An act of desperation

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To The Editor:
I read Kathy Nolan’s letter in last week’s News with more than a little bit of dismay and anger. They call themselves the Catskill Heritage Alliance, but in reality they act like one of those silly reality shows that are continually popping up on TV. Their only agenda is to keep everything status quo along the Route 28 corridor from Big Indian to Andes at any means.

Unfortunately, we have not even stayed at status quo. In the 40 years I have been here we have slipped backwards. In the early 1900s, the Catskills were one of the most popular destination resort areas in the country. There were over 100 hotels, inns and boarding houses between Big Indian and Andes. The largest was the Grand Hotel built by the Ulster-Delaware railroad in 1881. It operated until 1966. This is the heritage of the Catskills that Nolan and her band cannot grasp. When I bought the Pine Hill Arms in 1973, there were still 12 hotels and boarding houses operating in Pine Hill. We had two cafes, several restaurants, and hundreds of people staying for the summer. After the summer, there was a long line of school kids waiting for the bus. Forty years later, we have two inns and a B&B and maybe two kids waiting for the bus.

While our area has not been able to adjust to the decline of the Catskills as a premium resort area, our neighbors to the north, the villages of Hunter and Windham, have made the transition and now have bustling communities. They accomplished this by promoting the expansion of their two ski centers, three golf courses and second home housing development. I recently asked a local contractor who pours foundations if business was improving. He related that business was good with a backlog of eight foundations, all in the Windham and Hunter area and nothing much here.
After 15 years of debate and review over the proposed expansion of Belleayre and resort development, it is time to move forward. Compromises have been made and the size of the original resort plans have been downsized to meet earlier objections. However, Nolan and her band have already started campaigning against kick-starting our economy with their ad in last weeks News. Their statement that the resort would cause floods worse than we just experienced appears to be an act of desperation.

The Windham development has hundreds of townhouses, condos, homes and a hotel and they came through the floods just fine. I find it insulting to our collective intelligence that they think these scare tactics would help their cause.

Also, they are now in favor of the ski expansion to take place on the Pine Hill side of the mountain and go into great detail to its advantages. However, 15 years ago when the expansion was proposed to be built on the Pine Hill side, Nolan vehemently objected, stating it was pristine, virgin land. It appears that she is now willing to sacrifice that pristine land to prevent the ski expansion from taking place where the Highmount Ski Center was and can be again. It seems they will use any means available to stop the resort.

Robert Konefal,
Pine Hill Arms Hotel