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Details emerge in Friar Tuck case

Apr 28, 2021 6:00 am

Sarah Trafton is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media a Connecticut man’s plans to film at the abandoned Friar Tuck Inn have likely failed. The town of Catskill last week took legal action against the owners of the resort, alleging unauthorized construction and prohibited paramilitary activity. Thomas O’Rourke, of Military Simulations and Tactical Operations, of Wallingford, Conn., claimed he was given permission to film at the property from April 30 to May 2. O’Rourke was in contact with Film in Greene, a county resource for moviemakers looking to film in the area. However, the department has no authority to approve or deny projects, Greene County Tourism Director Heather Bagshaw said. Film in Greene does not issue permits, she said. “We’re strictly an information provider and truthfully it’s the municipalities that are driving a lot of this,” she said. “We’re taking a back seat as to whether or not this [event] is going to happen. It’s really out of my purview.” The admission price for O'Rourke's event was set at $180 per person, with a maximum of 500 participants allowed. The group's first event was held March 13 and 14, which Catskill Town Supervisor Dale Finch and Town Assessor Christine Julig witnessed. Bagshaw said. According to court papers, Finch observed 35 or so people dressed in camouflage military attire and guns were on display. Julig described men on balconies, shooting at other participants on the ground, with what she believed to be air rifles. She described hearing explosions as well. Bagshaw said she saw the proposal as a film and not an event. “I think this could very well be a gray area and can be perceived both ways ... whether it’s an event, whether it’s a film, it’s in the eyes of the beholder.” she said. “Some people do pay to be a part of reality shows and that’s why I viewed it in that manner,” she said, referring to the tickets being advertised. The town has no certificates of occupancy or building permits on file for the property, and the state Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit expired in 2011, according to the lawsuit. The owners of the property, along with O’Rourke, are being represented by Buffalo-based attorney Michael Brandi. “It’s an interesting issue,” Brandi said. “This case has a lot more under the surface than the town’s papers reveal.” Among the many violations alleged, if O'Rourke and his group continue to operate the site their actions will pose a risk to the wetlands on the property, as well as being exposed to asbestos, according to the town, which has requested a temporary restraining order until an application for a injunction can be heard. Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.