Million On Hold...
In a letter
read aloud at a February 22nd meeting of the Shandaken town board,
the city’s Jeffrey Graf wrote that the process of deciding whether
Phoenicia would participate in the voluntary program was “…difficult
and contentious and has, unfortunately, in some respects split the
Graf, the Project Manager, said his department would regroup with
community representatives at some time in the future to discuss other
alternatives for Phoenicia. Until then, no more money can be spent
on the project, but at the same time it would not be reallocated to
“…A time for healing and respite is desirable in Phoenicia
before alternatives are concretely considered anew,” Graf wrote.
Kevin Young, the Attorney representing Phoenicia in the matter, said
he took Graf’s letter to mean that the city still hopes to see
a project in Phoenicia. He added that the city has also decided to
not require that the town sell off the property purchased to build
the waste treatment plant. At least not yet.
The project was voted down last month by voters who wanted a better
deal reached between the community and the city. Critics of the project
said that Shandaken town Supervisor Robert Cross Jr. failed to negotiate
a financial arrangement with the city that would make the project
affordable for the community.
Some critics, like Phoenicia resident Joanne Rowley, see Graf’s
letter as an opportunity for a second chance at getting a better deal.
“I hope negotiations continue when there is a new town board,”
If the city ultimately decides that Phoenicia is a lost cause, any
money remaining in the $17.2 million fund after attorney and engineering
fees are paid would shift over to Catskill Watershed Corporation,
which is running a separate program intended to fund the planning,
design and construction of community septic systems and/or the creation
of septic maintenance districts in other watershed communities.
Boiceville is up for that one...
Backs Away From Town...
the February 22nd meeting when all this was announced, Shandaken Supervisor
Robert Cross Jr. got his fingers burned by other members who accused
the town’s top official of hiding crucial town information on
It was the attorney for Masterpage, Timothy Morrison of Albany-based
firm Whiteman Osterman and Hanna, that did most of the real talking
about Masterpage’s current dilemma. As he and Masterpage owner
Kevin Kellerhouse left town hall before the official meeting began,
but not before a Masterpage sales pitch to benefit another tower company
interested in profiting from the Masterpage failure, Morrison told the
Phoenicia Times that the company is too busy with another project in
the town of Olive and does not have the resources to complete that project
and take on the Shandaken project, which has a deadline of mid-May to
Now the company wants Shandaken to allow another manufacturer, Homeland
Towers LLC. -- hand picked by Masterpage and one they have already made
a deal with -- to build the tower.
Morrison refused to state specifics of the deal, but noted that it was
struck on the condition that Shandaken award Homeland the contract to
complete what Masterpage could not.
Homeland Towers President Manual Vicente was introduced to the town
board by Kellerhouse as his choice to take over the contract, and the
approved permits, for the 180 foot tower. While claiming to be the only
hope for getting the tower built as soon as possible, salesman Vicente
said he would need the Board to grant a deadline extension.
Town Attorney Paul Kellar is reviewing the company’s proposal.
Some residents and board members took issue with the way Homeland Towers
was positioned by Masterpage, which would profit from the switch, and
by Supervisor Cross as the best choice for how to get cellular service
Cross has had a close relationship with Kellerhouse for years, inviting
Kellerhouse to help draft the town’s cell tower law two years
ago, and then signing a contract with Kellerhouse shortly thereafter
to give Masterpage exclusive rights to what many consider to be the
best tower location in town.
This time, it was Cross’s deliberate choice to hide his knowledge
that Masterpage couldn’t come through that caused suspicion.
Councilman Rob Stanley was outraged that he was not informed until just
before the Thursday meeting that Cross knew over three weeks ago that
Masterpage couldn’t build the tower, but kept it quiet.
Cross said he was tight lipped because he did not want the information
leaked to the press.
Stanley said Cross’s explanation that he worried how Masterpage
would be characterized in the media was “silly,” and said
Cross should have made the important news public so steps could be taken
immediately to review several alternatives instead of giving Homeland
Towers an open playing field on which to exclusively court the town.
“Now I’m being force fed another company,” Stanley
Ulster County Sheriff Paul VanBlarcum, who is a former Shandaken town
board member that favored a different approach to getting cellular coverage
for the town, was at Thursday’s meeting to urge the current board
to reconsider a plan for building shorter facilities at local firehouses
and other locations like church steeples.
Mount Tremper resident Kathy Nolan agreed with VanBlarcum and said the
board should shift its thinking away from building the all but defunct
Masterpage tower and begin preparing a superior coverage plan.
“I’m happy for you to take credit for it. Just do it for
the benefit of the town,” she said.
The board did not award the contract to Homeland Towers. It is expected
that other providers will be asked to offer proposals.
The attorney for Masterpage also said Thursday that a lawsuit over right
of way issues has been settled, paving the way for the already built
Masterpage cell tower on South Mountain in Olive to become operational
The lawsuit held up the installation of utilities to make the tower
operational, but Olive Officials are taking a wait and see attitude.
Supervisor Bert Leifeld reports that Kellerhouse and Morrison did claim
to have an agreement and that as soon as the weather breaks they would
begin the final phase of the tower construction. But, Leifeld added,
until a judge signs off on the case there is no deal.
Further complications surround Masterpage in Olive, Leifeld said. Verizon
continues to pursue plans to build its own tower on town property at
the local transfer station. Verizon is also slated to rent space on
the Masterpage tower.
It remains unclear whether Verizon is planning to utilize both facilities
or if the company is making its own plans to provide coverage in the
event of a Masterpage failure.
Ain’t No Party, Folks
clerks, we really shouldn’t be making administrative decisions,”
came the word from the speaker addressing a 3 PM session entitled,
“Dept. of Health – Births, Deaths & Marriages”
in the Beekman Parlor on the second floor. “We’re simply
not prepared, or elected, for that. Our jobs are clerical…”
Simultaneous sessions in the Sutton Parlor, Nassau Suite, and three
separate Trianon ballrooms were dealing with “Stormwater Regulations:
What Town Boards Need To Know;” “Census 2010: Town Role
and Responsibility;” “Land Use Case Reviews for Town Attorneys;”
a “Purchasing Workshop;” “Interpersonal Project
Review” for town planners; “Personnel Issues: Tardiness,
Leaves of Absence;” “Public Relations Practices in Small
Towns and Large Towns;” “Reconstructed Income and Expense
Statements;” “Pre-Trial Hearings” and DWI Motion
Practices” for town justices; “Making A Good Record: Minutes,
Findings & Decision Documents” for zoning officials; and
a “Staff Attorneys Q and A.”
And that’s not mentioning the smaller sessions for court clerks
“We don’t really have press passes you know,” say
the staff people at registration along the Promenade as large Upstate
men and women gather wherever more than a single chair sits up and
down the long gaudily-chandeliered room. “We can’t really
have you going into the sessions people have paid for.”
Someone sees G. Jeffrey Haber, the Association’s longstanding
Executive Director, emerging from the elevators and motions toward
him. Haber, a large man with a down-home demeanor, makes his way over,
says he doesn’t usually get media requests for his events, but
then asks that a name badge be made with “PRESS” written
in all caps across its tops.
I place it on my one year old, who’s busy waving to everyone
in sight, wearing his very first suit… along with a Woodstock
Baby t-shirt complete with peace insignia. And white sneakers.
We make our way to the vendors’ area, where dozens of companies
hawking everything from municipal accounting services to streetlights
and traffic planning systems are handing out pens, candy and business
cards… and commenting about the baby in their midst.
“What can I say; our townspeople elected him supervisor,”
I said. “I’m his handler.”
Milo waved and clapped as people made to kiss him.
At a booth for the state Office of Real Property Services, I asked
if anyone from the Mid-Hudson Valley or Catskills had been through,
remembering how large a role the agency had played in local politics
– and news – of recent years, via the regular onslaught
of tax assessment revals and the painful inter-municipality battles
involved in the Onteora School District’s implementation of
the state legislature’s new “Large Parcel” law.
I mention the word “Olive” and the man, quickly places
a gold star onto a map,. Right over the Ashokan Reservoir, noting
that the Hurley town supervisor, Mike Shultis, had also been through
Few other ORPS stars fill the spaces between the Hudson and Binghamton
as we head on.
At a booth for the state Comptrollers’ office, a person working
in agency public relations says its been a busy season, what with
all the political back and forth involving elected Comptroller Alan
Hevesi’s January resignation and the state legislature’s
more recent choice of one of its own to head the powerful agency over
new Governor Eliot Spitzer’s own choices. But the man added
that in the final rounds, actual changes would be few unless the new
guy, Thomas DiNapoli, started changing his deputies… who seem
to hold the actual reins in state government.
Others at neighboring state booths, from the Department of Environmental
Conservation to Transportation, Corrections, Parole and Parks, voiced
similar thoughts… albeit with a request that their sentiments
not be attributed to actual names.
Someone I’ve received forwarded e-mails from at the Department
of State, who identified himself as “one of your deep throats,
even if you never realized it,” said that those actually working
in state government were hoping Spitzer’s reform activities
would move beyond the top spheres where his appointments have taken
all the notice, and concentrate on lower levels where actual decisions
get made, where administration really happens.
“The Association of Towns of the State of New York was established
in 1933 to help towns obtain greater economy and efficiency. The Association
serves town governments by providing training programs, research and
information services, technical assistance, legal services, computer
software programs, insurance programs and a variety of publications
to member towns,” reads the official literature touting what
appears online as http://www.nytowns.org/. “It represents town
governments by providing advocacy in Albany, monitoring legislation
and regulatory action, lobbying and presenting initiatives solely
on behalf of towns. The Association gains all of its revenue from
dues and activities and receives no State or federal assistance.”
They claim 97 percent of New York’s 932 towns as its members,
representing over 20,000 elected and appointed officials. They also
note the growing percent of the state’s population living in
townships, ranging in size from some under 100 in the Adirondacks
to many over 756,000 population Hempstead and another 74 with populations
over 20,000… as well as the growing pressures being put on smaller
municipalities by the growing security costs implemented by the federal
government, or the debts of the state and its larger cities…
including the big one everyone was meeting in.
We run into most of the Woodstock Planning Board and hear that their
chairman, Michael Mullally, got the shortest answer of the day to
a question he’d asked during a Q and A session. It was about
whether planning boards should feel obligated about answering dozens
of e-mails they received.
Later, Woodstock town supervisor’s secretary Angela Sweet said
that in addition to the planners mentioned, town supervisor Jeremy
Wilber, councilmen Bill McKenna and Chris Collins, and planners Clem
Holquist and Randolph Horner were all in attendance.
Town clerk Laurilyn Frasier of Shandaken said her town’s two
judges, Tom Crucet and Mike Miranda, were also there.
Olive supervisors’ secretary Susan Horner said she’d heard
that town planners had spoken about going, but she was unsure if any
“Rosendale asked if we wanted to share a bus down,” said
Sweet, who had nothing but praise for the session. “It’s
an amazing resource.”
She spoke about how, boring topics withstood, the actual information
passed on about governing at the annual meeting and training school
was often invaluable. But more importantly, so was the opportunity
allowed elected officials to meet their peers across the state and
realize that the issues they wrestled with, prosaic or not, were all
of a piece.
“Everything’s geared to your office, but the great stuff
happens when you get to sit in on other events,” said Frasier,
noting how it was important for clerks to learn about town board responsibilities,
or planners to know about traffic or legal concerns. “I think
it’s wonderful… you’re solving one person’s
problems just by talking.”
As it gets dark and people make for the last sessions for the day,
buzzing about how not only Sitzer, but new Attorney General Andrew
Cuomo would be keynote speakers in the morning, Milo and I sit in
on a few conversations.
Middle aged men and women wearing nametags laugh about having new
problems with unspent snow removal budgets. Someone asks about what
they do when people try to shout them down in meetings. Turns out,
someone adds, there’ll be a session on just that subject the
A group of highway superintendents walk by with that classic Upstate
swagger of men who’ve spent lifetimes outdoors.
“Cocktails at 6 pm?” one with a beard asks the group that’s
seated, sparking thoughts of public misperceptions about what these
elected officials might be doing in the Big Apple on taxpayers’
“Golly, I don’t know…” replies a town clerk
with a timid smile.
“It’s the best place to meet everyone who’s here,”
added the bearded highway guy. “And besides, they’ll have
fresh coffee as well as beer…”
“We want to make
sure we get a chance to hear what the community wants to share, now
that they have a chance to look at plans and any significant information
that surrounds it,” said Ford.
The sessions have been broken into five topics: student needs, instruction,
facilities, transportation and community needs.
“All those concerns surround us as a district, we can’t
make a decision that does not fit in our budget, or doesn’t
fit in our transportation,” Ford added. “We have to think
of all of those effects as we are making a decision and public input
is a valid resource.”
Information will be available on tables from past school board meetings
as the public arrives. New information on transportation costs will
also be presented.
Three proposals from KSQ architects have been presented at past school
board meetings. They range from renovations of the district, to closing
additional elementary schools or all elementary schools if a central
campus is decided on.
There is also a proposal to separate the middle school from the high
school that has gained much support among administration, teachers
and parents, who find the current configuration inconsistent with
quality educational standards. Two proposals have been introduced
defining the middle school as either a six-through-eight or five-through-eight
model. Costs range from $40 million to $70 million with State aid
at approximately 31 percent.
Armand Quadrini and Scott Hillje of KSQ Architects will also be in
attendance, presenting their facilities studies and bond proposals.
After welcoming statements, depending on the number of people, small
groups will be formed or one large group. During the sessions, people
will have the opportunity to talk, ask questions and express their
Ford encourages that the public write their thoughts. “Then
we will take all of those ideas and put them on sort of a word wall,
facilities here transportation there, and then each table or board
member will need to take one area and synthesize them into bold statements,”
she said, adding that one of the architects will then summarize the
full meeting for district use. A full report will be given at a future
school board meeting.
Public input will play a major role on how the board makes its decision.
“We are in a declining enrollment and we need to adjust our
plans depending on that restriction… We can’t go away
from that but right now that is our reality,” Ford said, referring
to a demographic report that predicts that by the year 2011 there
will be 1526 school age students, compared to 1916 students enrolled
as of December 2006.
Ford said her role at the forum is to help organize and listen to
the public. She has been working in the district for less than a month,
but still coming into the office during snow days to learn about Onteora
in quick time.
Ford was formally introduced to the district by OCS board president
Marino D’Orazio at a February 20 school board meeting with large
attendance. But it turned out that much of the audience came to protest
the elimination of Michael Boms, high school track coach of 27 years,
who was told a couple of weeks ago by Assistant High Scool Principal
Gabe Buono that he would not have his contract renewed for the coming
“By consensus of the board we pulled the track position and
the women’s varsity softball position, they are not on the consent
agenda tonight,” D’Orazio said. “They are tabled
for a future meeting.”
The board will discuss Boms employment during an executive session.
During public be heard, Boms, a retired Onteora high school teacher,
addressed the school board (see his letter in News Briefs). Several
parents, students and Onteora alumni sat around the former coach and
spoke on his behalf.
Later Buono said he could not discuss confidential issues but did
acknowledge the amount of people who attended the meeting.
“Mike Boms has done many great things in this community and
for this school, In other business, that should not go unnoticed.”
Buono said. “It was a tough decision and a professional decision.”
In other business, Assistant Superintendent for Business Victoria
McLaren presented the 2007-2008 budget proposals for BOCES and Transportation,
projecting an overall 15.8 percent increase from 2005-2006 at a total
of $3,540,432 for the latter department, mostly due to a 19.1 percent
increase in contract runs primarily because of transporting special
education students. Taxpayers will also be asked to vote on four vehicles
as replacements to aging vehicles. In 2006 voters denied two new busses
and according to Interim director of transportation Peter Montalvo,
after this year, the busses will not pass inspection. The four busses
will total $279,825.
BOCES will see an overall 4.99 percent increase for 2007-2008. The
total BOCES budget is projected at $2,820,245 or a $130,888 increase.
The State will reimburse 48 percent of the cost, a drop from 50 percent.
BOCES services include staff development, technology, special education
and summer school.
& HOPE AT WEST SHOKAN STORE
to me is that this store has gone through a series of different people
running it," said Jim Sofranko, a West Shokan film maker and
electrician. "When these people came up from Riverdale, suddenly
this place had more business and more people coming out and having
good conversation with real openness in a friendly environment than
you can imagine. I’ve never seen it like that and it’s
all different backgrounds, from weekenders to local trappers; people
on one side of a political issue or another all just getting along
and having a good time. Everybody loves the place!"
That congenial atmosphere is first among reasons cited by Sofranko
for the decision formulated by a group of people who independently
frequent the establishment to organize a fundraiser to help the Mansfields
cope with the sudden medical emergency that has confronted the family.
Anyone who hasn’t noticed how devastating a catastrophic illness
can be under the current system of health care in America, they reasoned,
hasn’t been paying attention. So, they got together and started
making calls; securing space at the Olive Public Library basement
from 3 to 6 pm on Sunday, March 4th, arranging food preparations with
other local businesses volunteering to help and enlisting performers
like the angelically voiced Amy Fradon, Marta, John Wirtz, James Barbaro
and three writers of fascinatingly quirky songs- Mark Brown, Wayne
Montecalvo and Mark Donato, among others.
As of midday on Tuesday, the Mansfields were in New York City anxiously
trying to find a surgeon to operate on their 13-year-old son Killian.
By all accounts, a remarkable boy who plays fiddle and has created
some remarkable items of art, Killian has been stricken with a rare
form of cancer for which he has undergone previous operations and
extensive therapy and which has unhappily reappeared recently.
When Killian was nine, he broke his jaw in three places in a bike
accident and after it healed the Mansfields watched closely for jaw
pain or swelling because of a concern for how well the bone might
knit. When swelling did develop two years later, a troublesome wisdom
tooth was suspected and treated unresponsively with antibiotics and
he was checked for an abscess.
"When (the physician) went to drain the abscess, he immediately
knew that something was off and the next day Killian was being ‘catscanned,’
Phil Mansfield recalled. "Within a week chemotherapy was started
and surgery would follow."
Killian had been diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, an unusual form
of cancer effecting supportive body tissue around joints, tendons
and bursae (which are cushioning tissues in these and other areas
of the body). It strikes mostly young adults, most typically around
knees and elbows, less frequently in the head and neck area or the
abdomen. Killian’s cancer manifested in the area of his jaw
injury and he underwent a 10 hour operation to remove the tumor along
with part of the bone and reconstruct that portion of his jaw.
During the recovery period, the oncology staff at Columbia Presbyterian
Hospital introduced their young patient to some forms of therapy which
they call "complimentary medicine" which embraces acupuncture,
aroma therapy, chi energy movement, visualization and other alternative
avenues of the healing process. Killian responded so exuberantly to
these approaches that he became "almost a poster child"
for them, as Mansfield phrased it, speaking before medical groups
and gatherings of donors. His enthusiasm also inspired him to use
his artistic talents to design a graphic called "Grumpy Fish"
which he gave to children in the ward and sells on t-shirts for proceeds
which go to the Hope & Heroes Children’s Cancer Fund. It
seems he had noticed that most of the donated toys in the recovery
center were for very young children and he felt the need to contribute
something a bit more mature than stuffed animals that would appeal
to 11-year-old sophisticates like himself. Another example of Killian’s
art can be seen in the form of a metallic origami fox which he created
with a friend and adorns the outdoor space behind the store.
An unfortunate aspect of synovial sarcoma is an incidence of recurrence
frequently higher than other forms of cancer and when it returned
to Killian, it brought along a few more setbacks. Another operation
has been postponed twice in the past few weeks. The second time, last
week, the Mansfields were already in the hospital "pre-op"
room in scrubs and surgical gowns, when they were informed that the
key reconstructive surgeon had gone into labor and a replacement wasn’t
available at Columbia Presbyterian.
"I was saying to my wife this morning that, when you look at
the checks and balances," Mansfield said, "Columbia Presbyterian
has so many checks going for them but this one counterbalance has
equaled everything good they’ve done for us because this is
A highly specialized plastic surgeon with experience in preserving
vascular channels to maintain blood supply in the rebuilt regions
vacated by the tumor is a vital member of the surgical team for an
operation lasting double-digit hours; one difficult to procure and
the nasty, aggressive nature of the affliction, which threatens to
spread rapidly upward into sinus regions or elsewhere, is the cause
of considerable anxiety in the oncology department of the hospital
as well as in the Mansfield household. A team at another hospital
was approached but couldn’t schedule surgery before March 13th.
A new catscan on Tuesday, however, prompted a surgeon to venture that
the removal of the tumor couldn’t wait that long and, as this
is written, the Mansfields are waiting at the hospital for word of
a closer target date.
"We were all pretty much floored the day they postponed the surgery,"
Mansfield said. "But I have to say that one of the proudest moments
for me as a person was later in the day when my wife, Killian and
myself were still in the City, laughing, just having a good time being
together and I felt so proud to be part of a family that could find
strength in each other. It touched me greatly that Killian can be
such a strong part of that."
There was an undercurrent of tension laced with a dogged optimism
at the store when the call came in from the Mansfields to those they
left in charge that a sooner date was feasible but anxiety lingers
among friends and the customers who find a touchstone of human kinship
in the store’s special space for community get-together.
"It’s amazing to me the amount of interest and generosity
the people who have gone to this store in the past months feel compelled
to give back to these people," commented Sofranko. "These
are newcomers to our community but they have such a magic to create
a special space and help people come together that we’re hoping
to give something back to them."
(Donations will be welcome at the library but, if you can’t
make it there and would like to help out while at the same time making
an investment in community spirit, the Bank of America has set up
a Phil Mansfield Donation Fund account and checks can be sent to the
bank % Mansfield Account at 2808 Rt.28 Shokan NY 12481).
Towns’ Double Lives
Although Lerner is one
of the few fairly recent big-city transplants around that did not,
in fact, ever own a second home in the Catskills, he said that “two
or three folks” on his own street are only part-time residents.
And most reservoir-area dwellers and can quite likely attest to the
The fact is that a grand portion of Olive and Shan-daken’s taxpayers
live double lives: one in the city, and one in the country. It’s
something that the permanent residents have become accustomed to,
and for some, it’s a crucial part of life.
Alfred Peavy, a broker at Ruth M. Gale Real Estate in Phoenicia, said
that no less than 90 percent of his clientele comes from the city,
either looking to buy a comparatively secluded getaway home, or hoping
to relocate completely. And he said that this year has been more active
than last, during which he had 15 clients.
Westward Metes & Bounds agent Rachel X. Weissman said that she
would estimate her clients coming from the city to comprise closer
to 75 or 80 percent of the total, with, on average, three out of five
of these buying second homes rather than permanent residences.
Even for the people moving here for good, however, it is frequently
the case that their livelihoods depend on business connections in
the city. Weissman suggested that many such people are writers, consultants,
and the like, who are able to conduct their affairs through what she
calls telecommuting – business done primarily by telephone and
over the Internet.
Mark Lerner, for one, left a staff job in the city to go freelance
when he and his family moved to Phoenicia. He said that because of
the cost-of-living difference between here and the metropolitan area,
he probably could not have afforded to go to work for himself if he
had not made the move.
A similar story is told by Janet Steen, a writer and editor. She and
her husband, Mark Donato – a grant writer and fundraiser –
originally bought a second home in West Shokan in 1999, while keeping
their permanent address in Brooklyn. Four years later they decided
to make the West Shokan house their full-time residence. In addition
to enjoying the extra space afforded them by their rural property,
Steen said that the monthly cost of their mortgage is less than they
would be paying for a one-bedroom flat in the city.
Steen said that, even though all of their work comes from New York,
and they still have friends there, she and her husband have truly
come to feel as if they’re part of their local community, and
no longer feel very connected to the culture of the city.
“We know many of our neighbors,” Steen said. “We’re
very aware of what’s going on here, with the DEP, the septic
system, the tax issue, the watershed – all of that.”
It’s more or less expected that NYC transplants that have come
to live here full-time would know something about the local community,
and take some interest in its affairs. But the same is evidently not
widely true of part-time residents (or weekenders, as the locals like
to call them), even though they pay the same taxes as everyone else.
“I don’t think they care [about local affairs],”
Town of Olive councilman Henry Rank said in a telephone interview,
speaking of the second-home owners in the community. “It would
be nice if they did. I met a couple of them while campaigning, and
asked for their opinions, but they gave me no response.”
Olive Supervisor Berndt Leifeld agrees that the weekenders don’t
maintain much a vocal presence in the life of the town – except,
he jokes, to complain about the occasional barking dog and other such
“things that local people take for granted.”
“I can’t think of many that have come to town board meetings,”
From an economic standpoint, Leifeld indicated that the presence of
second-home owners and recent settlers has been beneficial.
“They bring money to the town,” Leifeld said, “and
they definitely brought the real estate market higher.”
“I find the whole situation more of a plus,” he concluded,
chuckling, “I came from the city myself, a long time ago.”
Nola Gutmann of Nola Gutmann Realty in Mt. Pleasant contended that
some second-home owners in the area may have more involvement in local
affairs than they are given credit for.
“I get a lot of phone calls from people saying, ‘What’s
going on with this, what’s going on with that?’”
Gutmann said. “Some couples have one person registered here
and another registered in the city, so they can vote both places.”
Though there’s no disputing that nearly everyone benefits from
the tax dollars spent by weekenders, it’s really the businesses
in the area that find the most reason to appreciate their presence
– whether it be permanent or merely occasional.
Lauri Kennedy, whose Cracker Mill Hearth & Emporium, off of Rt.
28 in Shokan, has been in business for 32 years, said that “The
more area gets developed, the more customers there are.”
Alfred Peavy of Ruth M. Gale Real Estate keeps his enthusiasm in check,
saying that realistically, “There aren’t that many houses
on the market [in the area.]”
He said that, with zoning restrictions around the area of the reservoir,
“There’s not enough land to have a huge expansion in the
number of homes. There’s very little room for new growth.”