"
(Quote from Ulster Co. Planning Board) The Ulster Planning Board deemed
the plan submitted "incomplete" stating that not enough
details were given about the project. For example if this is supposed
to be integrated into the other area, there should be plans that discuss
both together. (This would mean over 4 acres with 16 storage sheds!)
Other County impact concerns are access onto the state roadway, landscaping,
lighting levels, and stormwater drainage, especially considering that
the proposed site has over an acre of "disturbance."
There is an Olive Planning Board meeting on October 30, 2007 to discuss
this project and all are welcome to give their input. You may also
write to the Town of Olive Planning Board, POB 180, West Shokan, NY
12494 or fax it to 657-6117. The new Planning Board Chair is Drew
Bogges, 657-9735, and the other members are David Sorbellini, James
Konjas, David Jones, Helene Grant, Robert Tischler, and Edwin Maldanado.
The Planning Board's phone number is 657-2015.
This is a big step in Shokan's history. If these sheds go in, we won't
be that pretty place on Route 28, we will be that town with all those
ugly storage sheds. That will be what you see on your ride home. Based
on the appearance of the current Storage Shed business, there will
be no beauty left to look at when you glance toward the mountains.
You will be able to see OVER FOUR ACRES of gravel pit-like landscaping
with 16 storage sheds placed on them. They are on a hill so they will
be very visible. Based on dimensions, any trees will have to be cut
down and there will have to be modification in the hillside. Where
will all this water go? What about the value of our newly assessed
homes? Residents on Ridge Road, Onteora Court, Shokan Park Road and
beyond - this will be something that will impact you especially!
I ask the new Planning Board and the Town Board to think about the
image our town wants to project. Nine towns in the Shawangunk region
banded together to try and ensure that their scenic beauty is maintained.
Why aren't we concerned about protecting the beauty of OUR area? When
Hannaford built in Red Hook, restrictions were made so that you can't
even see the shopping area from the road because they were concerned
about their town. Why are we not concerned? The last few additions
to Shokan went out of their way to appear rustic and pretty. Shouldn't
restrictions apply to all new area businesses? We are a beautiful
town in a beautiful area in a beautiful mountain region. What will
we do to protect this beauty for years to come?
This is an election year. Who will step up and SAVE SCENIC SHOKAN?
In the middle of July, this former County Legislator received a letter
from investigator John J. Mavretich, co-signed by Tracey Bartels,
Chair of the Special Committee to Investigate Matters Regarding the
Pre-Planning, Planning and Construction of the Ulster County Law Enforcement
Center -- in other words, the projected new Jail.
This is by way of stressing that Ward Todd was not in on the ground
floor...I was. He was elected a few years later to my spot in District
2 when I retired to become Supervisor of the Town of Shandaken.
Included with the aforementioned letter was a questionnaire and a
request for my "input in any form you feel would be more helpful
Referral in the missive pertains to a 1987 Resolution enacted by the
Legislature entitled "Establishing Policy for Future Capital
Projects," which was proposed by the Ways & Means Committee
and the Public Works Committee, neither of which was I a member.
, The vote on said Resolution on September 10, 1987 was 29 to 1, with
ALL of the Democrats, including continuing (present) Legislator Jeannette
Provenzano, voting in favor.
I remained in "Peopletics" as a Legislator for a few more
years, but, as Chairman of the Community College and Cultural Affairs
Committee, and as an active member of the Youth, Aging, Veterans and
Handicapped Committee, I was kept very busy with meetings, investigations,
phone calls and correspondence. I also attended all the monthly meetings
of my three Town Boards. ,
In the dozen years I faithfully served District 2, Towns of Woodstock,
Shandaken and Kingston (principally Sawkill), I never missed a single
meeting...regular, special or committee. However, when discussing
the "need" for a new Jail complex (of which I wasn't too
sure), along with most of the other Legislators, I was not an expert
on Engineering, Architecture, large structure construction, plumbing,
cell layouts, etc. With our hands and minds full on other County property
needs and requirements, how COULD we, as lay persons and so-called
"part-time" caretakers, and not being qualified "Clerks
of the Works", be expected to know the ins and outs of such a
(At the time, I recall arguing that we might better look into a new,
more modern nursing home for our elderly ill, who have been long-time
local tax-paying residents, than a luxury 'resort hotel' for those
the law and are mostly 'outsiders'.)
When answering the official letter, I expressed some of the foregoing
sentiments. Needless to state, I was not called to testify in person
-- most likely for fear that I would open my big Irish mouth and stress
that NEITHER the Republicans nor the Democrats on the Legislature
were to BLAME for the so-called "fiasco", as they were apparently
"hood-winked" and I'm certain much of the fault lies with
Marian Callaghan Umhey
Mt. Tremper, NY
As a member of the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development,
at least until now, I received a mailing from the group touting the
new Belleayre resort agreement as a "great victory!" A "great
victory!" for whom? Some ten groups participated in the Catskill
Preservation Coalition that opposed the original Belleayre megaresort
proposal. Six signed the agreement, including the down-staters defending
New York City's water supply. They were satisfied to see the development's
runoff problems moved from the troubled Ashokan reservoir watershed
into the Pepacton reservoir watershed. But they don't live here. They
weren't concerned with all the other problems that such a large development
would create for our region.
The three groups based in Shandaken opposed this agreement. So did
the Sierra Club. As I've now learned, the board of the local chapter
of Trout Unlimited voted unanimously to oppose the agreement, after
being stunned to learn that their state representative had signed
it already. More than 100 members of the Catskill Heritage Alliance
based in Pine Hill voted unanimously against the deal. That leaves
the Catskill Center and the Zen Mountain Monastery as the two local
supporters. As a "member" of the Catskill Center I can't
say I was ever asked for my opinion about the agreement. All I got
was the "great victory!" letter.
I'm tempted to say a "great victory!" except for the people
who live here.
The agreement does save the eastern ridge of Belleayre Mountain from
development. Some 1,240 acres will be added to the "Forever Wild"
Catskills Forest Preserve. Until now, this eastern ridge has been
the great battleground in this conflict. I must say, I think this
news is fantastic! The eastern ridge is visible from the Overlook
fire tower and many other Catskill peaks. To know that it won't become
a golf course resort is a great relief. I've probably hiked the eastern
ridge trails twenty or thirty times in the past dozen years, so I
feel particular affection for this area. The forests already on state
lands have towering tall trees that offer in summer the green cathedral-like
atmosphere of the wild Catskills at their finest. The private lands
nearby, which had been slated for the resort, have been heavily logged
over the years, providing a stark contrast with the state lands, but
now these forests will grow into magnificence in the coming decades.
It's the western ridge that's the new battleground.
Apparently, the powers-that-be, including Governor Spitzer, Congressman
Hinchey, the Catskill Center, the Natural Resources Defense Council,
and others believed they negotiated the best deal they could to save
the eastern ridge. To save the east they accepted big increases in
proposed building in the west. Did they really need to endorse so
much development? The local groups who didn't sign don't think so.
Although relocated and reconfigured, Crossroads Ventures still intends
to build 80 percent of the resort it has always wanted to build. That's
80 percent of the visitors, the traffic, the water demands, the increase
in local taxes to provide public services, etc., that have long troubled
many people who live in this area. The Catskill Center's letter included
a "fact sheet" listing the agreement's achievements. But
"fact sheets" can be slippery things. This one touts the
fact that all roads and residences will be limited to slopes of less
than 20 percent grades. Sounds good, right? So I was surprised to
learn elsewhere - not from the fact sheet - that the agreement also
permits a 250-room hotel on a 35 percent slope! A 250-room hotel to
be built into the mountainside, perhaps with an underground parking
garage, a construction job that will require tremendous blasting and
Or take the 19 homes to be built at 3,000 feet. How high is 3,000
feet? Although mountains are all different, making comparisons like
the one I'm about to make less than perfect, if we approved the construction
of 19 homes at 3,000 feet on Overlook mountain, we'd find them 100
feet above the hotel ruins on the way up to the fire tower. That's
almost at the mountain top! Granted, Belleayre Mountain is nearly
250 feet taller than Overlook, but I question building 19 homes on
any 3,000 foot mountain ridgeline within the Catskill Forest Preserve.
One remarkable feature of our park is that the mountains are still
so wild. They're not capped with trophy homes and night lights. (Certain
mountainsides, such as lower Overlook, are another, sadder story.)
Our mountaintops are the wild rugged crown of the Catskill Park that
New York State has worked for more than 100 years to protect with
all its natural beauty for us to treasure today. Are we now willing
to give up pieces of this Catskill mountain crown to private developers?
Do we want to see mountaintop homes within the Blue Line?
There's more, I'm sure. The public review process will begin soon.
I urge everyone who feels passionately about the Catskills to take
their own independent look at this proposal. Don't believe the hype.
There's an old adage: A good lie will travel half-way around the world
before the truth has time to put its pants on. Perhaps the same should
be said of press conferences. Governor Spitzer's announcement of this
deal in Kingston certainly impressed reporters and editorial writers,
who have praised this agreement in the Daily Freeman, Middletown Times
Herald Record, and New York Times. But I urge readers to check the
details for themselves. We weren't part of the secret negotiations
that lead to this deal. Yet we will have to live with its consequences
for as long as we live in the Catskills. We better know what we're
Hey , what a blast we had at Shandaken days. It was our pleasure to
donate and supply a children's carnival type moon bounce. We hope
in future years to expand the children's carnival section and create
child friendly environments in Shandaken. It was great fun working
with The Pine Hill Community Center and all those wonderful people.
Bob & Veronika Townley
Pine Hill, NY
President Bush just vetoed a bill extending and reforming the State
Children's Health Insurance Program. So Senator Kennedy wants to know:
If government-supported health care is good enough for him, and is
good enough for President Bush, why isn't it good enough for America's
children? We can be a voice for the nation's children - a voice that
every member of Congress needs to hear. If government-supported health
care is good enough for Congress, it's good enough for America's children.
Show your support for SCHIP today by watching Senator Kennedy's video
and signing his petition: http://www.democraticmajority.com/childrenshealth.Thanks!
When it comes to the fight for the environment, beheading one dragon
rarely means victory. These guys have a way of growing a bunch of
new heads. Witness the Belleayre Resort. Slay the eastern part of
this mountain-eating dragon and the west side sprouts into a behemoth.
The worst part of it being 19 trophy houses built at 3,000 feet that
will be plainly visible on the western ridge line of Belleayre Mountain.
So spare the Ashokan and burden the Pepacton. It will degrade the
City's drinking water either way. And, most dangerous, this monstrosity
will represent an unprecedented attack on the concept of the Catskill
Too many of the people fighting the good fight have fallen for some
very clever negotiation on the part of the developers. It wouldn't
surprise me that the eastern portion, being a very difficult build,
was a negotiation throwaway all along. What I do know is that Crossroads
Ventures is planning on building 80 percent of its original intention.
This doesn't sound like much of a compromise to me. We are still stuck
with what we were scared of all along - traffic, air pollution, water
pollution, visual pollution, erosion and tax increases for the locals
in exchange for minimum wage jobs.
I know the following smacks a bit of conspiracy theory, but here's
something to think about. I don't really believe this resort as planned
would ever be a moneymaker. It is remote and hard to get to which
are factors not appealing to the wealthy patrons who can afford a
resort like this. Why would they come to ski at Belleayre when they
can ski Colorado or the Alps? Why would they come to play golf when
they can play golf in Florida or Hawaii? The Catskills are down-homey
little mountains that we dearly love; they are not the stuff of grand
resorts like they used to be before travel became easy and globe-hopping
There is something missing in the immediate plans that would guarantee
the resort's success. And that is the ugliest dragon of them all -
Polls admit that most of us are outraged by a war for oil and empire
that has killed over 3,000 American kids, and nearly a million Iraqi
civilians, and that continues to funnel hundreds of billions of our
dollars into the pockets of war profiteers and Bush cronies like Halliburton,
Exxon/Mobil, General Electric, and the like.
We voted for Democrats on the promise that they would end the war,
yet they refuse to cut the funding or begin impeachment proceedings.
It seems that our presidential candidates for 2008 have already been
picked for us, and they will surely bring us more of the same; the
righteous ones like Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, or Republican
Congressman Ron Paul having been trivialized, ridiculed and ignored.
We protest, march and petition, and are ignored by the corporate media,
the idiocy of Britney Spears or O.J. Simpson being oh so much more
But we can at least post flyers on bulletin boards to publicize events
that big media won't cover, right?
Not so if some of the petty dictators who oversee these bulletin boards
have their way. After shopping last Tuesday at a certain large Kingston
Supermarket, let's call it "Shopwrong" (not its real name),
I posted a flyer publicizing a peace march in Washington which the
store manager, Mr. "D." saw fit to contemptuously rip down.
He said they don't allow "political or religious" flyers,
even though those guidelines are not posted. In fact, plenty of political
and religious items have been posted there. Indeed, the mega chain
itself recently posted a giant ad opposing the improved bottle bill,
a much more "political" ad since it urged shoppers to contact
politicians in opposition to that insidious left wing concept of recycling.
The one "vote" we still have that has any real meaning,
is our choice of where to shop, although even that is minimized as
smaller stores get sucked up by giant chains.
Those of you reading this who think it is just great that we are pouring
our blood and treasure down the toilet so that we can earn more hatred
around the world for this once great country, and hence more future
war profits, should shop til you drop at places like "Shopwrong."
But the rest of us would do well to consider whether to support businesses
that would send our kids to die for oil. We should try to favor the
few remaining local stores, maybe even grow a garden. Do we want to
patronize Corporations like Walmart, Shoprite, General Electric, Exxon
Mobil, which are major Bush donors, and/or trample on free speech?
I'm not suggesting a total boycott of any store. Many of us need to
go for the sale items and take advantage of those coupons. But let's
look at what our hard earned cash is funding, and if it isn't an irresistible
sale item, buy it from a local store, food co-op or farm. Local produce
is fresher and healthier anyhow, and its purchase keeps more dollars
in our local community.
It's time to take our country back, nickel by nickel.
Bright red "Save the Mountain" lawn signs began sprouting
up along Catskill roads this past weekend. This blown-up version appeared
at the old Highmount Ski Center, right at the heart of the proposed
Belleayre mega resort (not to be confused with the NYS owned and operated
Belleayre Ski Center).
What's "Save the Mountain"?
It's a coalition of mountain neighbors who are standing together with
the six organized groups (Catskill Heritage Alliance, Highmount Preservation
Association, Hardenburgh Association of Residents and Taxpayers. Sierra
Club, Friends of Catskill Park, and the Ashokan-Pepacton Watershed
Chapter of Trout Unlimited). They've joined together to counter the
overkill of the resort developer, to voice opposition to the huge
scale of the project, to get the true story out that this is not a
"done deal", and to encourage everyone to take part in the
public hearings that will take place (this winter) before any decisions
are made on the project, pro or con, and before any permits are issued.
The group has found that few even know about the entirely new part
of the development, the ridge top Highmount Spa Resort" which
was added to the complex just last month. It has a 150 room hotel
which will be partially blasted into the hill, 2 lodges with 60 2-bedroom
units in each, plus 60 3-bedroom time share units (houses) , many
perched right on the ridge line, AND it has ski-home trails. Belleayre
Ski Center may make snow, maintain trails and build chair lifts within
the private resort's boundaries.
For more information, or your very own lawn sign, go to SavetheMountain.net.
For more information on this photo, or lawn signs, contact me.
The first thing I do once we’ve settled in on the porch looking
out over the mountains, cup of tea in hand, is read the local papers.
But somehow the last few years I’ve found that this ritual ends
up leaving me with a sick feeling in my heart, a sense that everything
I loved, everything we moved here for, albeit part-time, is being
We hadn’t been up in a while, and I’d forgotten that feeling.
But now, finishing up a bunch of old issues while husband and toddler
slumber, I read about how a governor we thought would change things
showed that nothing at all has changed. I feel so sick I can’t
On our quiet valley road, soon the trucks will be roaring up and down
to collect water for more plastic bottles for more consumers to suck
at somewhere far away, and the folks who voted that terror in, over
the hundreds of pleading voices of their neighbors, are sleeping peacefully
in their beds in some other valley.
Out on route 28, the road doesn’t know it has to brace itself
for a much bigger onslaught, an army of crusading construction workers
sent by General Gitter to save us from the slowly growing economies
we’ve been creating all on our own these last few years.
What makes me so tired about it all is how our own moral imperatives
get slowly whittled away, so that before we know it, we find ourselves
thinking that we understand that a compromise has been reached, thinking
that the Owners of lands big and small have some kind of unalienable
right to decide what to do with their lands big and small, no matter
who lives in, around, near, through or even under those lands.
None of these rich folks wants to start a university in our mountains
or found an orphanage or undertake any other great public work, as
their contribution to this moment in history. No one cares to be remembered
for such a thing or cares that the world they leave will be a lesser
place for what they’ve done to it.
The rain is falling hard outside, I can hear the massive drops sliding
off the roof and smacking the wet ground; and down the hill, the stream
is rushing, full, alive. My heart is beating so wildly. I try to imagine
that I am an old woman, thinking back on this moment in our little
house on this rainy night among the dark wet trees, so that the desperate
sorrow of it will seem thrown into perspective. My heart is still
beating; I must press my hand against my chest but it will not slow
I stand on the porch and look out into the darkness and ask God to
help me ask for blessings for even those souls sleeping so sound in
their beds, dreaming of those money piles, those plastic bottles,
those mountain-tops whose silent and eternal promises to all of us
will be hacked at, shaved off, sealed over with buildings that pretend
they are greener than what is there now! — those silent and
eternal promises to all of us stolen by promises made to only just
a few of us — wretched money! Wretched money! Wretched money!
- Evelyn Polesny
Woodland Valley, NY