One of the
items the board will address is its strategy for attending
the Sept. 15 meeting of the Legislature’s General Services
Committee, which, according to committee member Robert Parete,
decide that evening whether or not to bring the decision to
enact the large parcel legislation up for vote before the
full Legislature in
“I would like to see as many people from Olive as possible
to come to the meeting and address the committee about why
we should not opt – especially this year – to
enact the legislation,” Parete said last week.
Adopted by the state Legislature last September, the large
parcel legislation allows large industrial or commercial properties
that make up more than 5-percent of a town’s total assessment,
are valued at a minimum of $5,000,000, and have local equalization
rates that differ by at least 5-percent from that of the state’s
to be separated from the municipality they are in for the
purposes of levying school district and
Had the Onteora school board decided to enact the legislation
in August, Olive residents would have seen their school taxes
rise this year approximately 56-percent.
Parete said he is against enacting the large parcel legislation
because of the negative consequences it would have on the
community at large. “While it may benefit a small portion,
it will effect those most
vulnerable to tax increases, such as senior citizens living
on a fixed income,” he said.
Another reason for his opposition, Parete said, is that he
believes Olive land and property owners have been for years
“inconvenienced by stricter development laws and
regulations,” the result of having the Ashokan
Reservoir as a neighbor. “The bottom line is that
Olive is unique. We are the land of permits and we have
to basically rely on New York City for everything from traffic
to septic systems.”
Parete said the large parcel law has not yet been brought
up to vote before the Legislature because of the concerns
he has voiced. “I wrote a letter to the legislators
and a lot of them have issues,” he said. “Most
people that I spoke with are against it because they do not
want to see
anyone with a 30, 40 to 50 percent tax increase in that short
Asked how he thinks the General Services committee will vote,
he said: “I am hoping to kill it and I think I have
enough votes, but I don’t want to be too hopeful.”
In addition to Parete, the legislative committee consists
of: Chairperson Joan Every (R-Rosendale), William Calabrese
(R-Pine Bush), William McAfee (R- Highland), Michael Stock
(D-Woodstock), Gary Bischoff (D-Saugerties) and Elizabeth
In August, Stock urged the Onteora School Board to enact the
large parcel law.
But even if the committee decides not put the large parcel
provision to vote before the Legislature, according to Parete,
any legislator can bring it directly to the floor.
“The committee process is just a formality… but
I think if we can kill it in committee, we can have a good
chance on everything else,” he said. “There is
a broad spectrum of representation on the committee. It’s
representative of the entire Legislature.”
Parete also said that in addition to his brother, Richard
Parete (D-Accord), he could think of 9 other legislators that
are “firmly against” enacting the large parcel
legislation this year.
“Hopefully, the majority will agree with the Onteora
school board which has set precedent,” Parete said.
“They did the right thing by putting it off and giving
Olive the time to perhaps do a reval.”
In the meantime, Leifeld said he would speak to the Supervisors
of the towns of Hurley and Warwarsing to see if they were
interested in joining forces with the town of Olive government.
“If the county is going to nail one (town), it
will nail all,” he said.
There are seven campgrounds with 738 campsites in the Catskill
Park. 303 miles of hiking trails. 76 miles for snowmobile
use. 30 miles of horse trails. 33 lean-tos. 187 primitive
campsites. 60 miles of public fishing areas. 21 fishing access
sites. 2 day use areas, including the site originally planned
for a Catskill Interpretive Center in Mt. Tremper, close to
the Olive/Shandakentown line. One alpine ski center with 33
In terms of total taxes, the state pays, for its Park-lands,
over $9 million a year. That's at approximately $32 an acre
per year. In Ulster County, $743,813 goes to county coffers,
$1,095,589 to towns, $3,455,191 to school districts, and $100,483
to special districts for a total amount, as of last year,
"We felt it was important to add a lot more info into
the document this time around," said the DEC's Natural
Resources Supervisor for District 3 (New Paltz), the point
man on the draft plan and its current review process. ""We
wanted to share with the public what the park is about, how
and why we manage it."
The new draft plan is an eight-years-in-the-works update of
an original Catskill Park State Land Master Plan developed
in 1985 that "classifies forest preserve lands within
the Park based on their physical character and capacity to
accommodate human use based on four land classifications:
wilderness, wild forest, intensive use and administrative."
The Plan also designates management units and sets instructions
for their, well, management.
Public hearings on the 92 page draft plan started Monday,
September 8, at Guilderland Town Hall near Albany and Tuesday,
September 9 at Windham Town Hall, in Greene County. Future
hearings have been set for Tuesday, September 18, at 7 p.m.
at Neversink Town Hall, 273 Main Street (State Route 55),
in the Sullivan County town of Grahamsville; and on Saturday,
September 20, at 10 a.m. in the Discovery (Lower) Lodge of
the Belleayre Ski Center, half a mile south of State Route
28 on County Route 49A in Highmount. Written comments on the
draft will be accepted until October 15, and should be addressed
to: Peter J. Frank, Bureau Chief, Forest Preserve Management,
NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4254, or by email to
Peter Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org).
"The Catskills are a precious resource that provides
enjoyment to countless residents and visitors each year,"
DEC Commissioner Erin Crotty was quoted as saying in a press
release accompanying the distribution of review copies of
the new document, via local governmental offices, libraries
and the web August 25.
So what's it all mean, and what changes are in store?
The major element is the elimination of current laws that
required all wild forest lands
and waters above 2,700 feet in elevation to be considered
wilderness. The idea was to create more flexibility, and at
the same time create regulations that didn't need so many
The most controversial items, in terms of potential public
comment, appear to be the prohibition of mountain biking in
wilderness areas and tight restrictions on their use to Specifically
designated trails elsewhere. Countering this, regulations
regarding the creation of snowmobile trails have been relaxed
on the size of camping groups to 12 people in wilderness areas
and 20 people in wild forest areas, a change that has already
been tried out in the Slide Mountain and Big Indian Wilderness
areas, among the more popular destinations in the Park.
In terms of designations, the big highlights include the creation
of a new Windham Blackhead Range Wilderness via the
reclassification of 18,000 acres of wild forest, and the setting
up of a Hunter West Kill Wilderness via expansion of an existing
wilderness area by about 7,000 acres.
In terms of practical use, the big shift seems to be one of
increased consciousness of stewardship, with new internal
directives to establish better, more consistent signage throughout
the Park, to set up and maintain better trailhead access and
parking, and to ensure that all DEC structures within the
park have the same look, using native materials and "earthtones"
as much as possible.
There's a call for all messages, be they about parking or
littering, to be rendered in "positive" wording.
A full inventory of the Park's historic sites is slated to
start as soon as the Plan is put into effect. Similarly, it
is urged that some means of financing the Interpretive Center
scuttled when George Pataki took office as Governor in 1995
be found, likely via private sources.
"Overall, I think it's really good," said Aaron
Bennett, Watershed Coordinator for the Catskill Center for
Conservation and Development, about the Draft Plan. He explained
how the DEC had approached the Center early on, "wanting
us on their side," and how their biggest problem was
the raising of the wilderness threshold from 2700 to 3200
On the other hand, Bennett said, he and his fellow workers,
along with most of the institutions brought in to help with
the Plan, felt the increases in wilderness acreage made up
for such changes.
"The biggest uproar will definitely be from the mountain
biking community," Bennett said, referring in specific
to the elimination of a popular biking trail from the ski
lift-accessible top of Hunter Mountain Ski Area to the fire
Copies of the draft Plan are available on the Department's
web site, Draft Revision - Catskill Park State Land Master
Plan (92 Pages, 944kb PDF), and at the following DEC regional
office locations: NYSDEC Region 3, 21 South Putt Corners Road,
New Paltz, NY 12410; NYSDEC Region 4, 1150 North Westcott
Rd., Schenectady, NY 12306; and NYSDEC Region 4, 65561 State
Highway 10, Suite 1, Stamford, NY 12167.
Love Of Crows
Always a music lover, Garry played in his grade school band,
studied metallurgy, acoustics and physics at Oberlin’s
Conservatory of Music, has a master’s in music and instrument
building, and currently plays percussion (xylophone, timpani,
snare drum, etc.) with the composer Steve Reich and Musicians,
the percussion ensemble Nexus, and various symphony orchestras.
But Garry realized early on that the daily grind and hustle
of a band musician wasn’t the life for him. He wanted
to make his living in some other way. Fascinated with both
percussion and ancient music, Garry began making wind chimes
and discovered that he could tune his homemade chimes (the
frequencies at which the tubes vibrate) to the harmonics of
ancient chords. “In the Western12-note scale, all the
notes are equidistant,” explains Garry, “as opposed
to larger gaps. The piano is tuned to a rigid system that
does not follow natural law. Ancient scales use intervals
that are in tune with the natural laws of acoustics. Ancient
scales aren’t locked. They have pure intervals, a pure
and tonal sound, perfect for a wind chime.” Considered
a “percussion instrument” as it is played by the
wind, wind chimes tuned to ancient scales are more resonant,
have more depth and tonal dimension. How did Garry find these
scales of antiquity? “There are ancient vases where
they wrote out the ratios. There is no way of knowing their
music, but you can read their scales, and imagine the music
a 7th Century BC musician in Asia Minor could be playing.”
Garry now had a unique product to sell, he just had to get
it out there and noticed. In the early days of their business,
Garry and his wife Diane made thousands of wind chimes, with
only occasional part-time workers. “In the beginning
we did the craft shows, and little by little had work in shops.
But we found that it was easier to produce and have others
sell. Selling is grueling—all the travel, life out of
a tent or a hotel room. Then, in 1980 we got our big break.
I sent a wind chime to All Things Considered.” The five-minute
NPR radio show interview that resulted, and the hundreds of
letters and orders that poured in afterwards, showed Garry
the power of the press. “That was my market research.
You don’t have to spend much money for press to work.”
The company was off and running. Next, came Gene Shallot’s
Today Show, and, most recently, a Wall Street Journal article
that compared five chime companies and placed Woodstock Chimes
on the top for overall value and sound.
Garry always put the money made from sales back into the business,
researching new product ideas that included the Woodstock
Music Collection, a line of percussion toys for children.
He now has a huge wholesale business with distributors around
the world, and a website where wholesale consumers can listen
to the sounds the chimes make and order on-line. Twice a year
he sells to the retail public locally, with a warehouse sale
coming up in early November.
As for the transition to manufacturing overseas, Garry explains
that “competition has been intense. Manufacturing as
become impossible in this country. The changes have been hard…
the layoffs, the retirements. We’re down to 85 employees,
and will go down to 50 or so. But the costs of materials in
Asia are half as much, and labor even less.” Overseas
manufacture is a controversial, emotional issue, as jobs are
lost and other foreign labor issues arise, as cartoonist Gary
Trudeau famously illuminated in his Doonesbury strip that
detailed life in an overseas Nike factory. But Garry is approaching
the transition in the most humane, considered way possible.
“People will always question a move like this, and it’s
not the way I wanted to go, but for me to be the last holdout
in New York State, I’d be out of business,” says
Garry. “If you go in a direction that is contrary to
good business practices you can drive your business into the
ground. And I went over and inspected the factories. They
don’t use kids or prison workers, it’s more like
a college, the workers live and eat at the factory, then move
back to their rural villages with their savings.” Garry
still designs the prototypes for the chimes, and his research
and development people go to China four times a year for quality
control. The Shokan factory will become more of a warehouse,
and his employees that used to be assemblers are making the
transition to quality control inspectors.
A tour of the Woodstock Percussion factory-cum-warehouse reveals
a colorful, playful environment. Garry’s office has
fantastic gongs, an old Wurlitzer military band organ played
with a paper roll, and from the ceiling hang scores of chimes
rigged to strings, which Garry pulls to create music (he’s
performed concerts with this set-up). The walls are covered
in vintage painted freakshow banners that depict characters
like The Ostrich Man, and, most appropriately, Sheep-headed
twins playing a xylophone. The factory and tuning room house
the robotics machines still in use just long enough to use
up leftover materials. There are air-compression stapler guns
(to staple the strings that go through the chime tubes) counterbalanced
to be nearly weightless, to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome,
a repetitive strain hand injury. “That part used to
be so loud, all that hammering. Now the machines are very
quiet, they just go “poof.”
In the tuning room is the tube-cutter and tuner, developed
years ago with 15-year-old Mark Bernard of Rosendale. “A
computer genius from day one,” says Garry, “I
taught him tuning, and he did the software and hardware with
an MIT team of machine manufacturingexperts, students that
lived here for a month and got hands-on experience.”
In this machine, the robotic arm lowers the tubes one at a
time, a hammer hits the tube, the sound is fed into a computer
which reads the frequency, and the equation for the proper
length is fed into the end mill cutters, which grind the ends.
There is zero waste, as even the filings are vacuumed up for
re-use. They won’t need this machine for manufacture
overseas. “In China we set up tuning stations, the tubes
are cut by hand, then hit, and a tuning machine registers
the sound, then they’re re-cut to get right sound. There
are variations in metal, so you can’t cut the tubes
to the same length, you have to fine tune them somehow.”
Garry’s Woodstock Chimes can be seen on the web at www.chimes.com,
and his upcoming retail warehouse sale is November 7-10. With
his successful business having its 25th anniversary, what
does Garry plan to do as he heads toward retirement? “Get
more into playing,” he laughs.
The decision to do so comes on the heals of a town board
meeting with DEP officials last month during which many residents
voiced their opposition to the road’s closing, offering
that it does more to inconvenience the town and jeopardize
the safety of those forced to use the alternative route than
it does to prevent a terrorist act.
“They came to that meeting to tell us that the road
was closed for security reasons and that’s it,”
said David Rosenbaum, who along with Racine Shirter, Bill
McCarthy and Vincent Barringer, is organizing the protest
march. “We are very much aware that there is a danger
of terrorism, but we think they are going about it the wrong
way by taking away our quality of life. It’s an insult
Ed Welch, the DEP’s chief of police made the decision
to close the road to traffic in March for security reasons,
after reviewing information from the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.