To suggest that the Shawangunks Byway is somehow *bad* is appalling. The towns west of the ridge have suffered economic downturns since the age of summering in the area dwindled several decades ago, and industry fled the country in their race to the bottom.
The efforts to bring these towns to the fore as a recreational/tourism centers should be applauded - what OTHER force gives these towns a chance to not only subsist but eventually to flourish? Industry sure ain't coming back any time soon, so long as the US is still competing internationally.
Bring in tourism, and you will see second home purchases rise. perhaps BECAUSE land east of the ridge ISN'T so readily available.
Second homes, become primary ones, as people realize it's a damned sight better away from the ratrace cities they have been going back to each Sunday might(that I know from personal experience!).
Primary homes bring children, and pets, and needs for businesses which support a daily existence as opposed to weekenders who aren't all that concerned if they can't get a good loaf of bread locally. etc., etc., etc.
Also - tourism brings in sales tax dollars - here's a short article mentioning the proposed 4% extension to sales tax in the county.http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9NVM1802.htm
On an aside - I met a local artist a few days ago, who has a kitschy little venture , HomeGrown Mini-Golf!
April 30 to October 30, 10 am to 6 pm daily
5755 Route 209 between Accord and Kerhonkson, NY
"Homegrown Mini-Golf on Kelder's Farm features real vegetables, fruit, grain and herbs. All of the plantings in the mini-golf garden are edible, some are unusual, and many of the varieties are also grown in the Kelder's Farm U-Pick fields. It's only $3.25 a game--and of course you get a chance to win a free game on the last hole."http://www.homegrownminigolf.com/
Her intention is to be part of bringing growth and opportunity to the area, and looking to tourism as a way to do that.
Local residents whose communities DEPEND on tourism are being short-sighted when they diss those very real funds which tourism brings to their communities.
You want no tourism in Ulster(Gardiner/new Paltz, etc.)? Take a look TO those towns west of the ridge and their struggle and you will see what happens when the tourism isn't there. Not that it WOULD happen, but without the toursim, which holds a checks and balances to this side of the ridge, what would eventually occur WOULD be only wealthy homes.