The irony of his silence


To The Editor:
I have read with great interest the editorials and letters in support of the The Resort at Catskill Park and an expanded Belleayre Mountain Ski Center.  I would like to share with your readers what this project would mean to me, not in theoretical terms, but in realistic ones.

In 1967 my parents and I were guests on the opening weekend of the original Wildacres Hotel, site of today’s proposed Belleayre Resort. My family and I stayed there regularly on weekends and on holidays until my father built the home in Halcott Center where I live today.  I have been skiing at Belleayre since 1967 and have, quite literally, grown up on the mountain. My wife, Maritza and I were married there. From my home I have a dead-on view of the top of Belleayre.

I moved here permanently in 2006. I started a business teaching tennis. I’m happy to say that the majority of people I teach are local residents, of whom at least 15 are children/juniors.  Currently three of them are good enough to be junior pros.  The resort will have four tennis courts. I assume that they will have a tennis staff. This is the ideal summer job for a local tennis playing junior. If there is no resort, those kids will have no choice but to summer/work elsewhere.

As for myself, the proposed resort offers me an opportunity as well. I think I’d at least get an interview as director of tennis. Does this mean I would automatically get the job? No, but at least I’d have an opportunity in this area that did not exist before. And while tennis is but a small part of the resort, imagine the opportunities presented by all the other facets of the project.

In the past few years I have invested in real estate on Main Street in Fleischmanns and have plans to renovate and put back into operation the Evergreen Hotel property. Should the project move ahead, those properties I have invested in should increase in value. I did not purchase the properties on resort speculation. I bought them without regard to the project, because I live here and I believe in the future of Fleischmanns. From a business point of view, the value was good.
Fleischmanns is beginning a Renaissance of sorts. But, if we maintain the status quo, all the hard work of many people may be for naught.  Stagnation will lead to disinterest and eventual deterioration. 

As a region we are precluded from doing many things due to our location in the Watershed. Tourism is our only economic asset. We have in the NY Metropolitan area an historical, empirical resource – the tourist. The eastern end of Long Island has harnessed this resource well over the last 40 years. With almost exactly the same road system feeding us as them, we can do the same.

We need to support The Resort and the full build out of Belleayre.  I’ll close with this. After a recent lesson I was talking to a client who’s a second-home summer renter, in his mid 60s,  with no children here and no property here. He made his living elsewhere. He is against the resort.  However he told me how he spent summers as a kid working at a hotel above Pine Hill Lake. I asked him if he enjoyed the experience. He did, so much that he has vacationed here ever since. I asked him if his experience helped shape his future success. He assured me it did. I then asked him what single reason could he have for not building the resort that in essence would deny the same opportunity and benefit to our children here today. The irony of his silence was not lost on either of us.

Mark Birman,
Owner, Tennis Everyone; past president,
Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce, and current member, MARK Board of Directors