Up on the News
After noting that the project was the biggest earthmoving activity
he’d seen since the moving of Route 28 in the 1950s, “As
I recall, everyone kept wishing for a safer, straighter road...”
So why is everything now apparently stopped along the 2.5 miles
of new roadway New York City has been blasting through the vicinity
of its Department of Environmnetal Protection Bureau of Water
Supply buildings in Brown’s Station, below and between
what has become known as “The Dividing Weir” and
the former Monument Road causeway known for years as “The
Matthew Warne, Chief of Engineering and Regulatory Review at
DEP, and project manager for the road straightening, said that
the work stoppage was due to drainage problems that had surfaced
mid-project. The result, he said, could mean no resumption of
current roadbuilding work until the winter, and a pushing off
of the $10 million project’s completion date into 2011,
So what happened at a planned July 1 meeting where various design
problems, including what Leifeld had referred to as several
property infringement issues, were to be discussed?
Warne and DEP Press Officer Mercedes Padilla said that, first
off, the meeting in question ended up occurring on July 9…
and that any issues regarding property manners couldn’t
be discussed because of legal considerations.
As for the design problems encountered, Warne was straight-forward.
First off, he noted that there are currently two major earthmoving
projects occurring in Olive at present: the straightening of
the roadway, with which he’s involved, as well as a separate
project involving the replacement and refurbishing of seven
bridges along the length of Route 28A in town.
Both projects, he said, have been in the works, from a design
perspective, since the closing of Monument Road in 2004, with
on-site activities since 2007.
Secondly, regarding the drainage problems, Warne said that a
number of matters didn’t come into view until after work
had been completed clearing and grubbing the areas where 28A
was to go, once straightened. In particular, there were problems
involving possible compromising of the reservoir dam and the
existing Brick Hill Road.
“If we’d had known what we’d be running into
beforehand we wouldn’t have cleared and grubbed yet,”
he said. “But it’s not a totally unfortunate situation…
it will all simply take a little longer than anticipated.”
Warne explained that, in addition to the 2.5 miles of new roadway
going through areas of rough terrain, it had to pass through
wetlands and other landscapes that required a great deal of
preliminary design work, as well as ample permission processes
involving everyone from state agencies to the Army Corps of
“The thing is that we want to be completely certain that
this road is working right from the start,” he said, noting
that new designs were incorporating added microponds and swales,
culverts and wetland protections to ensure the new roadway does
not get undermined, or ends up undermining existing infrastructure
in the area.
Which in turns means, Warne added, that new design work would
have to pass through all the proper bidding, oversight and permission
channels before the project’s contracted engineers, D.A.
Collins Companies of Mechancsville, can re-start work.
The engineer added that the whole idea for the new roadway was
predicated on traffic safety considerations. DEP, the town of
Olive and Ulster County all wanted to ensure that lanes and
shoulders were widened and curves lessened for better sight
distances, so as to lessen the possibility for accidents and
make up for the loss of Monument Road for those inhabiting the
As for the process of such a massive undertaking, which has
drawn numerous letters or complaint and worry to local papers,
along with rumors of animal habitats and lifestyles being disturbed,
Warne said that “everything’s been stabilized”
and dealt with via new state-of-the-art methods. Buffer zones
and reduced work hours had been implemented around any location
where eagles nested; fox dens had been protected, and fencing
has been brought down wherever it might interfere with local
wildlife… or locals’ sense of the scenery’s
“It’s a very sensitive area, and we’ve been
working with it knowing this,” he added, referring to
not only the reservoir environs’ flora and fauna, but
its wetlands and geology.
Warne added that he was planning to come back before Leifeld
and the Olive Town Board with an update on what’s been
happening with the 28A straightening, as well as the seven bridge
repair projects, including new projections for work scheduling
and completion dates, at either their August or September board
As for those land infringements… Warne would said only
that “there were slight encroachments and they’re
being worked out.”
“This is one of the largest construction jobs any of us
have tackled in some time,” he said. “There’s
been a lot of complexity…”
Regarding the seven bridges currently being worked on:
For the “Ashokan Spillway” and “Stone Church”
bridges, which called for various concrete repairs, the removal
and replacement of the top 6 inches of the bridge’s deck
surface, new expansion joints, guide rails, drainage gates,
and the replacement of approach slabs, DEP spokeswoman Mercedes
Padilla said that, “Both bridges are currently under redesign
after additional degradation of concrete was discovered after
demolition began at Ashokan Spillway bridge.”
Regarding North/South Bushkill, which was to involve the complete
removal of two concrete bridges and replacement with one 5-span
concrete bridge, along with embankment and roadway removal between
the former bridges (and installation of two temporary bridges
as a detour for during operations), Padilla said that bridge
reconstruction has been completed, and the new bridge opened
since June 24, ahead of schedule. Rip-Rap installation, she
added, is still ongoing, along with site cleanup (expected to
be completed by September 2).
Work at the Dividing Weir, which Padilla said was to involve
the installation of timber shoring in the gatehouse and new
stair railings, has been completed.
At Reservoir Road, where the bridge superstructure was to be
removed so a new steel plate arch bridge could be constructed,
along with new asphalt approaches and guide rails, all work
that can be done without closure of the bridge has been completed
with closure of bridge and final work now scheduled to start
next Monday, on August 3 (or within a three week window from
On Traver Hollow, where erosion and sediment control measures
had been planned for surrounding embankments, along with seismic
retrofits of all piers and abutments, Padilla said that, “Erosion
& Sediment controls are now completed with seismic retrofits
and drainage pipe to be installed this Fall.”
Finally, for the bridge at Waste Channel, where work orders
called for removal of the existing arch and replacement with
a wider arch using colored concrete, Padilla noted that, “The
existing arch has been demolished, while work to replace it
is ongoing, with a scheduled completion date of November 2.
“The entire project’s current completion date is
August 12, 2010,” Padilla added. “But this may have
to be extended due to change orders for the Ashokan Spillway
and Stone Church Bridges.”
brought a deluge of rain that continued for weeks, however,
causing trouble for farmers, landscapers and anyone else who
works outside. It was the wettest June on record in Atlantic
City, N.J., and the second-wettest in New York City.
The New Jersey State Department of Environmental Protection’s
Office of Mosquito Control estimates that’s the pest population
in the suburbs of New Jersey increased by 50 percent compared
to the Five year average. In New York, it increased by 150 percent.
According to the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC), which
serves the 12-state region, the emergence of adult mosquitoes
typically occurs after the accumulation of 230 base 50°F
daily degree days… which has occurred throughout the entire
region this year, including high altitude areas such as the
Catskills usually spared heavy mosquito presences.
They and Cornell Extension of Ulster County have noted, moreover,
that mosquitoes are more than an annoyance. They also can become
a health threat because they transmit the West Nile virus and
Eastern equine encephalitis.
West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne infection that can cause
serious illness, and in some cases, death. West Nile virus was
first found in New York State in 1999. Since 2000 there have
been over 254 human cases (26 deaths) of WNV statewide.
The chances of a person becoming ill with WNV, the state Department
of Health says, are small. Most people who are infected with
the West Nile virus will not have any type of illness. It is
estimated that 20% of the people who become infected will develop
West Nile fever: mild symptoms, including fever, headache, and
body aches, occasionally with a skin rash and swollen lymph
glands. In many individuals, these symptoms are so mild that
they go unnoticed or undetected. The symptoms of severe infection
(West Nile encephalitis or meningitis) can include headache,
high fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, stupor, disorientation,
tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and coma. It is estimated that
one in 150 persons infected with the West Nile virus will develop
the more severe form of the disease.
Prevention of mosquito-bites is the most important way to reduce
your risk of mosquito-borne diseases such as WNV. To help protect
yourself from mosquitoes and West Nile Virus, wear long sleeves,
pants and socks, and minimize outdoor activities between dusk
and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.. Consider using insect
repellent on exposed skin, and follow label directions…
or take Vitamin B, which is said to help, as is a dab of rosemary
and a dab of ey=ucalyptus applied to the skin.
Mosquitoes can breed in any stagnant water that lasts more than
four days. To reduce the mosquito population around your home
and property, health officials advise residents to take the
following steps to reduce or eliminate standing water: Dispose
of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding
containers; drill drain holes in the bottoms of recycling containers
that are kept outdoors; make sure roof gutters drain properly,
and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall; turn over
wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use; change the water
in bird baths twice a week; dispose of used tires; clean vegetation
and debris from the edges of ponds; clean and properly chlorinate
swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs; use landscaping
to eliminate standing water and make sure windows and doors
have screens in good condition.
If you have additional questions, contact your local health
department. You can also direct questions about mosquitoes,
West Nile Virus or encephalitis to the State Health Department
at email@example.com and questions about insect repellents
to the Environmental Health Infoline at 1-800-458-1158.
On a perfect summer’s day, James Anthony tells the story
of how he and partner Fredrik Larsson, the business’ founder,
not only ended up in Shokan from a Brooklyn start, but just
how surprised they’ve been by the way things have turned
Fredrik, he says, was the Scandinavian part of the equation,
born in Stockholm with a longheld island summer home on the
islands of the nearby Baltic. After attending New York’s
Fashion Institute of Technology, he spent eight years working
successfully as an in-demand interior designer. And then 9/11
“A lot of business fell off, all throughout the city,”
Anthony says of that time. “Fredrik decided it was time
to change direction. So he and a friend decided to start a retail
That was Just Scandinavian, located in the downtown Manhattan
Tribeca neighborhood. The idea was simple, Larsson adds –
to introduce classic Scandinavian design with contemporary elements
not seen in the States before. And including ALL the region’s
countries, including previously overlooked Norway and Iceland.
The latter opened a rift between Fredrik and his partner, so
before long he started over with his refined concept. Scandinavian
Grace, based in the up-and-coming Williamsburg neighborhood
in Brooklyn, turned out to be immediately successful, leading
to a doubling in size of the original store on Bedford and North
9th, and the opening of a second Scandinavian Grace café
in the tonier Park Slope area of the same borough one and a
half years in.
During the interim, James says, he and Fredrik started coming
to the Catskills, recommended to the Phoenicia area by Brooklyn
customers who’d been buying, and occasionally moving up
full time, into the Route 28 corridor all the way up to Andes,
Bovina and Delhi, as well as Schoharie and other parts of Delaware
County. Eventually, they too bought a home up here, in Mt. Tremper.
They eventually rented the former Just Alan store along Route
28 and opened for business last October because, as both chime
in, “We wanted to spend more time Upstate.”
“Swedes spend most of their time in the country,”
James explains. “And we realized, in opening this store,
that the designs we were selling wasn’t precious, our
items were made to be used. It made sense…”
From the start, people started dropping in who knew their stores
“And every weekend we met more like-minded people,”
he adds, describing the growing numbers of Brooklyn folks who
have started buying homes in this corridor, and then moving
up full time. “There’s this connection between the
two places that’s young. I joke that this side of the
river is new money and the other side’s old. What we see
coming through, and buying here, are jewelers and designers,
musicians and filmmakers, all people who have found ways of
utilizing the new technologies to attempt living simpler lives.”
And, James added, it was all baed more in Phoenicia than any
of the older centers, such as Woodstock or New Paltz.
“Stop in Sweet Sue’s on a Saturday and it’s
like the West Village, or Bedford,” James says. “It’s
the same energy.”
So back to the story… of the crash and how, beyond expectations,
it was the Upstate outpost, here in Shokan, that ended up beating
out the Brooklyn headquarters.
“We had expanded 300 percent right when the recession
started and we were certain this location would be a liability
when it actually turned out to be our savior,” James says.
“Last year, everything fell by 75 percent on November
1, then remained down in the city through the holidays. Everyone
Except for the Shokan store, Fredrik adds. Where friends and
folks passing through started stopping in for the kafe, and
buying gifts for the holidays.
“Over the next seven months, it turns out that it was
this store that grew consistently, allowing us to stay alive
in the city while all our competitors ended up having to close
down,” James explains. “It turns out this was the
safe haven that other stores in New York didn’t have.
Our hearts still beat strong because of it.”
Yes, the two added, they have temporarily closed their Park
Slope Kafe, and shrunk the size of their Williamsburg Butik
back to what it was originally. But they’ve got great
options… of either closing down their city operations
and keeping the Route 28 enterprise alive, turning it into a
destination store, or waiting out the downturn and reviving
what they had, knowing that what they’ve built up here
can hold them, justr in case.
“It’s a great place to be,” James says as
Fredrik works with a steady stream of customers.
It’s a weekday afternoon…After entering a bright,
naturally-lit Kafe area where great Swedish coffee and cakes,
plus lunch quiches and salads, are served, one is almost immediately
attracted into a massive elll-shaped showroom tastefully decorated
with sleek furniture settings and oodles of fine accessory items,
from milk-based soaps to glassware and lush cotton towels. It’s
definitely a store that, while more expensive than some in the
area, is on a par with the best of Woodstock, Rhinebeck and
New York. In other words, it is classy... yet also Catskillian.
“We’re building our website, thinking of going global,”
James is saying. “And the way we talk about the Catskills,
I’m finding, is the way everyone was talking about Williamsburg
ten years ago.”
James says that, starting August 15, he and Fredrik will be
starting a Saturday night outdoor film series of Scandinavian
classics, one from each of the region’s nations and cultures.
There’ll be free popcorn and wine, like an art opening…
only with cinema. Come the autumn, they see doing the same indoors
with the great Ingmar Bergman, and perhaps Lars Van Trier and
other Dogma directors come next winter.
Then he adds how much nicer it is working in the Catskills,
where the people he’s known from New York are able to
lose a certain “tunnel vision” and become more human.
“You stop and say hi,” James says. “People
would be mortified if you tried doing that in the city…”
As it stands now, he and Fredrik have limited their trips to
New York to a single day-long voyage for chores each week. Otherwise,
they’ve turned to concentrating their efforts on expanding
a local base from up here that is starting to include clients
from Hudson to Newburgh, from Tivoli to Oneonta.
“It turns out we can reach people from here, including
Manhattanites, that we could never get to in Brooklyn,”
he says. “Who knew?”
He pauses, and temporarily free of duties, Fredrik chips in…
“Now, if we can only reach out to Woodstock…”
Scandinavian Grace is located at 2866 State Route 28 in Shokan,
and is open most days. For further information call 657-2759
or visit www.scandinaviangrace.com.
If in Brooklyn, their Williamsburg Butik is at 167 North 9th
Street. We’ll let you know if and when the President Street
Kafe in Park Slope reopens…
Kid’s Take On Summer
Lately, I have been looking through some old stuff, and I found
a box of old Gameboy color games. I found Pokemon Silver and
Pokemon Red. It was genuinely exciting, and then I was at a
yard sale and found Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Yellow, and they
work too! During summer vacation, I, and many others, have more
freedom to do stuff with friends. I live right near Pine Hill
lake, so it’s nice when I can meet with friends really
easily.It seems to me like there are less geese at the lake
this year, though I’m not sure why. It just seems to be.
The adults have been busy at work! My mom leaves at the same
time, and comes back at the same time, as she does all year.
She is busy as a bee all summer longon the house. While I was
away at sleep-away camp, she completely retiled the bathroom.She
works really hard all summer long, and a lot of people benefit
from it. A lot of adults work really hard all summer long! The
weather this summer has been to my liking. I like how it really
hasn’t been over 85 degrees. The heat is one of the summer
things which I dread most, in fact. Because of it, I usually
don’t enjoy summer vacation, because it’s hot out.
But the clouds and temperatures are quite nice this year. The
rain hasn’t affected my fun yet, but it has affected local
businesses. Tubing has apparently had a difficult time of it!
After the rain, the waters are more dangerous. And at the Pine
Hill Lake, not as many people have been going, because the water
is cold. But overall the rain hasn’t affected my summer,
and I most certainly hope that it hasn’t affected the
summer fun of any one else! The summer has been pretty good
so far. I do hope that it doesn’t get too hot in August,
but if it is, I am sure that I would still be able to have fun.
The summer may be half way over, but I really like to think
I have half way to go, of fun and laughs. I hope your summer,
whether you have it off or not, is fun and entertaining.
A Jar Of Olives...
On Friday night the Ben Rounds Bands played a double set along
with Tommy Lee Walker, the radio DJ from WRWD, at Country Night
to raise funds to refurbish the 1932 USA, an old fire engine
to use in parades and shows. Carol Roberts remembered when her
father was a fireman and they got this truck from a company
in Roosevelt, Long Island, which was the next town over from
where I grew up. About two or three hundred people had a great
time at Shokan picnicking and enjoying the music. Tommy Lee
Walker even got reluctant dancers, like Carl Lane, up to dance.
Veteran line dancers, like George and Sherry Thomas, showed
people on the sidelines how to have a good old time with style.
On Sunday, there was Ben’s Band again at the Samsonville
Church Ice Cream Social. His original song, “Grouchy”
drew hoots with everyone thinking of a certain someone to whom
the tune could be dedicated. The bake sale enticed me to buy
a chocolate walnut tollhouse pie baked by twelve-year old Erin
Petti. It will be well worth the extra ten minutes on the Elliptical
Torture Machine at the gym.
Next week Ben will be playing at the Maureen Odenwald Fundraiser
at Davis Park on Sunday, August 2, 12 to 6 along with the Pontiacs
and Dorraine Schofield. Kate McGloughlin is raffling off two
paintings to add thousands to this good cause. Maureen’s
cancer treatments are expensive without health insurance. Until
every American has the moral right to good health care, we need
to take up the slack and help those without coverage. Come enjoy
the day and help out.
Of course, Ben will be at Olive Day too. This year will highlight
Native American dancers and drummers who perform under the name
of Red Feathers. Our own Henny Wise, Judith and Drew Boggess
are a few of the members of this troupe. Mark your calendar
for September 12, the first Saturday after Labor Day. Calling
Linda Burkhardt at 657-6543 can reserve Booth space. I planted
Marigolds, but I am growing mushrooms and mold instead. I have
not had to water my plants once this year, nor have I had opportunity
to open my new shade umbrella for my patio set. The birds are
back, even though I am no longer providing birdseed because
of the bear, because the mosquitoes are providing a sumptuous
buffet for birds. Frankly, the weather so far has been just
that—for the birds!