There is a newly created bit of land surrounded by rocks in White Lake that has been the subject of complaints from neighbors. The matter was addressed at the Bethel Town Board meeting on September 23.
Councilperson Vicky Simpson explained that the owner of the property in question received a permit from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to build a 2.5-foot by two-foot stone wall along the shoreline. The structure that was eventually built this summer is quite a bit larger than that.
During construction, it seemed to town officials much more rock had been delivered to the site than was necessary for the project, and the town twice issued stop-work orders. Twice officials from the DEC informed them that the work was allowed.
As a lifelong resident, Simpson said she was aware of people trying to reinforce their shoreline and fire departments trying to add sand to beach areas. She said such measures were always blocked by the DEC.
Town officials got in touch with the enforcement department of the DEC, which visited the site once it was finished and said the project was in violation of the permit that was issued.
DEC officials said they would address the issue, but it’s not yet clear if that means the removal of the wall and earth, which is the solution Simpson and Supervisor Dan Sturm said they would prefer. Simpson asked, “If this is allowed what next? Who else gets to start filling in around the lake?”
The board also addressed a resolution that endorsed Proposition One, the proposition that will appear on the November ballot that ultimately will allow up to seven casinos in the state, with perhaps two of them in Sullivan County.
Supervisor Dan Sturm said there has been a prohibition on gambling in the Town of Bethel for at least 20 years. He said, “It’s clear to me that there will be no casino or gambling in the Town of Bethel, but having one or two gaming resorts in our neighboring towns of Thompson or Liberty can have a positive economic impact for our town residents.” He said a casino or two could help in promoting second-home development, retail and residential growth, encourage more tourists to go to Bethel Woods, or to the restaurants in the town. He also said the establishment of a casino or two in neighboring towns would bring jobs, property tax relief and increased property values.
Simpson concurred, saying, “Anything that can bring jobs to our community is a winner for me. Certainly [a casino or two] will help our tourism, our second-home owners; we might actually have some young people who might be able to stay here instead of leaving our towns.”
Councilperson Denise Frangipane said, “I’m glad this is going for public vote; it’s the appropriate place for it to be addressed. And I agree that it will result in some of the things that we need: maybe some hotel rooms, certainly more things for people to do, good jobs that will bring more people to the area and that will employ young people.” She added, however, “My only hesitation with the resolution is that I don’t necessarily feel comfortable as a [member of a] town board passing a resolution on the issue when I’m not really sure how the people in the town collectively feel about it.”
The resolution passed four to one, with Frangipane voting no.