As an enrolled Independent voter, I recently received a letter
from the Shandaken Republican Party regarding the upcoming
Fall election. I was both shocked and offended to learn that
Democrats cater to “liberal zealots” hellbent
on obstructing any business enhancements and that there was
a danger of the town falling into the hands of “liberal
elitists,” who wish to stop and deter future business
While I don’t object to people stating their views,
I am dismayed by the apparent need to resort to name-calling.
If our children were to begin calling kids they disagreed
with names, we would scold them and remind them how rude and
impolite such behavior is. I can only imagine the author of
this letter is attempting to whip his readers up emotionally
rather relying on a simple statement of his views.
The thing that I object to most in this type of behavior is
that it increases division, not dialogue. It draws the proverbial
line in the sand and reduces issues to an “us verses
them” mentality, which does not lend itself to community
building or a free and open discussion of the pros and cons
of whatever issue is under consideration. That the present
Republican administration in Washington, D.C. operates along
these same lines goes a long way toward explaining why we
as a nation have suffered a loss prestige and respect from
countries all around the world.
I was certainly impressed by this letter, though not in the
way the author intended. I hope that we will choose to employ
a tone of civility and mutual respect when addressing differences
of opinion in our community.
I find that I must comment on the direction that the leadership
of the Town of Shandaken has taken regarding the benefit package
of Gloria Braman. It would seem that once a Town grants through
policy or Resolution a benefit package that it should be irrevocable
by a later convening administration. I certainly am aware
that the action is Legal and falls within the purview of the
Town Board. We are told that the motive of the Town Board
is to save taxpayer monies. OK that’s not a bad thing.
At the very least this is an extremely mean spirited action
that seems to single out one individual. I suspect that this
action has more to do with payback to the individual or her
family for its political stance on actions or directions that
the Town Board has taken. .
As you may or may not know a Town Board is made up of a Supervisor
and four (4) council people, each having one vote. On its
face it appears that the Supervisor has one vote and the remainder
of the Council with their votes act as his “checks and
balances”. Experience and Town Board Minutes from municipalities
have shown that very seldom, if ever, does Legislation become
enacted without the support of the Supervisor. It is this
experience that leads me to lay the weight of this decision
squarely on the shoulders of the Shandaken Supervisor.
On to the Supervisor’s altruistic & politically
charged phrase of “saving taxpayers monies”, this
is generally a good thing, but during Shandaken’s current
Supervisor’s tenure I have seen little if any
attention paid to the pending State of New York’s legal
action against Shandaken for Real Property over assessment
for a period of years during the 1990’s. Constituents
of Shandaken need to ask their Supervisor the status of this
case and what actions he has taken to resolve this issue.
I can assure that this issue wilt not go away because precedent
has been established in a case by NYS vs. Town of Hardenburgh.
The constituents need to know that whether the agreement is
between the two parties or by adjudication there will be interest
charges added onto the refund up to the date of settlement.
The Supervisor might tell you that interest rates are low
and the total is no big thing, but the settlement agreement
may read something like this “Pursuant to RPIL Sec.726,
the Petitioner is entitled to interest on the amounts to be
refunded determined at the statutory rate of interest certified
annually by the Commissioner of Taxation and Finance.”
In other words the interest rate for the refund years has
a1ready been set for those years and every day that there
is not a settlement the taxpayer’s cost grows.
The constituents should ask the Supervisor an approximate
cost of the interest on a “middle of the road”
settlement to the taxpayers for each month that this case
continues without resolution. The Town of Hardenburgh settlement
is the precedent and can be used as a rough guideline. Don’t
forget that the Town is only one portion of the payback. Also
inclusive will be a County portion. a School District portion,
a Fire District portion, and any other Special District (Water,
Sewer and Light). Yes, these will all be paid by the taxpayers
of Shandaken. In the Hardenburgh case the interest on the
refund was more than the refund itself and that was settled
three years ago. Shandaken’s interest cost just keeps
I bring all of this up only because it may put into perspective
the pettiness of the Supervisor’s decision to deny Mrs.
Braman’s previously allocated benefit package. Is this
any way for a Supervisor to treat and care for our Senior
And that’s all I am going to say on this matter!!
When it comes to federal and state politics party allegiance
differentiates policy. When voting in a small town party allegiance
breaks down. Votes are given for individuals not parties.
Most of the voters in Shandaken are non-enrolled, as am I.
The bickering between the Democrats and Republicans is both
ridiculous and embarrassing. Bob Cross ran for Supervisor
to bridge the confrontational arena that has long festered
here. He may have been naive in believing he could do it,
but has continued to try. The Democrats on the boards are
not following any specific democratic policies. They are simply
being obstructionists. They fought the Higleys’ farm
stand on every minute technicality that they could think of.
They did the same thing to the Phoenicia Plaza. Apparently
they preferred the dilapidated buildings to the beautiful
place it is now. Many local people are now employed there.
They are fighting Crossroads by making the town pay outrageous
fees. The town is not the lead agency. Legitimacy and legality
will ultimately be determined by higher entities. Why should
the town bankrupt itself? How can Judith Wyman state that
there is very little interest in snowmobiling? These people,
and it always seems to be the same ones, slay me! The reasons
for cell towers are too numerous to list here but even if
one life is saved because of them, they will be well worth
it. I hate to say it but opposition is just plain ignorance.
It basically comes down to selfishness; they have their piece
of heavenly pie and don’t want anyone else to have any.
For the past year I have traveled between Phoenicia and Mt.
Tremper on a daily basis, and sometimes twice in one day.
I can see no reason to tear up the "four corners"
area and put one of those dreadful traffic circles in this
location. If anything, an additional stop sign on the approach
from Rte 212 could add a measure of safety. Also a "stop
sign ahead" sign could be added in all directions.
If the DOT needs something to do, maybe they can work on that
mess of a traffic circle in Kingston.
Will prisoners housed in the new Kingston prison, under construction
with its cost "overuns" etc... be charged 6 times
the long distance phone call rate to contact their children
and other family members? This outrageously, a common practice
faced by our incarcerated population, is unbeknownst to the
general public. While kick backs to govt. agencies awarding
the contracts result, the family, so touted as a value in
the USA, is mocked! Contact, between jailed fathers and mothers
and their children is stopped because it is too expensive,
as readers here may know. Does someone want to break the spirit
of these people who are often in jail for want of money to
pay a good lawyer?
West Hurley, NY
In a country where environmentalism seems to be under attack
on a daily basis, I find comfort in the small contributions
I personally can make in helping make our planet a better
cleaner place for our children and grandchildren.
I like many others take recycling very seriously making sure
that my recyclables are sorted and bundled properly. I make
a concerted effort to do what we can to help recover our resources
Recently I watched the Evergreen sanitation truck pull up
to my driveway and throw my recyclables in the back of the
truck with the garbage. This is the third time that I have
witnessed this. Each time I have called the Evergreen office
and complained this. Each time I was told that the recycling
truck had broken down and that they were sorry.
I told them that recycling was the law and that if they were
short of equipment, they should simply leave the recycling
for another week, or send another truck to pick it up.
Customers of waste collection companies are paying for their
services to collect and properly handle recyclables. If companies
such as Evergreen throw recyclables into the trash, then we
are not getting the services that we pay for and those materials
will never able to be reused.
I urge everyone who is paying for their waste and recyclable
pick up to make an effort to watch the sanitation crew as
they make their collection. If they are mixing the recyclables
with the garbage then you should contact Andrew Ghiorse, Recycling
Compliance Officer or Charles Shaw Executive Director at the
Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency at (845) 336-0600.
The information you supply them will assist the agency in
having the collection companies obey and conform to the law.
If you wish, your call will be kept confidential.
Bruce and Wendy Barry
This morning I happened to be looking out an upstairs window
when the Evergreen truck arrived to take our garbage. I watched
as the haulers took the recycled stuff that I had carefully
separated all week and threw it in the same truck with our
garbage. No trash separation at all. I called to complain.
People who care about recycling and use Evergreen to haul
their garbage may want to occasionally monitor their garbage
pickup to see if they are getting the service they pay for.
And if you use a different garbage company, my guess is you
should occasionally check your trash pickup too.
We definitely care about recycling our garbage and make an
effort to do so. It seems to me that it should be against
the law for garbage haulers to mix recyclables with regular
Elizabeth Holland Kern
On the second morning of my new temporary job, the air was
chilled and crisp. Central Park, my new office, was mad with
sunshine. I looked out across the North Meadow and could see
the trail of orange instantly growing.
By mid-day it was evident how well the eight person teams
on Christo and Jean Claude's The Gates project were getting
along. During those first two days, and through the days that
followed leading up to the unfurling of the 7,500 gates, we
became fast friends and loyal teammates. And we became very
good at putting up The Gates, doubling our efforts of the
It was all such a beautiful dream, my week in the park, filled
with purposeful work and genuine laughter.
I was carrying a horizontal piece along our path with a teammate
-- one of seven people I fell in love with during the installation
- and thought about the craziness of the whole project. I
looked out at the orange madness and asked myself one simple
question: "What the hell are we doing?" And then
I began to ask myself, why do I do anything in this life.
Why do we wake up in the morning and do anything? I began
to think of all the important things in my life - the people
I love, my own art, working for social change - and I bowed
to The Gates, silently thanking their crazy creators for reminding
me about my own life.
"What do they mean?" Jean Claude asked us the first
day. "They mean nothing, of course," she answered.
They are here, and then they will be gone and it will be a
dream we all shared. It's a wonderful, joyous exercise in
saying hello, and then just as quickly, saying goodbye.
The Gates, Central Park, NYC, 1979-2005 was up until February
27. They will then be industrially recycled. The Gates are
free to the public, a gift to the city from two of its inhabitants.
All merchandise proceeds go to The Central Park Conservancy
and Nurture New York's Nature.
NYC is the greatest city in the world, but there's nothing
Is nature a comodity? Could the personatity of the Catskill
mountains be lost by golfing, billboards and clearcutting
573 acres of mountaintop forest? Will the DEC prove to be
true stewerds over the peoples park as the lead agency during
the review process of the controversial Belleayre Resorts
project? An article of the may 1984 edition of Adirondac magazine
by Joseph Emery Caruso titled "Belleayre... a story of
constitutional violations", proves that DEC may not be
the guardians we presume. Violations included illegal timber
cutting among various other charges.
The following correspondence written 170 years ago by Thomas
Cole, pioneer painter of the Catskill Mountain forest and
founder of the Hudson River Schoolof painting and leader in
conservation, is dedicated to the survival of 573 acres of
Catskill forest slated for extermination:
March 26, 1836 "They are cutting down all the trees in
the beautiful valley on which I have looked so often with
a loving eye. This throwas quite a gloom over my spring anticipations.
Tell this to Durand, not that I wish to give him pain, but
that I want him to join with me in maledictions on all dollar-Godded
March 28, 1836 "After I had sealed my last letter, I
was afraid that what I said about the tree destroyers might
be understood in a more serious light than I intended. My
"maledictions" are gentle ones and I do not know
that I could wish them anything worse than that barrenness
of mind, that sterile desolation of the soul, in which sensibility
to the beauty of nature cannot take root. If I live to be
old enough, I may sit down under some bush, the last left
in the utilitarian world, and feel thankful that intellect
in its march has spared one vestage of the ancient forest
for me to die by."
August 1, 1836 "I took a walk last evening up the valley
of the Catskill. This was once my favorite walk; but now the
charm of quietness and solitude is gone. It is however still
lovely: man cannot remove its craggy hills, nor destroy all
its rock rooted trees: the rapid stream will still have its
course... I often think that the dark view of things is perhaps
the true one. If such a view were always presented, I doubt
whether we could long survive."
Keep it green and natural- that's why people come here.
I wonder whether Dr. Giuliano, who so fervently believes that
past historical injustice ,ie the theft of the lands now under
the reservoir from the bereaved denizens of Olive, would agree
to a tax on these same denizens, including the good doctor,
from now unto all eternity to compensate the native Americans
for the land that “Olive natives, with roots that go
back generations” stole from them?
How does she feel about paying reparation to the descendants
of the slaves, whose forebears donated almost three hundred
years of nearly free labor to White Americans, creating vast
amounts of excess capital with which this great country was
built? How would she like to keep on contributing to that
cause, not once, or for a while, but forever?
Let her answer those questions honestly, and perhaps she will
see the plight of those in surrounding towns whom she expects
to carry the financial burden forever of the wrongs she claims
done to her by New York City. I find this argument particularly
dastardly in light of the new and higher assessment of the
reservoirs which Olive just won in court.
I live in the Town of Denning, just over Peekamoose Mountain
from you, which, as part of the Tri-Valley School district,
shares the school tax burden with Neversink, the lucky (or
benighted, depending on ones point of view) recipient of millions
in tax revenue from their two reservoirs. When they feel like
erecting a six million dollar addition to Tri Valley, they
don’t think twice about it, since their vast tax revenues
from New York City makes it an easy decision. Hey, they’ve
got the money. And the votes. We have a mere 552 people living
in Denning. So what costs Neversink about $1500 per student
per year costs us over $35,000 per student! Under these circumstances,
we should be sending our kids to Choate!
Ironically, much of the water captured by these two reservoirs
originates in the high mountains of Denning, a fact that does
not make us one damn dime. Even Dr. Giuliano must see the
crass injustice of this situation. I think she underestimates
the sense of fairness which others in Olive still harbor.
I’ve met many in the Town of Neversink who agree that
their revenues should be more evenly shared. It saddens me,
as the good doctor so coyly put it, that someone with the
level of education evidenced by the appendage of PhD to ones
name could be so ethically challenged.
Clueless in Claryville
We in the Town of Olive do not have to apologize to anyone!
The Town of Olive is owed an apology from the state, school
and county representatives for creating this entire mess.
When the large parcel law was enacted there was no notice
given to the town or to the school; it just appeared. Now
our state leaders say there was no opposition to the bill.
B.S. No. 1
In 2003, when the Town Board attended the first school board
meeting on this matter, the school board voted not to enact
the large parcel option and told the town of Olive to get
its house in order. Fine. Immediately we challenged ORPS on
their value of $119 million on the New York City property
and after many months of meetings we were successful in having
this value increased to $340 million - thus beginning the
re-evaluation of properties within the town of Olive. Everyone
in Olive was made aware of this and was informed that this
act alone would cause a shift in taxes to Olive taxpayers.
Also, as Town of Olive Supervisor, I publicly informed the
school board of this very important development at one of
your meetings, Mr. D'Orazio. For you, Mr. D'Orazio, along
with the school board and Assemblyman Cahill to imply otherwise
is B.S. No. 2.
In 2003 when Mr. D'Orazio, President of the Onteora School
Board, stated that if Olive got its house in order then the
school board would not enact the large parcel option the following
year, we took him at his word. That was B.S. No. 3.
There was a meeting held at the Onteora High School last fall
attended by Mr. D'Orazio, Bruce La Monda, Bob Cross, Jeremy
Wilber, myself and members of the school administration. One
of the issues discussed was that as officials we would try
to keep this issue out of the papers as much as possible so
it wouldn't hinder the school budget process. Well, thanks
to Mr. Wilber's relentless attacks on Olive citizens - both
in the newspapers and on his favorite radio station - this
will never happen. B.S. No. 4.
In an effort to do what I felt was in the best interest of
the Town of Olive, I've been diplomatic about this all along;
but, unfortunately, there isn't a sympathetic ear in the entire
county. I've had enough of being nicey-nice, so let the chips
fall where they may. Olive has been lied to, stolen from,
called names and has been bullied; but we in the Town of Olive
have a strong will, moral courage and the integrity to endure.
Berndt J. Leifeld, Supervisor
Town of Olive
A couple comments on Hugh Reynold’s “City beat”
column in the Daily Freeman of Saturday, February 12.
The County Legislature’s implementation of Large Parcel
was good not only for Woodstock, but also the Townships of
Denning, Esopus, Gardiner, Hardenburgh, Kingston, Lloyd, Marbletown,
Marlborough, New Paltz, Plattekill, Rochester, Saugerties,
Shandaken, Shawangunk and Ulster, also the Villages of Saugerties
and New Paltz and the City of Kingston. All the taxpayers
in those communities should be grateful for the Legislature’s
action which in essence treats ALL county tax payers the same
(and brought County taxes down in those municipalities listed
The Onteora School Board’s implementation of Large Parcel
was good not only for Woodstock, but also Shandaken, Marbletown,
The Town of Hurley, because of its updated valuation, is barely
affected one way or the other by the actions of Ulster County
and Onteora School Board.
Large Parcel does not make Olive’s County and Onteora
School rates higher than any other township with which they
share services. What it does is close a loophole in New York
State Real Property law that up until now allowed them to
pay less than any other township.
To those who argue that Olive is entitled to pay less tax
on properties of identical value in other towns because its
residents are importuned by a reservoir, I offer these observations:
Last September, even with the reduction in our school tax
as a result of the School Board decision, Woodstock paid $10,540,354
on its 3683 parcels to the district. Woodstock enrolled 388
students. The cost per student for Woodstock to educate its
youth was $27,165. While enrolling only 18% of the total number
of students, Woodstock paid 33% of the total Onteora levy.
Olive taxpayers paid $5,706,115 on its 3077 parcels. New York
City paid $5,397,317 on its portion of the reservoir located
in Olive (yes, NYC still pays taxes on its reservoir) for
a total of $11,103,432. The Olive enrollment in the Onteora
district was 739 students. The cost to Olive o educate each
of its youths was $15,024. Olive, including the reservoir,
paid 34.8% of the total Onteora levy, while enrolling 35%
of the total number of students. If you take away New York
City’s contribution the cost for Olive taxpayers was
$7721 per student, so non-NYC taxpayers in Olive paid 18%
of the total school levy.
Gee whiz, since we are entertaining the idea that school costs
should be apportioned by means other than property values
- taking into account long drives around reservoirs, for instance,
-then Woodstock can make the argument that we should pay less
based on our MUCH SMALLER enrollments. It really begins to
sound silly, doesn’t it?
Mr. Hugh Reynolds in his City Beat column hit the nail square
on the head when he stated, “Those stats alone speak
volumes,” after noting the fact that Woodstock (and
Hurley as well) just recently revalued their properties while
it’s been at least thirty or thirty five years since
Olive has done so.
School taxes are no fun. Never were. Probably never will be.
Now we’re equal partners. Let’s work together
to get the best service for our money.
Jeremy Wilber, Supervisor
Well, it has finally happened. When Woodstock Supervisor Jeremy
Wilbur insinuated that residents of the Town of Olive are
ignorant liars (Daily Freeman, Saturday February 19, 2005),
he drove the final wedge between the Towns of Olive and Woodstock.
In his enthusiasm to belittle Town of Olive residents, Wilbur
has fortified the resolve of the residents of Olive to stand
together as a community. The reaction to his denigrating comments
has caused locals of Olive to retort, ‘’as long
as the board (school) supports Woodstock over Olive or won’t
vote for their budget and I’d go to Newburgh to buy
a nail before I’d spend a nickel in Woodstock.
Taking the Large Parcel issue to a personal level of name-calling,
the Supervisor of Woodstock has done a disservice to the school
district and to his own community.
Bruce La Monda
When the Onteora School Board opted to enact the Large Parcel
Legislation, it did so in response to Woodstock & Shandaken's
cries about "Fair and Equal!" taxes of all taxpayers
in the Onteora School District. This "equalizer"
of taxes did no such thing. If anything, it has made matters
-Some Woodstock taxpayers who support the Saugerties and Kingston
School budgets now pay more than those who support the Onteora
-Olive is one year into a total re-val. It seems that Shandaken
has not had a property re-val since the SEVENTIES while they
are pointing fingers at Olive who hadn't undertaken a full
re-evaluation of all properties since 1988.
-It seems as if the State set the value of Shandaken's state
property at under $750 an acre while Olive's City land is
assessed at $1,300 an acre. Now who is under-assessing land?
No wonder Shandaken's citizens, who comprise 24%, are over-taxed
by picking up this burden (76%) of under-assessed state land.
-Olive is adjusting its own taxes by 35% by its successful
negotiation with the Office of Real Property Taxes that raised
the value of the Ashokan Reservoir from $119 million to $340
-The large Parcel legislation created "wide swings"
in property value - the very thing it was supposed to correct.
Some people in Olive, who hadn't reassessed since 1988, saw
smaller increases than those newer or refinanced homeowners
whose increases measured in thousands in dollars.
The only "Fair and Equal" way to equalize taxes
of property owners would be to have the entire school district
undergo a 100% property re-evaluation at the same time. The
Large Parcel Bill is only a reverse Robin Hood solution that
takes from the few and gives to the many.
Rita Vanacore, Shokan
Claire Kassor, West Shokan
We are opposed to the Onteora School Board's decision last
year to adopt the large parcel legislation that resulted in
a 62% school tax increase for Olive residents. We do not believe
the legislation was intended to apply to reservoirs or to
have that kind of impact on any town.
We will lobby the school board to reject the large parcel
legislation this year. But that issue should be decided on
the basis of facts and fairness, not threats. We believe it
is a mistake to link the large
parcel issue to the school budget issue.
If the school board does not come to its senses this year
on the large parcel, then we will keep working to change their
minds and perhaps to vote them out of office. But we still
intend to vote in favor of the school budget.
Unlike federal taxes, which we resent paying because such
a large percentage goes to pay for an insane war, school taxes
go to pay for something we actually believe in: education.
It is not fair or appropriate for our frustration over the
large parcel bill to undermine the education of our students.
If the Large Parcel Bill is not reversed, I will never again
vote in favor of a Onteora school budget.
I have recently retired from the work force. I have spent
the last 35 years of my life as a financial officer, with
expertise in budgeting, financial forecasting, and fiscal
reporting in an accurate and timely manner. I now have adequate
time to focus on other things, so I have decided to declare
myself a candidate and begin my campaign for one of two seats
on the town board. I believe I can be a great asset to the
Town, the Board and the Supervisor. The time is fast approaching
for the 2005 Election in the town of Shandaken. There are
many issues to address and campaign speeches to write. As
in the past each candidate would declare his or her candidacy
and bring forth a platform of their views and solutions. The
important issues will include, cell towers, the comprehensive
plan, healthy economic growth and development and many many
more issues that affect our lives daily.
As a constant participant and observer of the town government,
I feel it is my duty and obligation to attend as many meetings
at town hall that I possibly can, and I have. As a citizen
of the town I believe I must be vigilant to insure that certain
issues be addressed and solutions brought forth, and that
petty disagreements and personal agendas are kept at a minimum.
I have spent quite a bit of time doing fund raising, volunteer
and charitable work with many organization in town and feel
that there is much more needed work to be done. Some of them
are family housing, senior citizen problems and trying to
get the best education for our children, and to insure and
encourage recreational and artistic avenues for their growth.
I now look forward to your support and vote and hope that
together we can make Shandaken grow and develop gracefully
for the benefit of all her citizens.
Big Indian NY