Ulster lawmakers support Belleayre resort

By Jay Braman Jr.
Ulster County lawmakers voted last week to help advance a multimillion-dollar resort adjoining Belleayre Mountain Ski Center.
Legislators voted 27-3, with one abstention, in favor of a resolution supporting the proposed Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park, promising to work with the developer and “offering any appropriate assistance to acquire permits, licenses and/or easements to assure the development” of a project that has generated controversy in the area for more than a decade.
But so far those developers, known as Crossroads Ventures, have not asked the Delaware County Board of Supervisors, which meets tonight (Wednesday, March 24) to pass a similar resolution even though much of the proposal is slated for Delaware County soil in the Town of Middletown.
“At this point we have nothing from them,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman James Eisel on Monday.
Last week more than 100 spectators filled the Ulster County legislative chambers to the brim while more than two dozen people spoke on this issue during an hour-long public comment session.
As has been the case with every public session devoted to this controversial proposal, there were both opponents and supporters weighing on the matter at hand. Usually both sides declare themselves winners when it comes to who had the biggest show of strength.
It was primarily Union construction workers that supported the plan and residents of the towns of Shandaken and Hardenburgh that spoke against it.
Most of the local residents speaking called on lawmakers to withhold their support of the project, which is still undergoing review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act.
Hardenburgh Town Supervisor Jerry Fairbairn was among those calling on legislators remain neutral.
“We respectfully request you keep your nose out of it,” said Fairbairn. Fairbairn said the project is subject to review by the Ulster County town of Shandaken and Delaware County town of Middletown, where the resort will be located.
The Ulster County planning board, which is separate from the legislature, has approval authority over the project, but it’s decision can be overturned by a super majority vote of the Shandaken Planning Board.
Fairbairn said his town, which is contiguous to the town of Shandaken, would be affected by the increased traffic generated by the resort.
Developer Dean Gitter, of Crossroads Ventures LLC has proposed construction of the project adjacent to the state-run Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, and spanning the border of Ulster and Delaware counties. Scaled down from a proposal he first unveiled in 1999, the project as it is now proposed would comprise two hotels. One a four-star family-style resort, and the other a five-star luxury spa resort with conference facilities, a golf course, some 629 detached lodging units and time-share townhouses.
Gitter has said that when completed, the project will generate millions of dollars each year in sales tax revenue to the county, will provide a much-needed boost to the local economy and will create hundreds of full- and part-time jobs.
Legislator Peter Loughran, D-Kingston, who introduced the resolution, said voting against the resolution would be pushing economic development out of the county.
But Legislator Brian Shapiro, D-Woodstock, whose district includes the towns of Shandaken and Hardenburgh, said thousands of people within his district oppose the project.
Shapiro, Donald Gregorious, D-Woodstock, and Robert Parete, D-Boiceville, voted against the resolution.
Gregorious, who also represents Shandaken, said the Legislature should wait until the plans for the resort are complete before deciding to support it or not.
Gitter accused both Shapiro and Gregorious of not honestly representing the town.