Feb. 13, 2008: Get the facts

in

To The Editor:
It has started early.  The new Shandaken Town Board has been in office barely a month and the over-blown attacks are already flying.  The level of hostility at the February town board meeting was reminiscent of another time in our not-too-distant past.  Some of the faces are the same as before, some are new.  At issue was the town board hiring a consultant to write ‘scoping’ comments for the town to submit to DEC by the January 14 deadline, relating to the environmental review of the Belleayre Resort and the expansion of the ski center.  (The resort and Ski Center expansion must be reviewed together.)  One part of the issue was that the new town board had been in office for only days before the deadline for submission of comments.  The new supervisor, and seemingly none of the board members, realized that they could call a last-minute meeting to pass a resolution to move on hiring the consultant and authorizing payment.  Instead, Supervisor DiSclafani contacted each board member individually and asked if they wanted to go forward with this.  Four said yes, one said no.  Four agreed to the cost, one did not.  All saw the submission before it was sent.  The board passed a resolution at the February meeting formalizing this by a margin of 4-1. 
Supervisor DiSclafani publicly took responsibility for not realizing in time that he could have called a meeting on such short notice.  Now he knows.  He said he would have paid for it himself if the resolution authorizing payment had not passed.  What was amazing was that some present treated the supervisor and some of the board members as if they had committed the crime of the century.  I would call it a blatant attempt to intimidate the board and drum up animosity toward them.  Crossroads consultant Gary Gailes threw the word ‘lawsuit’ around and Jack Jordan kept saying that this may have been an ‘illegal’ act. It was not just the words they used, but the tones of voice and accusatory gestures.  Supervisor DiSclafani apologized, took responsibility, would have been willing to pay if need be, but that wasn’t enough.
So what’s the real issue here?  The real issue is/was that the pro-Crossroads contingent seems unhappy that the town submitted scoping comments at all.  Apparently they want the town to sit on its hands, not participate in the review, and ignore the fact that 85 percent of this major development is in Shandaken.  It also happens to be the largest project ever proposed for the entire region. What’s more, the attackers blamed the town because the scoping submission included comments on the Belleayre Ski Center expansion, which by law has to be reviewed with the resort since both impact the same area.  They acted as if it was the town board’s scoping submission that caused the resort and ski center to have to be reviewed together, which is ridiculous.
In addition,‚ÄÇcombining‚ÄÇthe review of the ski center expansion and the resort‚ÄÇis‚ÄÇa stipulation stated in‚ÄÇthe infamous Agreement in Principle, signed by‚ÄÇthe governor,‚ÄÇthe developers, and several other groups and individuals.‚ÄÇ‚ÄÇ
A good motto for future town board meetings might be, “Get the facts before you attack.” 
‚ÄÇ
Judith Wyman,
Chichester