on the News
Regs Draw Fire
City Department of Environmental Protection officials replied that the
rules and regulations had to be written for over 100,000 acres of land
on both sides of the Hudson. They tried explaining that nearly half
of the 80,000 plus permit holders currently using City lands for recreational
uses are from more suburban or urban locations on the East side of the
Hudson, in Westchester and Putnam counties, as well as from the City.
The portion of the system that's truly wild, they inferred, was small-
similar to the way there are over 60,000 anglers, at presentm, versus
yet for those cross-armed men, as well as a number of other influential
men from around the Catskills filling elected town seats, or heading
such entities as the Catskill Watershed Corporation, the City's catch-all
attitudes are maddening.
at the September 14 meeting ranged from Shandaken supervisor Bob Cross'
point-by-point questions addressing wording errors and designation vagueness,
to angler and hunter Hank Rope's practical knowledge.
percolating behind the surface of the meeting, shifted at the last minute
from Shandaken Town Hall because the City had forgotten that town buildings
were being used for statewide primaries that day, was recent news that
the City's proposed regulatory changes had NOT been well received by
the Catskill Watershed Corporation the previous week in a special meeting
on the subject. Or that a growing number of local sporting groups, supposedly
represented on an advisory council to the DEP's rule-writers, were not
a special meeting held on September 7th in Margaretville, the Watershed
Corporation's Executive Committee stood behind a group of sportsmen
that claimed the City's proposal is in violation of the spirit in which
the DEP is supposed to work with upstaters in preserving the historical
use of the lands for hunting and trapping.
1997, the Watershed Corporation formed a Sporting Advisory Council to
render opinions on the recreational use of over 100,000 acres of City
owned land. The deal was designed to protect the quality of the City's
drinking water, which flows from the Catskills, while at the same protect
the quality of life for Mountain dwellers that must abide by the water
quality rules the City is empowered to enforce.
on September 7 the Sporting Advisory Council, noting that the deal was
meant to establish a healthy partnership between upstate and downstate,
now claims that the City is being too heavy handed by planning to pass
laws that restrict recreational use rather than preserve the local heritage
of hunting and trapping.
Faulting the City for possessing "a strong anti-gun,anti-hunting,
preservationist attitude," the resolution passed by the SAC and
later adopted by the Watershed Corporation charges that the proposed
laws treat hunting and trapping as "culprits" instead of willing
participants in water protection.
ignore the voice of a large segment of upstate residents is continuing
to sow ill will toward the city as we see our attempts to control our
own future being slowly taken from us by an unreasonable and unapproachable
landlord," the resolution states.
at the CWC meeting, as well as this past week's hearing, said that the
proposed regulatory changes designate what can happen in different activity
areas without saying where the "designated areas" are, or
giving criteria for such designation; noted that the appeal process
is only to the DEP; pointed out how the new regs cover the reservoirs,
but not the main feeder streams; and wondered how the DEP plans to enforce
what they're proposing.
the role of the SAC has been relegated to insignificance with the power
of DEP being brought to bear reducing this Council to the role of futility,"
read one of the clauses in the CWC resolution, reflecting the advisory
council's frustrations. "We believe that the DEP is expressing
the opinions of an urban mentality rather than that of the 'country
people' who live here and want to hunt here."
Land Management official John Potter tried to explain, at the recent
hearing, that the City stayed vague on much of the new regs' wording
so that they could maintain discretion for different areas of the watershed,
which has an ever-lessening amount of old-style wilderness within it.
And he said that all comments would be considered for final changes,
which the department would be making over the coming months.
that wasn't enough to assuage many of the men in the dark room at Belleayre,
or such local figures as Alan Rosa, Executive Director of the CWC, who
said this week that the misunderstandings expressed by the new regs
only indicated a growing sense of split between New York and the Catskills.
has been a deterioration in the relationship in the last six months,"
Rosa said this past week in an interview, adding that he could not put
a finger on specifically why things have changed, but that he felt there
was different "tone" coming from DEP toward upstate.
month Rosa testified at the Issues Conference on a proposal to build
a massive new resort in the central Catskills, Dean Gitter's Belleayre
Resort proposal, that, "The second-home market tears our mountains
all to pieces."
has also spoken publicly, including quotes in The New York Times, about
the disparity between city people and native Catskillians.
spokesman Charles Sturcken replied to Rosa's comments this past week
by noting that recent bitterness is due to the high profile, high stakes
debate over Gitter's project, as well as the fact that both sides have
different missions in general, with DEP protecting water and upstate
protecting its older, fast-disappearing rural traditions. Like hunting-
a very difficult relationship. I wouldn't say it's deteriorating though,"
Sturcken said. "Maybe it's the seven year itch- but we're not going
comments on the new rules and regulations, which are available online,
at local libraries, or in town offices, will be taken up through Thursday,
September 23, when the final hearing will also take place at the
Neversink Town Hall in Grahamsville from 7-9:00 P.M.
While noting that "the Ulster County Legislature will not take
a position in favor or opposition to the project until a thorough review
of all environmental issues" has been completed, the resolution
also notes the resort's potential impacts on the local community, water
quality, and other issues as well as the county's historical support
for the protection of its open space and natural resources. According
to the resolution, its intention is "to ensure a thorough review
that protects the quality of the Watershed drinking supply, the rural
character of the Catskill region, and the residents of Ulster County
and New York State."
Issues referenced by the resolution and for which the County now seeks
formal adjudication or trial by DEC include traffic, water supply, stormwater,
visual and noise impacts, pesticides, aquatic and wildlife habitat,
impacts on the forest preserve, secondary and induced growth, alternatives,
cumulative impacts, and community character.
was a bipartisan resolution that went to the crux of the issue, which
is about protecting the quality of life in Ulster County and the route
28 corridor," said CPC spokesman Tom Alworth. "Because this
project is so unprecedented in its size and complexity, the only way
to understand the potential impacts is to fully adjudicate all the issues
raised. The county really did the right thing here."
Legislative Chairman Richard Gerentine, one of only three lawmakers
voting against the move, explained that "The resolution asks the
judge to adjudicate all issues connected with the resort. That's something
I would hope he would do; it's his job anyway. I agree that (DEC) should
carefully adjudicate all of these issues, but I feel it was a little
offensive to the judge."
voting against the measure, legislator Frank Dart said he thought it
was "unnecessary legislation", and that "most of the
people who voted for it didn't realize the ramifications of what this
means and didn't realize the roadblocks it might throw up" or the
possible cost in litigation for the developer.
second-in-command, majority leader Mike Stock however voted in support
of it, calling a "a memorializing resolution." "I
believe the judge is going to do the right thing," said Stock.
"If everything falls into compliance, then I think people will
be a little more comfortable with the project."
resolution's author, legislator Hector Rodriguez of New Paltz, said
in a CPC press release that because the project would have "generational
impacts for Ulster County and for New York State- it is entirely appropriate
to have the most thorough environmental review possible. It's our responsibility
as political leaders to balance public health and environmental protection
with our economic development needs."
Ulster County Legislature should be commended for their position on
the Belleayre Resort project" said CPC counsel Marc Gerstman on
Monday. "Full Hearings, with cross examination of witnesses, will
ultimately allow the true magnitude of the project to be known. The
Commissioner of DEC cannot possibly make a determination to issue permits
for this project without that disclosure and analysis."
to the County's resolution in a brief written statement, the project's
developer, Crossroads Ventures, said that "There is a lengthy and
quite rigorous process now going on to elicit information and testimony
that will enable a NY State Administrative Law Judge to determine what
issues, if any, are substantive and significant enough to warrant additional
review by state regulatory agencies. This is what the Issues Conference,
now going on, is all about. We are confident that once this process
concludes, all of the issues will have been thoroughly reviewed and
dealt with in order to protect the water quality of the Watershed Drinking
Supply, the rural character of the Catskill region, and the residents
of Ulster County and New York State."
ruling on issues to go forward for adjudication is expected from Judge
Wissler early next year, following closing briefs from CPC, DEC staff,
the Watershed Communities, NYC's DEP, and the applicant, Crossroads
Cross's move marks his most radical departure to date from the party
that put the rookie politician in office this year, and his most radical
move to make good on a campaign promise to leave politics behind and
bring the town together for the common good.
should be noted that his decision, however, was made easier by Democratic
Councilman Paul VanBlarcum, who reminded Cross prior to the vote that
Cross made it clear last month that he would support Reiss, a member
of the town zoning board, as long as chief zoner Keith Johnson put it
writing that he was okay with it. Johnson did just that, VanBlarcum
said, waving a piece of paper in the air.
a member of the cell tower committee, voted against Reiss, saying the
committee was already good and had no need for new blood. Munster agreed.
offered no explanation for his decision.
an August 18th ZBA meeting, Johnson announced the he, himself, would
be the next cell tower committee member because he was under the impression
that they only needed a ZBA member. As for Reiss, who is concerned about
the potential negative impacts of cell towers, Johnson said his name
never came up during his talk with Cross and that he personally was
not aware that Reiss even made the request.
told me," Johnson said.
aware that Reiss had already asked, Johnson said he would be fine with
Reiss being on the committee too.
cell committee was surrounded by conflict at this week's town board
session after complaints that the group met in secret last week. Todd
argued that the meeting, which took close to an hour, was an informal
session called largely to invite Catskill Center cellular tower expert
Helen Budrock to hand over materials she had from a now defunct committee
that drafted a cell tower law under the previous, Democratic administration.
Cross said there is no requirement that the committee announce its meetings,
and he had no plans to do so in the future. He would leave it up to
the committee to decide whether people should know.
would we want to do that?" countered VanBlarcum, noting that cellular
issues were high priority for many in town.
Supervisor Peter DiModica added to the mix, challenging Todd to clarify
her previous point that the law drafted under his watch would prevent
cell towers. She said she spoke with reps from a couple of cellular
providers who claimed that the laws would make it too difficult to set
up in town. She added that the old committee had not consulted with
providers to get their input on what the law should say.
DiModica called that the "Fox in the henhouse syndrome."
committee meets again on October 22nd at noon in town hall. Ignored
were calls to hold meetings at night so people could attend.
other news, Pine Hill resident Richard Schaedle was not appointed to
the Pine Hill Water district committee as previously promised. Cross
thought twice about it after telling Schaedle he was welcome back.
just can't forget feeling left out of the loop when Schaedle contacted
the State Department of Environmental Conservation about the water system
in attempt to alter the data on the water supply permit, data which
Schaedle and others claim is flawed..
went behind my back," Cross said about the matter, which was the
reason Schaedle, a former owner of the system, was asked to resign in
the first place.
board also talked over emergency service protection needed during the
construction of the Crossroads project, if it ever gets built. While
all agree that more emergency apparatus will be needed by area fire
companies, unclear is exactly what is needed, and how much it would
cost. The board held off on putting anything in writing saying that
a Crossroads proposal last May to supply those needs was adequate to
protect the town.
residents of the town left the session frustrated and disappointed after
the board refused to honor a request to dust off a $50,000 report created
by a town consultant to gauge the potential impacts of the Belleayre
Resort project. Earlier this year the town had a consultant firm, Ferrendino
and Associates, review the draft environmental impact statement for
the project and issue opinions as to whether the mammoth document truly
addressed all the potential pitfalls that could affect the town. It
was completed and submitted to the State Department of Environmental
Conservation, but at recent issues conferences held over the summer
no one from the town or the consultants firm came forward to ask DEC
to include the issues raised in the report in any potential adjudication
was suggested that the town board can still submit the report as "supplementary
information" to the DEC law Judge for consideration. The board
has until the end of next month to do so.
think it's a good idea. I like Ferrendino's report," said Councilman
Paul VanBlarcum. The response from the rest of the board was silence.
Todd later called the report "$50,000 for nothingl".
Cross said there was disagreement between the firm and the board about
changes made to the report at the last minute and that after the flap
the firm refused to defend the draft that he and planning board chair
John Horn wanted submitted, or any other version.
quickly adjourned the meeting with no action taken on the subject.
The man's own trip to our neck of the worldhas had its own mythic qualities,
the way he tells things.
living in Woodstock through much of the 1980s, affording his own artistic
lifestyle by fixing up abandoned houses at Byrdcliffe and elsewhere
around town to keep his expenses low, Slowinski started getting discouraged
at the number of galleries who told him his work was simply too political
and "weird" to be saleable. So in 1987 he found a storefront
in the then-dispersing East Village art scene on Manhattan's 10th Street
and founded the Limner Gallery, named for a Medieval term for
manuscript illuminators that eventually became a descriptive term for
first, Limner sold only its owners' works. He'd borrowed and saved enough
money to stay open for a couple of months, but did well enough selling
off his own paintings that his second show featured other artists. And
then those sold and he was of and running.
in the art and real estate markets forced a number of location moves
for Limner over the years, taking it to Soho, Little Italy, and the
midtown edges of Chelsea, the new art Mecca. Finally, Slowinski burned
out on the city and decided to move back Upstate to a Woodland Valley
home he'd been renovating over recent years. He closed up the city gallery
this past winter after securing the Phoenicia site last summer. Now
it's all system go- albeit after a giant, swerving circle of seven years
the years, Limner has shown a number of local artists, many of whom
Slowinski first met while living in the area in the 1980s. Among the
top is Saugerties-based Ernest Frazier, a true original, and one of
the leading African-American artists in the nation for years.
abetted this high-level coterie of artists with those he finds through
advertising and competition, many of whom pay a fee to be part of what
he puts together, including Direct Art.
says the move Upstate made sense because he was sick of the City- and
a majority of his purchasing clients, the collectors all art is aimed
at for support, are from Florida and California and sundry distant locations,
doing most of their viewing and buying either online or through the
just made sense to be up here," he says.
for the changes he has seen in the area since moving away for 17 years,
Slowinski says Woodstock had already started becoming a difficult place
for artists to afford living in way back then. It's only worse now.
adds that Phoenicia and Olive, to him, are the new Woodstocks. Moreover,
with the hip new street traffic in both locations spurred on by constant
mentions in the New York media, he feels it may actually be a better
location for a gallery than the town he'd originally settled in a quarter
of a century ago.
gotten better traffic into the gallery here than most of my locations
in the City," he said. "I don't thin I'll be going back down
now. It doesn't make sense to."
new show, like others in the small space on Main Street, in the Phoenicia
Hotel building, is big in its effects. Although many of the best pieces
in "Fantastic Visions" are relatively small, their obsessiveness
and intricate craftsmanship are memorable.
Ayton, from Rhinebeck, has a haunting ink-rendered portrait entitled
"Manowar" that could have been dug up from any classic civilization
of the last ten, or future dozen millennia. Canadian artist Oscar De
Las Flores' "Blake's Spirit and Exhumation over a Mass Grave,"
another medium-sized pen and ink piece, does the great mystic poet's
legacy right in its complex sense of a darkly spiritualized world. Donna
Dodson's "Pregnant Owl," one of the show's only sculpture's,
is naturalistic and suggestive at the same time.
themes spread across the globe, with works in the latest, and all Limner
exhibits coming from as far afield as Blooming Prairie, MN and London,
England, in styles ranging from the intimacy of pen and ink to large,
cartoonish oils and acrylics with pop-graphic narratives their obvious
particular favorites in the current show include Kansas drawer Kris
Kuksi's morbidly-fascinating "The Decomposition of Kuksi,"
a graphite depiction of the artist's own death that seems to match adolescent
self-pity with an adult cynicism. And best of all, Californian Mark
Thompson's wildly creative commentary, "Release 2: Scripting Symbol
of Paper Worth as Forest of Thought Begins," a delicately small
watercolor and ink masterpiece redolent of both Goya and Daumier at
their caricaturing best.
yet all dim behind the memorable paintings Slowinski himself has been
turning out over the years - colorful, almost comics-like super-realist
commentaries on life that have been popping up in group shows all over
the region, including this weekend's big Tattoo & Body Fest in Woodstock.
is a result of personality, and it all reflects my own painting style,"
he said of his concentration on the surreal, the fantastic, and the
politically ironic.. "I like things political and emotionally intense.
I like a certain amount of weirdness in art."
Gallery is located at 59 Main Street in Phoenicia. Call 845-688-7129
or visit www.slowart.com for further information.