Belleayre resort up for final public review

By Brian Sweeney
The long-planned Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park and a significant expansion of Belleayre Mountain took steps forward last week with the opening of public review periods.

The Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park was announced more than 15 years ago by Crossroads Ventures and has faced a series of challenges, primarily from environmental groups. The project developers have refined their plan for the development, which would be built in Highmount, with portions in the towns of Shandaken and Middletown.

Lenghty process
The plans have been revised several times to address concerns raised in earlier reviews. The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has now completed its examination of the modified Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) and will be accepting public comments on the plan through June 24.

A group of environmental organizations, led by The Catskill Center for Conversation and Development in Arkville and Riverkeeper, ultimately were satifisfied with the developer’s earlier concessions and, in 2007, signed an Agreement in Principle in support of the project.

The developer’s outline of the current resort proposal appears in a related story on page 1A.
In addition to the resort’s SDEIS, the DEC simultaneously announced a large-scale, $74 million expansion at Belleayre Mountain in Highmount that would create 16 new trails and add approximately 280 jobs at the ski center. Most of the expansion would occur via a reopening of the adjacent Highmount Ski Center, which has been closed for a number of years.

Ski mountain project
The expansion is detailed in a draft revision of the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center Unit Management Plan and its draft Environmental Impact Statement (UMP/DEIS). Updates to the Unit Management Plan were begun in 2008.

A Cumulative Impact Analysis and draft permits for the two related projects are also available for public comment through June 24.

DEC has scheduled an informational presentation of the proposed projects set forth in the draft revision of the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center Unit Management Plan on May 22 at 7 p.m. in the Discovery Lodge at the ski center located on Route 28, Highmount.

DEC has set a public hearing on May 29 at the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center (Discovery Lodge). The first session of the hearing will begin at 3 p.m. and the second session will begin at 6 p.m. Members of the public will be able to comment on the proposed projects.

Written comments on the draft documents can be submitted through June 24 by e-mail (belleayre@ gw.dec.state.ny.us) or mail to: Daniel Whitehead, Region 3 Environmental Permit Administrator, NYSDEC 21 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz, NY 12561.

For more information on the proposed revision of the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center UMP/DEIS (Part A), the Cumulative Impact Analysis (Part C) and draft permits, visit: www.dec.ny. gov/press/90370.html

For more information on the Modified Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park SDEIS (Part B), see: www.thelagroup.com/Belleayre_Resort /index.htm
A DEC statement indicates that, “Comments will be carefully considered as DEC develops the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center Unit Management Plan and the final Environmental Impact Statements and permits for these respective projects.”