(letters from March 2, 2006)
We would like to start this by thanking everyone for coming
out and helping my family on Sunday, January 29th. This has
been a very difficult time for us and it is nice to see so
many people in the community come and support us.
To John Parate and The Boiceville Inn, Thank you for loaning
us your restaurant for the night. Sorry that we stayed a lot
longer than anticipated. Your support and generosity is very
much appreciated and we will never forget your kindness. Your
food was great.
To all the generous businesses who donated to our cause. Thank
you for your generosity and support.
To "52", Tumbio Blue, Malley Bragg, Second Nature
and John and the Generous Thief, Thank you so much for donating
your time and talents. You were all wonderful.
To all our friends and family that came out on Sunday, thank
you so much for your help and support, we could not do any
of this without you.
We want to especially thank my mother, Pat Stroh, for everything
that you have done. You have been there through everything,
picking up when we could not bear it any more, being a shoulder
to cry on and giving us the resources that we need in order
to get our kids home, we could have gotten this far without
you. Charlie, thank you for your love and support, you really
are my Dad. I Love you two (Jessica).
We also want to Thank Dean Gitter for your wonderful offer
of the house. It was a great idea, we are so sorry that it
did not work out, but I will never forget your generosity.
There are so many people to that have been so very helpful
to us it is hard to remember everyone, so Thank You to anyone
we may have inadvertently missed. The past ten months have
been very difficult for us and those of you that have been
there for us since the beginning, Thank you.
Jessica and Ed Ryder
I would like to thank all of the volunteers who expended a
great deal of time and energy to put a great benefit together
for the Ryder Family on January 29th. I would especially like
to thank John Parete for allowing us to use the Boiceville
Inn, John’s staff, the musicians of “52”,
Tumbio, Blue, The Malley Bragg Band, Second Nature and John
& The Generous Thief who gave their time and talent to
the cause, and Suzanne Colp whose boundless energy kept us
all on task!
The response to my letter to the editor was overwhelming.
My initial hesitance about submitting the letter and planning
a benefit turned from fear to enthusiasm. I received so many
calls from people willing to help. Beautiful items where donated
and wonderful pieces of art were contributed by local artists
for the silent auction.
The benefit was a huge success. Not only did we manage to
raise enough funds to be truly beneficial to the cause but
we also raised awareness of the dilemma facing a family stuck
in a very discouraging situation.
With the continued support of our community, Legislator Peter
Kraft, Legislators Brian Shapiro & Don Gregorious, Congressman
Hinchey’s office, and the diligence of those working
at RUPCO, the County of Ulster, and Town of Shandaken, I am
hopeful that my daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren
will find their way home.
Again, thanks to all who volunteered their time, individuals
and business owners who donated items for the Penny Social
and Silent Auction and those who contributed to make the benefit
a success. Sincerely,
I was home this afternoon about noon when I heard a truck
pull down to the end of my road on Lane Street. It looked
like a truck that was equipped to drill wells. There were
two men in the truck and a third followed in a separate vehicle.
They backed up to the edge of my driveway and started looking
at plans and began to unload some equipment. Naturally, I
went out to inquire about what they were doing. The one gentleman
told me he was working for a company that was representing
the Town of Shandaken with regards to doing soil sample testing
for the pending construction of the new sewer lines that were
going to be implemented some time in the near future. He said
they were doing the tests to see what type of material they
were going to have to dig through in order to lay the lines
and thus help determine the cost based on what they find down
below. The harder it is to dig and the more time consuming
it is, the more it is going to cost. He said mostly it's a
lot of large boulders and rock outcroppings followed by clay
below. He said this had been the norm so far. I asked him
who was paying for all of this. I wanted to know if the town
had to foot this bill or if NYC was going to since this was
all being done in order to protect "their" precious
water supply. He said he believed the town was paying for
the testing. I do not know if this is true or not. Regardless,
what I do know is that once again, NYC is determining what
can and can not be in the Catskill Mountains all in an effort
that benefits no one but them. What was it they were going
to pay towards this system? Something like eleven million
dollars? And, the cost of the hook up is supposed to be born
by the homeowner or business owner along with a yearly fee
as well? What happened to the idea of putting it to a referendum?
And forget all of that. Why should we as homeowners who have
working septic systems without problems have to pay one red
cent towards this project at all? Who does it ultimately benefit?
Are we going to be reimbursed as this gentlemen whispered
to me this afternoon? And if so to what extent? I don't recall
reading anything about that anywhere. Are they going to have
excess flush fees or some type of monitoring device to know
how many times your toilet or dishwasher or shower is used
just like the water meter? Any of us that have to take a shower
or do dishes with the current chlorinated water system in
Phoenicia already know how well the "new and improved"
water plant works. You can barely get it to your face; and
would you drink it? If that is any indication of what is to
come you better buy stock in plungers and "RidX".
The bottom line is when are we going to stop paying for things
that ultimately only benefit the Big Apple? If they want the
sewage treatment plant and for our homes to tie into it then
THEY SHOULD PAY FOR ALL OF IT. I'm not sure why people from
NYC come up here for second homes anymore because it seems
more fiscally beneficial to move down there. When is it going
Onteora’s budget process is well on its way and it’s
adding up fast. As reported the district is looking to purchase
two new buses. At a recent Board of Education meeting business
administrator Victoria McLaren made her 2006/2007 budget presentation
on transportation. McLaren said that the district needs a
30-passenger wheelchair bus and a 66-passenger bus. Total
cost for both buses would be $156,000. If the voters of the
district didn’t approve the purchase of the two new
buses McLaren said that we would have to do more repairs and
maintain them. As far as maintaining the buses that the school
has now the new ones would also have to be maintained. McLaren
assured the board that the vehicles pose no safety risk. Someone
on the board should have asked what it would cost to repair
and maintain the two buses that the district wants to get
rid of. I don’t see how anyone can make an intelligent
decision to spend that kind of money if one doesn’t
have all the information to compare the cost of new buses
to the cost of keeping the buses the school has now. Board
President Dave Patterson asked about the possibility of leasing
the wheelchair bus. That might be a good thing if the school
was able to write off the leasing cost as a business would
be able to do. I was not at the meeting so there may have
been some other discussions regarding the buses. If you don’t
attend the Board of Education meetings, you’re left
out in the cold and you do not know very much about what’s
really going on at the school. The published minutes of their
meetings are very vague. Most of them contain nothing that’s
very informative. The published minutes generally contain
the names of who gave speeches and motions to accept lots
resolutions made by the Superintendent of the school.
Occasionally there is some constructive information in the
school boards published minutes. In recently published minutes
under new business Trustee O’Connor said that she spoke
to the Olive Press and the Phoenicia Times asking the papers
about the possibility of the Board having a column in their
papers to keep the public posted. That’s a good thing.
But, guess what? It was agreed to be put on a future agenda.
I guess the board wanted to go home early that night. The
board might want to consider being a little more tax payer
On Monday Feb. 13, 2006 Onteora Central Schools had a bid
opening for the district’s transportation needs for
the coming year. The bid opening this year was not for each
run individually but for all routes lumped into one bid winner
If good business sense dictates that it is beneficial to put
all your eggs in one basket AND eliminate competitive bidding
perhaps the district has done well. If not… get ready
to pay the piper. Looking back over the past years, the district
in the early 60' s did exactly the same thing. All transportation
was awarded to Lakeview Transit. The move lasted 4 months,
at which time the company could not maintain a large enough
driving staff to meet it’s needs... nor could it maintain
its fleet of buses to the requirements of NYS DOT regulations.
It is interesting to note that in the 60’s all regulations
were only a small fraction of what they are today. Lakeview’s
fleet had fallen under such gross disrepair that the State
DOT in a surprise inspection stripped the inspection stickers
off the buses and put them out of service on the spot. This
was done in the middle of a school day, if it were not for
the contractors that we are now eliminating via a take all
bid this district would have had parents coming to pick up
their children. These are only some of the risks we will face
if this bid is accepted at the next board meeting.
It is my understanding that the lowest bid submitted by Hoyt
Transportation Inc was $500,000 more than we currently spend.
The current price if all runs were to simply be extended with
a state mandated percentage increase would only be approx.
All of this sounds wonderful for the OCS Transportation Dep’t.
It would merely have to oversee Hoyt transit, eliminating
all the hands on control we have carefully established for
over 50 years. The system and the bus drivers who have been
so dedicated to our children’s safety will fade away.
Is this what the people and the Board of Ed. really want?
I have worked for the OCS transportation system since 1967
— 28 years as a full time OCS bus driver and after retiring
I now drive for Tonche Transit. There have been many times
during the years when the OCS district has investigated alternatives
to a multiple contractor-District owned operation. The first
time they tried, it failed miserably. When it was from time
to time investigated, it was determined that we already had
the best system to service our needs.
I believe that a change of this magnitude should be presented
to the public, with all facts and figures, both pro and con,
presented at an open forum where all sides may be heard. All
the district has now is the opinion of a consultant. It is
my belief that the past history of the district operation
has not figured sufficiently into his opinion as to what’s
best for all concerned.
When you toss out the local contractors and they seek work
elsewhere OR reduce their fleet OR go out of business…
What prevents the next round of bidding from going sky high,
since the competition is no longer present to control it?
The district has the option to reject the existing bid and
re-bid all routes or extend the current routes as per state
mandates. I suggest that they give serious thought to doing
one of the above. Attendance at the next board meeting might
not be a bad idea for anyone who feels that this move might
not be in our best interest
Dean Gitter's recent letter asking how we would like the community
of Shandaken to spend a portion of the eventual profit from
the proposed Belleayre Resort, seems generous, conciliatory
and inclusive. But it preempts important issues.
The future existence of the resort and its profitability is
far from certain. And we need to remain cleqrly focussed what
we might be exchanging for this pay-off.
Judge Wissler's thorough work distilling twelve points of
adjudication for the environmental impact assessment for the
resort, gives some indication of our potential deprivation.
We have chosen to live in a uniquely beautiful and fragile,
wild environment; to many of us it is clear that, along with
the nourishment we receive, goes the responsibility to maintain
these increasingly rare advantages for future generations.
To have the nature of our area despoiled by a massive development
with its attendent structures and activities, so that the
area becomes as uninviting as many other developed parts of
this country, cannot be compensated with money. We must not
be distracted by Mr Gitter's offer from the potential damage
that may be caused by building this resort — the environmental
impact must be thoroughly investigated.
But a question has been raised on how we would like to spend
resources in the community, and this is worth considering.
Growth and development are essential human activities; for
to be fully alive we need to expand and deepen our endeavors
and take up the considerable challenges of our time.
I would like to see growth in fearless generosity arising
out of our fortunate living conditions. Therefore the items
on my wish list are large, as well as vital for our future.
As examples, I would like growth in:- quality health care
for all; better education resources and opportunities for
all normal and challenged children; rehabilitation and education
for this country's embarrassingly large prison population;
worthy employment for all and removal of poverty; support
for businesses taking care of employees and customers, using
the environment sustainably, and protecting soil, water, air,
forests, wildernesses, and community harmony; environmental
protection of unique natural areas; clean water, air and soil;
improved disposal and recycling of waste, clean-up of pollution,
and constructive information and laws related to the effects
of pollution on health; information on consumer products allowing
us to choose to avoid exploitation of people and environments;
research on sustainable agriculture, environmental practices,
and alternative energy sources; support for wisely creative
artists, scientists and social planners; urban and other living
spaces that promote rich community life; secure and accurate
electoral systems with candidates obliged to voters rather
than the wealthy "investors" in their campaigns;
international diplomacy that increases national security.
Historically we have sought growth in, for example:- production
of consumer goods by means which destroy environments and
human societies; non-nutritious, exploitive foods; access
to oil and the war that maintains it; reduction in costs of
polluting to the businesses which profit from it; subsidies
for unsustainable industries; people marginalized from the
community; differences in lifestyle, health and life-expectations
for the wealthy and those from whom their wealth derives.
Those who dedicate themselves to improve constructively any
of the above issues, leave their mark on history, locally,
nationally, and globally. Now is the time to take up the real
challenges of our time and place.
Mount Tremper, NY
I read with interest Brian Power’s signed editorial
in the February 16th issue of the Phoenicia Times. To my mind,
it makes a positive contribution to the controversy over the
Belleayre Resort and I thank you for it.
Other than a few factual errors in your comments, the idea
of good-faith negotiations is right on target and Crossroads
Ventures is ready to enter into them at any time.
We would not enter into such negotiations with an all-or-nothing
attitude. Our goal would be quite simple: to achieve agreement
on a plan that would meet the minimal needs of all concerned.
Our only proviso is that the plan must be economically viable
and must allow the overall venture to make a significant contribution
to the prosperity and betterment of the Shandaken-Middletown
region and its citizens. That was our original intent and
it remains so. All of our investors have maintained homes
here for many years and we have a very definite personal stake
in the region – whether or not some our more cynical
critics believe that.
I know you and others have from time to time pooh-poohed our
more altruistic motivations and I regret that distrust. But
we have already committed ourselves in writing to contributing
one-third of our profits to improvements and public service
projects in Shandaken and Middletown. We are also serious
about the need for several hundred full-time and part-time
employees to whom we’ll offer good pay and, in the case
of our 542 full-time employees, health and retirement benefits.
Most of these people will come from the area centered around
the intersection of Ulster, Greene and Delaware counties.
In fact, we fully expect that over 95% of our workforce will
be staffed by people who already live here. A survey by a
nationally-recognized labor research company completed for
Ulster County a few years ago concluded that the total potential
workforce in the commuting area numbered over 138,000 and
over 19,000 of them would be interested in changing jobs in
a jiffy if offered $12 or more per hour. As a result, we expect
most of our work force will continue living right where they
are, thus avoiding problems with housing or adding any significant
number of children to the school systems. In addition, we
expect that many of our seasonal employees will be people
who now work at the Belleayre Ski Center only in the winter-time.
By the way, 60% of our many workers will make a good deal
more than $12 an hour.
As for taxes, you are misinformed. None of my ventures have
received what you imply are sweetheart deals. There is a standard
formula for new ventures in New York State which allows for
PILOT taxation (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) that starts at 50%
of assessed value and increases by 5% annually over ten years
when the property reaches full valuation. If we build a resort
whose market value is $300 million and assume the current
equalization and tax rates will continue we would pay $3,150,000
annually for starters rising to $6,300,000 annually at the
end of ten years. As Yogi says, you can do the math.
In addition, we will be paying about $1 million dollars a
year to the county through the newly enacted hotel room tax.
Beyond that, the Belleayre Resort, as presently conceived,
would inject roughly $41 million a year into the local economy
– new customers for local businesses and cultural activities,
new employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, sales taxes,
purchases in the area, plus jobs and materials purchases during
the construction phase that’s projected to last over
five years. These are not just our figures. They are based
on standard multiples of revenue-producing properties.
I appreciate your public stand in favor of negotiations rather
than taking a hard-and-fast advocacy position for one proposal
or another. To my mind, one of the highest callings of the
newspaper profession is taking a leadership role for civic
betterment. All I need now is people on the other side who
are willing to come to the table and talk in good faith.
Mount Tremper, NY
Editor’s Note... We've done the math. We stand by our
figures and cite as their source the information in the public
record provided by Mr. Gitter's company.
When we see developer Dean Gitter pleading his case before
the legislature to prevent a call for compromise and
skirting the edge of the zoning law in Shandaken with a huge
billboard painted on the side of a truck, we know already
what he will do if given permission to build his over-sized,
poorly designed fantasy-land in the Catskills. We have seen
this pattern before, when plans for the Ulster County jail,
another venture backed by Ward Todd, were placed before the
Absolutely necessary. A great design. Will be built to impeccable
standards. Won't cost the taxpayers a cent. Will save money,
make money. Yeah, right. The only difference between the two
projects is that the developer's scheme has a built-in contract
manager: the Administrative Law Judge who ruled repeatedly
that the environmental protections trumpeted by the developer
for the past seven years simply do not measure up. So of course
developer wants to go around that and try to convince the
county legislators that the judge had it wrong.
Believe my numbers, he says, while Supervisor Bob Cross rambles
about making sure that no one gets to see the very sobering
economic analysis done by a professional economic consultant
hired by the Town. Even Mr. Gitter's own expert admitted during
the Administrative Law Judge's review that the project as
designed does not pass muster economically. It's a boondoggle
being driven forward by an enraptured investor who could just
as well put her money behind Congressman Hinchey's proposal
or any other more environmentally sound alternative design.
What will make that happen? What will it take to prevent taxpayers
from having to pay for another doomed project pitched as a
boon for Ulster County?
Pine Hill, NY
Since Mr. Gitter has forced us to look at his tractor trailer
sign with his message each day as we pass it, I thought it
may be good to ask him a question. He proposes to bring in
about 550 new jobs to our area. Sounds great, right? Now here
is the question. Does anybody really know how many people
a year it takes to maintain a staff of 550 people? Here is
my experience. I own a manufacturing plant where we employ
65 people. We go through 265 people a year to maintain that
staff of 65. This number is my experience of over 15 years
in the manufacturing business. It is clear that the hotel
and restaurant business has a much higher turnover rate. What
this means is, by this standard, over a years time to maintain
a staff of 550, there would have to be over 2,000 unemployed
people each year that would come from this planned resort.
Over a year’s time, you will find some people leave
because they get hurt, some get sick, some get tired, and
some get fired. This point is a fact of life in business.
There is a tremendous turnover of workers each year to maintain
a staff. Now let’s use a common sense example. Let’s
say a mom who lives somewhere else is drawn to this area seeking
work at our new hotel in the Catskills. Let’s say she
takes up residence, puts the kids in school and then what?
She gets fired! She gets hurt, or she gets tired. She leaves
her great hotel job, goes on disability, welfare whatever
and there she stays. Just because she lost her job, do you
think she is going to take her kids out of school and just
go back to where she came? This is what happened to Ellenville.
This is what will happen to us.
I have another question for Mr. Gitter. He told me personally
that his interest was not in building anything himself at
that site. His plan is to get the rights to build on the site
and sell his interests to the highest hotel chain bidder.
Now do you really think that once the new hotel chain gets
in after paying Mr. Gitter for his hard work, they are going
to abide by his present claims? Do you think they are going
to build the type of complex Mr. Gitter is going around showing
everyone a model of? This is smoke and mirrors. He has no
say once he sells his interests. This reminds me of Mr. Gitter’s
tower dealings in Woodstock. He worked hard to get a tower
erected on Overlook Mountain and promised he would not put
a light it. In fact he did not, but then sold the rights to
another company and they put the lights on the tower. Are
we getting it yet?
Now, last but not least—everyday I commute, passing
the Emerson place of Mr. Gitter’s and each day, I have
to look at that long ugly white plastic fence erratically
leading to nowhere. This white albatross demonstrates the
image Mr. Gitter thinks is aesthetically pleasing. Now with
a tractor trailer being placed there, it is like a slap in
the face each time we pass. I would rather see a junk yard
then this type trailer trash. Mr. Gitter, stop the lies and
misleading games. We are not stupid and you have no right
to shove this project down our throats so you can retire and
move to St. Croix? We want to stay here and live here. We
are here for the peace and solitude, not the low wage jobs.
This is why people come to this area as they have done for
hundreds of years. It is for the peace. It is for nature and
natural settings. If you were allowed to have this project
built, it would clearly destroy the beauty that we are here
for. The people who support your project are a handful of
people and they are seeking a monetary gain from it. The people
who are against it are the people who are here for nature,
peace and to be left alone. Please do not try and make yourself
out to be a hero, like you are doing all this for the town.
You are doing all this for yourself and the few who also stand
to gain from it. Now take your trailer and put it in your
own back yard and please stop your pushy games.
It’s a marvel that there are still people in this town
who trust what Dean Gitter says. Does he really think that
his tractor trailer and big billboard-style sign is any less
ugly and obtrusive in Mt. Pleasant than it was in Highmount,
even with it all dolled up with lattice? I thought the new
white fence along that field in Mt. Pleasant was unsightly
and out of character by itself (why not something rustic like
split rail?), but now with that truck-sign monstrosity marring
the most beautiful view of Tremper Mountain (one of the most
scenic views along all of Rt. 28 in fact), it’s obvious
that Dean Gitter is thumbing his nose at the Catskill mountains
and its residents. There is no shortage of people in the Catskill
region who look at these mountains and only see dollar signs,
and Dean Gitter is the worst of them. If you believe that
anything he does is motivated by anything more than self-interest,
think again. We don’t need his solutions to the perceived
problems that he tells us we have. There are a lot better
ways to achieve economic vitality in a beautiful mountainous
region like ours, and it’s too bad that Dean Gitter
doesn’t put his money and effort into projects that
everyone can support instead of his grandiose, misguided schemes.
There were two kinds of objections to the sign we recently
deployed on our Highmount office site. One was that it was
ugly. It was. I apologize, but we had little time to make
it more attractive.
The second kind were cries of outrage from our opponents who
evidently don’t approve of our educating the public
with facts. They have deployed signs condemning our “Monster
Resort” (their words) on roads all over town for almost
Evidently their concern for free speech does not extend to
the developers of the Belleayre Resort.
The sign will be situated on our property in Mt. Tremper for
the foreseeable future. We will, however, endeavor to make
it more aesthetically pleasing; in keeping with the way we
have beautified properties all over Shandaken for years. We
intend to continue bringing before the public the benefits
they will enjoy from the project: career paths for their kids,
relief from ever more onerous property and school taxes, economic
revitalization of the Belleayre region.
Mount Tremper, NY
Although we agreed with much of what the editor of the Phoenicia
Times wrote in his most recent issue regarding the Belleayre
Resort development, we couldn’t disagree more with his
musing that homes might be built on the eastern side of the
project instead of the proposed resort.
Such a notion, although well intended, is completely inconsistent
with the recent 166 page ruling by the State Administrative
Law Judge. What’s more, it makes no sense from either
an environmental or quality of life standpoint for the residents
of the Catskills.
Following extensive hearings and with testimony from all sides
in the dispute, Judge Richard Wissler ruled that 12 major
issues were not sufficiently resolved by the developer and
warranted adjudicatory hearings and possible modification
of the project in order to satisfy state law. The majority
of those issues are specific to the eastern side of the project.
Development on the east side presents insurmountable hurdles
for many reasons. Construction would be atop very steep slopes,
some even steeper than the Belleayre Mountain ski slopes,
down which rainwater, mud and detritus would drain. Because
the developer plans to clear 25 acres of forest at one time,
(although the state recommendation is 5 acres at a time),
there are grave concerns about storm-water run-off, which
the developer claims would be “controlled” by
temporary detention basins sized for the “design ten-year
storm” (six inches of precipitation in 24 hours). In
that regard it is worth noting that we have had two 100-year
storms in the past nine years at this location.
The Judge expressed concern for several water-related issues
pertaining to the east side. He questioned if the available
groundwater supply will be adequate and he noted the potential
de-watering of surface waters, in particular Birch Creek,
which drains the eastern side of the project.
In addition, any sort of construction on the east side would
jeopardize world-class trout streams. The eastern side drains
to the Birch Creek and Lost Clove Brooks, which are tributaries
to the Esopus River that maintain breeding populations of
trout—including rainbows as well as feral browns and
brook trout. The Esopus is already classified as “impaired”
by state and federal standards due to turbidity. To make matters
worse, the Ashokan Reservoir, the ultimate destination of
the waters flowing from the eastern site, is a terminal reservoir
for downstate water consumers and must remain protected as
the primary unfiltered water source for 9 million people.
The Judge pointed to discrepancies between the developer’s
modeling results and observations in the field, and he noted
that a model for predicting water runoff was misapplied on
the steeper eastern side. The Judge also questioned whether
or not baseline hydrological conditions were adequately considered
in the developer’s analysis including the role of wetlands,
groundwater seeps, sensitive streambed features in Birch Creek
and even sensitive soils offsite, which may be impacted during
heavy rain events. He was also very concerned about pollutant
impacts on the local water bodies, in particular the Esopus
Finally, any kind of building on the east side would endanger
some of the crown jewels of the State’s Catskill Forest
Preserve. The land there is adjacent to the largest tract
of constitutionally protected Wilderness in the Catskill Park,
the Big Indian and Slide Mountain Wilderness areas. It acts
as a buffer to this Wilderness and if clear cut, will act
as a conduit for invasive flora and fauna and will over time,
result in the overall decline of the ecological health of
the nearby Forest Preserve. The Judge expressed concerns about
the visual impacts from the Forest Preserve, not just from
trails, but from anywhere on the forest preserve a hiker or
camper may be. He also concluded that the developer did not
adequately address noise impacts on the Wilderness areas of
the east side and cited several documents produced by the
DEC, including the Land Use Master Plan and the Public Access
Plan, and he quoted the State constitution’s Article
14, all of which support his view that no large development
on private lands near Wilderness should degrade it.
As for economics, experts testified at the State Issues Conference
that the project, as currently proposed, is an economically
risky venture and that a much smaller, economically viable
project would be preferable from an investment perspective.
Furthermore, building on inappropriate sites like the east
side of this project, is a primary cause of increased service
demand from local governments, not to mention increased flooding
mitigation and recovery costs, all of which serve to dramatically
increase the costs to the town and county, and ultimately,
In summary, no kind of construction at all belongs on the
east side of the Belleayre Resort - because of its location,
topography, and ecological significance –it is simply
not suited for development. If the developer wants to act
in good faith for our community, he might start by doing away
with the east side of the project as Congressman Hinchey wisely
suggested (and the developer discounted out of hand) because
neither science, nor the law, nor common sense will support
Tom Alworth, Spokesperson
Catskill Preservation Coalition (CPC)
A public hearing on dam safety was held this past Thursday
(yesterday) at Schenectady Community College. State Assemblypersons
Paul Tonko, RoAnn DeStito, Thomas DiNapoli, Kevin Cahill,
and Aileen Gunther comprised the hearing panel. Individuals
providing testimony included Congressman Mike McNulty, DEC
Commissioner Denise Sheehan and others from her staff, DEP
Commissioner Emily Lloyd and others from her staff, SEMO Deputy
Director Thomas Fargione, Susan Savage - Chair of the Schenectady
County Legislature, Mike Berardi - Legislator in the Ulster
County Legislature, and several others from Schenectady County,
Schoharie County, and Sullivan County.
I was particularly interested in the fact that there appeared
to be only the three of us from Ulster County. Indeed, most
of the information related to the Gilboa Dam and the possible
effects towards the north of a breach in that dam However,
was very focused in his questioning on the effects to the
south of continued releases through the Tunnel at Allaben
and how the overflows into the Esopus affected the area both
above the Ashokan Reservoir and below the Ashokan Reservoir.
The concern towards the north is in regards to an actual failure
of the dam, while the concern towards the south is in regards
to the activities being taken to mitigate a possible failure
of the dam. To the north, the effect is on the population
living along the Schoharie and the Mohawk, while to the south,
the effect is on the population living along the Esopus.
The hearing discussion provided greater definition of the
lines of regulation and authority related to upkeep and maintenance,
inspections, record-keeping, and the permitting process. One
question to which I heard possible answers concerned the hierarchy
of authority between the DEC and the DEP. Questions arose
on whether there should be more regulatory requirements; does
the DEC have enough authority; should more be done legislatively?
An important statement was made that these dams are dams for
containment reservoirs; they are not dams for flood control.
A line of questioning by Assemblyman Cahill related to possible
future reconstruction of dams. He asked whether the DEC will
recommend that dams be modified in the future to prevent or
to ameliorate floods — that is, to make them into flood
control dams. DEC Commissioner Sheehan replied that, when
considering possible reconstruction, they will look at all
dams in terms of flooding, and address first what other forms
of mitigation are possible before considering reconstruction.
I believe that her measured response was appropriate, at least
as it pertains to our situation with the overflowing and possible
flooding along the Esopus south of the Ashokan Reservoir.
There are actions that can be taken in the near term to relieve
or attenuate some circumstances; however, it is the long-term
look that also needs attention. Ifpeople have built in the
flood plain, how can communities deal with that? The answer
may be not necessarily through state regulation, but rather
through community planning. This speaks to the issue of safety
in where one builds one’s home. This is not just a DEC/DEP
issue; it is also a community planning issue. Yes, this is
a long-term look at and response to flood impact.
In a current emergency, it is necessary to have a much shorter
term response. The weakness demonstrated in the Gilboa Dam
has been very much a learning experience by the various agencies
responsible for the integrity or soundness of these structures
— the integrity of construction, inspections, permitting,
and maintenance. The emergency management teams have had an
opportunity to see where some of the loose ends exist during
a time when we have only a “possibility” of a
disaster, not an actual one.
This was an important (and missed) opportunity for more individuals
from the Ulster County Legislature and the Towns along the
Esopus to learn directly from the involved agencies how each
of them sees, and acts on, its obligations and authority and
how all are attempting to work together to develop a rapid
response to emergencies, but before that, to try to mitigate
the actual problem with the Gilboa Dam.
Helen K Chase, Town Councilman
Town of Olive
We would like to tell you a story about our neighborhood.
We live on Station Road in Shandaken, just off Fox Hollow,
and directly opposite the now infamous 'bat factory', also
known as the Charles D. Roberts Mill. Station Road used to
be a modest, but pretty, tree-lined street - and we all got
a lot of pleasure from caring for our yards and flower beds,
and sitting on the front porch to wave at the occasional passers
- by. People used to come down Station Road just for the pleasure
of walking on a little traveled road which leads into the
woods. In June the lilac bushes on both sides of the road
would bloom right near the entrance, and it was a pleasure
to drive through this tunnel of fragrant flowers. The old
mill property was just behind a narrow screen of trees and
bushes, but they did a nice job of protecting us from the
noise and dust and the visual impact of a rather messy industrial
site. On weekends we could sit on our porch and enjoy the
day and not think too much about the mill just feet from us.
We always said "Thank God for those trees."
On Wednesday, February 22, this year, the town highway department
began removing this row of trees that were our only protection
from the mill. They took every tree and nearly every shrub,
all the way down to the beginning of the road. The lilacs
are mostly all gone - on both sides of the road. Why? They
also began taking down some trees in the yards on the other
side of the street. Why? They claim that they have to clear
the old railroad right of way that lies under this strip of
land. We find this to be an obvious lie, since they are clearly
not cutting all of the trees along the whole railway line.
I spoke to several people who are familiar with the planning
for the railroad, and they said it will take many years and
millions of dollars before the railroad can progress this
far, so why the rush? Then a few hours ago, a new explanation
arose - they have to put in a new drainage ditch alongside
the road. Since the trees were up on the bank several feet
from this proposed ditch, this also doesn't wash.
I have to admit that on Friday morning when the trucks came
back I felt like my heart would stop. I couldn't bear to watch.
We have a row of maple trees and some venerable cedar trees
in the front of our yard. I briefly considerd a one-person
sit-in to try to save those trees, since my husband had left
for work. I knew there was nothing I could do - since logic
is not one of the tools that these men are used to. Our neighbor
had asked for a temporary reprieve until the spring - so that
some of the trees near her property coud be moved out of harm's
way. But there was no reprieve. Everytyhing had to be cut
down immediately. For some reason the trees in our yard are
still standing, but who knows for how long. The destruction
may or may not be finished, but we know that this was an act
of vengeance - and directed at a few specific families.
We know that this is retaliation for our attempts to make
the newest tenants of the mill property follow proper zoning
laws, like seeking a zoning variance to do business in a residential
zone, and filing a site plan, and conforming to environmental
laws regarding noise and air pollution. (Please keep in mind
that this whole area, including the mill property, is zoned
If this is the way the Cross administration deals with it's
opponents, we'd all be advised to brace ourselves. We will
continue to oppose illegal use of the old mill property, since
they have already done their worst to us (we think). We are
asking our friends, and anyone who was familiar with Station
Road to come and take a look, and let others know about this.
The only way to stop these people from frightening everybody
in town is to shine a bright light on what they are doing.
Anyone who lives on a road in Shandaken is at their mercy.
These people are bullies, and hopefully their grip on our
town will soon be broken. And keep in mind that our new highway
supervisor, Keith Johnson, is asking for a raise.
That's just our opinion,
Dennis and Diane Ladner,
A salute to the Shandaken fire department for the immediate
response to a 911 fire call on the Super bowl Sunday afternoon.
They rushed to my home on Route 212 and were present fighting
the fire 5 minutes after they had been notified. They prevented
the fire from spreading to our living quarters, which is a
miracle. Although the studio and apartment in the downstairs
are totally damaged due to fire and water, we were grateful
that our 2-story home did not get burnt. No one was home at
the time of the fire and everyone is safe, however the renter
is without a place to live right now and will find temporary
shelter at his brother's home.
Also thanks to all my alert neighbors who keep an eye on our
neighborhood and report anything unusual. The fire department
received 4 calls within a couple of minutes.
Grateful in Mt. Tremper,