About Cragsmoor Association

Cragsmoor Association Mission Statement

“The purpose of the Cragsmoor Association, Inc. is to encourage and assist efforts to conserve, maintain and enhance the scenic, historical, wilderness, wildlife, open space and outdoor recreational values of the physical environment of Cragsmoor and its neighboring regions for the cultural, physical, spiritual and economic benefit of our residents and visitors and to do any other acts or things incidental to or connected with the foregoing purpose or in advancement thereof.”

Contributions Are Tax Deductible

Cragsmoor Association, Inc. is non-profit incorporated in the State of New York, and a 501(c)3 tax exempt public charity, DLN 17053111365004. For more information, contact us at Cragsmoor.Association.news@gmail.com or send correspondence c/o Cragsmoor Association, PO Box 315, Cragsmoor, NY  12420.

Cragsmoor Association Board of Trustees

The Cragsmoor Association Board of Trustees meets monthly on the second Sunday of the month, 9:30 AM. Meetings are open to the public.

Kathleen Muldoon, President
Karen Wells, Vice President
Dick Peters, Treasurer
Linda Rogers, Secretary

Lonnie Coplen, Trustee
Chuck Davidson, Trustee
Maggie Driano, Trustee
Hattie Grifo, Trustee
Jack Grifo, Trustee
Alice Henshaw, Trustee
John Stanger, Trustee

photo by Hattie Grifo

Cragsmoor Association: A Little History 

by Lonnie Coplen

With a growing summer population at the turn of the prior century, Cragsmoor was evolving into a sophisticated little community with certain needs and concerns. In 1908, a group of Cragsmoorians banded together and formed the Cragsmoor Improvement Association “to further improvements at and for Cragsmoor, in the way of roads, safety of persons and property, and public regulations,” according to the Cragsmoor Journal.

The Association, headed by Charles Curran, raised money to have new roads built and old ones repaired, and arranged for garbage pickup, road signs and other community services. When the Town of Wawarsing incorporated these services in the late 1940s, the Association disbanded and turned over the balance of their funds to the Cragsmoor Fire Company.

In the late 1970s, the Cragsmoor Inn property, which included Bear Hill cliffs and plateau, was purchased by a real estate developer for the purpose of creating a housing subdivision there. Bear Hill, which was a treasured haunt of the residents of Cragsmoor and surrounding communities, was closed to the public. Limited and conditional access was offered to Cragsmoor residents, but it was clear that an integral part of the soul of the community would change forever.

Saving Bear Hill

Initially, the community was “leaderless, confused and demoralized… [T]he majority of people felt the situation was a fait accompli,” recalled David Croyder, a community member of long standing. Ruth Brown DeTar, member of an old Cragsmoor family, was outraged and determined that Bear Hill should remain forever a part of the Cragsmoor community for all to share. Pete (Vincent P.) Stanger, another Cragsmoor resident of long standing who was beloved by full-time and summer residents alike, joined with Croyder and DeTar to form the Cragsmoor Association. Stanger became the first president. David Croyder agreed to buy the land with his own funds, and the community committed raising and repaying half the cost over a period of three years. In 1980, the Association purchased 51.5 acres of wild land that made up the Bear Hill cliffs and plateau. In 1983, the community succeeded in raising half the purchase price and repaid Croyder as agreed, due in large part to the fundraising efforts of Fred Reustle, a local clergyman and the Association’s second president. “I turned the property over to the Association,” Croyder recalled. “Technically it was turned over to the Library because the Library had property tax exemption.” But all liabilities and property management responsibilities resided with the Cragsmoor Association.

Fighting development

With Bear Hill protections in place, the Association turned its attention to long-term conservation matters, only to be confronted by a series of immediate challenges. Under the leadership of Paula Medley, the Association successfully fought off several local development proposals, any one of which might have changed the face of the mountain forever. Along with Friends of the Shawangunks and Palisades Interstate Park Commission, the Association battled a wind energy proposal that would have yielded some 666 or more wind turbines on 116 acres of ridge land owned by the Village of Ellenville. But the project suffered a natural death, unable to meet the expectations of investors. Similarly, the Association has fought off significant cell towers and transmission facilities, and various other developments that were ultimately deemed inappropriate.

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bear Hill visitation grew steadily, and objectionable behavior by some visitors grew more frequent, including drug use, breaking glass and spreading graffiti on the cliffs. In May 2012, the Association began charging a fee to enter Bear Hill to help compensate for increasing management costs, which include surveillance and monitoring, insurance, trash removal, trail maintenance and signage. Whereas in the past, the cost of overseeing Bear Hill fell to Association members only, the new policy effectively shares the financial burden among all who enjoy Bear Hill. A day pass costs $3; a Cragsmoor Association annual membership, which is $20, comes with Bear Hill privileges. Bear Hill annual passes are available for visitors who do not wish to join the Association.

Although management of Bear Hill remains a primary responsibility, the Association’s influence on the conservation agenda has grown in accordance with its mission, which includes encouraging efforts to conserve the environment of neighboring regions. The Association has continued to collaborate with local and regional partners on matters such as land use and management practices, biodiversity research, understanding wildlife corridors and connectivity. The Association supported the Town’s 2012 fracking ban.

In 2012, the Association launched the Tiny House Contest, recognizing that saying “no” to inappropriate development is important, but saying “yes” to the right stuff is just as powerful. The basis of the Tiny House Contest is a recognition that buildings are the source of 30 – 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and an understanding that energy efficiency and renewable energy are keys to responsible and appropriate development. The winning entry will be the lowest-cost/most energy-efficient small residential building, which the Association hopes to have built on a site somewhere in the Town of Wawarsing.

© Cragsmoor.info 2012