With a personal passion for the outdoors and an extensive conservation easement background, Ryan has dedicated his career to finding the balance between the economic, environmental and political stresses that farm and forest communities face. The Fire Tower exemplifies projects that find that balance. Ryan is the Executive Director of the Watershed Agricultural Council and is an area native and eco-business owner. Naatz holds degrees in Environmental Science and Geography, with several specialized business certificates. In his free time, you’ll find him with his family in East Meredith NY rehabbing a 200 acre dairy farm, on the water at Goodyear Lake, wandering in the woods, hiking Bramley Mountain, or pursuing a number of property investments.
The Friends of Bramley Mountain Fire Tower, would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Delaware County Board of Supervisors Chair Tina Mole, the Board of Supervisors, and Glenn Nealis, Director of Economic Development for their significant efforts and support to get the fire tower project back on track. We are very excited to establish this formal partnership and to reconstruct the Bramley Mountain Fire Tower in spring/summer 2024.
DELHI – Delaware County has interceded on the Bramley Mountain Fire Tower project, stalled by the town of Delhi over a permitting and insurance dispute.
Delaware County Economic Development Director Glenn Nealis announced at a committee meeting held May 3 that late Davenport Supervisor Dennis Valente and Tina Molé, county supervisor chairperson, asked that the county take the lead on the project as permit holder, to move it forward, as a outdoor recreation/tourism project.
Nealis reviewed draft contracts, lease agreements and permits between Friends of Bramley Mountain and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, he said; and changes have been requested to documentation to make it more clear which organization is responsible for what.
It is anticipated that there will be insurance costs to the county for the fire tower structure, Nealis said, and has requested a quote for liability insurance from the county’s insurance carrier. It is possible, he said, that insurance costs may go under the county’s umbrella policy with minimal or no charge. Once he has received a quote for insurance costs, Nealis said, he will ask economic development committee members to support a resolution for approval by the board of supervisors.
The disassembled fire tower is proposed to be reassembled at its former site at the summit of Bramley Mountain in the town of Delhi, as an recreational attraction accessible by hiking trails maintained by the Catskill Mountain Club.
In February, a petition signed by 781 people was presented to the Delhi town council, urging the town authorize contracts to advance the project. Delhi councilmembers voted against entering into an agreement with the DEP, required for a land use permit to reconstruct the tower on DEP-owned property. Delhi Councilmembers said local code enforcement is prohibited on DEP-owned land.
The Bramley Mountain Fire Tower and hiking trails, Nealis said, will create an outdoor recreation asset for Delaware County increasing tourism. “It will encourage visitors to further explore Delaware County,” Nealis said.
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For previous coverage of the project in the Reporter, see the below links:
On Monday, February, 13th, after three members of the Friends of the Fire Tower Board (accompanied by dozens of supporters) had presented strong supporting statements, the Delhi Town Council voted 3-2 against signing the required agreement with NYC/DEP to return the Fire Tower to Bramley Mountain.
The only explanation we have received for this vote against the tower is this short quote about the DEP agreement from Supervisor Tuthill which appeared in The Mountain Eagle article about the council’s decision: “There were so many unknowns about cost, control, and what the town would be responsible for.”
What the Supervisor is saying about the costs is completely unfounded since the Friends of Bramley Mountain Fire Tower are covering 100% of the costs of the tower’s restoration, construction, ongoing maintenance and the expense of taking the tower down in the unlikely event that it should ever need to be. A Memorandum of Agreement between the Friends and the Town would have spelled out all of the conditions and responsibilities of the Friends and cleared up any potential “unknowns.” The Town Supervisor had received the offer letter from the DEP back in August 2022, and, in all of that time, no effort was made to discuss any concerns with either the DEP or the Friends of the Fire Tower.
Supervisor Tuthill stated that the town would support putting the tower somewhere else in town, not on city owned property, but that option is not acceptable to the Friends or to the tower owners, the Clark Family. The Bramley Mountain Fire Tower belongs on Bramley Mountain. We remain fully committed to this project, and we will explore every avenue for restoring the tower to its rightful home.
If you are as upset about this decision as we are, please, let Town Supervisor Mark Tuthill and Council Members Peg Baldwin and Bill Cairns know how you feel. And, don’t forget to thank Council Members Matt Kzryston and Christina Viafore for their ongoing support of the fire tower. E-mail addresses for Council Members can be found on the Delhi Town website.
Marty Podskoch, the author of The Fire Towers of Catskills: Their History and Lore, will give a presentation at the Cannon Free Library in Delhi on Tuesday, October 4th at 6:00 PM.
Podskoch has done extensive research on the history of all 23 fire towers in and near the Catskills, including the Bramley Mountain Fire Tower which we are in the process restoring. His work focuses on the compelling personal stories of the observers and rangers who worked tirelessly to protect the Catskill Forests from being devastated by fires.
This presentation is free and open to the public.
The Friends of Bramley Mountain Fire Tower recently received major funding from two sources and, added to the $60,000 already raised, we are moving closer and closer to actual construction.
- A $25,000 Capital Improvement Grant from the Delaware County Economic Development Office’s Tourism Grant Program
- $30,000 for reserve funding from The Catskill Watershed Corporation
We are extremely grateful for the support we have received from the Delaware County Economic Development Office and The Catskill Watershed Corporation. This funding gives us about 65% of the total amount we need to return the tower. We hope to raise the remaining 35% in the next few months and to begin the reconstruction of the tower in August.
Delaware County Economic Development Office’s Capital Improvement Grants are aimed towards construction on properties owned by municipalities and non-profits which have a direct relationship to tourism in Delaware County. Glenn Nealis, the director of The Economic Development Office said, “Outdoor recreation is a key attribute of Delaware County for tourists and residents alike. The redevelopment of the Bramley Mountain fire tower will significantly enhance the hiking experience of the current trail and create a true tourism asset for the community and surrounding area”.
The Catskill Watershed Corporation supported the fire tower by earmarking $30,000 as a reserve fund in case the Tower ever needs to be disassembled. Jason Merwin, the executive director of the CWC said, “The Catskill Watershed Corporation is happy to assist the Friends of Bramley Mountain Fire Tower. This project will have a tremendous positive impact on the local economy, tourism, and outdoor recreation in Delaware County and surrounding Watershed communities.”
We have raised over $50,000 from individuals, families, local community organizations and businesses. As of November 1, 2021, we have raised $50,178 in donations. We have also raised money through the sale of our fire tower t-shirts and have received 3 grants totaling $6,250. We continue to work on raising the funds needed to make the Bramley Mountain Fire Tower a reality!
We still have a long way to go to raise the approximately $200,000 needed to restore and return the tower. We still need your contribution! Help us raise the tower – you can even make a donation using your smartphone through Venmo, PayPal, ApplePay, GooglePay or your credit card (click Support the Project or Smartphone Donating above, or here!)
Or send a check to FOBMFT, PO Box 63, Delhi, NY 13753
As we approached the $50,000 fundraising milestone, FOBMFT President Ann Roberti and her partner, Tom Miano, offered us a $1,500 challenge to push us over that goalpost and beyond. They will donated $1 for each $1 donated to FOBMFT and this amount was met.
Our previous donation challenge of $5,000 from supporter Gale K. was quickly reached back in January. We are happy this one was similarly successful!
Check out this great Kaatscast podcast featuring Brett Barry doing an on-trail interview with FOBMFT board member Laurie Rankin. Besides talking about our project and its origins, Laurie gives a short history of New York State fire towers. Laurie is the daughter of Larry Bake who was the observer at the Balsam Lake Fire Tower, and her deep, personal knowledge of fire towers makes this podcast extremely compelling.
Not to be missed! Listen here.
While you’re there, check out the other great Kaatscast podcasts from Silver Hollow Audio.
The Friends of Bramley Mountain Fire Tower (Friends) is excited to announce an important contribution from Wayne Bank. Lewis J. Critelli, President and Chief Executive Officer of Wayne Bank, has committed $10,000 to a sponsorship of The Bramley Mountain Fire Tower Restoration Project.
“Wayne Bank is proud to support this valuable project, as the Bramley Mountain Fire Tower is a significant part of Delaware County history,” remarked Mr. Critelli. “We are so pleased to contribute to its restoration so that it can once again be enjoyed by residents and visitors as a prominent local landmark.”
Wayne Bank, based in Honesdale, PA, has local Delaware County Community Offices in Andes, Franklin, Hamden, Roxbury, Stamford and Walton. Bank of Cooperstown, with Community Offices in Cooperstown and Oneonta, is also a unit of Wayne Bank.
The Friends are very grateful for this very generous donation from Wayne Bank. This support will go a long way towards us reaching our goal of raising the funds necessary to reconstruct and then maintain the fire tower on Bramley Mountain.
In addition to the generous donation from Wayne Bank, the Friends have received a number of significant donations from businesses, and grants from organizations. That critical support has included $5,000 from the Laura Jane Musser Fund, $2,500 from Outsource Consultants, $1,000 from the Delaware County Department of Economic Development and $1,000 business
We’re so happy to be one of the recipients of Delaware County’s Tourism Promotion and Development Grants. With these funds and the Musser Grant we received in February, we were able to contract for the engineering drawings necessary to move the project another step forward! Preliminary drawings have been received!