My concerns about the proposed Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park
are multifold. I look at the development from the perspective
of a local resident, parent of a pre-school child, professional
environmental scientist, and environmental conservationist.
My wife Melanie and I made a conscious decision three years ago
to have our home in the Town of Olive, having lived in Ulster
County for seven years already. Melanie is a teacher in
the Onteora Central School District and we like the quality of
life in this part of the county. We wanted to get away from
areas where the traffic had grown to intolerable levels, e.g.
New Paltz, and where development/suburban sprawl was not out of
control. Providing a healthy and safe setting in which our
three year old son can grow up is of great importance to us; clean
air and water, and safe roads are paramount concerns.
One of the little surprises since settling here has been the weekend
and holiday traffic on Rt. 28. This serves as an introduction
to what would become the norm if a large-scale resort operates
in Shandaken. I am especially concerned about increased
air pollution, as well as greater inconvenience (waiting to turn
from my street onto Rt 28 and slower traffic), more aggressive
drivers, and more accidents. It is safe to assume that a
relatively high proportion of the increased traffic will be as
large SUV‚s, favored among the affluent who would patronize
a golf resort. Such vehicles contribute more air pollutants
per mile than conventional passenger vehicles. Further,
the roads will need more maintenance, which adds to environmental
degradation (deferred costs that eventually your agency and others
will need to address) and economic costs. These costs will
not be absorbed by the developers but rather passed on to residents.
Clearly, the entire Rt 28 corridor from Kingston to Belleayre
will be impacted, just in terms of increased traffic and the multiple
effects that has.
Another regional effect is ecological. Habitat fragmentation
is a well-documented cause of decreased regional biological diversity.
As terrestrial ecosystems are broken into smaller parcels, biodiversity
decreases. As the Catskill forest is developed into various-sized
plots of non-forested land, the species that evolved with those
forests have less of their required habitat. All species
have a critical minimum amount of habitat that allows them to
survive. Unfortunately, these minimums are usually not known
until after a species becomes rare. We do know that many
species need extensive, continuous areas of undisturbed forest
to survive, if not thrive. A good example is the endangered
mountain lion. Another is the black bear; with this creature,
as development encroaches upon its habitat, it wanders into developed
areas much more. The formerly elusive and wary giant becomes
an unwelcome, brazen, destructive beast. This unhappy situation
is well-documented, being repeated in all regions where housing
and other forms of development have spread into bear habitat.
A 500-acre swath through the Catskill forest can only exacerbate
our regional "bear problem".
Not as obvious will be effects on less conspicuous species.
I am especially concerned about impacts on bird populations, e.g.
migratory species that are contending with habitat destruction
at both ends of their migrations. We have less control on
the fate of tropical forests where some of our species spend the
winter, but we can surely help to stop the loss of their breeding
and nesting habitats here. As these and a multitude of other
species suffer population declines, ecological relationships fail,
often with direct consequences for surrounding human communities.
The most obvious of such effects is the loss of natural insect
pest control provided by birds, amphibians, fish, and various
predatory and parasitic insects.
Exacerbating the effect of deforestation/habitat destruction will
be the use of a range of pesticides. Conventionally operated
golf courses apply among the highest rates of herbicides and fungicides,
among other pesticides, far surpassing most agricultural operations.
I am concerned about the mobilization of such pesticides beyond
the fairways and greens into water, air and soil, and more importantly,
into food webs of the surrounding ecosystem. I am
not aware of the developer proposing an environmentally sustainable
golf course operation, if possible in our region. For ecological
and public health reasons, a golf course is not a good neighbor.
When I look regionally, I also remember the Catskills as a premier
vacation destination with dozens of hotels and resorts.
Most of these were in Sullivan County and most have closed.
Further, most remain unused and with some degree of usable infrastructure.
All are large developed areas, already sacrificed for commercial
development, where the habitat fragmentation occurred decades
ago. These defunct resorts, many with golf courses, represent
an untapped resource, just as industrial brownfields are revitalized
for new occupants or uses. Economically, the old, dormant
Catskill resorts deserve a second life. Environmentally,
it also makes sense to develop new resorts where these old ones
existed: no or little additional habitat fragmentation will result;
roads are already in place; utilities are present. All of
this equates to less energy and materials being needed to prepare
a site. This further provides practical (economic) benefits
for the developer. Mr. Gitter would be highly respected
if he reawakened one of the dormant resorts of the Catskills‚
Building a new resort in Shandaken would be like building a new
megastore on previously undeveloped property while other commercial
buildings in the same area are vacant. This aspect of urban
and suburban sprawl is destroying our natural and cultural communities.
We cannot have unlimited development without significant long-term
negative effects. The placement and scale of projects
must be carefully considered. For the reasons above, I strongly
believe that the placement and size of the proposed resort is
ill-conceived and will have detrimental long-term consequences.
Richard S. Feldman, PhD
Chairman & Assoc. Professor
Dept. of Environmental
Science & Policy Marist College
I'm writing in response to Mr. Paul Wenner's letter in the 4/8/04
edition concerning the 'need' to find more oil in the US in order
to make us less dependent on 'foreign' oil.
While I very much respect Mr. Wenner for speaking his mind and
know that he speaks for all too many Americans, and also for the
calm and respectful tone in his letter, I must say that I strongly
disagree with his point of view and believe that he has some basic
facts just plain wrong.
Reducing our 'dependence' on 'foreign' oil is a catch phrase that
most resonate with, but when looked at critically is seen to be
smoke and mirrors. We SELL oil to other countries such as
Japan and then import it from the middle east. This is just
a purely economic situation where the oil companies use the ENTIRE
worlds supply of oil as one 'pool' which they move around in a
way to make the most money. No problem there, but it undercuts
the concept of 'foreign' oil.
However, Mr. Wenner's biggest mistake, in my
view, is the idea that we can reduce our 'dependence' on oil [from
where ever] by drilling for more oil. In my opinion, this
is like saying that a junkies stealing 'habit' can be reduced
by growing more 'junk' so the price comes down so he doesn't have
to steal to support his habit. The true answer to our 'dependence'
is to make the price so high that we treat it like the dangerous
substance that it is. I am in no way, suggesting that we
get oil out of our life, only that we realize that it is a precious
and, if miss used as we are today, very dangerous substance that
must be handled with FAR more care than we do now. The conservation
and alternate energy measures that Mr. Wenner mentions in passing
are THE answer, not more oil drilling.
And just to complete my critique, Mr. Wenner
has his facts VERY wrong on ANWAR. He displays an all too
common poor grasp of the ecological issues in ANWAR. The
'2,000 acres' is an absolute minimalist figure that the oil companies
and Alaskan oil people put out. Their record of 'accuracy'
on such figures has been shown over decades to be so poor that
one must only conclude that these figures [put out by organizations
that should have the best, smartest people with the best technology]
must be purely for publicity to get their way. And, Mr.
Wenner either doesn't realize or doesn't want to admit, that the
particular spot that the oil companies want to use is the CENTER
of the Caribou calving grounds. And it just so happens that
the Caribou are the 'keystone' critter of the whole range.
I recommend that Mr. Wenner and others who believe as he does,
inform himself on the term 'keystone' as it applies to the intricacies
of ecological webs of life [in very brief, it means that a 'keystone'
animal has, due to its life style, an inordinately strong effect
on virtually ALL other creatures in a particular ecological area].
And, one last fact. This area of the ANWAR was set aside
specifically because it was such a fragile ecosystem so that even
apparently 'small' impacts have a very large and long lasting
Let's get off the ANWAR and look at the real problem which is
our own profligate lifestyle. Let's begin to really use
our intelligence to create a technologically intelligent conservation
society and not use our 'junkie' mentality to just do more of
the same old 'more, more, more ...'.
The proposed Bellayre Resort is expected to add 300-500 trips
per hour to Route 28's existing peak traffic. Impact on the Town
of Olive, downstream in all senses from this Catskill Xanadu,
was largely ignored by Gitter's projections. The DEIS fails to
address the impact of added construction and delivery vehicles
on our icy, winding roads.
An average sedan, about 200 inches long plus recommended four
car lengths at 45 mph gives 1000 inches per car and spacing. Times
300 trips gives us a crocodile of cars winding its way through
Olive every peak hour that's about 4.7 miles long -- about the
distance from the front door of Onteora MS/HS to Get The Scoop
We only have about 7 miles of Route 28 running through Olive.
Add normal peak traffic in that corridor, and we'd probably have
one lane filled quite solidly with cars.
The deer-infested alternatives, routes 28A and 213, cut through
the southern half of Olive. They have few passing zones (213 has
none for 8 miles between Stone Ridge and Olivebridge), and dangerous
curves. Two cars become a traffic jam on 213 when the one in back
wants to pass but can't and tailgates instead. Route 213 would
be the shortcut for the many expected union workers coming from
counties to the south.
We've already had one fatality on 28A since the DEP closed the
Monument Road "Lemonsqueeze" last year. A serious
car crash closes our roads for hours, and forces many of us to
make 20-mile detours. Many Olive residents who need side roads
off Route 28 don't have the options of detours or alternatives.
This project would forever change the character of our region.
Your input matters. You have until April 23 to email comments
to Alexander Ciesluk at the DEP: email@example.com
I would like to have claimed credit for constructing
the following "Bill of Non-Rights" but it would be contrary
to my last letter to the Press re: "plagiarism". The
author is Georgia State Representative Mitchell Kaye and I would
like to use it as a response to Jack A. Smith who is seeking [his]
perfect world and rather than do anything about it continues to
joust with windmills. Get a life Jack! The poor, the disenfranchised,
the left [remained] behind, the ignored, the uneducated, the afflicted
and the mutants will always be with us.
As for William Moorman; I love the rich; the dirty, ghastly wealthy.
When was the last time a professional, homeless drifter gave you
a job, Bill?
And to Avanti Peters, we welcome you. We're glad you are here.
You must know as a sixteen year old student that the United States
Constitution is not "altered". It is ammended as provided
for by Article V and there is a lengthy procedure for that. But
you must understand young man, that you can't have it both ways.
The constitution may be ammended to prohibit same sex marriage
and then fail in ammending for foreign born U.S. citizens to become
President. This is the way it works. And the best part is you
can oppose one ammendment and support another. You may have the
chance to do just that when you commence your voting obligation.
[Note; "obligation"]. There are at present 27 ammendments;
all valid and all working except one. We can consume alcohol legally
again, but; we can't smoke while "sousing" it up. How's
that for a 200 year old plus document?
Now on to the new "Bill of Non-Rights";
We the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to
help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid
more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and
secure the blessings of debt-free liberty to ourselves and our
great-great-great grandchildren hereby try one more time to ordain
and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally
whiny, guilt ridden, delusional, and other liberal bed-wetters.
We hold these truths to be self evident; that a whole lot of people
are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim they require
a Bill of Non-Rights".
Article I: You do not have the right to a new car, a big screen
TV or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally
acquire them, but no one is guaranteed anything.
Article II: You do not have the right to never be offended. This
country is based on freedom and that means freedom for everyone;
not just you. You may leave the room, turn the channel, express
a different opinion, etc.; but the world is full of idiots and
probably always will be.
Article III You do not have the right to be free from harm. If
you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful.
Do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives
Article IV: You do not have the right to free food and housing.
Americans are the most charitable people to be found and will
gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of
subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch
potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another
generation of couch potatoes.
Article V: You do not have the right to free health care. That
would be nice, but from the looks of public housing we're just
not interested in public health care.
Article VI: You do not have the right to physically harm other
people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone
don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the
Article VII: You do not have the right to the possessions of others.
If you rob, cheat or coerce away the goods or services of other
citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and
lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right
to a big screen TV or a life of leisure.
Article VIII: You do not have the right to a job. All of us sure
want you to have a job and will gladly help you along in hard
times but we expect you to take advantage of the oppotunities
of an education and vocational training laid before you to make
Article IX: You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American
means that you have the right to PURSUE happiness which by the
way is alot easier if you are unencumbered by an over abundance
of idiotic laws created by those of you who are confused by the
Bill of Rights.
Article X: This is an English speaking country. We don't care
where you are from; English is our language. Learn it or go back
to wherever you came from.
The good State Rep. from Georgia added Article XI........
Article XI: You do not have the right to change our country's
history or heritage. This country was founded on the belief in
one true God. Yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any
religion, any faith, or no faith at all with no fear of persecution.
The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part of our heritage and history.
If you are uncomfortable with that; TOUGH!!
Glenn T. Anderson
I am writing in response to Town of Marbletown Supervisor Vincent
Martello‚s letter to the Editor where he asserts that I
have promised casino gaming will be a "panacea." Nothing
could be further from the truth. I have never made such a statement.
In fact, my legislation does not even allow casino gaming
in Ulster County - unless the people of Ulster County vote for
The Supervisor asserts that the people of Ulster County do not
want casino gaming. That might be true - but under current law,
they don‚t even get a vote! Under current law, Native American
gaming can be forced upon the people of Ulster County.
My legislation gives the people of Ulster County a direct vote
on non-Native American casino gaming. Why any elected official
would be opposed to trusting the people of Ulster County with
such a vote is something I do not understand. In terms of the
Supervisor‚s other question: who decided that gaming is
meritorious and what evidence is there to support that claim,
I offer the following-
1. I never said that casino gaming was "meritorious."
Rather, I said the merits of gaming have already been decided.
Gaming exists in New York at video lottery terminals (VLTs), race
tracks in this region, and in casinos that are already open -
in New York. Gaming exists at lottery terminals in nearly every
convenience store in our State and at "Quick Draw" games
in restaurants. Gaming exists in Connecticut, New Jersey, and
Canada - all of whom compete for the same tourism dollars this
2. Who decided that this gaming would occur in New York State?
The people of this State - who voted to legalize gaming in the
form of the lottery decided one aspect of it. Governor Cuomo -who
entered into compacts with various Native American tribes - without
the consent of the voters or the State Legislature, decided another
aspect of it.
Finally, the Supervisor asks whether or not I have had the opportunity
to "read" about the concerns of the people of Marbletown.
He need not worry - Long before Supervisor Martello was elected,
I have been addressing those concerns, including:
* Working to successfully more than double the amount of State
funding to support farmland preservation. Ulster County communities
have received more than $3 million in aid since I was elected
to the Senate for farmland preservation
* Serving as the lead sponsor of legislation giving localities
the ability to create a new fund for farmland preservation;
* Obtaining funds for the Marbletown Community Center, libraries,
hospitals, fire services, and the Rondout Valley Growers;
* Having worked to increase Rondout Valley‚s School Aid
by nearly $4 million since being elected to the Senate.
If the Supervisor wants to oppose casino gaming, that is his right.
What is not his right however, is to mislead the public on my
position. My legislation seeks to move the casino process forward
- but only with the consent of the people of Ulster County. What
is wrong with trusting the people to vote?
I will continue to fight to address the issues that matter to
the people of Ulster County - education, healthcare, agriculture,
and creating economic vitality. I welcome Supervisor Martello‚s
input on those issues - and the other matters which effect the
quality of life of the people of Marbletown, and all eighty municipalities
within our Senate District.
Sincerely, J. Bonacic State Senator
A last minute call and good news for those who haven't yet decided
to go to Washington for the March for Women's Lives on April 25.
There is still room on the Woodstock Women in Black's bus, but
time is very short.
Why go? One by one, our lives are being directly challenged and
freedoms restricted, our rights are being limited. Not only do
anti-choice religious groups and policy makers in the Bush administration
challenge our reproductive rights, they oppose the provision of
emergency contraception to rape victims, target stem cell research
for spinal cord injuries, and fight avidly to keep our youth from
medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education.
This is the direction we want to reverse, and it is incumbent
on us to stand up and speak out. If there was ever a time to stand
up for choice, women's health and our rights, THIS IS IT. We are
within one vote on the Supreme Court of losing our hard-won right
to determine our reproductive choices!
So reschedule the lunch date or concert and be part of the hundreds
of thousands of Americans making a public stand for women's lives
and women's rights. You never know which grain of sand will tip
the balance. Call me at 679-7502 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org for
details and reservation information. We've extended the absolute
deadline to Tues. April 20. Bus leaves Kingston at 12:01 am and
the New Paltz Park 'n' Ride at 12:30 am, and returns the same
day. The cost is $40 and some scholarship help is available.