Beware of Greeks bearing gifts
To The Editor:
I have read with interest the many letters for and against the pending development of the Belleayre Resort. It occurs to me that anyone who speaks out in opposition to this project is quickly labeled as anti-progressive, self-serving and/or generally in favor of a “closed door” approach to Catskill Mountain life. I, for one, seemed to have nurtured an attitude about this resort, which could at best be classified as highly skeptical.
This area that I have called home for almost 40 years was never a trendy place to live. In fact, it was a place that demanded of its occupants a work hard attitude for not much money, struggle through long winters, and certainly offered few amenities. What it did provide for those willing to sacrifice was a sense of “frontier freedom” in living. Clean air and water, beautiful scenery, hunting and fishing, and perhaps most importantly, a peace and quiet only found in rural life.
With that being said I also realize that with time, progress marches on in people and also in an area. I believe that most if not all Catskill Mountain residents would love to see a region that attracts young people to stay with good occupational opportunities. A region that continues to offer all of the already existing attributes as mentioned, plus an environment conducive to raising a family.
The question is, will the development of the Belleayre Resort sustain these qualities and generate the anticipated economic boom as predicted? The issue that I have is simply we are not qualified to take our little league atmosphere of living into the world series of development. I believe that every conceivable safeguard must be explored by those that are most qualified to protect and serve these mountains and their inhabitants.
I cannot help but think of the people of West Virginia who for weeks upon weeks could not use and certainly not drink the water due to a large toxic chemical spill. Apparently these drums of toxicity, conveniently erected by a water source, had not been inspected for over 20 years! If not regulated by government then where is the accountability of the entrepreneur that owns these drums? To make matters worse, this same corporation has simply decided to declare bankruptcy thus fore going future litigation which might present itself and in which case only the people are left to restructure their lives in dealing with this catastrophe.
I think of the economic progress that was promised to these people by this corporation; the good jobs, the economic security to raise families and predicting of a bright future. Now, due to perhaps, corporate greed and lack of government regulation, the good jobs are lost and so even the lives of the people who years from now might see the effect of this toxic spill on the physical health.
What lessons can we draw from this awful occurrence? The “Trojan Horse” concept of Greeks bearing gifts needs to be viewed when it comes to the Belleayre Resort development. Perhaps, the Gould family, being involved in many a “World Series” of land development as qualified experts have the experience and insight to review and expose the many pitfalls of such a large land development as Belleayre? I would also mention that the Gould family has always been the most congenial stewards of the land that they own here in the Catskills. Permitted use of their property by people has been the standard norm for decades and, as with all land owners, a simple call requesting permission to cross one’s property is only proper procedure to follow.
Furthermore the Gould family has given generously to our community with countless donations to local hospitals, educational facilities, and a very large community center to name just a few. To somehow see the Gould family opposed to progress in these Catskill Mountains is totally unfair and utterly wrong.
In closing, indeed we need to keep taking progressive steps in our Catskill Mountains but unbridled progress especially after 10 years of deliberation could produce a catastrophic outcome. Let us use those 10 years of insight to development a workable, thought out and deliberate plan for progressive development at the Belleayre resort. Remember to be careful what you ask for…you might get it, just ask the people of West Virginia.
William Fiedler Jr.,
Editor’s note: Mr. Fiedler references a recent chemical spill in West Virginia that involved highly toxic chemicals that were being used to wash coal. To our knowledge, the developers of the Belleayre Resort have announced no plans to either mine or wash coal.