To the editor:
No one can deny that our Main Streets are too quiet. No one can deny that our tax base is dwindling as resident’s age out and housing sales remain sluggish. No one can deny that our school population is dropping dramatically year after year because our working families cannot find jobs and move away. No one can deny that the average homeowner and business must pick up the slack and pay increased property and school tax as people move away and buildings become empty.
What we need and have needed is a major ‘stimulus package’ that will provide not just one kind of job but a varied selection of jobs that will employ local residents and bring in new residents so that we can rebuild and sustain our communities into the future. The Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park is just such a project and one that has been vetted, adjusted and updated to respond to concerns. We urge you to attend the Public Hearing on the Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park on Wednesday, May 29, 2013. There will be two meeting times – 3pm and 6pm at the Discovery Lodge at Belleayre Mountain.
The long awaited draft Unit Management Plan has been released by the NYS DEC for review. On Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 7pm in the Discovery Lodge at Belleayre a public information meeting will be held. This draft provides the details for a full build out of the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center adding an estimated 280 new jobs. Of these positions, 200 would be seasonal and 32 would be full-time, year round with an additional 45 seasonal food service jobs in total. This does not include the number of construction jobs that will be filled to implement the build out plan. To review the draft UMP visit: www.dec.ny.gov/docs/permits_ej_operations_pdf/belleayrefinalscope.pdf
So many have worked tirelessly to seek innovative ways to improve an economy based on tourism – seemingly the only industry that is viable in an area surrounded by the Catskill Park and the NYC watershed lands and waterways. Building an economy based on tourism requires that we have the infrastructure of lodging and restaurants, four-season recreational destinations and vibrant communities and Main Streets that will attract the tourism dollars that has been proven to have great potential as a major part of our economy by a recent study conducted by the Catskill Heritage Alliance among others and found: http://www.catskillcenter.org/images/stories/pdf/catseconvalstudy.pdf.
If this is indeed the case then we DO NEED the infrastructure of destination resorts and a full build out of our largest recreational facility at Belleayre Mountain Ski Center. These two projects are our ‘stimulus package’ to a great future for our children, to the revitalization of our Main streets, to improved job opportunities so that working families can live in the central Catskills – buy a home, raise their children and enjoy all that we know is good in this region.
The time is NOW. We cannot wait any longer. The Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce has always supported Belleayre Mountain and we have supported the Belleayre Project in the past. We strongly urge that these projects be approved in their entirety and that they move forward for the sake of our future and our children’s future.
Written comments on the draft documents can be submitted through June 24 by email ([email protected]) or mail to: Daniel Whitehead, Region 3 Environmental Permit Administrator, NYSDEC 21 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz, NY 12561.
Carol O’Beirne, Executive Director
Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce