April 2, 2008: Stick to skiing
To The Editor:
The signs at the Albany protest by the Coalition to Save Belleayre‚ÄÇwere pleading‚ÄÇto keep Belleayre‚ÄÇopen and publicly owned.‚ÄÇBut how did Belleayre suddenly find itself in‚ÄÇjeopardy?‚ÄÇIf the coalition had confined its activities to skiing and swimming and music, rather than being the cheering section for Crossroads Ventures‚Äô 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‚Äô attention, especially when all of the perks from a chair lift and access to‚ÄÇthe‚ÄÇready-made Pine Hill sewage treatment plant would go from taxpayers‚Äô‚ÄÇwallets to the developers‚Äô pockets.‚ÄÇ Recent evidence has shown that sewage treatment plants do not filter out drug residues.‚ÄÇ Maybe it‚Äôs time for the DEP to retract its offer.
Watershed residents have to abide by strict DEP and zoning regulations.‚ÄÇ But if you‚Äôre big enough and know the right people, you‚Äôre exempt from all those bothersome restrictions.‚ÄÇ At the scoping information session, I asked Crossroads representatives the acreage of the Highmount Spa Resort development.‚ÄÇThey plead ignorance.‚ÄÇ The fix was in ‚Äî it didn‚Äôt really matter.‚ÄÇ In fact, they planned to build 60 houses, 120 apartments and a 120-room spa on around 50 mountaintop acres!‚ÄÇ You try it.‚ÄÇ See how far you get.‚ÄÇ Now we learn that along with exemptions from zoning and watershed restrictions, the developer‚ÄÇis‚ÄÇalso applying for‚ÄÇ10 years of tax exemptions.‚ÄÇ Hey, it can‚Äôt hurt to ask.
If the Coalition wants to save Belleayre,‚ÄÇit should stick to‚ÄÇrepresenting‚ÄÇthe ski center‚ÄÇand the public‚Äôs interests‚ÄÇand leave‚ÄÇland speculation and mega-development to‚ÄÇrich investors who don‚Äôt have to answer to politicians or taxpayers.‚ÄÇ‚ÄÇ