New York State officials are hard at work preparing a
blueprint for the buildout of the Belleayre Mountain Ski
Center, despite growing reports from world climate scientists
that winter snow in the Catskills is likely to be a thing
of the past within 20 to 30 years.
Known as a Unit Management Plan, the blueprint must reflect
the details of the agreement reached this month between
New York State and developer Dean Gitter, who is building
a mega-resort with an 18-hole “organic” golf
course on the western border of the ski center.
On Monday, September 24, Belleayre Superintendent Tony
Lanza said that he was not at liberty to discuss the details
of the plan.
“We are working on the UMP right now very hard,”
he said, adding that the goal is to have it ready for
public review in March 2008.
In the meantime, Lanza has had informal discussions with
the membership of the local Food and Lodging Association,
but says those talks have not been about the UMP. Lanza,
who meets on a monthly basis with the Association membership,
said he was only offering his opinion to the group on
how the upcoming construction phase of both the Resort
and Belleayre’s improvements would impact members.
Under terms of the agreement between the State and Gitter’s
development group, Crossroads Ventures, the Trust for
Public Land will purchase 1,216 acres of the development
group’s holdings on the eastern side of the Belleayre
Mountain Ski Center and 78 acres on the western side which
is the old Highmount Ski Center. Most of the land will,
in turn, be conveyed to the state, added to the surrounding
Catskill Forest Preserve and designated “forever
wild,” as is the rest of the preserve. The 78 acres
will be added to Belleayre, which will be upgraded.
Law prevents Belleayre from having more than 25 miles
of trails. It now has just over 14 miles. Under the agreement,
9 more miles are planned and would include the two and
half miles of trail already located at the Highmount Ski
Joe Kelly, the Chairman of the Coalition for Belleayre,
said the Belleayre portion of the deal would make the
facility “one of the foremost ski centers in the
Kelly recalled that over a decade ago his Coalition tried
to convince the state to purchase Highmount Ski Center
but was unsuccessful. The inclusion of Highmount, which
he calls “a turnkey operation,” will be a
great benefit to Belleayre skiers, he said, but an even
more important element of the deal calls for the development
of three miles of new trails on Belleayre’s eastern
Lanza and the DEC are compelled to produce the UMP quickly.
It and the plans for the Belleayre Resort are to be reviewed
simultaneously under the State Environmental Quality Review
process, something that opponents of the resort project
fought for several years ago but were unsuccessful.
In 2004 Lanza made public presentations of a proposed
UMP, but later refused to release the details when opponents
of the resort insisted that the resort plans must be reviewed
in the context of whether or not the resort project would
place limitations on the expansion of the ski center.
Lanza on Monday would not say if the UMP he is currently
preparing would include any details from the 2004 version.
Another element of the recently-announced Gitter agreement
that should interest locals with an eye to the Belleayre
expansion is a clause that enables the possibility of
skiers sliding directly into the Village of Fleischmanns.
A 203 acre Gitter-owned parcel, identified as the “Adelstein
property,” has been pinpointed as a parcel that
could be used for “passive recreational uses”
associated with Gitter’s resort. No lodging would
be allowed, but the agreement allows for the construction
of ski trails or lifts “for the purpose of providing
ski access to Fleischmanns.”
The Adelstein property project is not yet part of the
overall resort plan. It would only go into effect once
Gitter obtains all the approvals to begin construction
of his resort. Which is also when, it turns out, the state
would get both the Highmount property and be able to purchase
the Big Indian Plateau acreage at just over $10,000 per
Talk about a sticky web of intertwining interests and
requirements… No matter no one’s daring to
bring up the threat of climate change.
People Say No
Residents in the Delaware County towns of Andes and Bovina
have managed to thwart the building of a series of large
industrial windmills for the private generation of electricity,
with each community’s town boards recently rubberstamping
local sentiment, built up after years of grass roots level
activism, against character changes to their communities.
The controversial proposals ultimately defeated included
proposed commercial wind farms that would have installed
massive wind turbines and generated millions of dollars.
Individual turbines would have been up to 350 feet in
height… and noisy. Public opposition was based on
the advent of such industrial structures into a pristine
rural area, as well as the turbines propensity for killing
masses of birds.
In Bovina, the Town Board ultimately rejected the wind
proposal because of strong community opposition to the
project. Tom Craveiro, co-director of the Alliance for
Bovina, said in a statement that the town was determined
to “preserve the scenic, rural and agricultural
character” of Bovina.
A similar move in Andes was made after several attempts
to close down raucous public meetings filled with wind
power opponents led to fears of political retribution
and the town board decided to say no to the developments
because of public sentiment.
Seems that towns can find ways of dictating their own
futures based on shifts in majority sentiment…
There is no word yet in Shandaken on the proposed 2008
budget, the document that spells out exactly how much
taxpayer money gets spent next year and what the money
would get spent on. At press time the accountant hired
by the town to assemble the budget, which must be in draft
form by mid October, was at town hall reviewing information
supplied by the town’s department heads and beginning
to put that information together in a way that would provide
a clear picture of both revenues and expenses. That draft
will then be distributed to the town board for review.
“I hope we see something in a couple of days,”
said councilwoman Jane Todd Tuesday.
Todd, who is running for town supervisor this fall, said
she is not sitting in on the sessions with the accountant
because to do so would be premature and time consuming.
“I don’t like going to 10 hour meetings,”
Pete DiSclafani, another town board member and Todd’s
Democratic challenger for the supervisor position this
election, said he was at town hall while the accountant
was at work. DiSclafani said current supervisor Robert
Cross Jr. had a brief discussion with him about the budget
package, but DiSclafani felt that, as of Tuesday, the
information was still not put together in a way to allow
him to predict how much of a pinch, if any, taxpayers
He did say it appears the ambulance department is seeking
a $30,000 increase, but that he knew of no other large
The budget, once prepared, must be adopted as a preliminary
budget next month. Then the public and the town board
discuss the plan and the town board can make revisions
to the package before adopting a final budget in early
The total town budget for 2007 is $4.3 million.
The Hotel’s Fate...
Will the Phoenicia Hotel be torn down? Or can it be saved?
These questions remain unanswered this week, or at least
unresolved, as the Town of Shandaken has asked the property
owner, Richie Stokes, to produce an engineering report
showing that the structure, which was badly damaged by
fire last month, does not need to be razed because it
still can be rebuilt. Town Building Inspector Tom Burt
has determined that the Main Street structure needs to
be removed, but Stokes has disagreed. Fearing liability
issues, the town has warned Stokes that if he does not
produce the report then there is no compelling reason
to contradict Burt’s decision.
Empire State Development, New York’s economic development
arm, announced on September 24 its commitment to provide
up to $1.5 million in support of solar-related companies.
The money will be available directly to companies that
relocate to the Hudson Valley.
ESD will seek input from The Solar Energy Consortium,
a public-private partnership designed to foster solar
energy research and production in the state.
Vincent Cozzolino, co-founder of The Solar Energy Consortium
said the announcement shows the state’s “commitment
to addressing the looming energy crisis and the harmful
effects of global warming by not only investing in clean
renewable power but doing so in a way that will create
jobs in the Hudson Valley and across the state.”
Congressman Maurice Hinchey said the state fund, along
with the $3.5 million he has secured for the consortium,
“will revolutionize the way we all live while helping
to save the planet from global warming.”
State Senator John Bonacic said the funds are “an
investment that will not only create jobs, but will help
create an energy source for the future.”
The Fourth Annual Lark in the Park, an event started by
the Catskill Mountain Club as a means of encouraging greater
use of the Catskill Park we inhabit, is taking place this
year from September 29th through October 8th with more
than 20 hikes, walks, bike rides, kayak excursions, driving
tours, book signings and presentation, and even a photo
scavenger hunt, which are all spread out around the 705,000
acre Catskill Park. All of the events are free and open
to the public.
Some of the Lark in the Park activities planned for this
year include hikes to Sunset Rock, Vernooy Kill Falls,
Diamond Notch, Alder Lake, Huckleberry Point, Giant Ledge,
Wittenberg Mountain, Indian Head Mountain, the Blackhead
Range, and the Hunter Mountain fire tower; bike rides
between Alder Lake and Big Pond, on the Catskills Scenic
Rail Trail, and through the rolling hills of Delaware
County; a kayak excursion on the East Branch Delaware
River; a guided driving tour of covered bridges and a
self-guided driving tour of the Beaverkill Valley; the
annual Catskill Park Photo Scavenger Hunt; and a Catskill
Trails talk and slide show.
Lark in the Park was first organized in 2004 as a way
to bring people together to celebrate the 100-year anniversary
of the Catskill Park. A complete schedule of 2007 Lark
in the Park events is available online at www.catskillmountainclub.org
(click on Activities &Events) or www.catskillpark.org
(click on Lark in the Park). Participants should check
for pre-registration requirements for each event and call
or e-mail the event leaders directly to sign up. For information
on travel and lodging in the Catskill region, visit www.catskillregiontoday.com
The leadership of the Coalition of Watershed Towns unanimously
endorsed Hunter Town Supervisor Dennis Lucas to head up
the regional advocacy group now that long time Executive
Committee Chairman Patrick Meehan has resigned. The decision
was made last week when the Coalition’s Executive
Committee met at Catskill Watershed Corporation headquarters
Lucas, a Democrat, has been a member of the executive
committee for several years, serving as one of the two
Greene County delegates to the group, which represents
watershed communities in five different counties. He has
a reputation of being short fused in matters pertaining
to the City of New York and its regulatory enforcement
arm, the Department of Environmental Protection.
Meehan, the Republican supervisor of Greene’s town
of Windham, now leaves a vacancy on the committee and
will be replaced with another public official from Greene.
Meanwhile, the rest of the executive committee, made up
of reps from all five counties of Ulster, Delaware, Greene,
Sullivan and Schoharie, showed united support for Lucas
to be the new Chairman.
Lucas has a track record of not agreeing with the stance
of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection,
the agency that the Coalition frequently battles. While
many disputes between the two groups drag on for years
through long discussions and negotiations, Lucas has shown
himself to have a different approach in such matters.
As the top official in Hunter, Lucas cut through the red
tape last year and took the DEP to court over the recreational
use of City owned lands. Lucas wants those lands open
to the public in the same way state land is. The courts
agreed with Lucas. DEP is appealing that ruling.
After his appointment last week, Lucas told reporters
that while his predecessor was inclined to find common
ground with the City, Lucas himself was not a compromiser.
In related news, the Coalition has filed a lawsuit against
the United States Environmental Protection Agency over
EPA’s issuance to the City of a 10 year long waiver
from filtering the Big Apple’s water supply. That
waiver, in the making for a couple of years, was supposed
to be only for five years. That’s the amount of
time used by the Coalition to decide what watershed dwellers
would get out of the bargain if the City was granted the
waiver from building a filtration system estimated at
between $8 and $12 billion to build and hundreds of millions
a year to operate.
At the same meeting that Lucas was appointed, the Executive
Committee met in a closed door session to discuss how
to proceed with the case.
Officials of three Ulster County hospitals have finally
signed the master alignment agreement creating a new corporation
to over their operations.
The state’s Burger Commission last year called on
Kingston and Benedictine Hospitals to join forces and
the hospitals later announced that they had reached a
joint operating agreement, but the did not call it a merger.
The master alignment agreement okayed last week now also
includes Margaretville Memorial Hospital.
The hospitals will share nearly $48 million in state money
to carry out the state-mandated affiliation of the two
facilities, New York Health Commissioner Dr. Richard F.
Daines announced on September 20, in advance of the agreement
signing at Wiltwyck Golf Club on the 21st. $4.1 million
of that will be used to establish a clinic where birth
control-related medical matters could be looked after.
The new company will be known as Health Alliance Planning
Inc. The affiliation will consolidate some overlapping
services and reduce the total number of beds at the two
main facilities from the current 367 to between 250 and
The $47.6 million for the local affiliation is coming
from a $550 million pool that was set aside by the state
to help designated hospitals and nursing homes in New
York implement the Berger Commission’s mandates.
A president and CEO of Health Alliance has not yet been
chosen; for now the board chairs of all three hospitals
will co-chair the new agency. The new organization will
ensure that all three hospitals will retain their basic
characters and boards.
Meanwhile, the Kingston/Benedictine hospital affiliation
watchdog group HealthCare STAT has said that the $4.1
million plan to build a clinic where abortions and other
women’s reproductive services would be performed
is better than what was originally proposed. But they
have added a request that the center be operational before
the planned alliance of Kingston and Benedictine hospital
The number of foreclosure filings reported in the U.S.
last month more than doubled versus August 2006 and jumped
36 percent from July, a trend that signals many homeowners
are increasingly unable to make timely payments on their
mortgages or sell their homes amid a national housing
A total of 243,947 foreclosure filings were reported in
August, up 115 percent from 113,300 in the same month
a year ago. There were 179,599 foreclosure filings reported
in July. The filings include default notices, auction
sale notices and bank repossessions. Some properties might
have received more than one notice if the owners have
Accompanying the foreclosure figures, house prices have
generally fallen to their lowest averages in 16 years.
As part of a massive mailing to about 2.7 million property
owners across New York State, Ulster County residents
who receive the STAR exemption on their school tax bill
will receive an application for a new tax relief incentive:
the 2007 Middle Class STAR Property Tax Rebate program.
Governor Spitzer’s new Middle Class STAR Property
Tax Rebate program was designed to provide property tax
relief for senior citizens and middle income families.
The rebate arrives in the form of a check and is provided
in addition to the STAR relief that was already reflected
on school tax bills. The State will calculate rebate checks
on a sliding scale based on income and town within each
school district. The benefit gradually decreases as income
rises. Taxpayers earning over $250,000 are not eligible
for this additional new relief, but will continue to receive
their current STAR benefit.
Qualifying taxpayers who wish to take advantage of the
Middle Class STAR opportunity must complete and return
the application by November 30, 2007. Seniors 65 years
or older who already receive the enhanced STAR exemption
do not have to apply, they will receive their STAR rebate
The statewide mailing will be complete by the end of September,
allowing people ample time to fill out the application
prior to the November 30 deadline. Applicants are encouraged
to apply online for the fastest check processing service,
but must wait until their applications arrive in the mail
because each notice contains a special STAR code unique
to the individual property. Filing the application is
fast, secure, and free. Once your application arrives,
simply go to the Tax Department’s website at www.nystax.gov
and follow the directions for online filing.
More detailed information is also available on the website,
as well as through the Tax Department’s Call Center
A federal judge is expected to rule next Thursday, October
4, on whether sexual harassment and discrimination claims
by two former employees of the Emerson Resort will go
to jury trial in the coming months. The lawsuit, outlined
here last year, claims federal and state human rights
law violations by the resort as evidenced via a growing
mountain of sexually charged depositions and evidence,
including a corporate hiring questionnaire asking employees
to rate their frequency of sexual relations and their
The lawsuit names as defendants Wright and Margaret Inge,
a consultant hired by Emerson Place; as well as Spotted
Dog Ventures, doing business as Catskill Corners/Emerson
Place; and Kaatskill Payroll Services Inc. The suit does
not specifically name Gitter, the sole owner of Kaatskill
Payroll Services and one of the owners of Spotted Dog
Ventures, as well as managing partner of the Emerson Spa
and Resort and of Crossroads Ventures, the development
company that has proposed the Belleayre Resort at Catskill
Park mega-development recently granted a conceptual go-ahead
by Governor Elliot Spitzer.
According to recent reports, questions of witnesses have
centered on comments about thong underwear, the meaning
of the phrase “We need more tits and ass here,”
and accusations that former Chief Executive Officer W.
Theodore Wright fostered a sexually harassing atmosphere
at the resort. The details are contained in legal filings
and within the complaint brought by two former employees
- Carol Martineau-Lopez and Bonita Benjamin - in U.S.
Northern District Court in Albany, as well as depositions
from the resort’s employees and owner, developer
. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe is expected to hear
the case October 4 and decide whether it merits a trial..
Beth A. Bourassa, the defendants’ attorney, said
she submitted a request in June for dismissal of the case,
which she argued is “wholly lacking in merit.”
Her case rests on painting the two plaintiffs, both longstanding
local residents, as schemers.
Over 200 Ulster County residents are serving as volunteers
on the Ulster Tomorrow economic strategy plan for Ulster
County. Announced last March as a partnership between
the Ulster County Development Corporation, the Ulster
County Legislature and the Ulster County Industrial Development
Agency, Ulster Tomorrow is “an inclusive plan for
Ulster County’s economic future” that is currently
matching 15 specific strategic plans with strategy groups
made up of a cross-section of the local community that
have been meeting since April to devise action plans and
to establish “deliverables” for each of the
The assembled strategy team members met at the Hillside
Manor in Kingston on September 18 to give updated reports
on the overall plans, working towards a full progress
report scheduled for release in November.
The 15 strategies and their designated leaders are: 1.
Cultivate a Community of Leaders, 2. Create a Culture
of Change and Collaboration, 3. Develop Measured Accountability,
4. Target Assistance to Emerging Businesses, 5. Redesign
Service Networks, 6. Streamline Local Permit Review Process,
7. Develop Appropriate Infrastructure, 8. Preserve and
Enhance Quality of Life, 9. Recruit a Diverse Business
Base, 10. Retain and Expand Existing Businesses, 11. Create
a Labor Force in Line with Business Needs, 12. Enhance
Travel and Tourist Industry, 13. Strengthen and Maintain
Economic Viability of Agriculture, 14. Develop am Advantage
in “Green” and Renewable Technologies and
15. Nurture the Creative Economy.
Almost 10,000 new jobs were created in the Hudson Valley
and Catskills regions year over year in August, according
to statistics from the state Labor Department. The largest
job gains were in the Putnam-Rockland-Westchester area
with 7,000 new positions. That was followed by Orange-Dutchess
with 2,200 jobs, Ulster with 1,600, Sullivan County with
300 new jobs and Greene County with 100. Columbia and
Delaware counties both lost 100 jobs.
Labor Department analyst John Nelson Thursday said the
numbers bear out that the region is doing well. The private
sector job growth rate is 1.2 percent, which matched the
national rate of 1.2 percent, he said. “We outpaced
just about all other regions in the state with the exception
of New York City, which came in at 1.8 percent, and the
North Country, which came in at 1.3 percent.”
Unemployment held steady during the same month, with a
few tenths-of-a-percent increase or decline in most counties.
Calling all Teen Bands in the Hudson Valley… Submissions
are again being accepted to enter the 3rd annual regional
Garage Rumble, the teen band battle dedicated to promoting
and launching talented and musically diverse teen bands
from the Hudson Valley, currently in its third year! Eight
area bands will get a chance to perform before a panel
of music industry movers and shakers, raise the roof at
the competition at the historical Bearsville Theater on
Sunday, November 11th, from 3-8 pm. Bands will rumble
to win the grand prizes of a recording session with Chris
Andersen at Nevessa Production and an opportunity to perform
live for a November 15th slot on the Hudson Valley’s
exclusive music TV show Poughkeepsie Live on Time Warner
Cable 6. More super prizes, band gift bags, and backline
will be provided by national and local sponsors including
Vox, Marshall, Tech 21, Barcone’s Music, Audix Microphones,
ESP guitars, Guild Acoustic Guitars, Gretsch Guitars,
Jackson, SWR Bass Amplification, and many more! To qualify
band members must be 13 to 19 years old (some exceptions
may be granted) and have at least one member that is a
Hudson Valley resident.
If your band qualifies please submit an audition package
including: A recording of one of your original songs in
CD, DVD, or cassette format. Please be sure to put the
band name and contact info on any format that you submit.
This will be evaluated for creativity, lyrics, melody,
energy, musicianship and song structure. A lyric sheet.
An information sheet including the band’s name;
name, age, address, and school, if applicable, of each
band member; a contact person’s email, phone, and
snail mail address; stage plot and equipment needs; a
photo or snapshot of the band, and a $35.00 non-refundable
processing fee with check payable to: Gleaming Iris Productions.
Please submit the above by mail to Garage Rumble/Gleaming
Iris Productions, 18 Artist Road, Saugerties, NY. All
submissions must be post marked by October 26th, 2007.
For more info check out www.garagerumble.com.
Exploring the neurobiology of politics, scientists have
found that liberals tolerate ambiguity and conflict better
than conservatives because of how their brains work. Scientists
at New York University and UCLA showed through a simple
experiment reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience
that political orientation is related to differences in
how the brain processes information. Previous psychological
studies have found that conservatives tend to be more
structured and persistent in their judgments whereas liberals
are more open to new experiences. Conservatives tend to
crave order and structure in their lives, and are more
consistent in the way they make decisions. Liberals, by
contrast, show a higher tolerance for ambiguity and complexity,
and adapt more easily to unexpected circumstances. The
latest study found those traits are not confined to political
situations but also influence everyday decisions.
Using electroencephalographs, which measure neuronal impulses,
the researchers examined activity in a part of the brain
— the anterior cingulate cortex — that is
strongly linked with the self-regulatory process of conflict
monitoring. The match-up was unmistakable: respondents
who had described themselves as liberals showed “significantly
greater conflict-related neural activity” when the
hypothetical situation called for an unscheduled break
in routine. Conservatives, however, were less flexible,
refusing to deviate from old habits “despite signals
that this ... should be changed.”
“The results showed “there are two cognitive
styles — a liberal style and a conservative style,”
said UCLA neurologist Dr. Marco Iacoboni.
There will be music, fine crafts, history and lots of
activities for children at the Fifth Annual Margaretville
Cauliflower Festival Saturday, Sept. 29. But fresh, local,
wholesome food in all its glorious variety will be the
featured performer at this popular event, which pays tribute
to the region’s agricultural heritage while promoting
today’s vital Catskill Mountain growers and producers
The flavorful fun actually begins on Friday, Sept. 28,
when a special kick-off event, Small Plates, pairs locally-produced
foods with the culinary talent of chef Jean-Paul Biasutto
at Summerfields Restaurant, Main Street, Margaretville.
Chef Biasutto, the former Phoenicia Fire Chief who won
top prize in the professional category of the Cauliflower
Cook-Off in 2006, will prepare several dishes using vegetables,
meats, smoked fish and other Catskills products.
The Cauliflower Festival is sponsored by the Greater Margaretville
Chamber of Commerce. It is made possible by the A. Lindsey
and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation, Kids in the Katskills,
Pure Catskills and community donors, and is supported
by the Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) and the New
York City Department of Environmental Protection. For
more information, call 845-586-3303 or go to www.cauliflowerfestival.com
“Creating Desirable Communities” will be the
featured topic at Catskills Local Government Day Wednesday,
Oct. 17 in Margaretville. David Ivan, Michigan State University
Extension Director and Economic Development Specialist,
will give the lunchtime address at Hanah Country Inn,
where the annual gathering will be sponsored by the Catskill
Watershed Corporation (CWC) and the New York State Department
of State (DOS). Ivan’s presentation will be a lively
look at some of the 225 communities he recently surveyed
in 10 Midwestern and East Coast states to determine how
the most successful ones manage to fill storefronts, capitalize
on art and cultural heritage, engage citizens and attract
Several morning workshops are also scheduled for Code
Enforcement Officers, financial managers and other municipal
officials. Topics include Intermunicipal Cooperation in
Building Code Enforcement, Enforcement of Zoning and Other
Local Laws, Information Security for Municipalities, and
Shared Services: Benefits, Examples, Encouragement and
Funding. Municipal officials and staffers, planning and
zoning board members, economic development coordinators
and other interested citizens are welcome to attend. Space
is limited for these workshops so those interested are
advised to register without delay. For an agenda and registration
materials, go to www.cwconline.org/special/gov_day, or
A $254,000 grant from the Dyson Foundation will fund scholarships
for State University of New York at New Paltz secondary
education students who transfer from Ulster County Community
College. The program is designed specifically to help
alleviate the teacher shortage in math and science within
high-needs districts throughout the Mid-Hudson region.
It requires that its recipients serve their student-teaching
semester in these districts and also agree to teach for
three years in high-needs districts and disciplines in
The Foundation awards grants of up to $6,000 to each of
six students per year for two years. After all coursework
has been completed, the students receive a stipend of
$2,000 for living expenses for the student-teaching semester.
The first scholarships under this grant will be awarded
for students enrolling at New Paltz in fall 2007.
More information on this grant opportunity is available
by contacting the Transfer Admissions Office at New Paltz
at (845) 257-3200.
The Nasdaq Stock Market is selling a nearly 20 percent
stake to Borse Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and is
taking control of the Nordic exchange operator OMX. In
a global stock market shakeup, Borse Dubai and a group
from Qatar also moved to become the largest stakeholders
in the London Stock Exchange.
But the transactions involving Dubai and Nasdaq could
face scrutiny in the United States, where a Dubai-owned
company’s plan to manage some U.S. ports previously
raised an uproar.
The Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. would take control of Stockholm-based
OMX while selling to Borse Dubai a one-fifth stake in
itself as well as a 28 percent in the London Stock Exchange.
Nasdaq had owned a 31 percent stake in the London exchange.
Hours later, the Qatar Investment Authority said it had
bought 20 percent of the London exchange _ possibly setting
the stage for a battle for control of Europe’s largest
exchange, which has fought off a multitude of bids in
the past few years and is now nearly half-owned by Middle
The deals are subject to approval by shareholders and
regulators in Europe and the United States. Nasdaq and
Borse Dubai said the agreements had unanimous support
in both boards and that they planned to “submit
voluntarily the transaction for consideration by the U.S.
U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, chairman of the Joint Economic
Committee and a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee,
expressed doubts about the deal, saying it “will
raise serious questions that will need to be answered.”
An apparent meteorite estimated by astrophysicists to
have been 10 feet in diameter crashed to earth in southern
Peru September 18, leaving an crater 48 feet long and
15 feet deep, and causing an impact large enough to register
as a minor earthquake on regional seismographs. The impact
site in a remote area six miles from Lake Titicaca and
close to the Bolivian border quickly drew large numbers
of visitors from nearby villages as well as Peruvian television
and other press coverage. According to witnesses, the
object made a terrifying sound as it passed, followed
by a rain of smaller rocks that lasted for several minutes.
Witnesses said the impact crater was partially filled
with mud and water, which was hot enough to have boiled
for several hours, emitting a strong sulferous odor. According
to initial reports from Peruvian health officials, seven
police officers were among over 200 visitors to the site
treated by local hospitals and doctors and suffering from
vomiting, dehydration, and diarrhea. Livestock and other
animals were also reportedly affected. Following these
initial reports, Peruvian officials said doctors were
unable to identify any organic cause of the illness, which
they suggested was psychosomatic in origin. As of press
time and since 48 hours after the event, no additional
news on the phenomenon has been released.
The Norwegian government is planning on building a $3
million “doomsday vault” on the island of
Spitsbergen in the Arctic Sea, which would house 10,000
seeds from various plants in case of nuclear war or sudden
and severe ecological or environmental change. As reported
by BBC News, the Norwegian government built this bank
by hollowing out a cave on Spitsbergen and then putting
in as many seeds as possible in the vault, with support
from countries around the world. The proposed bank will
have top security, blastproof doors and would have two
airlocks amount of seeds deposited will depend on the
number of countries participating in the project. The
bank will be designed to withstand global catastrophes
like nuclear war or natural disasters that would destroy
the planet’s sources of food. Seed collection is
being organized by the Global Crop Diversity Trust.
“What will go into the cave is a copy of all the
material that is currently in collections [spread] all
around the world,” Geoff Hawtin of the Trust has
said. “What we’re trying to do is build a
back-up to these, so that a sample of all the material
in these gene banks can be kept in the gene bank in Spitsbergen.”
Ever since Shandaken developer Dean Gitter asked Governor
Elliot Spitzer at a Kingston press event whether there
could be a Catskill Parkway and was told not to get too
greedy, there’s been much speculation about what
a forecast increase in traffic on Route 28 will result
According to Dennis Doyle of the Ulster County Planning
Department, the only thing under consideration right now,
as far as he’s heard, is a long-stalled restarting
of the process by which the local roadway, which links
Kingston with the central Catskills, Delaware County,
Oneonta, Cooperstown, and eventually the Adirondacks,
gets named a Scenic Byway. This, he said, would bring
in new funding possibilities, as well as key aesthetic
guidelines for both development along the vital roadway…
and any widening of it to four lanes, should that one
He also said that any such moves would be quite a ways
off, due to the complexities of the process involved,
and open for full public review and local governmental
In other roads business, tthe New York State Thruway Authority
announced this past week that an independent traffic consulting
firm, Stantec, has revised its traffic growth projections
for the Thruway, resulting in projected out-year funding
gaps in the Authority’s 2005-2011 Multi-Year Financial
Plan. Stantec has attributed the reduced traffic growth
projections along the Thruway to the continued historically
high gasoline prices.
That, says the Thruway Authority, could mean higher tolls
on the superhighway.
Since 1995, the number of full-time staff at the Authority
has declined by 453 positions; the Authority will continue
to reduce staffing levels in future years. Even after
constraining operational costs to a low level, significant
operational deficits and low debt service coverage ratios
would remain in the out-years of the Plan. As a result,
absent substantial reductions to operations and/or the
Capital Program, revenue options need to be progressed.
It is anticipated that any preliminary proposal presented
to the Authority’s seven-member Board to address
out-year gaps will evaluate the Authority’s existing
E-ZPass discount programs, as well as the potential for
modest fixed adjustments between 2008 and 2011. Any revenue
actions would be phased in, allowing the strategy to be
revisited should traffic volumes return to previously
projected levels or the Authority’s financial circumstances
change in any significant way over the next four years.
County lawmakers have set an Oct. 10 public hearing on
establishing an Ulster County Department of the Environment.
The session will be 7 p.m. in the sixth floor chambers
in the County Office Building at 244 Fair St.
Officials said the additional public hearing was needed
because changes were made to accommodate authority to
the county executive in making appointments to the new
department under the new county executive form of government
to go into effect Jan. 1, 2009. During a public hearing
earlier this month, county Environmental Management Council
Chairman John Maley said the department could assist municipalities
conduct inventories of natural resources.
Responsibilities of the department are separate from the
county Environmental Management Council and would include:
Preparing, reviewing and recommending methods of planning
municipal projects. It would also prepare open space plans
for municipalities; Having a county Planning Board vote
on all municipal planning and zoning decisions using open
space criteria, scenic byway requirements, and farmland
protection mandates; Preparing and incorporating a comprehensive
land use and resource plan. It would also provide technical
assistance to the Legislature on all planning and construction
issues; Educating municipalities on the need and benefit
for regional and Inter-municipal planning.
Meanwhile, the Ulster County Planning Board and Environmental
Management Council have completed a thorough public consultation
and planning process to create a draft Open Space Plan
for managing the county’s natural resources. A public
discussion meetings, reviewing the Plan, will be held
at 7 pm on Thursday, September 27 at the Woodstock Community
Center. This will be followed by a public hearing October
3, 6 pm at the Ulster County Office Building, Kingston.
For info, visit www.co.ulster.ny.us/planning/ospace.html
or contact Jennifer Schwartz at 845-340-3340.