Tax breaks considered to rebuild Eldred Preserve

Owner plans 500 homes?

ELDRED, NY — The public hearing held by the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) started at 9:00 a.m. on April 16, with some 50 people.  A bit of ridicule was leveled at the IDA Board because none of them turned up to hear the public speak.

There was a lot of support for the proposed $12 million project, which would see the Eldred Preserve rebuilt. All of the previous buildings have been removed.  

The people who represent other county agencies, Marc Baez of the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development, Roberta Byron Lockwood of the Sullivan County Visitors Association, and Cathy Patty of the Sullivan County Chamber, all expressed support for the project, as did a number of other residents.

Andy Boyar, former supervisor of the Town of Highland said he supported the project at least in part because, “What’s the alternative if you don’t have the Eldred Preserve?”

Long time realtor Gibson McKean said he supports the plan because the owner, Dan Silna, “owns 3300 acres in the Town of Highland and the long-range plan is the Eldred Preserve will feed the second home community, which will be started above the preserve. It will all be in the Town if Highland, which at 500 homes would support the school,” homes which he said would probably never send a student to the local school.”

The precarious financial shape of the Eldred Central School District was one reason some objected to the tax breaks.  According to the application of the owner, the mortgage tax exemption would be worth $120,000, the sales tax exemption would be worth $672,000 and the real property tax exemption was still to be determined, but according to a schedule in the cost/benefit analysis, no property tax will be paid in the first five years of operation.  

Much of the funding for schools comes from property taxes. Fred Bosch noted that the Eldred School District is the second most financially stressed in the state at the current time.

 George Billard, a vocal opponent Eldred Compressor Station, which is being constructed very close to the site of the Eldred Preserve, said everyone is happy that the Eldred Preserve is being restored, but “it shouldn’t come on the backs of the taxpayers here.  The hospitality business is notorious for boom and bust, and we don’t know eight years down the road what the status will be.”

The IDA is expected to take up the question again on Friday afternoon.

Who is Dan Silna?

Dan Silna and his late brother at one time owned a professional American Basketball team in the American Basketball Association (ABA). When four of the ABA teams merged with the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the 1970s, their team, the Spirit of St. Louis, was excluded.  The brothers at the time made a deal with the NBA that gave them $2 million and a share of the TV revenue from the four ABA teams that joined the NBA.  According to a 2014 Forbes Magazine article, that deal eventually meant $300 million for the brothers.  The NBA ended the deal in 2014 reportedly with a $500 million cash settlement.


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