The Mayor of New Paltz must be confused. At the Sept. 29, 2010 Village Board meeting, the Mayor persisted in setting a date for a fire district referendum. During this discussion, we raised concerns that the ongoing conversation is preempting and duplicating the work of the Local Government Efficiency Committee. Mayor Dungan claimed that the fire district has been discussed since 2006, long before the issue of consolidation ever began. It is here that he has clearly muddled the facts.
New Paltz consolidation has been discussed repeatedly since at least the mid-1960s. The discussion in its current incarnation has been ongoing since 2006, when half of the speakers at a Village Board meeting held on Sept. 6, 2006 (called specially for the purpose of deciding whether to raise then-Mayor West’s salary and benefits) mentioned consolidation, and almost all speakers raised issues related to local government efficiency. Yet the minutes of 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and most of 2010 show no mention of a fire district, until the joint Town-Village meeting of July 29, 2010. We are certain that private discussions have occurred over the course of the last couple of years, but we have not found any record of, and cannot remember any mention of, even one public discussion. Maybe the Mayor is confusing the one for the other?
The consolidation conversation has reoccurred regularly since 2006, including the establishment of the “Committee to Study Executive Management Options” in that same year (which came about as a result of the previously mentioned public meeting about raising the Mayor’s salary), a motion made by then-Trustee Dungan himself! In 2007, several people were appointed to this committee, including current Local Government Efficiency Consultant Peter Fairweather, although the committee failed to ever formally convene. In that same year, we also convened an informal group called the “Town/Village Unification Commission,” comprised of nearly a dozen local residents interested in discussing the issue of consolidation, attempting to address the issues that the “Committee to Study Executive Management Options” was not asked to consider, but was on the tongues of half the speakers at the Sept. 6 meeting.
In early 2008, the town asked the village to join with it to apply for a Local Government Efficiency Grant specifically to study consolidation options. The request from the town was voted down by a majority of the Village Board. The spring of 2008 saw the election of Pete Healey to the Village Board, whose primary campaign issue was unification, which generated ongoing public discussion, including a televised NYPIRG forum for candidates.
In 2009, the Local Government Efficiency Grant arose yet again, which was this time approved by majorities of both town and village boards. Throughout the winter of 2008-2009, a joint committee met to develop the grant application, and the grant was awarded in June of 2009.
In 2010, the current Local Government Efficiency Working Group began meeting in May, when consultant Peter Fairweather was chosen to organize the information gathering, public outreach and compilation of the final proposals. While the efforts to create the required Advisory Committee have been delayed, the work continues, with recommendations expected by June, 2011. 2010 also saw the distribution of the Master Plan Community Survey, which was mailed to village residents in all water/sewer bills, receiving about 200 replies. Question 15 asked for feedback on the statement, “The New Paltz community would be better served with one governing body rather than village and town administrations as now,” with 130 people agreeing with the statement, 25 disagreeing with the statement and about 45 offering no opinion.
Since the facts clearly underscore the Mayor’s confusion, we are providing this information here, in the paper, since the village may not be providing a forum for such discussion. Hopefully it will also assist the Mayor’s own difficulties in accurately recollecting the issue of local government efficiency in this community. While he may have engaged in secret discussions regarding a proposed fire district, this issue was not shared with the community nor the other trustees until July, 2010. Therefore, the Mayor’s statement at the meeting, and subsequent draft answers provided to approved questions #2 and #19 submitted during the fire district “public hearing” (http://www.villageofnewpaltz.org/filemgmt_data/files/Questions%20and%20Answers%20%28Draft%29.pdf) are factually inaccurate. They demonstrate the very subjectiveness that led to the censorship of other questions and call into question the accuracy of the entire document.
Of course, these are not the only fallacies being promulgated by Mayor Dungan. However, as he has made clear his wish that public discussion only occur by talking to each other and submitting letters to the paper, we’ll continue addressing these inaccuracies each week in the New Paltz Times.
As Bill sees it
Evil has always been associated with politics and politicians, but the recent “outing” of Delaware U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell as a witch is a sign of just how dark forces have penetrated our government. If witches have infested federal government, how many state and local governments are controlled by witches? This being liberal “diversified” New Paltz, I think we may have hundreds of full-time witches doing evil here. I think New Paltz Times reporters Mike Townshend and Erin Quinn (if they’re not afraid of becoming targets again) should do a story on the Witches of New Paltz.
Speaking of witches, I recently watched a public access TV video “Controversial 8/18 Board of Education Meeting -- Public Speaking Time” on our cable TV channel 23. It was interesting to see the anti-Don Kerr faction being labeled “witch hunters” by some pro-Don people. I’ve had my differences with Don in the past, but never thought of him as a witch. If Don has indeed crossed over to the dark side, shouldn’t the anti-Don people be said to be on a “warlock” (a male witch) hunt? I think we should get the proper nomenclature established. New Paltz is a divided community and I want to thank Don for bringing the pro and anti witch/warlock people together to celebrate and renew our divisions. In my opinion, it was one of the best community meetings since the fight against the school board’s effort (led by Don?) to increase our school taxes with a $50 million Middle School “restoration” bond.
I wonder when the first witch hunt occurred in New Paltz? Did the Huguenots ever burn anyone at the stake? People have been living here since around 1678 (earlier, if you count the Indians -- oops, sorry Rebecca Rotzler, I mean Native Americans) and I’m sure there must have been many witch hunts.
Speaking of Rebecca Rotzler, she brought up one of the few non-Don related questions at the Aug. 18 board of education meeting. Rebecca spoke about the need for something to be done about South Putt Corners Road near where New Paltz High School is located. Many New Paltz High School students foolishly walk along this dangerous road after school headed towards Main Street or Route 32. I think the people who sent around the petition requesting that the road’s “shoulders” should be “widened” didn’t go far enough. A wider road would still have the condition of cars whizzing dangerously close to students at 45 plus miles-an-hour.
Why aren’t we pushing for a nice walkway/jogging/bicycle path that would curve into contours of the (still) natural areas on either side of the road instead of just enlarging the highway (which should be done anyway)? I’m sure the affected property owners would be happy to have such a safety improvement for our New Paltz High School students.
Flood Damage Prevention Law fails New Paltz citizens
The Flood Damage Prevention Law recently enacted by the Town Board of New Paltz is a poorly conceived piece of legislation that fails to address the cause of flood damage and instead clearly demonstrates that the town feels very little responsibility to take any positive action on flood damage control.
The law not only prevents new development, but also impedes the ability of current residents in the floodplain to repair their existing homes in the event of “substantial damage” (as defined in Local Law 3, Section 2, Part C), including damage not caused by flood waters; fire, downed trees, etc. While I understand that the town has a responsibility to minimize liability during flood events, I cannot accept that the only reasonable course of action offered by the Town Board to deal with the flooding issue is to effectively throw up their hands and condemn the area as unfit for human residency, which is essentially what this law proposes to do. Many homes impacted by this law are at high enough elevation that they do not sustain flood damage. But, because the public, town roads that lead to these properties dip below the required minimum elevation, these properties are deemed “hazardous” by the new law. With this legislation, the Town of New Paltz has shifted the entire burden of flood hazard and liability to a group of individual property owners and has neglected its obligation to the community at large to offer real, workable solutions to minimize flooding and minimize the need to close roads.
If the Town of New Paltz is truly concerned about the hazards of flood waters on our public roads and private properties, wouldn’t time and resources be best spent in a proactive effort to better understand the flood behavior of the Wallkill River and evaluate engineering solutions to minimize flooding problems in the first place? An investigation of the environmental impact of Central Hudson’s use of a bladder on the Dashville Dam to control water levels sounds like a good place to start. Taking positive action to improve the quality of life in our town and lay the groundwork for responsible and environmentally conscious development and property maintenance should be the focus of our Flood Damage Prevention Plan. Instead, the Town Board has chosen a path of non-action and punitive legislation.
Flood damage prevention is a town-wide issue which should be of interest to all residents, whether or not they live in the designated flood plain. It should be known that a select group of property owners are bearing the weight of this legislation for the entire town and are subject to significant losses in property value because of the black cloud that will inevitably be cast over their homes by such a law. As one of these homeowners and a taxpaying citizen of New Paltz, I find this law to be discriminatory and unjustly punitive toward those of us who are otherwise happy to live in the lovely area west of the Wallkill River.
Support a new library in Highland
I have been so happy to see Highland improve in recent years. What is most impressive are public recreational and exercise opportunities provided by all the baseball, football, soccer, tennis and swimming facilities. Of course, the Rail Trail, its newly completed connection to the Walkway, the Walkway itself, the Black Creek Corridor and Bob Sheppard River Front Park are other tremendous opportunities for walking, running, biking and boating.
Highland has also shown marked industrial, technical, athletic and commercial development, including computer component, lighting and solar panel plants, a large home improvement store, a gym with pool and, most recently, a credit union building rising phoenix like at the approach to Highland. In addition, the new Police and Fire Stations, Military Women’s Memorial at the Town Hall and the Memorial Park at the entrance to the village have shown townspeople’s civic pride.
Unfortunately, despite all these wonderful improvements, the library is one facility where Highland lags far behind its neighbors. When visiting Port Ewen, New Paltz, Marlboro or Poughkeepsie, one finds beautiful, high-tech libraries. How inadequate our library appears compared to our neighbors.
As a child and an adult, I found the library to be a rich source of books, magazines and other materials that would not have otherwise been available to me or to the three generations of my family that have used it. It is a source of knowledge and a window on the world.
I was delighted to read of the library’s proposed relocation and improvement. The library was founded almost 100 years ago by citizens who wanted to share by providing opportunities to fellow townspeople. I assumed, in the high-tech 21st century, that citizens would welcome the modernization and upgrading of our public library so it approaches the same level as our other public buildings, commercial properties and recreational facilities, while also providing a new opportunity for knowledge and learning, especially for our fellow townspeople who might not otherwise have the academic and technological resources the new library facility will provide.
It was with great sadness and incalculable amazement that I read that a local high-tech business person found the library board’s proposal (at the cost of less than two dollars a week per household -- less than the cost of a coffee and a donut) to be “unconscionable,” that is so unscrupulous, outrageous, grossly unfair and shocking to the conscience that a court would forbid it! Of course, as the person with shocked conscience suggested, it would be great if a person or family that had prospered in Highland would step forward to fund all or part of the library. However, that seems unlikely. I have hope and faith that the civic-minded people of Highland who would like to see our town’s public technological and intellectual resources begin to match our other public and private facilities and recreational resources (and who can afford a donut and a cup of coffee each week) will vote YES for the library board’s proposal in December.
John Frank Roberto
What can we learn from mountaintop removal
What can we learn from mountaintop removal where in spite of its known serious environmental impacts it was allowed to proceed and is still going on? As with mountaintop removal, horizontal hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) has its specific set of environmental impacts. Fracking is risky as was off-shore drilling in the Gulf. Less than a month ago in San Bruno, California, there was a gas fire and explosion with catastrophic results. With these unpredictable tragedies what will it take to stop this new technology where tons of water, sand and undisclosed chemicals are forced against shale to release natural gas?
We can start by demanding that the NY State Assembly vote to stop this type of gas drilling to ensure adequate review of safety and environmental concerns. The NY State Senate passed a temporary moratorium in August 2010 and now it is time for the Assembly to step up. They are planning to return to Albany for unfinished business. They need to do this sooner rather than later (and not wait until after the November elections). NY State could be a role model for other states to slow down -- what’s the big rush to get started yesterday?
Please contact 1) Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver at 212-312-1420, 2) Assemblyman and Chair of Environmental Conservation Robert Sweeney at 631-957-2087 and 3) your Assemblyman (for most Kevin Cahill at 845-338-9610). Tell them they must get Bill A.11443B on to the Assembly floor for a YES vote for a moratorium. Urge everyone you know across the state to also call their Assembly person. Visit district offices. Let your voice be heard.
Let’s act now to make sure the citizens of our state first know more about horizontal hydraulic fracturing before drilling permits are issued. It was never truer that an ounce of prevention is a worth a pound of cure. Just ask the families of Appalachia who live downstream and downwind from mountaintop removal.
Do your homework
Hey folks, do you remember the $100 million debt threat in the school district for the community?
Well, in a historic massive turnout, we successfully squashed that $50 million bond. But the demon didn’t disappear and is baring its fangs again. Quietly, the New Paltz Board of Education has been strategizing on how to get the community to approve that debt once again. Let me explain.
After successfully defeating that bond, several community members began to lobby the district to establish a process for ongoing community involvement in creating and monitoring facilities maintenance and development. The school board refused to permit experienced community people to sit with them on their facilities committee, as they do on their audit committee. What they did do was devise a process whereby outside consultants would be hired to handle the community and direct them to a place where they would buy into this level of bond expense. To quote a board member at a facilities meeting, they would “trick” the community into accepting this huge debt.
What needs to be understood here is that there are two different processes that need to be accomplished. The first is the five-year facilities review required by the State. This is basically a check list of existing conditions that needs to be submitted. Think of it as a Super House Inspection. It should be informing the district of areas that need attention for repair and upgrades. The second is the long-term Five-Year Facilities plan for the district. This is more critical since it should be a reflection of a Five Year Comprehensive Education Plan that spells out the long-term direction of our education program. But we do not have a completed plan that tells us what our program needs might look like in five or ten years. So, how can we plan buildings for an education program that has not been defined? Will population grow, or will it shrink, as seems to be the tendency? Will we want more classrooms, or will we want to see our students spend more time in the field with professional mentoring? How can we utilize SUNY New Paltz for teaching space for our advanced placement classes? Perhaps we want to think about consolidating space instead of expanding it? And what about environmental planning? Is a heating system with a 100-300 year payback really a green investment? Are we comfortable with a BOE that lacks skills in the building professions having total oversight of our buildings? History has demonstrated a poor performance from such a group. The Board of Education may have the ultimate vote and responsibility for how our school district runs, but shouldn’t we, the people, fight to ensure a broader perspective from the community in the decision-making?
In order to maneuver the process, the school district has contracted consultants to help persuade the community to change its mind and accept this type of debt and maybe even more. There is now an architectural firm who will lead the community in a brief series of discussions in order to elicit the ideas that will inform the direction of our Facilities Comprehensive Plan. While I have nothing against these architects, they are clearly being hired to do the bidding of the Board of Ed. The venue designed is to have eight community stakeholder groups that people can join according to their self-interest and experience. However, once again, without meaningful training and even less time to explore the issues fully, the community will be sitting behind the eight ball on future facilities planning. They will be led by an architectural perspective, which always is about building more. And being cautious due to legal issues in the architectural world, they often oversell problems and expensive resolutions. Without sufficient time, people who do not have building or educational backgrounds will be easily swayed by these very pleasant people who will talk with authority, but with no background on this community and its issues.
Out of these stakeholder groups, chair people will be chosen by lottery to become part of the Facilities Advisory Committee (FAC). This FAC will be the group that actually makes some recommendations to the BOE. This FAC will meet briefly. Don’t we want to see this committee become part of the permanent advisory structure in the district? Don’t we want people on the FAC to have significant background in building, education and community awareness?
Our dilemma is that even though the school districts process is weak and deserving criticism, it is the only structural means that we have at the moment to try and affect the long-term facilities plans. Thus, I would like to encourage people to try and watch the community forum held at Lenape last week on Public Access TV in New Paltz. There is an effort to get the video online for everyone to watch it. The website will be the Unite Our District site. Then I would also ask that people go online to the school’s website and sign up for one or more of these stakeholder committees. The link on the school website in on the left and called Map 4 Our Schools. The first meetings are scheduled for Oct. 12, 13 and 14, 2010. Please come out and participate.
Concerns about the New Paltz Town Board
Present at the Aug. 19 New Paltz Town Board meeting were five board members, the town clerk, two town residents and one village resident. I don’t go to every Town Board meeting, but Chris Ulrich seems to be, as one unnamed board member put it, their fan club. A low turnout is normal for the New Paltz Town Board meetings. In public comment Chris asked why more people didn’t attend the meetings or get involved? He wondered how to go about getting more people interested in their local government. The answer is now totally clear to me. The Town Board doesn’t want you there!
Approximately 30 town residents attended the Sept. 23 Town Board meeting -- all wearing similar-colored shirts to show their solidarity. This group represents a growing concern for the Town Board to remember they represent the people in the town first. After a sign-up sheet was passed around, only six people signed up to speak during public comment. Town Supervisor Toni Hokanson then announced that each person would only have three minutes to speak. Is there a scheduled time limit for the amount of people in the room or the amount signed up to speak? Maybe a policy should be established -- one to five, 15 minutes; six to ten, ten minutes, etc. The frustration of those who wished to convey their concerns to the Town Board was very high, What made it worse is an unnamed Town Board member was actually counting the seconds out loud; I’m not sure if listening was involved. This is the same Town Board that only one month earlier was wondering why no one comes to the meetings. If you would like to see for yourself, go to New Paltz living.com where you can see all the Town Board videos of meetings.
Greg Samanski was one of the speakers and he told the Town Board that when their seats are up for re-election, he was going to run for their spot to bring human decency back to the Town Board. I hope the Town Board can lower its defenses and greet the residents with smiles and open arms instead of time limits and nuclear weapons. New Paltz is made up of visitors, weekenders, college students and FAMILIES. The Town Board has lost sight of the last group! The Town Board should be talking about soccer fields, after-school programs at the community center, summer rec programs and playgrounds that aren’t limited to memberships or have beer bottles and used condoms on them. Instead, they discuss increasing budgets for lawyers and town engineers. They waited until a lawsuit was issued to come to terms with this repulsive flood law. Sorry kids, no money for you!
They toy with the village about shared expenses, especially the fire department. My fire tax was collected by the town in January and paid on Feb. 11 2010. This seems timely, but it was due June 2009 when the village starts its annual budget. The town, that’s us, is getting fire coverage for $230,000, 45% from the village from June 2009-June 2010. The town’s fire tax for 2011 will be $304,000. The total fire tax for June 2010-June 2011 is $782,000, less $230,000 from reserves, leaving $552,735 divided by 55% (town’s portion) = $304,000; fifty-five percent based on call volume in the town. In a fire district, it will be based on valuation (assessments). The town is assessed at 72%, so be ready.
The solution? The town needs to collect an additional $150,000 from the taxpayers (ouch) to be able to pay half of its share of the fire budget in June and the balance in January. This lack of proper tax collection has caused friction between the town and village and the village with the fire department causing the New Paltz Fire Department to want to self govern -- a fire district. Maybe prisoners in jail can self govern, or teachers can self govern, or your children can make the rules in your house, or Wall Street can -- oh, they already did.
The 2009-2010 fire budget had $5000 for fire prevention, but couldn’t find $171 for smoke detectors. The budget had $0 for bottled water, why? The money could have come out of miscellaneous expense. You can’t always believe what you hear; maybe I’m making stuff up. Look at the documentation.
When you’re having dinner, cutting the grass, throwing a ball in the yard, watching the game on TV and the fire whistle blows, think about the men and women who are giving up these things. Tell the supervisor to pay half of the fire tax bill and help relieve tensions between the village and the New Paltz Fire Department.
Heavy rain is predicted for today (Thursday, Sept. 30). I hope Central Hudson Gas and Electric lowered the bladder early enough. I texted John Roach from Central Hudson and asked him to please let the water out -- what little there is because more work was being done on the retention area. It’s better to be safe than flooded.
I was watching the “love in” on public access and it occurred to me that the fire departments wants to have a voice in deciding what they need (as only they could because of the unique duties performed) and that a Village Board couldn’t possibly be attentive to the needs of a fire department. If the police department set up a district because they outgrew the possibility that the Town Board couldn’t know what a police department could need, we would have second thoughts. The police, however, do have a voice. They present their needs to the Police Commission. This SPECIALIZED board listens to the requirements of the police department, investigates their needs and makes educated recommendations to the Town Board. The public can also go to Police Commission meeting and make suggestions during public comment, which does not have a time limit. By creating a Board of Fire Commissioners, which are not elected and not a separate tax-collecting entity of the town or village, and NOT a new government, we can satisfy many parties. The town could appoint two members, the village two and the fire department one. Just a thought.
See you at the Town Board meetings on the third and fourth Thursday of each month. To find out which shirt color we’ll be wearing at the next meeting, call 453-0215.
P.S. That was a lot of rain and the Wallkill River stayed in its channel, keep the level at the dam low.
Dave represents the good and the positive of the sport
It is my pleasure to know Dave Barra and an inspiration to be able to train with him in our Shawangunk Masters’ Swim Program at SUNY New Paltz. The following is a post from The Daily News of Open Water Swimming which, in my humble opinion, says it all!
“There were rumors that 45-year-old Dave Barra was training hard -- really hard -- during the cold winter months in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley. Besides the hours in the pool, he was also reportedly getting acclimated to sub-10°C (50°F) water at nearby lakes and focused on coordinating his travel plans and logistics. And those plans and hours and hours of training and planning paid off. His accomplishments this year have been nothing short of remarkable. His season started off in the warm, tropical waters of the Maui Channel between the islands of Lanai and Maui on March 21st when he completed the 9.6-mile (15.4K) channel in 4 hours and 55 minutes. He then followed that up with a 24-mile (38.6K) second-place finish at the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim in Florida on April 17th where he finished in 10 hours and 49 minutes. After a rest of 8 weeks on June 12th, Dave continued to hammer away by swimming 28.5 miles (45.8K) in the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in New York where he finished 15th in 8 hours and 30 minutes -- the first leg of his Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming. Then the 21-mile (33.7K) Catalina Channel in California was next on July 20th with a 15-hour and 37-minute swim in tough conditions -- on his second leg of his Triple Crown. In preparation for more cold-water swims, Dave then competed in the 8-mile (12.8K) Boston Light Swim in Massachusetts on August 14th with a 7th-place finish in 3:00:31 in the 59°F (15°C) water. Then on September 1st, Dave officially joined the Triple Crown club with a 14-hour and 27-minute crossing of the English Channel. Between June 12th and September 1st, Dave has reportedly completed the Triple Crown in the second shortest time period ever (81 days to Rendy Lynn Opdyke’s 35-day record). But Dave is not ready to rest on his laurels: he has at least one more marathon swim under his belt this year, the 17.5-mile (28.1K) Ederle Swim from New York to New Jersey. Not since the heyday of International Marathon Swimming Hall of Famers Michael Read and Kevin Murphy has the marathon swimming world been graced by a working man and amateur swimmer so prolific and successful as Dave Barra (129.6 miles or 208K total in one season). Humble, passionate and committed, Dave represents the good and the positive of the sport.”
I’m writing in response to the article on Sept. 30 regarding my comments at the Ulster County Democratic Committee meeting last week. I want to clarify my comments that evening -- my choice of words regarding my opponent was poor. As Mr. Kirwan graciously pointed out, I’m not the “most articulate man in the world.” Maybe that’s because I’m not a politician, I’m a businessman and I own a farm in Marlborough. And I can tell you that I’ve put my foot in my mouth on a number of occasions. I apologize if my comments offended anyone. While I know there is no ill-will between Mr. Kirwan and myself, I was merely trying to point out that he was in office for 14 years and in that time he had his chances to change Albany, but things just kept getting worse. That’s why I look forward to talking about our communities’ future in the days ahead.
Check the facts about the Gardiner Fire Department
After reading the Gardiner Gazette and the New Paltz Times, I feel compelled to respond to inaccurate facts being expressed about the Gardiner Fire Department. The fire department is a non-profit corporation whose volunteer members serve the citizens of the Gardiner Fire District. Operating funds are obtained through private solicitations, donations and assorted fundraisers which allows the volunteers to maintain their two fire houses in the fire district.
Fire departments are a vital part of each community. The volunteer firefighters who seek membership are anxious to serve and help their neighbors and are called upon not only to save your life or property, but also to help in many other unusual ways. They give their personal time attending classes, drills, etc. to insure they will be prepared when the call comes in the middle of the night or when their family is about to sit down to a holiday dinner.
Many of us take for granted the services provided by volunteers in our communities. Tax dollars would be extremely higher if all the services provided by the volunteers were performed by paid personnel. We should be thankful for these people who live in our community and also pay property taxes. They never say NO when your emergency arises.
The Gardiner Fire District is a political subdivision having taxing authority. Each year an annual BUDGET is prepared according to town law and a legal notice is published in the New Paltz Times and on the town website inviting the public to review the budget before the PUBLIC HEARING takes place. This public hearing is always on the third Tuesday in October and all persons are encouraged to attend and comments are always invited. The budget is prepared by the five-member elected Board of Fire Commissioners, always considering the consequences to the taxpayers while following mandates required by law. The district supplies all the vehicles, training, proper safety gear and other numerous supplies for the volunteers of the fire department. The budget hearing will be held on Oct. 19, 2010 at 7 p.m. at the Gardiner Fire House. Usually the public ignores this public hearing and then complains they have no say as to the budget expenditures.
The old firehouse property was deeded to the fire department in the early 1900’s and was used to house a piece of firefighting apparatus purchased by the community. This 1908 pumper was recently discovered in the mud behind Majestic’s store and is being restored by the fire department members. When more modern equipment and space was needed, the Majestic and Burke families donated land for two firehouses and the old building was deeded to the town. The members and many town residents would like the old building returned to the fire district for use as a town/fire museum for the many artifacts that our long time residents now have in their homes. The fire department was a vital organization in the ‘old days’ as it is today. Past history is as important as our future. I have traveled extensively and often visit small museums in historic towns and they are operated by volunteers. Yes, they do seek donations and usually those of us who visit are very generous.
Time for a change in Gardiner
Well here we go again. The budget for 2011 is being discussed, but between you and me, they already know what they are going to spend, who is going to get a piece of the pie and who is going to hit the jackpot. This is all part of a big act put on by the Gardiner Town Board. They will have people from different departments in Gardiner come to tell their sad stories about needing more money to operate in 2011. In the meantime, they are running around with all new equipment and getting rid of the not-so-old equipment, which is still in good condition, because they give a sad story that they have no room to put it, which is a lot of hogwash. They say they have to put it out on closed bids.
In my experience working for one of the biggest municipalities in the State of New York, closed bids lead to a lot of hanky panky and under-the-table wheeling and dealing. If they have to get rid of the equipment, they should put it up for auction so people can come to bid on it and they can ask for minimum starting prices. What gets me is something the town supervisor said in one of his discussions -- that he only collects the taxes, he can’t tell the departments what to do with it or how to spend it. To me this is ludicrous and irresponsible. He is supposed to be the town supervisor. If he can’t supervise these departments, what is his job? This is all leading to a burden being dumped on Gardiner taxpayers. They had no trouble giving away $140,000 and flushing down the drain 60 months or more of income from the cell tower fiasco, which we will never see. You can’t tell anything to the three senior members who have the controlling vote on the Town Board. It seems like they are only out for their own good and the good of the political minorities, who seem to be running this town. It is time to vote out this Town Board majority when they come up for re-election because they will never change.
In conclusion, we will see what happens in December of 2010 and in January 2011, especially when new contracts come up and we get our ever-rising tax bill while our property values go down. So wake up Gardiner residents.
Henry V. Tortora
A budget we can live with
I am very pleased by the recent announcement by County Executive Mike Hein on the proposed Ulster County budget. The tentative increase for Ulster County residents is 0% for 2011. We know the hardships faced by residents throughout our community. I think Hein’s proposed budget is the right kind considering our times.
I also want to point out to your readers that Hein’s budget, and indeed all of the county budgets since 2007, have had minimal increases. For my entire time in the legislature, almost seven years, I have seen cuts to virtually every department. To be blunt, we had too much fat in our budgets. In the first few years, it’s easy to vote for cuts. We had redundant services and many vacant, but funded positions. However, in recent years we’ve had to truly knuckle down cut services and make the hard decisions. This was the case both in the legislative form of government as well as the current Charter form. One point of continuity -- our current County Executive was formerly our County Administrator under the Democratic-led legislature. Our commitment as a party towards fiscal responsibility runs deep and has been for many years.
That said, I want to make sure to give credit where credit is due. County Executive Hein has proposed a budget we can live with. It is my hope the legislature will concur.
Hector Rodriguez, Legislator
Destructive stimulus spending
You may recall back in March when we held a rally at the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge because the US Fish & Wildlife Service, by contact through Ducks Unlimited, intended to “enhance” the refuge and increase the grasslands by covering over the existing runways (from the old use as an airport) with dirt. The original project “investment” (liberal code word for spending money) was $799,000. The refuge has been closed since May to complete the project. Just a few weeks ago, GardinersRight saw a newspaper article where the DEC put a stop-work order on the company hired by Ducks Unlimited because of numerous violations. GardinersRight decided to investigate and took our trusty FLIP video to the site. The devastation to the grasslands is unbelievable, but see for yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPrf1cvWlKI. Pictures speak louder than words showing the destruction. If you’ve “Had Enough?” of this type of federal meddling, destruction and squandering of taxpayer money, you’ll clean out congress and people like Maurice Hinchey who voted for the stimulus in the first place. Come on, George Phillips, save us from Congressional crimes! In fact, let’s clean up New York by electing Paladino our governor and vote out all of the stimulus supporters -- Hinchey, Schumer and Gillibrand!
Kudos to the New Paltz School District
I feel deep gratitude and appreciation for many people in the New Paltz Central School District. With one child in Duzine and one child in Lenape, I have personally experienced kind and professional support from the staff. Thank you teachers, administration, bus staff, cafeteria personnel, clerical staff, specials teachers, aides, monitors, nursing, custodians, the PTA and the therapists for supporting me and my family in this journey. My needs for respect and consideration have been consistently met. It feels delightful to be part of a school system where my family matters. Thank you all. In peace.
If you hear thunder
We deeply mourn the passing of one of the most ardent supporters of Family of New Paltz, and one of the most respected residents in our community, Mr. Jerry Williams.
As so many of you knew, Jerry was always smiling, always moving and always looking to help his fellow man in any way that he could. All of us here at Family of New Paltz will miss his big smile, his wit and his kindness to us. There was not a week that went by that Jerry did not ask, “What can I do for Family of New Paltz today?”
Our hearts are broken and we wish this weren’t so. But I do know with certainty that when I hear thunder in the sky, it must be Jerry helping to rearrange things in heaven.
Our condolences go out to his beautiful family for the loss of a husband, father, brother and a true, true gentleman.
and the staff at Family of New Paltz
Another step closer to energy independence
It was an inspiring day for New Paltz and vicinity on Saturday, Oct. 2, when scores of people took steps to lower their energy use this winter. All day long during the “Be Wise -- Winterize” energy fair at the Community Center, local folks talked with our builders and energy experts about everything from ways to stop air leaks around their windows to learning the best ways to insulate their homes.
Not only did people gain information to help save both energy and money, but some received prizes -- from “sand snakes” (also called “draft dodgers” to put in front of drafty doors) to the grand prize of a free professional home-energy audit. All this was a good step toward New Paltz becoming a Climate Smart Community, a pledge the Town Board passed this summer.
Our event was also part of a world-wide event taking place this coming Saturday, Oct. 10. Folks all over the planet will be doing projects to lower their energy use, as a way to say to government leaders, “WE are doing something about this problem. Now it’s YOUR turn!” New Paltz is now on the map of that event.
Local businesses and contractors also supported the fair. We offer our thanks to Bill Munzer, Jason Clark, George Tuckel, David Raponi and others, along with True Value of New Paltz, PDQ Printers, P&G’s restaurant, My Market and Jenkins and Luekins Orchards, plus the many volunteers who helped make the energy fair a success.
The event was sponsored by the Climate Action Coalition, a member of the Climate Smart Community Task Force. Anyone interested in learning more or helping out with future events is encouraged to attend our lively meetings each Thursday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Village Hall, or call 255-9297.
Ann Guenther and Jens Verhaegh
Climate Action Coalition