When looking for a little escape reading, I sometimes scan the
Friday Wall Street Journal. Not for the financial news, you understand.
I look at the luxury resort homes section, and pick out my favorite
fantasy home. Usually, the ads have a website address, where you
can find beautiful color photos of your chosen dream.
Recently, I found a really great new fantasy,
called "The Summit At Llnville Ridge" (www.linvilleridge.com).
It's a luxury housing-golf complex, built at the very top of a
ridge of the Appalachian Mountains, near Asheville, North Carolina.
This place is wonderful! It has condos, "cottages,"
"homes" and "estate homes," built behind gates
to keep out the riff-raff. As their ad says, "There's Only
Room for So Many At The Top."
At Linville Ridge, in addition to the mountain-top
18-hole golf course and country club, there are amenities that
include tennis courts, a regulation croquet court, a swimming
pool, a spa, a fitness center, a computer lab, hiking trails,
and 3 restaurants, all with drop-dead gorgeous views. I am sold!
This is definitely where I want to retire!
I wonder how much it will cost me to move to Linville Ridge? Well,
let's see. According to the website, I could buy a 3 BR "cottage"
of 1500 square feet for $406,900. That's awfully small, though.
I think I need something larger. Ah, a 3 BR "cottage"
with 2,695 square feet is available for $825,000. That sounds
perfect. I guess I can raise $825,000. I'll just have a few yard
sales, and turn in all my deposit bottles and cans. Then I can
move to my "cottage" and begin enjoying all those amenities.
But wait. The website says, "Owners must
join club to use amenities." Let's see. A golf membership
at the country club costs $80,000, plus annual golf dues of $7,200
a year. Oh, and if a golf member wants to eat at the club, there's
a dining service fee of $450 per year (plus the price of the food,
of course). Does this sound kind of expensive? Oh, but I'm sure
it's worth every penny. After all, this golf course is on the
very top of a mountain (highest hole 4,900 feet or so), with spectacular
views everywhere. I'll just have to raise a little more money
before I move in. Possibly I could sell my mother.
I don't know, though. I'm kind of fond of Mom.
Maybe I should rethink this fantasy.
Patricia L. Ellison
I read the letter in your last paper sent it by ousted Shandaken
supervisor DiModica. It goes a long way in explaining why he was
thrown out of office.
He starts off with a pious list of everything his administration
did to "carefully review the claimed benefits (of the Belleayre
Resort), and its possible liabilities." What a joke! He campaigned
on a promise to kill the project and he connived with every opponent,
every yellow journalist and with our ancient enemy, the City of
New York, to live up to that promise.
I checked with the developers and learned that in his two years
in office he never once sat down with them to discuss the project
and learn first-hand what it was about; and over that period he
refused four direct invitations from the developer to tour the
proposed site. His stance was consistent throughout his term of
office: "I'm against it. Don't confuse me with the facts."
Stupidly, he and his cronies didn't confine their attacks to the
Belleayre Resort. They tried to force through a set of procedures
and regulations which would have attacked almost every taxpayer
and prohibited almost any change whatever by anyone, anywhere
in town. And when an informed electorate tossed him our, he whined
that he had been a victim of lies and distortions - a reference
to a series of opposition ads paid for by a local citizen's group
which basically quoted from DiModica's own studies, resolutions
and public records.
His letter is a typical continuation of two years of hypocrisy.
Mt. Tremper, NY
Your idiot cartoonist has his facts wrong. Thomas Jefferson was
in France in 1787; to say that his "spirit" attended
the Constitutional Convention is artsy-fartsy puffery.
The Editor replies: You wrote this about yourself. You're a strange
Since Al Higley's removal from the County Legislature for illegal
dealings, his account of the facts need close scrutiny.
The truth is: The current Shandaken Town Supervisor was
installed in office with a very slim margin of 65 voters who were
misled by a vicious smear campaign designed by Citizens for Progress,
a group of mega resort supporters, and was funded by a mysterious
source to the tune of $20,000.
If the developer extended an invitation, direct or indirectly,
to Pete DiModica to visit the Belleayre Resort site, the
Shandaken residents would Have known about it and would have insisted
on a tour. No such hint, rumor or invite happened.
Pete DiModica's campaign was based on the consistent message that
Shandaken deserves to have a fair review of the resort project.
In reference to the letter from Al Higley: Mr. Higley's comments
are fantasy, malicious fantasy at that. I will not reply except
to note that nothing that he has written is true.
Pine Hill, NY
As one vehemently opposed to Dean Gitter's proposed Catskill-ruining
monstrosity on Belleayre Mountain, I wish to thank Paul W. Frieary
for his clarification of the issues.
I, as well as certainly many others, found the well-meening but
obfuscating rhetoric regarding who had the right to do what in
order to stop Gitter quite frustrating. I have contacted my Senators,
representative, assemblyman, and State Senator, and written letters
to newspapers condemning (with all valid reasons I could think
of or borrow from others) Gitter's feckless, greedy, ecologically,
and aesthetically unacceptable project; but was never sure what
agency, law, or procedure was in prime position to halt his destructively
All who value the serenity, beauty, purity of air and water, and
reasonably safe traffic conditions in our Catskill Mountains should
be grateful for the apparent protection afforded by New York City's
determination to safeguard its water-supply from contamination
by biocides, ferilizers, and sewage. Mr. Frieary has done a fine
job directing where to look for first-line opposition to Gitter's
proposed desecration of our environment. Some may still resent
the loss of their town to the resevoir; but where would we be
now without the NYC watershed? Money may not be the only determination
of power; although in a capitalist economic system it certainly
plays a major role; but wealthy as Mr. Gitter may be, The City
of New York is wealthier.
It appears that the City of New York Board of Water Supply has
so much money to spend that they bought two mountains here. One
is about a mile and a half west of Phoenicia on Route 28 opposite
the parking lot that is on the right, the other is up in Peck
Hollow, Allaben about eight hundred feet on the right side. It's
all posted. With so much money to spend they could save the Esopus
Creek from so much sludge that harms the trout fishing. Up in
Peck Hollow there is Shaft 7 that comes to the Portal in Allaben.
This is an excellent place to start a tunnel to bypass the Portal
and go down to the Ashokan Reservoir. With the modern giant digger
that goes easily through soft shale, the job could be done in
six months counting the modern concrete dispenser.
Shandaken, NY Dear Editor,
There are few sights as charming as the scene of a mother or father
sparrow feeding a quivering, cheeping, wing-wiggling juvenile.
As the juvenile bird is virtually the same size as its parent,
it does not take much imagination to picture them as a human parent
and hungry, fussy teenage child, and empathize accordingly.
Now that millions of birds have returned to us for the season,
enchanting us with their sights and sounds, please give them more
than a fleeting thought as you care for your lawn and garden.
Eschew the use of "lawn care" products that poison these
beautiful creatures and their needed food supply. Put up with
the nuisance of insects and worms, grubs, etc. Isn't it worth
it for the birds' sakes? Please consider them.
This year at the Phoenicia Elementary School, the fourth through
sixth grade students have participated in the Arts in Education
Program. Through a grant from the Avery Foundation, Susan Togut
has been our artist in residence. She has been working with the
students on murals depicting the Early Catskills. This year marks
the 200th year of the town of Shandaken. With upcoming bicentennial
festivities, our students learned history while focusing on a
creative outcome. Charlie Zimmerman, a local historian, has shared
the history of the town with the students. The Arts in Education
Program teaches students how to work collaboratively. Their creative
illustrations were then put on paper, transferred to wood and
painted to complete a three-panel mural.
Susan Togut, with the help of many parent volunteers, worked with
the students to transform their ideas into murals entitled The
Spirit of Phoenicia. These murals will be on display in the Phoenicia
Elementary School lobby starting June 7. Upon completion of the
seven-panel series, the murals will be installed in the garden
area of the school's playground. Our many thanks to James Kopp
and Susan Togut for obtaining the grant from the Avery Foundation
to make this project a successful link between local history and
Now, we all know that George Bush sometimes falls a little
short on conservation and envorinmentalism, but let me be the
first to praise him on recycling. Most of his Cabinet and advisors
are recycled directly from previous Republican adminstrations
with a few neo-cons sprinkled in to add spice. Cheney, Rumsfeld,
Rove, Wolfowitz, Card, Rice, Perle and countless others have been
obsessed since as early as the Ford and Reagan administrations
with turning our government into a financial oligarchy with one
doctrine of faith being the subjugation and control of the Middle
East for their mutual benefit; think Haliburton, Bechtel, Brown
and Root, and Enron. Their good-old ˆboy clubs are The Heritage
Foundation, The Carlyle Group and The American Enterprise Institute,
to name a few. When the talking heads on TV come from these groups,
benign as they sound, perk up your ears you may learn something.
For your further enlightenment, visit www.eurolegal.org to get
the bios on all Shrub's Homies. I'll tease you with a couple
of anecdotes. During the 80's Rumsfeld and others had many sit-downs
with Sadam Hussein during which bribes of weapons, our ok on allowing
European countries to sell Iraq the makings for chemical and biological
weapons and millions of tax-payer dollars were offered and accepted,
to buy permission to build a pipe line across Iraq and who knows
what else. Sadam betrayed their faith and never produced. Still
thinking he was a member in good standing of this branch of the
old-boys-club, Sadam approached the American ambassador with his
plan to overrun Kuwait, as he felt their land was rightfully his,
thereby waging a preemptive war. Washington was consulted and
the cryptic answer was that American policy was to not intervene
in Arab countries' relationships. He thought he had just gotten
a high-five to invade. It seems likely that the Bush 1 cabal saw
this as pay-back time and hence, Desert Storm was conceived and
birthed. Then ensued an unbearably boring and nonproductive eight
years of peace and prosperity with none of these laudable goals
being advanced. After stoning Clinton to death in the city square
for oral fornication, the good-old boys club was back in business,
bigger and better than ever and rearin' to go! Yippea! 9/11 was
surely divine intervention to aid in furthering The Plan. Abram
Cadabra∑ Iraqi Freedom was born using the same midwives.
Do we want four more years of this? I think not. Support the troops
by bringing them home and keeping them home and treating them
much better than the Bush administration is doing in spite of
all their hymn singing of bravery and patriotism.
West Shokan, NY
Recently I paid $2.11.9 per gallon for gas. It's not only the
price of gas that's affecting some budgets, but it will affect
the cost of heating our homes this winter. The last I checked
the price of fuel oil it was $1.62.3 per gallon. I wonder what
we'll be paying for fuel oil this winter if something isn't done
about bringing down the price of gas and fuel oil.
I have some suggestions as to why we are paying so much for gas.
Everyone knows that our President Mr. Bush had ties to big business.
Many oil companies must be making huge profits because of the
high price of gas. There are a couple of reports about why the
price of gas is so high. Some say because of the higher usage
and some because we don't have enough refineries. It doesn't appear
that Mr. Bush is making any effort to do anything about bringing
the price of gas down to a more reasonable price. Maybe it's Bush's
way of paying back big business for the millions of dollars that
he's received for his campaign. It could also be an election ploy.
Watch the price of gas start going down just before the election
in November. It would make a lot of people very happy if the price
off gas would go down to where it was a year ago and that would
likely throw a lot of votes Bush's way.
In reply to Ulster County Legislator Robert Parete's letter of
June 3, 2004 in the Olive Press; "me thinks thou doth protest
too loudly", sir. I should not and will not waste alot of
time responding to one who jousts with windmills other than as
You refer to my "repeated letters". There were a total
of five since October 23, 2003 the first of which I responded
to an article by Tree McElhinney entitled "Health Care For
Us All?"; Press; October 9, 2003. Notice her question mark
following the headline.
The next one was in the Press of November 20, 2003 in which I
suggest we revisit the questions I posed to Mr. Parete in the
October 23rd edition. That letter generated a response from a
Ms. Marie Stutman (Dec.4, 2004) who regaled us with her "knowledge"
of the VA benefits which of course compelled me to offer the VA
website for her edification in the next issue (Dec. 18, 2004).
Number three regarding "Health Care For All?", "conceived
and nourished by Legislator Robert Parete, D-Boiceville........"
appeared in the May 6, 2004 Olive Press. In this missal I chide
Mr. Parete for not sharing his plan with us; not me but "us"
in previous publications of the Olive Press. And for this Mr.
Parete would have folks believe that I attacked him and his family.
I referred to "the Paretes being firmly invested with the
power of a dynasty, the Sr. Parete as party chairman, no one needs
to be responded to". Guess what? They woke up. Robert Parete
came roaring back with a letter in the June 3. 2004 edition which
contained charges of "repeated letters" of attacking
him; of "criticizing my family as well", and that I
am "obviously miffed at something more than just my job performance".
No answers to my questions. Hey, man. Get a thicker skin.
My dear Mr. Parete; five letters from a fellow Democrat in eight
months requesting information regarding a proposal you have or
will submit is hardly an attack. The dynasty? Look it up in the
F&W dictionary, sir. It's kind of a compliment. Depends on
how the dynasty responds to the constituant's petitions. And being
"miffed"? At what? If I thought you were not doing your
job you can be sure I would announce it to the world [county].
Now about calling on the phone and/or visiting my home in Olivebridge.
First of all; a public servant never reveals anyone's place of
residence/address [or phone number] in a public forum even if
others know it.. It's "tacky"! And since you "called"
on me in my absence why did you not leave a note as 270 million
other Americans might do? After all I waited a week for your "return"
calls to two messages I left on your answering device in November,
2003. I waited over a week for you to call as a result of my "distressed"
request to Town Supv. Leifeld five months later.
Finally; stop and have coffee with me June 18-19. I think we can
at least agree on the weather [if there is any weather present
on that day].
Glenn T. Anderson
The Town of Olive's largest taxpayer and landowner is the Ashokan
Reservoir. The State legislature has deemed that this property
is a "Large Parcel" and fits into the Large Parcel Act
and the school district MAY choose to use an alternate method
of taxing the taxpayers in the Town of Olive. This method
will not give the Onteora School District any more money then
it would get if it uses the old method. The only thing this will
do is raise the taxes in Olive approximately 60% and further punish
the residents of the Town of Olive for having a reservoir in their
town! There are approximately 34 school districts in the state
that may use this alternative method of taxing and only one other
district has chosen to do so. The question is why have the other
32 districts chosen NOT to use this method of taxation? Contrary
to what Mr. Wilbur and Mr. Cross think the Town has NOT spent
the past year doing nothing to " put its house in order."
The Town of Olive Supervisor and Town Board have spent the past
year in dozens of meetings with ORPS in Albany and Newburgh, attorneys,
assessors and others to try to work out this situation. They are
in the process of doing a re-evaluation and have been meeting
with ORPS to work out a reasonable evaluation of the reservoir.
If a legislative action caused the Town of Shandaken to lose the
tax benefit of the state land that is it's largest taxpayer or
Woodstock to lose whatever is it's largest taxpayer I am sure
Mr. Wilbur and Mr. Cross and their respective Town Boards would
do everything possible to alleviate the tremendous tax burden
that such an action would cause The Town of Olive
and its Town Board are doing everything within their power to
work this out. The Town of Olive has always tried to work together
with The Onteora School District and any change that the Town
of Olive can accomplish through legislation in Albany would be
a benefit to the entire Onteora School District and take the Onteora
School Board out of the political arena and put it back in the
business of educating our children where it should be After all
the majority of the Onteora School buildings and properties are
in the Town of Olive on prime commercial real estate. It
is the responsibility of The Town of Olive Supervisor and Town
Board to do whatever it takes to safe guard the citizens of the
Town of Olive.
The Olive Town Board
The following letter was sent to the Chairman of the Legislature
after he sent a memo to each Democratic legislator asking for
ways to deal with the possible $21 Million overruns.
To: Chairman Richard Gerentine
Re: Ulster County Jail Project Memo dated May 24 and received
May 26, 2004
I have received your letter requesting for ways to solve the overruns
of the Ulster County Law Enforcement Center. I must say, I find
your letter disingenuous at best. It took years for this $21 Million
dollar overrun to happen. For you to give a week to respond could
be viewed as humorous if the situation wasn't so grave for the
taxpayers of Ulster County. The fact that you have relied on secret
meetings to hide the realities of the situation has left the Democratic
members of the Legislature at a disadvantage in responding. We
presently still lack much of the information that was at your
disposal. Nonetheless, as the minority leader, I will respond
in behalf of the Democratic caucus.
1. As of the last O.A.C. meeting of May 20, 2004 you continued
the use of closed door, secret pre-meetings, excluding any member
of the Democratic Caucus. It is further understood that you have
met with outside attorneys in regard to possible litigation in
regard to this project. This was done without any member of our
caucus present. This exclusion must end immediately. Each and
every member of our caucus is willing and able to do whatever
is needed, both in time and thought, to address the past negligence
in regard to the oversight of the jail project. Our time, energy
and abilities can best be utilized if we have all the information.
2. You must also comply with our previous request for information
so we can ascertain what direction the County should take in regard
to lawsuits and future funding. We are not willing to bring a
blanket lawsuit against all contractors associated with the project.
That would not only be costly, it would be unjust.
3. At the next monthly meeting to be held on June 10, 2004, you
must support and advocate to pass a resolution to have the NYS
Comptroller Office conduct a full audit on the oversight,
management and financing of this project.
4. Comply with resolution #287 of 1987 that mandated a capital
project oversight of all major projects, which would no doubt
include the jail project. This resolution called for a committee
with specific legislative and county personnel. We found it unfortunate
that you completely ignored forming this committee until February
of 2004. To date, this February formed committee has yet to be
called to order.
5. Closely scrutinize any new capital project until the Legislature
has a firm grasp on what the final financial impact of the jail
project will be. All proposed capital projects must be presented
with a full financial analysis to be considered. We must keep
in mind that the jail project still has another winter construction
season ahead. Will harsh conditions hamper construction progress
and bring up new problems or claims? We need to prepare for the
6. The Ways and Means Committee must adopt austerity measures
and stop all nonessential spending and hiring for the remainder
7. Direct the Chairman of the committees, department heads and
the County Administrator to begin a zero-based budget. Under this
priorities-based budgeting system, the Departments cannot defend
spending by using the prior year's budget. Instead, departments
must start the budgeting process from the ground up. Everyone
starts clean. They must argue for and justify all programs and
spending. This should achieve the best possible outcomes for the
best tax-dollar value. We must find ways to pay for the neglectful
oversight of the jail project other than adding that burden on
the backs of the taxpayers. Hard decisions have to be made.
8. Hire a new Clerk of the Works from the private sector to oversee
the remaining Jail construction progress. The present County representative
on the job site either never picked up the fact that this project
was deep in red or never bothered to alert the Legislature that
David B. Donaldson
Minority Leader, U.C. Legislative
For years Woodstock and Shandaken have suffered from Olive's opportunistic
assessing methods, which have greatly benefited Olive residents
to the detriment of Woodstock and Shandaken tax payers in the
Onteora School District. At last, the New York State Legislature,
in response to the urgent recommendations of the New York State
Association of Assessors, adopted legislation to correct this
The Onteora School Board was kind enough to Olive last August,
2003, to delay by one year the alternate method of apportioning
the school tax to give time for Olive to put its house in order
(Olive's current equalization rate in 1.2 percent, a result of
their not revaluating their properties in twenty odd years).
Olive's response was apparently to pay an Albany lobbyist $10,000
to turn back the clock. Olive has not taken one step, aside from
"discussions," toward putting their house in order.
If this $10,000 lobbyist succeeds in his or her endeavor, it will
destroy Woodstock's and Shandaken's continued good will toward
the Onteora School District. Why must Woodstock and Shandaken
continue to subsidize the costs of public education for the benefit
of Olive? It is simply not fair.
The property owners in Woodstock and Shandaken must contact their
New York State representatives, Senator John Bonacic and Assemblyman
Kevin Cahill, and urge them to stop this legislation from advancing,
and also urge them to make assurances to Woodstock, Shandaken
and Olive that the Large Parcel Legislation will not be tampered
The New York State Legislature session ends around June 20. Your
communications must be sent immediately. Addresses are available
in the phone book, or you can call the Woodstock or Shandaken
Town of Shandaken
Town of Woodstock
It should be apparent by now that the voters of the Onteora School
District have lost all confidence in the School Board. The budget
failed overwhelmingly in every town and the only new candidate
got far more votes than either incumbent. Many votes went unused
because voters came to the polls, rejected the budget, seated
a new Board Member but could not determine which incumbent was
the worse choice.
The question remains as to what the School Board should do now,
given one last opportunity to present a budget. They need to understand
this: The budget did not fail because of a nine-percent tax hike,
versus seven percent. It is not something that a little massaging
of the numbers will fix. Voters in Olive love their children,
value education and have high esteem for the existing staff. But
voters in Olive will not approve a budget that raises their taxes
by 65 percent. Like so many of my neighbors, I will only vote
for a school budget when the School Board announces prior to the
vote that it will not implement the Large Parcel Land Act.
The School Board has pitted town against town, elevated itself
in an attempt to meddle in the geopolitics of the region, tried
to redistribute our district's wealth and wasted taxpayers' money.
The new budget vote that will be required is merely the latest
example. They have insulted the voting public and tried to shut
and shout us down. They have tried to use our children as blackmail,
threatening to cut favorite programs, rather than administrative
waste, if the school budget failed. The voting numbers show that
the Board now lacks the support of many of the parents of the
Onteora school children. When a School Board has lost the parents,
it should be evident, even to them, that their leadership is wildly
out of sync with the community.
If the next budget continues to contain the Large Parcel Act provision,
it will fail once again in Olive. Clearly, despite all of the
uninformed ranting of Woodstock Supervisor Jeremy Wilber, voters
in Woodstock did not really care about getting the small tax benefits
from the Large Parcel bill. It was, however, a voting issue for
Olive and will continue to be one. Similarly, any budget that
keeps West Hurley open while reducing programs or services to
the other Onteora students will be met with an equally stunning
defeat. If an austerity budget ensues, it is the poor judgment
of the School Board that has caused the negative outcome. We are
tired of hearing that voting "No" to the budget punishes
the children. Voting "No" to a budget that targets my
town unfairly is a thoughtful and caring alternative. The School
Board has the opportunity to take corrective action in time for
the next budget vote. I, for one, hope they do.
West Shokan, NY
I find it interestingly fateful that he would
leave us on the 60th anniversary of D-Day, when heroes freed the
world of head cases. He was actor by inspiration of good way to
get good messages out; in those days. He was Democrat, Conservative,
Republican and World Compromiser who functioned by ideas supported
by ideals. In so many ways, I miss that! On behalf of my father,
uncles and dear men and women I've known past who served, I am
obligated, but also proud, to salute him. May they all rest in
R. Wayne Gutmann
Mt. Tremper, NY