Belleayre Resort public review is near
By Jay Braman Jr.
People behind the Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park, slated to be built in the Highmount area, say that an important piece of information on the project should be made available to the public in a matter of weeks.
In an October 22 interview with First Tracks!!, an online ski magazine, project spearhead Dean Gitter said that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) which the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has been studying for a couple years, should soon be deemed complete by that agency and made available to the public for review.
Feels its complete
“We believe the Department of Environmental Conservation will deem our application complete and release the DEIS for notice and comment as soon as the beginning of November,” Gitter told the magazine.
Once the DEIS is released there will be a comment period set for the public and related/involved agencies to study the document and weigh in on whether they feel the project and the construction of it is satisfactory from an environmental point of view.
Unclear is how long that period will be. The DEC was given a substantial time extension due to the mammoth amount of information within the draft.
Regardless, Gitter remains hopeful that the document, a critical piece of the review process, will pass muster quickly and construction can begin.
“We hope to put a stake in the ground sometime in 2013,” he told First Tracks!!.
Should that happen, it will be no less than 15 years after Gitter first proposed the plan to the public at a meeting in Shandaken Town Hall.
At the time Gitter said, “All we are asking for is a fair hearing and a fair shake.”
Almost immediately the project came under intense scrutiny and is now considered to be the most reviewed project in New York State history.
The Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park, said to be a $400 million project, is to straddle the border of Ulster and Delaware counties and comprise two complexes: one with a 250-room hotel and 139 townhouse-style lodging units surrounding an 18-hole golf course; the other with a 120-room hotel and spa, 60 lodging units in two buildings and 60 detached units in up to 52 buildings.
It has been under review since 1998.
5-8 years away
Gitter also told First Tracks!! that he anticipates that it will take five to eight years to build the entire resort. He plans, he said, to build what is called the Wild Acres Hotel portion of the resort first and expects that to be open for business within two and half years from start of construction.
The review is in three parts. Part A is an impact study of the proposed Unit Management Plan for an improved and expanded Belleayre Ski Center. Belleayre Ski Center has completed it. Part B is an environmental impact study of the Belleayre Resort.
Part C is a study of the cumulative impacts of those two studies and it will be completed. Then it will be submitted for public input. Once that review is concluded, Crossroads will apply for local permits before the planning boards of both Middletown and Shandaken.
DEC Officials did not respond at press time. They were asked if the Unit Management Plan for Belleayre was completed. Gitter told First Tracks!!! that the state has committed to spending $55 million on Belleayre improvements. He also said that the state has agreed to purchase the old Highmount Ski Center from Gitter’s company, Crossroads Ventures LLC., but the deal is still a few months away from closing.
Crossroads consultant Gary Gailes said Monday that the state will build a chair lift on the Highmount property and that Crossroads will build a chair lift from its proposed hotel to the top of the Highmount property.
“The public will have access to the hotel lift as well as the hotel itself,” Gailes said.