DEC prods supervisors for additional resort info

By Jay Braman Jr.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials have begun contacting the leaders in towns and organizations that have a stake in the outcome of the Belleayre Resort review.
The description of those exchanges differ between the supervisors of the two towns most affected by the project, but it appears that both were contacted and interviewed by DEC personnel about the project and how it might affect their respective communities.
According to Shandaken Town Supervisor Peter DiSclafani, the meeting was called at the request of Daniel Whitehead, Division of Environmental Permits for the DEC.
In Shandaken, where a large portion of the resort’s property sits, the discussion was about the town’s ability to review the imminent Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) and the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the resort, DiSclafani said.
“Among the concerns discussed was the importance of the zoning laws and comprehensive plan being in conformity, which would give the planning board a stronger planning foundation, and the ability of the town to have enough funding to properly review and/or proceed with the permitting process,” DiSclafani said in a prepared statement issued Friday. “Funding that could hire professional guidance and technical support for the volume of material needed to be reviewed.”
Reached by phone Monday, DiSclafani said that DEC would not supply funds to the town to review the SDEIS, nor would DEC require the developers to supply funds to the town. Unlike earlier this year when the town hired a consultant at taxpayers’ expense to wade through the project plans for the first phase of the review, there will be no help this time because the town can no longer afford to hire one.
“It’s going to have to be reviewed by the seven members of the town planning board,” he said. He added that the planners, who may lack the expertise to handle the job, have the option of not participating in this stage of the review.
“That’s my fear,” he said.
The SDEIS is the developer’s response to all environmental concerns raised during several public hearings in the fall of 2007.
“From our perspective, there is a formal project review process that Crossroads has carefully adhered to and will continue to adhere to,” said Crossroads spokeswoman Joan Lawrence-Bauer Monday. “We are confident this process will not put any undue financial burdens on the taxpayers of either Shandaken or Middletown when the Belleayre Resort proposal is reviewed by either town.”
The Delaware County portion of the project would rest within the Town of Middletown, where Whitehead also spoke with Supervisor Len Utter.
Utter said Monday that he believed Whitehead was looking for general information on community character issues. “He said he was calling to discuss the resort,” Utter said. “He wanted to know in general how the town felt about it. Nothing specific.”
Utter said he, in response, discussed “how Middletown was 50 years ago,” but did not explain further.
The proposed resort would straddle the border of Ulster and Delaware counties and would comprise two complexes — one with a 250-room hotel and 139 townhouse-style lodging units surrounding an 18-hole golf course; the other with a 120-room hotel and spa, 60 lodging units in two buildings and another 60 detached units in up to 52 buildings.
It remains unclear why Whitehead, who could not be reached for comment, wanted the information.

Fleischmanns gets project overview
The Fleischmanns Village Board watched a presentation on the proposed Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park last week Tuesday evening when the project’s team showed up at the Skene Memorial Library ready to discuss the plans in detail.
While none of the trustees or audience members had questions nor input for the team, led by local businessman Dean Gitter, Gitter walked them through the project’s history, identified the people involved with Crossroads Ventures LLC, and brought everyone up to date on the status of the project’s review.
Gitter gave the trustees the same presentation given in September 2007 when he announced a revised plan for his project, which has been under review for almost a decade.
Pointing to current economic difficulties that plague the region’s tourist industry, Gitter said the resort is designed to overcome the weekend-only mentality that pervades the region.
“You cannot run a business three days a week,” he said, adding that his resort would go after midweek corporate clientele.
Gitter also told the Fleischmanns listeners that 85 percent of the project was in the Margaretville School District, representing $828,000 extra per year once the project is built.
He also said that Fleischmanns would become a major “retail, dining and entertainment center,” if the project comes to fruition.
At the end of the 15-minute presentation Gitter thanked the board for their time and sat down alongside his team members who included project partner and Fleischmanns’ favorite son Ken Pasternak, Project Attorney Dan Ruzow, spokesperson Joan Lawrence-Bauer and project consultant Gary Gailes.
Asked about the neutral reception the trustees and audience gave, interim Mayor Malcomb Becker said most of the trustees had already seen the presentation several times.
“He spoke. We listened. He finished. He left. There were no questions because there were no questions,” Becker said, noting that Fleischmanns has nothing to do with the project in any way.
Becker, who took the position following the recent resignation of former Mayor Kathleen Wilbur, said he had no idea why the presentation even happened other than Crossroads had asked for the time.
“If you want to come talk, go ahead. We don’t stop anyone,” said Becker.
Crossroads spokesperson Joan Lawrence-Bauer was asked after the meeting why the presentation had been made and if similar events are planned in other communities throughout the region.
“The purpose of last night’s meeting was to bring the Fleischmanns Village Board up to date with accurate information on what is currently proposed and who is involved,” she said. “We’re always happy to talk about the project to anyone who wants to hear about it. Do we have any other dates set up at this time? No we don’t.”
The proposed resort would straddle the border of Ulster and Delaware counties and would comprise two complexes; one with a 250-room hotel and 139 townhouse-style lodging units surrounding an 18-hole golf course; the other with a 120-room hotel and spa, 60 lodging units in two buildings and another 60 detached units in up to 52 buildings.