Shandaken finally joins Scenic Byway Project

By Jay Braman Jr.
The controversial Route 28 Scenic Byway Plan squeaked by to adoption by the Town of Shandaken Monday night with a 3-2 vote in favor of the measure.

After months of dormancy, a resolution to support the plan suddenly appeared at the town board meeting. There was little discussion on the matter, with only Councilman Vincent Bernstein explaining his reasons for not supporting the plan.

Fear loss of “Home Rule’
Bernstein said that he discussed it with councilman Alfie Higley, who also voted against the measure, and was convinced that participating in the federal program would lead to a loss of home rule. He said that Higley, who did not speak on the matter Monday night, had recently visited an area in Arizona with a scenic byway designation and Higley’s investigation led him to conclude that there were indeed home rules issues for those communities.

Regardless, Shandaken Supervisor Rob Stanley was joined by board members Doris Bartlett and Jack Jordan in support of the measure, which read, in part, as follows.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town of Shandaken supports the designation of the Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway as defined above and in the Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan and adopts said plan which includes programs for stewardship and enhancement of the scenic byway and guidance to manage future activities along its corridor;

The specifics
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Town of Shandaken confirms that they will not issue building permits or any other permits or other permission to construct new off-premise outdoor advertising signs along the designated Byway route; that off-premise tourism oriented directional signage on state highways will be in compliance with the NYS Department of Transportation’s Tourist Oriented Destination Sign (TODS) program, and that off-premise directional signage on any County and local roads along the designated Byway route will be consistent with the state TODS program; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Town of Shandaken will work in partnership with the six other municipalities of the Central Catskills Collaborative and local and regional stakeholders in order to support future Byway program development and collaborate with these interested entities to explore opportunities for cooperation and methods to advance the Scenic Byway.

Multiple communities
Plans for a Scenic Byway designation for a 50-mile chunk of the Route 28 corridor have not only been bogged down in the eastern portion of the region, but one community has already officially opted out of the program.

Seven municipalities fall within the area, starting on the western end in Delaware County with the town of Andes, then covering the town of Middletown and the villages of Margaretville and Fleischmanns. To the east, in Ulster County, the towns of Shandaken, Olive and Hurley round out the group.

All four Delaware County communities have officially endorsed the Byway plan, but in Ulster County endorsements were uncertain.

It was the Town of Hurley that opted out of the plan. The town that was the gateway, sandwiched between Kingston and Olive, Hurley voted to drop out of the Byway last year due to concerns over a loss of home rule when it comes to land use along the Route 28 corridor.

Monday night’s action in Shandaken followed several months of debate over the issue, with supporters of the byway plan shouting long and loud that there would not be any loss of home rule. Supporters also insist that a Scenic Byway designation would open up opportunities for grant funds to pay for projects that would enhance the communities along the highway corridor, as well as several miles of Route 214 in Phoenicia and Route 42 in Shandaken.

Now only the Town of Olive remains undecided. A vote in that town is expected next week.