Kaaterskill Falls: Legend, history and natural beauty

Backyard naturalist
Kaaterskill Falls: Legend, history and natural beauty
 link is here: http://timesunion.com/ASPStories/Story.asp?StoryID=685773
By Carol Coogan, Special to the Times Union
First published: Monday, May 5, 2008

 

Tucked within the shale cliffs of the eastern escarpment of the Catskill Mountains, the "land of the falling waters," stands Kaaterskill Falls. Reaching skyward 260 feet, it is the tallest double-tiered waterfall in New York, and one of the tallest in the eastern United States.

Rich with legend, history and natural beauty, Kaaterskill Falls has long been sought as a recreational destination for the rich and famous, and a source of inspiration for artists and writers. Washington Irving mentioned it in "Rip Van Winkle." A famous poem by William Cullen Bryant was its subject. Thomas Cole's post-1825 luminous painting of the falls made it to the cover of the New York Evening Post, igniting the Hudson River School movement and early environmental activism.

Trace outlines and slight imprints of past resorts and byways remain softly settled into this landscape, including the foundation, stairs and upstream dam of Laurel House, a hotel once located above Kaaterskill Falls. Since careless and inexperienced hikers climbing beyond officially closed areas to the top of the falls have fallen and suffered injury and death, such awe-inspiring beauty is best appreciated safely.

Carol Coogan is an artist, writer and backyard naturalist. Her e-mail address is [email protected]

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State rejects Greene's request for Belleayre audit

CATSKILL - The New York State Comptroller's Office has denied Greene County's request for a financial audit of the state-owned Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, but local officials say they will continue to pursue the matter.

County Legislature Chairman Wayne Speenburgh, R-Coxsackie, said even though the audit request was turned down, the county will not back down from its concerns about Belleayre, which competes with the privately owned ski resorts in Hunter and Windham.

Competition with Belleayre, located in the Ulster County town of Shandaken, has been an ongoing topic of concern for Greene County officials, who feel the state-owned resort enjoys competitive advantages over private resorts that hurt the Greene County economy.

In July 2007, the county Legislature called for a full accounting of Belleayre and a moratorium on all state-owned ski area expansions until an independent economic analysis could be done. In January, the Legislature adopted a separate resolution asking that the scoping document of Belleayre's expansion include an analysis of the impact on neighboring counties.

In early March, the county requested a state audit of Belleayre to make sure the ski center was achieving its established goals, that public funds were being used efficiently and that assets were being adequately protected against fraud, waste and abuse.

In response, state Deputy Comptroller Lynn Canton sent a letter to Speenburgh, dated April 15, stating her office was "unable to commit sufficient resources to your request at this time." She said, though, that she would share the county's concerns with the independent auditors who work with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which operates Belleayre.

Speenburgh said the county received a second letter from the comptroller's office, also dated April 15, announcing that an energy audit of Greene County would be performed. He said the letter indicated the energy audit was part of a statewide process that all counties were going through, but that he found it odd that both letters were dated the same day. Speenburgh said the energy audit would examine the period of July 1, 2006, through April 30, 2008.

County Legislator Larry Gardner, D-Hunter, said he was disappointed in the comptroller's refusal to authorize the Belleayre audit and that he hoped the county would be able to persuade the office to reconsider.

"I think the comptroller's office can and should provide the taxpayers of New York with a clear financial analysis of the operations at Belleayre," Gardner said.

Greene County lawmakers have contended that Belleayre's unfair economic advantages over Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl and Windham Mountain include state-subsidized product pricing, access to state funds for capital improvements with no accompanying debt service, tax exemptions, freedom from insurance costs and the ability to operate at a loss.

The state's proposed expansion of Belleayre, forecast to cost $45 million, is to include the creation of new trails, lifts and lodges.

Interim Greene County Administrator Dan Frank said the state-owned ski resort is taking visitors away from Hunter and Windham and that the state should operate on a level playing field with private ski resorts.

Frank also said Greene County is deciding how to respond to the comptroller's denial of a Belleayre audit. A plan should be formulated in the next four or five days, he said.

"At this point in time, from our perspective, the case is not closed," Frank said.

LINK TO ARTICLE IS HERE:

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19508775&BRD=1769&PAG=461&dept_id=74969&rfi=6

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New Rush Album Recorded in Catskills at Allaire Studios

Wed April 30, 2008

Mountain haven inspires Rush to reach its peak

By Gene Triplett
If the music of Rush’s most recent album feels lofty and majestic, it’s probably because it was made on a mountaintop high in the Catskills, in surroundings conducive to the creation of the kind of soaring and mighty prog-rock sound this Canadian trio of virtuosos started perfecting back in the mid-’70s.

“Snakes & Arrows” was recorded at the residential Allaire Studios, where drummer Neal Neil Peart, bassist-keyboardist-vocalist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson set up housekeeping for six weeks back in November-December 2006.

“It’s just outside of Woodstock, New York,” Lifeson said in a phone interview from his Toronto home. “It’s situated on one of the mountaintops, or hills I suppose, and it has a beautiful view, a panoramic view, and the studio has really top-notch equipment, it’s really spread out. It’s very comfortable and you can just focus on your project. There’s no traffic to deal with, there’s no hotels to deal with, you’re there, you get up in the morning, the girls cook breakfast for you, you go in the studio and you work all day.”

One imagines these guys might have become sick of the sight of each other long before the end of that lengthy retreat, but there were separate cabins on the premises that offered solitude when needed, and there was plenty of room to wander.

“It’s pretty intense work in the studio and you don’t want too many distractions,” Lifeson said, “but we took a day off every week and we’d go to town, we’d have dinner, we’d walk around, and when somebody else was doing something, you’d get out. It was really nice to just walk around the grounds, through the woods. Everything was in color and it was very, very invigorating, from November to early December.”

Apparently all this fresh air and beautiful mountain scenery inspired them to reach for the peak of their powers, as one listen to “Snakes & Arrows” dynamically demonstrates. Sprawling, instrumentally and philosophically ambitious epics such as “Armor and Sword,” “Workin’ Them Angels” and “The Way the Wind Blows” are surging aural seas of tempestuous bass and drums and amazingly intricate acoustic and electric guitar textures, with Lee providing the often melodramatic narrative in that in that high yet weirdly commanding voice of his.

Some sneer at Rush as just another diehard throwback to’70s progressive-rock excesses, but there is simply no denying their incredible instrumental prowess and the ingenious complexities of their songwriting and arranging. What’s even more incredible is that Lifeson has had very little formal musical training.

“I started playing when I was 12. I just picked it up by ear,” he said. “But when I was 18, I studied for about a year, classical guitar. That did give me a really good basis in trying to explore chording a lot more, and the nature of the classical pieces that you’ve learned to play, there are bass lines as well as the melody line and you think of the instrument as two different parts, and it (the band) being a three-piece, I think you have to develop a guitar style if you want to have a full sound, particularly with a rhythm section like Neil and Ged, cqwho are very active. You need to fill out as much area as you can, sonically.”

By the time Rush arrived at Allaire Studios, most of the songs on “Snakes & Arrows” were already written, with Peart, as always, providing the lyrics. But the atmosphere of the studio, situated on a cliff with surrounding glass providing a breathtaking view of the valley below, spurred the spontaneous creation of two instrumental tracks: Lifeson’s poignant acoustic piece, “Hope,” recorded in one take, and the frenetic astral jam, “Malignant Narcissism,” a Grammy-nominated number that borrows its title from the film “Team America: World Police.”

Sadly, Rush didn’t win the best-instrumental trophy.

“No, are you kidding?” Lifeson said. “We were up against, well, Bruce Springsteen. He was up for an instrumental, which he hadn’t written or anything (“Once Upon a Time in the West” by Ennio Morricone). I think it’s the third time we’ve been nominated in this category and I don’t know how to take that anyway. I am almost relieved that we don’t win it. It’s nice to get the nomination and it’s amazing how excited friends get. ‘Oh, you got a Grammy nomination!’

“But I don’t know about all that Grammy bull — .”

Lifeson is simply proud of the album, which has been compared favorably with such Rush milestones as “2112” (1976), “Permanent Waves” (1980) and “Moving Pictures” (1981).

“There’s something about ‘Snakes & Arrows’ that reminds me of old Rush, but in a new clothes kind of thing, you know?” he said. “Like the way we wrote, the kind of dynamics that we used are classic in a Rush context, but the sound of it is quite modern and powerful.”

The follow-up album, “Snakes & Arrows Live,” containing songs old and new, has just been released on Atlantic, and Rush is on a tour behind it that will bring the trio back to Oklahoma City for the first time in more than a decade.

“I know, we can’t wait,” Lifeson said. “I remember playing there. We were there with Hawkwind in the early days. We opened for them. That was like ’75. I don’t think we’ve probably been in Oklahoma City since the early ’90s, but judging by your ticket sales, it’s gonna be a great show.”

LINK TO FULL ARTICLE IS HERE:

http://newsok.com/article/3237055/

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Hinchey Presses for Extension of Solar and Other Renewable Energy Tax Incentives

For Immediate Release                                                                                               Contact: Jeff Lieberson

April 30, 2008                                                                                                               202-225-6335 (office)

                                                                                                                                          202-225-0817 (cell)

 

Hinchey, House Colleagues Press for Extension of
Solar & Other Renewable Energy Tax Incentives

 

Washington, DC -- Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) this week helped lead a group of 11 House members in urging the House Appropriations Committee to include an extension of critical tax incentives for solar and other sources of renewable energy in a supplemental funding bill for the current fiscal year that is expected to be taken up by the panel as early as next week.  The congressman said the inclusion of the tax incentives, which have either already expired or will expire at the end of the year, are critical to the short and long-term goal of ensuring the United States is a leader in the development and widespread use of renewable energy.  The congressman noted that the extension of the tax incentives are critical to efforts to expand the growing solar industry in upstate New York through The Solar Energy Consortium (TSEC).

 

"As of this writing, companies are abandoning clean energy construction projects across the country due to the uncertainty of these tax measures," Hinchey and his colleagues wrote in a letter sent April 29 to House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI). "Companies need to know that the tax credits will be extended before making investment decisions on projects that cannot be completed before the credits expire.  The current situation threatens our economy at the very time we cannot afford another jolt.  According to an independent economic consultant, if Congress fails to act soon to extend tax credits for wind and solar energy alone, 116,000 jobs and more than $19 billion in investments will be lost."

 

At issue are credits for renewable energy production, investments in solar and fuel cell energy technologies, clean renewable energy bonds, and tax credits for energy efficient home appliances and commercial buildings.  The House passed an extension of the tax incentives on three occasions in the past year and paid for them by eliminating subsides for the major oil corporations.  The Senate has approved similar extensions as part of a housing bill, but failed to include the elimination of subsidies to the energy industry.  In their letter to Obey, Hinchey and his colleagues noted that it's imperative for the House and Senate to pass the renewable energy tax incentives in the same legislative bill so that it can receive final approval from both chambers.  The congressman and his colleagues are trying to have the tax incentives included in the supplemental appropriations bill because that is a bill that will definitely be approved by both the House and Senate.

 

Hinchey helped organize and create TSEC, which is a new industry-driven, non-profit organization that provides leadership, organization, resources, and support for the establishment of a major solar energy industry cluster in New York.  TSEC is the first organization of its kind for the photovoltaic industry, encompassing research and development, manufacturing facilities, industry promotion and market development.  Earlier this year, TSEC partnered with its first major manufacturing partner, Prism Solar Technologies, which plans to bring more than 400 new jobs to upstate New York within 4-5 years.  TSEC has also partnered with six research universities throughout New York to work on the research needed to improve solar technology.

 

"As we work to make solar energy much more mainstream, we need to ensure tax incentives are in place to encourage the research and development of solar products as well as to make it much more affordable for families and businesses to purchase and install solar equipment," Hinchey said. "The Bush administration will do whatever it takes to ensure Big Oil has a large advantage over emerging sources of renewable energy.  These tax incentives will help level the playing field so that renewable energy can really take off here in the United States."


         In order to advance TSEC, Hinchey helped secure $1.476 million in federal funds to help bring companies such as Prism Solar Technologies into the consortium.  The congressman also secured final approval of $3.2 million for C9 Corporation to conduct solar research and development in conjunction with TSEC.  Additionally, Hinchey helped convince Empire State Development to contribute a $1.5 million grant to attract solar energy companies to TSEC.  Subsequently, the recently approved New York State budget includes $6.5 million for TSEC.  Ulster County has also committed $200,000 to the consortium,

 

###

 

The text of the letter from Hinchey and his colleagues to Obey follows:

 

                                                                      April 29, 2008

 

The Honorable Dave Obey

Chairman, Committee on Appropriations

House of Representatives

Room H-218, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Mr. Chairman:

 

We respectfully request that the Committee on Appropriations include into the supplemental bill the extension of several clean energy tax incentives that either have already expired or will expire on December 31 of this year.  These tax incentives include credits for renewable energy production, investments in solar and fuel cell energy technologies, clean renewable energy bonds, and tax credits for energy efficient home appliances and commercial buildings. 

 

As of this writing, companies are abandoning clean energy construction projects across the country due to the uncertainty of these tax measures.  Companies need to know that the tax credits will be extended before making investment decisions on projects that cannot be completed before the credits expire.  The current situation threatens our economy at the very time we cannot afford another jolt.  According to an independent economic consultant, if Congress fails to act soon to extend tax credits for wind and solar energy alone, 116,000 jobs and more than $19 billion in investments will be lost.  

 

Due to the efforts of our Democratic leadership, the House of Representatives has on three occasions passed legislation that would extend these tax credits.  As you know, the Senate recently approved an amendment to the Foreclosure Prevention Act that also would extend the clean energy tax credits.  If the House and Senate do not act soon to resolve their differences and find a common legislative vehicle, we fear that a disastrous result for clean energy investments and our nation’s economy.  Companies engaged in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects could divert investments overseas or halt their activities altogether.

 

We support efforts to extend several clean energy tax incentives.   We further support your efforts to find the right venue to move these provisions and appreciate your understanding of the urgency at hand.  Your continued leadership on these issues will support positive growth in our economy and protect generations to come from effects of climate change.

 

                                                                Sincerely,


                                      Maurice Hinchey and his 10 House colleagues

 

 

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Minnewaska State Park Reopens

Click here for more news from New York State Office of Parks & Recreation News From New York State Office of Parks & Recreation

1135

News from New York State Office of Parks & Recreation

For more information contact: Eileen Larrabee, Dan Keefe 518-486-1868

Minnewaska State Park Reopens

ALBANY, NY (04/29/2008; 1658)(readMedia)-- The Overlook fire at Minnewaska State Park was declared out at 2 p.m. today as most sections of the park reopened to the public.

“I again thank all those who worked so hard to fight the Overlook fire, and I am extremely grateful the fire has been extinguished without serious injury or damage to nearby homes and businesses,” said Carol Ash, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “However, we still have a great deal of work ahead of us. In the coming weeks, we will monitor the fire area to ensure the situation remains stable.”

While most of the park will be open, the eastern sections of the park damaged by the fire pose potential hazards and will remain closed to the public, including:

• Jenny Lane Foot path, which is a section of the Long Path;

• Mossy Glenn Footpath;

• Lower Awosting Carriageway;

• Smiley Carriageway;

• Stony Kill Carriageway; and

• Stony Kill Falls area.

“As a result of the fire, Minnewaska remains vulnerable to many ecological threats, including erosion and invasive species,” Ash said. “Our patrons can help protect the park by staying out of the fire area. I strongly urge all patrons visiting Minnewaska to pay attention to signage, follow all park rules, and stay within the sections of the park that are open.”

The Overlook fire, first reported at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday, April 17, burned approximately 3,100 acres until it was contained on Tuesday, April 22 through the combined efforts of 134 state and local agencies. Extremely dry conditions contributed to the spread of the fire. The Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation jointly declared the fire out at 2 p.m. today after patrols observed no visible hot spots or flare ups for several days and 2.75 inches of rain fell on the park in 24 hours.

The park’s educational and interpretive programs will resume this week, beginning with guided hikes with a park naturalist at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. For more information on these and other upcoming programs and to register, please call the park office at 845-255-0752. Park hours are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The 20,000-acre Minnewaska State Park is situated in Ulster County just east of the Catskill Preserve, on the Shawangunk Mountain ridge, which rises more than 2,000 feet above sea level. The terrain is rugged and rocky, blanketed by dense hardwood forest encircling two lakes.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation administers 178 parks and 35 state historic sites. For more information about state parks and historic sites in New York, please visit www.nysparks.com.

-30-

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New Concord developers want to build new road to resort

New Concord developers want to build new road to resort

LINK TO ARTICLE IS HERE:
http://www.midhudsonnews.com/News/April08/30/Concord_acc-30Apr08.html


The 'back door' access from Exit 106 would
ease congestion on Route 42 (above),
just off Exit 105.

MID HUDSON NEWS APRIL 30, 2008

TOWN OF THOMPSON – Developers of the new Concord hotel resort being planned in the Town of Thompson want to build a new road leading from Route 17 to the $60-plus million facility in the Catskills.

The Cappelli organization and Empire Resorts are teaming up to build a hotel, conference, resort, harness racetrack and racino at the site of the former Catskills’ landmark hotel.

The developers want to build a new road off Route 17 in the Monticello area, said Cappelli spokesman Geoffrey Thompson.

“We feel by creating a new entrance road off exit 106 it’s going to provide the visitors and guest to the property with a really attractive idea, direct entrance way,” he said. “It keeps the traffic from getting within the town of Thompson’s main commercial street at exit 105.”

The plan for the road, which will be integrated with an expanded exit 106 network, will go before the town board shortly.

Town Supervisor Anthony Cellini said the state will fund the actual interchange work and the Concord developers will pay for their entrance road.

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New York state sees boom in legal bluestone mining

AP
New York state sees boom in legal bluestone mining
Monday April 28, 11:30 am ET
By Michael Hill, Associated Press Writer

 

LINK TO ARTICLE IS HERE:

http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080428/ny_bluestone_boom.html

With demand up and regulations streamlined, New York state seeing more bluestone mining

 

SANFORD, N.Y. (AP) -- Thick bands of bluestone run under hillsides west of the Catskills -- sturdy, pretty stones suitable for high-end walkways, fireplaces and patios.

Bluestone sells well, but it can be hard work getting it out. On a recent day, Mitchell Bush's mining crew sledgehammered big slabs and hand-loaded them on to pallets in an open pit under the midday sun. Bush has worked more than a 100 mines in his career, but he never knows how deep a deposit extends into a hillside. He never knows when he'll hit the mother lode.

"I'm hoping this will be a fairly large vein here," Bush said, standing by an exposed ledge of bluestone. "Even with 40 years experience, I'm conservative in my estimates."

Despite the uncertainty, dozens of miners like Bush have recently been scraping away at the these rural hills around Binghamton. Amid higher demand and streamlined regulations, state figures show a modest bluestone boom over the past decade in New York.

Bluestone is a $100 million a year industry statewide. Almost all of it taken in New York comes from mines across from the northeast corner of Pennsylvania. The area is speckled with overgrown cavities in the sides of hills, signs of old open-air mines dating as far back as the 19th century.

Despite the name, bluestone can be dusty gray or greenish or ruddy. Across the state line it's called Pennsylvania Bluestone, but it's the same stuff: sandstone laid down more than 360 million years ago. Buried layers of bluestone can be taller than a full-grown man, but horizontal fractures running through the rocks make it possible to break off thinner slabs that work well for backyard patios, walkways and fences. Some people use it for kitchen countertops. Bluestone prices vary, but it can offer a natural, middle-range product between concrete and higher-end granite.

"The demand is there," said Bud Passino of Sammarco Stone & Supply in Westchester County. "We're moving trailerloads per day."

Passino said bluestone demand has increased "tremendously" over the past decade -- a time when many Americans upgraded their homes. A big question is whether demand will drop off this summer with the weak economy. Passino said it's too early in the season to tell, though Bush said there are signs that demand is leveling off.

Bush comes from a line of miners dating back to a German ancestor who noticed the rich geology of upstate New York while serving as a mercenary soldier for the British during Revolutionary War. When Bush started his own career in 1969 with his pickup and hand tools, the job wasn't all that much different from the grunt work performed by his immigrant ancestor. While miners today use forklifts and diamond-tipped saws, Bush's four-person crew still does a lot of lifting.

"It works muscles you didn't know you had," Marilyn Kerwin said on a break from loading. Small and strong with short-cropped hair, Kerwin boasts of being the only female bluestone miner around, as far as she knows.

Bush's Simply Stone LLC operation is typical in the sense that he dispatches small crews to isolated pits which can be as small as an acre or two. This has made it hard, historically, for the state Department of Environmental Conservation to regulate bluestone mines. They often work under the radar.

"Basically, they wanted to be left alone and go up in the hills and scrape out a living," said Brad Field, director of the agency's mineral resources division.

Field said that when Pennsylvania began tightening up its bluestone oversight in 1996, some miners there migrated over the state line to New York. That's when New York regulators noticed instances of environmental damage.

Field said that many of the violations involved "overburden," the layer of dirt and rock that is cleared off before the bluestone beneath can be mined. Miners are supposed to put unused earth back in the cavity when they're done. Some rogue operators were dumping it over the sides of hills.

Looking to bring more bluestone miners into the fold, New York in 2002 created an exploration permit good for a year that gives small miners time to assess sites while taking out up to 500 tons of bluestone a year. Miners can apply for a year extension. The state gets to regulate, miners get to mine. A new report out provides evidence that it's working: permitted mines rose from two in 1999 to 64 now.

Field believes there are still rogue miners out there in hard-to-find spots.

Pennsylvania -- a far bigger bluestone state with 977 permitted sites -- has a similar program. Regulators there allow the removal of 250 tons of bluestone under a permit that requires a $1,000 bond.

The mine Bush's crew is working has been under the exploratory permit for two years and will move over to a full permit this summer. As president of the New York State Bluestone Association, he said the law makes it easier for miners like himself to make a living.

The law that allows exploratory mining will expire at the end of July. The state Legislature is considering a bill supported by the DEC and by the association that would make the exploratory permit permanent.

Even after decades of mining, Bush believes there are tons of bluestone to be found in the hills. Though after a two-century-plus run, there won't be a Bush removing it that much longer. At 56, Bush is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, and his two daughters are not interested in mining.

"Unfortunately, it's going to end," Bush said. "I'm heartsick about it."

 

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Old airport hopes to make comeback as Catskills tourist attraction

Old airport hopes to make comeback as Catskills tourist attraction


The airfield is ideally situated for soaring,
near the Shawangunk Ridge and its
favorable air currents


Depew, with restored sailplane

WURTSBORO – New management at Wurtsboro Airport in Sullivan County hopes to breathe new life into the more than 80-year-old airfield that gained renown for years as a glider airport.

Airport Manager Daniel Depew has led the effort to give the facility a complete makeover from fresh paint on hangars, new concrete floors, new fencing, soon-to-be repaved runways and taxiways and refurbished airplanes and gliders.

“Wurtsboro has a history of being the oldest soaring airport in the nation and the gliders normally draw people for rides all the way up from New York City,” he said. “Back in the day, they used to do almost 200 tows a day here with gliders, so we’re trying to bring that back and make that a real destination, a real jewel of the Catskills for people to enjoy, and also bring business back to Mamakating and back to Sullivan County.”

The airport currently owns 10 aircraft with another 50 privately owned planes and gliders based there. Several vintage planes and gliders belonging to the airport have been restored to their original conditions, which is part of Depew’s vision of tying aviation history to modern day flying.

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of work to already accomplished, Depew said they want to add a 1950s vintage diner as well as other amenities.

And, he said they want the airport to become more than an airfield, but a place for families to enjoy the outdoors, picnic and watch the planes and gliders. “We don’t want this to be a pilots’ yacht club,” he said.

Wurtsboro Airport will welcome the community back on Mother’s Day, May 11 when they hold an official grand reopening.

LINK TO FULL STORY IS HERE:

http://www.midhudsonnews.com/News/April08/29/WurtsArpt-29Apr08.html

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The Sierra Club’s Quest to Save the Mountain

http://oracle.newpaltz.edu/article.cfm?id=3728

By Christina Musso, Contributing Writer

Five years ago, a real estate developer came to Belleayre Mountain wanting to build a private resort in the Catskill Park in the New York City watershed and the constitutionally-protected borders.

The developer is “looking to develop the private resort less then 10 miles away from the Ashokan reservoir,” said Carolyn Zolas, the head of the New York City Chapter of the Sierra Club.

The private resort would be located right next to the public skiing and hiking area. The plans for the resort include adding more ski slopes for their guests, along with a golf course. The resort would be the size of 500 football fields.

Many local people were not as excited about it, and they began to protest. A campaign called Save the Mountain was created to help fight against the development.

“This plan, if it goes ahead, will turn public preserved land into private ruin,” said Donna Flayhan, an expert on public health.

The development plan has still not been resolved, five years later. Former Governor Eliot Spitzer created a Principle of Agreement contract that was supposed to please all parties, but not all parties in the Save the Mountain campaign signed onto it.

It wasn’t until the Sierra Club found out about the development, that the Save the Mountain campaign was rejuvenated,” Flayhan said. Now the Sierra Club is going full-throttle into the campaign to make sure that this resort is not built.

The biggest concern with this development project, according to the Save the Mountain campaign, is that it could cause pollution to the naturally filtered water. “A filtration plan will cost $30 billion,” Zolas said.

“New York City water is some of the purest public drinking water left in the world, because it comes from the Catskills, created by glaciers and nature, Flayhan said. “If the land is developed, the water will be polluted, not by terrorists, but by a developer.”

If that filtration system is put into place it could be the tax payers who are going to be paying for it. In addition, since this private resort would be so big, the layout for it would cause many trees and wildlife to be killed.

“We have to be able to protect this land from overdevelopment,” Rich Schaedle, chair of the Catskill Heritage Alliance, a local conservation group. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone. You’re not going to get it back,” he continued. “We need to protect it for our children and grandchildren for the future.”

Because this is such a huge issue, the Sierra Club has decided to show a movie at SUNY New Paltz to gain awareness. On Tuesday, April 29 they will show “The Unforeseen,” a film by Laura Dunn, produced by Terrance Malick and Robert Redford.

“The Unforeseen” is a film about a similar situation that happened in Texas where a real estate developer clashes with activists who want to preserve a local spring and the land surrounding it. The film will be followed by a panel discussion.

Those who attend the showing will find out about the devastation in Texas and how they can help.

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Editorial: Energy plan must consider whole state

UTICA OBSERVER DISPATCH
Observer-Dispatch
Posted Apr 17, 2008 @ 05:30 PM

The executive order issued last week by Gov. David Paterson to create a comprehensive state energy plan is long overdue and needs input from all localities so that the resulting policy doesn’t pit one part of the state against another. 

Instead, the resulting plan should carefully assess the state’s future energy needs and determine the best way to meet those needs with the least negative impact on the people. 

Paterson ordered the establishment of a state energy planning board to work on such a plan, which has been lacking since the old policy expired Jan. 1, 2003. The policy was restructured in 1998, when utilities were required to sell off their generation facilities and a wholesale competitive market for electricity was created. Prior to that, investor-owned utilities had owned electricity generation plants and transmission lines and distributed energy to customers. 

The state has been without an official energy policy since one expired Jan. 1, 2003. The lack of policy is one reason why some upstate communities now face a threat from the power line being proposed by New York Regional Interconnect. The proposed 1,200-megawatt line would run from Marcy to Orange County and would cut through the very heart of this region. 

Paul DeCotis, state Deputy Secretary for Energy and the chairman of the new planning board, said any future policy would not have a direct effect on NYRI’s proposal, which already has been filed with the state Public Service Commission. Mike Steiger of the NYRI opposition group Upstate New York Citizens Alliance believes the PSC will deny the application, which he says is flawed. Steiger says an energy policy will provide a plan so that another NYRI doesn’t come along after this. 

But there is no denying that state power needs are changing. New York can’t afford a piece-meal policy, and upstate residents can’t afford to fight one power line at a time. 

Having a firm policy can focus on future energy needs and make sure steps taken to address those needs are fair to all the people of the state.

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