At the same time as the determination was announced, the agency
also issued draft permits for the discharge of some 200,000
gallons per day of treated wastewater and storm water effluent
from the proposed project into Pine Hill's Birch Creek and
a tributary of Emory Brook. The issuance of these "SPDES"
permits concurrent with the "completeness determination",
was, according to the agency, done at the developer‚s
request, and is generally viewed by veteran DEC watchers as
an indication of the agency"s fast-tracking of the project.
Included in DEC's announcement is the immediate beginning
of the project's Public Comment period, which officially starts
today and is slated to run through Feb 17, 2004 for written
comments. Also announced were the project's two scheduled
Legislative Public Hearings, which represent the general public's
only opportunities to make oral comments on the project. According
to DEC, those comments will be given equal weight with written
ones. The first public hearing will be held on January 14,
2004 at the Margaretville Central School from 4:00-5:30 PM,
and will reconvene at 7:00 PM. The second will be held the
next day, January 15, at the same times, at the Onteora Central
School in Boiceville.
Concurrent with the deadline for filing written comments,
the agency has also set Feb 17 as the last day for municipalities,
government agencies, and citizen‚s groups to file petitions
for "party" status which would allow them to participate
in the "pre-adjudicatory hearings conference" scheduled
to begin March 9, 2004 at the Middletown Fire Hall in Margaretville.
Essentially a preliminary hearing before an Administrative
Law Judge, this "Issues Conference" which is not
open to the public, will determine which sections of the DEIS
may require adjudicatory hearings and who qualifies to participate
in them. Those hearings would be, in effect, a "trial"
for some of the data likely to be contested in the DEIS. In
order to participate, parties must demonstrate "substantive
and significant" differences from the information now
accepted as "complete", and the ability to offer
proof in written form or through expert testimony. Ultimately,
the decision on which parties qualify to participate in those
hearings will be made by DEC Commissioner Erin Crotty, based
on recommendations from the presiding judge. Determinations
of party status are an early stage in what is typically a
lengthy and complicated legal process both for the developer
and qualifying parties.
To facilitate public access to the DEIS during the public
comment period, DEC has made available copies on CD-ROM at
the libraries in Phoenicia, Pine Hill, Margaretville, and
Fleishmanns. It is also now available in its entirely at the
developer‚s website, www.belleayreresort.com.
"This is a major, major milestone." Said Crossroads
managing partner Dean Gitter in a press release circulated
by the company on Monday. "We look forward to demonstrating
to all the concerned citizens of Shandaken and Middletown
that this is one of the most environmentally responsible projects
and thorough documents ever submitted in New York State."
"It is a big step in their process" said Shandaken
Supervisor Pete DiModica on Tuesday. "But "complete"
doesn't mean the answers they've provided are right, or even
very good. That‚s why it's now the public's turn to
start providing input, along with involved agencies like the
Town of Shandaken and the City of New York, and other interested
parties. What concerns me is the very narrow time-frame which
DEC has allotted for all this to happen in. I find it very
hard to believe 10 or 11 weeks spanning the holiday period
is going to be adequate. This is the biggest EIS in the watershed‚s
history and a lot of people are going to want to comment."
Shandaken Supervisor-Elect Bob Cross Jr. seemed to express
similar concerns to Di Modica‚s regarding both the time
allotted and the scope of work involved.
"Things have to start in motion for the review."
he said. "I feel that time is imperative, and that all
the agencies involved have to get on this and get active."
The Face Of Hunger
People's Place has been serving the greater-Kingston area,
including anyone who makes regular trips into the County Seat
for various purposes, for 28 years. Peter Quinlan, executive
director for the past three years, says he gets needy people
in from up the Route 28 corridor, and from all the way down
in Pine Bush. They serve 170,000 meals in a year, utilizing
between 12,000 and 15,000 pounds of donated food a month.
Ulster County's poverty rate for last year was 11.6 percent-
or 18,793 individuals. The number of children living poverty
was 17.4 percent, or 6,843; with 28.3 percent of all school-aged
kids in the county, or 8,289 students, right on the edge of
There are worse counties nearby. Ulster's median household
income is $40,425 compared to Sullivan County‚s $33,958.
Their poverty level's at 16.5 percent; the number of kids
living near the range almost half of all in school there.
And yet such comparisons don‚t serve the people needing
to line up for three days worth of food once a month at People's
Place, or taking regular meals at the various soup kitchens
and free meal places around.
At noon the same Monday the turkeys were getting handed out
at People's Place, a few blocks away, the Caring Hands Kitchen
started serving over 80 people for lunch, as they do every
weekday, year-in, year-out. Turkeys and asparagus, bean soup
and salad, coffee and cake were the fare, dished out by volunteers
at a long line. People ate in long rows, a mix of ages from
pre-schoolers to the aged and infirm, from toothless men ashamed
to be seen in such a state to proud middle-aged women with
their big opportunity just around the corner.
Victoria Langley, head of the Markertek Foundation, a leading
force in Woodstock's Daily Bread Food Kitchen, and a member
of the advisory board of the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley,
notes that a recent Workforce Involvement Board study for
the county found that with current costs, a single breadearner
needs to make $15 an hour to break even these days.
"You know how the new needs are manifesting themselves,"
she said, after noting Ulster County Social Service Director
Glenn Decker's recent request for four new employees before
the county legislature."We've got a whole new genre:
the working poor. We‚ve got people working two, three
jobs and having to make decisions on what to pay for: the
rent, the electric, the cable, or food."
Quinlan was even more specific, saying that although this
year's Thanksgiving numbers were looking somewhat down compared
to last year, they were still high.
"You get a lot of people on fixed incomes who have to
decide what to do each month: toothpaste or shampoo, toilet
paper or milk. You have a car and that car breaks down for
some reason, there goes all your budget," he said, standing
in the midst of the swirl of pre-Thanksgiving activity at
People's Place, which stretches across several storefronts
across from UPAC. "Then there are those working seasonal
jobs, or retail, or Fleet, say. We see different folks at
different times of the year. One lady, say, works at the college
in New Paltz and does fine most of the time. But when school's
out for vacations she doesn't have enough to make it through
the month. We call it 'food insecure'."
The Hunger statistics for the Hudson Valley show that 63 percent
of those utilizing food banks are women. 37.6 percent are
children under the age of 17. 13.6 percent are seniors over
65. 34.6 percent are from households where at least one adult
is working, while 35 percent are from single parent households.
35 percent are Caucasian, 34.2 percent are African-American
and 24.5 percent are Hispanic. Only 1.7 percent are homeless.
66 percent of those who utilize the services have incomes
below the official Federal poverty level.
On the assistance level, there were 6,384 participants in
the federal Food Stamp program in 2002, representing 3,490
households of an average size of 1.83 persons. In October,
2001, a sample month released in a recent Food Bank of Ulster
County report, a total of $484,942 Food Stamp benefits were
issued to county participants, an average of $76 per person.
Those numbers are being dropped.
In terms of emergency food assistance, there were 22 food
pantries in the county in 2002, with 77,696 visits and a total
of 654,264 meals distributed. There were two regular soup
kitchens in the county utilizing the services of the Food
Pantry, and not counting Meals on Wheels and several church-sponsored
programs. 31,476 meals were served in a total of three shelters.
8,289 students received free school breakfasts and lunches,
county-wide. In addition, there were 2,339 participants in
the Women, Infants and Children program.
The figures just reflected those participating in Food Bank
and other institutionalized programs, according to Langley.
And the weight of the numbers did not tell the story of the
ever-growing amount of administrative work involved in all
social programs, or the way even the most minor cuts can effect
Langley told about recent cuts to Domestic Violence programs
that closed a special food bank for victims of abuse not wanting
to go to the larger outlets. There had been a "safe house"
food pantry - but no longer. Similarly, a slight increase
in regulatory requirements for determining who can get help
and who can‚t can force a need for more social service
workers, or volunteers, if need be, that puts extra strain
on the means for getting food out to people.
Quinlan says there are entire parts of the county that are
underserved. For every Woodstock, Rosendale or Saugerties,
with its own food pantries and soup kitchen programs, there
are outlying, deeply rural areas where there are no programs
easy to reach, or a continuing culture of shame surrounding
"We can supply people with three days of food each month,
but we always have room for emergencies," he says. It's
like tomorrow, where we'll have an hour open for those who
didn‚t reserve time to pick up food today."
Recent national figures made available by the Food Bank of
the Hudson Valley estimate 30 million Americans being hungry,
or at the risk of hunger, on a regular basis. 13 million of
that total are children.
In New York state, the figures go on, there are over 3 million
people living in poverty in New York State, over 2,900 food
pantries and soup kitchens feeding 3.6 million New Yorkers
each month, and more than one in five children now living
in poverty around the state. One out every six people using
an emergency feeding program is now a senior citizen. And
80 percent of all those using such programs are working, disabled
"You know what's sad," says a man cleaning his plate
with a piece of white bread over in the church basement as
the lunch hour draws to a close. "„I know about
two thirds of these people like family. And even sadder? There‚s
always new ones coming in."
"There"s soup kitchens every day but you can't get
to some of them without a car," says a woman down the
table from him. "That makes for good days and bad."
The Food Bank of The Hudson Valley, based in Cornwall-in-Hudson,
distributes over 6 million pounds of food throughout six counties
each year. The operation is funded solely through community
donations and individual contributions.
non-food items, transportation, in-kind services, fuel, and
time. They work a lot with mislabeled and discontinued items,
the flawed elements of consumer culture, as it were. Donations
become write-offs for those donating. They also pass on government
packaged foods and do co-op buying. Grant monies are starting
to become available, from the state and federal government,
as recognition of nutrition gains prominence in the newly
announced fight against national obesity.
The Massachusetts-based Food Security Institute has meanwhile
reported 11.1 percent of all households in the nation being
„food insecure,‰ not knowing whether they can
make it the next week. That accounted for 12.5 percent of
all Americans. One third of thoise facing such insecurity
had faced real hunger - missed meals, days without food -
during the previous year. Over the past three years the numbers
had increased 14.5 percent. Only one fifth of those families
received the sort of assistance the local figures reflect.
The atmosphere is in many ways what you might expect to find
in any well-conceived, well-run private school. But something
unique is happening here.
The school for Autistic Strength, Purpose and Independence
in Education, known as ASPIE, is the creation of Valerie Paradiz,
whose son Elijah was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome 10
years ago. Rejecting the view that Elijah was afflicted with
a disability that would inevitably and profoundly limit the
quality of his experience and that would probably be best
managed in a residential setting far from home- at 12, he
graduated out of Kingston's Children's Annex. Paradiz and
Elijah chose to embrace the culture of the autism spectrum,
designing approaches to learning that would capitalize on
her boy‚s considerable gifts.
After working with Judy UpJohn in the Indie program at the
Onteora school's UpJohn's special media-centric curriculum
serving kids that, for a variety of reasons, are not thriving
in the conventional classroom setting - Paradiz observed that
many of the strategies employed at Indie might be suitable
for students like Elijah. Paradiz told UpJohn that she wanted
to start a school for middle and high school students with
Asperger‚s, autism and related syndromes. "Judy
said, "Go for it." They decided that ASPIE and Indie
would share the building UpJohn uses, next door to the Onteora
Middle and High School on Route 28. ASPIE became official
in July 2003 and filled up immediately.
Eight students, 7th graders and 9th graders, are enrolled.
ASPIE has recently been recognized by the New York State Department
of Education, so kids from districts as far north as Catskill
and south to Highland attend at no cost. State funding follows
the students. Through partnership with Barbara Boyce, director
of pupil personnel services at Onteora, ASPIE is well staffed.
The eight boys (males outnumber females on the autism spectrum
roughly four to one, though Paradiz says they are likely to
have girls in the program next year) work with DeFelice and
classroom aide Pam Free - the two have been a team for years,
in special education at the Phoenicia elementary school.
ASPIE offers the Regents curriculum, on the assumption that
these students, all of whom are highly intelligent, will complete
high school and are likely to go on to college. The Markertek
Fund, that also supplies equipment for Indie, donated the
Macintosh computers that support the learning process. "Computers
are a very important tool for students on the spectrum,"
says Paradiz, "they love the logic of that world; computers
become their pals." And Paradiz explains that her students
write much more fluently using a computer. In the studio shared
by ASPIE and Indie, 20 or so laptops blink silently in a cabinet
as they recharge. "So the kids can use them anywhere,"
ASPIE students all have diagnoses of high-functioning autism,
Asperger's syndrome, or they present significant social and
communications differences similar to those of autism. There
are few options for students at middle and high school level.
Families must choose a distant residential program, home schooling,
or mainstreaming in a regular classroom in either a private
or public school. But Paradiz says that students on the autism
spectrum "don't do well in the mainstream." Often
they are placed in classrooms with students with a range of
disabilities, many of whom may be cognitively compromised.
"They become very bored, and that can exacerbate difficult
behaviors," says Paradiz. "Their lives tend to fall
In addition to insufficient and inappropriate stimulation,
mainstreaming has another very serious drawback, Paradiz explains.
community's behavior toward difference.
The ASPIE space includes a "crash room", equipped
with all sorts of comfort aides - a weighted blanket (when
it's pulled around you, it feels like an enveloping shield),
a swing, a futon couch.
The school may double in size next year. For more information
about ASPIE, visit the school's website: www.aspieschool.org.
Or call 657-7201.
Come back later for the story... thanks!