Follow Up on the
But mark your
calendar for Friday, December 11, because that ‘s
when Boiceville comes back to life again at night with the
reopening of its longstanding favorite eatery as Krazy Kate‘s
And yes, they ‘ll be open for lunch too.
“There ‘s a lot of history here,“ says
owner Dushan Amchin, a former second homeowner in West Shokan
and former regular at the old Landmark. “That history,
all those great memories, are part of the reason we’re
doing this. Al and Jean were wonderful people and I have
great respect for them. So I wanted to revive that history,
bring it all back, and make it an even better place than
people remember. The kind of place where everyone can come
and feel comfortable and have a great meal without burning
a hole in their pocket.”
Her soft accent is hard to place, but evokes more her Hungarian
mother than her English father. Charming, precise, and very
high energy, Dushan says it‘s long been her dream
to open a restaurant and when she learned the old Landmark
had become available, she jumped at the chance.
“I’ve been coming up here for over 20 years,
it’s been my second home,” she says. “We
spent every weekend in West Shokan, my daughters were born
in Kingston. Everything about this area is filled with wonderful
memories for me, including lots of great meals at the old
Landmark. But having left behind my life in Manhattan to
do this - I moved back full time in April - I’m now
coming from the corporate world, where for the past 15 years
I’ve been doing new business development for large
“Part of that ‘s involved a lot of entertaining
and eating two or three meals a day in some of the city
‘s nicest restaurants,” Dushan continues, explaining
her expertise in restaurants. “So I love great food,
great service, and a beautiful atmosphere, and that‘s
what we’re doing here.” The place, you’ll
notice, has been though an extreme makeover inside. It’s
beautiful. The bar’s intact, just as you may remember
it, only prettier. The entire kitchen is brand new. Altogether,
says Dushan, it’s taken a small fortune to complete
But great restaurants being mostly about the food, she’s
brought in two CIA-trained chefs, Logan Ronkainen from Michigan
and Brandon Binder from San Diego, to make her new Landmark
a landmark. Like Dushan, both have relocated to land here,
and the three have been working for months on the menu as
well as everything else.
“New American Cuisine” is how they describe
the menu, which Chef Logan explains as “classic upscale
American dishes, using a lot of local vendors and local
ingredients, trying to keep everything as close to home
as possible, and as organic as we can be.”
All meats will be hand-trimmed and ground.
“At the same time,” adds Dushan, “We’re
going to keep things very affordable. We want to create
a place where folks can feel really good, and make sure
everyone is always happy when they walk out of the restaurant.
I’ve always been a positive thinker and stayed focused
on my goals. That’s what we’re going to do.”
So line up for a table, come December 11. And as soon as
the Liquor Board complies and offers a license, be prepared
for a more formal grand opening.
Talk about some good times coming back to town!
Overall, teachers will get an 11 percent salary increase over
the four years covered by the contract, and will contribute
10 percent into their health care premiums, an increase from
At Tuesday night’s December 1 Board of Education meeting
at Bennett Elementary, Superintendent Leslie Ford said, “I’d
like to join the board in thanking the OTA (Onteora Teachers
Association) for working through this long process, but I think
it was a very productive one.”
The teachers entered their second year without a contract and
this past October threatened a strike. This forced the administration
and school board to reach an agreement with the union after
nearly 24-hours of negotiations.
Interim Assistant Superintendent for Business Don Gottlieb said
for the 2008/2009 school year, the new salary went into effect
in February, with a 1.75 percent increase. The 2009/2010-school
year will average an increase of 3.25 percent, 2010/2011 will
have a three-percent increase and a 2.75 increase by year four.
Currently, health care premiums are $7,190.28 a year for individual
coverage and $16,034.16 for family coverage. Gottlieb said with
a 10 percent teacher contribution, “you can see that would
translate on a family plan to over $800 giveback on the part
of the teachers.”
The district already budgeted potential increases for 2008 through
“There will be no negative impact on current educational
programming,” said Gottlieb.
But Ford then added that, “We still have a contract that
is not resolved, so this is still an open issue in terms of
looking at encumbered funds.”
The Onteora Non-teaching Employees Association (ONTEA) has also
entered their second year without a contract.
Ford said going into the future, the budget will be affected
by the salary increases, although possibly by insignificant
“In different circumstances it would be business as usual
because we’ve had higher increases (in salary),”
Ford explained, noting that the zero percent growth in the CPI
(consumer price index), lower interest rates on tax revenue,
and cuts to State and Federal aid “all adds up.”
In other business, the school board agreed to charge the Facilities
Committee and administrators with researching the Middle School
configuration without initiating a bond. After reviewing past
committee recommendations on Middle School expansion, the board
appears to be in agreement that the current grade seven and
eight configuration is difficult to maintain from an educational
standpoint, given that State and Federal standards have increased.
School board president Laurie Osmond said she was still interested
in looking at other configurations but cost comes into play.
“Anything that has a building bond attached to it is not
a realistic scenario in my opinion because having to expand
buildings with new construction right now I don’t think
is wise, or would find favor with the voters in any way,”
Trustee Tom Hickey said past recommendations contained changes
to the buildings but did not focus on what already exists.
“I think that we should get a sense of what we can do
with our existing facilities,” he said. It may turn out
that we can’t do much, but at least we can know for sure
what is possible.”
The Boiceville site contains grades seven through twelve. Trustees
voiced concerns over younger students mixing with high school
“Right now we have six grades sharing one cafeteria and
we’ve got the library, the gyms so I would like to see
if the building can handle it,” said trustee Anne McGillicuddy.
“It is my understanding that all the space at the Middle/High
School is completely used.”
Ford said that the building is used differently every year and
suggested input from building administrators.
Also, the administration has released an auditorium use form
available to anyone within the community. Any group wishing
to use the new auditorium located in the high school can make
a request and may be charged a fee between $27 to $46 an hour.
This is for additional custodial and utility use. Policy states
that no one can use the space for commercial use, but the board
may mull over changes to this in the future. Currently only
educational, school related or non-profit organizations can
use the auditorium.
All In The Deal
well past the November 15th deadline they imposed on Crossroads
Ventures LLC for action, those groups have still not back peddled
out of the deal, which if moved forward would spare those 1200
acres from development but also allow a $450 million project
to be constructed just a couple miles away.
Discussions on how to proceed now that the deadline has passed,
however, are taking place, according to Eric Goldstein, the
Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“Nothing new yet, but we expect to hear from the other
parties shortly and will be back in touch with you as soon as
there is something to report,” said Goldstein in a November
30 e-mail in response to questions about the status of the matter.
Gary Gailes, a consultant working on the resort project for
Crossroads, said that the plan to sell the land is still on.
“There’s little to report except that everyone involved
in the land transfer is pushing forward as fast as possible
to complete the transaction as quickly as the state bureaucracy
will allow,” he said, also via e-mail. “I believe
the various organizations who wrote to Crossroads several weeks
ago about the land transfer know that Crossroads is proceeding
in good faith to complete the transfer as quickly as possible,
and to the extent it is taking more time than expected, it is
the result of what some might describe as typical bureaucratic
According to Joe Martens, President of the Open Space Institute,
a land trust which had been expected to serve as a conduit for
the transfer pending the availability of state funding, the
group, once “intimately involved” in the negotiations,
is no longer a party to them.
“We are not in the middle of this,” said Martens,
who indicated they had withdrawn from the process several months
ago and had not been asked by the state to provide interim financing
or otherwise serve to expedite the transfer.
As to the land’s final purchase price, Martens indicated
that although they had commissioned their own appraisal, he
wasn’t free to share that information. Indications, however,
are that the purchase price would likely be in the $6 million
range, less than half the value conceptually agreed to by the
state at the time the AIP was signed in 2007. But such an approximate
value of $5,000 per acre would still represent the high side
of market value for comparable land sales, according to a number
of regional appraisers and real estate brokers.
Funding for the purchase would come from the state’s Environmental
Protection Fund, which contains about $60 million for land acquisitions
statewide and allocates funding monthly to DEC, state parks,
and other agencies.
“I know this is a priority for DEC,” said Martens.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation, the agency
actually doing the negotiating, remains tight lipped on the
entire subject. As of Tuesday, its spokesman Yancey Roy would
say only “It’s still under review. Talks are continuing.”
On September 15, a letter signed by representatives of seven
environmental groups that joined then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer in
forging the “Agreement in Principle” that was signed
in September 2007 was sent to Crossroads. The groups —
including Riverkeeper, Trout Unlimited, the Catskill Center
for Conservation and Development, the National Resources Defense
Council, the New York Public Interest Research Group and the
Zen Environmental Studies Institute — said in the letter
to the developer: “We are writing to you today because
of our continuing concern that, despite the passage of more
than 730 days, the necessary action to conserve these lands
has still not taken place. Indeed, we believe that the failure
to complete a contract for sale of this parcel to the state,
or to a recognized land trust, within the next 60 days would
constitute a breach of ... the spirit of the Agreement in Principle.”
The agreement was reached after more than eight years of review
of Crossroads’ plan to develop the 1,200 acres as part
of a private resort complex surrounding the state-owned Belleayre
Mountain Ski Center. Under the agreement, the 1,200 acres would
be sold by Crossroads to the state and stay “forever wild,”
and Crossroads, which is owned by local developer Dean Gitter
and other investors, will be allowed to develop its remaining
760 acres to the west of the State owned Belleayre Ski Center
more densely than originally planned.
The agreement also calls for the state to invest heavily, reportedly
in excess of $50 million, to expand the ski center. Under the
plan outlined in that non-binding agreement, the proposed Belleayre
Resort at Catskill Park is to straddle the border of Ulster
and Delaware counties with a 923 guest room resort comprised
of two complexes: one a 250-room hotel and 139 townhouse-style
lodging units surrounding an 18-hole golf course; the other
a 120-room hotel and spa plus 60 lodging units in two buildings
and 60 detached units in up to 52 buildings.
Gailes also said Monday that those eagerly awaiting the long
anticipated Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement
from Crossroads, a document that responds to environmental concerns
about the proposed project, would have to wait longer. The Draft
was first expected out in the spring of 2008..
“It would appear that the public and various public officials
will be spared from having their Christmas/New Year’s
holiday interrupted by reviewing another lengthy document,”
Gailes wrote. “They will have to wait until ‘early’
in the new year.”
As to any significance for the land purchase or the larger resort
project connected to the departure of Deputy Secretary for the
Environment Judith Enck, who brokered the AIP and said this
past summer that she didn’t expect any movement on the
project, or growth plans at state-owned Belleayre Mountain for
the next two years, Open Space Institute’s Martens indicated
only that, “her departure doesn’t help the situation.”
Even so, Belleayre and the region’s other two major ski
centers, Hunter and Windham, are saying they expect the coming
season to be a good one.
These things matter to Olive because much of our winter business,
based on Route 28 traffic, is driven by these destinations and
how they’re doing.
Amid Indian summer temperatures a couple of weeks back, Belleayre’s
staff met to decide whether to continue with the facility’s
plan to open to skiers early. The result, said Belleayre spokeswoman
Georgia LoPresti Meckes, was to wait and see because the ski
center’s snowmaking equipment can churn out the powder
“All we need are two cold nights, and we may get them,”
Meckes said in mid November, adding that the center’s
annual Tap Into Winter party planned for THAT Saturday would
go on with or without snow.
This past week, they said plans whether to open the ski center
on December 5th would be announced at 5:00 AM that day.
Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl, meanwhile, had originally prepared
to open Nov. 20, but spokeswomen Jessica Pezak said at the time
that was only a hope, and has since noted that they would basically
be opening whenever they could.
“We are always open by Thanksgiving,” Pezak said
as well last month. “Today, it’s over 60 degrees
already, so we are really watching the weather.”
In the weeks since then, the operators of the area’s ski
resorts have hinted that they think that Mother Nature and Old
Man Winter need to have a talk.Especially now that the region,
despite a new shared ski pass, has seen its first Thanksgiving
weekend with no skiing in the Catskills.
“With the entire Northeast covered with unseasonably warm
temperatures, everyone is anxiously awaiting the arrival of
winter,” said Belleayre spokesman J. Blake Killan just
before Thanksgiving. “It will only take a couple of cold
nights to blanket several trails with enough snow to offer skiers
and riders an enjoyable experience. And with each passing night,
more trails will be covered, groomed and ready for action. The
snow making system is tested and ready to go.”
But Belleayre’s plan, as outlined by Killan, now seems
to be an ambitious one, at least compared to what the other
two facilities have in mind.
At Windham, spokesman Kirt Zimmer said they have set their sights
set for “before Christmas.”
“The current forecast calls for snow and cold weather,”
said Zimmer more recently. “We should be able to begin
snowmaking soon, but not be open for this weekend. The next
weekend is looking good, but the disclaimer is always ‘weather
Of the three ski centers, Hunter seems to be handling the matter
the best. Pezak said that they will simply open when they are
“As far as I can see, our opening weekend is going to
be the first or second weekend in December,” she said.
“I think the days of racing to be the first resort open
are over; right now we want to wait on good weather, make good
snow, and have a great opening weekend.”
Windham’s Zimmer added that no business this part of the
season would surely sting in the short term.
“This delayed start certainly cuts into our bottom line,
but with some good weather in December we should be able to
catch up,” he said. “The first week or two of the
season aren’t typically very busy. Things really pick
up in mid-December. Luckily, the long-range forecast is for
a cold, snowy winter. Our season pass and value card sales this
summer and fall were very strong, so that bodes well for the
interest level of the marketplace. I visited a dozen ski shops
last week and found a lot of positive energy for this season.
I think there’s a lot of pent up demand and we’ll
recover from the delayed opening just fine.”
According to the State Department of Environmental Conservation’s
Office of Climate Change, however, this ski season’s late
start may be a hint of things to come.
Between 2010 and 2039, says climate project coordinator Mark
Lowery, who spoke at Belleayre last month as part of the Catskill
Watershed Corporation’s Local Government Day, New York
State’s climate will be more like Pennsylvania’s
if carbon emissions are not curbed substantially. By 2040, New
York may very well feel more like North Carolina. By 2070, Georgia.
In terms of the current climate, at least business-wise, Pezak
pointed out that Hunter’s nine-chute, two-tow snowtubing
park has been upgraded significantly this year with the addition
of 14 new snow guns. Six more guns, she said, will be placed
throughout the ski and snowboard terrain.
In recent years, Pezak said, the increase in snowtubing business
has been “tremendous.”
And Bruce Transue, who heads Hunter’s snowmaking department,
said better snowmaking capability will be a big help.
“The new guns will allow us to make more snow and make
it fast,” he said. “Snowtubing will be easier to
open, to leave open, and will be more accessible to more people
than ever before.”
At Windham Mountain, spokesman Zimmer said his outfit has also
beefed up its snowmaking arsenal.
“Before the advent of modern snowmaking, skiers were completely
at the mercy of Mother Nature,” Zimmer said. “These
days, we still need a little help from her in the way of cold
temperatures, but we have the snow part covered.”
Zimmer said Ted Davis, director of mountain operations for Windham,
and his team are constantly working to make the system more
efficient and productive.
“This continues the theme of our development, which is
to create more of an alpine environment,” Zimmer said.
“Guests are really responding to the timber and stone
elements on and around the lodge. We think the smell of a natural
wood fire fits the romance that people expect to find at a ski
lodge. We even have plans to sell s’more kits so people
can make their own treats around the fire.”
At Belleayre, advance sales have been brisk, prompting the state
Department of Environmental Conservation, which owns the facility,
to plan to operate the ski center at full bore as opposed to
Launching its new “Snow Therapy” concept to the
public, Belleayre is offering a variety of new ski and snowboard
programs. To integrate holistic health with Nordic lifestyle
recreation, Snow Therapy at Belleayre will offer special ski
school workshops, discounted partner amenities and a variety
of complementary mountain activities. In addition, the program’s
partners, including Woodstock Physical Therapy and the Mid-Hudson
Athletic Club, are giving Snow Therapy participants several
more reasons to make Belleayre Mountain their “on snow”
therapeutic venue this winter.
With the snow issue thus covered, at least if the cold weather
comes, all that remains is skiers. And even with the economy
still sour, Hunter’s Pezak said early indicators point
toward a strong showing.
“Early season sales are up in every sector here at Hunter,”
she said. “We’re seeing a lot of excitement on behalf
of customers; I think that, due to the fluctuating gas prices
and the questionable economic future, people will be sticking
close to home and cutting costs whenever possible. Between our
close proximity to the metro (New York City) area, and with
the additional boost of products, this is an excellent opportunity
for the Catskill region and for Hunter to stand out as a place
people can travel a short distance to enjoy skiing and riding,
even in hard economic times.
“While I think that destination resorts may see some challenges,
the economic crunch will continue to bring attention to the
Catskills,” Pezak said.
Jar Of Olives...
This year I will put up an artificial tree since our woodstove
cooks our real evergreens into needle-less twigs in less than
a week. I “won” this tree in an auction, 28 Exchange,
and will attempt to reassemble its parts next week. I need to
be in the mood to decorate the house, and today’s sixty-degree
sunshine just didn’t inspire me. I am sure that next week’s
festivities will get me into holiday gear.
Friday night, December 4, at seven at the Town Meeting Hall
on Bostock Road, the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place.
If you have never attended, you are really missing an event
that reassures even the most “Bah-Humbug Scrooge”
that Christmas is a special time to rediscover the child in
all of us. The extended Sorbellini family and their closest
friends organize this celebration that is complete with home-made
sugar cookies to decorate and crafts to create your own holiday
ornaments. There will be coffee, cider and hot chocolate to
warm your tummy, and watching Santa and his elf handing out
candy canes and presents to the little ones will warm your heart.
The next morning, Saturday, December 5, Santa and his trusty
elf will be at Breakfast with Santa, sponsored by the Olive
Democrats, at the Boiceville Inn. Children under the age of
twelve will be treated to a free breakfast and will get a gift
from Santa. For all others a breakfast of pancakes, eggs and
sausage will cost $5.00.
After a hearty breakfast, you can continue up the road to the
Onteora High School and watch the Onteora Obliterators challenge
the Harlem Wizards in a game of basketball at one o’clock
on Saturday, December 5. Advance tickets are $8.00 for students
and seniors and $10.00 for adults. At the door, tickets will
cost two dollars more, so plan ahead.
Speaking of planning ahead, plan to do some holiday shopping
at the annual Library Christmas Fair on Saturday, December 12.
We were without power for eighteen hours after the windstorm.
Even though we ran a generator, we rationed our use of electricity.
We unplugged. The phone didn’t ring. I felt no guilt about
foregoing the daily vacuuming of dog fur. We ate cold, leftover
turnkey sandwiches. The computer wouldn’t connect to the
Internet. Dishes reclined in the dishwasher; dirty clothes stayed
in the hamper. I read in the sunlight and dozed in the dusk.
We went to bed early and rose when the sun did. We took a vacation
from the laborsaving machines that demand our daily attention
and labor. We were unplugged from all the secondary reality
devices that have become such a part of our lives. We lived
first hand. It was simply delightful.