The people have clearly spoken regarding the proposed water
harvesting by Mr. Poncic in the Woodland Valley. I am aware
of no other issue that has ever so fully consolidated the
views of all the residents of this pristine and historical
I represent the family that has most certainly continually
lived in this valley longer than most any other of the residents.
There have been Botchford land owners here since the early
19th century. Our great grandfather Henry Jay Botchford represented
the valley as a officer and recognized hero in New York's
44th regiment during the Civil War. Responses to my earlier
letters to the Shandaken media accused this same war hero
of amassing a family fortune from his tanning and lumber enterprises
following the war. I can only say my family has since spent
many amusing hours searching to no avail for any evidence
of this so called fortune!
The fact is my family, like most other residents of the Woodland
Valley, struggle to pay our taxes, protect and conserve our
property, and be good and considerate neighbors. Most of our
neighbors came to the public hearing on Mr. Poncic's proposal.
As many recall, of the 150 people who attended only Mr. Poncic
himself was in favor of this project! That's 149 to 1. I doubt
if any other issue concerning the Woodland Valley has ever
garnered as strong and united protest. The government of Shandaken
and all others who may be involved simply have to listen to
us and understand that we are carefully watching. It would
be a travesty if our united voice is ignored!
Henry Jay Botchford III
Woodland Valley, NY
"We don't want it!" When I think about my personal
response to the Poncic water Plant proposal, I feel like a
broken record. I expressed this same sentiment some months
back in a letter to the Phoenicia Times.
But as simple as this sentiment is, there isn't, in my opinion,
a whole lot more to be said on the matter. Sure, we can all
go on endlessly about the potential environmental impact on
Woodland Valley, the economic implications of possible damage
done to the road, the safety of our children and pets (and
ourselves), the aesthetic implications, property values, the
effect on the trout etc etc etc.. But is it really necessary?
It can all be summed up in one simple phrase :"We don't
At the public hearing some months ago at the Shandaken Town
Hall, a gentleman stood up and offered what to me was the
most compelling observation of the evening. He pointed out
that this situation is somewhat unique as far as debates go.
Generally in a situation such as this, two sides present their
respective points of view, and the arguments are then examined
and decided upon.
What makes this unique is the dramatic detail that in that
room sat some 150 people opposed to the project, and one lone
advocate- the ONLY person standing to gain from it's passing.
This is a very unusual debate indeed, where ONE person's gain
is being considered over the objections of an entire community,
who fears loss of quality of life as a result. We don' want
While I assume we all recognize and respect a landowner's
right to exploit his or her property as he/she sees fit, doesn't
that right need to be granted only after some consideration
is given to how it's granting will affect the lives and property
of all others around it?? And more importantly, isn't it the
job of local government to consider the wishes of it's constituents
and act accordingly with their well-being in mind? Well-I
think our wishes are overwhelmingly clear--We don't want it.
It's not a majority point of view--the sentiment is 100 percent
unanimous! Or should i say 99%? How often does one see such
What more do we need to say? We don't want it!! I feel like
a broken record.
Woodland Valley, NY
I am unalterably opposed to granting permission to Andrew
Poncic's water harvesting proposal in the Woodland Valley.
Sixty years ago my family purchased a home in the Woodland
Valley quite near to where Mr. Poncic now owns property. We
completely restored an 1850s farm house, installing electricity
when it came up the Valley and replacing the outhouse with
indoor plumbing. I spent every summer of my youth, from age
three until I went off to college, in that house. I now return
whenever I can. This past July, we held a family gathering
at our house in the Valley in honor of my mother's 90th birthday
and her great grandson's 6th birthday. Relatives from as far
away as San Diego attended. We all consider the Woodland Valley
to be our "family home."
I remember clearly the huge, overweight lumber trucks that
rumbled up and down the Valley in the 1940s and '50s. They
caused enormous damage to the roads and literally destroyed
the bridges. Once, one of the trucks caused such serious structural
damage to the bridge over the Panther Kill that it had to
be closed immediately. My family was in the unique position
of having one car one each side of the closed bridge, because
my uncle happened to have been in town (Phoenicia) when the
damage was incurred. For a week or more, we ran an informal
taxi service for those who were stranded up the Valley from
The repairs to our roads and bridges were the financial burden
of the citizens, through the Township, not of the lumber companies.
The damages to the environment were also the burden of all
of us. How could one possibly think that it will be any different
with huge trucks taking water out of the Valley and the environment
suffering for the depletion of its resources?
I now live primarily in Kentucky where we know first-hand
the devastating effects of the exportation of natural resources.
Eastern Kentucky was a thriving, verdant area in the nineteenth
century, much like Ulster County, until out-of-state commercial
interests realized the wealth of coal and timber there. The
resulting rape of our land has left dire poverty in the entire
region (Owsley County, KY, for example, is the second poorest
county in the United States - second only to a Native American
reservation in South Dakota). A number of areas look like
moon-scapes as the result of surface mining operations. And,
countless people have been killed and injured on our roads
because of the damage the overloaded coal and lumber trucks
do or as a result of actual accidents with the trucks. The
same was the case Ulster County not so long ago. We must not
allow this to happen again.
My grandfathers and grandmother loved our home in the Valley,
as did my parents and my brother and I. We still love it,
as do our children and grand-children. If you were counting,
that's five generations of our family who have cherished this
Valley. We want it to go on for at least another five, or
ten, or 50.
I would like to call to your attention a passage from Quaker
Testimonies, published by the Testimonies Committee of Quaker
Peace and Social Witness, Friends House, London, England:
. . . The future is constantly sacrificed to the present and
the needs of others to the wants of the self. It cannot be
right to leave the world poorer than we found it in beauty
or in the rich diversity of life forms, or to consume recklessly
in the knowledge that our actions are bound to lead to future
tragedy . . .
Let us, please, do everything in our power to see that Mr.
Poncic's proposal is not approved.
Robert S. Tannenbaum, Ed.D.
I am writing to express my grave concerns regarding the Water
Harvesting Proposal for Woodland Valley, as put forward by
the Good Water Corporation. It is farcical that the Shandaken
Planning Board is ignoring the concerns of the majority of
the residents. Particularly as time and taxpayers' money is
It is blindingly obvious why this proposal should be voted
against. The main reason is one of safety – Woodland
Valley Road is too narrow and has too many bends for two 18-wheel
trailer tractors to be traveling along twice a day. It is
dangerous enough already with cars speeding along. Like many,
I walk and cycle frequently on Woodland Valley. Having trucks
on this road will endanger pedestrians, bicyclists as well
as other drivers. During the summer months, the road is busy
with extra people drawn in to enjoy the valley and the campsite.
In the winter months, the road is much narrower because of
plowed snow and ice at the side of the road. In bad weather
it will make the road hazardous, as the icy conditions will
reduce the stopping times of such a large and heavy vehicle.
As a taxpayer I am concerned about the extra wear that it
will place on the road surface. The blacktop is already worn
and this will undoubtedly be exacerbated by the extra weight.
No doubt, the additional repair is a cost that we taxpayers
will have to bear.
Another concern is the precedent that passing this proposal
will set. It is giving a green light to any other resident
that wants to start harvesting water or some other dubious
commercial venture in a residential zoning area. It really
is opening the floodgates for changing the area drastically
in an unregulated way that will not benefit the local community.
On many levels — safety, environmental, community etc
— this development is wholly inappropriate for a residential
and vacation area. I hope Shandaken Planning make their decision
soon on what is best for the majority of the Woodland Valley
Next summer will mark the 40th anniversary of my first visit
to Woodland Valley and I still come back several times every
year to visit friends and enjoy the beauty of the Valley.
Like many beautiful things, Woodland contains a dangerous,
not apparent aspect—its road. The seven narrow miles
of twists, turns, shaded curves and low, soft shoulders can
be and has been fatal. I was there on a hot summer’s
day years ago when two young women lost their lives. I ask
that the planners consider what might once again occur with
the addition of regular heavy truck traffic.
A summer Saturday in 1980 dawned hot and sticky; warm sunshine
speckling the ground between the trees while playing hide-and-seek
with the storm clouds. The day went as many hot, sticky summer
days do and about 5 o’clock that afternoon a thunderstorm—mild
by Catskill’s standards—swept down the valley,
soaking everything and doing little to relieve the heat and
As the family sat on the screened-in porch of the house, a
loud crash came from the road below, out of sight behind the
undulations of the downward slope. A high-pitched mechanical
keening which puzzled everyone followed the crash. One man
decided to take a look. He disappeared over the ridge and
another followed a short distance behind.
”Call the rescue squad and the police,” shouted
the man from below. His friend looked over the hill and saw
the accident—a blue four-door Ford pointed north and
a sand color VW Bug headed south had violently collided at
the drivers-side fenders in the middle of the road. Both cars
seemed to have bounced backward from the impact. The Ford’s
The noise stopped abruptly. Both cars had drifted slightly
to the center of this narrow two-lane country road at moderate
speeds with lethal results. Moans of pain and crys came from
the four youngsters in the Ford as they got out. The driver
struggled to exit by the passenger door—his was jammed
by the force of the collision. The man at the road yelled
—”Bring down some Blankets.”
A pile of old Army Blankets was brought down the hill quickly.
They wrapped a couple of the kids from the Ford in blankets
and then directed
them to sit on the porch of a nearby house. Two were physically
unhurt, but badly shaken; two more from the Ford were injured
Blankets were spread on the roadside for the young people
in the VW. A boy, maybe 18, shirtless in the front passenger
seat, had a chunk bitten from his shoulder by the impact and
his face was bleeding badly—seatbelt usage wasn’t
He was unconscious at first but revived slightly and was able
to finally walk to the other side of the road and sit on the
embankment, a wool blanket, now bloodstained, covering his
thin back and arms.
The girl in the seat behind him screamed and sobbed—her
jaw was askew—broken badly. She was doubled over. She
was extracted and lay on the roadside blanket. Sirens screamed
at the head of the valley— An Ulster County Sheriff’s
officer arrived while traffic was beginning to build around
the accident. The young cop looked at the sight of the bloody
bodies in and out of the cars and had to be reminded to get
the traffic clear for the emergency vehicles that were following.
The VW driver’s side door was smashed shut. There was
a weak pulse from the girl behind the driver and none from
the driver herself, her slender arm ripped on the underside—a
slice of flesh hanging from the upper arm which was slightly
out the window. Her long, pale brown hair dipped into her
blood by the slight breeze. You could picture her laughing
and smiling as she drove town the valley road. A pretty girl
with friends on a summer lark—going to town for supplies
or a beer.
Three men were desperately trying to open the driver’s
door to at least get the girls out of the car—10 minutes
at least had gone by and the emergency vehicles were just
now heard in the valley.
Cars were backed up in both directions. Even though it’s
a rural area it has many visitors in the summer. The emergency
people went about their business professionally, but the looks
on their faces told of tragedy—at least one of the girls
and more likely both were dead.
The Sheriff had arrived, much to his young officer’s
relief, and taken charge. The young man, who knew the girls,
was sent down the road to handle traffic.
Then a man—about 5’10" 200 pounds in summer
shorts and a tee-shirt; short hair, clean shaven about 45
or 50 years old come walking up to the scene. He stumbled
as he looked at the VW and the young body being treated by
the EMS personnel.
The sheriff turned, recognized the man and opened his arms
to bear hug his friend and neighbor before he collapsed. It
was this strapping man’s daughter who lay on the road
with the last of her life fleeing into the moist sunlight.
Life was never crueler to anyone then it was to this man.
summer’s day at the vacation house and his daughter
lies dead beside the fun-filled car.
He was driving up the Woodland Valley Road—saw the roadway
blocked with cars and emergency vehicles and left his car
to investigate—most likely unconcerned at first —”tree
down” —would have been his first thought, considering
One could mentally trace his walk—the stunned look as
he recognized his daughter’s car—the denial and
disbelief as he saw her on the blanket and the utter collapse
of his world as he realized that his daughter lay dead on
this idyllic, sylvan road, with the stream burbling in the
distance where it sparkles in the sunlight on a clear day.
The men who had tried to help sat, silent, beneath a horse-chestnut
tree, staring at the spot of the accident while the tow-trucks
attached themselves to the cars. They nursed drinks of scotch
until the road was empty.
Tanker trucks on Woodland Valley Road insure this will happen
again and no “water harvesting” project is worth
the price of a life.
Robert C. Grant
Although the public has seen only broad outlines of Crossroads
Venture's revised and supposedly reduced resort proposal -
the details have been shared only with selected invited audiences
- it's clear that the new concept is just as damaging to the
environment and our economy as the original. We know that
the proposal does eliminate the golf course (previously considered
crucial for economic viability) and the time-share units and
other buildings associated with the Belleayre Highlands section
of the east side.
These changes do not eliminate the environmental problems
of the East Side. According to the draft proposal presented
to the EPA and DEP, a large development on the Big Indian
Plateau would still be in place. In fact, instead of 55 time-share
units on the ridge there would be106, almost twice as many
buildings. The number of hotel rooms would be decreased by
30, but the Spa would be increased in size and would encompass
space previously set aside for a golf clubhouse.
The proposed time share units would be spread along the entire
Big Indian Plateau and would require a paved road around the
entire ridge and clear cutting a substantial number of trees.
The steep access road from Route 28 would be expanded. All
this construction would require many new stormwater runoff
controls even though the developer states this project is
reduced in size. The old erosion controls were deemed inadequate.
Will the new be any better?
In sum, the new concept, like the old, still plans massive
development on a high-elevation mountain ridge in the heart
of public lands mandated as "Forever Wild".
Alan Hevesi, New York State Comptroller, pointed out last
month that the economic viability of the old project was highly
suspect. The Catskill Heritage Alliance sees nothing in the
new concept to indicate it is any more economically viable
than Crossroads' original proposal. Previously, the developer
said that the golf course was essential to make the project
financially successful. Now that the golf course is eliminated,
financial success depends on the sale of the 306 undeveloped
acres of the Belleayre Highlands and an expanded spa. Is this
forecast any sounder than the first?
If, once started, the project fails, the community would be
left with a scarred landscape. If the supposedly revised project
goes forward, the outlook is even more dire. The viewshed
at night would still be ruined with additional lighting and,
in daytime, there would be a visible eyesore for hikers, hunters,
fishermen and homeowners north of Route 28. Water quality
would be challenged from additional use and increased runoff.
The unique character of our communities would be lost due
to sprawling growth and increased traffic. Further, the reduced
development would still require increased municipal services
such as fire, police, ambulance, schools and social services.
Studies have shown that increased taxes from such development
do not cover the cost of the increased services, and therefore
everyone's taxes will rise.
The revised resort would still dominate the area and threaten
the "Forever Wild' nature of the Catskill Park - and
these are just the problems of the reduced size east. The
west-side Wildacres project adds to all these problems and
presents problems of its own.
The Catskill Heritage Alliance maintains that the only viable
solution is to not have any development on the East Side and
to proceed on the west side only if an environmentally friendly
solution can be found.
Richard Schaedle, Chairman,
Catskill Heritage Alliance
Pine Hill, NY
Several letters have circulated recently, most notably from
the Catskill Heritage Alliance, making the claim that new
plans for the Belleayre Resort, which call for the elimination
of an 18-hole golf course, 88 time-share units and 30 hotel
rooms, will somehow have MORE of an environmental impact.
Does this make sense to you?
They will tell you that we have more buildings than originally
planned. That is true. However, the buildings are smaller,
one-family units instead of the multi-unit buildings that
have been eliminated. The smaller footprint of each building
means less disturbed land, and that is the fact they have
ignored to suit their purposes.
The simple fact is this: our new plan has reduced the amount
of disturbed land by 49 percent on the eastern side. Only
150 acres will be disturbed on a parcel of land that is more
than 1,200 acres in size. The rest will become permanent open
space. No golf course means no clear cutting, no daily watering,
no pesticides and no fertilizers. Our expanded spa will occupy
space originally designed for the pro shop so, there is no
change to the footprint. There will be no roads needed to
access the eliminated time-share development nor will a bridge
to get there over Giggle Hollow be required. And reducing
the total number of lodging units by one-third will eliminate
the need to tap into any Pine Hill water sources.
Nearly 50 percent less disturbed land. Elimination of an entire
golf course. Fewer roads and no bridge. Reduced daily water
usage. Doesn’t that seem like less of an environmental
impact to you?
Paul Rakov. VP, Public Affairs
Crossroads Ventures, LLC
Mt. Tremper, NY
Two years ago the four people signing this letter met and
resolved to get serious about a revitalization program for
greater Phoenicia that would eventually expand to cover the
entire Town of Shandaken. At this point, we thought your readers
would appreciate the specifics of what we’ve been doing
and why; also, a little information about where to from here.
From the very outset, we had two goals. One was to help make
Phoenicia a nicer place in which to live and work. Another
was to make Phoenicia a more attractive destination for tourists
to visit — an endeavor that in the long run will inevitably
build volume for our tourist-oriented businesses, not only
in Phoenicia but throughout the township, too.
The first year we were modestly successful with a program
of hanging baskets and pots of flowers, largely on Main Street.
We did a little painting of eyesores using donated paint (from
Herzog’s in Kingston); built the flower bed at the market
with at-cost decorative masonry blocks (from Kingston Block
& Masonry Supply) in order to hide another eyesore; supported
the re-planting of the flowerbed opposite the Post Office
with funding for flowers, volunteer help on digging, and watering.
We also arranged for the public toilets behind Valero’s
which we serviced on a daily basis to keep them neat and clean.
(Since our restaurant owners were discouraging use of their
restrooms by non-customers, it seemed a little weird for a
town whose economy depends on tourists in the summertime to
have no public facilities available seven days a week in the
evening as well as the daytime.
Financial support came from several sources
To finance this “Summerscape” program, we raised
all of the money ourselves by soliciting help from over 25
village business people, several private individuals, plus
major contributions from KeyBank, Phoenicia Business Association,
Rotary Club, Rondout Savings Bank, and a one-time, pump-primer
gift of $3,000 from the Catskill Center. To make ends meet,
we did all of the watering – normally the biggest expense
in any floral beautification project – with volunteer
help, including flowers planted and maintained by Phriends
of Phoenicia in Simpson Park and their ten big flower pots
Total cost of the program was about $7,000. Cost to the town
of Shandaken for the flower program: Zero.
Because of the positive reception of townspeople to the program,
we resolved to expand and improve it in 2006 by extending
our coverage of the hanging baskets down Plank Road to Parish
Hall, up Route 214 to Tremper Avenue, and out to Al’s
Restaurant, thus giving us almost complete coverage of the
downtown business district. We also invested in large sidewalk
flower pots which cut watering time and offered a bigger display
of flowers in each pot. Further, we successfully sought and
found flowers (Supertunias) which would create a dazzling
display of red-white-and-blue color from June through at least
mid-September. And we invested in new park benches for Simpson
Park and Main Street plus three new picnic tables for Simpson
Park financed with over $5,000 from a Streetscape Grant. All
of this outdoor furniture is made of recycled plastic that
comes with a 25-year warrantee against staining or weathering.
We financed the 2006 expanded program with a combination of
private contributions, huge contributions of volunteer time,
the Streetscape grant and financial support from the Town.
Local business people were again generous with financial support
that adding up to about $3,500. Among them were Paul Pettinato,
Mike Ricciardella, Tom Crucet, Dave Pillard, Kathy Judware
from Miss Kitty’s Salon, Ray Kirk, Marty Millman, Margaret
and Bill Nolte, Bill Forbes, Tom Fraser, Ruth Gale, Debra
Jo Ryan, Mr. & Mrs. Shah from the Phoenicia Market, Sue
Taylor, Richard Verona from Valero’s, Mark Wilsey, Bart
Guglielmetti, Heather Roberts, Maverick Family Health, and
Gala Geru Khamba from the Gateway to Tibet.
In addition, the Ulster Savings Bank endowed one of the park
benches on the Boardwalk with a contribution of $700. The
town added approximately $8,000 to help pay for the one-time
purchases of pots, pole brackets and new hanging baskets and
hangers plus the seedlings and about $2,500 for watering.
We also built the second tier – the rock wall and excavation
— for the flower beds at the Bridge Street exit from
Route 28, entirely with volunteer help. The town helped us
with the excavation of a new flower bed between Brio’s
and the Boardwalk which will eliminate a former eyesore of
weeds and trash right in the middle of the business district.
We financed the bluestone, gravel and topsoil entirely with
the Streetscape Grant plus a generous discount by Jeff Collins.
We also figured out a way to bear-proof the dumpster behind
the market for less than $10 so there wouldn’t be garbage
all over the parking lot every morning. Finally, we applied
the Streetscape Grant towards financing a bright, new bicycle
rack behind the Pharmacy which is now in place.
It would be a mistake to assume we did these things all by
ourselves. Scores of people helped us in one way or another
and to them we owe them a big vote of thanks for making possible
everything we have achieved. We absolutely could not have
done all this without them.
Adam Steen and Leroy Harrison made themselves available almost
any time with a bucket truck to help erect the steel hangers
and to mount the hanging baskets. Kyle Ricketson helped hang
the baskets. Otto Bernstein and John Byer taught us how to
make a dry rock wall and gave us a big head start towards
its erection. Frank Nazzaro and Linda Byer pitched in on the
rock wall and Linda personally planted and tended the top
tier flowerbed during the season. Janice Rubin, representing
both the Rotary Club and Phriends of Phoenicia, used her green
thumb to plant and maintain the gorgeous display of massed
petunias in the Simpson Park Gazebo flowerboxes. Marilyn Manning
was responsible for planting and maintaining the flowerbed
across from the post office and helped greatly with the plantings
in flower pots on Main Street. Paul and Lisa Dutcher contributed
a load of annuals which filled out the Route 28 flower bed
as well as the Post Office garden with big bursts of color.
Mr. & Mrs. Shah financed the flowers in the masonry flowerbed
and the pots and barrels of flowers along the market entrance.
Elizabeth Kern regularly patrols Main Street in the morning
picking up trash. Phriends of Phoenicia planted and maintained
the flower beds in Simpson Park beneath the Catskill Forest
Preserve Bulletin Board and beneath the fire bell. Joe Munster
and Bob Kalb contributed their handyman skills and day’s
worth of labor to help assemble park benches, picnic tables
and the new bicycle rack. Bob Cross did much of the hard work
of assembling the masonry flower bed at the corner of Main
and Ave Marie Streets – one of the first things tourists
see when they exit Route 28 at Bridge Street. Good people
at NYSEG and Verizon helped us cut through the red tape to
get the needed permissions in timely fashion. Peter Ferrante,
one of the owners of the Wallkill View Nursery, gave us a
big discount on the hanging baskets and seedlings plus free
fertilizer. He also advised us on a new type of low-evaporation
baskets that only need watering every other day. Since these
pots are also re-usable, we’ll cut the cost of the hanging
baskets in future years from the current $60 to $40 each.
Laurilyn Frasier was responsible for the big splash of Impatiens
color on the hillside opposite the eagle, using donated seedlings.
And the Eagle Committee of the Rotary Club poured energy into
refurbishing the Eagle site prior to Eagle Day, including
painting the eagle, mulching, and plantings. If we’ve
overlooked anybody, let us apologize now.
You might ask why the big emphasis on flowers and why the
big emphasis on Phoenicia?
Regarding flowers, they are almost certainly the fastest,
easiest and cheapest way to jump start a beautification program
and make a good first impression when tourists first hit town.
Regarding the emphasis on Phoenicia, our reasoning was this:
First, if we divvied up our limited funds among the half dozen
villages in the town, we could not hope to make much of an
Second, Phoenicia is not only the largest village in the town
but the financial center and by far the largest business center.
So if we’re going to add to the tourist draw of Shandaken
and the economic revitalization of our region we almost necessarily
must start with Phoenicia and make a real splash there. In
the future, we want to move out the program into a wider area.
Third, the second largest village and the prime next candidate
for any revitalization effort is Pine Hill and they are already
doing a terrific job with flowers on the Main Street using
volunteer help. In fact, one of the goals of our program was
to raise the bar in Phoenicia so it at least matches accomplishments
in Pine Hill.
So we’ve been focusing on Phoenicia and hope to continue
that emphasis for the next several years when we hope to extend
the program to Pine Hill, Shandaken village, Big Indian, and
Mt. Tremper, too.
So where to from here?
Providing we can get adequate funding in 2007, we hope to
continue the program of hanging baskets and pots of flowers
at about the same level as 2006, although the materials cost
will go down by about 25% because our investments in durable
capital items in 2005 and 2006 — baskets, pots, hanging
brackets, watering equipment, etc. However, we’ve got
to bite the bullet on watering costs because it’s not
realistic to expect a volunteer to continue doing all the
watering either free or with only minimal compensation. (Watering
of the baskets, flower pots and gardens takes an average of
three hours a day from June through September, seven days
a week which would normally go for $15 an hour and add up
to about $5,200 for the season, allowing for occasional heavy
rain.) We also need such part-time paid help so we can use
more of our time to carry the revitalization program forward
in other areas. With sufficient funding we might also be able
to extend the hanging basket program to the Main Street of
Pine Hill. (We had hoped to do this in 2006 but lacked the
Incidentally, if you’ve seen us watering the hanging
baskets right after a rainstorm or during a drizzle, be assured
this is not wasted effort. We know the flow rate of our little
pump (1 gallon a minute) and we use a stop watch to measure
water consumption. From experience, we’ve found that
even a downpour doesn’t meet more than 20% of regular
watering needs of the hanging baskets because their diameter
is so small (14") and the tangle of vines tends to shed
water like an umbrella. Where rainstorms help is on the large
sidewalk pots because of their larger diameter and the greater
depth of dirt which holds more water. But even here, we use
a moisture meter (probe) to determine when watering is really
With regard to the future, we are looking closely at a program
to reduce the amount of littering (garbage, trash and just
plain dirt and cigarette butts) on Main Street. This would
include tactics to frustrate the wits out of marauding bears.
Here again, our goal is to help make Phoenicia a more attractive
place to visit.
Another area of concern is Shandaken-wide promotion and publicity
(feature articles) aimed at tourists which, again, will help
build our base of business and ultimately our tax base as
we attract new enterprises and employers. Harry Jameson has
already agreed to act as a tourist information center, at
no cost to the town, answering questions and providing a rack
of literature and publicity reprints As it is, we do very
little aggressive promotion, other than that for tubing, even
though we have a lot to offer: Not just tubing, railroading,
hunting and fishing, but kayaking, horseback riding, the Shandaken
Theatrical Society, marked hiking trails like Tanbark, Devil’s
Notch, Panther Mountain, and Giant Ledge; a marked bicycle
trail, proximity to the Belleayre Ski Center and Hunter in
winter and cultural events in the summer, Belleayre Beach
at Pine Hill Lake, antique shopping, the Shandaken Museum
in Pine Hill, the nearby Ulster and Delaware tourist railroad,
the Catskills Forest Preserve and wilderness area, historical
and cultural sites, etc. We are thinking in terms of an enhanced
website aimed directly at visitor interests, promotional literature
and maps, signage, posters, and other kinds of outreach to
potential visitors and customers.
Still another area is an effort to enhance the two exits off
Route 28 so they become more of a visual magnet to people
passing by – “Gee, that looks like an interesting
place worth visiting.” For example, we plan to plant
the new lower tier of the flowerbed at the Bridge Street exit
from Route 28 with something like solid pink wave petunias
which should be a real eye-popper.
Everything depends on money and community support.
From the many, many comments from townspeople and visitors
in 2006, there appears to be great appreciation of the flower
program. And that support is very important. Otherwise, this
program will eventually die.
We currently have a small surplus in our bank account. In
2007, we expect to again raise $3,000 or so from business
people, possibly a contribution or two from philanthropic
or private sources, and we will continue to pursue grants.
But we also need at least $7500 from the town and possibly
some support of time and equipment from town resources like
the Highway Department and recreational services.
With this kind of a support you can expect to see a bigger,
even better program next year. And in the long run. the continuation
of the program will benefit our entire community, creating
more opportunities for our young people and greater prosperity
for us all.
I would like to tell your readers about the FACETS program.
F.A.C.E.T.S. stands for Family and Child Early Treatment Service
and it has operated in the Onteora school district for eleven
years. It is in danger of being cut from the district because
of a 2005 Pataki legislation chapter 513 law 414.
My family has benefited enormously from FACETS. All three
of my children along with my husband and me have been involved
in Counseling at the school. My Son also got involved with
“Kids Together”, an Ulster County Mental Health
program that helps kids with the intricate socialization skills
that some teens need. This was another amazing benefit to
which we never would have known was available without FACETS.
If this wonderful program was not available right at the school,
either during school hours or right after, my husband and
myself would have had to choose between our hours at work
or our child’s mental health. This is no choice at all.
Of course we both would have taken time off to do any thing
for our children because they come first. As I’m sure
most parents do. But that’s not to say that the added
financial burden would not have contributed to the stress
at home. In turn this creates a circle of one stress after
another and possible guilty feelings on the child.
I never want to tell my children they can’t have something
they want, let alone something they need. In the years my
husband and I struggled financially, which we are still doing,
albeit, we can say yes more than we say no these days, we
said no to many of the costly extras kids want just to keep
up with their more privileged friends.
My Husband and I did not fully comprehend the huge pressure
on our kids to come up to the media standards they are bombarded
with day in and day out. With the high profile lives of the
rich and famous how can our kids from the Catskills compete?
Add in hormones, plus the social anxieties of coming of age
and all other stresses of being a teen in the twenty-first
century and you have a great recipe for disaster among our
Ulster County Mental Health in conjunction with the school
runs an early treatment program that works within and without
the conventional guidelines for developmental disabilities
and 504 plans. It also stretches the financial boundaries
of Medicaid and employee benefit packages by making it possible
for all kids in the district to receive counseling regardless
of their family’s ability to pay. Without FACETS we
as a school and a community will pay the price later. We owe
it to our kids to keep this profound and positive program
Right now Onteora is embarking on a redistricting project
that could run as high as seventy million dollars. We are
currently running an Indie Program that costs an estimated
three million dollars. The FACETS program provides three full
time counselors and one psychiatrist through Ulster County
Mental Health for a mere ninety thousand dollars a year. It
provides counseling at the schools in the district even during
the summer for the kids who need it.
To not find a way for the district to pay for this program
would be a grave disservice to the families, students, and
community who rely on FACETS. Onteora is a rural district
with many families living at or below the poverty-line. Studies
show that without the immediate availability of counseling
most troubled teens will experiment with other ways of dealing
with their feelings. Obsessive compulsive behaviors such as
cutting, anorexia, bulimia, along with drinking and drug use
can all be ways our children try to deal with their problems.
Let me sum up with a few statistics. In 2002 the U.S. dept
of health and human services documented 900,000 cases of child
abuse, 51% of which was due to neglect, the other 49% taken
up by cases of physical abuse. Depression affects 17% of the
population in the U.S., and is considered to be a gateway
to drug and alcohol abuse if left untreated. Lastly, suicide
is the third largest killer between the ages of fifteen to
twenty four and the fifth largest between the ages of five
Let us find a way to pay for this vital and life saving program.
Emily A. Scully
Most of us have probably seen the campaign signs by our roads
for Kevin Costello, who is the Republican candidate for Ulster
County sheriff. These signs are not legal, as the aspiring
sheriff should know. In this town as well as others, there
are regulations that designate the days on which these signs
may be displayed, beginning with ten days before and after
the primary election (Sept. 12). They must be taken down by
the 22nd and may be displayed again 30 days prior to the Nov.
7 election. In this period from Sept. 22 to Oct. 7, no political
campaign signs are permitted but, sad to say, Mr. Costello's
signs are everywhere. Where is the respect for law?
The Rev. Finley Schaef