By Nathan Mayberg
KAUNEONGA LAKE July 27, 2004 The fight for two public accesses to the Toronto Reservoir publicly gained a new ally on Thursday night at the Town of Bethel Board meeting.
Councilman Harold Russell joined Richard Crumley in a vote to rescind the boards March resolution, which advised the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to end its requirement for two public accesses to the Toronto Reservoir.
However, board members Robert Blais, Daniel Sturm and Supervisor Victoria Simpson defeated the measure.
This was Crumleys third motion to rescind the resolution. He was not on the board when the resolution was passed in March.
Russell said he decided to vote to rescind the resolution which he initially voted for in March because he was tired of all the time and money being spent [on the issue].
The Smallwood Civic Association, along with other town residents and armed with 1,610 signatures on a petition, have been fighting the board tooth and nail against attempts to end their access to a beach they have been using for decades.
At the meeting, Simpson announced that town attorney Rob McEwan had concluded that Town Road 62, which leads to the beach, continues to be a town road.
Blais and Simpson previously argued that the road was sold by the town in the 1920s and abandoned in 1923. However, the town continued to work on the road thus it was never abandoned, according to state highway law.
Crumley, who was once the towns highway superintendent, had argued vehemently that state highway law clearly said no work would have to be done on a road for several years in order for the town to abandon the road. Simpson had insisted that the towns lawyer look into the matter.
Also, Simpson announced that the town received a check for about $34,000 from the county for money owed on interest and penalties from Woodstone Developments use of land that was previously a part of New Yorks forest exemption program.
White Lake resident Barbara McGraw had asked the board to go to the county because she claimed the town was shortchanged by the county in its reimbursement. Simpson followed up on the matter and learned she was right.
McGraw said the check could have been $113,000, but we gave it to [Woodstone Development]. Im curious why we didnt get [the check] the first time.
So Dubrovsky still has his $250,000? asked Smallwood resident Herman Weiner.
Actually, its $261,000, said McGraw of money the county returned to Dubrovsky.
Smallwood resident Bob Barrett asked the board to begin work on Town Road 62, which leads to the controversial access and which he observed had been neglected. Simpson instructed Highway Superintendent Lynden Lilley to take a look at the road with Barrett, which he agreed to do.
Barrett added the Toronto Reservoir case was not just a Smallwood issue. Smallwood Civic Association President Herman Weiner echoed those statements. Weiner said 650 of the petitions signatures were from residents who lived outside the county. Exactly 542 of the signatures were from outside Smallwood but within Sullivan County, and 418 of the signatures were from Smallwood.
Weiner continued to ask the rest of the board to change their position, because FERC will give your opinion a lot of weight. . . . You dont have to be for us. Please dont be against us.
He also asked Lilley to remove large rocks that were placed on the way leading to the access point.
After the meeting, several board members explained their votes. Blais said he voted against the resolution because he wanted to see the outcome of the FERC and Mirant settlement.
Sturm said he believed the March 11 proposal was the best financial decision for the town. Under the proposal, Dubrovsky and Woodstone Development would build a park on Old Moscoe Road, construct a parking area on Pine Grove Road, and create an easement along two miles of Woodstones private land for fishing. In exchange, the town would lose its access to the beach at the Toronto Reservoir, as the road leading to it goes through Dubrovskys private Chapin Estate development.
Crumley insisted, We need two accesses. It is a simple issue.
The whole matter could take a wild turn depending on the outcome of Mirants bankruptcy case, he said.
We all have to try to live together. There is plenty of room for everyone. . . . People from all over the country use [the beach], said Crumley. What we do as a board is going to have an impact.