Belleayre backers blast state stalling on expansion work

By Jay Braman Jr.
Supporters of the Belleayre Mt. Ski Center marked the second anniversary of an Agreement in Principle (AIP) by claiming the state is using this proposal to delay the release of the Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the ski center.
The Belleayre booster’s dissatisfaction follows complaints last week by environmental groups that said the land protection portion of the AIP has still not been satisfied. This week it is the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that comes under fire, with the Coalition to Save Belleayre about to launch a round of appeals to elected officials seeking to increase pressure on DEC to finish and release the UMP as called for in the AIP.

Paterson fuels fire
Adding more fuel to the fire were Governor David Paterson’s remarks last Thursday at the Dutchess County Democratic Party’s Salute to Labor dinner. At that event Paterson announced the state may have to put on hold any improvements to the state-owned Belleayre.
The timing of the governor’s remarks, according to Coalition to Save Belleayre Chairman Joe Kelly, make the coalition’s complaints all the more relevant.
Kelly called Paterson’s position “unacceptable.”
The AIP was reached after eight years of review of Crossroads Ventures’ plan to develop 1,200 acres of mountain land into a golf resort plus build another golf resort three miles west and adjacent to Belleayre Ski Center. Instead, the agreement would make the 1,200 acres forever wild land and allow for larger development next to the ski center. It also calls for the state to spend money on the expansion of the ski center.
The details of that expansion are to be laid out in what the state calls a unit management plan, which is a blueprint for the development of the state facility. The agreement calls for that plan to be reviewed simultaneously with the proposal by Crossroads.
Neither the state nor Crossroads has completed their plans yet.
While Crossroads says they are close to completion, the DEC is not.
“It seems to us that the DEC is currently sitting on this most important document with no sense of urgency as to its importance to our area. It is unacceptable that they continue to delay its release,” Kelly said.
Kelly has now written to the governor and asked him to give the matter his immediate attention to help Belleayre resume its most important role as economic engine of the Route 28 Corridor.
“In a time of most difficult economic challenge to our rural communities a bureaucratic delay for whatever reason, must be overcome. We do not have the luxury of time, we need action now,” Kelly said.
Judith Enck, the governor’s Deputy Secretary for the Environment who helped prepare the AIP, said Monday that the state remains committed to the agreement. As for completing the UMP she said, “slow and steady wins the day.”