Follow Up on the
Again: All Dems!
Although there were no municipal races beyond a ballot initiative
to bond a financing increase for the Phoenicia Library in
Shandaken, the big countywide race for sheriff went solidly
for Shandaken’s own Paul Van Blarcum, a former town
councilman. Furthermore, although unable to win over enough
voters in the widespread 41st State Senate District to overcome
the well-funded popularity of longstanding incumbent John
Bonacic, county legislator and former New Paltz supervisor
Susan Zimet did defeat the GOP candidate as a Democrat in
total Ulster County votes, as well as in all individual districts
in both Shandaken and Olive.
In Olive, Zimet took all five districts by incredibly large
margins fueled by continuing resentment over Bonacic’s
involvement in implementation of the unpopular Large Parcel
Legislation that slammed local taxpayers two years ago. In
Shandaken, she also commanded solid leads despite the Senator’s
having come to town days before the election to announce the
handing out of new funding to state-owned Belleayre Mountain.
Zimet lost her overall bid based on large Bonacic margins
in Sullivan County, near his Orange County home base, and
Delaware County, where the entire county Board of Supervisors
came out in his support.
Similarly, statewide races for Governor, U.S. Senator, Attorney
General, and even Comptroller all went handily to Democrats,
despite past records that saw Shandaken traditionally voting
solidly Republican, like neighboring Greene County, and Olive
holding enough of a GOP minority to keep it in play.
The major lesson learned from voting patterns in Olive, via
the Bonacic vote, is the continuing power of the local group
Olive Matters, drawn together to fight the Large Parcel legislation
several years ago and still meeting monthly to discuss ways
to both keep LP out of the town’s sights for the future
and use its influence in other ways beneficial to local taxpayers
and other Olive residents.
The only point of electoral contention in either town, it
seemed, was the countywide proposition to shift Ulster’s
form of government to a new charter system that will involve
a smaller legislature and the election of a county executive
to oversea day-to-day functions. Although both towns went
narrowly for the proposition in the end, as did the county
on a slightly wider margin, both Shandaken and Olive saw one
district go against the measure.
The national news regarding Democrats, as noted voluminously
elsewhere, has seen the House of Representatives and very
likely the U.S. Senate shifting to Democrat hands, the latter
via razor-thin margins in two states that would likely remain
nail-biters throughout the coming weeks. New York State played
a large role in both, and appeared poised as of press time
to hold significant influence on a national basis over the
coming two years.
The race for control of the House ended up being called on
behalf of the Democrats with the surprising but hard-fought
victory of political novice Kirsten Gillibrand, 39 of Hudson,
over incumbent John Sweeney in the district directly to our
north. Sweeney had been a major supporter of the controversial
Belleayre Resort project being proposed by local developer
Dean Gitter, and had recently brought in the federal Environmental
Protection Agency to push for approvals of an alternative
development plan put forth by Gitter to avoid full adjudication
of his plans before the state Department of Environmental
Conservation, now shifting to Democratic hands for the first
time since 1998. Sweeney had also been instrumental in stalling
PCB cleanups of the Hudson River that has been pegged to be
paid for by General Electric, one of his major supporters.
Also of key importance, from a local to a national level,
was the election of former Woodstocker and Orleans frontman
(and singer/songwriter) John Hall to the 19th House District
to our south, as well as the replacement of retiring GOP moderate
Sherwood Boehlert by Democrat Michael Arcari to our north
and west. Not to forget the national leadership of U.S. Senator
Chuck Schumer in strategizing the Democrats’ win of
the Senate, re-elected Senator Hillary Clinton’s efforts
at bringing out the vote for her party statewide, and the
various New Yorkers now scheduled to gain powerful committee
chairmanships and influence in the new Congress.
Statewide, the sweep of all major government positions by
the Democrats, led by new governor Eliot Spencer, suggests
upcoming shifts in policy towards the region, although how
that plays out is yet to be seen, given the Downstate roots
of all those elected.
The new county charter, which passed 15,533 to 15,371 outside
the City of Kingston and 2,631 to 2,076 within it (both being
needed for such a matter), will take effect Jan. 1, 2009,
with a new county executive to be elected in 2008 following
the election of a county comptroller in 2007. The charter
implements a separation of powers between a county executive
and a slimmed-down Legislature, and replace the current part-time
Legislature chairman’s position as chief fiscal officer
for Ulster. The executive will appoint and supervise the heads
of each of the county’s departments, making the legislature
more of a policy-making body, with approval power for all
of the executive’s appointments and expenditures. 21
of the 57 counties in New York are currently under the direction
of a charter.
As of press time, Van Blarcum was ahead of former state trooper
Kevin Costello 35,409 to 19,548. In 1998, he ran unsuccessfully
against current Sheriff J. Richard Bockelmann in 1998.
Bonacic was winning his bid for re-election with a total of
46,325 votes to Zimet’s 33,815 districtwide, with 255
of 291 in. But in Ulster County, his tally was only 18,519
to the Democrat’s 19,443. Early results showed Republicans
on track to hold their 35-27 majority in the State Senate,
with only a few races showing a possible gain for Democrats
in the metro area suburbs. Democrats similarly stayed firmly
in control of the 150-member state Assembly, where they held
In Shandaken, voters went for Zimet over Bonacic 584 to 447
on strict Democrat/GOP party lines, and 626 to 555 with Conservative,
Independence and Working Family lines included.
In Olive, Zimet took Bonacic 1147 to 447 on party lines, or
1307 to 583 overall.
The Charter passed in Shandaken 438 to 403, with only District
Two, Shandaken, going against it 88 to 62.
In Olive, the Charter passed 631 to 625, with District One,
Shokan, running 174 to 167 against it and District Two, West
Shokan, going 130 to 102 in the negative column.
According to poll watchers and political junkies in Olive
Tuesday night, Olive Matters members had planned to haunt
polls with signs reminding Olivers of “Bonacic’s
perfidy,” but then realized such efforts would not be
necessary. People remembered.
Other Olive voters thought it would be amusing to write in
Woodstock supervisor Jeremy Wilber’s name as opposed
to state Assemblyman Kevin Cahill’s unopposed slate.
It was unclear, as of press time, whether anyone actually
The Catskill Watershed
Corporation (CWC), which will be the funding conduit for the
deal when and if it is done, acknowledges that they have acquired
an option to purchase the property now occupied by the Trail
Nursery near the juncture of Routes 28 and 28A in Boiceville.
But even that has not quite been stamped as "done"
"As far as I know, unless it was finalized on Friday
or today, our attorneys have not finalized everything yet,"
said CWC president Alan Rosa on Monday. "We’re
basically trying to secure an option on the property because,
as I understand it, the property was for sale and it was the
best piece of property we were looking at for a facility in
Boiceville was named with 21 other Watershed communities on
a priority list for projected wastewater treatment facilities
when New York City’s Filtration Avoidance Determination
(FAD) was updated in November 2002. FAD is essentially a waiver
from the Surface Water Treatment Rule of the national Safe
Drinking Water Act which allows the City to avoid building
a costly filtration plant in their own environs by implementing
a quality control program within the watershed itself. Developed
in close consultation between the administrations of New York
City and New York State, the 2002 FAD will cost the City an
estimated $1.2 billion instead of the $6 to $8 billion calculated
for a home filtration system (plus an about $200 million a
year in maintenance and operation costs).
Although Olive agreed to become the lead agency for the project
at a town meeting during the summer, town officials, casting
a leery glance at the terms of the package offered through
CWC, have yet to warm to the idea. According to the current
proposal, CWC funds would cover the cost of the preliminary
siting details- which were completed earlier this year by
the Lamont Engineering Company of Cobleskill- and construction
of the facility for which the town would then assume ownership
and operational responsibilities.
Alarmed at the prospect of getting forever stuck with the
annual operational costs of the plant, Olive is looking for
New York City to assume most of the financial burden that
the proposal would lay on the local budget. At a recent meeting,
Councilman Bruce LaMonda called for a guarantee in writing
for an arrangement along those lines before the town board
would commit to it.
"It’d be a fiasco unless the City pays for the
upkeep," said another town official. "How could
you justify $500,000 a year when there’s only 117 people
involved (in the designated hamlet area)? I don’t think
so- the whole Town of Olive budget is only $2.4 million!"
Meanwhile, the proprietors at Trail Nursery, unavailable for
comment, seem to be wrapping things up at the establishment
with a large sale and Rosa admits that there are no other
tracts of land in Boiceville on the CWC drawing board at the
"I understand that the owner is seeking to retire and
I was told he had other buyers interested in the property,"
said Rosa. "But, even if the property is purchased and
Boiceville decides not to go through with it, the town will
turn around and sell the property back into private enterprise
and the money would come back into the wastewater program.
It’s a long way from being a done deal."
It has not been confirmed that the plant will be on the front
burner at the town board meeting on November 13th but, with
the originally scheduled ground breaking for construction
only nine months away and all the other ingredients of the
project seemingly keeping to the pace set last year, it would
seem a likely topic to come up.
In addition, the Onteora board of education has
started mulling over costs and bond methods as they move
forward in reconstruction proposals for the school district’s
five buildings based on a recent bond presentation given
by Salvatore Pennini of Public Finance Associates. Although
the school board has not decided on any of the three plans
proposed, or the scope of reconstruction costs, ball park
figures for the cost of such efforts are quickly shaping
The Meet the Candidate session has been scheduled for
7 p.m. on Friday, November 17 at the Onteora Middle-High
School auditorium in Boiceville. All in attendance will
be given a copy of the candidate’s brief Resume
and a Reaction Form to fill in and promptly return at
the end of such session. All Reaction Forms will be presented
to the Board of Education for their review and consideration.
According to board members, the candidate to be met is
Leslie Ford, who is currently the principal and superintendent
of a 607-student charter school district in Hanford, California.
With a master’s degree in psychology from Chapman
University, a master’s degree in educational counseling
from the University of San Francisco, and a doctorate
in organizational leadership from the University of LaVerne,
Ford has drawn deep praise from all board members and
is scheduled to spend the entire day before her evening
session with the public Nov. 17 meeting district staff
and support groups.
Last Spring, the board decided against hiring both Granville
schools Superintendent Daniel Teplesky or Cherry Valley-Springfield
Superintendent Nicholas Savin to replace the late Justine
Winters, who stepped down from the superintendent’s
position because of health problems in February, following
two years of popular service to Onteora, and then passed
away from cancer in May. Peter J. Ferrara, a former Ellenville
superintendent, was hired as an interim superintendent
but resigned when the board learned about civil rights
and special ed troubles he’d encountered at his
previous position. Since then former Sullivan County school
administrator Jack Jordan, a Pine Hill resident and former
candidate for the school board, has served as interim
As for the pending repair and reconfiguration issues,
Pennini noted that currently it was a good time to finance
a building project, since interest rates are relatively
low and gave bond figures on two types of building constructions
including 31 percent of State aid. Depending on the type
of construction to the buildings, interest rates range
from 4.10 to 4.25 percent.
A new building or additions can allow up to twenty years
of state aid and reconstruction will allow up to fifteen
years, Pennini said, explaining new structures in State
aid. He said in the past state aid was more tailored to
the bonds, but now the state has its own set aid rate.
“For a reconstruction project you will get your
aid over fifteen years, regardless of how many years you
elect to finance the project for.”
Therefore, Pennini continued, “it is important that
we structure the bonds to match the way you’re going
to be receiving your rate…we try to match these,
Reconstruction costs include any type of renovations or
reconfigurations to the buildings.
“So what does this mean to my tax bill?” said
Pennini. Based on a fifteen-year fluctuating bond chart
each town is rated per $1,000 on the assessed value. In
the first year, the town of Hurley is rated at $.0194,
Marbletown at $.0197, Olive at $.0144, Shandaken at $.0780,
Woodstock at $.0215 and Lexington at $.0251. To figure
out the total cost in dollar amount, the assessed value
of a homeowners property is divided by 1000 and then multiplied
by the tax rate shown for each town, times the amount
of a bond proposed. This will give an approximate figure
of taxes owed yearly for any particular bond.
Using this formula, a rough figure on each town was calculated
based on a $200,000 house. If all the district’s
buildings were renovated as proposed in Plan A, the estimated
cost would be $40 million. Taxes based on that particular
years’ rate, a household in Woodstock would pay
$172; Hurley $155; Marbletown $157; Olive $115; Shandaken
$149, and Lexington $148.
If the district’s buildings were renovated including
a Master Plan of separating the middle school from the
High school, while adding an additional grade six at the
Boiceville site, the total cost estimate is $70 million.
Based on a $200,00 home, on that years’ bond rate
a household in Woodstock would pay $301; West Hurley $271;
Marbletown $275; Olive $201; Shandaken $259, and Lexington
$259. Woodstock would pay the highest amount of taxes
and this is not including the Large Parcel Legislation,
which may also cause a shift in the tax rate.
The school board has not decided on which of the three
plans proposed and how much money to ask from taxpayers.
Armand Quadrini of KSQ architects wanted to express that
this is just a snapshot on how a bond could work.
Pennini replied that his figures tend to be conservative,
noting that he found the 4.25 percent interest rate on
the twenty year building additions schedule “a little
bit high,” while other incentives might possibly
come into play to bring the costs down. Interim Superintendent
Jack Jordan said if a bond were passed this school year
the district may be eligible for an additional ten percent
from State aide.
Except for the central campus plan, where all schools
would close leaving only the Boiceville site, the Onteora
district has no plans to add additional exterior space.
If this plan were chosen, KSQ architects discussed an
additional wing to the High School in order to extend
the middle school beginning at grade five. Costs have
not been specifically pointed out for the addition, but
the total bond cost for the central campus plan is estimated
at $62 million.
Assistant Superintendent for business, Victoria McLaren
added that the district currently holds a triple A credit
rating from Moodys financial services, an independent
credit rating company. This will make bonds easy to purchase.
taught herself to play guitar, taken lessons with
Cool Jazz virtuoso Lennie Tristano, and studied
music at various colleges—Barnard, Hunter,
and Bard—she acquired an eclectic taste in
music and found herself eventually drawn to the
beauties of classical songs and chamber music. Voices
of the Valley features pieces written and, in some
cases accompanied by, contemporary composers living
in the Hudson Valley. Several upcoming CD release
parties (see below for details) will give classical
fans the chance to hear Woerner perform with artists
from the CD, including musical comedian Peter Schickele
of PDQ Bach fame, pianist Barbara Pickhardt, who
is also conductor of Kingston’s Ars Choralis
chamber choir, cellist Susan Seligman, and composer
and pianist James Fitzwilliam.
The inspiration for the CD came from a concert Woerner
performed in 2000, when she was among the first
artists to participate in SUNY Ulster’s artist-in-residence
program, created by the late Larry Berk, then director
of the college library and information services.
(The CD is dedicated to Berk, who passed away on
October 29.) The concert showcased local composers
Woerner had worked with, including Schickele, Fitzwilliam,
Robert Starer, Aurora Northland, Robert Baksa, and
Alan Shulman. Audience response convinced the participants
to make the collection of songs into a CD.
Recording began in fall 2001, soon after the events
of 9/11, adding poignancy and significance to Fitzwilliam’s
song cycle Eternity, a setting of five Emily Dickinson
poems reflecting on death. Anna Margarita’s
Will by Woodstock author Gail Godwin was set to
music by Starer, who also lived in Woodstock before
his death in 2001. Godwin reads the text aloud on
the CD. Woodstock poet Pearl Bond provided text
for a series of songs composed by Aurora Northland.
Woerner explains, “Pearl wrote extraordinary
poems about her relationships with unicorns, which
were very real to her. Aurora turned these voluptuous
poems into songs.” Schickele’s Three
Songs for a Wedding consists of poems by Dante Gabriel
Rossetti and fifteenth-century English poet William
Cavendish. “The Cavendish songs are funny—I
don’t think Peter can help himself,”
says Woerner. “The Rossetti is one of the
most beautiful songs I know, about having known
a person in another life.”
Originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia, Woerner
has performed professionally in New York City and
with local groups such as the Delaware Valley Opera
in Middletown and the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra.
She teaches voice at Vassar College, at Dutchess
Community College, and in her home studio. She is
a soloist with Ars Choralis and an organizer of
Voices for Peace, which has performed songs of protest
at Martin Luther King Day in Woodstock, the Rosendale
Music Festival, and several rallies in New Paltz.
She recently wrote an article for Classical Singer
magazine on the process of self-producing a recording.
“There’s nothing like performing for
a live audience,” she says, “but I also
want to focus on recording—that’s where
your legacy is.”
CD release parties for Danielle Woerner’s
Voices in the Valley will be held Saturday, November
11, 2-4 p.m. at the SUNY Ulster library in Stone
Ridge; Saturday, November 18, 5-7 p.m. at the Kleinert-James
Arts Center in Woodstock; and Saturday, December
8, 2-4 p.m., also at SUNY Ulster. She will be signing
CDs on December 1st (during the annual Woodstock
Open House) from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Golden Notebook.
She will be performing as a soloist in Bach’s
“Magnificat” with Ars Choralis on Saturday,
December 1st at 7 p.m. at Holy Cross Church, Kingston,
and Sunday, December 2 at 4 p.m. at Reformed Church,
Saugerties. For further details, see http://hvmusic.com/artists/danielle/playdate.shtml.
To do the work the crew is going to turn 28 into
a one lane operation with a stoplight to let drivers
know it’s their turn to go. And yes, the one
lane operation will be active 24 hours a day, seven
days a week until it is no longer needed.
“Each day we get closer to the point that
we go to a one lane operation,” said DOT Engineer
Lee Zimmer on Tuesday. “I’m told it
will happen on Friday, but it may begin as soon
as Wednesday or Thursday.”
The choice to use the one lane method came after
Woodstock officials expressed concern that an original
idea to completely close the highway and route all
traffic through that famous hamlet would cause problems.
DOT agreed. Then, according to Zimmer, they got
an earful from folks in Olive that the one lane
plan would wreak havoc on the residential streets,
or the “back roads,” that desperate
motorists will explore in search of an unofficial
As a result Zimmer is spreading the word that drivers
need to suck it up and wait, avoid the temptation
to speed through other roads, and just get through
the next couple of months.
“We’d actually like to keep people on
28,” he said, adding that DOT agrees that
there are safety issues surrounding that request.
He noted that Bostock Road, one possible detour,
looks deceptively enticing from a 28 vantage point
but there are actually a couple of bad spots along
the way where vehicles, especially large ones, could
get into trouble.
The culvert under the highway was damaged during
extreme rainfall that occurred over the region between
June 22 and June 28. The downpours caused so much
storm water runoff that the culvert pipe could not
handle the volume, causing portions of the highway
to erode away between Dancing Rock Road and Runge
Road, approximately one and half miles West of the
Pine View Bakery in Shokan. The culvert itself is
so damaged it needs to be replaced, but some parts
of the culvert are approximately 50 feet below the
surface of the roadway, requiring substantial excavation
to make the repairs.
Complicating matters on Route 28 have been the delays
in repairs to the neighboring Greene County Mountaintop’s
Route 23A route to Hunter and Tannersville, essentially
closd since May. Repairs, expected to be completed
by November 1, are currently being rushed for completion
by the Thanksgiving and the start of the busy ski
season, when most traffic would be detoured up 28.