By Nathan Mayberg
FORESTBURGH May 28, 2004 Seasonal residents made their voices loud and clear at the most recent Town of Forestburgh meeting.
Those residents attended the May 6 meeting in order to protest the Rally New York event that was held on April 17 in the Town of Forestburgh and two other towns Colchester in Delaware County and Lumberland here in Sullivan County.
Jace Day, President of the Hartwood Club, spoke in a loud and animated tone as he represented a unanimous board in opposition to the rally.
After a lengthy and confrontational back and forth between Day and Ivan Orisek, who is the chairman of Rally New York, Town of Forestburgh Supervisor John J. Bill Sipos announced that the Road Rally would no longer run through the streets of where the club members live.
While that announcement pleased Day, he also voiced several safety concerns with the rally.
His list of complaints included driver injuries from the rally, a broken bridge, broken mailboxes and extremely loud noise. He charged that some intoxicated participants had trespassed onto private property, looking for alcohol. Other drivers ran into telephone poles and guard rails, he said.
Orisek confirmed that one of the Rally New York drivers was flown in a helicopter to a hospital after his car ran into a tree. Orisek claimed the driver only suffered a broken ankle and that the drivers ankle has subsequently healed.
Children were another concern of Days. Some were on their bikes, and some were with dogs. If a spectator was injured, the town could be sued, he said.
We and the town dodged a bullet here, Day said. I just dont see the upside [to the event].
The leader of the rally thought his groups $5 million insurance plan was sufficient protection.
He further disclosed that one driver broke his pelvis, due to his failure to follow safety procedures when his car was hit from behind while he was underneath the vehicle, fixing it.
The area had experienced far-reaching economic benefits due to the rally, in Oriseks view. He said that hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into the county as a result of the rally. Hundreds of hotel rooms were rented, he added.
It takes an extreme amount of un-sophistication to say there is no economic benefit, Orisek commented.
And Orisek had dreams for a larger road rally in the future.
This was a fairly small event, he said. If this was turned into a national or international event, the revenue could be in the millions $80 million over four years.
Day wasnt concerned with dollars. He viewed the event as a disaster waiting to happen, with drivers going down public roads at 100 miles per hour.
Day and others complained that the town board members did not notify the public about the event before they agreed to the rally.
Councilman Ken Schultz asked if there was a proposal for another event.
Orisek replied in the affirmative. A proposal was sent out to the board, he said.
Schultz called for a public hearing on the next proposed rally. He further charged that Sipos should not partake in any discussions regarding the event, due to his conflict of interest as the owner of Mr. Willys Restaurant, which is where the drivers and others spent the weekend during last months rally.
Sipos said he refrained from voting. Furthermore, he stated I have never taken a position on this board regarding my business. My business doesnt come before the people of this town.
Sipos sympathized with the Hartwood Club. He said he was saddened that Hartwood experienced difficulties.
Anyway, Hartwood is out of any future rallies, he added.
He called the impact of the rally to the county, enormous. Other towns have offered to take the rally themselves, he said. Businesses have contacted Sipos about bringing the event back.
Members of a conservation group voiced their objections to the rally, because they said it disturbed the local endangered eagles from sitting on their eggs. A different time of year would be more conducive, they proposed.