August 6, 2008: Hyperbole, fear must be stopped

in

To The Editor:
In your last edition, Jerry Fairbairn and Howard Mandell both wrote letters about the Belleayre Resort Proposals. Mr. Fairbairn’s letter expressed his genuine concern about storm water run-off and his fears that engineers and builders will not deal with those issues effectively. While we disagree with his opinions, we respect his concern over a real issue and will continue to look at it very, very closely.
Mr. Mandell, on the other hand, used the hyperbole and fear tactics that others have accused us of using, including the accusation that we are going to “blow up the mountain.” He once again insists, despite tons of evidence to the contrary, that we are going to contain all of our guests in an “all-inclusive” resort and not let them visit any other business in the area. We are not planning a “Club-Med” type of experience that keeps guests on the property and even if that were the case the fact would still remain that 474 permanent, full-time employees would be working at the resort in jobs paying far more, and providing much greater fringe benefits, than most other jobs in the region provide right now. Just the permanent full-time jobs break out as follows: Highmount Hotel, 44 full-time salaried jobs, average salary of $ 56,463; Highmount Hotel, 185 full-time hourly jobs, average wage of $14.87 per hour; Wildacres Hotel, 46 full-time salaried jobs, average salary of $ 56,678; Wildacres Hotel, 199 full time hourly jobs, average wage of $14.66 per hour. Those people will be spending their money in the community along with our guests.
While Mr. Mandell does not want a resort, he does want us to develop and reveal plans to restore the movie theater, Lake Switzerland and many other projects for the common good. To that request, I would point out that the developers have established the Crossroads Foundation to do just that. They have pledged 25 percent of all profits to that foundation to support worthy community projects. Though there have never been any profits to date, the Crossroads Foundation has already given generously in the community, heavily supporting the Margaretville Hospital, Skene Library, the Neil Grant Youth Recreation Program and the Catskill Water Discovery Center. We’ve given to chambers of commerce, to the MARK Group and to numerous other organizations that serve our region.
Specifically, we gave $5,000 to help fund a feasibility study to assess the possibility of bringing back a movie theater, just as Mr. Mandell has requested. Additionally, The Pasternak Family Foundation has been even more generous, and with the Crossroads Foundation, was instrumental in getting a new pavilion built in Margaretville last year and in getting Fleischmanns First off the ground so that people within that community had the financial support they needed to vision and create their own destiny.
We have not loudly trumpeted those donations but the recipients of them all know we have been good corporate citizens during a decade of being vilified by writers like Mr. Mandell. We look forward to bringing an environmentally sensitive and economically sustainable project to fruition, and to returning ever increasing benefits to the community in which we all live and work.

Joan Lawrence-Bauer,
Public Relations Director
Emerson Resort