Two wealthy families' war against the resort
To the Editor:
As is often the case, there is a story behind the story. The Catskill Mountain News reported last week more than 70 people attended the Middletown Planning Board’s public hearing on the proposed Belleayre Resort. The overwhelming opinion of those in attendance was in support of the resort, but as I listened to the arguments opposed to the resort, I was struck by the fact that two wealthy families, both second home owners, are pursuing their legal and financial war against the resort.
Letters from Kingdon Gould and Ben Korman were read into the record. The Goulds own over 8,000 acres of land in the Catskills. They are vehemently opposed to the development of 220 acres of privately owned land. Land that neither abuts nor can be seen from their homes. They maintain that the project won’t turn a profit. Of one thing you can be sure, they are not putting up $350 million to create the resort. It would seem they prefer to spend their money buying up land that then becomes closed to all except the Gould family.
The Goulds and the Kormans have joined forces with the Catskill Heritage Alliance. The Alliance offers a frighteningly consistent opposition. The opposition is frightening because they refuse to acknowledge compromise or offer a better solution for our region’s failing economy.
They claim the resort is still too big despite the fact that it has been significantly downsized, and that the resort will do nothing for the local economy. This presumes guests would never venture beyond the resort to frequent local businesses and restaurants, and that the millions in wages paid annually to resort employees will somehow be spent everywhere but here.
They claim that the resort will cause massive storm water problems despite the fact that the DEC and DEP have placed unprecedented requirements on the developers to control storm water runoff.
The Goulds, the Kormans, and the Catskill Heritage Alliance claim to be friends of the environment, yet they attack one of the most environmentally sensitive projects that has ever been proposed in the Catskills.
The greatest threat to the environment is poverty. The resort and the expansion plans for the Belleayre Ski Center offer our region the opportunity to reverse years of economic decline. Hopefully, those seeking to stymie development on Belleayre will not deny us that opportunity.