By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO June 17, 2005 A proposed massive development at the former Monticello Airport for a minor league baseball field, ice-rink complex and 1,100,000-square-foot retail outlet for a big-box power center was scheduled to be in front of the Town of Thompson Board yesterday during a special meeting.
The corporation behind the project is Jefferson Development Partners, LLC based in Pound Ridge (Westchester County).
According to the application filed with the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), the principal owners are Michael Kaplan (50 percent interest) and John Barker (30 percent stake). Kaplan previously served as attorney for Cappelli Enterprises, which is looking to redevelop the Concord Resort.
The company received a mortgage tax exemption from the IDA on Tuesday totaling $27,000. The property was sold for $3.2 million, and the mortgage was $2.7 million.
Last year, Town of Thompson Supervisor Anthony Cellini asked the IDA not to grant any more tax breaks in the town. However, he is in support of this project and actually brought the proposal to the IDA, according to IDA CEO Allan Scott and IDA attorney Walter Garigliano.
Without the exemption, a portion of that $27,000 would have gone to the Town of Thompson, and the county would have levied a mortgage recording tax.
According to IDA Vice Chairman Sam Wohl, the property totals 650 acres at 67 Cantrell Road.
The board of the IDA approved the mortgage tax exemption, with Charles Barbuti voting against the break.
Barbuti opposed the measure on the grounds that the developers did not submit a concrete proposal of what they actually intend to do and whether they will actually do it.
Anybody in Sullivan County could do the same thing, he said, expressing worry about a bad precedent.
He said he didnt want to obstruct development but felt the vote was premature without more definitive plans.
Garigliano responded that the board had taken the same action with the proposed mushroom plant in the Town of Mamakating.
Board members Ed Sykes and Harris Alport were skeptical at first but finally voted in favor of the tax break.
Sykes said he knew the board was trying to be user-friendly to developers but wondered if the board was being too friendly in this case.
Sullivan County Manager Dan Briggs said he was also in favor of the project and noted that the property (located on the western side of the airport) had previously been the site of other failed proposed developments, such as a jail.
The project will need to go before the Town of Thompson Planning Board and will likely be looking for a broad spectrum of more tax benefits from the IDA if it receives planning board approval.