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Residents stage Woodstone protest – again

Conference to discuss issues scheduled for August 17

By FRITZ MAYER

BETHEL, NY — “They’ve got to understand this issue isn’t going to go away.”

That was the message from Dr. Herman Goldfarb at a demonstration by about 25 residents in front of The Chapin Estate on Route 55 in Bethel on August 4. Unlike the last demonstration, which took place at the secluded location at the controversial gate on Town Road 62 more than a year ago, this time the demonstrators gathered where passing motorists would see them.

“We’re hoping the homeowners will see that this is not good publicity,” Goldfarb said. So far, no one who has bought a lot in the community has offered any public comment on the matter.

The event was peaceful on the bright summer day. Mike Watkins, a principal with the company that builds most of the homes in the development, and a man who is allied with developer Steve Dubrovsky, sat at a table on the side of the road under an umbrella and offered bottled water to any takers.

“We want to keep our demonstrators hydrated,” he said.

That brought a response from Nino Nannarone who shouted to the crowd, “We won’t be bought off with bottled water; we want the reservoir open.”

The issue has been debated at public meetings and fought in court battles for five years with no resolution in sight. Residents believe they have a right to cross property that is part of the new, gated community surrounding the Toronto Reservoir to access the reservoir from a beach area at the far end of the reservoir nearest to the Smallwood community. Executives of Woodstone Lake Estates and the related companies developing the community, assert that it is private property and residents have no right to enter.

In March, a judge sided with Woodstone and said the company that owns the

reservoir has a right to take property through eminent domain to gain passage for the public to the reservoir. In May, Alliance Energy Renewables purchased the reservoir and three others from Mirant-NY Gen, which was in bankruptcy. As part of its license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to operate power plants on three reservoirs, Alliance is required to provide public access to the reservoir through the disputed area.

A spokeswoman for Alliance said the company “can’t specifically comment on matters in litigation, but they are aware of concerns of all parties and look forward to resolution of the issues, consistent with FERC license requirements.”

A conference has reportedly been set up between all interested parties for August 17. The conference is not open to the press or public.

TRR photo by Fritz Mayer
Residents demonstrate against the blocked access to the Toronto Reservoir in front of the gated entrance to The Chapin Estate. (Click for larger version)