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What Next For Us All?
Summarizing The Development Ideas... Plus Montreign!

ELLENVILLE – Following the end of the dream of having a casino redevelop the moribund Nevele property, the Town of Wawarsing and the Village of Ellenville began to search last December for a Plan B of generating economic growth and jobs in what has become a blighted corner of Ulster County. Meetings were held, at first crowded and then gradually more sparsely attended, while Ulster County Executive Mike Hein offered a million dollars to jump start idea generation. That led to the Ellenville Million committee which, with attorney Julie Lonstein as chair, held one public meeting and has since been looking at a number of ideas.

Lonstein says their report will most likely come in June.

Ellenville mayor Jeff Kaplan notes a number of possible projects are achievable, and in one case quite important if new business is to be lured to the area.

"We've been putting together a few things," he said this week. "One of the ideas is to establish a town-wide park system that will incorporate all our parks — Berme Road, Lippman, Mill Street Park and even Kanfer Park up in Greenfield Park. Maybe go out to Colony Farm, too. There are so many different activities available here, we could have a network that way and cut down on overhead."

Then there's the idea of a good website.

"Yes, we think we need to develop a town and village combined website. Better that way than running two separate sites," he added. "We also hope to coordinate our infrastructure plans, bring the water and sewer together between the town and the village. That way we can offer water and sewer to new business even if the property is outside the village, though obviously not too far."

Wawarsing supervisor Lenny Distel, also expressed some slightly different concerns regarding water.

"We're working with the New York City DEP on the one hand and the Department of Corrections on the other to bring in more water to Napanoch. We want to do a test drill on the prison property and we're waiting for an answer on that from Corrections. We're also reaching out to Senator Bonacic for some help with the water issues," he said. "Because while we have $7 million for pipes in Wawarsing it does not include water to go in them. We have to find a good clean water source."

Distel also reminded everyone that casino developer Michael Treanor still holds the "keys" to the Nevele property.

"We put a six month moratorium for that, running from March to September, except for whatever he's doing," the supervisor said. "I talked to him day before yesterday; he's working on getting investors on board to put up capital."

Treanor's new plan for the Nevele is for a sports-oriented resort that needs at least $10 million to buy the property from the bank that now holds it, and then considerably more for its actual redevelopment.

"We have plenty of ideas," Distel summarized. "But we have no money."

Which is where the Ellenville Million committee comes in. Those folks have been discussing these kinds of ideas and are due to report back to Mike Hein sometime soon. According to Lonstein, many of the ideas they've been presented with require local municipal action and initiatives so the committee has established liaisons to try and make things happen. Beyond that, she and the committee are not saying much... including whether or not there's been any discussion of the placement of a more permanent economic development office in the area, as many outside the community have suggested.

One of the benefits of such an offer is that it would help local businesses, as well as government officials, hone plans to fit the growing number of grants and loans available to communities such as Ellenville and Wawarsing through the state's Regional Economic Development Council (RED-C) system and its Consolidated Funding Applications, due in a couple of months.

Meanwhile, trees are being cleared at the site of the future Montreign Casino in Sullivan County, which is being pegged as a potential game changer for the economy of the entire area. At a breakfast meeting held at the Wiltwyck Golf Club in Kingston this past Wednesday, April 15, Charlie Degliomini, the new resort's vice president for government affairs and corporate communications sprayed the room — filled with Ellenville and Wawarsing officials — with some attractive propositions.

In opening the meeting, Hein spoke of Montreign's "regional significance" before going on to say that it was important "to have everyone here — town supervisors, contractors, trucking company executives, business people in general — to know how to interface with this opportunity and bring some of these new jobs to Ulster County."

Degliomini made a straightforward pitch after that.

"We're here to ask for your help. We have to reach out beyond Sullivan County and in so doing bring opportunity to Ulster County," he said, acknowledging that "we won our bid for a license because, to put it on a bumper sticker, we're building a $1 billion integrated entertainment and lifestyle complex."

Degliomini mentioned that he had spoken with Kaplan and that businesses in Ellenville would undoubtedly see good results from the construction of the Montreign. Another area of interest, he added, will be housing for workers, both in the construction phase and later for full time casino employees.

Joseph D'Amato, CEO of Empire Resorts, followed Degliomini and rolled out some of the big numbers involved in this huge project, visualizing a million non-gaming visitors a year and annual economic benefits of $610 million to Sullivan County, and $882 million to the seven county region.

"We're putting outreach to local unemployed and under-employed workers," he added.

Kyle Tuttle or LP Ciminelli, a construction firm that specializes in casinos and entertainment venues, then explained that all contractors and suppliers would need to pre-qualify, with that process now open, since all workers and foremen will need to be OSHA-certified.

Although everyone reiterated that the clock has started.

"We have just two years to get this built and ready to go," added Degliomini.

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