Gitter denies Post claim of blocked land purchase

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By Jay Braman Jr.
Big Indian businessman Dean Gitter, the man behind the proposed Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park, refuted recent claims by Albany media star Fred Dicker who said State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has blocked the sale of 1,200 acres of land by Gitter to New York State.

Veteran Albany reporter Fred Dicker, who writes for the New York Post, hosts his own radio show and is a regular face on television’s WRGB news, said in a piece that ran April 5, that plans for the state’s purchase of 1,200-plus acres of Big Indian lands from Crossroads Ventures, is currently “being blocked” by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli “out of concern that Albany is preparing to spend ‘millions more’ than the property is worth.” The property in question is a key element in the Agreement In Principal (AIP) brokered between a host of national, state and regional environmental organizations, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and Gitter.

On Monday Gitter said that Dicker had made a “jump” with his conclusions. “We called DiNapoli’s office and they said two things,” he said. “One. It isn’t true. Two. The information did not originate from this office.”

The announcement of the holdup was presented in the context of Dicker’s reportage on another Paterson-administration plan involving the Nature Conservancy that was described in terms of giving “the wealthy environmental group a staggering 57 percent profit on wilderness land — even as property values collapsed across New York.” That deal involved the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) paying nearly $10 million for 20,000 acres that the group (the Nature Conservancy) purchased for $6.3 million just a few years earlier.

The original Big Indian land deal, which smoothed the way for approval of the AIP via removal of an entire golf miniresort from the plans for Crossroads’ Belleayre Resort plan, was for about $8 million for a little over 1,200 acres, Gitter said Monday, despite published reports that claimed the original asking price was over $13 million.

But the sale, he added, has been dropped to about $6 million now. The sale price, Gitter also said, does not include the purchase of the Highmount Ski Center. That sale is planned for later in the development process, he said.