Excuses not factual

After sitting through several hours of comments about Belleayre proposals, I still have two questions. If not this, what? If not now, when?

I heard many speakers use “scare” words we’ve heard for 15 years - words and phrases that don’t even need full sentences around them to stimulate knee-jerk reactions: sprawl, mega, massive, casino, pesticides, stormwater, community character, menial jobs, traffic, ridge line development.
But thankfully, it seems those words no longer have the power to frighten as they once did and the old arguments don’t hold up.

No casinos are proposed here and deed restrictions on this property will prevent them forever.

Traffic is very welcome
Increased traffic? Bring it on. Our businesses are failing now because there is so little traffic.
We can’t compete with Plattekill, Hunter or Windham. But Belleayre was here first, thriving for a decade before the other three came along. They’re here because of Belleayre, not in spite of it. And if Belleayre thrives once more, it will help those other areas, not hurt.

The State shouldn’t be in the ski business; shouldn’t be investing taxpayer dollars here. Baloney. Belleayre was created by a Constitutional Amendment passed by the majority of voters in the State. In 1987, voters all across the state passed a second amendment to the Constitution, affirming the State’s place in the ski business and demanding an expansion of the facilities. How much more of a mandate do we need?

Of course they’ll visit
Everyone will stay at the resort and no one come in to our communities. Nonsense. This isn’t a cruise ship in the middle of an ocean. For nearly 75 years visitors to Belleayre have been intrigued by the beauty around them. They explore. They “discover” our main streets. Many like us so much, they buy second homes here. But even if all those people are held captive at the resort, the local economy will benefit anyway from the wages paid to more than 500 people working on that mountain who certainly spend locally.

No one wants these low-wage, menial jobs. Double baloney. The jobs aren’t low wage or menial compared with others available in the region and provide choices and opportunities. People can develop careers that can take them anywhere in the world or work here for the rest of their lives. And even if you believe none of that, you can’t deny that a “low wage” job is better than no job.
Sprawl? In Shandaken, 58,000 acres are owned by the State and this project talks about 200 acres that are privately owned. Sprawl isn’t within the realm of possibility.

Stormwater runoff will be controlled by staging; the golf course will be organic, there’s no building at all on the ridgeline.

Mega? Massive? What’s that mean? One hotel, the Grand Hotel, stood opposite Belleayre until the mid-’60s. It had 450 rooms. The two hotels proposed will have just 370 and with the additional 163 lodging units will still be just a fraction of the 10,000 rooms this region once boasted.

Not doing so well
Community character? Spare me. It was not lost on me that most people who spoke about downsizing or stopping this plan do not earn an income here. The vast majority of those against full build are either retired, second homeowners, have independent family wealth or pull in their income from outside of our area. They should not be allowed to impose their view of “community character” on the rest of us. The notion that poverty builds character is abhorrent in this context. The romanticizing of poverty should be left to operas. The history of our region is the history of tourism. Tourism is our community character and this will help us save it.

One speaker said if the resort is built, locals will be priced out of the market. But locals are already priced out of the market. We can’t buy houses, pay our taxes or afford retrofits on our homes to reduce heating bills.

Commuting now
Another speaker said people won’t commute 30 miles to work. But the last census shows the current commutes in our region range from 27 to 34 minutes, which translates to current commutes of just about 30 miles.

When I hear “no build” or “low build” I think “we’ve been there and done that.” Now it’s time to move on. Fear is not a strategy and there is no other viable alternative. This is the right project and this is the right time. If you agree, please make your voice heard. Just go on line to www.supporttheresort.org and send your comments to Daniel Whitehead at the DEC.

Joan Lawrence-Bauer,
Oliverea