April 2, 2008: Stick to skiing


To The Editor:

The signs at the Albany protest by the Coalition to Save Belleayre were pleading to keep Belleayre open and publicly owned. But how did Belleayre suddenly find itself in jeopardy? If the coalition had confined its activities to skiing and swimming and music, rather than being the cheering section for Crossroads Ventures’ controversial mega-development, the ski center would not be in the precarious position it is in today.
A $400-million public/private partnership has a way of attracting the neighbors’ attention, especially when all of the perks from a chair lift and access to the ready-made Pine Hill sewage treatment plant would go from taxpayers’ wallets to the developers’ pockets.  Recent evidence has shown that sewage treatment plants do not filter out drug residues.  Maybe it’s time for the DEP to retract its offer.
Watershed residents have to abide by strict DEP and zoning regulations.  But if you’re big enough and know the right people, you’re exempt from all those bothersome restrictions.  At the scoping information session, I asked Crossroads representatives the acreage of the Highmount Spa Resort development. They plead ignorance.  The fix was in — it didn’t really matter.  In fact, they planned to build 60 houses, 120 apartments and a 120-room spa on around 50 mountaintop acres!  You try it.  See how far you get.  Now we learn that along with exemptions from zoning and watershed restrictions, the developer is also applying for 10 years of tax exemptions.  Hey, it can’t hurt to ask.
If the Coalition wants to save Belleayre, it should stick to representing the ski center and the public’s interests and leave land speculation and mega-development to rich investors who don’t have to answer to politicians or taxpayers.  

Matt Frisch,