Letter to the Editor: The scenic byway, misunderstood

The conversation over the Catskill Scenic Byway Project continues. For background, click here and here. -- Julia Reischel

To the Editor,

The Scenic By-way Plan for Route 28 has been misunderstood, misrepresented, misinterpreted and mistakenly attacked for far too long. The plan, which was created by and approved via a coordinated, grass-roots, local/regional effort, is entirely non-regulatory in nature as regulations regarding building and zoning rest with, and always will in a Home Rule State like New York, the elected Town Boards along with the appointed Planning Boards of the municipalities involved.

The Rte. 28 Scenic By-way Plan was coordinated by the Central Catskills Collaborative, which was entirely made up of appointed members (by each Town Board along the corridor) as well as elected officials from each Town on 28, depending on how the individual Town chose to be represented; it was conceived as a regional economic tool that can, if we are able to get past the noise and funk of fear and misinformation, bring benefit to all who live and work along that same corridor.

The State Legislature approves the designation as a 'route of distinction' and State Economic Development funding - for marketing the corridor's amenities (our restaurants, our small businesses, our B&Bs, our bakeries, our farms and farmers' markets etc., etc. including a much anticipated world-class ski-in/ski-out resort) can follow if and when we work together. We have many similarities as well as longstanding historic and economic ties - and challenges - from Hurley and Olive to Andes, and the ride is undeniably beautiful; it would be unfortunate if a few misguided but surely well-meaning citizens who are neither elected nor appointed were to hold in check this potentially positive development.

Additionally, given that there are 25 scenic by-ways currently designated in NYS, with another 3 nationally designated by-ways (also in New York State), the mistrust of those who would oppose this plan, this template for possibility, lacks logic, a clear indication of a willful misunderstanding of what a scenic by-way is and how it functions.

In approving the Route 28 Scenic By-way Plan, the Town Board of Middletown was considerate, thoughtful and thorough; we were also - and remain - hopeful, looking forward to building stronger ties with our neighbors and friends in Ulster County to the greater benefit of us all.

Marjorie A. Miller, Supervisor
Town of Middletown, Delaware County