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    "Conversations with Harold Hudson Channer"

              Upcoming Cable Television/Web Show: 

        For details of airing see bottom of page

              Guests For  Thursday, MARCH 20, 2008


                                           DAVE  CHANNON


                      Catskill Heritage Alliance


                           CAROLYN  ZOLAS


             Chair: Watershed Committee for the

      New York State Sierra Club - Atlantic Chapter


                             JULIA  McQUAIN


                  Coordinator: "Save the Mountain"




  The program can be viewed in its entirety by clicking the you tube link below:

   Dave Channon, Corolyn Zolas, Julia McQuain - DAVE CHANNON, CAROLYN ZOLAS, JULIA McQUAIN





Dave Channon has been an active exhibiting painter and sculptor in the New York art scene

since his first show in 1979 at Franklin Furnace, an alternative art space in SOHO. He was

apprentice to Joseph Cornell in 1969 at the tender age of seventeen, and has collaborated

with such greats as Red Grooms, Phillip Guston and Robert Indiana. His oversize inflating

sculptures have been reviewed in the New York Times, the New Yorker, The Village Voice

and New York magazine. Channon has exhibited in the New Museum, The Brooklyn Museum,

the Venice Biennale, and many well respected galleries. Since 1990, Channon has focused

on video art and his wildly inventive creations have been cablecast and satellite broadcast

in New York, England, Germany, Canada and Mexico. He is also fiercely dedicated to the

fight against censorship in the media. Channon served six years on the board of directors

of the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, and helped the MNN establish a better franchise,

double the channels, build a $5 million studio, hire a great Executive Director, and create a

$250,000 revolving grant fund for individual program producers and non-profit organizations.

He was victorious as sole individual named in a Supreme Court lawsuit in 1996 against

Time Warner, thwarting a conservative telecommunications act, and won an exclusion for

Public Access Television from the bogus "indecency" standards that commercial networks

supposedly adhere to but don't.

He started another career as a website designer in 1997 and has 
continued to create alternative videos and documentaries. The award 
winning "Too Much Time for Non-Violent Crime" marked the beginning of 
a series of video projects to repeal the Rockefeller drug laws. in 
2002 he met with Governor Pataki and the Mothers of the New York 
Disappeared, videotaping the negotiations for a new drug reform bill. 
He worked with National Artists For Mental Health producing programs 
that support the use of creative arts to reduce the need for drug and 
shock therapy for people with mental illness. Channon was 
instrumental in getting his town board in Shandaken to set up its own 
public access head end and cablecast their meetings live.
His latest project, “Belleayre: The Last Resort” tells the story 
of how a greedy developer and a corrupt ex-Governor are trying to 
circumvent environmental law and common sense, and could end up 
costing New York City $30 Billion.
  Channon lives with his wife, Karen Charman, an investigative 
journalist, in the Catskills near Woodstock. He paints in oils, does 
graphics and illustration, produces videos, designs websites, and 
welds rusty old farm implements into large sculptures.  He also grows 
a lot of sweet fruit and vegetables.  Visit www.esopuscreek.com to 
learn more.


Carolyn Zolas has been an activist with Sierra Club for over 20 years.  As a member of the Arizona

group, she learned that clean, plentiful water is essential to life.  Upon her return to New York City

nine years ago, she became active the State Watershed Committee, and has been the Chair of that

Committee for four years.  She is on the Advisory Board of Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition,

and has been part of the coalition to save the Croton Watershed from over-development.  Currently,

the Watershed Committee is campaigning against Belleayre Resort, a mega-resort plan in the

Catskills that would put 90% of NYC's unfiltered water supply at risk.  Zolas is a writer and lives in

the Bronx.  She can be reached at cleanwater@newyork.sierraclub.org.





Who to contact

Write Newspapers




Help us spread
the message.

Mail contributions to:
Catskill Heritage

P O Box 88
Shandaken, NY 12480

Make check payable to
Catskill Heritage Alliance


View footprint of proposed development


MAR 11, 2008 WAMC More Questions Following Spitzer Bombshell

MAR 2, 2008 Times Union Question Belleayre projects

FEB 28, 2008 NYS DEC Final Scoping Document PDF

FEB 28, 2008 NYS DEC PRESS RELEASE Bellyare Scoping Document Released

FEB 28, 2008 Freeman Scope of Belleayre review expands

FEB 20, 2008 WAMC Is Belleayre a Smart investment?

JAN 15, 2008 WAMC Hinchey: Economy's the Issue - Listen to interview with Congressman Hinchey as he talks about the economy and the Belleayre resort plan.

JAN 10 2008 NYTimes Albany: Lawsuit Over Ski Resort

Read all Headlines


View AIP documents, exhibits, maps

Read Scoping Comments

Ulster County Environment Committee Scoping Letter

Orange County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs SPARC and Stewart Park & Reserve Coalition OCFSC joint comments

More Scoping Comments

Letter to Governor Spitzer from a 7th Grader

Why Save the Mountain?

The Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park is a huge development proposed to be located on Belleayre Mountain at the intersection of Routes 28 and 49A in Highmount, NY, with buildings and roads continuing up the steep slopes to over 3000' in elevation. The location is within in the Catskill Park, in the NYC Watershed and borders constitutionally protected, forever wild forest preserve lands rich in wildlife, on the West side of the taxpayer owned, DEC managed Belleayre Ski Center.

Photo Credit: Mark Loete

The Belleayre Resort proposed by Crossroads Ventures, LLC with partners Dean Gitter, Emily Fisher and Ken Pasternak, now consists of two developments totaling 629 "units" of various sizes, an 18-hole golf course, driving range, clubhouse, two hotels, two spas -- one underground, five restaurants, ten retail stores, a conference center with a 12,000 sf footprint but unknown number of stories, parking, guest and service roads, gates, security guards, street lighting, service buildings and other structures not yet detailed. More details of the plan are below.
Many local residents, community and environmental groups are standing firm in their opposition to the scale of this project, its impact on the rural communities, picturesque hamlets and protected trout streams, and in particular to some of the buildings and roads built on very steep slopes and at elevations not usually allowed.
Please join our efforts to make this a good project, of sensible size, to enhance, not destroy the Catskill Park and the co-existing wildlife, towns and communities.

Back to top

Belleayre Resort Specs

Here are the details of the Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park, proposed for steep slopes on Belleayre Mountain, the location is in the Catskill Park, the NYC Watershed, and borders constitutionally protected, forever wild forest preserve.

The "Deal"

The "Deal" covers the Wildacres Resort whose plans, although constantly changing, have been public for some time, and the NEW Highmount Resort that was unveiled to the public for the first time by NY's Governor Eliot Spitzer in a press conference on September 5, 2007. View resort plan.

The information below is taken directly from a binding legal agreement, called the Agreement in Principle (AIP) that was negotiated in secret at the direction of Governor Spitzer. The negotiations were held in the Governor's chambers, under the direction of Deputy Commissioner Judith Enck.

The AIP, signed by Crossroads developer Dean Gitter, the Governor's staff and some members of the Catskill Preservation Coalition, caused the dissolution of the Coalition as other member organizations DID NOT AGREE. The list of which members did, and which did not agree to sign, is listed in the Who's Who. The developer's information has yet to be thoroughly verified. What is listed below was agreed to in principle by the signatories, and they are now legally bound to support it.

Belleayre Resort NOW consists of 2 developments:

To be located on Belleayre Mountain, on the West side of the NY State taxpayer owned, DEC managed Belleayre Ski Center at the intersection of Route 28 and 49A in Highmount, NY the Belleayre Resort now consists of two developments totaling 629 "units" of various sizes, an 18-hole golf course, driving range, clubhouse, 2 spas - one underground, two hotels, five restaurants, ten retail stores, a conference center with 12,000 sf footprint but unknown number of stories, parking, guest and service roads, street lighting, service buildings and other structures not yet detailed. See all exhibits and the AIP here.

By the numbers:

Wildacres Resort
Total 389 units

250 unit (room/suites) Wildacres Hotel
139 lodging (2-bedroom) units in multi-unit buildings (initially planned as 21 eight unit Octoplexes)

(NOTE: Sf is for footprint only. Could be multiple floors in height or underground)

Hotel and Golf Clubhouse = 185,600 +- sf
Detached Octoplex Units = 7,900 +- sf per building
Parking Structure = 45,000 +- sf
Fitness Structure/Pool House = 10,000 +- sf
Maintenance Buildings = 9,5000 +- sf
Driving Range Structure = 5,500 +- sf
Water Treatment Plant and other minor accessory structures = 2,500 +- sf
PLUS, 18-hole golf course, ??? acres

Highmount Spa Resort
(a NEW segment, plans not seen by the public, nor yet reviewed by agencies)
Total 240 units:
120 unit (rooms/suites) Highmount Spa Hotel,
60 lodging (2 bedroom) units in two 30 multi-unit buildings,
60 individual lodging (3-bedroom) units (HOUSES) in either individual or duplex buildings.

(NOTE: Sf is for footprint only. Could be multiple floors in height or underground)

West Lodge = 32,000 + - square feet
East Lodge = 32,000 +- square feet
Hotel = 60,000 +- square feet
Spa (underground) = 30,000 +- square feet
Conference Center = 12,000 +- square feet
Detached Single Units = 2,800 +- square feet per building
Detached Duplex Units = 4,500 +- square feet per building
PLUS ROADS up the mountain, ??? acres

Get more information on our Resources page

Back to top

©2007 Save the Mountain | PO Box 453 Highmount, NY 12441
Contact us at getinfo@savethemountain.net

Mission | News and Pressroom | Resource Articles and Links | Who to Contact | Events | Photos | Donate

Top photo by Matt Frisch. All photos donated to Save the Mountain.


The Catskill Heritage Alliance is a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving the harmony between the villages of the central Catskills and the surrounding wilderness through community revitalization and open space conservation. The CHA is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt charitable organization.
| Contact | Join | Donate | Organization | Heritage | Issues | | Directory | Links | Followup On The News I
Rally with Sierra Club at Manhattan City Hall
Thursday, March 13. Meet at 10:30 AM - Starts at 11 AM
For travel info: info@catskillheritage.org

The new scoping document is now available. Visit:

Scoping document for Belleayre ski area and Belleayre resort

Based on the issues listed in the scope, yopu may begin preparing your comments for the public hearings, date to be announced.

Watch a video of the Belleayre Snowball demonstration - Click Here

Watch the developer get booed by 600 people at a public hearing - Click Here

Save Catskill Park and Belleayre Mountain petition to Gov. Spitzer

Notice of Intent to Prepare a Draft EIS Determination of Significance

Scoping background documents - - - List of all Background



Sierra Club Says 'No' to Belleayre Resort Compromise, Sees Threat to Water

Read press release issued by the Catskill Heritage Alliance

Read press release issued by the newly formed Highmount Preservation Association

Read press release issued by the Save The Ridge

Read Kevin Cahill's letter to Gov. Spitzer

Listen to WAMC radio program - and respond! - Email WAMC radio

Take an animated 3-D virtual tour of the mountain and project site - Download Google Earth

NOW! Write to local newspapers and representatives. Here is a sample letter. Please write in your own words! Email links are provided below

To the editor:

There are still very serious problems with the proposed development by Crossroads Ventures at Belleayre.

First, while the total project has been reduced in size by 20%, on the west it is actually increased by almost 45%. The original plan for the west side of the resort was for 439 units; the current plan is for 629 units. Such density would result in a range of adverse impacts: traffic congestion, noise pollution, sprawl, etc.

Second, the project still calls for construction on steep slopes—steeper than 20%. This poses the threat of extensive run-off and flooding.

Third, the project includes construction of 19 units at elevations above 3000 feet. Such construction, requiring extensive rock-blasting and tree-clearing over an eight year period, will irrevocably and adversely alter the natural beauty of the mountain and would set a dangerous precedent for future development in the Catskill Park. At the same time, the blasting and clearing would endanger existing homes in the area.

Fourth, it is local people who are being asked to pay the price of this project twice. We are paying first in the incentives and sweeteners being offered to the developer to be paid for out of taxpayer money. We will pay again in higher property taxes to support an expanded infrastructure. Moreover, developments of this scale—all-inclusive, self-contained resorts that are small cities unto themselves—never benefit the local economy as visitors buy all they need on site.
Finally, we believe that our political leaders have missed an opportunity here to set an example of the kind of smart, sustainable development next to public land that could be a model for the nation. We’re sorry they did so.

Those organizations that signed the Governor’s agreement gave up their right to seek judicial review of these issues in the future. On behalf of the residents of the hamlets and villages most affected by the proposed development—and on behalf of all of us who cherish the unique natural treasures of our region—the Catskill Heritage Alliance has chosen to continue the process mandated by the people of the state.

The Catskill Heritage is committed to supporting responsible growth. We are only opposed to irresponsible growth.

Richard Schaedle
Chairman, Catskill Heritage Alliance

Daniel T. Whitehead, Environmental Analyst
Division of environmental Permits
625 Broadway, 4th floor
Albany, NY 12333-1750
Tel: (518) 402-9167
Email: wildacre@gw.dec.state.ny.us
(Put "Scoping -Belleayre" in Subject Line)

Scoping is the legally-mandated detail of Public Concerns about all possible Impacts of the proposal.
DEC extends Scoping public comment period one week. DEADLINE for comments is now January 14, 2008. Get details on Scoping and making a comment: http://www.savethemountain.net/scoping_details.html

Read about the new Belleayre Resort proposal announced on September 5, 2007

New Resort Plan Map -Text of Agreement - Environmentalists split- Article in Freeman - Article in NY Times - Article in Earth Times - WAMC radio interview - Joint Press Release - Comments by: Spitzer - Mark Hoffer (DEP) - Rose Harvey (Trust for Public Land) - Gitter - Eric Goldstein (NRDC) - Tom Alworth - Governor Spitzer's Q&A - NYT editorial - Newswire Press Release -

1 Exhibit B Narrative Criteria for Refining Layout (8-29) - (#.DOC

2 Exhibit E Organic Golf Course management Plan 082807 (2).doc

3 EXHIBIT F 3006 Stormwater Narrative-Final Version.doc

4 Exhibit G Water Supply 8-28-2007 FINAL.doc

5 Exhibit H -- Connection to Pine Hill (clean) - (# Legal 1794.DOC

6 Exhibit-A.pdf

7 Exhibit-C 082307.pdf

8 Exhibit-D-1.pdf

9 Exhibit-D-2.pdf

10 Exhibit-D-3.pdf

11 Exhibit-D-4.pdf

12 Exhibit-D-5.pdf

13 Exhibit-D-6.pdf

14 Exhibit-D-7.pdf

15 Exhibit-D-8.pdf

16 Exhibit-D-9.pdf

17 Exhibit-D-10.pdf

18 Exhibit-D-11.pdf




Four Catskill Preservation Coalition Members
Decline to Sign Agreement with Developer Dean Gitter

(Shandaken, NY – September 5, 2007) The Catskill Heritage Alliance, Friends of Catskill Park, Sierra Club, and Pine Hill Water District Coalition announced they have not signed an MOA approving a revised Belleayre Resort development negotiated between Crossroads Ventures, LLC and the Catskill Preservation Coalition (CPC).

The final MOA was released to CPC member groups only yesterday. Because it is not substantially a lower-build compromise the four groups said they could not endorse it by signing. They will continue to oppose this or any other project of similar size and scale.

The revised resort was proposed during confidential negotiations in Governor Spitzer’s office, under a gag order, with details unknown to the public until now.

Groups that don’t sign retain their rights to publicly oppose the project, to adjudicate issues in an SDEIS, and to judicial review of the FEIS, the SEQRA findings statement, any final permits—state, county or local, and any Unit Management Plan or changes to the taxpayer-owned, DEC-managed Belleayre Ski Center.

Too Big

“Scale remains the stumbling-block,” said Judith Wyman, Friends of Catskill Park Chair and one of CPC’s official negotiators. “This proposal is for a resort only slightly smaller than the outsized original. That’s not an acceptable compromise.”

“We local residents would still shoulder the adverse impacts of this unacceptable development: traffic, noise, disastrous flooding, the undermining of our way of life and our economy,” said Richard Schaedle, Chairman of Catskill Heritage Alliance, also one of CPC’s official negotiators. “This Agreement sets a terrible precedent for future growth in the Catskills.”

The negotiations did result in no build on the sensitive Big Indian plateau, improvements in monitoring, one 18-hole golf course instead of two with organic management, and some green building improvements—all with conditions.

But the revised plan merely places most of what was originally planned for both sides of the proposed Resort all onto the west, straddling Rt. 49A, a winding, mountain road. The massive scale of the project would dwarf the area villages causing severe socioeconomic displacement, in addition to environmental concerns due to the location.

It would include a completely new Highmount development with east and west lodges, a 120-room hotel, a spa, conference center and other amenities, and 120 detached housing units on steep mountain slopes, as high as 3000 feet and highly visible, even from Forest Preserve hiking trails.

“The stormwater protocol for Highmount is only conceptual,” said Michelle Wooten, President of the Pine Hill Water District Coalition. “And we’re still concerned about where they will get enough water for this project, since the well testing is incomplete.” We’re asked to approve this MOA right now, with major issues unresolved.”

Endangers Public Resources

Of particular concern is the development’s location in the watershed serving 10 million New Yorkers.

"It’s difficult to control flooding and erosion on mountains, yet this plan calls for a square mile of dense development, including a golf course. Heavy development in this sensitive mountain area could put NYC's water at risk of filtration, estimated at a cost of $10 billion," said Carolyn Zolas, Watershed Committee Chair for the Atlantic Chapter of Sierra Club. www.newyork.sierraclub.org

“We couldn’t get an accounting of the taxpayer-funded perks promised the Developer during negotiations,” said CHA Treasurer Doris Bartlett. “Taxpayers deserve to understand the full costs they will bear.”

The proposal includes taxpayer-funded chair lifts and ski trails with snowmaking leading from the taxpayer-owned Belleayre Ski Center directly onto private Resort property.

“The Belleayre Ski Center is a vital economic engine for the region,” said Schaedle. “Some expansion and additional area lodging will help it remain competitive; but the Resort’s size -- over 2000 beds -- is unacceptable. It will suck the economic vitality from the surrounding communities.”

“Now that the details are public,” Schaedle added, “those concerned about the future of the Catskill Park and forest preserve can inform themselves and participate in the scoping session, public hearings and the supplemental DEIS.” www.CatskillHeritage.org

“These mountains are already a destination for millions,” said Wyman, “and the people of New York State have long protected them. This development threatens a precious public resource and we have to find a better way. The process continues.”

Prior to its dissolution with some members agreeing and some declining to sign an MOA, the Catskill Preservation Coalition comprised Catskill Heritage Alliance, Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, Friends of Catskill Park, NRDC, NYPIRG, Pine Hill Water District Coalition, Riverkeeper, Inc., Sierra Club, Theodore Gordon Flyfishers, Inc., Trout Unlimited and Zen Environmental Studies Institute.


Photos, interviews available. Contact Richard Schaedle, rschaedle@earthlink.net 845-254-5638, Judith Wyman catskillmtflower@msn.com 845-688-7312, Carolyn Zolas, czolas@yahoo.com 718-541-6388.

Additional issues for comment by Schaedle, Wyman or Zolas:
Stormwater runoff, potential watershed impacts
Steep slope and mountaintop development
Noise/Light pollution
Socioeconomic and community character impacts
Workforce availability
Traffic on Routes 28 and 49A
Taxpayer-funded “sweeteners,” and public amenities
Waivers of standards and recommendations
Potential for a Casino


Contact: Julie McQuain
P.O. Box 88 Shandaken, NY 12480

Development Pressure on Open Space is a Regional Issue, Residents Say Pine Hill, NY, May 22, 2006 — “Threats against our environment and our economy are region-wide, and so is the fight against those threats,” said Catskill Heritage Alliance chairman Susanna Margolis, referring to large-scale development in the Catskills region. Illustrating growing cooperation among grass-roots environmental and community groups to preserve the region’s environment and turbo-charge its economy, Save the Ridge coordinator Patty Lee Parmalee and treasurer Ann Songayllo attended a recent CHA meeting to exchange signs, t-shirts, and ideas.
“They’ve saved the Ridge,” Margolis said, “preserving forever a nonfragmented wilderness in the storied Shawangunks. Now the battlefront shifts northward just a bit.”
“It’s the same battle,” Patty Lee Parmalee concurred, “whether here or there, and it’s waged by citizens banding together and just simply never giving up.”
With nearly 500 members and supporters, CHA has spearheaded opposition to the golf mega-resort proposed for Belleayre Mountain in the heart of the constitutionally protected Catskill state park and forest preserve. CHA is a member of the Catskill Preservation Coalition, which is waging the legal battle in the state-mandated environmental quality review, SEQRA.
“As with the Gunks,” Margolis said, “if you cut down forest, blast and pave mountains here you get flooding, soil erosion, greater temperature extremes, falling water tables, and contaminated aquifers. You also destroy our economy, because wilderness is our most important economic asset. That’s the point Save the Ridge made successfully, and it’s the point we’re driving home today.”
Save the Ridge was founded in 2002 to fight a 350-house-plus-golf course development proposed for a 2500-acre slope of the Shawangunk Ridge. After vigorous community activism, Save the Ridge achieved its goal in March 2006, when a court ordered the sale of the property to Trust for Public Land and Open Space Institute, who immediately sold to NY Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for addition to the Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
Catskill Heritage Alliance is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit grassroots organization dedicated to preserving the harmony between the villages of the central Catskills and the surrounding wilderness through community revitalization and open space conservation. Information on CHA activities including stream and reservoir cleanups and educational public forums is available at www.catskillheritage.org .-###-
Note to editors: Interviews, photo available.


This year’s featured performers include:

WHEN: Saturday, September 15, NOON - 5 pm

WHERE: The Rauters’ Beautiful Place
741 Halcott Road (County Rte. 3)

DIRECTIONS: From Citgo Gas Station on Main St. in Fleischmanns, take Lake St. 4.5 miles north

PLUS: food and drinks, exhibits, volleyball, spectacular views, and plenty of room to enjoy being with others or to get off on your own.

ESPECIALLY FOR KIDS: face-painting, a butterfly exhibit, storytelling, and hayrides across the fields.

HOW MUCH: $10 per person, $5 for a child under 12. Tickets at the door.

WHY? To preserve our Catskill heritage and keep it vital, so if you can’t come, please send contributions to:

CHA, P.O. Box 88, Shandaken, NY 12480


Proposed Mega-Resort Project
General Information DEP Intends To Withhold Permits
New York Times article (April 24, reg. req.)
Daily Freeman article (April 27)

DEC Deputy Commissioner ruling (download PDF)

CPC press release

DEIS Online
Selected sections now text-searchable
Selected DEIS Comments Sign A Petition

2007 "Our Catskill Heritage" Scholarship Awards

Four prizewinning essays from schoolkids in our area

Each winning student was awarded a $100 scholarship by the Catskill Heritage Alliance. We want to thank all the students who participated and look forward to your submissions next year.

Read the essays>>>


DEC Deputy Commissioner rules on Belleayre Resort:

6 Issues must be adjudicated

§ Water supply
§ Aquatic habitat
§ Stormwater
§ Visual impacts for users of the forest preserve, including nighttime
§ Noise impacts for users of the forest preserve
§ Smaller-scale alternatives to the proposed mega-resort.

6 issues not to be adjudicated:

Impact on forest preserve
Impact on wildlife
Traffic Impact
Impact on community character
Secondary and induced growth impact


1. While the CPC will not be surprised to lose some issues on appeal, we fully expect to argue a number of issues in adjudication hearings. This is our next battleground, and we are preparing now to wage a powerful fight in that legal arena. Our greatest need is for funds to support this essential legal challenge. Your donation to the CHA is tax-deductible. Send your contributions to:

CHA Treasurer
POB 88
Shandaken NY 12480

2. Write letters. Although the periods of public comment are over, there is nothing stopping any citizen from writing to:

Governor Eliot Spitzer
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224 email

US Senator Hillary Clinton email

Congressman Maurice Hinchey email

Senator John Bonacic email

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver
LOB 932
Albany, NY 12248 email

State Senate Leader Joseph L. Bruno
Room 909 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247 email

To find your Ulster County representatives, click here

To find your New York State assemblyman or your local state legislators, click here

If you live in New York City, please write to:

The Honorable Michael Bloomberg
City Hall
New York, NY 10007 email

To find your New York City Councilmember, click here

DEP Commissioner
Department of Environmental Protection
59-17 Junction Boulevard, 10th Floor
Flushing, NY 11373 email


Following is the press release issued by the Highmount Preservation Association:

Press Release
Issued by the newly-formed Highmount Preservation Association
Matt Frisch, Coordinator
Freddi Dunleavy, Communications Director

We the under-signed members and supporters of the Highmount Preservation Association reject the current Belleayre resort plan both for its negative impacts on the local environment and community as well as the New York City water supply and global environmental challenges.

The development plan would negatively impact the local environment and community in the following ways:

The development would create the largest population center between Woodstock and Delhi. Those towns grew organically in suitable locations with adequate resources; this resort "city", consisting of 629 housing units would be artificially forced upon an unsuitable site and an unwilling community. The development would be located on mountain slopes ill suited to high-density housing. The development "Agreement" was signed without proven potable water supplies or storm water protocols for the Highmount section. No provision has been made for a buffer between the development and existing homes. A construction project of this size requires a huge expanse of suitable land. Squeezing high-density housing into small, marginal sites would scar the natural environment. The massive scale and side effects of the development would destroy the rural character of the community.

The resort as planned would dramatically increase traffic, noise, air and light pollution. People have been coming to the Catskills for generations to experience nature at its unspoiled best. Permitting such a development would truly kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. For over 60 years, Belleayre Ski Center has been a good neighbor to surrounding communities. It has provided us with great recreational opportunities without unduly harming the environment or damaging the rural character of the area. The ski area's development has been held in check by its location within the forever wild Catskill Park and its special status as a public facility. It has been a balancing act and Belleayre Ski Center has performed beautifully. Now, Governor Spitzer and Dean Gitter have lost sight of the partnership between Belleayre Ski Center and the Catskill Park and see nothing standing in the way of an explosion of development on Belleayre Mountain and Highmount. We question their right to bulldoze and blast the mountains beyond recognition.

While the developer promises that this mega-project will bring in additional tax revenue, the opposite is actually true. The project will receive tens of $millions in tax abatements for years to come. Meanwhile, the development will exact a huge price in increased police, road and emergency services not to mention the cost of educating resort staff and resident's children. Expenses incurred by a city-size resort will result in property tax increases year after year. Studies conducted throughout the nation have shown that mega-developments such as this result in an increased tax burden on the local population. Typically, mega-development also results in increased crime.

While the building sites specified in the plan are relatively small, the proposed structures are huge. The main building at the Wild Acres site, looking like a Victorian castle on steroids in artist's representations, would overpower the landscape. The 120-room hotel and dozens of condominium units planned for the Galli Curci site would be visible from the north, west and the south. The 19 houses perched atop the Highmount ridge, above 3000' and their 4-season access road would make any argument over cell towers or wind turbines seem quaint.

Construction on this scale on our rocky slopes would require years of blasting. The aquifer adjacent to the planned development is very deep. Residential wells on nearby Kelly Road are typically 700' and flows are often under 1 gallon/minute. Construction blasting could easily divert water from residential wells in the area. The planned resort's enormous water requirements would overtax the aquifer and cause neighboring wells to fail.

A development of this size would divert investment, energy and commerce away from our already neglected local hamlets of Pine Hill, Fleischmans, Arkville and Margaretville. As envisioned by the developer, this resort would be full-service. It would bring people to the area but they would never have to leave the resort. Would the trickle-down benefit of a mega-resort nearby be worth the costs? We need sustainable, complementary development that helps bring lodging and retail business and light industry back to our once charming villages rather than a competing development on mountain slopes that has an unfair advantage due to tax breaks and government largess. The aquatic center and the Watershed Museum announced for the Arkville cutoff will strengthen our hamlets. The resort as planned would likely increase the challenges they face.

The development plan would negatively impact the New York City water supply and exacerbate global environmental degradation in the following ways:

The projects will place 629 residential units, a golf course (which legally only has to be "organic" for 5 years according to the Agreement in Principle) and two hotels on the slopes of Belleayre Mountain and Highmount within the forever-wild Catskill Park. The 629 housing units would be squeezed into high-density clusters within the total resort holdings of 748 acres. Runoff from this development will drain into the Pepacton Reservoir in the Delaware Watershed. This entire mountainous region is composed of shallow, clay soils and disturbances of any magnitude can cause erosion and runoff, dangerous to water quality. Recently, New York City won another exemption from filtration. Runoff from an over-sized, poorly sited development could force the DEP's hand when the city applies to renew its filtration waiver.
"...Development in the Croton watershed, east of the Hudson River, has resulted in taxpayers paying over $3 billion in filtration expenses. This filtration caused a 9% increase in NYC water bills and will rise again next year by 11%. The cost of filtering the Catskill/Delaware system has been estimated at $10 billion, and would result in even steeper rate hikes", according to Caroly Zolas, Chair, Watershed Committee, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. "This development disaster will have a negative impact on residents of the surrounding counties as well as the millions of people in NYC who rely on the Delaware Watershed for their precious water supply."

The economic viability of this plan is anyone's guess. Hotels in Sullivan County have been mothballed for decades and they are only 2 hours from New York City. They are now desperately vying for legalized gambling in order to revive their fortunes. Is that the kind of bargain we want to make in the northern Catskills, as well?

In terms of the global environmental challenge of climate change, the proposed resort is uniquely environmentally irresponsible. The resort is 3 hours from New York City on a good day. There is no provision in the plan for mass transit. All of those residents and guests getting in their cars for the 150 mile trek each weekend would leave a huge carbon footprint. It is ironic that the more "successful" the resort, the more negative its impact on the environment will be. The plan claims to be environmentally responsible by virtue of "green" construction while depending for its existence on people not hesitating to hop in their cars and burn up barrels of fuel on their weekend excursions upstate.

The signatories below are the beginning of a groundswell of opposition to this ill-conceived, over-grown resort. We represent area residents and visitors who appreciate what we have and are willing to fight to preserve the mountains, the fresh air and the peace and quiet that are this scenic region's greatest and most lasting assets. We are working in conjunction with the Catskill Heritage Alliance to specifically address the proposed Belleayre resort. Our mission is to facilitate grass-roots opposition to the resort as planned.
In order to be added to our membership/contact list, please e-mail the Catskill Heritage Alliance- HPA@CatskillHeritage.org and request membership in the Highmount Preservation Association. Membership in the Association is free and open to all. Financial contributions to help in the effort to adjudicate potential harms of the resort are much needed and appreciated and can be directed to the Catskill Heritage Alliance.

Matt Frisch, Coordinator
Freddi Dunleavy, Communications Director

Following is the press release issued by the Catskill Preservation

CPC Gratified by Ruling on Appeal of Mega-Resort Issues Arkville, NY, January 1, 2007

The spokesman for the Catskill Preservation Coalition (CPC) said today that the 11-group organization was gratified by the Issues Ruling handed down by Deputy Commissioner Carl Johnson of the state Department of Environmental Conservation concerning the proposed
Belleayre mega-resort. The ruling, which was delivered just before 5 pm on
Friday, December 29, the last full work day of the Pataki administration,
upheld the CPC on six significant issues it had raised about the proposed
development, the biggest in the history of the region, agreeing that the
issues were "substantive and significant" and required further inquiry on
behalf of the public and the environment. The CPC had argued that the
issues should be considered in the state-mandated environmental review of
the proposed project. The ruling means that a trial-like hearing must be
held on the six issues.
“The ruling confirms what we have been saying all along that the resort as
proposed would cause significant and pervasive adverse impacts that need to
be aired and addressed publicly," said CPC spokesman Tom Alworth, Executive
Director of the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development. He added:
"The environmental review process is a requirement of the state government,
and we look forward to working with the Spitzer administration to ensure
that the public is heard on these important issues."
The six issues include:
§ Water supply
§ Aquatic habitat
§ Stormwater
§ Visual impacts for users of the forest preserve, including nighttime
§ Noise impacts for users of the forest preserve
§ Smaller-scale alternatives to the proposed mega-resort.
The issues ruling argues strongly in favor of the resolution urged by
Congressman Maurice Hinchey to close the Big Indian Resort proposed for the
east side of the Belleayre ski center and construct a reasonable
environmentally benign resort on the western Wildacres side, Alworth
"Certainly, we are disappointed that in the final minutes of the Pataki
administration, the Deputy Commissioner overturned the hearing officer’s
rulings on such key issues as community character and secondary growth,
issues that will result in significant impacts to the local community,"
Alworth said. "But overall, we are gratified."
The Catskill Preservation Coalition represents a collective membership of
some 100,000 and reflects a wide range of interests including the
environment, economic development, conservation, community, landscape
preservation, and more. It comprises the Natural Resources Defense Council,
Inc., the Catskill Heritage Alliance, the Pine Hill Water District
Coalition, Theodore Gordon Flyfishers, Inc., the Zen Environmental Studies
Institute, Friends of Catskill Park, the Catskill Center for Conservation
and Development, Trout Unlimited, the New York Public Research Interest
Group, and Riverkeeper, Inc. The Sierra Club has joined with the CPC in
its petition for party status in the adjudicatory hearing on the proposed
development project.
The 6 issues that are not to be adjudicated are:
Impact on forest preserve
Impact on wildlife
Traffic Impact
Impact on community character
Secondary and induced growth impact

Follow-up On The News


Proposed Mega-Resort Project
General Information DEP Intends To Withhold Permits
New York Times article (April 24, reg. req.)
Daily Freeman article (April 27)


DEIS Online
Selected sections now text-searchable
Selected DEIS Comments Sign A Petition


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