By Nathan Mayberg
KIAMESHA LAKE April 7, 2006 The Thompson Town Board on Tuesday chose a new councilwoman while dealing with the latest proposals by Louis Cappelli on his Concord property.
Moniquka Diaz-Corley, the Deputy Clerk at the Sullivan County Department of Motor Vehicles and a 1995 graduate of Monticello High School, was unanimously approved to fill the seat of the late Councilman John Washington.
She beat out an extremely competitive group of about two dozen interested candidates who lobbied for the position.
Several of them, including herself, spoke before the Town of Thompson Democratic Committee for support. The committee forwarded the three names to the town board which it supported. Those names included Michael Bernstein of Monticello, who narrowly lost a seat on the board in a four-way race last November.
Town Supervisor Anthony Cellini said Diaz wasnt among the recommendations but was chosen since she was a resident in the Village of Monticello and could offer the town new ideas by not being a member of the establishment.
We found somebody who is intelligent, vibrant and who has a pulse of the community, Cellini said, pointing out that she is now the lone board member from the Village of Monticello.
Cellini said there were many exceptional candidates who wanted the job. But he respected the leadership abilities of Diaz as well as her lack of political background.
Diaz is married to Monticello Police Department Officer Jason Corley, who works with students at Monticello High School. She is pregnant and due to give birth to twins soon.
At the meeting, Diaz said she wanted to focus on the issues of youth in the community as well as health care. But she said her motherhood would come first.
As a woman of Hispanic and African-American background, she said she hopes her appointment will send a message to boards in other municipalities to include everybody.
The upbeat tone of her appointment took on a more serious one when the board met with Henry Zabatta, the manager at the Concord and Grossingers, who was representing Cappelli and his development company.
Zabatta said that he will be presenting plans for a new complex to replace the old Concord Resort. That includes a new hotel, housing, a possible casino, a convention center and retail outlets on 1,600 acres.
In addition, Cappelli has proposed a 125-room hotel and spa at the site of the Concord Golf Course, along with a new clubhouse.
Zabatta said the plans for the larger hotel to replace the Concord will be submitted next week along with a draft environmental impact statement.
He also intends to tear down the old Pussycat Lounge.
The town will hire planning consultant Robert Geneslaw to review the documents. Cappelli will pay for his labor.
But Zabattas proposal did not fly well with the board. Cellini and Councilman William Rieber said Cappelli had said he would build the hotel and clubhouse at the site of the golf course first.
Cellini said he wants Cappelli to clean up his property and do the work he said he would.
He promised he would put a shovel in the ground, said Cellini.
Yet he hasnt submitted any plans for the hotel/spa and clubhouse at the golf course.
Cappelli wants planned resort development approval from the board to build his combination of homes, a hotel, casino and retail outlets on his property.
But Rieber said he wont get it until he starts work on the clubhouse or a hotel on the golf course.
The board could meet with Cappelli next week. Cellini requested that Cappelli be present at the town boards next meeting.
Nothing will happen at the Concord Hotel until we see ground broken for a hotel and spa, he said.
Cappelli did not return a message left at his office seeking comment.
In other business, the town board agreed to relax its opposition to Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency tax breaks for proposed hotels and other tourist destinations
Rieber said the change was needed to encourage the growth of hotels in the area due to the new Bethel Woods Center for the Arts and other possible future developments. He also hopes the tax breaks will prevent existing hotels from being taken over by tax-exempt groups.