Guest Editorial: Elected officials back resort

By Olive Supervisor Bert Leinfeldt, Middletown Supervisor Marge Miller, Halcott Supervisor Innes Kasanof, Andes Supervisor Marty Donnelly, Roxbury Supervisor Tom Hynes, Fleischmanns Mayor Todd Pascarella, Margaretville Mayor Diana Cope

We, the elected municipal officials of the towns and villages in Ulster, Greene and Delaware counties, are writing to our regional media outlets, DEC and New York State officials in support of the Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park. We represent our municipalities and understand the powerful positive impact - the needed impact – this resort, and the build-out of Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, can and will have on our area. We have also seen the long, slow and painful decline of our mountain Main Streets and communities. Hunting and fishing license sales in NYS, along with visits to our area, have dropped over 20 percent in the last 10 years, our population is shrinking, and lodging units are down 90 percent since the 1950s and ’60s, let alone a century ago. Additionally the NYC DEP is aggressively purchasing local properties that will forever be undevelopable, further limiting our choices and potential to expand and preserve for the next generations of native dwellers.

We take the view, one that is based on facts beginning with an acknowledged premise that we need this resort, that we cannot afford more delays. The average per capita income in Middletown and Shandaken is $19,378, 14.4 percent of our neighbors live below the poverty line and more than half of our local school children are in a free lunch program. We need jobs, jobs that help young families not just survive but thrive, buying homes and getting mortgages they can afford while providing future opportunities for their children. The Resort will also offer seasonal employment that our local teenagers can fill only a few miles from home. To us, knowing our communities as we do, a good job is a job, period.

This area has many assets, too numerous to list here, but one thing we know we lack are enough quality lodging units for the many who would visit if they had somewhere – a destination - to stay, somewhere to schedule and hold conferences or family vacations, somewhere to bring friends for a spa break, a ski break – all of which can be summed up in two words: Belleayre Resort.

This kind of development project is completely in keeping with our history as a getaway for the many who live in the New York – New Jersey Metro area. Once upon a time, between Pine Hill, Highmount, Fleischmanns and surrounding areas, there were 10,000 hotel rooms. We need this opportunity to be a destination once more.

On May 29 at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Belleayre Mountain there will be public hearings on The Resort at Catskill Park and we’re urging the many – the majority - who agree with us to come out in force as a public YES to The Resort. Please join the conversation on the May 29 and show your support for what will be the economic engine this area has long needed and desired. It’s our Resort, too!