Above: The Fleischmanns Theater, which may soon re-open as The Maxbilt dinner theater. Photos courtesy of Erik Johanson.
A Brooklyn couple who moved to the Catskills full-time in April has convinced the state of New York to nominate the derelict Fleischmanns Theater to the state and national registers of historic places.
It's the first step in Erik Johanson and Fernando Delgado's plan to re-open the property as The Maxbilt, a dinner theater featuring local food and independent film.
"We're really interested in supporting what's already here," Johanson said. "We came upon it with fresh eyes as newcomers here, saw it as a gem, and want to bring it back to everybody."
On Friday, Sept. 19, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the theater is one of 22 properties across New York State that is being nominated for the historic designation.
Left: Delgado and Johanson.
The theater's nomination to the State Register of Historic Places must be approved by the New York State historic preservation officer, who will then nominate the building to the National Register.
Official listing in historic registers would make the theater eligible for matching state grants and state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits, which would in turn open the door to outside investment, Johanson says.
Above: Gary Gailes, a spokesman for Crossroads Ventures LLC, shows Watershed Post reporter Lissa Harris details of a scale model of the proposed Belleayre Resort in 2013. Photo by Julia Reischel.
For months, backers of the long-planned Belleayre Resort project have been eagerly anticipating the end of the state Department of Environmental Conservation's lengthy process of environmental review.
The developer, Crossroads Ventures LLC, is eager to break ground on the project, which has been in the planning process for almost 15 years.
Town planning boards in the towns of Shandaken and Middletown, which the resort will straddle, are anxious to begin their own review process.
But before the state DEC can sign off on the project, clearing the way for permits to be issued, at least one more hurdle remains -- and it may not be a trivial one.
A legal process set in motion years ago to have an administrative law judge examine potential issues raised by the project is still open, and until it is officially dismissed or carried out, the Belleayre Resort cannot move forward.
Environmental groups that sought to downsize the project years ago will now have another chance to weigh in, and may seek to keep that process open in an effort to make further changes. Read more
As for local Catskills races, there are a few worth noting.
Left: Bryan Babcock. Photo via Babcock's campaign.
The Delaware County town of Franklin is holding a Republican primary for a town council seat. Bryan Babcock, the owner of Handsome Brook Farm and Bed & Breakfast who is also a professor at Hartwick College, is vying with Lisa Huyck and Donald Smith for one of two seats on the board. Babcock has criticized the town board for not implementing a comprehensive plan for Franklin.
"With several major infrastructure projects on the horizon in Delaware County," Babcock said in a press release. "it is essential that we protect our roads and utilities. To do this we need to be proactive as a Town Board. I feel that my experience as a business leader will help the Board be even more effective for Franklin residents."
In the Ulster county towns of Hardenburgh and Denning, the Sullivan County town of Neversink, and the Delaware County towns of Andes, Bovina, Davenport, Delhi, Hamden and Meredith, there is a Republican primary race for the 101st State Assembly District, which features a contest between Claudia Tenney and Chris Farber. According to the Daily Star, the outcome of the primary doesn't matter -- both Tenny and Farber will make it to the ballot in November.
This summer, the Catskills Outdoor Guide is partnering with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Catskill Watershed Corporation to bring you our new Catskill Reservoir Paddler embroidered badge, which you can only earn by paddling a specific reservoir each month.
In September, the spotlight is on the Pepacton Reservoir. Paddle the Pepacton anytime between September 1 and 30, send in your proof, and a Catskill Reservoir Paddler badge will be yours. Click here or scroll down for full redemption instructions.
The Pepacton reservoir is the workhouse of the Catskill reservoirs, holding more water than any other reservoir in the NYC system. It holds 140 billion gallons, and contributes a quarter of the entire city's water supply.
Above: A poster for the Windham Chamber Music Festival, just one of the events happening this Labor Day weekend in the Catskills.
Don't look now, but the leaves are already turning in the highest peaks of the Catskills. That and the arrival of Labor Day weekend confirms it: Summer is ending. Go out with a bang -- in some cases, a literal bang, with fireworks -- with these great events from around the region.
Above: Bill Lonecke with his wife, Barbara (left), and daughter, Cindy (right), standing where their Maplecrest house used to be. It was washed away during Tropical Storm Irene by the Batavia Kill, which is 50 yards away to the right. Photo by Christopher Auger-Domínguez. Read their story in our Faces of the Flood Project, here.
If you're anything like us here at the Watershed Post, anniversaries sneak up on you.
Three years ago today, Tropical Storm Irene blasted the Catskills with intense flooding, killing several local people and washing away homes and businesses in towns across our region. Read more
Above: The lit-up Berry Hill fire tower in Chenango County near Norwich during the 2013 lighting of the fire towers event. (The Berry Hill tower isn't one of the five Catskill fire towers that will earn you a badge, but it sure is pretty.) Photo by Warren Johnsen.
There's no weekend like this weekend to hike up a Catskills fire tower. Not only can you earn one of our coveted Catskill Fire Towers badges if you do (see details here or below), but you'll also get a rare treat: the sight of a fire tower cab glowing from within.
Once a year, the volunteers who maintain the Catskills fire towers hike lights into the cabs at the top of the towers, making them visible for miles around.
The event is meant to commemorate the time when fire towers were staffed by lonely and intrepid fire tower watchers who stood vigil night and day, scanning for signs of fire.
Above: The VW Parts junkyard on fire in Fleischmanns. Photos by Julia Reischel.
The VW Parts building owned by infamous Fleischmanns junkyard operator William Hrazanek caught fire around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 26. The former junkyard, located at 717 Wagner Avenue, is in the process of being purchased with federal disaster funds as part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) buyout program.
"FEMA is going to tear it down anyway," said Hrazanek as he stood watching the flames. "It's less work for them."
The fire was in full swing at 5:30 p.m. A tall column of smoke loomed over a crowd of students who were watching the fire from the grounds of a yeshiva next door. Multiple fire departments were on the scene.
Hrazanek said that he has no idea what started the fire, and that he was in the process of selling the contents of the building, mostly auto parts, to Euro Nutz Inc. in Saugerties. He said that he believed that workers from Euro Nutz had been inside the building earlier today, but that when he arrived at the scene, the door was locked and the fire was in progress. Read more
Above: Pastor Adrian Todd looks out of a broken window in the bell tower of the Fleischmanns United Methodist Church on Thursday, August 21. The windows were blown out when lightning struck the building that morning. Photo by Larry Dunlap.
Lighting struck the bell tower of the United Methodist Church in Fleischmanns at 8:45 a.m. on August 21, blasting off siding and blowing out six windows.
"Somebody said it sounded like a bomb went off," said Adrian Todd, the pastor of the church, which is also known as the Fleischmanns Community Church. "It was loud."
Todd wasn't at the church at the time of the strike, but several people were driving by and witnessed it.
"The windows blew out just as they were right in front of the church," Todd said.
The windows were plain glass, not stained glass. Todd said that the church's insurance company is investigating and determining whether it will cover the damage.
There were no injuries. Todd said that the tenants who live in the adjacent building were not affected.
Volunteers helped clean up the shattered glass off the church lawn yesterday, and today the broken windows are covered with plywood.
The church building dates from 1884, and as far as Todd knows, this is the first time it has been struck by lightning.