After years of people telling everyone else to “let
the process reach its end,” the process of review that’s
been holding up Dean Gitter’s Belleayre Resort proposal
– for good and bad – passed through a major gate
last week when Governor Eliot Spitzer came to the county to
announce a deal. The resort made up of two hotels, a golf
course, and a couple hundred private homes, some of them slopeside,
will no longer touch on the Ashokan reservoir’s watershed.
It’s not really going to be smaller, but it will be
With a majority of the major environmental groups that had
been fighting the project in recent years now signed on to
the new plans, it seems Gitter’s all but good to go
on his long-touted project. We wish him well.
Sure, many of our readers and strongest proponents over the
years are saddened by this display of power politics. And
yes, the fighting will continue as the most local of the environmental
groups that had been fighting Gitter over all these years
still refuse to sign on to the present deal.
But they will again have their day in the process, which DOES
continue, conceptual approvals or not, when the resort developers
come back to the state, and eventually the towns of Shandaken
and Middletown, with a whole new knee-high stack of environmental
impact statement mitigation proposals in the coming months.
Yes, the resort issue will again dominate local news as it
re-enters the Scoping Process by which its new parameters,
and inherent strengths and weaknesses, get examined. There
will be new public hearings that will likely draw crowds again.
There will surely be many more letters to the local papers
for and against everything coming into view.
But that’s for the future. For now, we should give honor
where it’s due… To Mr. Gitter and his crew for
having agreed to embrace alternatives they once said they’d
never take seriously. That was big of them. Similarly, to
all the environmental organizations, including the Catskill
Center for Conservation and Development, and New York City
for having signed on to the new compromise realizing that,
despite any misgivings they might still hold, what was now
before them signified a clearer future than what had been
earlier proposed. And also to those who will continue fighting,
watchdogging the process from here on as so many more of us
thank the heavens to be able to shift our attentions to other
issues for the first time in years.
Those “other issues” are many, and need our attention…
from the saving of smaller businesses in our local communities,
in trouble of failure due to the difficulties faced by all
of us making a go of things in these mountains, to the need
for our oft-warring communities to start working hard to get
We need to look at our Route 28 corridor, including ways of
making the roadway itself safer. We need to reconsider other
means of transportation into and out of the region, as seems
to be currently getting some long-needed discussion, and possible
funding, via the county’s new transportation planning
process. We need to figure out what to do with our massive,
increasingly unwieldy school district so it is again a regional
pride that consolidates and meets our eduicational needs above
expectation. We need to bring the Coalition of Watershed Towns,
the Catskill Watershed Corporation, the Catskill Center and
other regional entities back to a common ground. We need to
work together so one town doesn’t get hurt by others
in the race to lower taxes, as happened to Olive as a result
of the misguided Large Parcel legislation.
With Gitter’s Resort not dominating so much of our regional
discussion, at least for the time being, we have a chance
to look at new issues tied to our day-to-day lives. New priorities.
Like the effects of climate change that appear to counter
the state’s new promise of development at Belleayre.
Or the shifts in the City’s attitude towards its reservoirs’
liabilities... which makes in-town travel ever harder.
We need to look at all of our present situations as much as
our hoped-for futures. We need to get back to what is, and
not just what should be. Or not have been.