Timeline extended for FIMFO

Posted 12/6/22

ELDRED, NY — The Highland planning board still has a way to go before it can approve or deny the Camp FIMFO project.

Northgate Resorts plans to renovate the Kittatinny Canoes campground in …

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Timeline extended for FIMFO


ELDRED, NY — The Highland planning board still has a way to go before it can approve or deny the Camp FIMFO project.

Northgate Resorts plans to renovate the Kittatinny Canoes campground in Barryville, turning it into a member of its family resort brand Camp FIMFO (Fun Is More Fun Outdoors). The project first went before the Highland planning board in March, and the board has deliberated and discussed the project regularly since then.

The board held a public hearing on the project in September, and extended that public hearing twice, until October and then November. The extensions were in part to give the National Park Service (NPS) time to conduct its review of the project; the NPS sent a letter on November 9 indicating it could not approve or deny the project at that time, and needed more information in order to do so.

The board typically has 62 days from the close of a project’s public hearing to decide whether to approve it. Failure to act by that deadline gives the project a de facto approval.

Alex Betke, an attorney with Brown and Weinraub, spoke on behalf of the Camp FIMFO applicants. He offered the board a way out from that deadline in a discussion at the planning board’s November 30 meeting.

The applicant wanted to waive that timeframe so that a hydrologic study and other requested information could be provided to the town, said Betke. The applicant was working with the town engineer to answer the concerns, and was working as well with the NPS.

Norm Sutherland, chair of the planning board, agreed to close the public hearing with the waiver of the 62-day deadline in place, and the board voted to do so.

In defense of FIMFO

Prior to the closing of the public hearing, Kittatinny Canoes longtime owner David Jones spoke in defense of Northgate Resorts and the Camp FIMFO project.

Jones has been there since the ‘60s and knows the property like the back of his hand, he said. The wells in the area are solid and adequate for Camp FIMFO’s needs: “There’s no issue here, believe me.” And FIMFO would continue to pay taxes on the current property (though it is seeking a Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency agreement to defer taxes on its investments), while placing no burden on the Eldred Central School District and bringing visitors to the area.

Joe Barnes spoke as well in favor of the project, speaking on his own behalf and on behalf of the Yulan Rod and Gun Club, which holds property adjoining Kittatinny Canoes. Barnes lived near the campground his whole life and started working there when he was 12 years old; he has no problems with Northgate taking over where Jones left off, and found the campground a lot calmer and quieter since the switch.

There were concerns

Local resident Ed Stone expressed concerns with the project in his public comment. He was still waiting to hear something substantial that would benefit the Town of Highland from the project, he said. “I see nothing in this for the town.”

In response

Rocco Baldassari, general manager of Kittatinny Canoes, delivered responses from the applicants to many of the questions asked during prior public hearings:

  • There are no plans for further development beyond what the applicant has submitted to the planning board, either at Kittatinny Canoes or on adjourning properties. References made to “phases” only denote multi-phased construction of the single, phase-less project.
  • The project would include a certain amount of overflow parking for the campground’s recreational activities such as rafting and tubing; the applicant will reduce that amount to be compliant with town requirements.
  • The applicant has hired a hydrology expert to report on the area’s wells, and said it would deliver that report to the town in early December.
  • Northgate Resorts expects to see a reduction in occupancy compared to Kittatinny Canoes’ present numbers. The current campground holds a maximum of 2,838 people, the new campground would hold a maximum of 2,346 people and Northgate’s experience with other, similar locations leads it to believe average numbers would not hit the maximum amount—a 10-person RV, as modeled by FIMFO, often houses only four or six people.
  • Amenities at the camp would be provided to registered campers only. If the campground wasn’t at full capacity, members of the general public could acquire day passes tied to specific campsites. (This model ensures that total use of the camp will not exceed its maximum occupancy.)
  • Select staff would be trained in basic first aid techniques, such as AED (automated external defibrillator) use and CPR, and the camp would hold monthly safety meetings and would communicate with local first responders.
  • According to a traffic study, substantiated by an independent engineer hired by the town, upgrades to the site would not increase traffic.
  • The two pools at the site would between them hold 170,510 gallons of water. That water would be trucked in at the start of the season, and would be topped off by further trucks or by well water. While the pools would be located in the flood plain, all chemical storage would occur above that level, and all chemicals would be stored in sealed, waterproof containers.
  • The applicant has discussed with the Department of Health (DOH) whether to have a centralized wastewater plant or multiple septic systems, and the DOH recommended septic systems. The Eljen geotextile sand filter systems the project would use would not harm the river, it was determined.
  • While previous plans indicated that the camp store would be converted into a food service facility, current plans indicate that it will be an arts-and-crafts space.

The Highland Planning Board does not plan to meet in December. It does plan to host a written copy of the applicants’ response at townofhighlandny.com; as of Monday, December 5, that document is still pending.

Highland, FIMFO, planning board


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