May 6, 2009: Belleayre is not shovel-ready

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To The Editor:
The Coalition to Save Belleayre, Ulster’s Legislature Chairman and anonymous Delaware officials have again called on Governor Paterson to direct stimulus funding to the expansion of public Belleayre Mountain Ski Center (BMSC). What construction plans do they want funded and on what land? Stimulus money is for shovel-ready infrastructure projects, already reviewed and ready for bid, to put people to work quickly.  
As county officials and Coalition to Save Belleayre know perfectly well, DEC has confirmed the obvious for months: BMSC expansion is nowhere near shovel ready!  They should stop misleading the public and the governor with panicky press releases and letters containing wildly exaggerated jobs numbers. They are responsible for this delay. 
Expansion was hijacked and delayed by their strategy to use public BMSC to enable the speculative private Belleayre Resort, a commercial real estate development proposed for high on Belleayre Mountain, with multiple restaurants, hotels, bars, stores, roads, lights, spas, condos, golf course and ridge-top timeshares.  
Fact is, New York taxpayers must first acquire the land for DEC’s ski center expansion, as well as the hostage Big Indian parcel, from this private developer! Leaving aside critical constitutional issues, the entire house of cards collapses, per the Agreement In Principle, if Crossroads Ventures investors don’t get their price and everything else they won from then-Governor Spitzer in closed-door negotiations. 
Fortunately the public has remained engaged, concerned that this proposal would set a terrible precedent, harm our Catskill Mountain communities, ecology, wildlife and scenery—our economic engine, and increase local taxes in the bargain.
This shotgun wedding means DEC’s already-tardy plan to expand the public ski center now must go through SEQR review in tandem with the controversial private development. Readers can find DEC’s joint Belleayre review scope, documents and info at SavetheMountain.net.
 
Julie McQuain,
Hardenburgh