Last Tuesday I attended the “Scoping” meeting
on the Bellayre development, which by the way was predominately
against, one thing struck me as interesting. It was largely
people who should benefit from the much touted jobs and economic
benefits, namely the working class folk, who were against
the development and quite strongly so. I think they pretty
much see through the hype and realize that this type of development
is for people other then themselves and it would threaten
their way of life and possibly make it difficult for them
to remain in the area.
The full-page ad by Partners for Progress is big and loud
and full of inaccuracies. While P for P is a new organization
and we’d like to cut it some slack, there’s no
excuse for fudging the facts. Here they are:
The construction jobs will be filled by workers from outside
the area, like the ones who showed up at the public hearing
at Onteora Central School and had to leave at the break to
get back to Orange and Westchester Counties; the developer
has conceded that the capabilities for this construction are
not available locally.
The developer has further asserted that the 110 high-paying
jobs will go to people trained in the skills those jobs pay
for, also not available in the area.
The average national wage for hotel workers—the 340
full-time jobs “promised”--is $8.67 per hour,
according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s
an annual salary of $17,340, assuming 40 hours per week of
work, and it is below the poverty line for a family of four.
Property taxes always—always!—go up when a large-scale
development is built. Always.
The “increased customer bases” the P for P talks
about are likely to stay home in the resort; they call these
things destination resorts because nobody ever has to leave
them. As the developer has promised, our local businesses
will compete “head-on” against the resort’s
many restaurants and retail shops.
The list of so-called environmental organizations starts off
with a major misstatement. The DEC is the lead agency that
will provide the supposedly objective review of the potential
impacts of the proposal. It did not sign any Agreement. Governor
Spitzer, however, and his top environmental deputy did, and
since Spitzer appoints the DEC Commissioner, that throws into
question the DEC’s overall objectivity on this issue.
The other organizations that signed onto the so-called compromise
are for the most part national in scope. As typically happens
in community environmental struggles like this one, the large-scale,
“name” groups are satisfied to accept a “victory”
that dismisses local concerns and the local groups who advance
those concerns. That’s what happened here. Still fighting
the resort via the mandated state environmental quality review
process are the Catskill Heritage Alliance, the Friends of
Catskill Park, the Pine Hill Water District Coalition, the
Hardenbergh Association of Residents and Taxpayers, and the
Highmount Preservation Association. They are joined by one
very important nationwide organization, the Sierra Club, the
granddaddy of them all and perhaps the most influential environmental
voice in our country.
Finally, the P for P fudges the environmental benefits. The
LEED certification is promised for only some buildings and
LEED Silver for a very few. The organic golf course is a given
for only five years; after that, it can be reviewed, and if
the developer says profits aren’t high enough, pesticides
and fertilizers may indeed be used. They will then wash down
into the watershed for the Pepacton Reservoir, which, unlike
the Ashokan, has yet to be impaired. As for building on steep
slopes, the state definition for steepness is a 15% grade;
many buildings in the “compromise” development
will be built on slopes as steep as 35%. That’s some
The proposed resort is an important if divisive local issue.
Let’s at least keep the facts straight.
Mary D. Macy
1) Beyond scooping; I understand the all of you state employees
must adhere to the usual procedures of the permitting process;
However: the shear magnitude of a project this size combined
with the spin off of adjunct projects likely to be proposed
as a result of its passage are beyond the reasonable expectations
of any and all whom may have to consider it.
When the Charters for the Catskill and Adirondack parks were
ratified now some 104 years ago; I doubt seriously that our
legislators could have imagined a scenario such as this:
By that I mean the following, just for a start a) pumping
enough water to make snow; thousands of people Driving to
get here! B) The construct of a Limited Liability Corporation
that would protect the promoters such as we have today. C)
The concept of promoters filing for such permits, only to
auction them off to the highest bidder seems odd and questionable.
Its legality should be verified before the process proceeds
To comprehend the intent of those elected leaders we must
look back to that time. The creation of both State parks were
a direct result of the lack of resource management from the
1600s to the 1890s by then both international shipping ports
(NYC and Newark, NJ) had been severely compromised; which
resulted in the largest public works project ever! To protect
the tax payers from future erosion and in-filling of the harbors
the park system was created. The plan worked well for nearly
90 years, the harbors have once again lost much of their depth,
Remember the moving of the Intrepid? The navigable waterways
once again need a make over.
D) Under SEQRA it is the applicants duty to attempt, when
desirable to locate the project else where; however moving
a bad idea from one head waters water shed to another is no
remedy. E) It is also the duty of the lead agency and other
stake holders to look at the longevity and probability of
success in any major project. With the extreme rise in energy
costs; negative fluctuations in the real estate and mortgage
markets; combined with the reduction in average ski days as
a result of climate change, This project looks like a bad
2) If the proposal for such an increase in population density
were to go forward; who will pay for the resulting infrastructure
improvements such as : more electric lines, wide roads, more
cell towers, more sewer treatment and oh yes a regional airport
to get them here faster.
James Davis,Environmental Director
There are a few letters in our local newspapers I'd like to
address. There are now two groups now being very vocal about
the Belleayre Deveopement. One is Save The Mountain and the
other is Partners for Progress. I'm proud to say I am with
Save the Mountain. People can attack us all they want, but
they need to ask what Save the Mountain is getting from this
resort and what Partners for Progress are getting. We are
just People who want to see jobs and progress in our community,
but done in a way that will not destroy our environment and
our mountains. We are dedicated people who have given hours
of our time and given up many personal hours to attend countless
meetings, not just when the mood suits us. So don't sit back
and say we don't know what we are talking about. Maybe Partners
for Progress are getting a little nervous that so much opposition
is growing for this development. Don't forget that this is
now two developments not one. There was an article in the
Catskill Mountain News titled Bring The Dozers, this goes
to show the mentality of what we are up against. Now to a
letter titled Substance. Was this writer at the negotiations
and all the meetings that have gone on since I doubt it. This
resort will be a self contained resort which means everything
you need will be there, you will not have to leave for anything.
Also a new developement has arrived. Go to the dictionary
and look under Cross Roads Developement you will find the
definition for bulling and intimidation. If you go against
us you will pay. So I guess when these retail stores at the
resort open and are under the eye of the resort it will sort
of be like the coal mines you'll be working for the company
store, so you wii do as we say or your out of here. Another
thing is about all the taxes and who will be paying for all
of the things associatd with this developement we will. See
how much the Emerson is paying, I believe it is 2400.00 a
year, I guess tax breaks do work at least for the rich.May
be our fire companies etc. can handle this resort,but what
if we have more then one emergency at a time. Look at the
fire at the Phoenicia Hotel awhile back and how many fire
companies it took for that. So how are they going to deal
with a fire three stories under ground, or three or four stories
up. I think this resort should have its own fire company,
ambulance, police force and anything else they find neceesary.
Why should we the tax payers have to pay for it. One last
comment to one more letter in the paper titled Ugly oder.
You won't have to worry about pizza deliveries etc becuse
there won't be any small bussiness left when this resort opens
because everyone will be working for big bucks at the resort.
Bernadette Beyea, Vice Chairman Hardenburgh Associatio of
Residents and Taxpayers (HART)
A myth promoted by advocates for the redesigned mega-resort
on Belleayre Mountain is that their deal fulfills a plan outlined
by Representative Maurice Hinchey. "After dozens of meetings
and hundreds of hours of negotiations, the developer agreed
to a compromise first framed by Congressman Maurice Hinchey
more than a year ago," wrote Tom Alworth, executive director
of the Catskill Center, in a letter to members.
Maurice Hinchey? Advocating an underground health spa? Two
hotels? Five restaurants? Ten retail stores? Nineteen houses
at 3,000 feet? The largest hamlet in 40 miles packed onto
a single mountainside? Amidst the Catskill Park's "Forever
Wild" Forest Preserve?
Countless politicians over the ages have built architectural
monstrosities to themselves. But Hinchey Land on Belleayre
Did I mention the conference center? Driving range? Aboveground
health spa for those not afraid of nuclear attack?
I find it hard to believe our Representative proposed anything
like the mega-resort agreed to by the Catskill Center and
others in secret negotiations, but opposed by local groups
and the Sierra Club. In fact, here's what Hinchey actually
did propose in October 2005.
First, save Belleayre's eastern ridge from development by
adding it to the Forest Preserve. The agreement for the new
mega-resort does, indeed, protect this ridge-an achievement
Second, Hinchey offered "three possible development scenarios"
for the western side of the mountain: "The first, a natural
resources alternative, would focus on such outdoor and recreational
attractions as an equestrian center, perhaps a facility for
mountain biking and hiking, maybe a fitness center and a hotel.
A second-residential-alternative would be comprised of clustered
housing, a hotel, restaurant, and similar facilities. A third
western parcel alternative, which would proceed only after
the most careful environmental scrutiny, would add a golf
course to some of the elements listed above."
In short, Hinchey proposed a modest development in keeping
with Catskill communities. It's too bad that the mega-resort
agreed to in secret doubles, triples, even quintuples what
our Representative had in mind. I hope he restores his good
name by speaking out against this new project's excesses.
West Saugerties, NY
One of the largest developments in the Catskill Mountains
in recent memory threatens Belleayre Mountain and its surroundings.
The project to be known as Belleayre Catskill Crossroads would
construct two hotels, two spas, restaurants, shops, an 18
hole golf course, 629 units of housing a two story underground
parking garage over a square mile of mountain. As if this
were not enough, much of this development would be on steep
mountain slopes, with many acres of pristine Catskill forest
clear cut. A mile long road would be built to the 3,000 foot
summit of Belleayre Mountain and twenty buildings would be
built at the 3,000 foot level that would be visible from hiking
trails on Balsam, Bearpen, Vly and Halcott Mountains. Imagine
pristine views of wilderness that we have come to treaure,
marred by the sight of condos sprawling across the mountain
and its slopes.
Since the property sits on both the Catskill and Delaware
watersheds the increase runoff from this development would
compromise a fragile water supply costing the City of New
York billions of dollars to filter in order to be in compliance
with EPA standards.
Traffic would greatly increase on NY 28 and surrounding roads
as the result of significantly increased traffic from the
Belleayre Crossroads development and new developments it would
The effect to the local economy would be adverse as well as
the demand for new services would increase property taxes
and any of the new jobs created by the resort would be minimum
wage service jobs. It’s a losing situation except for
Bad as this sounds, this development could have been even
worse if groups like ADK, the New York New Jersey Trail Conference,
the Sierra Club and other environmental groups had not been
actively fighting this battle for the past seven years.
On September 5, 2007 a so called agreement was reached between
Dean Gitter, developer of Catskill Crossroads, the State of
New York, the City of New York and several environmental organizations.
A summary of the Agreement in Principal (AIP) appeared in
the November/December Adirondac Magazine and the New York/New
Jersey Trail Walker. Several environmental organizations signed
on as signatories to this agreement but the signatories did
not include ADK or the Trail Conference. The Belleayre Agreement
articles in both the Adirondac and Trail Walker hails the
agreement as a success as the negotiations did pressure the
developer from pulling back from developing the eastern part
of Belleayre Mountain and reducing the total number of buildings
but what I described above still remains.
So in essence, while there was some reduction in the size
of the project the environmental groups did not bargain hard
enough to bring the size, and character of this development
down meaningful so as not to leave the huge foot print on
the surrounding mountains, roads and communities. The project
is still massive in its present form.
In other words, ADK and the Trail Conference may have called
in the chips to early and should have told the State and the
developer in September that the Agreement is not good enough.
The effects to the environment are still massive, devastating
Fortunately, the Sierra Club realized this and my understanding
is ADK and the Trail Conference are re-evaluating their initial
support for the agreement signed with the State.
What Happens Next?
The project is currently going through a public scoping review
process which runs from December 10, 2007 to January 7, 2008.
About 250 people came out in horrible weather to attend the
public scoping meetings at Belleayre Mountain, with nearly
75% voicing their vocal opposition.
It is during this time period that it is essential that individuals
and groups make there voices heard if there is a chance to
further reduce the size of this monstrosity. After January
7, 2008 public scoping closes and you will no longer be able
If you care about the Catskills and atr troubled about what
is being perpetrated, now is the time to act!
What You Can Do?
Go to www.savethemountain.net and sign the petition to Governor
Eliot Spitzer. Enter your comments in the Public Scoping which
is a chance for the public to speak up and be heard as part
of the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQRA). The comment
period closes on January 7, 2008. All comments should go to:
Mr. David Whitehead, Environmental Analyst, Division of Environmental
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 625
Broadway, 4th Floor, Albany, NY 1223-1750
Write letters to Governor Spitzer, DEC Commissioner Alexander
Grannis and Senators Clinton and Schumer expressing your views
on this project. Addresses available at savethemountain.net
Write letters to the newspapers.
Donate money to the Save the Mountain, P.O Box 453 Highmount,
Keep informed of progress by periodically visiting savethemountain.net
and clicking on Latest News and Resources.
So if we fail to act, there is a lot to lose for us and future
generations. If you really care and love the Catskills its
up to each of us to do something to try to save this precious
resource from a developer’s bulldozer that would sacrifice
a lot for the benefit of a few.
Lets All “ Save the Mountain”.
During the past few weeks I have read many interesting viewpoints
supporting the revised plan now on the table for the Belleayre
Resort. Interesting, yes, but missing is the alarming rest
of the story.
Unlike the previous public hearings I will not be able to
participate in the argument and public discussion scheduled
for December 10. However, I offer my following view on this
important controversial issue:
Written statements by proponents of the project painted a
reflection, that of a practice carried on by the well known
pharmaceutical industry. Surely, most knowledgeable consumers
are aware of the remarkable and slick marketing practice the
pharmaceutical industry bombards us with in their colorful
TV ads. Individuals, using their prescription drugs, are seen
smiling and laughing. Yet, some of their drugs have harmful
side effects. Other drugs now on the market have yet to prove
I find it disturbing and disappointing that most supports
choose not to fully address the well written words belonging
to folks who have eloquently brought to light some r3ealistic
and depressing impact facts. I believe it safe to say most
comments in favor of the resort are teeming with multiple
benefits that will be realized from the resort. That, I must
say, remains to be seen. In the meantime what about the known,
unknown and don't want to be known monetary costs that awaits
us taxpayers should the proposed resort be approved as it
now appears on the table.
That is the rest of the story, ladies and gentlemen. Ask not
your doctor, but rather yourself - is the oversized Belleayre
Resort right for you? For all of us?
In closing, I urge everyone (if possible) to attend and let
your voices be heard on December 10. Needless to say, for
the residents in the target area of the mountain, the current
lifestyle that we so dearly cherish is so very close to being
taken away from us. So please, help us save the mountain for
now and for all future generations to come. Challenging, I
know, but it can and must be saved.
To impeach both president and vice president this late in
their term may seem foolish and counterproductive.
Unfortunately, the many reasons to do so are compelling.
Some say we should just concentrate on putting better people
in power. The people of the united states need to send a strong
message to all those seeking office by holding these men accountable.
If we do not enforce the rule of law we are clearly leaving
the door open for more of the same abuses of power.
Some say an impeachment will take valuable time away from
a busy congress. I believe it is a mistake to confuse the
impeachment furor during Clinton's term with the proceeding
which must now take place. The charges against Bush and Cheney
are neither nebulous or trivial but are over issues at the
very core of our national identity. Great harm has come to
many through their actions. The evidence against them is ample
and a matter of public record. Furthermore the major obstacle
to any meaningful progress in congress is a president drunk
with power, he stamps his little foot and vetoes. Why should
the important work of the nation be held up by an exposed
liar with serious conflict of interest issues? The vice-president
believes he is entirely above the law.. The congress indeed
has no work more important. Impeach them.
Bush and Cheney continue to attempt to provoke hostilities
with Iran, even though all the evidence is against them. Bush's
statements about Iraq continue to be preposterous. He appears
to have very little regard for the lives he has destroyed.
Clearly he is unfit for leadership. Impeach them.
The president of the United States has always been the supreme
role model for young americans. I am appalled to think that
I may be a senior citizen in a world where "the way to
win is to lie and cheat, and it's ok as long as you get away
with it, no matter who gets hurt". Impeach them.
A somewhat decent energy bill was passed by the House last
week. It is now dead in the water torpedoed by Senate Republicans
and a threatened Bush veto. These individuals object to two
provisions in the bill. One mandates that the utilities produce
15 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.
The other cuts tax breaks and subsidies for oil companies.
Do they really mean this country absolutely can't pull itself
together and produce a paltry 15 percent of its energy from
renewables by 2020? I wonder if these people get it that the
entire planet, including their own bodies and minds, are powered
100 percent by solar energy. Nature moves mountains with just
the tiny touch of sun that falls on our planet.
Do these people really believe that our tax money should be
given to companies constantly posting record profits? Should
our money be going to companies producing a product known
to be harmful to every component of the natural world from
the land to the oceans and now the climate?
It can't be made more crystal clear. Time to get with the
I would like to thank Mr. Joe Michaels for the wonderful remembrance
of my Uncle Ed. I do agree that the obituary was very formal
and I appreciate your more personal letter. Ed was truly the
last of a dying breed. He was strong and independent up until
his last days.
Ed was an inspiration to me, a mountain man hero. He lived
and thrived in these mountains for many years, doing so with
a smile. He taught me about hunting, and every year I hunt
these woods remembering his lessons. I will continue to do
so as my tribute to him.
His late brother Lewis wrote a book titled "Growing Up
In The Catskills" which tells of the adventures and hardships
that Ed and his family endured growing up in Shandaken. I
would like to see some of today's generation put down their
cellphones and laptops and try a slice of life the way Ed
Anyone else who has stories about Ed to tell, I would love
to read them so please share. Thank you again, Joe Michaels.
Mrs. Helen Cordo and her sons Barry and Douglas would like
to thank the following people and sponsors for the generous
and continued support of the James A. Cordo Memorial Soccer
tournament: SAYS and Chris and Donna Fischer for organizing
the event, Jim Nickerson for the use of the Town of Olive
Soccer fields. Sponsors: Brios, Phoenicia Wines and Liquors,
Phoenicia Pharmacy, Attorneys Mike Iapoce and Phil Kirschner.
Event donors; Miss Kitty’s , Boiceville Florist, Boiceville
Market, Phoenicia Country Store, Nest Egg, Tiso’s restaurant,
Phoenicia Supply, and Cathy Neal, John Fudge and all the children
and parents who participated, the event was a great experience
for all involved and we look forward to the event returning
to Shandaken in the fall of 2008. Also a special thanks to
the Phoenicia Times and The Ulster County Townsman for your
contiued coverage of the event.
The Cordo Family
The Catskill Mountain Railroad Club held a very successful
fourth annual Open House at the Margaretville Presbyterian
Church on the two weekends following Thanksgiving. The Club
wishes to thank all those people who attended this event including
the Head Start Program. From the looks on both the children
and adult faces we feel that those attending enjoyed themselves
very much. The children especially seemed to enjoy the newly
added church bells and calliope music which were among this
years feature. Many adults commented on the animation especially
the two welders at work on the tracks.
The Club also wishes to thank all of the local newspapers
for promoting the event in the Events Column. Local business
also helped out by displaying the flyers and of course the
public for word of mouth advertising. A special thanks to
the members of the Margaretville Presbyterian Church who allow
the extensive layout to be housed in their basement and for
allowing the Club to work on it each week. A special thanks
to Mike and Becky Porter who are always very supportive and
The members of the Club take pleasure in working on this train
layout throughout the year. The work is made even more enjoyable
when it can be shared with the public each year.
We wish to thank everyone who made this event a huge success.
The Catskill Mountain Train Club Members: Frank Bell, Joe
Douds, Kurt Holcherr, Don Kearney, David Metsch, Ken Rapp,
Harry Reagan, Ralph Persons
Wind is air in motion. It's funny how we can walk or run through
still air and not even notice it but when moving it can be
an awesome force. Last night it howled. I could hear it in
the distance rumbling like a bowling ball rolling down a worn
alley. As it approached it grew louder seemingly gathering
force and momentum as it gusted past and either hit or skirted
my house. When it hit you could sense it wrapping around the
four walls as if doing its best to move the obstruction in
its path…kind of unsettling for a while. I found it
fascinating how I could actually hear the near misses as they
raced to who knows where. Then during one ferocious gust there
was a loud Snap, Boom and the lights went out. A tree branch
up the block succumbs and hit a wire and blew a transformer.
Lying in bed listening to the howling wind, quite a humbling
To the citizens of the Town of Shandaken - I would like to
take this time to thank you for all your generous contributions
to the Town of Shandaken Food Pantry. We have had so many
people and organizations step forward for the benefit of their
neighbors. Thanks to you, our pantry is thriving very well
and we have helped numerous families. We wish you all a very
joyous, healthy, and peaceful holiday season and a very Happy
Town of Shandaken Food Pantry
In France in 1944 while waiting to enter the Battle of the
Bulge, to pass the time, we made up some words to the tune
"White Christmas". I hope you enjoy them.
I'm dreaming of cement sidewalks,
Just like the kind I used to know.
Where your shoes stay polished
And not demolished,
In this damn European mud.
I'm dreaming of some fair weather,
Just like the kind I used to know.
If it don't stop raining today,
Southern France will just float away.