CWC backs resort plan, but is mum on ski center

By Jay Braman Jr.
The Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) has joined the chorus of support for the Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park, a $365 private-sector plan to build an18-hole golf course and related facilities featuring 370 hotel rooms and other lodging units all alongside the state-owned Belleayre Mountain Ski Center.

At its regular monthly meeting in Margaretville on June 4, the CWC’s Board of Directors adopted a resolution supporting the proposed resort, citing its alignment with both the recommendations put forward in an economic development study conducted for the CWC, as well as the CWC’s corporate purpose of reducing adult unemployment in the Watershed.

The Hamilton, Rabinowitz and Alschuler authored report was written in 1999 and was intended to guide the use of the $60 million Catskill Fund for the Future economic-development fund administered by the CWC.

Lodging shortage
The report identified a “shortage of well-located and modern tourist facilities” as detrimental to economic growth in the region, and recommended that the CWC “support entrepreneurial endeavors that will provide job opportunities” and “act as a catalyst for stimulating public and private investment and economic activity.”

The resolution backing the proposed Belleayre Resort does not provide financial support, but will be sent to federal, state, regional, and local regulatory agencies, municipalities and other parties that have been involved in the environmental review of the project.

Twelve members of the CWC voted in favor of the resolution; two board members were absent, and the New York City representative abstained from voting because the environmental review process is not yet complete.

The resolution makes no mention of New York State’s plan to build a $74-million expansion to Belleayre Ski Center that would connect the resort property to the ski center with trails and ski in, ski out facilities.

Both the resort project and the ski center expansion were the subject of a public hearing last week, where about 300 people attended. Support for the resort was strong as was support for the ski center expansion, although there are other ski center expansion alternatives on the drawing board that would develop Belleayre in other ways instead of linking it up with the resort.

Some who spoke complained that the plan to connect the ski center to the resort amounted to a large giveaway of taxpayer dollars to benefit the developers, Crossroads Ventures LLC.

According to information supplied by the developers, upon full build out, the resort will generate an estimated annual property and school tax revenue increase of $2.1 million to the benefit of the Town of Shandaken and Ulster County, as well as an annual property and school tax revenue increase of an estimated $1.73 million to the benefit of the Town of Middletown and Delaware County.