On Tuesday, January 20, 2004, the New York State Department of
Environmental Conservation conducted its second public hearing
regarding the proposed Crossroads Ventures Belleayre Resort at
Catskill Park. The New York State Assembly was in session
on January 20th. This was also the day that Governor Pataki
presented his 2004 Executive Budget. Accordingly, duties
in Albany prevented my personal appearance at this important hearing.
Thus, I sent Jay Dailey of my Kingston District Office in my place,
with a short statement to be read that affirmed my interest in
this project, the process and, in particular, the views of concerned
citizens and groups.
I want to publicly thank and praise Ms. Dailey for her professional
and poised representation on this evening and for remaining at
the Onteora High School until the early morning in order to accurately
and completely hear the views of those who spoke. I assure
those in attendance and all interested citizens that she has fully
briefed me on the gathering and the strong testimony that ensued.
Her copious notes, quotes and observations validate that there
is widespread community opposition to the Crossroads project on
many levels. Obviously, these considerations warrant serious
continued investigation and discussion.
Prior to this event, my offices received numerous telephone calls
from concerned residents seeking my position on the project.
After the hearing was held, I again heard from constituents who
felt that my prepared statement did "not take a stand."
In fact, it indeed took a stand - it spoke to the
faith I hold in the process put in place to ensure that all parties
rights and views are fully heard. This is not a time for
those of us whose responsibility it is to author and protect our
laws to short circuit the opportunity for a full and public airing
of an issue. It would be irresponsible and prejudicial to
I have taken this same position on several occasions. Almost
20 years ago, the Winston Farm Alliance was formed by ordinary
citizens to protest the siting of a landfill in Saugerties.
Just a few years ago, Empire Besicorp sought to build a newspaper
recycling facility in Ulster County. Within the past year,
the specter of casinos in the Catskills has been on the horizon.
In each of these instances, as with the Crossroads proposal, personal
feelings aside, I have upheld the integrity of the process.
Taking a neutral view is not to be construed as an endorsement.
It is the responsible approach that should be taken by an elected
official, allowing the lead agency the latitude to fulfill their
duties of giving balanced, fair and open consideration to the
For those who remain concerned about the actual statement read
by Ms. Dailey on my behalf, I refer you to the Assembly website
www.assembly.state.ny.us where the statement has been posted in
its brief entirety.
Kevin A. Cahill
Member of Assembly
It gets worse and worse. CBS plans to run the advocacy ads for
the Bush Cheney flawed medicare bill after refusing a mild mannered
advocacy ad from Moveon.org. But that's not even the worst part...today
the AP reports that the White House gave the $9 million ad contract
to National Media, Inc., the Bush-Cheney campaign's media firm.
To quote the online, Progress Report, (Americanprogress.org) "And
if that is not shocking enough, the same company that is doing
government-funded ads for HHS is also the primary media firm for
the drug industry. Specifically, National Media has done the ads
for the drug industry front group "Citizens for Better Medicare"
- an organization that has spent tens of millions of dollars on
ads attacking lawmakers who have fought to lower prescription
drug prices. Last year alone, National Media, Inc. raked in more
than $8 million from the drug industry to produce ads eviscerating
those who had the courage to fight for lower drug prices. The
President and his allies in Congress have raked in more than $25
million directly from drug companies and have appointed drug industry
lobbyists/executives to key government offices which make health
care policy (Eli Lilly's Mitch Daniels was Budget Director, drug
industry-attorney Daniel Troy is chief counsel at FDA, and PhRMA
VP Ann-Marie Lynch is now a top HHS official). And the new revelations
that the White House is siphoning Medicare funds into a media
firm directly connected to both the drug industry and the President's
personal re-election race is sure to intensify those questions."
Moveon.org has been on the case and reports, "There's another
issue involved here that needs to be taken very seriously: if
Bush's Medicare ad is intended to function as a campaign ad (and
that clearly appears to be the case) then this may constitute
a criminal election law violation. In fact, the ad company which
made the ad which will air on CBS also works for the Bush/Cheney
re-election committee. We've put in a Freedom of Information Act
request to the Department of Health and Human Services to begin
the process of establishing the facts in this case."
Disgusting behavior and more reasons that Republicans, Independents
and Democrats must work together to VOTE BUSH OUT in November
Okay boys and girls, let's review the recent fairy tale.
We have traveled through the Land of OZ (the DEIS). We have
met the Wizard and discovered that he is only the man behind the
curtain (Dean Gitter). We have battled with flying monkeys
(the Ulster County Townsman and Citizens for Progress).
We still have some wicked witches to defeat, but that will come
My point is, that we are coming up against a lot of incorrect
and untrue information about the Resort, and we have just got
to keep doing what we've been doing and point out every single
untrue fact whenever it comes up. The people who are in favor
of this resort apparently are not afraid of their noses growing
if they tell a lie.
Last Tuesday at the Onteora High School was a thing of beauty.
Each citizen stood up and told of his or her deep concerns about
the Project and pointed out countless flaws in the DEIS.
The very next day in his radio interview, Mr. Gitter brushes all
of these concerns off as insignificant. That's because they
are insignificant to him. Mr. Gitter does not care how many
people he has to hurt, or how much damage he has to do to this
area, as long as he achieves his goal.
His arrogance becomes more apparent with each passing day.
He stresses the "High End" nature of his resort - it
will be a true luxury spot for the elite, with the poor miserable
citizens of Shandaken gratefully tending to their needs.
He intends to use our town and Belleayre Ridge as lasting monuments
to his ego. He needs us to be the lower classes in his Kingdom
of Grandiosity. You can't have a high end anything without
a low end, and that, my friends, is supposed to be us. (At
least those of us who are not of child-bearing age.)
Since he is still not getting our message, that we do not want
or need this "MONSTROSITY ON THE MOUNTAIN", we have
to keep the pressure on. Keep writing lertters, attending
metings, speaking up, and telling the TRUTH, because that's the
only thing that will help defeat this.
That's just my opinion.
Two weeks ago, after attending one of the public comment sessions,
hearing about the other, and listening to reports on the radio
concerning the DEIS for Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park, I came
away with so many thoughts to process in addition to a little
grin on my face knowing that most of my Catskill Mountain neighbors
feel as I do about this project.
Two things really stuck in my mind. The first is the absurd 45-day
period that the public has to comment on the merits of this document.
Over a third of the 50-plus people that spoke at Onteora asked
for an extension to 180 days, which is what the NYCDEP and other
involved parties requested and were denied. Over half of the people
had legitimate questions about the data, or lack there of, provided
in the document.
If a person had the entire document (3,500 pages in 15 volumes)
in front of them, either in hard copy or digital - which are both
evidently very hard to get, and wanted to read through it, it
would require that they read more than 77 pages each day. This
assumes they received it the first day and completed it the last
day. Of course this wouldn't happen because it would take a day
or two to download/copy it. It would also take a day to prepare/submit
comments someone might have. So if we subtract three days, that
now requires a person to read and digest 83 pages every day.
If we were reading an adventure or romance novel that's one thing,
reads like a college textbook. Many of these pages contain maps,
tables, terminology we need to look up, and numbers with units
that most of us have never heard of. Whether this project becomes
reality or not, a precedent will be set that will alter our lives
well into the future. An extension is clearly warranted.
The second thing was something that both Dean Gitter and Ward
Todd brought up. They stated that the four hamlets and one village
surrounding this project, Highmount, Pine Hill, Big Indian, Oliverea,
and Fleischmanns have a very limited capacity for overnight guests.
I believe it was in the neighborhood of 110-130 rooms. Based on
the Belleayre Region Lodging and Tourism Association's web site,
I count 25 different places to stay in these 4 hamlets and one
village. Most list how many rooms they have and based on these
numbers I come up with more than 275. I agree, we could use and
benefit from more beds for skiers, but please do not make things
out to be worse than they really are. Unfortunately this seems
to be a common theme throughout the DEIS in the 200 or so pages
(2.4 days) I have been able to look at so far.
Hundreds of people came to speak out against the Belleayre Resort
at Catskill Park, both in Margaretville and in Boiceville. They
spoke about the low paying jobs, the lowering of quality of life,
the huge influx of traffic, the threat to our quality of water,
the impacts to these mountains, the noise, on and on. The people
The people were wonderful. The people are right. Because of the
overwhelming negative response to this project, the Judge has
offered another day to speak. The date is February 23rd from 4:00
until midnight, Onteora High School, Boiceville. Come speak up
for the Catskills, as we the people, envision it. Come support
your neighbors and friends.
Mt. Tremper, NY
I'd like to thank all of Shandaken for the opportunity I've had
to serve the town on the Planning Board for the last 5 years.
My goal was to strive to give a fair hearing to all according
to our laws. I've attended many seminars, conferences, lectures,
discussions, committee meeting and town meetings on matters concerning
Shandaken and Ulster County. I've also been a member on
the Cell Tower Committee and the Comprehensive Plan Committee.
I hope there will be other opportunities to serve the town in
the future and use the knowledge I've gained. This has been
my way of saying Thank You to a community I moved into 13 years
ago and have grown to love.
The plan of my neighbors, Carol and Peter Molnar, to build a dazzling
Adirondack-style hotel on Route 28 in Margaretville, reported
in last week's Catskill Mountain News, is perfect and should be
the model for promoting tourism along the corridor. A 75-100
room hotel is the right scale-it does not put all our economic
development eggs in one super-sized basket that could become a
white elephant if the unproven market does not materialize.
It enhances the local economy by putting guests right next to
our shops and restaurants, not isolating them on a remote, self-sufficient
mountaintop. It's growing organically and incrementally,
as each stage proves itself. It's of a size that can be
built with local contractors, not as the draft EIS says about
Crossroads: Construction would have a "marginal" effect
on the local economy within the Route 28 corridor "because
the existing construction sector of the local economy is relatively
I can envision the Molnars or other savvy entrepreneurs enriching
the architectural character and economy of several hamlets with
similar facilities and inviting Catskill Corners, another quality
resort, to participate in their joint marketing campaign for "Beautiful
Belleayre Valley." This is the fastest way to
respond to the lodging deficit, estimated at 1,000 beds in the
DEIS. Inn-keepers and other business owners, who so politely
welcome Crossroads, are probably too busy to dig out of the DEIS
what it is telling them, which is that the Belleayre Resort is
1) "compete head on" with existing lodging;
2) lead to a "decrease in demand for existing lodging;"
3) stimulate existing lodging to upgrade or serve those visitors
who "find the cost of lodging at the Resort too expensive
and choose less luxurious motels and bed & breakfasts;"
4) "absorb demand for off-site lodging and second-home ownership;"
5) commercial and retail businesses in the corridor are
"unlikely to experience substantial amounts of goods and
services bought by the Resort as much of this would occur beyond
the Route 28 corridor."
The DEIS is properly disclosing its impacts; it is up to the business
community to pay attention.
When I thought about what I might say at today's hearing, I wondered
what perspective I could offer on this issue that might be slightly
different from the many comments we've heard already against this
excessive and short-sighted proposal. Many of us have already
heard, for example, about Attorney General Elliot Spitzer's declaration
that this mega-resort will force the construction of an otherwise
unnecessary $8 billion water filtration system and many of us
have wondered why city folk, who will have to foot that $8 billion
bill, don't know about this project. Many of us have wondered
why the DEC, which, curiously enough, owns a ski resort in the
heart of the development site, barred New York City's DEP from
the permit process. Many of us have wondered why the DEC
quietly accepted Gitter's grossly inadequate DEIS just before
the holidays -- and then put such a quick cap on public
I cannot add anything new to this well-known litany of heart-wrenching
and unfathomable conflicts of interests. My experience is
not in politics and not even really in development issues.
My experience, beyond that of a property owner and community member
in this county, is that of a teacher. I have worked as a
teacher, a High School Assistant Principal and a curriculum designer
for over ten years; and I have worked with young people in prisons
and in fancy suburbs, in the heart of the inner city, in the lap
of luxury and everywhere in between. As a result, I think
all the time about young people -- both about how to teach them
to be critical thinkers and active participants in their world,
and about what I as an adult can do to make the world better for
them. What, then, can our young people say about this proposal?
During this time,
they've seen neighbors turn against each other and they've learned
how to label people by where they live or how many days a week
they live there. They've learned that it's okay for elected
leaders and government agencies to use self-interest as a guiding
principal in decision-making. They've learned that the greed of
one already very wealthy man can change and destroy the face of
two counties forever, and they've learned that that man does not
use his wealth to build schools or community centers or affordable
housing for area residents or even to build up our main street
communities; that man uses his wealth to create more wealth, for
himself, and he does it behind closed doors. They've learned that
the loss of thirteen vibrant upstate communities and the
careful planning for a century since -- they've learned that all
that sacrifice was undertaken not for clean water and pristine
wilderness, not to tie together forever the upstate and downstate
communities, but to provide a nice view for more malls.
They've learned that one man with lots of money and lots of ties
to important people can defy a community majority. They've learned
that promises of upstate jobs do not include dignity and choice;
those jobs promise only menial labor and ever-deeper divisions
between visitors and full-time residents, between those who have
a lot and those who have less. They've learned that adults don't
learn from history, that massive over-development can still happen
even though we've all seen how it destroys communities forever.
They've learned that they can't depend on us to preserve wild
places for them and for their children. Once that golden carrot
of growth at all costs, of big money for a few and tiny money
for the rest -- once those toys are dangled in front of their
parents and teachers and government leaders, those adults will
grab for those toys and forget to protect the world their children
will inherit. And they've learned that they don't have the right
to know about what will affect them -- they don't have the right
to know and they don't have the time to comment on it.
Mr. Gitter, I can't ask you to reconsider how you spend your wealth.
I can't hope that you'd turn your resort instead into Gitter College,
devoted to the sustainable development of our Main Street communities
and the preservation of our wilderness. I can't ask you
to satisfy your hubris by creating senior centers or by opening
a world-class library or performance space or by helping our communities
to create beautiful waterfront walks. I can't even ask you
to proceed with your plans but to choose for your white elephant
counties that are more suited for that kind of development --
namely, counties without New York City watershed, counties that
are already developed in that way. But, as a teacher, I
will ask you to consider the achievements of your life as a model
for the young people who watch you and the young people who will
be alive after we are no longer on this earth. You can hand us
rhetoric about what you are doing for our communities, but I know
as well as any child would that you are a very smart man.
You know very well what you could do for our communities to make
them better and you know very well that this project is about
money, not about community.
You know also how
history will remember you -- perhaps in much the same way as we
think of those who paved outer Kingston to create malls or those
who brought gambling to Atlantic City or those who created super
highways and track housing in Long Island. I know
what students say as they sit in class and learn about such people,
and I would not wish that shame for anyone -- not even for you.
Neighbors, demand a 180-day extension to the public comment period.
NYC and Phoenicia, NY