By Ted Waddell
KAUNEONGA LAKE March 2, 2004 The agenda was packed full on Thursday, as the monthly meeting of the Town of Bethel Board had a standing-room-only crowd anxiously awaiting their turn to speak or learn more about several important issues affecting their community.
Following a brief presentation by the local American Red Cross, Steve Dubrovsky of the Woodstone Development Corporation outlined two proposals he considers resolutions to the long-standing issue of public access to the Toronto Reservoir across his property.
After Dubrovsky bought the property, people crossed his land before getting to the publicly accessible dam, in effect creating liability problems for Dubrovsky.
Further muddying the waters, after the Mirant Energy Corporation sold the property down by the dam to Dubrovsky, they declared bankruptcy. While a Federal Energy Regulatory Agency (FERC) license designates two entrances to the reservoir, several residents banded together under the banner of the Moscoe Road Residents Association to limit access to locations other than their road.
Moscoe Road is a single-lane dead-end road that ends at Toronto Reservoir. Homeowners along the road contend in a letter to the board that since construction began on the Chapin Estate, the road has been overburdened by large vehicles and pickup trucks, and there have been accidents and near accidents, litter has increased and this unreasonable expansion would result in traffic congestion and negatively effect [sic] quality of life on the road.
Dubrovsky outlined two proposals to bring the matter to a close.
Proposal A (expenses): Woodstone would consider building a road from the end of Town Road 62 (Old Moscoe Road) through its property to the existing boat launch area adjoining Toronto Dam. Woodstone would then turn that road over to the Town of Bethel. The town would need to improve (widen) Old Moscoe Road for two-way traffic, and the town would be required to maintain both roads.
Proposal A (public lake benefits): maximum of 8-10 parking places, one boat launch, use of 2,000 feet of Black Lake Creek for fishing and parking for fishermen before a half-mile walk to Black Lake Creek.
Proposal B (expenses): Woodstone would build a park with 35 parking places, etc. on the existing Old Moscoe Road. All expenses would be Woodstones (approximately $150,000). No additional maintenance or expense would be incurred by the town, and at its own expense, Woodstone would create a six-car parking area for fishermen on Pine Grove Road on the banks of Black Lake Creek and also establish an easement along approximately two miles of its private lands for public fishing access.
Proposal B (public lake benefits): 35 car and boat trailer spaces for public use with expandable areas, public picnic tables and barbeque facilities for family use, two additional boat launches, a sandy beach area for swimming, walking paths to the lake, a six-car parking area on the shore of Black Lake Creek and access to an estimated two additional miles of trout stream.
Bob Barrett, representing the Smallwood Civic Association, made an emotional plea to see the port-of entry built so he can continue to build free and clear, and everyone will be happy.
In other business, Arnaldo Ferrara and Manolo Alfonso, the owners of Big Country Cafe along Route 17B in Mongaup Valley, exchanged heated words with former councilman Robert Bonnaci Sr. over what they alleged in a February 5 letter to the Bethel Town Hall.
In the letter, they accused Bonnaci of taking it upon himself to wield his official privileges like a weapon against us instilling fear through intimidation and harassment. . . . His actions in our case have only served to cause irreparable damage to the economic development of Bethel and our business.
Bonnaci reacted strongly to the issues raised by Ferrara and Alfonso during the public meeting.
In a letter to the Bethel Town Board last month, he said in part, The allegations implied in that communication [a letter from Big Country read at the last meeting of February 12] about discrimination, defamation of character, intimidation and harassment are completely false. Any damage done to their business was directly caused by them. . . . Anyone going into business has to go through the same process. There should be no variation. Everyone has to meet the same conditions.
Also, board members mulled who to appoint for a vacancy on the town council. Reportedly, the board was looking to appoint Bonnaci, while some residents were urging the appointment of the highest vote-getter to not be elected to the council last November: Dick Crumley.
(While former Councilman Lynden Lilley was running for town highway superintendent, he retained his position on the council. In the wake of being elected head of the local highway department, the councilman slot suddenly became vacant.)
After several hours of public discussion, the board went into executive session, and about 45 minutes later, Supervisor Ira Moose Liff announced they were at an impasse, and the matter would be referred to the NYS Board of Elections.