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Bethel Sees Another
Proposed Project

By Dan Hust
KAUNEONGA LAKE — May 31, 2005 – The now-closed Smallwood Golf Course may become the Town of Bethel’s newest housing development.
Representing Upstate Land and Properties, local attorney Larry Wolinsky and Hurley architect Joe Hurwitz unveiled the plans to the town board and public Thursday at the regular board meeting in Kauneonga Lake.
“This is just the very early stages of this,” cautioned Wolinsky.
Nevertheless, information was fairly plentiful. According to Hurwitz, the 181-acre course in Smallwood would feature 172 units in small clusters of attached townhouses, plus two unattached single-family homes. Each two-story, 2,500-3,000-square-foot townhouse unit would include three to four bedrooms and a two-car garage in what is expected to be a condominium setup.
Although the golf course would not be resurrected, various common areas in the development would feature tennis courts, swimming pools, jogging trails, playgrounds and even a baseball field, all situated at least 100 feet away from the site’s extensive wetlands.
A small sewage treatment plant was shown on the map presented to the board Thursday, but Wolinsky said the site hadn’t yet been engineered, so plans could easily change – although the number of units will not increase, he promised.
Town planner Tom Shepstone had recommended Bethel proceed with the project as a planned unit development (PUD), requiring the developer to include the town board, not just the planning board.
One town board member who grew up near the golf course expressed doubts about the plan.
“You’re right on top of an aquifer there,” said Richard “Dick” Crumley.
Referencing the large amount of wetlands which the developer is prohibited to touch, Crumley accused the developer of trying to “jam in” the 172 units.
“That’s kind of manipulating the system, I say,” he commented.
“We’re only doing what your zoning currently allows,” responded Wolinsky, pointing out that the large amount of wetlands means much of the course’s open space will be preserved. “In planning parlance, this is good what we’re doing.”
“I would argue that it’s a gift we have those wetlands,” agreed Hurwitz, expressing his distaste for developments that are not in harmony with nature.
“You’re going to get a lot of opposition on this, I’ll tell you right now,” argued Crumley.
However, although the public asked a few questions, no one spoke against the development that evening. Public hearings will be scheduled as plans move along.
Kennel Needs Updating
Later in the board meeting, Bethel Animal Control Officer Henni Anker informed the board that the state is requiring running water and better heating at the town’s kennel, where stray animals are kept.
“She [the state inspector] gave us basically six months to correct the problems,” said Anker.
The board discussed various ways of getting water to the kennel and purchasing a small heater to keep the ambient temperature above 50 degrees.
NYSEG Pitches In
Supervisor Vicky Vassmer-Simpson read a letter from NYSEG stating that it’s partnering with the town to plant 8-10 trees free of charge near power lines.
The trees are low-growing and thus would not interfere with the lines, while simultaneously offering a natural look to the surroundings.
Corps Building Inspected
Code Enforcement Officer Tim Dexter, per the board’s request, completed an exterior inspection of the Bethel Ambulance Corps building in White Lake and had a report ready for the board that evening.
According to Dexter, the building is in good shape, although it requires a new roof and gutter system (which the corps reportedly is working on). A partially buried fuel tank should be tested or replaced, he added, and the nearby wellhead needs to be raised from six inches to 12 to comply with new state guidelines.
Toronto to See More Use
Smallwood resident and Civic Association President Bob Barrett informed the board that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) told him recently that Mirant will soon repair the boat launch at the Toronto Reservoir’s dam access near Smallwood.
Residents and officials agreed it could not be soon enough, since neighboring Swinging Bridge Reservoir has now been closed to all boating and recreational activities, due to urgent repairs on its dam.
In fact, Vassmer-Simpson and others expect White Lake and Toronto Reservoir to be far busier this summer – a situation that prompted her to call Sheriff Dan Hogue to request patrol boats on both bodies of water. She didn’t expect that request would be too hard to fulfill, considering the patrols normally occur on the now-closed Swinging Bridge.
Vassmer-Simpson also promised to talk to Mirant about residents’ concerns about reservoir-related signage, which some Smallwood inhabitants felt is, at the least, confusing and, at worst, intimidating to those who would seek to use the public dam access.
Highway Superintendent Lynden Lilley was informed by the residents that the roads leading to that access need work – with some suggesting that next-door property owner Steve Dubrovsky should help in that regard. Dubrovsky owns the Chapin Estate, a high-end housing development partially surrounding the Toronto Reservoir.
Working Hard
At the conclusion of the meeting, board member Dan Sturm told the crowd that the town’s working on grants to repair the old youth center or build a new one, and Vassmer-Simpson thanked Town Clerk Rita Sheehan for her outstanding display at the recent Main Street Day in Rock Hill.

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