Tuesday, March 09, 2010


This past Tuesday evening, the Ulster County Legislature held an informational hearing on the current status of the Belleayre Resort proposal spearheaded by Dean Gitter.

Most of the members were in attendance and the public seating was at maximum capacity. After 11 years and 100 alterations to the project, you'd think the latest version would be a slam-dunk. Well not exactly.

It was good that the newest members of the body got to see the current models of the resort and to hear some of the background right from the source. With acknowledgement going to Jim Maloney for having this forum, the question period started with comments of support from a number of Legislators. One such coming from Frank Felicello where he prompted opinions from the long standing opposition members of the body.

Neither Legislator Gregorius nor Shapiro could help but retort to Frank's obstructionist innuendos. After some heated banter and an obvious loss of cool by Dean and several members, the 45 minute dissertation on the status of the proposal came to a close.

Senior members informed the public and us freshmen that the current plan is quite different from what was i
ntroduced 11 years ago and the process for which developers contend with provides a better product when all is said and done.

Anyone aware of the Hudson Landing project in Kingston knows that their final proposal is so much better due to the public and official engagement that pushed the developer to think outside the box. I'm glad to have been on the Council when we had the opportunity to vote in favor. Now it looks I may have the chance to repeat that performance, but on a larger scale.

Shapiro and Gregorius had the opportunity to address the Press after the hearing expressing resistance to the pre-emptive resolution of support that Gitter is seeking from the Legislature. (Support before seeking a final approval from the state) Don seems intent on getting more information before committing but I count on them both being the only two NO votes come March 16th. Mind you, this is a preliminary endorsement of the general project to help the process along as they finalize the DEIS.

Below are pictures of the two models for the Highmount addition, that were on display in chambers...


Anonymous said...

Mike, I am a little disappointed in you.

Gitter has not completed the expanded DEIS as required. Now would you have supported AVR with an incomplete DEIS? I don't think so. Why would you vote in favor of promoting this project on March 16 without the DEIS being complete? Do you think that a project of this size and with such a significant environmental impact should be trusted to a wish and a promise?

As for Maloney being a hero, you may want to check his true, ulterior motives. Could it be he has relatives who personally stand to gain from this activity? Maybe a certain union guy who is quoted here. Is that possible? Check it out and then get back to me.

Mike, I was hoping for better from you. So far, you have shown a high level of naïveté and that you are easily swayed. Please buckle down and ask some more questions. These Republicans are the masters of framing the conversation and the debate. Please don't buy into it. Do some research, ask the important questions. Act like a Democrat damn it!

Anonymous said...

Well, it's not a pharmacy.

Anonymous said...

Shapiro and Gregorious should be ashamed of themselves. This guy os pouring millions into our area. Money that will create JOBS. Real jobs. As a county, we should be doing everything in our power to support this guys efforts. He has jumped through 50 hoops as the law requires him to do. He has been patient and done what was required and continues to do so. These two mopes talk about tourism in the county. Have they taken a look at the Catskills. The number of quality resorts and hotels in that area is completely lacking to support any type of real tourism. This resort will help alleviate that problem. People will come and spend money in our county. We need the revenue and the jobs that are going to go with this resort desperately. You guys all need to support this project and make sure it gets done.

Anonymous said...

Mike, you are aware of the very high hurdles the DEC, etc put any developer through and the final product after concerned input from the citizens is much better then the orginal proposal. We should be working very closely with Dean on this important project which when built would be the largest employer and the highest sales tax revenue. If this is done as planned it will be an important attraction for the county and provide the jobs now and later which are needed! We should, after all these years, embrace the project and make sure it is done with careful protections to the enviorment. Any developer who just wanted to make a quick buck would have droped this years ago. This shows that this is something we could be proud of for generations. If Shapiro and Gregorious have reservations and are not just closing the door for new business, they should sit down and review the proposal and make comments based on facts. Talk about the party of NO. If Ulster County does not move forward and increase the tax base and provide jobs, we might as well close the doors and move.

Anonymous said...

8:28. SO true!! LOL!! Disguise the resort to look like a pharmacy and it will be a done deal! HaHa. Ask Sottile for his input. NOT! He is good at gas stations and drugstores.

Anonymous said...

9:36, There is a good reason he has had to "jump through hoops". Are we to roll out the red carpet for this just because it promises jobs? Once he builds, the mountain is ruined forever. Forever is a long time, a lot longer than Gitter has been trying.

Anonymous said...

What keeps Gitter from just forgetting the whole project? Most developers would have given up years ago. Does he had some form of vision for the Catskills?I would think with the DEC in the mix that a resort would be built that would not harm the Catskills. If he is willing to work with them, why not let the deal go thru? Who pulls the strings of Shapiro and Gregorious?

Anonymous said...

Shapiro and Gregoreous are doing their job. How many people from the area want this project? I never, ever hear the people who actually live there being vocal proponents. It is always union people and Gitter's paid entourage. I am surprised that so many Democrats are getting behind this without the environmental process being completed. What is the Executives take? Is he for backing the project before the review is complete? What if a major environmental issue is discovered and it doesn't pass the review? The County will have backed a project that was environmentally damaging. That does not make sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Dear sir, The catskill park will be forever scarred by a development at this elevation. It will alter the experience of all those nature seekers
that will see bright lights when clear and a lit up fog bank in the sky when cloudy. There is plenty of room to build a resort at far less expense below the highmount road. It is better to have the density of activity and construction closer to the existing infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

Mike Madsen,
The hubris and contempt he displayed at yet another UC legislature "informational meeting", with yet another set of "new" plans, is exactly the same hubris and contempt Dean Gitter has shown the Belleayre area communities for more than a decade.

He's not interested in anyone's opinion but his own, as evidenced by his treatment of one knowledgeable Republican legislator who contradicted him.

Mr. Gitter doesn't care one whit what happens to the people of the surrounding community, their taxes, businesses, quality of life. Nor does he care about the tourists, photographers, artists, hikers, leaf peepers, skiers, cyclists, anglers and hunters who come to enjoy the peace and beauty of the PARK and forest preserve.

He wants to monopolize a public amenity, and limit its natural expansion in favor of his private, for profit real estate development. His trails, lifts, snowmaking, sewer, roads, emergency services, etc., provided by taxpayers. And mark my words, he wants taxpayers to underwrite him with IDA grants and PILOTS. 76 trombones anyone?

WE will still be paying for his project long after he's dead and gone--If it's ever built.

It appears Mike, sadly, that you and the Kingston crowd don't care either.
They don't ask for proof.
They don't even ask for a completed PLAN!
They don't think critically, investigate, test assumptions or ask any real questions.

Just approve it, they say, approve anything, get the details later! A pig in a poke through the looking glass. No wonder people don't trust Government!

Legislators Gregorius and Shapiro are held in high regard by the citizens of their district. They have been following this ugly process from the beginning. They are fair. They have spent many, many hours studying, listening and learning. It is simply outrageous that their experience and knowledge of their constituents is not given the proper credence by their peers.

To an inappropriate degree, DEC has bent over backwards to enable this project. State agencies have twisted themselves into pretzels trying to make work what is clearly a terrible violation of open space, public property, smart growth, and environmental recommendations. They should be ashamed. But they are not Mr. Gitter's problem.

Amazing thing: Gitter himself is the cause of the delay!

He has not yet submitted official documents for DEC review -- all the while complaining bitterly about DEC, DEP, the public, Rep. Hinchey, and even Legislators Shapiro and Gregorius, to the Chamber of Commerce, the Legislature, the press, anyone who will still listen to him.

He runs around with pictures and models and pie-in-the-sky promises. He is never required to give proof that he can actually build anything, or has the funding to do so.

So. After he finally submits his sDEIS, and it's deemed complete, and after the DEC finishes its DEIS for the expansion of the PUBLIC ski center--to benefit the private development mind you, not the taxpayers and tourists who use it--then the DEC must prepare its cumulative impacts EIS.
Then all will be reviewed. So. The sooner Gitter stops whining and manipulating politicians, and actually begins to submit his work, the sooner the review can COMMENCE.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Madsen-

I own a home in Hardenburgh. I don't know if you've had a chance to visit Hardenburgh, or how often you have made the trip to the area immediately surrounding the proposed Belleayre resort site (and in particular the proposed Highmount section), but if you have, I'm sure you'll understand how special the area is.

A common knock on opponents of the still evolving costs, design, and potential environmental impact of the development, is that we're all 'elite weekenders', NIMBY complainers, with no regard to the welfare of so called locals.
While there are certainly longstanding residents of the area who would support some aspects of the development, it is also true that there are a substantial number of area residents whose families have been in the Hardenburgh area for generations who have no desire for the development as thus far proposed. In fact Section
1a of Hardenburgh's Zoning Rules states the following: 'To preserve the rural character of the town and its' sensitive natural environment...'

I think it would be hard to argue that a development of this size (I believe the developer put out a projected number of approx. 2000 at full occupancy) would not alter Hardenburgh's 'rural character'. The entire population of the Hardenburgh is just over 200.

The roads in and out of the development, the sightlines, the drainage, etc, will directly impact our 'little town'. With a projected 8 year timeframe form start to finish, we'll be living in a decade long constrution zone.
I wish that Mr. Gitter were more open to a less 'grand' scheme. I understand that he has put a lot of time and effort in to his development, as have others, but opposition to the scale of this plan comes from all different quarters, weekenders, fulltimers,oldtimers, town officals, etc.

If you haven't made it up to Hardenburgh, or the immediate area lately, please try to do so soon. It's a beautiful place. We'd like to keep it that way.

Thanks for your time.

Anonymous said...

Shapiro and Gregorious (both Woodstock residents) claim to represent all the people of Shandaken (in whose township the Belleayre Resort would be located), but they do not. In the last four years how many times have they showed up at the monthly Shandaken town board meetings to hear from the townsfolk. Once? Maybe they might hear a different story about the resort project than the unsubstantiated blatherings they repeat from a special interest group dedicated to subverting any development, no matter how environmentally responsible. If they were truly interested in balancing economic development with environmental protection, if they were truly concerned about the economic plight of their constituants in Shandaken, if they were truly concerned about why our communities are failing and school closings are threatened, they might have taken time from their "busy" schedules - before cashing all their monthly legislator paychecks - to actually come to the developers offices to personally inform themselves about the project and what benefits it could provide to the people in this county. According to the developer, Mr. Shapiro declined FOUR separate invitations!
So when Mr. Shapiro claims to represent the people of Shandaken...NOT!

Resident Skier Hardenburgh said...

I skied at Belleayre yesterday and the road leading up to where the "luxury spa" is planned, Route 49A is barely able to handle any of the traffic that travels over it now. It is a precarious winding road that snakes up the side of a mountain and is always a mess due to the huge amounts of water that flow over and under it. An eight year building project with hundreds of trucks rattling over the road followed by the huge numbers of service, delivery, workers, not to mention the locals for which this road is the only access to route 28 and jobs make the building of the "mountain top luxury spa" a dangerous and ultimately disastrous decision. Keep the resort down by the entrance to the Belleayre ski center.

The reason Gitter has stuck with this project for so long is because all his investors get a big payday when the plans are approved and permitted. He will not be building this, this project will be built by Marriott or one of the other giants if they're foolish enough to go along with it. He convinced a group of investors that he could turn a bunch of land that nobody could build on into a gold mine by holding the state hostage. The reason it's taken so long to be approved is because it's an unrealistic project financially (a luxury ski resort at a mountain that can barely keep the slopes it has covered!) and the environmental problems are so gargantuan that anybody with an ounce of sense could stop it. All the Kingston legislators care about is construction jobs, but do they care about what happens after the entire mountain is torn up? The longer it takes to build the better for them. Who's pulling the Kingston legislator's strings?

Bottom line, keep the resort off the top of the mountain, if it must be built, build it down by the Wildacres section. That will provide jobs that can be filled by locals. If all of these posters are so familiar with the plans, they should know exactly what I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

I have a question. Who in this economy has the big bucks to even pursue this? What banks are going to lend the money needed to build this" pie in the sky" ? Local banks don't have that kind of cash.I get nervous when "outside" developers want to be involved. I have heard of this project over the last few years and never really paid attention but after reading the posts of pros and cons I am starting to see a real problem of this even being completed. Perhaps something on a smaller scale without having to be on the top of a mountain would benefit all? I too want to know why Gitter doesn't give it up especially with all of the controversy. Stick with something smaller if he has the "itch" to build.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Gitter's comment posted on 11:18, and his boorish behavior at the legislature meeting speak for itself. I don't blame shapiro for not meeting with him!

Resident Hardenburgh Skier said...

Was just at the State owned Belleayre Ski Center Monday (3.29). Snow is slushy and non-existent in many places. Way over where the proposed 5 star luxury ski resort Highmount Spa is set to be built there is of course, no snow and the Road (Route 49 A) is a disaster. This is where the developer wants to build mountain top, time share, ski in ski out condos. The snow for these condos will be provided by the state, the chairlift for the condos and the Highmount Spa will be paid for by the state, the taxpayer. In a good ski season, it is difficult to cover the existing mountain with a ski able cover but now the taxpayers will have to pay for the snow to be prioritized for the luxury ski resort and we have to hope that maybe people will buy expensive year round luxury timeshares to ski on a mountain I love, but can be thought of at best as a less than challenging ski even with the additional runs. If a private developer wants to take a chance on selling luxury time shares, fine. But why do the New York State taxpayers have to subsidize this risky venture?

The Wildacres Hotel site will have a lift going to it but will not be connected to the ski center. It will be separate and more of an all seasons resort. The mountaintop condos will not. People will view the Highmount Spa as a closed ski resort and if they buy, will not buy in the off season. Don't be fooled by Mr. Gitter's Highmount Spa model either, his company, Crossroads Ventures will not be building this, they are just getting the project permitted. The company that actually builds this project will hire their own architect and build it as they see fit. Mr. Gitter's model is a sham designed to mollify a gullible public.

By voting yes to this project, you confirmed to many that when it comes to the construction industry the UC Legislature is happy to turn a blind eye.