Belleayre group seeing red over Greene business tactics
By Jay Braman Jr.
Coalition to Save Belleayre Chairman Joe Kelly has called for an investigation of existing and proposed building projects on and near Windham and Hunter Mountain ski centers, claiming that the two facilities are continuing attacks on the state-owned Belleayre Mt. Ski Center.
Kelly, whose group has been at odds with Hunter and Windham ever since the two private sector ski areas began calling for an audit of Belleayre’s operations and a ban on the use of taxpayer dollars to fund it, called on public officials to give building projects in Greene County “the same level of scrutiny they give the state-owned facilities.”
Hunter Mountain’s Russ Coloton said Monday that he was not sure what building projects Kelly was referring too. According to Coloton, Hunter did build a hotel over three years ago, and recently added some condos, but noted that the projects went through the standard permit approval process required by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.
The latter agency is notorious for watching out for, and preventing, any activity that could jeopardize the purity of the streams and brooks that flow from the Catskills into New York City’s reservoirs.
“This is the watershed,” Coloton said. “You can’t do anything here without going through scrutiny.”
Building boom cited
Kelly, along with members of Partners For Progress, a citizens’ group that supports the proposed private development plan called the Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park, says there’s a building boom going on around Hunter and Windham.
“We wonder if anyone at the state, city, county or local level has taken a look recently at the massive building that is going on over in Greene County. They are building huge hotel complexes, hundreds of condo and townhouse units, scores of multi-million dollar homes, most of which are on very steep slopes and many of which have exactly the ski-in, ski-out provisions we’d like to see at Belleayre,” said Kelly. “I’d love to see their storm water run off plans. Where are their retention ponds? Why is it OK for them to build on slopes and grades of 40, 50, 60 percent or even greater while they bash us over here?
As for building on steep slopes, Coloton said Hunter has none. Those retention ponds do exist for the hotel Hunter built, he said, but some are actually underground.
Windham spokesman Kirk Zimmer, like Coloton, is not sure what specific development Kelly refers too.
“We are wondering where the ‘huge hotel complexes’ are that Mr. Kelly mentions. Hunter has one large hotel at the mountain. Windham has none,” Zimmer said.
“The ‘hundreds of condo and townhouse units’ happened over the course of 40 years and all through an appropriate permitting process. We expect Belleayre to go through the same procedure that we have for things like storm water mitigation and have no issue with that. Nobody at Windham Mountain or Hunter Mountain has tried to interfere with Belleayre’s permitting process,” he added.
Coloton wonders about the timing of Kelly’s announcement. He and representatives from Belleayre and Windham are scheduled to meet and discuss “regional issues” on Wednesday. The meeting, Coloton said, was called by Ulster County’s Administrator Michael Hein in advance of Kelly’s statement on Sunday.