Friday, August 10, 2012


Attendees at the August 6, 2012 Shandaken Town Board Meeting discussing  the designation of land use on the Belleayre Ridge.

Heather Roberts makes her Parks and Recreation report, which included a recommendation of Gilmour Consulting as consultant to advise on the creation of a recreation plan for the town, and discussion  or possibilities concerning the use designation of the 1200 acre Belleayre Ridge parcel.

Kathy Nolan commented on the proposal to outlaw the use of fracking fluid for snow removal, and on the designation of the 1200 acre parcel.

Gary  Bales, representing Dean Gitter  commenting on the use designation or the 1200 acre parcel purchased from Gitter in 2011. 

Walter Crump, a landowner from Lexington and Shandaken who recommended the abolishing of the “Forever Wild” policy.

Man who recommended the outlawing of transport of fracking brine  on Shandaken roads

By Rusty Mae Moore


            Board Member Jack Jordan reported at the Town Hall meeting Monday that the newly appointed Shandaken Town Museum Director Earl Hatleburg of Chichester has resigned.  Hatleberg was just introduced at the July Town Board meeting, and served for less than a month. No reasons were given for his resignation at the town meeting, but later discussion with a Board member suggested that a disagreement as to pay and hours was the issue..  Jordan said that a search for a new Museum Director will be conducted.

            The Town Museum, located on Academy Street in Pine Hill, is housed in a nationally landmarked former school house built in the 1920’s.

            The museum was founded in the 1980’s by Nancy Smith, who is currently the Shandaken Town Historian.  Smith resides in Big Indian.

            In recent weeks Nancy Smith has been leading a band of volunteers in the task of refurbishing the exhibits in the ground floor of the museum.  Each Thursday at 10:00AM several energetic senior citizens appear at the museum to wipe down with Clorox towelettes the exhibits of the tools of everyday life for families in the rural 1900’s.  There are sets of carpentry tools, cobblers tools, printers tool, seamstresses tools, cooking implements, farming and gardening  implements among others.  There is a handsome 19th Century piano, and a display of period military uniforms worn by sons of Shandaken.  One of the most interesting displays is a treadmill to be powered by a goat or dog which provided power for washing machines or fanning mills.  There is a light fixture from the Phoenicia Bridge of the early 20th Century.

            The upstairs level of the museum has a series of alcoves focused on each of the 7 hamlets which make up the Town of Shandaken: Mt. Tremper, Mt. Pleasant, Phoenicia, Shandaken, Big Indian,  and Pine Hill.  A new feature of the display is several mannequins dressed in late 19th and early 20th Century apparel.

            It is fervently hoped that a new Museum Director will be found soon so that the museum can reopen on a regular basis.  There have been four Museum Directors since the summer of 2009, with the Museum remaining closed for months at a time between directors.

            The Shandaken Town Museum is important to both the economic and cultural development of the town.  Residents will be able to learn about the history of their community, and visitors will be given a better sense of the people and families which have evolved into the population of the town today.


            The DEC  purchased a parcel of 1200 acres lying between the ski area and the Belleayre Lake at Pine Hill from Dean Gitter in 2009.  This land lies in Shandaken, and it has been up to the town to recommend to the DEC the use classification of the land: “wilderness”, etc.  Several members of the public in attendance raised different points of view on the best use for the land.  It was eventually decided by the Board that the 1200 acre parcel should have the same use rating as the Belleayre ski area and the Pine Hill lake, which will facilitate the interchange of recreationists using both areas.  This land is part of the “Forever Wild” program.

The Parks and Recs Board recommended the “intensive use” classification for the Bellayre Ridge.

          Kathy Nolan, a former Democratic candidate for Town Supervisor, proposed a designation of the use for the “Belleayre Ridge” as “Wilderness”.  Nolan remarked that “wilderness areas bring millions of dollars.”

            Gary Bales, a regular attendee at Town Board meetings who is associated with Dean Gitter  said to the Town Board “Your vote tonight must be based on what is best for the town.   The is property adjacent to Belleayre .  Orda is about to take it over.  We should be looking to maximize the potential for recreational activity”  Bales advised the Town Board.

            He said the use classification should give maximum opportunity for the use of the land.  The Shandaken Town Board decision is important, but “the DEC will make their decisions.”

            Town Board member Jack Jordan said ”The best use [for the Bellayre Ridge] is definitely something that would contribute to our economic advancement.”

           “If Bellayre expands it would create the possibility of economic development” Jordan continued.

            The Town Board voted 4-0 (Member Bernstein was absent) in favor of classifying the “Belleayre Ridge” parcel for “intensive use”.  As stated in Resolution #123-12  “this conforms to the classification assigned to Belleayre Ski Center and the Belleayre Beach, and is appropriate because the land is, in fact, and extension of Belleayre Mountain.” The parcel remains in the “Forever Wild” distinction in the Catskill Forest Preserve.


            The Town Board passed a resolution prohibiting the use of used fracking brine as a de-icing agent on Shandaken roads.  One speaker from the public proposed that the transportation of trucks carrying fracking fluid also be prohibited, but the Board did not make a formal resolution on this.


            Supervisor Rob Stanley explained in his remarks that the Town Board considered that the  DEC is indefaulty for not providing funds for an “approvable” sewer project.  The Environmental Faciities Corporation considers the town to be in default for not approving a sewer plant with the funds which were available in the block grant. 

            To the writer of this blog, the Phoenicia sewer issue continues its arcane  evolution toward a solution which will be feasible for Phoenicia and New York City.


            Stanley announced that Shandaken Day will be held only in Pine Hill.  The Move to Highmount in the evening which was originally planned has been cancelled due to complications related to the takeover of Belleayre by ORDA.


            Work on stream stabilization will get underway in coming weeks, to be completed before September 30.  Funding comes from the Natural Resources Conservation Service coordinated through the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District.  Bid specifications are available, and contract awards will be made on August 20.



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