The $90,000 is more precisely $91,417 in grant funds to be provided
by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund, through
the Esopus-Delaware Corridor Revitalization Strategy. The project
will involve a “regional visioning process” that
will be facilitated by conspirators in the towns of Andes, Hurley,
Middletown, Olive and Shandaken as well as the villages of Fleishmanns
and Margaretville, with the aid of the landscape architecture
program at the SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry.
“Part of (the grant) will go to The Catskill Center (for
Conservation and Development), part will go to SUNY ESF because
design students are going to help municipalities come up with
individual plans along the corridor,” explains Chase,
who is also a vice president of the Catskill Center. “For
Olive, we’d like to go through a ‘visioning.’
We’ve not done that, although some of our neighbors have.
(The Center’s former Regional Planner) Helen Budrock did
this for Phoenicia, Middletown, Fleishmanns, Arkville and Margaretville,
trying to help the community decide for itself what it is they
want to have help with, what they want to change and, yes, beautify.”
What is meant by “Visioning” here would appear to
be a study of certain areas along 28 and the Esopus Creek to
imagine what they might look like after some creative improvements
are made. Olive supervisor Brendt Leifeld thought immediately
of sidewalks when the topic was brought up, “so people
could park their car and walk around a little community center.”
“In Boiceville, we don’t have any sidewalks,”
Chase concurs, mentioning the Boiceville area as a prime focus
of attention for several reasons. “We’re getting
a new sewage treatment plant. There are a lot of things we can
do for ourselves, with a little help. I need to put together
a group of community people who have an interest in the Boiceville
area to conceive new project ideas to bring the community together.
We don’t even have a main street. An idea in mind goes
toward having one in the Boiceville area. I’d like to
have something develop both there and the Shokan area but we
only have money for along the Esopus.”
Sorting out the organizations and programs involved is a bit
like trying to figure out the number of transgenic species in
your breakfast cereal. Possibly because of linkage to the NYS
Dept. of State’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program,
a focus on water seems to be an ingredient, as it is in Margaretville’s
“We’ve got a number of things happening here,”
Chase observed. “We’ve got the ‘scenic byway’
portion. We’ve got the (intermunicipal) Central Catskills
Collaborative (CCC), which is to work together under the DOS
grant and that’s the $90 k (sic) oriented to the east
branch of the Delaware and the Esopus...”
The CCC was formed to protect the regional assets held in common
by the 7 villages and towns along the 28 corridor which passed
resolutions this year to commit representatives to the endeavor.
Part of the idea is to form a regional consciousness and pride
although there may be a Hegelian dialectical twist in the inevitable
competition for funds, there’s no sign, yet, of a “Long
Road Law” to share the grant money with other towns not
directly situated on the east-west highway and compliment the
“Large Parcel Law.” That may only be because Albany
legislators have been too busy polishing their rat skills to
think about the Catskills.
Partnering with neighbors, Olive with Shandaken and Hurley,
Shandaken with Fleishmanns and Olive, and so on, may in fact
help forge a greater regional identity than the United Nations’
designation of the Catskills as a world “biosphere region.”
Or, at least that’s one of the desired future outcomes
for the Collaborative. Some dreams can come true. One of SUNY’s
ESF “Vision 20/20” goals, for instance, conceived
in April 2001, included as a “major target to achieve”
by the year 2020, was to “(b)e a major player for environmental
consultation by business, government, grantmakers and the like.”
Their role in this project seems to confirm that they’re
well on their way to achieving that goal.
An ESF aim of coaching “stewardship of both the natural
and designed environment” echoes the Catskill Center’s
description of “community visioning” with themselves
as a “third neutral party” working “(t)hrough
a series of facilitated workshops, our staff leads communities
through a process that helps them formulate a broad vision for
the future, pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, develop a series
of specific project ideas and prioritize those projects for
Helen Chase has been mulling a few raw ideas about presenting
an attractive face to Route 28, herself, considering the former
Trail Nursery property that the town is now testing on the real
estate market and behind which the treatment plant is scheduled
“I’d like the town to keep (the property),”
she muses. “Personally, I would like to see a new town
That’s not all. She sees enough open space for a community
garden, a “meandering sidewalk” through the businesses,
along the shoreline of the Esopus, past the plant and the new
town office. A perfect place to stroll and dream about a better
More will be learned about the possibilities at the next meeting
of the CCC at the Pine Hill Community Center, a “central
location for wintery weather,” as Chase points out.
If there was a walkway along the Esopus bank now, with benches
along the way, we might see our neighbors and visitors sitting
there pondering questions like “Why don’t grants
come in round numbers?” or “When will the Wall Street
evangelists on the NPR Marketplace radio show admit that their
bosses’ economic claptraps are collapsing in a crescendo
of corruption while our no account federation of elected high
officials are erasing the word ‘accountability’
from the statutes?” Thoughts like that, maybe. Perhaps
just sitting, feeling relieved that the President-elect’s
internal investigation cleared him and his organization of any
involvement in that messy “buy a seat in Illinois”
affair. Or maybe just watching the water go by. There’s
a lot of things you can do when you have a scenic walkway by
If the walk is covered by snow, there’s an alternative,
according to Olive councilman Peter Friedel, who has just announced
that he’s arranged for discounts at the Belleayre Ski
Center for Olive residents. An excellent opportunity to meet
our partners in open conspiracy at the western end of the Central
“I don’t get it,” one churchgoeer was heard
telling another outside of the remaining parish church in Phoenicia
last Sunday. “The archdiocese doesn’t get rid of
The current sell-off comes after years of changes, though.
Earlier this decade, the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette,
who founded the parish with the building of the Phoenicia parish
church in 1902, handed over control of their parish to the Archdiocese
of New York after an indiscrete case involving a former pastor
forced a settlement.
In January 2007, the archdiocese announced plans for a major
realignment that called for closing some churches, parishes
and schools. St. Francis De Sales was listed as a parish that
would disappear once the plan was finalized. That would have
meant the closure of the main church in Phoenicia and its two
mission churches, one in Boiceville and one in Allaben.
Upon hearing word of a plan to eliminate the parish, members
of the congregation formed a committee to convince the archdiocese
to reconsider and the archdiocese ultimately decided to close
the parish’s two mission churches, Our Lady of Lourdes
in Allaben and Our Lady of La Salette in Boiceville, but retain
the parish and a full complement of daily services at the Phoenicia
At the time of the decision, there were no plans to sell the
mission churches, but the Rev. Phillip Tran, pastor at St. Francis
De Sales, said the archdiocese had eventually reversed itself.
Our Lady of La Salette is on 1.1 acres and has a list price
of $179,000. Our Lady of Lourdes is on three-fourths of an acre
and has a price of $129,000. The church, built in 1879, is listed
as one of the town of Shandaken’s historic structures.
While no one wants to see the churches sold, Tran said, the
parish will at least reap some benefits of the sales.
“Part of the money would come back to our church,”
he said. “I’m not sure what percentage, though.”
Father Christopher Berean of St. Mary’s of the Snow Parish
in Saugerties, who oversaw the parish for several years after
its shift from the Missionaries to the Archdiocese, based in
New York City, said that he felt for those who were hurting
because of the loss of their home churches, but understood the
main office’s decision to sell.
“They were wonderful, nice things, but also a financial
burden,” Father Berean said, remembering how he used to
feel traveling from his main church three miles in either direction
to the mission churches also under his wing. “It was like
having a second home that you paid to keep heated and clean
so you could have lunch there once a week.”
Continuing, Berean pointed out that the idea of mission churches,
and the increasing number of ecclesiastical buildings becoming
residential homes or businesses in recent years, comes as the
result of the changes of the last century… just as some
of the old-timers have been saying.
“These churches were all built during a day when people
walked or rode horses to get places. Things have changed,”
he said. “They were nice, but it’s like losing that
time when doctors made house calls. I feel bad for the people
who loved their church but have to also see this from a practical
point of view.”
Father Berean paused, as if in memory of his Sundays past.
“They were nice,” he said. “But they were
luxuries for a poor parish.”
the 2008-09 shortfall, Paterson is proposing stand-alone legislation
to close the $1.7 billion gap, and assumes that the actions
will be enacted by February 1. The proposal includes $1 billion
in proposals that were originally proposed at the November special
session (Paterson proposed $2 billion in cuts then but no formal
proposal was ever made). Major recommendations that will be
included again include $500 million in health care savings;
$50 million in reduction in the Environmental Protection Fund
(EPF) plus a sweeping away of $25 million of uncommitted EPF
funding, enactment of a bigger, better, bottle bill (to raise
$118 million in 2009-10), a $620 SUNY tuition increase ($62
million); a 10 percent reduction in Community College Base Aid
($15 million), and more… including the folding of the
Hudson Valley Greenway into the Department of State and a proposed
new law allowing the sale of wine in grocery and drug stores…
for a fee.
For the 2009-2010 shortfall, the governor is proposing legislation
that assumes the budget will be enacted by March 1, 2009, a
month before the April 1 start of the fiscal year… a savings
in itself. To close the $13.7 billion budget deficit, the executive
budget proposes: $9.5 billion in recurring spending reductions,
$3.1 billion in recurring revenue actions, and non-recurring
actions amounting to $1.1 billion.
The cuts, which are scaring everyone, include a $698 million
drop in school aid (with a shift in overall commitments from
a 4 to 8-year plan); $1.3 billion in Medicaid and other health
care cuts; and the elimination of thepopular STAR rebate program
An estimated 521 layoffs are expected from the state workforce:,
along with the deferring of at least five days of salary payments,
and the elimination of a scheduled 3 percent general salary
increase for the coming year.
A scheduled $61 million increase in aid to local government
will also be eliminated, although mandate relief initiatives
are currently expected to offset the drop in spending.
Henceforth, all Empire Zone recipients, future and present,
would be required to demonstrate they are making good on the
state’s investment so savings from the program can be
redirected to job creating programs.
To make money, Paterson proposes an 18 percent sales tax on
non-diet soft drinks (“to combat obesity and related diseases”),
the elimination of sales tax exemptions on clothing and footwear
under $110 in cost, the taxing of satellite tv/radio services,
and other “fun” taxes.
State Senator John Bonacic’s press officer Kate Glazer
said Tuesday that Governor Paterson’s proposed budget,
released that day, may or may not include extra funding for
the facility next year. Each year the State Senate, she said,
secures $750,000 for Belleayre through Bonacic’s office.
But as a Republican, Bonacic will see his party lose majority
status in the Senate next month and whether such largess continues
is anyone’s guess.
Bonacic himself noted the Environmental Protection Fund cuts
as a problem. Glazer said that the Fund would be reduced from
this years $255 million to $205 million.
Jar Of Olives...
Predicting The New Year
Despite The Bad, Good Always Prevails
This is the time of year that I feel both glad and sad. I remember
each ornament and the memory attached to it. I recollect the
times spent with people who are no longer with us. It’s
funny how some holidays are momentous and some presents stand
out. I can still remember the year of “The Big Wheel”
bicycles. They came unassembled, and I can still picture my
husband with directions in one hand and a screwdriver in the
other whispering curses at midnight trying not to wake up our
sleeping boys who were waiting for Santa to put presents under
the tree. Those were the good old days when presents did not
have to be plugged in, powered by batteries, or require that
you purchase a service plan.
Then there was the Christmas Eve snowstorm, and fourteen of
us camped out at our house on Deerfield Road because the roads
were too bad to travel. That night my sister had to work at
Kingston Hospital, drove to my house in a treacherous storm
and fell asleep on the couch before our holiday dinner. The
six cousins decorated her with branches and ornaments and tinsel.
She was a walking Christmas tree until she passed the mirror
and got a gander at her trimmings. I don’t remember what
presents were bought or given that year, but I do remember the
laughs and smiles we shared as we had an unplanned slumber party
on a very white Christmas.
Of course, I remember the Christmas eleven years ago when Dana
Noel, my granddaughter, was born. Her brother Nicky was not
thrilled with his unexpected Christmas present. “Give
her back,” he declared when she was in the spotlight.
Holidays are an opportunity to make memories that are not fattening,
labor- intensive or expensive. The gift-wrapping, greeting cards
and specialty foods are only the facade for the real substance
of the holiday season. More important are the reaching out,
the sharing, and our interactions with friends and family. The
real gifts at Hanukkah and Christmas are the ones we create
in the moment, not the ones we shopped for at the mall. Our
real treasures are people.
One of those treasured persons was Tisanne Gardner who passed
away this week. Her spirit and legacy is very much alive. Tisanne
was an artist, in watercolors and in life. She even wrote a
column, similar to this one, for The Kingston Freeman. Thirty-some
years ago she shared her talents with four very novice art students.
She invited Carole Weber, Joy Bachor, Anna Madsen, and me to
her home to teach us painting. We never came close to her talent,
but she did teach us to look at everything around us with that
love of beauty. I have one of her paintings in my bedroom, and
each morning I stare at a green forest and brook that reminds
me how awesome nature can be. Her daughter Christina inherited
her mother’s eye for beauty that she captures through
By January 15, I predict that the media will be in a frenzy
about who is wearing what to the inaugural balls. I will be
wearing my SEARS flannel nightgown and fuzzy slippers watching
it on TV, and I am hopeful that we will still make cars in America
and that the DOW reaches five figures once again. Speaking of
large numbers, I did a little math. The TARP is projected to
be 700,000,000,000.00. At the writing of this column, Congress
has yet to announce how it is going to be spent to “Save
the economy.” Well, I have a plan. If the current U.S.
population is 305,880,789, that means Congress can create a
people-friendly stimulus package that would send checks to each
and every citizen for $2,288.47. Assuming a family of four,
the checks would add up to almost $10,000 for each family unit.
We can then pay taxes on the earned income, pay off our credit
card debt and go shopping for those gas guzzling SUV’s
that are sitting unsold on car lots across the country. Or,
better yet, let’s develop some little device to turn our
fossil fuel cars into clean incinerators that run on coffee
grounds, junk mail and potato peels. Seems to me that solves
the stimulus, credit, energy and financial crises. Then we just
need to put people to work. How about paying a decent salary,
plus health care benefits, to clean up our neighborhoods, build
some modern schools and roads, and create some green technology?
Instead of paying unemployment benefits, let’s invest
in employment benefits.
I know I am making light of a serious situation, but I am confident
that the next issue of this paper will see some progress being
made. It was FDR who insisted that we must take risks and at
least try something to fix the economy. If his plan failed,
he said that he would admit mistakes and try something else.
I am reminded of the definition of insanity: “Insanity
is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different
results.” It will be a Happy New Year if we apply that
good old American ingenuity to correct our mistakes and redirect
our energies. It is time to try something new. You bail out
a sinking ship, and the ship still sinks unless it is rebuilt
or repaired. It is time to rebuild.