So who is to blame for the owners of the former Jake Moon Restaurant
not being able to open their establishment?
At the annual meeting of the Catskill Watershed Corporation
in Margaretville, local developer Dean Gitter, stinging from
the release of New York City promises not to okay his gold resort,
stood up and pointed a finger at DEP, claiming the agency has
not agreed to allow the new owners, Devin and Mary Beth Mills,
to construct a septic system.
One year ago the Mills purchased the old Jake Moon restaurant
in Big Indian and quickly began renovations with plans to reopen
the famous eatery under the new name "Peekamoose"
last June. One year later the doors remain closed and no opening
date is in sight.Gitter said the couple are facing bankruptcy
thanks to DEP.
Gitter, who sold the property to the Mills last spring, said
that things got bad for the couple after they applied for a
business loan from CWC, which was required to alert DEP about
the project. The result, according to Gitter, was that DEP personnel
have rejected every proposal for a new septic system to service
the business, claiming the proposals were inadequate. Gitter
raised the issue publicly, he said, because DEP Commissioner
Christopher Ward was present
DEP spokesman Ian Michaels said Monday that the Mills'
troubles might have more to do with Gitter than DEP. He told
reporters that Gitter removed an existing easement from the
properties deed when he sold it to the Mills' for $185,000.
The easement, Michaels claimed, gave the restaurant access to
a .83 acre piece of land, across Lasher Road from the structure,
specifically for parking and sewer facilities. The current problem,
according to Michaels, is that without the easement the property
itself is too small for a septic system. He added that the Mills'
had requested DEP look at the property before they made the
purchase, but then closed on the deal only two days after making
that request. Had they waited, Michaels insisted, they would
have known what they were in for.
According to Michaels, an owner previous to Gitter illegally
installed a septic in the 1990's. In fact, he said, the
Mills' applied for a variance from DEP regulations to
place a new, larger system where the illegal one was located,
but were denied. Michaels disagrees with Gitter's claim
that several options have been presented by the Mills'.
There has been only one request, he said, and that was for the
variance. He said that DEP has not heard from the Mills'
He added that a system using other technology could be installed
on the site, but it would be more expensive than a traditional
system. Regardless, DEP is ready to talk with the Mills'
if they are interested in learning more about it.
The chairman of the Pine Hill Water District Committee resigned
this week after submitting a request to the State of New York
to alter the district's water supply permit. The resignation
came at the request of Supervisor Robert Cross Jr., who thought
that the request was submitted on the behalf of the town.
Richard Schaedle, a former owner of the water system, quickly
agreed to resign following a public interrogation from Cross,
who complained that he was not made aware of the request until
the State Department of Environmental Conservation notified
On April 23, Schaedle sent in a request to correct what he claims
is an inaccurate water supply permit. The current permit, Schaedle
said, states that the District's maximum usage is 200,000
gallons per day, but according to he and the Pine Hill Water
District Coalition, the maximum usage on the permit was listed
as 300,000 gallons per day, prior to the company being sold
to Dean Gitter 4 years ago.
Schaedle submitted the request on behalf of the Coalition, asking
that the figures be returned to what they were on the original
permit drafted in 1970, but DEC staff thought the Town of Shandaken
was the applicant, and sent a letter to Cross to inform him
that they received the request.
Perplexed and confused, Cross called DEC and said he didn't
know what they were talking about. He was faxed a copy of the
application, which states that its purpose "is to document
accurate flows and current and future water needs of the (district)
and modify existing permit." The Coalition also seeks
to correctly document the existing water assets, detail the
district's current practices and identify its service
Cross, embarrassed that he was unaware of the action, demanded
to know why he was not informed. Schaedle said that anyone had
the right to file the request and he was not obligated to inform
the Town. Furthermore, Schaedle said, the Coalition has not
received support from Cross or the town on the matter for several
months, so Schaedle saw no reason to ask again.
He did admit that he probably should have informed Cross, however,
and therefore resigned from the Supervisor appointed committee
without complaint. Mary Herrmann, also a member of the Committee,
resigned immediately following Schaedle's decision in support
of her colleague.
Low flow is low blow. That's what Harry Jameson of Town
Tinker Tube Rentals thinks about a recent call by environmental
groups to reduce the flow rates coming out of the portal in
The portal is a long underground tunnel which connects the Schoharie
reservoir to the Esopus Creek. Through the tunnel the New York
City Department of Environmental Protection can drain water
from the Schoharie into the Esopus, which feeds the City's
main reservoir called the Ashokan. Last year Trout Unlimited
won a lawsuit against DEP, charging that the muddy water from
the Schoharie gummed up the Esopus to the point that the chocolate
colored water harmed the fish. The DEP was ordered to shut the
portal down and pay the State of New York a hefty $5.7 million
Plans are in the works to clean the water up and allow the portal
to open again, but Jameson said that in the process Trout Unlimited
is trying to make the flow so low that it will kill the towns
kayak/tubing industry in the summer. Jameson said the currents
of the Esopus would be too shallow to allow tubers and kayakers
to make use of it the way they have for decades.
In previous summer months the portal released 160 million gallons
per day everyday, he added, "but Trout Unlimited wants
that reduced to under 100 million gallons a day-..by the
time we get to July the creek will be too low for tubing,"
He also said that tubing and kayaking, plus the related economic
spin-off, represent a multi million industry locally, so the
towns economy would suffer from the reduced flows. Furthermore,
there are DEP plans to build a mechanism in the Schoharie that
would prevent muddy water from entering the portal, but construction
of the unit, called a vertical draw tube, is not expected until
In the meantime Supervisor Robert Cross Jr. said he is prepared
to try and push the DEP to get the work done earlier. He notes
that the plans for the tube were outlined in 1994. "If
it were built we wouldn't even be talking about reducing
flows." he said, noting that he is not attacking Trout
Unlimited, but hopes that the powerful national group will back
off if convinced that the tube will solve the mud problem.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation will decide
whether to permit the flows to be changed.
Two local men have announced plans to build a 96-room hotel
in the Hamlet of Pine Hill. Brothers Ron and John Odato came
before the town board Monday to give some basic information
about the plan and to ask that a Planned Unit Development be
created. Under current zoning laws the project, slated for the
hillside across Rt. 28 from the Pine Hill Lake and Friendship
Mano,r is not allowed. Code Officer Mike Malloy said that the
current zoning map lists the property as 5 acre residential.
John Odato said the map was in error, but Malloy said that until
it's changed it is the map the town must abide by.
A special meeting has been set for May 18th at 7pm at town hall
to discuss the Odatos' plans, which will be outlined in
more detail that evening.
Return To Sender
Town of Hurley officials were recently promised tons of native
bluestone kept by New York City at its Ashokan Reservoir campus
for a project to restore sidewalks in its Main Street historic
district. The bluestone will go a long way to match a $68,000
Revolutionary War Heritage Trail grant awarded Hurley by the
state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
in the fall of 2002. The bluestone, it turns out, has been stored
at the Ashokan Reservoir since the 1920s, when it was to be
used in city street construction. The pieces being donated to
Hurley will be used largely for 500 linear feet of curbing.
Hurley's Main Street , a registered National Landmark
District, is scheduled not only for sidewalk improvements but
drainage repairs and road resurfacing in a coordinated effort
with Ulster County. Work is set to begin later this month.
Expect a more leisurely drive between Mount Tremper and Phoenicia,
at least for a couple of days. May 12, 13,and 14 are the days
tentatively scheduled for the detour of Rt. 28 traffic, as work
crews cut through the highway to make way for the connection
of the railroad tracks that flank the pavement. Vehicles will
be re-routed along old rt. 28 past the Zen Monastery. The work
is being done by the Catskill Mountain Railroad, which received
State funding for the project thanks Senator John Bonacic's
office. The connection will allow the Railroad to run trains
further east. Plans call for eventually rehabilitating enough
track to get trains all the way to Boiceville.
The town board has authorized the planning board to spend up
to $3000 on Drayton Grant, the attorney representing the planner
in the review of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for
the proposed Golf resort near Belleayre Mountain Ski Center.
Grant, who convinced the planners to file for full party status
in the upcoming issues conference later this month, will need
time to prepare, said Supervisor Robert Cross. The $3000 figure,
he added, was a maximum amount. The $3000, according to Cross,
will come from taxpayers, as the developer, Crossroads Ventures,
is not obligated to cover this particular expense.
On the advice of the Phoenicia Waste Water committee, the town
board has tapped Supervisor Robert Cross Jr. to enter into negotiations
with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection
over the controversial issue of operation and maintenance costs
that will come with the proposed sewer treatment plant slated
for Phoenicia. Cross is expected to join a coalition formed
by Town of Andes Supervisor Martin Donnelly, who has said that
he refuses to agree to having the communities pay O&M costs,
and insists that DEP bear those annual expenses instead. Donnelly's
plan is to unite several communities and negotiate with DEP
as unified group.
In Phoenicia, homeowners will only pay $100 a year for the service,
but businesses were not given any break. They will be expected
to pick up the rest of the tab, and some owners fear astronomical
charges that could put them out of business.
Cross will undoubtedly be assisted by Shokan based Attorney
Jack Darwak, who was hired by the town board Monday night to
"review documents" with the DEP for the Phoenicia
Waste Water Committee.
Despite the discovery of what could be the omission of as many
as 240 fire dampers included in the already-closed walls, 330
reported "change events" in the plans, and the non-delivery
of the prefabricated jail cells for which the county has been
charged an extra $2.3 million, the representative for Bovis
Lend Lease, the company that is the hired project manager for
Ulster County's $75 million jail project, assures county
legislators that the worst is over.
What is needed to meet the new deadline, one year late, of January
Bovis Lend Lease representatives said at a late April meeting
that things should move smoothly now. But many are not agreeing.
Recent discoveries started when a Bovis employee realized that
fire safety equipment called "dampers" needed to
be installed during an inspection of the essentially completed
frame of what is to be a 400-bed county jail and sheriff's
headquarters on state Route 32, just south of Kingston. In some
cases, the walls have already been closed and will have to be
broken open again to allow installation of the equipment. It
has been suggested that the problem may add several hundred
thousand dollars to the project cost and push its completion
date back beyond its most recent January, 2005 estimate. Among
problems cited have been the last two winters, setting things
back three months , and the delivery of pre-fabricated jail
cells scheduled to arrive last summer and now expected to cost
$2.3 million over budget. County officials have said they will
contest that bill.
Ulster County is currently mulling whether to renovate its Golden
Hill Health Care Center to the tune of $44 million, build a
new facility at a cost of more than $80 million or shut down
the 280-bed facility altogether, following a trend that has
seen other senior facilities closed in the last year. At a late
April legislative meeting, architects heard how the facilty's
water and sewer need to be replaced, along with surrounding
roads, sidewalks, exterior doors, windows, interior finishes,
ceilings, heat pumps, water fixtures, generators, fire alarms
and lighting. And that's before considering bringing the
facility up to current health care standards. Some officials
have suggested utilizing the soon-to-be-vacated county jail
as an interim solution. The cost of constructing a new, state-of-the-art
facility would be $81.3 million, including $2.5 million to buy
15-20 acres on which to build. That would make it the most expensive
construction project in the history of Ulster County, surpassing
the under-construction jail, which is costing $72 million-
before factoring in overruns. The county would be reimbursed
a portion of any renovation or construction cost by the state's
Medicaid division: 75 percent of the cost of renovations, according
to Vosburgh, or 50 percent of the cost of building a new facility.
A full recommendation will be made to the County Legislature
by July 1.
Mayor James Sottile and the Kingston city council are currently
preparing to sue the Ulster County legislature for voting against
picking up the local tab for the Safety Net program which the
city feels it pays an inordinate amount for because most of
the needy in the county goes to Kingston for help.Under the
current arrangement, Ulster County towns and the city include
money in their annual budgets to pay for Safety Net coverage
for their residents. If the county takes over that cost, the
countywide tab would be spread among all taxpayers. The city
of Kingston has the most Safety Net clients of any municipality
in the county and it has budgeted $464,527 for this year, which
is more than all of the other municipalities combined. If the
county took over that cost, city taxpayers would pay an estimated
$60,000 in the county budget per year that would go toward the
program. Ulster County is the only county in the state that
handles the Safety Net program in the way that it does. In April,
the Ulster County Legislature decided not to change the way
the program is funded.
Forty percent of applicants for affordable housing offered by
the Kingston Housing Authority are out-of-towners, some of whom
have told the agency's director that they don't
want to move out of their communities but are forced to. Some
people, including county seniors, have suggested that they want
to be closer to their doctor or hospital in Kingston. Others
have said they would like to stay in their communities but no
longer can afford to because their is a lack of affordable housing.