"The number of people at a typical public hearing in Olive
ranges between zero and two," Boggess said Saturday. He
noted that of those that attended, only about 15 people actually
spoke about the project and the hearing portion of the meeting
lasted about an hour. The way Boggess saw it, the speakers were
evenly mixed between those in favor of the project and those
Following the hearing, the board voted to ignore recommendations
by the Ulster County Planning Board about the project. The county
Planning Board felt the application from Rob and Russell Oakes
According to Shokan resident Allison Irwin, information mailed
to neighbors of the proposed site show the plan is to put up
eight approximately 100-by-30-foot storage sheds for a total
of 23,400 square feet for a self-storage facility adjacent to
current sheds on Ridge Road.
Irwin said she was aware the issue was viewed as an incomplete
application by the Ulster County Planning Board. Irwin, who
opposes the project, said she felt the board should not consider
the plan as an isolated proposal but rather as an expansion
of the Oakes' existing business.
"If this is supposed to be integrated into the other area,
there should be plans that discuss both together. This would
mean over 4 acres with 16 storage sheds," she said.
Irwin said she believed that the Oakes' brothers needed to appear
before planners again to discuss the landscaping design for
Boggess would not discuss that, saying he felt it was inappropriate
to comment on a case that was currently before the board.
He did say that there were "conditions" placed on
the project, but would not explain what they were.
"I'll let the minutes of the meeting show what happened,"
Irwin fears the project will damage the aesthetics of the community
because the site of existing storage business run by the Oakes
brothers was entirely covered by crushed stone. She believes
it would be unsightly if the same thing were to be done with
the new project.
Changes For Bennett?
“The community is put on notice, because in November the
board has other things that we need to be working on,”
said board president Mary-Jane Bernholz at the district’s
October 23 meeting. She added that in addition to the facilities
decisions will be the need to start moving Onteora towards major
bonding to raise the funds for the major shifts ahead.
The board was advised to hire an outside facilitator to help
with the meetings. Bernholz said she met with Trustee Cindy
O’Connor, Superintendent Leslie Ford and departing interim
High School principal Jack Jordan, who has experience with bonds
when he worked in other school districts.
Jordan recommended someone other than Ford oversee the planning
process with a mixed facilitator to speed up the process.
Ford presented a two and three phase district planning process
with all trustees except Maxanne Resnick voting for the three-phase
process that would split the bond into two parts. A two-phase
process would have pushed for a single bond.
In the three-phase process, phase one would be to select a middle
school building based on the school board’s decision of
a 5-through-8 model. Phase two would present a bond for grades
5-through-12 and phase three would present a kindergarten-through-grade
four bond. Also included in the phase process would be learning,
environment and district issues. Resnick said she did not like
the idea of either phase suggested. “If we just focus
on where the middle school building is, without discussing how
that might impact our selections of elementary, I’m not
sure if we are not unwittingly affecting our future choices
for those elementarys, so I am not sure if these phases work
for me as described.” In the past Resnick voted against
the 5-through-8 model stating that it could force a community
elementary school to close, thus disrupting an educational model
that the public can agree with.
Bernholz, who helped push the 5-through-8 middle school model
to the district’s forefront, said she wants the three
phase process because it splits the bond of the grades allowing
better focus. She said they have two options of creating a middle
school — either within the High School or by converting
Bennett Elementary into a middle school.
“If the decision were to be made at the current (high
school) space, we would have the three elementary schools and
have to make a decision further down the line with them,”
she said. “If the space became the Bennett space then
the decision that would have to be made on the elementary level
would be between Woodstock and West Hurley.”
A Strategic Planning Worksheet is available to the public at
the school’s basic website, onteora.k12.ny.us.
Communications Committee co-chair Linda Burkhardt, an Olive
town board member, has reported that a new district brochure
is ready to go out sometime next month as a way to “disseminate
accurate information and build stakeholders support for the
implementation for the master education plan.” She added
that the district would also supply a letter to local newspapers,
“giving the facts about the plan.”
In other recent news, the Onteora school board unanimously approved
Lance Edelman as the district’s new High School principal
at a salary of $110,000 per year. He will begin in January following
the end of interim principal Jack Jordan and is currently the
High School’s assistant principal.
Edelman’s background is with the Beacon City School district
where for ten years he worked as a psychologist and coordinator
for the pupil personnel service. He has an undergraduate degree
in psychology at SUNY New Paltz, a Masters of psychology from
Marist College and a certificate of advanced study in education
at SUNY New Paltz.
But not everyone agrees with the process in which administrators
have been hired lately, noting a lack of parent input. During
public be heard at the announcement of Edelman’s hiring
on October 23, former Bennett Elementary PTA president Mary-Ann
Shepard voiced her displeasure over the hiring process and her
concern over the watering down of shared decision-making.
“It has come to my attention that another administrator
has been appointed without the SDM (shared decision making)
process,” Shepard said, referring to Gabe Buono’s
move from being the high school’s assistant principal
to becoming principal of Bennett Elementary.
Shepard said she wrote a letter in June voicing her displeasure
but got no response and asked that the board “publicly
state” that it is no longer the district’s policy
to use shared decision making.
On November 6, it was reported that an independent auditor from
Nugent and Haeussler auditing firm reviewed the 2006-2007 schools
books with a glowing report. Gary Theodore said the district’s
general funds were “healthy,” with “no major
problems.” He also discussed the importance of having
a fund balance, noting that the tax certiorari between the town
of Olive and the City of New York over the assessment of the
Ashokan Reservoir that could financially impact the school district.
He commended the district for putting money aside for that purpose.
He also said the school lunch fund balance is not losing money
as was in the past. “I am pretty sure your income came
in over budget and your expenses were under budget.”
This led school board trustee Cindy O’Connor to ask about
the fund balance and a struggle she has over increases in fund
balances and keeping taxes in check. “I watched our net
assets go from 13 million in three short years to 23 million,”
said O’Connor, “and I have also watched the fund
balance go from four million to ten million.” Theodore
said it was a “challenge,” to balance and offered
an extreme example where a school district was sited by the
State for having a fund balance of $100,000 and told it must
be increased. “From the States point of view and us accountants,
we like to see the fund balance that if any problem does arise
like the big tax certiorari comes through that there is money
to take care of that without disrupting the normal operations
of a school district and people are nervous about some things
going forward-pension costs and health insurance costs.”
Business administrator Victoria McLaren received a high praise
for keeping the books up to date in light of recent administrative
changes in the business department.
Wins A Seat
other balloting, unchallenged incumbent supervisor Bert Leifeld
won an 11th two-year term as town supervisor with 116 votes
while incumbent town justice Ron Wright won another four year
term with 1098 unchallenged votes.
Turnout was down in town and across the county from elections
two years ago, when Ulster Democrats, led by party chairman
John Parete of the Boiceville Inn, took control of the county
legislature for the first time in decades.
This election, county Dems held onto their legislative majority,
one seat, according to unofficial results made difficult by
an apparent election night breakdown in County Board of Election
The Democrats, going into the election with a 20-12 majority
over Republicans and one non-enrolled legislator, saw their
lead over the GOP slip to 19 to 13, with Independence Party
candidate Paul Hansut winning in District 11. Democrat Peter
J. Lieppman of New Paltz lost his bid for re-election, giving
the GOP control of all three seats in District 8. Non-enrolled
Legislator Tracey Bartels, who caucused with the Democrats,
did not run for re-election in the district.
“We still have the majority,” said Legislature Chairman
David B. Donaldson of Kingston. “Over the past two years
our target has been strictly financial, to get county finances
stable because they had been in disarray. I believe we’ll
begin to focus on more traditional Democratic values. We’ve
got things like the Environmental Department and we’re
also looking to increase promoting tourism through the arts.”
In the only county race, for District Attorney, Republican Holly
Carnright defeated Democrat Jonathan Sennett and Vince Bradley,
Jr., a Democrat who lost caucus and primaries earlier in the
year but continued his bid as an independent.
With Democrats splitting the vote, and 162 of 164 election precincts
reporting, Carnright garnered 43.4 percent of the 45,907 votes
counted, Sennett, 34.5 percent and Bradley 10,133, or just over
22 percent. The county’s southern half seemed to make
the big difference in Carnright’s win.
In neighboring towns, Democrat Peter DiSclafani defeated Republican
town board stalwart Jane Todd for the Shandaken supervisor’s
slot, with Democrat Tim Malloy and Vin Bernstein, an independent
Conservative running on the GOP line without active support
form the party as new town councilpersons. A replacement for
DiSClafani will have to be named in January, when the new board
takes office. Also in Shandaken, Democratic candidate Eric Hofmeister
had apparently defeated incumbent highway superintendent Keith
Johnson, according to unofficial results.
Democrats swept all challenged positions in Woodstock, as expected,
and split victory in Hurley, where incumbent supervisor Mike
Shultis lost to his Republican predecessor Gary Bellows while
Democrat Karin Horner ended up winning a town board seat along
with incumbent Republican John Gill and Democrat Judy Mayhon
defeated Shirley Paley of the GOP for the town clerk position
in a hotly contested series of races.
In Marbletown, Democrat Supervisor Vincent Martello breezed
to a more than 400-vote plurality to take a third two-year term
over Republican challenger Robert Ridgely. For the town board,
Democrat incumbent Brooke Pickering Cole won 1,174 votes to
trail newcomer Michael Warren’s 1,266. bettering both
GOP candidates by a long shot. Long-time Republican incumbent
Katherine Cairo Davis led the ticket with 2,038 and was elected
to a 15th term as town clerk alongside incumbent Republican
town justices Claudia Davenport and Mark Glick, both unopposed.
Independence-backed highway superintendent Douglas Stevens turned
back a challenge by Republican Alton Christiana, 1,291 to 741.
Friedel, speaking about his win while en route to Rochester
on a business meeting Wednesday morning, said that he was at
Snyder’s Tavern in West Shokan when he heard of his victory,
and soon after spoke with Rank, a lifelong friend, about working
with him in the coming year. He said he got no calls from either
Leifeld or Burkhardt.
“It feels great. I’m really glad Henry and I got
in because we can work together,” he said. “It’s
not going to be back door politics from now on. It’s not
going to be a rubber stamp anymore.”
Leifeld, in a comment to the press made election night, lamented
losing a full slate of fellow Democrats to work with, noting
how the board he’d hoped to keep together had been one
of the more harmonious he had worked with as well as one he
hoped “to keep together.”
big news has been that the nation’s oldest and largest
environmental organization, the Sierra Club, sent out an October
20 press release announcing its decision not to join other national
and regional groups that have signed on to the Spitzer deal.
And that it and remaining local and regional organizations that
have stayed on to fight Gitter’s proposal for hotels,
condos and a golf course, as well as the state’s increased
investment in its local ski industry holdings despite scientific
evidence and private ski industry protests, have formed into
a new collation and started fundraising for legal battles ahead.
“Our highest priority should be to protect New York City’s
water supply,” said Susan Lawrence, Sierra Club Atlantic
Chapter Conservation Chair, of the Spitzer deal. “Millions
should not be given to support a massive development in the
Catskills that could seriously pollute that water,”.
“Our concern is the environment,” added the organization’s
Watershed Committee chairperson, Carolyn Zolas. “The beauty
of the mountain, the character of the local towns and villages,
and our water supply — this development would be a disaster
to them all,”
In the accompanying press release noting the august organization’s
unexpected decision, it was noted that with them onboard, five
Catskills environmental and community groups are opposed to
the project, “which would add pollution to the headwaters
of the Pepacton Reservoir, an unfiltered source of water for
Crossroads Ventures, the developers of the Resort made up of
Gitter and financial backers Emily Fisher and Ken Pasternak,
wants to build 629 housing units in two developments, an 18-hole
golf course, driving range, clubhouse, two hotels, two spas
– one underground, five restaurants, 10 retails stores,
a conference center, parking, roads, gates, security guards,
street lighting, service buildings and other not-yet-detailed
“The compromise plan, reached by Governor Spitzer, the
developer and several other environmental organizations during
closed-door negotiations, would still include 85% of the original
plan, which has been stalled for years because of serious environmental
concerns,” the release noted. “ The current plan
allows the developer to build 629 housing units, two hotels,
an 18 hole golf course, and miles of roads, one of which would
travel 3,000 feet above sea level to the top of historic Highmount
Ridge. Many local residents in the sparsely populated area are
against the plan, saying it will overrun their communities,
clog their two-lane roads, and ruin their tourist-based economy,
bringing city-like congestion to the last unspoiled area within
3 hours of New York City.”
The deal the Sierra Club notes was announced, and signed, by
Spitzer, Gitter, and representatives of the Natural Resources
Defense Council, the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development,
Trout Unlimited, NYPIRG (New York Public Interest Research Group),
the Zen Environmental Studies Institute, Theodore Gordon Flyfishers,
and Riverkeeper on September 5
Meanwhile, Trout Unlimited’s signing of the September
5 document has resulted in a growing split within that organization.
Holding out and declining to sign the agreement were three local
organizations – Catskill Heritage Alliance, Friends of
Catskill Park, and the Pine Hill District Coalition –
since joined by the Highmount Preservation Alliance… and
now the Sierra Club. All have since formed the organization
Save Our Mountain, which also announced its founding with a
recent press release.
“We are united in our determination to protect the Catskill
Park and forest preserve that belongs to all New Yorkers, and
the economy and quality of life of the mountain communities
here. The proposed Belleayre Resort is the wrong kind of growth
for this area,” said Julie McQuain of the Hardenburgh
Association of Residents and Taxpayers (HART) another Save the
“Nature and humanity are interconnected entities. If we
protect nature we protect ourselves and our future,” said
Freddi Dunleavey of the Highmount Preservation Association (HPA).
“Governor Spitzer is reportedly offering $42 million in
taxpayers’ money to the state-run Belleayre Ski Center
to add nine miles of ski trails and special accommodations for
the resort. The Department of Environmental Conservation, which
runs the ski center, is also the lead agency in the state environmental
review of the project,” the Sierra Club’s October
30 announcement continued. “Pollution from development
could force the city to filter its water at a cost as high as
$20 - $30 billion – more than half of New York State’s
Calls to Gitter’s development corporation, Crossroads
Ventures, regarding the Sierra Club announcement – and
any developments with their putting together of a required Supplemental
Environmental Impact Statement designed to reflect specifics
hammered out in the September 5 MOA – went unanswered
as of press time, although the entity’s Vice President,
Paul Rakov, did ask for copies of the recent press releases.
To jumpstart their own efforts against the resort, whose review
process is currently awaiting submission of a new Supplemental
Environmental Impact Statement addressing all agreed upon in
Spitzer’s Agreement in Principal, the new Save The Mountain
group is beginning a series of fundraising events in Delaware
County, where much of its environmental effects will now be
concentrated, and the Kingston/Woodstock area, where political
muscle against it needs to be mustered.
To raise funds and awareness, Save the Mountain will be screening
the documentary film “Resorting to Madness: Taking Back
Our Mountain Communities” in a series of local events
starting in Andes on November 14.
The film, with ensuing discussion, will be presented Wednesday,
November 14 at the Andes Roundtable and Saturday, November 17
at Casey Joe’s Coffehouse in Arkville, followed by a discussion
about how the Belleayre Resort may affect our community. Maps
of the proposed Belleayre Resort, including the new Highmount
Spa development, will be available.
The documentary addresses the impacts of the modern ski resort
industry on mountain communities and environments and includes
footage and interviews from dozens of ski areas, experts, stakeholders,
industry leaders, organizations and concerned community members
throughout North America. Each showing will be proceeded by
the 15 minute film “Of Streams and Dreams, The Programs
of the Catskill Watershed Corporation,” a history of the
development of the area’s reservoirs, NYC’s presence
in the region and the 1997 MOA agreement between upstate communities
and New York City.
In addition to the Delaware County screenings, events are also
scheduled for 7 pm on Tuesday, November 27 at the Rosendale
Theatre, and for 7:30 PM on Saturday, December 1 at the Woodstock
The Sierra Club urged folks to visit the new website www.SaveTheMountain.net
to follow SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) process
developments and the announcement of future events.
A Jar Of Olives
I was saddened to hear that Wes Kissel passed away this week.
He was the consummate golfer and fisherman, and he was gym teacher
and coach to many, including my two sons. He left a love of
sports to all he encountered.
Another person who championed sports was the late Tony Alterio.
He was an avid supporter of wrestling and football at Onteora,
and now his dream is being carried on by his son Dave along
with Jane Carroll, Keith McGlyn, Patrick Murphy and Jamison
Morton who have organized a flag football league open to grades
three through six in all elementary schools. They have games
at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays. The young league is designed
to be a “feeder program” to the football program
at Onteora. The Onteora Junior Varsity players are volunteering
as refs and coaches to the younger children. The cost of participation
is $30.00 for the season. Financial sponsors are Bob Hasbrouck,
the Black Bear Restaurant, Eagle Electrical Services, the Hickory
BBQ Smokehouse, AP Builders, the wine Hutch, and Victor Fauci
in memory of Ashley Fauci. For more information call Jane Carroll
The colors of fall are red, yellow, green and blue. Those are
just the political signs that clump and litter our streets and
highway. Hopefully by the time this paper is distributed, those
ads will be removed so we can, once again, enjoy the leaves
of red, yellow and green and the skies of blue without distraction.
I dislike the political campaigns because of the Madison Avenue
approach to picking a candidate. In the simple clan or tribe,
the leader emerged out of respect and honor. Now, when we don’t
know our candidates personally or know what they stand for,
we are reduced to name recognition, “he said/she said”
sound bites, one-sided statements or clever advertising techniques.
Campaigning is a media blitz with financial backing and power
playing. I especially dislike the “bully-pulpit”
of newspapers that, through some coronation of ink and geographic
proximity, endorse one candidate over another through slanted
reporting or personal interest. How about leveling the playing
field with equal money and media exposure? Just think about
how much money and time could be better spent!
Speaking of money, I was amazed to hear that New York City is
owed $400,000,000.00 in unpaid water bills. Yes, that is four
hundred million dollars according to the October 22, 2007 Fox
at Five News Broadcast! They didn’t say if that was for
one year or more, but the amount is staggering. Imagine how
much revenue is earned through the paid water bills and how
much more could be earned if all of New York was metered. With
only 1% of the earth’s water as available fresh water,
water is surely the new gold standard. As you drive over the
Ashokan Reservoir you can appreciate the best view on the planet
and you can look out at the proverbial pot of gold at the end
of the rainbow.
On that same drive you can also note the distraction of installed
lights and guard houses and barricades and gates that are supposed
to let the fire trucks pass over the Lemon Squeeze. However,
in not-so infinite wisdom, our volunteer firemen are not allowed
through. The plan is that they have to go the long, windy detour
and meet up with the truck at the destination. Remember how
pristine the dividing weir was as it stood naturally against
the backdrop of water, mountains and sky as we drove along it?