Howard McGowan, president
of the Woodland Community Association, delivered the news to the membership
at the groups July 7th annual meeting.
“Its very disappointing for all of us,” he said.”
Apparently the planning board can make a terrible decision as long as
they do it right.”
The plan by part time Valley resident Andrew Poncic to draw two truckloads
of a day water from a spring near the head of the dead end Woodland
Valley road in Phoenicia was given the go ahead by the Shandaken Planning
board last October after a six year review. Hisses and boo’s from
the audience were heard at the session when the planners gave Poncic
the green light. Following the 5-1 vote, one woman shouted “shame
on you” to the majority of the board that supported the project.
The lawsuit was filed immediately and opponents felt confident that
they had a case.
Justice Egan disagreed, dismissing the case on the merits.
“The court finds that the collection and hauling of non-potable
water falls within the category of permitted uses under “water
bottling and related uses” and it was within the planning boards
jurisdiction to grant good water a special permit.” The judge
wrote in his 16 page decision.
“The project cannot be rejected simply on the basis of community
pressure and there must be substantial evidence demonstrating the nature
and magnitude of any undesirable impacts.” He wrote.
McGowan was so distraught over the matter that he resigned as President
of the Association on the spot and announced plans to run for local
office, presumably for a seat on the Shandaken town board.
He said that the real problem is that the town has a government that
appointed planners who make such decisions, despite public outcry.
“The landowners of Woodland Valley contribute a major portion
to the tax burden in this town and this administration has ignored all
of us,” he said, noting that many development issues exist locally.
“I feel the battle is at town hall.”
Police said her kayak became
pinned upside down under a tree that was lodged against the center bridge
abutment. Witnesses say that bystanders attempted to keep Mrs. Dier
alive by diving under the water line and delivering air to her mouth
to mouth, but the efforts were not enough.
Mrs. Dier was unconscious and not breathing when her husband and the
other kayakers reached her from the shoreline and tried to free her,
Police said they received a 911 call at 12:47 p.m. and troopers responded
to the bridge, which crosses the Esopus Creek just west of the intersection
with state Route 212. The call was made from a nearby home because there
was no cellular signal available, according to Al Higley, who operates
a nearby farm stand. “If we had cell service she may still be
alive,” he said Monday. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was started
at the scene before Mrs. Dier was taken by Shandaken Ambulance to Benedictine
Hospital in Kingston, police said. Mrs. Dier was pronounced dead at
the hospital. Police said she had been wearing a floatation vest and
protective headgear at the time of the accident.
Mrs. Dier, a mother of two, was employed as a manager for Bank of America
at its tax processing division in the town of Ulster. She and her husband
had been married 26 years.
In another incident, 73-year-old Jack Kronengold of New York City drowned
while swimming alone with his wife Saturday in a lake known as Hunter
Mountain Lake, off Maple Avenue in the village, state police at Catskill
said. Kronengold’s wife, whose name was not available, reported
her husband missing at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, police said. An initial
search proved unsuccessful. At about 9:30 a.m. Sunday, divers recovered
Kronengold’s body from the lake. Police said the cause of death
was drowning. Police said Kronengold had been visiting a seasonal residence
in the area.
members Wolff and Michelle Friedel, both from Olive, were also sworn into
their three-year seats, replacing Marino D’Orazio and Dave Patterson.
High School student Nick Alba was announced as the coming school year’s
The reorganization meeting went on with little changes except for public
legal notices from the district that will now be limited to only one newspaper,
The Kingston Daily Freeman. This move was made as a cost savings decision.
One newspaper for legal notices is allowable by law.
During public be heard, a small handful of parents with kids in the Phoenicia
School spoke in protest of the school board’s decision to create
a 5-through-8 Middle school and, as a result, open up the possibility
that Phoenicia Elementary could close.
Parent Laurie Osmond was perplexed that only a small portion of the master
plan to create a middle school was considered, instead of approaching
the whole district and how decisions effect change.
“To say that the decision to go to a 5-through-8 middle school was
unattached and independent of any other plan is also confusing and a bit
disingenuous,” she said, also questioning the board’s stats.
“According to National School Association research when principals
were asked to identify the ideal grade configuration, 65 percent chose
6-through-8, 16 percent chose 7-through-8, nine percent chose 5-through-8.”
Parent Sante Moesle presented reasons why small schools and classrooms
work based on a report from The Rural School and Community Trust, a non-profit
organization regarding rural education. The studies were conducted comparing
larger school communities to smaller schools and found that when school
communities consolidate for cost effective means, problems arise with
dropout rates, discipline and tardiness. Moesle gave ten reasons why small
schools work including safety, participation, individualized instruction
and an overall sense of belonging.
Parent James Kopp said that reconfiguring schools according to the school
board’s plan may not be cost effective since it would discourage
people from moving to the area.
“One of the biggest reasons we chose to move to Shandaken is because
of the Phoenicia Elementary School and because of the Phoenicia community.”
Kopp said. “I feel this is going to cause an increased tax burden
on the people already living here, and that’s going to cause a rebellion,
it’s going to cause endless stress for endless years.”
In other business, Kathy Conklin, Network Specialist from BOCES, gave
a report on the technology in the schools based on a requirement from
the federal No Child Left Behind Act and CDEP goals. She mapped out a
five-point plan, curriculum, professional development, infrastructure,
funding and monitoring.
“It also must require a sufficient budget to acquire and maintain
hardware, software, professional staff development that will be needed
to implement the strategy,” she noted, adding that equipment ages
and staff development needs are constant. She requested that the school
board search for alternative ways to fund technology, and that every school
have a computer lab, each equipped with a teacher assistant with strong
The school board approved and welcomed the High School’s new Assistant
Principal Lance Edelman. He replaced Gabriel Buono who took the helm as
principal of Bennett Elementary School following Laurie Cassel’s
Edelman worked for the Beacon City School district for ten years as a
psychologist and coordinator for the pupil personnel service. He has an
undergraduate degree in psychology at SUNY New Paltz, Masters of psychology
from Marist College and a certificate of advanced study in education at
SUNY New Paltz.
Also, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Deborah Fox said the district
received two national awards of excellence from the National School Public
Relations Communication organization for the 2006/2007 calendars and the
Republican Slate’s Set
And as a result, two non-Republicans
got nominated, including one surprise candidate for town board who apparently
upset what was to have been a slate, with Jane Todd’s campaign
for supervisor at the top, and town board candidates Jack Jordan, a
former interim Onteora supervisor, and Lynn O’Brophy, ex-proprietess
of the Woodland Valley Inn, as her running mates.
As it turned out, Jordan will be running… but instead of O’Brophy,
longtime state Department of Environmental Conservation Officer and
local Conservative Party stalwart Vin Bernstein got the nod. As did
incumbent highway superintendent Keith Valentine, who made a point of
extolling the non-partisan aspects of his job.
Todd, currently finishing up her second four-year stint as a town boardmember,
was touted for her years working at Gateway, running the Shandaken Area
Revitalization Project (SHARP) Committee, working as a realtor, being
a deputy supervisor, and having eight grandchildren. Jane Rossitz nominated
her, with Marian Umhey doing the seconding.
Jordan was nominated by current councilman Rob Stanley, a former Democrat,
noting how the five-year resident of Pine Hill would “make up
his own mind, listening to each side of the aisle” on issues.
Joanne Kalb and Jim Barden nominated O’Brophy, talking up her
business background and hardworking demeanor.
Then Barbara Lumbacca and Republican town justice Bart Guglielmetti
nominated Bernstein for “trying to do things correctly,”
being a family man, and working towards open government.
Current two term town supervisor Bob Cross, Jr., who said last month
that he wasn’t running for Supervisor, but planned a run for a
town board seat instead with an endorsement from the Ulster County Independence
Party, sat alone, in shorts, at the room’s rear with few coming
up to talk to him. And no nominations.
Bernstein’s former ranger peer at the DEC, Patty Rudge, nominated
incumbent town clerk Laurilyn Frasier for her position for the umpteenth
time, with seconds from Rossitz and Kathy Guglielmetti… speaking
of the candidate as a “superb young lady.” Todd nominated
current assessor’s assistant Heidi Clark for an assessor’s
position… and then current head assessor Rosalie Boland asked
why there was only one nomination. Did the GOP want the Democrats to
take the other vacancy, even if a referendum to shift to a single appointed
assessor seemed a shoo in for passage, she inferred?
Cross stepped forth to make a nomination but was mistakenly identified
by party chairman Ken Umhey as Bob Kalb. He started to walk away and
then caught himself, nominating Theresa Grant from the back of the room.
Former Republican candidate for assessor John Horn, who Cross has said
is quietly reassessing the town, and others say is a possibility for
a sole assessor appointment, sat quietly, like Cross, not talking to
As did, also, local developer Dean Gitter, between frequent trips to
the parking lot in between moments standing in crowds with no one speaking
to him, or he to others.
Steve Stettine nominated Johnson for highway superintendent, saying
he’d been doing a good job. Boland countered by nominating Etic
Hofmeister, who was also nominated two years ago, touting his role as
a businessman, as well as a lifelong Republican.
While voting booths got set up, the candidates spoke.
Todd said, “I want to do this because I love this town and these
people here. I love that most people live by the rule of respect.”
Jordan said his experience as an administrator would allow him to “deal
with a wide variety of people on a wide variety of issues.”
O’Brophy talked about how town meetings had gotten “out
of control” and she wanted to put “civility back into government,
to strengthen our sense of community… Jane Todd, Jack Jordan and
I are on the same page!”
Bernstein, who started getting more involved in local politics via his
opposition to the Phoenicia Sewer proposition last winter, countered
the others by noting how, “civility is good but transparency is
more important. We all have our small differences.”
He seemed to get the evening’s biggest applause.
Near Cross, declared Democratic candidate for supervisor Pete DiSclafani,
who won his seat on the town board with the strongest showing of any
candidate two years ago, smiled and listened. Privately, he said he
didn’t want his name in nomination because “it’s their
Jordan took 113 votes against O’Brophy’s 73 and Bernstein’s
99, giving the two men nominations. Johnson beat Hofmeister 98 to 61.
In private conversations, members of the crowd talked about how they
would like to see town business handled. Shut down the rabble rousers,
was the common threat. Tell people they’re out of order when they
raise questions or objections. Then have them ejected.
But that’s not Democratic, they were told. So? Was the reply.
The way the town was becoming was not the way they felt the town should
Meanwhile, asked about his own plans, Cross refused to tell reporters
if he still planned to remain politically alive and not become a lame
duck public official.
After a hasty “no comment” Cross responded to further questions
by saying he didn’t know what he was going to do because he didn’t
know if he could get off the Independence party line on the November
ballot. In reaction to his own party shunning him, Cross stated cryptically
“there are two other caucuses in this town,” as though suggesting
he’d be going for Democrats and/or Conservative Party nominations
in the coming weeks.
So was he planning to attend those events?
“You’re an asshole,” he shouted at the reporter asking
the question. “Take a look around you here. Don’t you see
what’s happening to me? You must not have gotten past the second
grade if you can’t.”
Meanwhile, Shandaken Democrats, inching towards their own Sunday, August
5 caucus at Glenbrook Park at 2 PM, have set a Meet The Candidates event
for this coming Monday, July 23rd at 7PM at the Boiceville Inn. All
candidates seeking public office on the Democratic Party line in the
Town of Shandaken are invited to attend.
Who might that mean, we’ve been asking, besides the already declared
For town board, former town supervisor Peter DiModica has said he would
like to run for town board. After all, he lost his last two bids narrowly…
one on one, instead of in the more evenly matched town council contests.
2003 candidate Howie McGowan announce at the recent Woodland Community
Association meeting that he would be seeking a town board seat. Mary
Hermann. Tim Malloy, Randy Ostrander and former Amblance Chief Jerry
Perlman have been talking about seeking a nomination, again for the
board. And at least Bernstein is likely to seek a cross-endorsement.
Carol Shaleaw will seek the nomination for Town Clerk, and there is
another potential still undecided. Some were talking about giving Hofmeister
a chance for highway superintendent, if he wanted to come forward. And
others were in the wings.
uncomfortable silence, Meehan did a quick update on the Coalition’s
fundraising efforts for the cause. Two months ago the Executive Committee
sent out word to all of its member towns and Villages to send cash to
help pay for the effort to force the EPA to reverse its decision to allow
the City of New York a ten year waiver from filtering its water instead
of the five year waiver that was proposed.
Leafing through papers, he found that only a couple of communities have
responded to the call, including Olive, which pledged $2000. Shandaken
has not pledged anything, but earlier this month Supervisor Robert Cross
Jr. suggested the town could only afford to give $500, even though the
town board never entertained the matter.
“The money’s really rolling in,” Meehan said sarcastically.
All eyes shifted to Treasurer Len Utter, the crewcut Middletown supervisor,
who was looking over the Coalitions financial records.
“We have enough to pay it, barely,” he said.
To dilute the Coalition’s gloomy financial fix, Meehan described
a recent meeting he had with Emily Lloyd, the Commissioner of the New
York City Department of Environmental Protection. At breakfast in Newburgh,
Meehan said, he and Lloyd discussed several issues surrounding the lawsuit.
While he refused to reveal specifics, Meehan suggested that the session
was a fruitful one.
He noted that a prime topic was the idea of agreeing that the City should
agree to fund watershed programs for 10 years, to match the new 10-year
Filtration Avoidance Determination being granted it by the federal EPA,
and what the amount of funding should be. While preparing for the five
year waiver last year, the Coalition developed a funding schedule for
a five year period because that was the timeframe proposed. A last minute
announcement that the waiver would be ten years blindsided the advocacy
group, Meehan said.
The Executive Committee then went into Executive Session to discuss the
lawsuit after Meehan claimed the details of his negotiations should not
be made public.
Another issue is that the Coalition believes the EPA is allowing the City
to buy too much land in the watershed region over the agreed-on 10 year
period. Also, the Coalition believes, the Federal EPA was supposed to
hand off the decision making to the New York State Department of Health,
but EPA has instead maintained control over the issue.
In the lawsuit the Coalition seeks the following: Incorporation of comments
made by municipalities within the watershed with respect to those municipalities;
The holding of hearings on flooding within the watershed and in adjoining
areas; A requirement that the City of New York open up its lands within
the watershed for recreational purposes on par with the lands owned by
the State of New York, except for land that should be protected as a result
of legitimate security public safety concerns; the requirement that the
City of New York create voids within its reservoirs to take into account
the effects of rain and melting snow: and requiring the City of New York
to fund the Coalition of Watershed Towns in an amount adequate to establish
an ombudsmen program run by the Coalition to advocate for municipal needs...
and keep it from going broke.
Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast,” officially released on July
11, is plain-spoken in its doomsday message, with its only lightness coming
in a choice between a “Higher-Emissions Scenario,” as seems
currently likely, and a “Lower-Emissions Scenario” alternative
should mitigation efforts start in the immediate future on a wide-scale
basis. Those choices, the report points out, focus on ways we utilize
energy, transportation, and overall land-use as a tool to tempering the
extent and severity of climate changes the scientific community is currently
seeing as inevitable.
. “Global warming represents an enormous challenge, but we can meet
it if we act swiftly,” said Peter Frumhoff, director of science
and policy at UCS and chair of the NECIA team, in a press release accompanying
the new report’s release last Wednesday. “Our response to
global warming in the next few years will shape the climate our children
and grandchildren inherit.”
The Union of Concerned Scientists began as a collaboration between students
and faculty members at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1969
and is now an alliance of more than 200,000 citizens and scientists generally
respected, in its own words, as “the reliable source for independent
scientific analysis… in both Washington, DC, and state capitals.”
Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment is overseen by leading scientists
working at Harvard University, the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods
Hole, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, and the
University of Illinois.
Their new report looks at general effects throughout the Northeast along
with state-by-state analyses of current trends and mitigation scenarios.
A series of dramatic graphics accompanying the report show maps of the
region shifting down the eastern seaboard as climate changes, with our
area taking on the weather patterns of Maryland, then Virginia, and eventually
central Georgia should things not change.
“Winters in the Northeast could warm by 8°F to 12°F and
summers by 6°F to 14°F above historic levels by late this century,”
the report notes. “But under the lower-emission scenario, temperatures
during Northeast winters are projected to warm only 5°F to 8°F
above historic levels by late-century, and summers by just 3°F to
7°F. Similarly, with global sea level conservatively projected to
rise 10 to 23 inches under the higher-emissions scenario and 7 to 14 inches
under the lower-emissions scenario, new flooding patterns are expected
all the way up the Hudson to Albany, not to forget major impacts in the
New York City area.
Other key impacts outlined include major cuts in what remains of the region’s
dairy industry, based on losses in cow’s milk production due to
increased heat; major losses to fruit harvests and maple syrup production,
as well as major weed and pest problems; retreating shorelines on Long
Island and Cape Cod, and a possible lock of the Island of Nantucket; and
a collapse of the greater region’s fishing industry.
Droughts of one to three are pegged to become more normal each summer
in the Catskills, with corresponding flooding from increased rain on top
of snowfall each winter.
Key to economic considerations for our own region are projected impacts
on the winter sports industry that currently supports tourism in the Catskills,
as well as those traveling up and down the Thruway.
“Under the higher-emissions scenario, only western Maine is projected
to retain a reliable ski season by the end of the century, and only northern
New Hampshire would support a snowmobiling season longer than two months,”
reads the report. “Under the lower-emissions scenario, reliable
ski seasons can be expected through this century in the North Country
of New York and parts of Vermont and New Hampshire, in addition to western
As evidence of the climate changes it is predicting, and hoping governmental
and business entities start taking note of in their future planning processes,
the report notes that temperatures have been warming half a degree Fahrenheit
per decade since 1970, with winter temperatures going up 1.3 degrees F
over that same period. In addiotion, they point out significant hikes
in the number of days with temperatures over 90 degrees F in recent years,
longer growing seasons, “less winter precipitation falling as snow
and more as rain,” earlier breakup of winter ice on lakes and rivers,
earlier spring snowmelt, and rising sea surface temperatures and sea levels.
The scenarios the report outlines “represent strikingly different
emissions choices that societies may make,” while simultaneously
noting that refusals to change patterns on a global basis could result
in scenarios even worse than those outlined.
A simultaneous report issued early this week noted the failure of our
nation’s southern states, for example, to start looking at alternative
fuels for its energy consumption, as well as continuing delay on the part
of the Bush administration to work wityh other countries on the acknowledged
“This report accentuates information that’s been coming into
public consciousness more and more and demonstrates that there are going
to be serious economic repercussions, as well as ecological and lifestyle
impacts, from what is occurring,” said Ned Sullivan, Eceutive Director
of Scenic Hudson in regards to the new report this week. “It’s
critical that government and organizations and individuals identify strategies
to both head it off and begin to adapt to these impacts.”
Sullivan noted that much of the current information was brought up at
a Hudson Valley Climate Change conference hosted by the state Department
of Environmental Conservation and other organizations in Poughkeepsie
last December, as well as new Governor Spitzer’s recently announced
creation of an expanded 12-person DEC Division on Climate Change headed
by former American Lung Association executive Peter Iwanowicz as signs
of changing perceptions.
Yet he added that much more needed to be done, oat all levels.
“We are looking at each of our program areas to see how we can better
work to effect major changes,” said Sullivan, pointing out how all
waterfront development needs closer scrutiny in terms of Climate Change
now. What is currently shoreline, or estuary wetlands serving a buffer
function, neededs to be reimagined at a higher altitude, he said. Similarly,
infrastructure such as wastewater treatment plants, docks, and fuel storage
tanks will eventually need to be moved… along with our rail lines,
“The trains have a very challenging time ahead of them,” he
said, raising an issue not even touched upon much in the new Climate Change
Calls to local ski resort owners and managers throughout the region last
winter, when warm temperatures pushed the industry’s number of active
skiing days below the 100 day mark most see as the cutoff for profitability,
saw most saying it was a problem they’d deal with… eventually.
90-year old Hunter Mountain owner Orville Slutsky spoke about the problems
lying as much with perception as snowmaking ability. If people don’t
think they’re in a winter area, and start thinking like folks in
the south, they’ll stop thinking of heading out for the region’s
day-use-oriented ski areas. Worse, if people aren’t even headed
up the Thruway to Vermont, and only flying to their ski destinations,
the entire winter tourism bubble is likely to be burst, he added last
State-owned Belleayre Mountain manager Tony Lanza, meanwhile, said he
didn’t want to even discuss Climate Change, seeing it as “a
political issue” that he wished would just go away.
This past week, when asked about the new report, longtime Bvelleayre supporter
Joe Kelly – a Long Islander in the news of late as Greene County’s
ski areas, and politicians, started requesting that the state stop competing
with their private businesses for dwindling ski industry dollars –
said, simply, “That report should put Hunter and Windham at ease
about competition from Belleayre...”
Yet all is not quite so dire, even though the impacts discussed in the
new report have not yet entered local political debate outside the Town
of Woodstock, which recently passed a referendum promising to make itself
“Carbon Neutral” within the coming decade.
“Although the task of reducing emissions may seem daunting, the
nation achieved a similarly rapid energy transformation only a century
ago as it shifted from gaslights and buggies to electricity and cars over
a few short decades,” the new report concludes. Decision makers
can help the region adapt through policies and management actions that
reduce our exposure to climate risks such as catastrophic flooding and
also increase the ability of vulnerable sectors and communities to cope
with ongoing changes and recover from extreme events or disasters. For
each adaptation measure considered, policy makers and managers must carefully
assess the potential barriers, costs, and unintended social and environmental
A big order, in other words. But doable.
“The very character of the Northeast is at stake,” it wraps
up. “The time to act is now.”
For more on what’s predicted, as well as what’s being proscribed,
the new report and a complete list of collaborating scientists and economists
are available at www.climatechoices.org/ne/resources_ne/nereport.html.