on the News
In a telephone conversation on January 27, Waterman said she had been
having conversations with Cross about her concerns regarding the number
of turnovers occurring on the planning board during a particularly busy
season about to become even busier with imminent review of the Belleayre
Resort project now pending. She noted her respect for Cross, who stood
up for her retaining the chairmanship despite complaints from several
of his leading Republican detractors.
a straightforward guy," Waterman said at the time. "He seems
to be listening and avoiding outside pressures."
the time, the chief planning board issues on Waterman's mind were two
new vacancies, announced at the February 2nd meeting.
by former planning board chairman Bob Kalb, whose term was set for renewal
this year, was noted as becoming effective at month's end.
said he was quitting because he'd "just had it," noting his
problems with the former Democratic administration and the fact that
Waterman, named acting chairman a year and a half ago, was "still
chairman" and hadn't been holding as many meetings as he felt were
needed to review the Belleayre Resort project.
further noted that he was looking forward to taking on a new position
with the Catskill Watershed Museum, which was originally set to be built
in Shandaken near the proposed resort until its organizers moved the
project to nearby Arkville, losing over $1 million in New York City
exhibit funding in the process.
Gailes, president of the museum project, is also project manager for
Crossroads Ventures, developer of the Belleayre Resort project.
noted at the February 2 meeting was the recent discovery by Cross that
planning board member Howie McGowan never took his official oath of
office after being named to the board to fill out a vacancy a year and
a half ago. Asked about the situation after Waterman brought it up,
Cross said that according to town board law (McKinney), planners who
have not taken their oaths must be removed from their board.
ran, unsuccessfully, for the town board as a Democratic candidate last
Blarcum said that he called the state Association of Towns legal department
to ask about such legalities and was told that in most cases, barring
hostile town boards, reinstatement occurred immediately upon discovery
that a planner had not taken his or her oath. Someone yelled out the
name "Fichtner" at that point, referring to a Republican planner
removed from office for the same reason when the last, Democrat administration
took office two years ago.
Blarcum read from a second set of town board laws (Gould) that noted
that the responsibility for giving oaths of office to volunteer board
members fell to the town clerk.
not a babysitter for anyone," blurted out Town Clerk Laurilyn Frasier.
"And I didn't tell on anyone!"
was an honest mistake," noted Edna Hoyt, who was recently forced
off the board of the not-for-profit SHARP Committee, which raises funds
for the town, for having written a politicized letter to local newspapers
during the recent election.
didn't know I had to be a lawyer here," quipped freshman board
member Joe Munster, a former county tourism director.
recommended that McGowan be reinstated because of the board's need for
experienced planners at this point.
was asked whether the town board would go with whatever recommendation
the planning board made regarding McGowan's case and seemed to agree.
But when an audience member asked whether that meant Cross would abide
by the planners' decision, local Republican Club presidnet Gerry Setchko
corrected the supervisor and said no, he had not said what he seemed
to have said.
Cross was asked directly about the planning board recommendation. Would
he heed a majority?
it's a clear decision, say 5-1, I'm sure there'll be an effect,"
he said. "But I'm just one of five members."
about Waterman's comments regarding the need for experience - compounded
by the fact that with one new member appointed a month ago, and now
two new openings and possibly a third in the coming months, the board
could have a majority of inexperienced members - Cross said he'd see
going to see if we can get some people with past board experience in
there," he said. "There are people in town with board experience.
And people with knowledge of the issues."
in regards to the vote on Waterman's continuing chairmanship, Cross
would only say that "allegations had been made" and no more.
did he wait until a town board meeting to bring up such things, not
even bothering to talk to Waterman about what might have arisen?
I like Beth," he said. "We talk. But I don't want to say anything
that might hurt her. Make me the bad guy- I've got the big shoulders
other business at the February 2 meeting, Cross stressed his new format
for public input. Those wishing to speak filled out cards before the
meeting started at 7 PM and asked their questions after the Pledge of
Allegience and before any official business, or the resolutions being
addressed, got underway. Press inquiries were told to use the same format,
although Cross allowed that he would be open for private questions following
the close of the official meeting.
results were invariably awkward, with citizens bringing up subjects
with questions and comments that were later answered by Cross, and then
later acted on by the board according to its agenda, set four days earlier
except for several last minute changes.
letter was read into the record from Adam Nagy of the Catskill Heritage
Alliance asking that agenda information be put up on a town website
and otherwise publicized earlier, to better allow the public some input
into the meetings. Also, at meeting's end Cross was asked to add a second
public input period to allow commentary on earlier actions.
got to stop the fighting, the cross talk," the supervisor said
of the awkward lack of public input. "Then I'll make adjustments."
meeting was set for 2:30 PM on Friday, February 13 to discuss items
regarding the ongoing Belleayre Project review- as well as further planning
board business, including its chairmanship, McGowan's reinstatement,
and the upcoming Kalb vacancy.
The Catskill Park boundary was first defined in 1904 in order to
help guide state land acquisitions in the region and originally included
only the state-owned Forest Preserve land within the area created
by the "blue line." In 1912, however, the Catskill Park
came to include both public and private lands, a feature that
distinguished it and the similarly bounded Adirondack Park from most
others. Catskill historian Alf Evers wrote that with the creation
of the Catskill Park "the word 'park' took on an extended meaning
to the people of the region" and "the new kind of park-was
owned by the people and might be used by them except in ways that
might damage the conservation goals of the park."
According to Chase, the primary goal of the centennial committee is
to increase public awareness and appreciation of our Catskill heritage
and history. Committee members consist of volunteers from a variety
of state agencies, local businesses and tourism organizations
such as the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Black Dome
Press, The Catskill Center, Hunter Foundation, SUNY New Paltz, the
Sierra Club, and the Department of Environmental Protection, to name
a few. A diverse group of local musicians and artists, media
and interested citizens are lending a hand as well.
Yearlong activities will include lectures, talks, art and history
exhibits, musical events, craft demonstrations, thematic hikes and
other outdoor activities around the Park, hosted by a variety of organizations.
"We are trying to partner with already existing events that take
place within the park and ask them to advertise with our logo as an
event of the centennial," says Chase. The upcoming Esopus Whitewater
Slalom, sponsored by the Kayak and Canoe Club of New York, she says,
is one such event.
The committee also hopes to offer a week-long Catskill Park Ramble,
modeled after the popular Hudson River Valley Ramble, during "leaf-peeping
time in the Fall", says Chase. Also being planned is Catskill
Park Chautauqua, a recreation of a uniquely American performance and
cultural event which, held in a large tent, was a common form of entertainment
in the 1800s and early 1900s. The show will travel to various communities
within the blue line to celebrate and promote the Catskill Park. The
program will include lectures dealing with topics of conservation,
development and sustainability, poetry readings, portrayals of historic
personalities and music and dancing.
Committee members, Chase says, are also working on an Inn-to-Inn Hiking/Biking/Snowshoeing/Cross-country
Skiing trail system in the Oliverea/Big Indian/Pine Hill area whose
route will most likely be finalized in time for hiking season in the
Spring. Other projects in the works include an audiotape tour
around the Catskill Park Blue Line that people can follow along with
while driving the route in their cars and a bicycle tour and race
along a similar route.
New entrance signs for the six major highway entrances into the Catskill
Park are expected to be posted by the state Department of Environmental
Conservation in February, Chase says. "The signs are in the shop
right now. They are nice because they are in color and contain an
adjunct sign underneath that [denotes] the centennial."
A calendar of all events, Chase says, will be posted to the committee's
website, www.catskillpark100.org. Make sure to watch for the
Catskill Park 100-Year Anniversary logo throughout the coming year,
and if you know of an event planned for this year that could join
the centennial celebration, feel free to contact Chase at 657-2107.
"I would like to hear from people about activities that they
feel could carry the logo and be part of our agenda. I am hoping that
my message machine will become full."
For Love Of Nature
Chase's family was in the Philadelphia area at the time, with a hardscrabble
farm, bought by his grandfather in 1920, where the family compound
now sits. He recalls, in detail, spending all his summers in the Catskills,
wandering the forests and creeks and walking, when he could, to Woodstock
where an aunt, Carmelita Hinton, lived in a home known as Camelot,
later owned by Bob Dylan. (She went on to found the notable Putney
School in Vermont). At the time, the area was a rich mixture of 19th
century rural lifestyle and a smattering of the nation's best and
brightest artists, musicians, writers, scientists and thinkers. You
can feel the presence of such fertile soil in the current breadth
and depth of Chase's interests, intellect, and continuing sense of
His father was an engineer, an uncle was one of the leading lights
of what would become known as the Manhattan Project, which eventually
produced the atom bomb. A bright boy from a very bright family, Chase
spent a year at the University of Arizona, then still something of
a frontier school. He went on to Yale and found himself drawn towards
botany and genetics, a burgeoning field at the time.
Kenny, originally a Compton, came from what was considered the nation's
top academic family in the first half of the last century. One uncle
was president of MIT, another of Washington University in St. Louis,
the third head of Washington State. She went to Wooster College in
Ohio, a place her family has had close contacts with over the years.
Mutual friends brought the two back together. Sherret remembers how
people would ask if he knew Kenny, and he'd always think how he just
wished to know her more. Kenny kept hearing about Sherret and remembering
the first time she'd met him, years earlier.
Finally the two got together at a friend's wedding; Kenny invited
Sherret out to her family's farm in Northern Virginia the next Sunday
to which the young man came, only to find himself volunteered to escort
an older man out to some fields to look at some brand-new hybrid corn.
The man just happened to be Henry Wallace, the Vice President.
Store this information for later∑
"June 29, 1941," Chase quips, remembering the exact date.
He goes on to talk about how he went on to graduate studies at Cornell
University only to volunteer for the war, where he served in the 15th
Air Force out of Italy. By then, he and Kenny were married.
"After our third date we knew we were going to get married,"
he recalls, looking to his wife's smile.
She tells of her first trip to the Catskills to meet his mother, and
being picked up from the Kingston train station on a foggy night and
driven up Chase Mountain from Kenosta Lake, thinking the whole world,
"What in the world is happening?" The next morning, clear-skied,
the couple walked over Winchell's Notch, at the place they still call
"Two Views," and Sherret gave Kenny a ring, asking her to
share his life. Later that evening, he says, the couple went to visit
an old family friend in Woodstock who had long thought of the Chase
as a potential husband for her own daughter. But then when she saw
Kenny, he says, she whispered to him, "Don't let her go,"
and he said no, no, he never would.
The wedding came quick after Sherret's call-up, and involved everyone
going to his training camp in Savannah, where the newlyweds then lived
sic weeks until he went overseas.
After the war, they made home for a year in Houston, where he had
to finish out his service. A first daughter was born. Then on to Cornell
for a year and a half where a son came along. A first job was offered
teaching in Iowa, where the family grew to 5 children over the next
seven years. Then further jobs, in teaching and research, in Illinois,
Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oswego, NY, and California before the
couple finally retired to the one place that served as constant during
their years of work and travel∑ in the Catskills.
Chase, through his career, ended up becoming one of the leading authorities,
and researchers, in the hybridization of corn, one of the "green
revolutions" that has changed the world as we know it in the
last half-century. At the same time, he also served as one of the
founders of the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development,
and has been instrumental in numerous other local and national efforts,
from the continuing drive for a long-planned Catskill Park interpretive
center in Mt. Tremper to new work, with former Vice President Wallace's
daughter, to revive the American Chestnut.
Kenny says, with a grin, "We've lived in twelve different places
and it's the wife that makes the home when you move."
Yet she has nothing but praise for the many moves her family's made,
and all the places they've lived.
"We always appreciated wherever we were as though we were going
to love there the rest of our lives," she says, soberly. As a
result, she adds, the couple have a network of close friends, dating
back 60 years and more, all over the world.
"Throughout it all, though, this was always our real home, right
here in the Catskills," says Sherret, whose commentary about
the proposed Belleayre Resort as an unwanted "shining city on
the hill" has now reverberated beyond the local scene onto National
Public Radio and the New York Times. "All of our children grew
up with a similar feeling."
So what about their recent appearance, Kenny's standing with her husband
in support, and the couple's beliefs about the region?
Another story, both agree. After all, it's Valentines.
Do they celebrate?
No, the couple says.
"But you know," Sherret adds, "This has worked out
At which Kenny smiles again.
...........Applications for party
status, which Shandaken seems poised to still decide this week, were
also extended until that date. An issues conference on all such claims
will be held on May 25 in Margaretville.
the February 3 DEC hearing at Onteora,16 people spoke against the project
while only two spoke in its favor. DEC Administrative Law Judge
Richard Wissler, citing the weather, closed the meeting after three
hours- just as the Shandaken meeting was getting underway.
Many project opponents continued to take aim at Crossroads' DEIS, alleging
distortions and inaccuracies, while other opponents stressed their love
of the region and their conviction that the project would damage the
environment, the community, and the local economy. The two proponents,
both employees of Catskill Corners, the shopping, lodging, and entertainment
complex owned by Gitter, expressed confidence that the resorts would
bring increased economic opportunities.
Wright, the new CEO of Catskill Corners, said he has been in the area
for six months and noted how, as the founder of Regents Hotels International,
he experienced public outcry that preceded construction of a similar
development in Carmel, California, where, he said, business has since
prospered as a result of the project.
Kain of Phoenicia responded to Wright, saying, "I grew up in California.
Carmel was a quaint town. Now even a millionaire can't buy a house there."
Sofranko of West Shokan replied to the previous hearing's comment by
Chamber of Commerce president Ward Todd, who said the development will
bring back the prosperity enjoyed during the tourism boom of the twentieth
century. "Since when does supply create demand?" asked Sofranko.
"There were many reasons the tourism industry died. One of them
was the invention of the airplane. I have not seen an overflow into
local hotels from an overbooked, No Vacancy' Catskill Corners."
Lennon of Mt. Tremper said even the DEIS states that the resort would
"compete head-on with local businesses," since it will include
shops and a wide range of dining facilities, from snackbars to restaurants,
comprising 1,120 seats.
Woodruff of West Hurley, owner of a furniture shop, objected to the
DEIS' statement that the resort is designed to complement the Belleayre
ski area, calling it the region's "key destination" and stating
that the area suffers economically when Belleayre is closed. "Then
why does my business do best in the summer?" asked Woodruff, calling
the project proposal "an evasion of civil responsibility."
speakers expressed concern about local taxes going up to pay for increased
services such as police and fire protection, while tax breaks for the
resort mean it will not pay its full share of taxes until 2025. Others
suggested that if Gitter is truly concerned about the region, as he
states, he should put his money into projects that will benefit the
communities, such as museums, performing arts centers, nature preserves
with hiking trails, support of small businesses, and similar things.
for the same evening's Crossroads' presentation, Cross said he didn't
call it off because, "the Crossroads people said they'd still be
got to see some larger scale maps with more topography," noted
the supervisor, a career surveyor. "They also gave us an index
to their environmental statement and a table of contents!"
Board chairman Beth Waterman, who asked a majority of the questions
at the two and a half hour meeting, said she, "Learned a little
bit. The problem is that with so many pages, it's hard to determine
if what's new is significant and whether something important has been
help with such difficulties, Waterman said she asked for a red-lined
copy of the DEIS that would highlight changes from previous drafts and
was told, privately after the meeting, that one would be made available.
addition to Cross and Waterman, questions were also asked by planner
Charles Frasier, a local contractor, and Kathy Nolan, a member of the
Zoning Board of Appeals.
to the Crossroads Ventures' consultants give superficial and vague answers
after having just come from the hearing in Boiceville, it seemed to
me that the public knows more about the DEIS than the consultants do,"
said Judy Wyman of Friends of Catskill following the meeting. "This
is the third time that Crossroads Ventures has done a presentation on
its project and refused to allow the public to participate."
who called the driving conditions Tuesday night "horrific,"
questioned Cross' decision to hold a meeting of such importance in such
Waterman characterized the conditions as "white knuckle,"
noting the difficulties it took to get the planning board's traffic
consultant to come all the way from Hartford, CT to attend the meeting.
said on Wednesday that he would consider holding yet another presentation
by the Crossroads' folks in the future.
depends on whether we have any more questions," he said. "And
of course, it would depend on whether they make such an offering to