Nov. 26, 2008: Time to wake up to resort realities

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To The Editor:
 The hostility of certain elements of the community, exhibited by a widely circulated Heritage Alliance letter to Governor Patterson, never ceases to amaze.  Readers need to ponder the following facts: Taxes are rising, municipal costs are rising, business failures are rising, tax and bank foreclosures are rising and the economies of Delaware and Western Ulster counties are in deep trouble.
History records that recessions invariably hit deeper in our area than in the rest of the nation and recoveries come later.  The best hope for the economic future of this area lies in tourism.  Forty years of studies commissioned by the state and the City of New York make this abundantly clear. It should be a matter of widespread local relief that the investors in the Belleayre Resort are willing to pursue their vision of restoring what was once a thriving tourism industry in this region and to take the financial risks necessary to build the Belleayre Resort project.
The naysayers’ recent demands that the state renege on the commitment it made in the Agreement in Principle is fraught with distortions and outright falsehoods.  The facts are these:
The state has never floated a figure for the improvement of Belleayre Ski Center above $49 million, not “as much as $70 million” as is alleged.
The imminent construction of the new lodge and the improvement of the children’s facilities are long-recognized essentials to the ability of the Belleayre Ski Center to compete and to maximize the potential of what are the best beginner ski slopes in the northeast.
The buy-out figure of essential lands from Crossroads Ventures is subject to professional appraisal by no less than three independent firms all working for either the state or the Open Space Institute. Crossroads is not involved in that process. The acquisition of this significant property for “Forever Wild” purposes is entirely consistent with the 11/19 editorial in The New York Times reminding politicians in office of the overwhelming support voters clearly signaled for the commitment to preserving open spaces.
The acquisition of the Highmount Ski Center accomplishes a Belleayre Ski Center expansion which has been almost unanimously called for by voters and governments in Delaware and Western Ulster counties for the last 20 years. The expansion of trails in the direction of the proposed Wildacres Hotel would commence only when and if ground is broken on the Wildacres resort.
Lastly, the only direct link between the state ski center and Crossroads’ Belleayre Resort is a lift from the proposed Highmount Hotel to the top of the Highmount Ski Center, a facility for which Crossroads has committed itself to bear 100 percent of the cost.
Perhaps it’s time for the Catskill Heritage Alliance, the “Save the Mountain” folks to wake up.  Tourism is our last, best hope for economic revitalization and overnight skier visits and fine, year-round accommodations are at the heart of any tourism initiative.
 
Joan Lawrence-Bauer,
Crossroads Ventures LLC.
Mt. Tremper