on the News
At the same time as the determination was announced, the agency also
issued draft permits for the discharge of some 200,000 gallons per day
of treated wastewater and storm water effluent from the proposed project
into Pine Hill's Birch Creek and a tributary of Emory Brook. The
issuance of these "SPDES" permits concurrent with the "completeness
determination", was, according to the agency, done at the developer‚s
request, and is generally viewed by veteran DEC watchers as an indication
of the agency"s fast-tracking of the project.
in DEC's announcement is the immediate beginning of the project's Public
Comment period, which officially starts today and is slated to run through
Feb 17, 2004 for written comments. Also announced were the project's
two scheduled Legislative Public Hearings, which represent the general
public's only opportunities to make oral comments on the project. According
to DEC, those comments will be given equal weight with written ones.
The first public hearing will be held on January 14, 2004 at the Margaretville
Central School from 4:00-5:30 PM, and will reconvene at 7:00 PM. The
second will be held the next day, January 15, at the same times, at
the Onteora Central School in Boiceville.
with the deadline for filing written comments, the agency has also set
Feb 17 as the last day for municipalities, government agencies, and
citizen‚s groups to file petitions for "party" status
which would allow them to participate in the "pre-adjudicatory
hearings conference" scheduled to begin March 9, 2004 at the Middletown
Fire Hall in Margaretville. Essentially a preliminary hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge, this "Issues Conference"
which is not open to the public, will determine which sections of the
DEIS may require adjudicatory hearings and who qualifies to participate
in them. Those hearings would be, in effect, a "trial" for
some of the data likely to be contested in the DEIS. In order to participate,
parties must demonstrate "substantive and significant" differences
from the information now accepted as "complete", and the ability
to offer proof in written form or through expert testimony. Ultimately,
the decision on which parties qualify to participate in those hearings
will be made by DEC Commissioner Erin Crotty, based on recommendations
from the presiding judge. Determinations of party status are an
early stage in what is typically a lengthy and complicated legal process
both for the developer and qualifying parties.
facilitate public access to the DEIS during the public comment period,
DEC has made available copies on CD-ROM at the libraries in Phoenicia,
Pine Hill, Margaretville, and Fleishmanns. It is also now available
in its entirely at the developer‚s website, www.belleayreresort.com.
is a major, major milestone." Said Crossroads managing partner
Dean Gitter in a press release circulated by the company on Monday.
"We look forward to demonstrating to all the concerned citizens
of Shandaken and Middletown that this is one of the most environmentally
responsible projects and thorough documents ever submitted in New York
is a big step in their process" said Shandaken Supervisor Pete
DiModica on Tuesday. "But "complete" doesn't mean the
answers they've provided are right, or even very good. That‚s
why it's now the public's turn to start providing input, along with
involved agencies like the Town of Shandaken and the City of New York,
and other interested parties. What concerns me is the very narrow time-frame
which DEC has allotted for all this to happen in. I find it very hard
to believe 10 or 11 weeks spanning the holiday period is going to be
adequate. This is the biggest EIS in the watershed‚s history and
a lot of people are going to want to comment."
Supervisor-Elect Bob Cross Jr. seemed to express similar concerns to
Di Modica‚s regarding both the time allotted and the scope of
have to start in motion for the review." he said. "I feel
that time is imperative, and that all the agencies involved have to
get on this and get active."
An early moment of levity occurred when Town Clerk Laurilyn Frasier
read the price on the winning and only bid received for propane to
heat Phoenicia‚s water pump house. The price was 52.3 cents
per gallon, suggesting that the bid may have been lost in the mail
since the 1980's as most people in Shandaken pay two to three times
that amount. The bid was from Agway, based somewhere in western New
After passing several town housekeeping resolutions, the board adopted
a resolution creating a committee to assist the town board with the
operation, design, and renovation of the newly created Pine Hill Water
District. Five Pine Hill residents with extensive knowledge of the
system's history and operation were named to the committee. A similar
committee had been recently established for Phoenicia.
Moving on to more controversial issues, two significant resolutions
were passed by the outgoing Democratic majority on the board. A resolution
affirming the town's "absolute, unequivocal opposition"
to casino gambling in Shandaken was adopted, after being tabled last
month. At the request of board member Jane Todd and others including
Dean Gitter, references to former county legislative leader Ward Todd,
Jane‚s husband, had been deleted, along with an oblique reference
to the Belleayre Resort project. Also deleted was a request that the
State Attorney General's office investigate the circumstances surrounding
the signing of Ulster County's 2001 contract with the Modoc Tribe
of Oklahoma. The version adopted however, does put the town on record
as denying the validity of that agreement, opposing restrictions on
Shandaken‚s rights to municipal home rule contained in it, and
urging the county legislature to review and if possible revoke the
contract. Todd, alone, voted against the resolution.
The most immediately time-critical resolution passed by the board
was one authorizing Di Modica to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with
NYC DEP, which will be providing funds to the town for Shandaken‚s
consultants on the Belleayre Resort SEQRA review. The fiscal
impact review authorized by the town board will be prepared by Robert
Burchell, PhD, whom Di Modica described as the country's leading authority
on the subject. Burchell chairs the Urban Planning Department at Rutgers
University and has authored 30 books, including the Development Impact
Assessment Handbook and The Fiscal Impact Handbook. According
to Di Modica, every other consultant he interviewed acknowledged Burchell‚s
preeminence in the field. The memorandum Di Modica expects to
sign shortly also provides for the City to pay for consulting services
required by the planning board in connection with the Belleayre Resort
Under its terms, the planning board will select its own consultants
subject to DEP preapproval, and retain full control over the scope
of work designated by the board as well as their work product and
Planning Board member Bob Kalb took exception to the fact that Burchell
had been selected by the Town Board without consulting others, and
that the resolution authorized Di Modica to sign a memorandum on behalf
of the planning board which its members had not seen. Di Modica responded
by pointing out the time-critical nature of the situation, given that
DEC's "completeness determination" for the project
gives the town very limited time to find the help it needs, and prepare
and submit detailed findings simply to qualify for participation in
the SEQRA process.
The final meeting date for the year to close the town‚s books
was set for Monday December 29 at 7:00 PM. The date for the incoming
administration's Reorganizational meeting was set for January 5, 2004,
with a nod of assent from Supervisor-Elect Bob Cross, Jr. The
meeting will be televised next Wednesday, December 10 at 7:00 PM on
Time Warner Cable channel 23.
People's Place has been serving the greater-Kingston area, including
anyone who makes regular trips into the County Seat for various purposes,
for 28 years. Peter Quinlan, executive director for the past three
years, says he gets needy people in from up the Route 28 corridor,
and from all the way down in Pine Bush. They serve 170,000 meals in
a year, utilizing between 12,000 and 15,000 pounds of donated food
Ulster County's poverty rate for last year was 11.6 percent- or 18,793
individuals. The number of children living poverty was 17.4 percent,
or 6,843; with 28.3 percent of all school-aged kids in the county,
or 8,289 students, right on the edge of the line.
There are worse counties nearby. Ulster's median household income
is $40,425 compared to Sullivan County‚s $33,958. Their poverty
level's at 16.5 percent; the number of kids living near the range
almost half of all in school there.
And yet such comparisons don‚t serve the people needing to line
up for three days worth of food once a month at People's Place, or
taking regular meals at the various soup kitchens and free meal places
At noon the same Monday the turkeys were getting handed out at People's
Place, a few blocks away, the Caring Hands Kitchen started serving
over 80 people for lunch, as they do every weekday, year-in, year-out.
Turkeys and asparagus, bean soup and salad, coffee and cake were the
fare, dished out by volunteers at a long line. People ate in long
rows, a mix of ages from pre-schoolers to the aged and infirm, from
toothless men ashamed to be seen in such a state to proud middle-aged
women with their big opportunity just around the corner.
Victoria Langley, head of the Markertek Foundation, a leading force
in Woodstock's Daily Bread Food Kitchen, and a member of the advisory
board of the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, notes that a recent Workforce
Involvement Board study for the county found that with current costs,
a single breadearner needs to make $15 an hour to break even these
"You know how the new needs are manifesting themselves,"
she said, after noting Ulster County Social Service Director Glenn
Decker's recent request for four new employees before the county legislature."We've
got a whole new genre: the working poor. We‚ve got people working
two, three jobs and having to make decisions on what to pay for: the
rent, the electric, the cable, or food."
Quinlan was even more specific, saying that although this year's Thanksgiving
numbers were looking somewhat down compared to last year, they were
"You get a lot of people on fixed incomes who have to decide
what to do each month: toothpaste or shampoo, toilet paper or milk.
You have a car and that car breaks down for some reason, there goes
all your budget," he said, standing in the midst of the swirl
of pre-Thanksgiving activity at People's Place, which stretches across
several storefronts across from UPAC. "Then there are those working
seasonal jobs, or retail, or Fleet, say. We see different folks at
different times of the year. One lady, say, works at the college in
New Paltz and does fine most of the time. But when school's out for
vacations she doesn't have enough to make it through the month. We
call it 'food insecure'."
The Hunger statistics for the Hudson Valley show that 63 percent of
those utilizing food banks are women. 37.6 percent are children under
the age of 17. 13.6 percent are seniors over 65. 34.6 percent are
from households where at least one adult is working, while 35 percent
are from single parent households. 35 percent are Caucasian, 34.2
percent are African-American and 24.5 percent are Hispanic. Only 1.7
percent are homeless. 66 percent of those who utilize the services
have incomes below the official Federal poverty level.
On the assistance level, there were 6,384 participants in the federal
Food Stamp program in 2002, representing 3,490 households of an average
size of 1.83 persons. In October, 2001, a sample month released in
a recent Food Bank of Ulster County report, a total of $484,942 Food
Stamp benefits were issued to county participants, an average of $76
per person. Those numbers are being dropped.
In terms of emergency food assistance, there were 22 food pantries
in the county in 2002, with 77,696 visits and a total of 654,264 meals
distributed. There were two regular soup kitchens in the county utilizing
the services of the Food Pantry, and not counting Meals on Wheels
and several church-sponsored programs. 31,476 meals were served in
a total of three shelters. 8,289 students received free school breakfasts
and lunches, county-wide. In addition, there were 2,339 participants
in the Women, Infants and Children program.
The figures just reflected those participating in Food Bank and other
institutionalized programs, according to Langley. And the weight of
the numbers did not tell the story of the ever-growing amount of administrative
work involved in all social programs, or the way even the most minor
cuts can effect so many.
Langley told about recent cuts to Domestic Violence programs that
closed a special food bank for victims of abuse not wanting to go
to the larger outlets. There had been a "safe house" food
pantry - but no longer. Similarly, a slight increase in regulatory
requirements for determining who can get help and who can‚t
can force a need for more social service workers, or volunteers, if
need be, that puts extra strain on the means for getting food out
Quinlan says there are entire parts of the county that are underserved.
For every Woodstock, Rosendale or Saugerties, with its own food pantries
and soup kitchen programs, there are outlying, deeply rural areas
where there are no programs easy to reach, or a continuing culture
of shame surrounding the needy.
"We can supply people with three days of food each month, but
we always have room for emergencies," he says. It's like tomorrow,
where we'll have an hour open for those who didn‚t reserve time
to pick up food today."
Recent national figures made available by the Food Bank of the Hudson
Valley estimate 30 million Americans being hungry, or at the risk
of hunger, on a regular basis. 13 million of that total are children.
In New York state, the figures go on, there are over 3 million people
living in poverty in New York State, over 2,900 food pantries and
soup kitchens feeding 3.6 million New Yorkers each month, and more
than one in five children now living in poverty around the state.
One out every six people using an emergency feeding program is now
a senior citizen. And 80 percent of all those using such programs
are working, disabled or retired.
"You know what's sad," says a man cleaning his plate with
a piece of white bread over in the church basement as the lunch hour
draws to a close. "„I know about two thirds of these people
like family. And even sadder? There‚s always new ones coming
"There"s soup kitchens every day but you can't get to some
of them without a car," says a woman down the table from him.
"That makes for good days and bad."
The Food Bank of The Hudson Valley, based in Cornwall-in-Hudson, distributes
over 6 million pounds of food throughout six counties each year. The
operation is funded solely through community donations and individual
non-food items, transportation, in-kind services, fuel, and time.
They work a lot with mislabeled and discontinued items, the flawed
elements of consumer culture, as it were. Donations become write-offs
for those donating. They also pass on government packaged foods and
do co-op buying. Grant monies are starting to become available, from
the state and federal government, as recognition of nutrition gains
prominence in the newly announced fight against national obesity.
The Massachusetts-based Food Security Institute has meanwhile reported
11.1 percent of all households in the nation being „food insecure,‰
not knowing whether they can make it the next week. That accounted
for 12.5 percent of all Americans. One third of thoise facing such
insecurity had faced real hunger - missed meals, days without food
- during the previous year. Over the past three years the numbers
had increased 14.5 percent. Only one fifth of those families received
the sort of assistance the local figures reflect.