Fleischmanns candidate has big ideas for village

By Matthew J. Perry
Dave Morell, the single Fleischmanns resident to declare his candidacy for mayor before the February 13 deadline, is quick to state that he would serve at the pleasure of his constituents and will embrace their views.
“I’m willing to talk to anyone and I’m ready to do what the people of Fleischmanns want me to do,” he says.
But he is ready to discuss his own vision of what the village might become. “I believe in dreaming big,” he says. “There’s a wealth of potential in this village.”
Morell, a former Denver- Vega resident and a graduate of Margaretville Central School, also has lived in Boston, Washington, D.C. and Italy. He moved to Fleischmanns in 1998, he says, “Because I wanted to raise my kids here. I have my roots here, and I love the culture and diversity.”
He has been a member of the village planning board for one year, and helped to found the Mountain Athletic Club — a vintage baseball team. Morell argues that many more developments in Fleischmanns are necessary and possible.
Morell’s vision is based on integrating full- and part-time residents, courting tourism, updating zoning laws and stimulating business. He enthusiastically supports the overhaul of the village comprehensive plan, which has been underwritten by a Catskill Watershed Corporation grant. “It’s vital to our growth. Without it, it will be difficult for us to get other sources of funding. Zoning laws have to be updated; the town has to be cleaned up. For too long life has been happening to this village as opposed to the village taking control of its life.”
When asked about a pair of controversial topics, Morell struck two different tones. Concerning the Crossroads development at Belleayre, he is an adamant supporter. “Belleayre is the only place in the area where 6,000 people might drive up during a single weekend. If you’re only two miles away and don’t think that can have a positive effect on you, you’re missing the boat.
“Belleayre could help give my kids a chance to live here,” he continued. “But Fleischmanns isn’t going to make the decisions about the development. What we can do is get ready for whatever happens, and right now we’re not ready.”
When asked about the prevalence of junkyards in the village, he searched for a position in the center. “We can’t help the deals that were made in the past, everything that’s there was agreed upon,” he says. “We also don’t want too much zoning. There’s a frontier feel to this village and that’s part of its charm. I think the government’s role is to enforce what’s in the best interest of the village, and I think the comprehensive plan is an important part of defining that interest.”
Tourism is the key to the future in his vision, and Morell would like to see technological improvements—such as a village Web site and wireless capacity downtown—as well as investment in the village’s neglected lodging facilities. He envisions long-range projects such as an ice-skating rink and resurrection of the village baseball field. “That field used to accommodate 5,000 people.”
Morell’s opportunity to act on his vision is not yet secure. A write-in candidacy could pull more votes in the March 18 election, and there has been talk in the village of a possible adversary. Morell, eager to debate, hopes that any such candidate would soon announce themselves and discuss competing ideas in a public forum.
“We have to stand up and get organized in this village,” he says. “If we’re going to ask for help in the future, we’ll have to show why it’s worth investing in this place.”