Letter to the Editor: The Crossroads project remains too large for the Catskills, but a sustainable resort can still emerge

The DEC decision has been made and many remain concerned by the scale of the project and the unaddressed environmental and community issues. The modifications made after years of review and the land sold to New York by the developers still will not yield a development that brings economic, community and environmental value to our beautiful Catskill Mountains. However, now is not the time to bemoan the setback in a battle that has been waged for 15 years. For now, we stand at a time when a sustainable vision for the Catskills is clearer than ever before. We stand at a time when citizens and institutions deeply understand the value of community and environmental integrity and labor tirelessly to create and preserve wholesome and prosperous communities, rich and abundant farmland and diverse and breathtaking wilderness. Rather than licking our wounds and gathering in tight circles to complain about the power of big money and big politics, now is the time to make our voices heard. We must continue to assert that anything that happens in our beloved Catskills must truly serve the people who call these mountains home, the millions who visit for peace and renewal and the multitude of flora and fauna that thrive here while in so many other places near and far they are in sorry decline.

Many concerned citizens and organizations will continue to engage with regulators and planning boards to ensure detailed review and full regulatory compliance as the project proceeds. In addition, some organizations may still consider legal action. This is their right and obligation to their stakeholders and to the unique natural heritage that is the Catskills.

However, at this juncture, the community also needs to reach out to the developers. For we can offer our collective knowledge to add economic value to the project by improving its community and environmental attributes. This is the essence of sustainable development, a business model embraced by leading corporations around the world. Crossroads is well aware that success of this project will be measured in the marketplace. Aiding the developers in enhancing the environmental and social attributes of the project can indeed assist them to this end while creating a vehicle to protect the natural beauty of the Catskills and improve the quality of life in our communities.

Crossroads can collaborate with experts in the field of green development (buildings and sites), which are proven to be more healthful, aesthetically appealing and cost effective to operate. They can become active in wilderness preservation and partner with Catskills businesses that operate utilizing principles of sustainability and that are owned and operated by people committed to the wellbeing of our region. Such collaborations will enhance the Catskills as a travel destination and support marketing of the resort, while contributing to environmental protection and quality of life in our communities. Increasingly, savvy vacationers seek out sustainable resorts that capture local flavor and uniqueness and in turn support the local environment and economy.

Many in our community are advocating for a smaller resort, situated on the lower Wildacres site. However, even if the planned project moves forward in its entirety, it can be designed, built and operated to bring value to the people of the Catskills and to minimize its environmental impact. The forces of business, conservation and community development are aligning to support such a sustainable path forward. While I am by no means jumping on the big resort bandwagon, I firmly believe that through collaboration we can contribute to development that sustains and enhances our glorious home in the mountains.

Jeffrey Potent