Follow Up on the
A Rail Trail
News of the
possible funding started bubbling up at town board meetings
over the summer, as Shandaken Supervisor Peter DiSclafani,
who also serves on the Ulster County Trails Advisory Committee,
mentioned requests he’d gotten from the office of
State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill for spending plans to start
preparing trail plans on currently unused stretches of the
old U&D line from Phoenicia to the Delaware County line
According to DiSclafani, Cahill’s office had alerted
them that it had $1 million in “reserve funds”
that had originally been set aside for matching other funding
for work on the lower portions of the rail bed renovation,
and was looking to divvy it up for projects along the U&D
line in Kingston, Hurley and Shandaken. They wanted the
Shandaken supervisor to put in a written outline of what
such funds could be used for, locally.
A year earlier, he added, DiSclafani had gone to a county
legislative Rail Advisory Committee with Cahill’s
Kingston Chief of Staff, Tom Hoffay, as well as members
of the Catskill Mountain Rail Road board of directors, Earl
Pardini, Mike Berardi and Harry Jameson. At that time, the
Shandaken supervisor was told that CMRR had no problem with
development of the western stretch of its line into a rail
trail, if they could retain rights to return it to rail
use, if possible.
The CMRR, a for-profit corporation that was briefly tied
in with a proposal to bring Steamtown, USA to the region,
has leased the rail line since 1983, via the Ulster County
Industrial Development Agency. The county has owned the
line since purchasing the tracks in 1979. The last commercial
train to ride its length was in 1976.
Hoffay said this week that a $1 million grant had been set
aside for the building of a “trail next to the rails”
up the Route 28 corridor, and meetings had been held to
determine means of spending such funds before they reverted
to other state agencies, as has been occurring in the past
Others on the Trails and Rail Advisory Committees said that
the reason for the current rush of interest in the monies
was based on the fact that the TARP stimulus funds set aside
for the larger rail projects had been pushed back from a
2010 start date to 2012 or 2013… and everyone figured
it was better to utilize them elsewhere. The idea was to
look into quickly-fundable feasibility studies, then project
rep work that could later be applied as a match to further
When Cahill’s office asked DiSclafani for a written
narrative for what he might spend such funds on, it was
suggested that he aim for $600,000.. or a half million for
each of the 12 miles to be turned into a rail trail. Since
he had already shown verbal commitment from CMRR board members,
witnessed by other committee members, and Hoffay, the Shandaken
project has been pushed towards a faster start-date…
albeit with procedures for actual funding still being worked
out as the process has unfolded.
Sound confusing? It certainly did to some of DiSclafani’s
fellow Shandaken board members and others in recent months,
who asked how such funding could be applied for without
everyone being on board first.
DiSClafani has since replied that he had spoken to “most”
of his board about what was underway, and besides…
the process wasn’t formal yet, but a series of opportunities
that were being met so a formal application process could
occur with assured funding at the end.
It’s been that way, trails committee members said,
with much of the Stimulus and other federal funding being
used to get the economy back in gear of late. How many knew
that much about the “Cash for Clunkers” program
before it started drawing to a close? Or that such sums
have been set aside for DOT projects throughout the area,
including the current repaving of so much of Route 28?
Recently, however, Rail Advisory Board members, as well
as CMRR board members, expressed some consternation at the
speed of recent developments regarding a rail trail. The
biggest beef? That somehow, a trail would keep a rail revival
from occurring, even though all assurances have been met
that such wouldn’t occur and that what the local system
would end up looking like would be the Delaware & Ulster
Railride and trail system in neighboring Delaware County,
which allows for hiking and rail movement from Fleischmanns
all the way to Roxbury, by train, and on to Oneonta and
Central New York’s own rail trail system, by foot
Underlying CMRR’s nervousness, however, may be a couple
of other items. First off, their for-profit status has long
kept their funding levels lower than not-for-profits such
as the DURR, which gets a huge chunk of its annual budget
from the O’Connor Foundation, based in Delhi (but
founded on an Olive fortune). Secondly, it turns out that
because of its long-term lease situation with the county,
via the IDA, the CMRR’s expenses come under county
purview… and Ulster County Comptroller Eliot Auerbach
has been “reviewing” what he can of their finances.
Finally, as reported in past stories, there’s long
been a growing sense of regret, on many county officials’
parts, that CMRR has had control of such a key piece of
county property for so long, without major benefits…
yet. Even though CMRR has regularly countered that it is
a volunteer effort, doing what it can, the nervousness persists.
But will it be enough to thwart the current push by DiSclafani
to free up funds for an eventual rail trail through the
Central Catskills, eventually hooking up to similar networks
across the state? Do local Shandaken complaints about the
nature of the supervisor’s process, predicated by
the nature of the Assemblyman’s funding offer, add
up to enough rancor to stop such monies from coming to town?
According to our Trails Advisory Committee sources, things
are close to actual Requests for Proposals so each of the
towns interested in the 28 trail can at least get $75,000
by year’s end for feasibility studies. Then local
committees can be set up… with actual templates in
place for action. And that promised, set aside money still
as a goal. If we’re allowed to get at it.
The next Trails Advisory Committee meeting takes place Tuesday,
September 8 in the County Office Building’s Library
Conference Room in Kingston, start time 6:30 PM.
Barringer, who was Olive supervisor himself from 1975 to 1981,
having defeated his opponent Ollie Crawford by 39 and 60 votes
respectively in two elections, said that Leifeld, who has served
in the position since his election in 1988, is Ulster County’s
highest salaried supervisor and probably its longest sitting.
Although he said he hasn’t studied the budget yet, Barringer
was confident there should be “ways to save some money”
“Just because I’m (now) a Republican doesn’t
mean I feel any differently than I did as a Democrat... My beliefs
are generally the same but I’m much more of a fiscally
conservative person than I think the town board has been over
the years,” Barringer said. “They (several local
Republicans) came to me to run on their line and I’ve
chosen to do that.”
The approach to Barringer came after his bid to win endorsement
for supervisor at last month’s Democratic caucus fell
short of Leifeld’s effort to regain it and the anticipated
withdrawal of councilman Peter Friedel from consideration for
the Republican nomination due to job-related time constraints,
a decision finalized on Monday.
With Friedel bowing out, the selection fell to the vacancy committee,
which consists of Earla Van Kleeck (also a town justice candidate
this year), Paul Wright and local Republican chairman Chet Scofield,
a move which sidesteps a rule which requires nominees to be
Republican Party members for at least a year.
“It looks like it’s going to go that way but I can’t
really give you much information because nothing is official
yet,” Scofield said before Monday’s meeting. A report
that certificates of nomination submitted to the Board of Elections
were incomplete and had to be resubmitted and notarized was
still unconfirmed at press time. The deadline is in late September.
Barringer said that he expects his opponent to raise the issue
of his censure by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct in
2005 and added that he had paperwork to demonstrate that the
charges were not primarily related to his service as Olive town
justice from 1985 until that time. (Barringer had also co-served
as town justice and town councilman for four years prior to
his term as supervisor.)
“I was not condemned for anything I did as town justice,”
Barringer declared. “I was condemned by (the Commission)
for what I did as a protester against the City of New York and
what I said after the protest was over.”
Speaking of a September 2003 public protest against the NYC
DEP’s closing of Monument Road at the Ashokan Reservoir,
Barringer felt DEP videotapes of the event may have been selectively
edited to misrepresent his actions.
“Someone said to me, ‘What are we going to do with
these concrete (barriers which had closed the road to traffic)?’
and I said, ‘Technically, I don’t know. Blow them
up, I guess’ and they said I was inciting a riot,”
Barringer explained. “That’s why I was taken off
by the conduct commission. That and I had also conditionally
discharged 4 or 5 traffic tickets (written) by the DEP police
on 28A. At that time, (the officers) were new and writing tickets
left and right and I wouldn’t acknowledge (speeding) tickets
for 45 mph. They had to be doing over 50 mph or I would ‘ACD’
(adjourn in contemplation of dismissal) them. I could have just
dismissed them and there’d have been nothing said but
you couldn’t ACD them. That’s the reason I was brought
up on charges, not my basic work as a town justice. But I had
the people of Olive at heart when I protested down there. I
didn’t want the road to be closed and I think most of
the town agreed.”
Barringer points out that the road may never again be opened
even though, when it was closed, the DEP said it would be open
to emergency vehicles, saying “they’ve never done
that and I’ll bet they’ve never been asked.”
He adds that if he wins the election, “I won’t be
a long-timer there, that’s for sure, but maybe some changes
can be made. Some of the things I’ve got in mind, I don’t
want to discuss before election. My main theme is 22 years is
a long time to have the same administration and I think it’s
time for a change.”
Olive Supervisor Brendt Leifeld, who will face off against Barringer
in quest of the endorsement from the Conservative Party at their
caucus at the town meeting hall on Bostock Road in Shokan on
September 3rd, said he was surprised to see the contest starting
so early and that Barringer’s move might ruffle some feathers
but that was okay.
“It’s surprising he wants to get in the act here
again but that’s his business and he has a right to run,”
Leifeld commented. “He wants change? Where? There’s
nothing to cut. If he wants to fire people, let him say so...
My platform is what it always is. I do the best I can for the
town and I stand on my record. We got a 10-year deal with the
City, as far as assessment is concerned, which we’ve never
done before. That’ll save the town millions and we won’t
have to pay lawyers, appraisal companies and so on. We can take
a breather for a few years.”
Other Republican candidates include Chet Scofield, who is looking
to unseat two term highway supervisor Jim Fugel; and Earla Van
Kleeck, who seeks to halt town justice Tim Cox’s term
after 4 years. The town board has two seats in the contest.
With incumbent Bruce LaMonda up for re-election and councilwoman
Helen Chase’s position available, the Republicans are
slating former state policeman Craig Grazier and “Donnie”
Van Buren against LaMonda and former councilwoman Linda Burkhardt.
Former town councilwoman Cindy Johansen, a Republican who had
hoped to displace long-term Democratic town clerk Sylvia Rozzelle,
also declined her candidacy this week, with no reason stated,
or replacement candidate as yet named.
Sopata, 45, of Kingston, was charged on August 4. In addition
to the grand larceny charge, Sopata was also charged with forgery
and falsifying business records. According to State Police at
Ulster, Sopata, who is secretary to the High School Principal,
was in charge of collecting and depositing proceeds from fundraisers
held by school groups. Between July 2008 and March 2009, Police
allege Sopata stole $9,200 while handling the funds.
She was arrested following an investigation brought on by an
audit that turned up discrepancies. On Monday, School board
officials had no comment on the matter.
Each year students and parent groups hold fund raising events
like car washes and bake sales to pay for extracurricular activities
not covered by taxpayer funds in the school districts budget.
District Superintendent Dr. Leslie Ford said Tuesday that Sopata,
a long term employee, is currently on administrative leave.
The sceond incident occured a week later, just down the road...
Mona A. Senecal, 42, of Shokan, who worked as a clerk at the
U.S. Post Office in Shokan, was arrested on Aug. 11 and charged
with grand larceny and falsifying business records, both felonies,
according to state police at Ulster.
Senecal is accused of taking $3,895.19 from proceeds she pocketed
while selling money orders at the post office.
More as these work their ways through the courts.
In just the past month, his first solo album, “Somewhere
Else,” was released… and considered a sweet masterpiece
as much for its center focus’ winning humility as all
the big names who provided backup for his endeavors. National
news media took up his cause. It seemed that with Killian’s
fame, we would all live forever.
Killian Mansfield, 16, of West Shokan, NY, passed away on Thursday,
August 20, a little under a week after the release of his album.
Artist, musician, humanitarian, he waged a valiant battle against
a rare form of cancer armed with an infectious sense of humor
and a “life force” to be reckoned with.
He took up violin at age 3 and continued his dedication to music,
winning an award for his elementary school music program (PS
24 in The Bronx, NY), and participating in what he called, “an
outstanding string program” at Onteora High School. As
a participant of the Fiddle & Dance camp run by Jay Ungar
and Molly Mason at the Ashokan Center, he picked up the ukulele
, an instrument that enabled him to continue playing music despite
the limitations cancer imposed on his body, and made such an
impact that a Pavilion at the Center is now named in his honor.
Killian loved the ukulele for its simplicity and ability to
encourage egalitarian musicianship in young and old, professional
and beginner. His philanthropic devotion was similar in its
focus on empowerment. He wished, he would tell those who asked
how he was, that more kids with cancer knew that choosing to
eat well and doing acupuncture, reflexology, aromatherapy and
the like can make them feel better. Then he started the Killian
Mansfield Foundation to help children with cancer and other
serious illnesses through health care that treats the whole
child - mind, body and spirit.
Killian’s visual art reflected his infatuation with the
art and science of origami. He created some of his own origami
designs, and started a series of outdoor metal sculptures of
origami animals. He loved and appreciated the natural world
where he was thrilled by its color and sheer beauty. He believed
in the Native American philosophy of animal spiritual experience,
which much of his art reflects.
And that album, “Somewhere Else.” In the last few
months of his life, with the assistance of world class musicians
such as Dr. John, Kate Pierson, John Sebastian, Todd Rungdren,
Levon Helm and many others, he summoned up all his fading strength
and recorded Somewhere Else to benefit his foundation, and to
send another message of empowerment for seriously ill children
Neighbor Ralph Legnini produced during a window of opportunity
between a long hospitalization last winter and Killian’s
entering hospice care last spring. And when everything was completed,
recording-wise, the community gathered at the Center for Photography
in Woodstock, spilling out onto the streets to celebrate not
only this young man, but the spirited embrace of life and all
its potential his example had spread to all of us.
“Conventional medicine does what it can to cure cancer
and other diseases but sometimes the cure feels brutal and elusive,”
Killian said at the time of his album’s release last month.
“Integrative therapies are important because these practices
are safe and available now to help make people feel better.
Like integrative therapies, making this album with Ralph and
all the other musicians has brought me ‘somewhere else’—beyond
all this cancer business.”
Killian is survived by his devoted parents Phil and Barbara
Mansfield, his cherished sister Calder Peace Mansfield (Cally)
of West Shokan NY; his maternal grandparents Fleming and Brit
Pfann of Silver City, NC, and John and Suzanne Bonitz of Wilmington,
NC; his paternal grandparents Matt and Mary Mansfield of Rochester,
NY; his uncles, John Bonitz, III of Pittsboro, NC, Chad Felton
of Rochester, NY, and Brendan Mansfield of NYC; his aunts Lea
Peace and Amanda Mansfield of Portland OR; his godparents, Lori
Brown of The Bronx, NY and Breon Dunigan and Bob Bailey of Truro
“When you’re a kid with cancer, there’s a
lot you don’t have control of—even decisions are
made for you,” he said, in those last interviews. “Cancer
is just a disease. It doesn’t get to decide who I am or
how I deal with feeling sick,”
The family requests donations to the Killian Mansfield Foundation
in lieu of memorial gifts or flowers. A private and public celebration
of Killian’s Life will be held on September 13 in West
Shokan when there will be a public procession from St. Augustine’s
Chapel to Bushkill Cemetery on September 13 and all are asked
to bring drums, ukuleles, “whatever you can walk and play,”
and learn the tune “Blessed” by Brett Dennen.
Further details will be announced in the next issue of this
“I welcome the sun, the clouds and rain, the wind that
sweeps the sky clean and lets the sun shine again. This is the
most magnificent life there has ever been,” goes Dennen’s
song. “Here is heaven and earth and the brilliant sky...
in between. Blessed is this life and I’m gonna celebrate
being alive.Bblessed is this life and I’m gonna celebrate
Jar Of Olives...
Ironing done, my other fall ritual is to mark the calendar for
all the events that are planned now that people are home from
vacations. Olive Day is on September 12 at Davis Park from 9:00
a.m. until dusk. Music will be provided by Ben Rounds Band and
by the X-files. Drumming and Dancing by a Native American performance
group called The Red Feathers will put on a mid-day show under
the pavilion. There will be a car show, and the senior art group
is sponsoring an art exhibit and sale. Frog jumping, egg toss,
penny social, and coloring contests are planned for the youngsters,
and the Wayfinder Adventure will take place at 2:00 p.m.
Some neighbors just bring the family to hang out and feast on
the variety of foods which include jerk chicken, barbecue chicken,
Nelson Shultis’ chicken liver sandwiches, pulled pork,
roast beef sandwiches, hamburgers and hotdogs, ice cream, lemonade,
and funnel cakes. The theme this year is “Olive Under
Construction” to remember all the bridge, road, landfill
and sewer projects going on.
There is no charge for Olive Day. Just once, about thirty years
ago, we charged a dollar, but it was not worth the effort, and,
besides, the day is for the whole town’s celebration.
We are hoping, however, that people will bring a non-perishable
food item to donate to the Olivebridge Food Pantry.
The following Saturday is the Reservoir Methodist Church’s
Chicken Barbecue from 3:00 to 6:30 p.m. on Route 28 in Shokan.
Half a chicken is $5.00. An adult dinner is $12.00 and a child
under 12 costs only $6.00. They have take-out or eat-in at the
DuBois Church Hall, which, by the way, is air-conditioned. Reservations
can be made through Dawn Wiacek (679-4829), Elinor Russell (679-6447)
or Debbie Downes (657-2055).
I am reminded of my dear Aunt Carrie who would always buy a
local paper wherever she traveled to check out the local dinners.
There is nothing better than home cooked food, eaten out, at
a reasonable price. I just got home from the Samsonville Church’s
chicken barbecue. Delicious. I am already planning to go to
the Pork Dinner on October 17. Compliments go to Scott Kelder
and his fellow cooks and to the kitchen volunteers who prepared
and served chicken, corn, potatoes, and cole slaw with a smile
despite the humid weather.
The whole town is feeling a collective sadness knowing that
Killian Mansfield left us on August 20. He was a remarkable
young man who possessed so much talent and so much wisdom that
he compressed a lifetime into sixteen years. His album, made
with Amy and Levon Helm, Dr. John, and Kate Pierson from the
B-52’s is entitled “Somewhere Else.” It can
be ordered from Amazon.com, and it is simply amazing; its proceeds
will benefit others battling Cancer. Keep those cranes coming.
Thousands more origami cranes from all over will remind the
Mansfields that Killian influenced so many lives; his spirit
and inspiration will remain as a challenge to us to squeeze
the most out of every precious moment we are given. A memorial
service will be held to celebrate the life of this artist, musician,
and humanitarian on September 13 at Davis Park.
I will miss David Neals too. He, like Killian, died too young.
I can still muster a smile as I remember the day he was turkey
hunting, and came up though our field with one of our leghorn
chickens that had escaped and was living in the wild. No harm,
no foul. In this case, no “fowl.”