Company sues Emerson Resort for alleged payment shortfalls

By Jay Braman Jr.
The Town of Shandaken has found itself named as a co-defendant in a lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court by an electrical contractor seeking to collect $136,255 for work done at the Emerson Resort and Spa last year.
Whitman Electric, Inc. filed the suit on April 24 naming several people and entities including local businessman Dean Gitter, who spearheads the Emerson and the planned Crossroads Ventures Resort /Spa, and other companies with which he is involved. The suit also names other contractors who appear to have liens against the Emerson.
In the 14-page complaint the company’s attorney, Stephan E. Ehlers, states that Whitman Electric worked at the Emerson between June 2006 and June 2007 and had an agreed price of $974,813.78. According to Ehlers, $136,255.18 remains unpaid. He also claims that Gitter’s Spotted Dog Ventures, LLC. the general contractor for the project, has refused to pay despite due demand, but that Spotted Dog never challenged the claim or disputed its accuracy.
Whitman filed a lien on the Emerson Property and claims “knowledge of other liens filed on the property and such lienors have been named as defendants to this action.”
One “lienor,” is the Town of Shandaken, which gave Gitter a loan in the mid-1990s when the property was called Catskill Corners. The money for the loan came to the town in the form of a federal grant, and was loaned to Gitter after an unrelated project, a water bottling company, for which the grant was intended, fell through. Supervisor Peter DiSclafani said that Attorney Paul Kellar is reviewing the lawsuit and believes it is a legal maneuver by Whitman to get to the front of the line for payment. The amount owed to the other lienors remains unclear.
The lawsuit asks the court to order that the Emerson be sold in order to pay the debt. It also asks the court to demand the defendants to account for the $4 million loan they received from the Roundout Savings Bank to build the resort and spa. That mortgage lists the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency, Spotted Dog Ventures, Kaatskill Development Holdings and Fort Shandaken Associates as mortgagers.
Emerson spokesperson Joan Lawrence-Bauer was asked Monday to comment on the matter. On Tuesday, in an e-mail response, she described the action as a “long-simmering legal dispute, which was actually settled today among the lawyers involved.”
Asked for further clarification she said in another e-mail on Wednesday “As I had surmised, our attorney has advised us not to comment on the papers served…..beyond telling you that there has been an on-going legal dispute which has been resolved by the attorneys.”
But Ehlers said on Thursday that Lawrence-Bauer’s portrayal of the status of the matter was not accurate. The lawsuit, which he described as a class action, is not settled at all.
“She gave you a load of hooey,” he said.