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Innovative use of golf course

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — October 19, 2010 — Amidst a full day of legislative committee meetings on Thursday, county and Town of Bethel officials were happy to note they’re inching closer to securing a future for the former Smallwood Golf Course.
Located on two parcels totalling 192 acres off Ballard Road, the property serves as Smallwood’s drinking water source and was eyed for development before falling into the county’s hands through foreclosure.
Now, instead of 200 homes, 25-30 are the goal through a conservation development that maximizes open space and minimizes environmental disruption, said County Treasurer Ira Cohen.
The county, working with Bethel and Preserve Smallwood Country Life, is preparing to issue a request for proposals, asking private developers to put forth their plans if they were to acquire the land – which would include all but a one-acre sliver (including one of two access roads) that may be passed to neighboring homeowners to ensure their privacy.
Investors involved with the former development plan have expressed interest, said Cohen, though only in purchasing and reselling the land, not developing it.
They’ll have an opportunity to submit a proposal but will get no special priority, he added.
Bethel Councilwoman Denise Frangipane said the Open Space Institute is interested, as well.
“This is the time for not doing it the same old way anymore,” she remarked.
A resolution will be prepared for legislators’ approval this Thursday.
Cohen indicated that if no developers provide suitable plans, the property will be put up for sale at the county’s tax auction next year.
Winds blow around SCCC turbine
Worried about the county’s liability, legislators on Thursday engaged in an executive session with Assistant County Attorney Tom Cawley about Environmental Technologies, LLC’s experimental wind turbine located at Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake.
“They’re currently not in compliance with our lease terms,” affirmed Cawley during public session, saying that completion of what was supposed to be a yearlong construction project had already passed one extension.
Now the company is asking for another extension to March 31, with a possible third extension to June 30, Cawley explained.
The turbine, a prototype vertical windmill, sits on the college campus and leases the space from the county. SCCC has a separate agreement with Environmental Technologies to harvest energy from the windmill when it becomes operable.
Cawley said the company’s local attorney, Larry Wolinsky, had submitted a letter of explanation, but as of yesterday, the Democrat’s FOIL request of that letter had not been answered.
If the lease is not extended, Cawley affirmed that the windmill will have to be torn down.
Grahamsville resident Ken Walter said he had confirmed that someone from the turbine company had already obtained quotes from a local scrap metal operator.
“Is the county going to be on the hook to dismantle the facility, which would be a substantial loss?” asked Legislator Alan Sorensen.
Cawley reserved that answer for executive session.
Appeals keep coming
Though the end of the year is drawing close, Deputy Treasurer Nancy Buck wearily related to legislators on Thursday that there may be another set of appeals to the solid waste user fee to be sorted through.
This Thursday, legislators will be asked to officially approve the second-to-last set of appeals, again a mixture of recommended approvals of reductions/eliminations of fees (in this case, just one) and five denials.
Goodbye, John
Sullivan County Solid Waste Director John Kehlenbeck spent his last day on the job walking the hallways of the Government Center in Monticello, saying goodbye to friends and colleagues.
After 28 years with the county’s Division of Public Works, the Cuddebackville resident retired last week, with warm words from his boss and other officials.
“John is the only director of solid waste we’ve ever had, and he’s done it for 20 years,” noted DPW Commissioner Bob Meyer, who interviewed Kehlenbeck for his first county job in 1982.
Legislator Kathy LaBuda and County Manager David Fanslau said Kehlenbeck was a well-liked professional.
“Things could be a lot worse with the DEC [state Dept. of Environmental Conservation] if it wasn’t for John’s diligence,” affirmed Fanslau.
“We’ll miss you terribly,” said LaBuda, “and thank you for your service to the county.”
“It’s been an honor and a privilege,” remarked Kehlenbeck.
Meyer couldn’t resist one quip, however, joking that Kehlenbeck has vowed never again to take out the garbage at home.

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