Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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August 7th, 2009

Steve Dubrovsky and Chapin Estate is not the enemy

When Steve Dubrovsky and his partners decided to develop the upscale gated community Chapin Estate in Bethel they thought their project would have nothing but smooth sailing.

After all, new homeowners would be contributing millions of dollars to the tax base utilizing minimal municipal services while sending no children to local schools.

Most certainly, the people moving into the development are the type of people any community would welcome with open arms.

Prior to being purchased by the developers, the land was part of a DEC Forest Exemption Program that reduced taxes paid on the land to $200 per acre. Chapin today with less than a quarter built, has created approximately $100,000,000 in ratables.

As a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association, Dubrovsky traveled the country collecting ideas and sketching architectural elements in perfect balance with natural environments to create unique home designs. His dream project was to develop these types of homes right here in Bethel at Chapin.
Dubrovsky says he wants nothing more than to be a good neighbor. Speaking with him one can tell he truly loves Sullivan County and desperately desires to be part of its revitalization.

So what is the problem?

First off, local residents formed a group called “Friends of Toronto” wanting the ability to use the Toronto Reservoir where Chapin is located for trout fishing and everything else they have done for years, despite the fact the accesses they are on is private property.
Dubrovsky and his partners closed off the once open access from public use and instead offered to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to construct a new access and public park for community residents.

Private property owners have every right to allow whom they want on their land. I am certain “Friends of Toronto” would do the same if the situation were reversed. Just because former property owners permitted access does not mean new ones should.

Nonetheless, the group has resisted Dubrovsky’s offer and has demanded they be allowed onto the property. A court battle has been ongoing.

On top of all that, Mirant, the power company that owned the reservoir, sold its assets to Alliance Energy Renewables. Federal License dictates that Alliance maintains recreational water levels. These levels not only affect Chapin residents, but sportsmen from Smallwood and all over.
Alliance instead drained water out of Toronto to historic lows. Sportsmen groups protested and contacted elected officials. Alliance responded that they lowered the levels to repair a concrete structure that regulates the flow.

They never did the repair. With historically high levels of rainfall, the water levels remain approximately 20’ below capacity, and neither the public nor residents on the lake can get boats into the water.

United States Senator Charles Schumer, Congressman Maurice Hinchey, State Senator John Bonacic, Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, Legislator David Sager, and Bethel officials are involved in the matter.

It is critical the Toronto reservoir be maintained at the agreed upon levels in order to attract people to Sullivan County who like to boat and fish.
Bonacic in a strongly worded letter to Alliance called them “a horrible steward of the reservoirs.”
Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther told me she has been working for many months with the land owners around the reservoir, Alliance Energy and the DEC regarding the water levels.  “It’s unfortunate that this continues to be an issue since it affects so many land owners and sportsmen. This was never a problem in the past with prior owners of the reservoir system.”

There has been some speculation that the “Friends of Toronto” has united with Alliance to force Chapin to open its gates.

The “Friends of Toronto” must not fall into the trap of Alliance’s whose interests are not in favor of Sullivan County’s. Alliance continually withholds property taxes due us, and working with them will only backfire.

There is no need for this “Friends of Toronto” battle of us versus them to continue. Steve Dubrovsky and Chapin Estate is not the enemy. They must come to reason and sit down with Steve Dubrovsky and work out an amicable solution.

If they do not, it will just be one more excuse why no one will want to come here and develop.

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