were only a handful of onlookers at the firehouse when the votes were
tallied, but all were in celebration mode. Olive Councilman Henry
Rank, who owns land in the hamlet, said, “I think it’s
great; Now the town won’t fold up.”
Following a study which concluded that a wastewater treatment plant
would be the most efficient and effective means of treating sewage
in Boiceville, the Olive Town Board agreed last year to proceed to
the design phase, in which a system was designed to handle an estimated
62,240 gallons of wastewater per day from the customers within the
Boiceville district. The issue of forming the district was the subject
of a public hearing in March.
The May 8 vote was on whether or not to form the district. In legal
terms, forming the district green lights the project. A vote against
the formation of the district would have been a death knell for the
A similar vote in Phoenicia earlier this year resulted in a $17 million
offer from New York City being rejected, the first time in the program’s
ten year history. The specter of that defeat rose again, as it seems
to do every month, with questions and the need for a new letter addressing
a New York City “final offer” for a system at this month’s
Shandaken Town Board Meeting on May 7.
On Monday night Supervisor Robert Cross Jr. read aloud a letter from
Jeffrey Graff, the acting Chief of Watershed Lands and Community Planning
for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. The
letter states that the City is prepared to fund the project should
Phoenicia change their minds and decide to go with it.
Voters turned it down by a slim margin in February, but the City will
keep the $17.2 million set aside to build the system should Phoenicia
okay it by the end of June 2008.
But there is a catch. Graff’s letter requires Cross to sign
an agreement by the end of the month agreeing to the City’s
“If we do not receive the countersigned letter by May 31…we
will assume that you do not wish to pursue this project further,”
It also appears that signing the agreement prevents any further negotiation
on who pays for the operation of the system, although some board members
didn’t think that was the case.
Tempers flared when opponents of the project reminded the board that
the community has already said no the current deal.
“Didn’t we have a vote on this already,” said Helen
Councilman Rob Stanley felt that the town should do whatever is necessary
to keep the door for the project open because, according to Stanley,
the vote in February was tainted by strong misinformation campaigns
launched by both supporters and opponents.
“I don’t think the people of Phoenicia should be damned
because this whole thing was mishandled,” he said.
Mike Ricciardella, a major opponent of the project, got hot under
the collar over the matter. He accused Cross of mishandling the process
and acting hastily. Ricciardella also strongly echoed Morelli’s
notion that this decision had already made by the community when the
majority of voters said no.
Cross chastised Ricciardella for raising his voice, telling Ricciardella
he needed to show the people in the room more respect.
In the end it was agreed the letter would be reviewed by the town
attorney. The hope is to sign the agreement with a corrective clause
stating that negotiations can continue. Cross will also send copies
of the letter to all Phoenicia residents and hold a public session
to discuss the matter.
Meanwhile, the cost of construction of Boiceville’s collection
system will be paid from a block grant from the Catskill Watershed
Corporation. Operation and maintenance fees for residences will be
capped at $100 per year. Businesses will be charged according to usage,
with a $250 minimum fee per year. The city will pay all else, including
a majority of that owed by the Onteora School main campus, whose presence
in the system serves to keep costs down for others.
Councilman Bruce LaMonda was on hand for the vote count. Although
not a landowner in the district, LaMonda, a frequent critic of the
New York City Department of Environmental Protection, said he was
glad the project was approved.
“It’s an opportunity,” he said. “We would
have been remiss if we didn’t help make it happen.”
The Olive town board unanimously endorsed the project on Tuesday,
May 1, when CWC Executive Director Alan Rosa, engineer Henry Lamont
and attorney Kevin Young answered questions from the public about
the proposed system, which Rosa described as a one-time good deal
other towns in the region fought hard to get. Olive audience members,
predominately male and older, sat cross-armed and shouted out questions
and comments as the presentation proceeded, expressing their general
wishes that they not have to deal with New York City, a school district
based in their town, or any outside bothers not of their asking.
“We fought for these dollars for the communities,” Rosa
said. “The city of New York never wanted to build these systems.
We fought for this!”
Rosa further pointed out that if and when a community turns down a
sewer system, it faces the possibility of having New York regulate
local septic systems by forcing them to shut down. He talked about
situations involving businesses that he’d seen in Greene and
Delaware counties, and added that monies available for private septic
system replacements from his current entity, the CWC, is limited,
and not fast to access. After all, there are over 22,000 such systems
within the affected watershed region not covered by municipal sewer
Later, Rosa said that, opinions to the contrary, Phoenicia “was
not going to be getting a better deal” than that it turned down.
“I, too, would like to go back to the seventies and eighties
when people would just leave us alone up here,” Olive Supervisor
Bert Leifeld summarized when his board gave its unanimous support
to the Boiceville project last week. “But that’s not going
to happen. The City’s not going away; the school’s not
going away. I just really believe that we should take advantage of
this offer; they worked hard for this money. I wish we didn’t
have to think about any of this… but we do.”
All moot now as Boiceville gurgles ahead into a new future as the
town’s bonafide business center.
And Phoenicia awaits its next flood, and an uncertain future…
Calm Before The Storm?
Long known for their volatile atmosphere, these meetings are
places where important issues are tossed and turned and scrutinized
over and over. For some reason, perhaps because of the calm before the
upcoming election storm, May’s session lacked the abandonment
of meetings past even though several issues, still unresolved, have
a track record of being hot topics.
A case in point is the never ending cell service debate. Most everyone
in town knows that the most recent plan to get cell service in town
went down in flames when Masterpage Communications announced in March
that it could not do the job. On Monday it had become official, the
contract the town had with Masterpage to build a tower on the Glenbrook
Park property had officially expired, putting the town right back to
Very little was said on the matter, with the exception of Supervisor
Robert Cross Jr., who announced a plan to prepare a request for proposals
(RFP) to send out… a fishing expedition of sorts to try and reel
in a company ready to work with Shandaken.
Councilman Rob Stanley had a different idea. He thought the Supervisor
could just call potential providers and invite them to come to town
and talk about it at a public meeting.
Instead, there will be a special town board meeting set up in the near
future to hammer out the RFP. Although a motion was made and passed
to hold the meeting, there was no date set. Cross was asked why no date
was set and with no real explanation, Cross, who has a checkered past
when it comes to notifying the public about such sessions, insisted
that everyone would know well in advance.
“I’ll make all the phone calls,” he said.
The town’s ambulance service has remained a hot button issue since
January when the department, due to conflicts between ambulance personnel
and town board members, began to gradually dismantle. By March the department
was completely overhauled with new staff and leadership, but many of
the old issues remain. One of those, that of no quarters for out of
town staff, may be close to being solved, albeit in a slap dash manner.
Cross announced Monday that the town once again owns the Phoenicia property
now occupied by Maverick West Health Clinic. A garage on the premises
that was converted to offices in the 1980’s is being eyed to become
a residence for ambulance workers that live too far away from town to
be useful. By converting the garage to some apartment-style setting,
Cross said, staffers can come to town for their shift and have a place
to hang their hat.
But for some reason there’s a time issue. Even though the town
boasted of having filled out their department with a host of local staff,
Cross said these quarters need to be prepared pronto. He wants to meet
with any and all contractors interested in doing the work as soon as
possible. As for funding, the money would either come from a building
fund in the town’s budget or Cross would take it from the town’s
good neighbor fund, an account established 10 years ago with a $600,000
cash gift from the City of New York.
There is no estimate on the project cost.
Mount Tremper resident Kathy Nolan asked if the project could be rolled
into the larger project on the property, where Maverick West plans a
major renovation of their current offices. Perhaps grant funding would
be available, Nolan thought, under the umbrella of the much larger project.
Cross said no, that it would take too long to accomplish.
In other news, Cross said that the details of the town’s franchise
agreement with Time Warner have been worked out. He said that by summer
all services, including the company’s popular “triple play”
program, would be available town wide. Cross also said the Oliveria
Valley, much of which has no cable service, would now get it running
all the way up to the Full Moon Resort. McKinley Hollow Road would get
it too, he said, if the owners of the restaurant at the head of the
hollow agreed to sign up.
There was another matter raised Monday, one which came and went with
little notice or debate, but has all the earmarks of one that will make
many a Shandakenite stand up and take notice soon. Cross casually mentioned
that the board is taking steps to change the position of town tax assessor
from an elected position to an appointed one.
Noting that all other towns in the county have made the switch from
elected to appointed, Cross said the reason that this is now being entertained
is because it would save the taxpayers money, as the town’s two
assistant assessors, both elected positions as well, would no longer
It remains unclear exactly when the switch would be made, but the list
of potential candidates for the job is short. Longtime Assessor Rosalie
Boland is one, but Boland is now fighting a lawsuit filed by the Shandaken
Landowners Association that alleges unfair assessment practices. Another
candidate may be Republican party loyal John Horn, who ran for the position
of tax assessor a couple years ago and lost. Since then, according to
SLA President Peter Vinci, Cross told him Horn has been unofficially
working on a townwide revaluation, said to be about 65% completed.
My mother’s mother
came from Puerto Rico. She went to school until the second-grade,
when a flood swept the region, and my grandmother was nearly killed,
walking to school. This was when she stopped attending.
My mother’s mother had a breathtakingly beautiful voice, but
her stage fright impeded any singing career she could have pursued.
Instead, she plied an anonymous trade with her hands, working the
sewing machines in a garment-producing sweatshop, enduring the unspeakable
conditions that accompanied this lifestyle. But she was crafty, frugal,
and industrious. She took home little scraps of this and that, and
clothed my mother and her three sisters. She crocheted bible covers
and a great many other things, selling them wherever she betook herself.
Motherhood is an act of selfless love, as in Shel Silverstein’s
The Giving Tree, a book I’ve carried away from my childhood.
In its loving protection, generosity, and altruism, it is one of the
most beautiful things on this green earth, and should never be overlooked.
Mother’s Day impends, it is true. But I would venture to say
that there is no single time in a year to express gratitude towards
anyone who has offered assistance, without asking anything in return.
Gratitude is enormously cherished by any who have the fortune to receive
it, and anyone can give it. I will say it again: anyone can offer
I, your faithful journalist, may be found guilty for offering little
in the way of thanks. My attainment of adolescence has certainly taken
its toll on the “harmonic duality” of my mother and I.
It has impeded, not our love, which is absolute, but the expression
of our love. Speaking as a part of a household, growing older is difficult
because, as new effects are created, old effects are destroyed, and
I encounter new difficulties in getting along with my mother. We both
struggle to be heard over the other’s rising voice. I write
these words to you – I speak of gratitude, and of love –
because I hope that a part of me is listening, too. (Ooh; that makes
me a bit of a hypocrite, doesn’t it?)
The bond between mother and child is as strong as ever, despite tension
brought by growth, society, and dispute. Every human values the guidance,
pride, and care offered by another human. Maternity is a divine thing,
and should be valued as such.
Every act of spontaneous kindness, and every act of compassionate
protection or generosity, every such boon and every such loving thought
(regardless of one’s age, gender, or relation) is a little part
of a great love. This spirit of motherhood is prominent among the
things that brighten our lives and our world.
Voting will take
place from 2 p.m.-9 p.m., Tuesday, May 15 at all four elementary school
polling centers. Kindergarten-through-grade six students will have
an early dismissal at 1 p.m. A special meeting of the board will follow
at approximately 9:30pm at the Onteora Middle-High School, Boiceville,
to accept the votes cast. The Onteora school district PTA hosted a
candidate night at the Middle/High School on May 7 that was sparsely
attended. The Mid-Hudson Chapter, League of Women moderated the event
and the audience had an opportunity to ask questions.
Two of the three candidates vying for two board seats are from Olive,
and Richard Wolff and Michelle Friedel are running as a team. Running
independently is incumbent school board president Marino D’Orazio
D’Orazio has lived in the Onteora community for over twenty
years. He has served on the Onteora school board for nearly ten years.
Married with three grown children, he works as a lawyer on Front Street
in Kingston. He is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School and received
a PhD from City University of New York.
D’Orazio says he wants to continue with his work as a school
board member because he feels he cannot “jump ship,” during
a time of change. “I think that this is not a good time for
me to retire…we have a brand new superintendent, we are going
to be putting before the voters a capital improvement project with
possibly a reconfiguration of district facilities and I think we have
a lot of new members on the board and they could use a little experience.”
While on the board, he has been through the mascot controversy, division
as a result of the Large Parcel Legislation, West Hurley elementary
school closing, “and don’t forget past board fighting
and legal issues involving the past superintendent (Dr. Hal Rowe).”
His most difficult time was when Superintendent Justine Winters passed
D’Orazio did not support closing West Hurley Elementary School.
Commenting on proposals to possibly close additional elementary schools,
D’Orazio said, “My gut feeling is that I support community
schools, but I am pretty open minded and I will listen to other proposals,
I do support a separate middle school, but I can’t see myself
supporting a single campus.”
D’Orazio also did not vote in favor of the special education
reductions in 2006. He supports this year’s budget and tax levy
set at 3.86 percent, but notes caution when giving too much fund balance
back to taxpayers. “I believe that you have to have a cushion
D’Orazio is uncertain what kind of future the Large Parcel Legislation
will have because he believes the town of Olive has come very close
to equalizing taxes. Last year he said there was a very small tax
gap between the towns and that is why he voted in favor of the piece
of legislation that would take the New York City reservoir and divide
the tax equally among the district.
“The town government in Olive really did everything it could
to meet the concerns of the board of education in the past in respect
to Large Parcel and they worked hard to do it…maybe this year,
it (equalized taxes) will happen by default and we won’t even
need to address it,” he said. “I think that our job as
a school district is to treat all our tax payers the same way.”
Wolff has lived in Olive for 23 years, has four kids and along with
his wife considers himself an active participant in school issues.
He has attended school board meetings for the past eleven years and
said that was his reason why he would like to run for school board.
Wolff works as a school bus contractor and manager of Ethan Allen
Enterprise Incorporated in Kingston. He has never conducted business
with the Onteora district, and therefore was not affected by the consolidation
of contract bus companies last year.
Wolff is primarily concerned about the budget and loss of educational
programs due to cuts. He believes last year the school board wasted
time with special education cuts and having to restore them, causing
a lot of grief for parents. He raised the same concern this budget
“Sometimes you have to cut because enrollment is going…even
this year in music to cut half a position,” he said. “But
maybe the music department has to look at their department, maybe
there is a teacher retiring, you don’t have to eliminate that
Wolff believes if the district had more fiscal control and long-term
budget plans in the many departments, than maybe educational programs
would not be affected.
Of the three renovation plans for the district mapped out by KSQ architects,
Wolff prefers to keep the local schools open. He believes the middle
school should separate from the high school in a six-through-eight
Wolff said the district rushed into closing West Hurley and once again
planning long term was his theme. He noted especially the large acreage
of grounds that West Hurley sits on and the potential for better facilities.
But he said, “I would think if you are going to keep three community
schools you could probably have West Hurley, but you have Woodstock
and they like having their own school…but I am not sure, everybody
seems very happy here at Woodstock, I think the transition went well.”
Large Parcel was another issue that Wolff believes too much time was
spent pondering. “It should not even come to the table, look
at how much time is wasted on the LP issue.” He would prefer
the legislation was not brought up, but will vote no if it does.
Wolff is Vice Chairman of the Olive zoning board of appeals, sits
on the board for United Cerebral Palsy of Ulster County, is a member
of New York State school bus contractors association, New York Association
of Pupil Transportation Supervisors and a council member of Redeemer
Friedel has lived in Olive for five years, but has been a resident
of the Kingston area since 1989, is married and has two kids. She
would like to be on the board because of her concern for quality “educational
programming” and to make “sure we have a great school.”
She is an educator for Ulster County BOCES in the career tech center
and an early childhood development instructor for high school students
interested in entering the field. Friedel’s profile sheet said
that she would like to ensure that students have the skills to compete
in a global workforce. She has a Masters Degree in Education from
the College of Saint Rose in Albany and a Bachelor of Science in education
from Castleton State College in Vermont.
Of the three plans proposed to reconfigure the schools she says she
does not have enough information to make a solid decision and wants
to keep an open mind. “As a community member and a parent and
as a board member, I would really have to look at the figures and
the enrollment…A or C are the two plans I like, I personally
believe the middle school-six-through-eight would be a really nice
environment for the adolescent age because they are a specialized
age group.” Plan A keeps the three elementary schools open and
Plan C will close an additional elementary school.
Friedel said the recent cuts in special education services are State
mandated and could not be reduced. On the school board’s move
to cut special education she said, “But there are two sides
of every story...I was not part of the decision making process so
I don’t know what the facts were.”
She supports the 3.89 percent tax levy but would maybe like to use
the fund balance to lower it even more. “I say go for it, if
you are not going to cut any services or programs.” She also
believes some reserve money is necessary for long-term savings.
Like Wolff, Friedel would not like to see the Large Parcel legislation
be a part of board business, but will vote no if it comes to the table
noting that it tears communities apart. “I am sure people would
be upset with that, but I also feel I have to vote no. Even the national
school board does not vote on any tax property policies or actions,
so if the national school board does not touch it, then the local
school board should not touch it.”
Proposition #1 on the upcoming ballot asks voters to approve the 2007-2008
Onteora school budget, which is slightly above a contingency budget,
If voters defeated the budget two times, it would automatically be
reduced to a 4.11 percent increase and all equipment purchases removed
from the budget under State law.
Proposition #2 asks voters to approve money for the purchase of four
in-house buses to replace four aging, high mileage and high maintenance
buses at a total cost of $279,825. Requested are a 29-passenger wheelchair
accessible bus not to exceed $60,238, a 66-passenger bus not to exceed
$87,378, a 20-passenger bus not to exceed $44,843 and a 65-passenger
bus not to exceed $87,378.
In 2006 voters rejected two of the four buses proposed on this years
May 15 ballot.