In an editorial printed in the Times-Union today, Catskill Heritage Alliance chairman Richard Schaedle points out an interesting coincidence: the cost of keeping the state parks open this summer is exactly the same as the price that developer Dean Gitter is asking for his looming land deal with the state:
Gitter's asking price is coincidentally the same amount that Governor Paterson originally sought to save by closing 55 parks and historic sites -- $6.3 million. The sale would be a sweetener for a contentious deal to allow Gitter to build a luxury ski resort near the Belleayre Ski Center. The price is $1.4 million above market value and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli rightly refuses to pay it. But negotiations continue and Gitter vows to "persevere" and complete the sale, which would give him capital he needs to finance the resort.
Schaedle notes that the money for the state parks came from the state's Environmental Protection Fund, which is where the money for Gitter's land would come from as well. He isn't happy about that fact:
It would be a supreme irony if EPF money became Gitter's war chest to build a resort accessible only to the wealthy, while there is barely enough money to let taxpayers use public parks that belong to them. Our taxes are for things like parks and preservation, not greasing speculative private real estate deals.