Disappointed in Sierra Clud


To the Editor:
Last week, I received an e-mail from the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club exhorting people to write in to protest the proposed Belleayre Resort and Belleayre Ski Center build out. The language that they used was so inaccurate and hyperbolic that I want to make sure that people understand that they do not speak for the environmental community in this area.

In an effort to do that, I would like to share what I wrote to them (with no response to date) in an effort to set the record straight. Here is what I sent:
I am appalled by the language that you have chosen to use in your response to the proposed Belleayre Resort.

I am a lifelong environmentalist and live in this area. Been up here recently? It’s dying.
I am disappointed that the Sierra Club would so thoughtlessly attack an effort at sustainable, green, tourism-based economic development in an area that is being deeply threatened by fracking and by ongoing, catastrophic rural poverty. For the 15 years that opponents have fought this development, they have promised other economic alternatives and the area has gotten even poorer. Nothing has materialized and we are even closer to a tipping point of no return. Our families are fleeing. The school in my town had a graduating class of FIVE last year. In Fleischmanns, where I have my business, the sewage plant doesn’t work properly because there aren’t enough people in town. In the Fleischmanns area, including where the Belleayre Resort is proposed, there used to be 500 hotels. There are now fewer beds in all of Delaware County.

You open your e-mail by saying that Sierra Club members have spent years opening your wallets in this area - well, obviously not enough. You suggest that this will destroy the character of these communities - trust me, their character is dying as one store front after another in Delaware County is boarded up.

The Belleayre Resort has been scaled back by 60 percent from its initial size. All of the buildings will be at least silver LEEDs certified. The golf course will be the second organically managed course in the country. And so on. Some really good fights were won during this long process. It is HARDLY a “mega-development” at this point. It’s smaller than what used to be up there.

I love these mountains as much as the next person, and have made the commitment to live in this beautiful but difficult place. How many of you can say the same?
I am, again, appalled that you chose to use the inflammatory, inaccurate language you did on your website and in your email to your members. It is untrue, it is unfair, and it reads like it’s a press release from the handful of people who continue to do everything they can to destroy any development on our mountain.

I am so disappointed in the Sierra Club. Sustainable environmentalism must include concern for all members of an ecosystem, including humans.

Leigh Melander, Ph.D.
Chair Andes Works