Dear Editor, The Board of Fire Commissioners of the Phoenicia
Fire District would like to take this opportunity to commend
the Volunteer Fire Fighters for their dedication, determination,
and their compassion during last horrendous flood.
We always think of our fireman as people who protect us from
fire, and they really do so much more, as was the case last
week. For forty-eight (48) continuous hours these men and
women came to the aid of our community by advising residents
to leave homes due to pending danger, by rescuing those who
had no way out of their homes because of the high flood waters,
and for pumping countless flooded basements so families would
not loose heat or electric. Enough cannot be said of their
heroic actions during this storm.
There were many problems and emergencies to deal with during
this storm and all our Emergency Service people were working
long and hard to make sure the residents of the Town of Shandaken
were safe. One serious problem arouse when residents who were
advised to leave their homes immediately due to pending danger,
chose not to. When the water got higher and the power went
out and the rain was torrential they now wanted to be rescued,
not only were their lives in danger, now the lives of the
rescue teams were also in danger.
The Board of Fire Commissioners would like to request that
when a Firefighter, Police Officer, or Ambulance Member knocks
on your door and advises you to evacuate, please do so as
quickly as possible. As many found out, creek waters rose
quickly and moved rapidly and there was no second chance to
be rescued. They are all there to help you in any way that
they can, please leave the first time the safe way.
It would be remiss on our part if we did not give credit to:
The Shandaken Ambulance Members, The Shandaken Police Dept.,
The NYS Troopers, and The U.C. Sheriffs Dept. and so many
others for all their long hours, dedication, determination
and compassion. Excellent team work of all involved, a great
job well done.
On a lighter note, the Fire Commissioners have agreed to have
Cathy Neal purchase smoke alarms to be distributed to the
senior citizens and to those people who cannot afford to buy
one for themselves. Cathy through her dedication to the community
has I given out 130 alarms. Congratulations Cathy for a wonderful
job well done. 130 residents can sleep more peacefully.
Board of Fire Commissioners
Phoenicia Fire District
Dear Editor, On the first Sunday of April, during the recent
flood, two Girl Scout troops (Troop 1239 and Troop 1234) from
Croton-on-Hudson, NY were struggling to find our way home
through the Catskill Region of NY. We had 3 carloads of girls
and 4 troop leaders. It was quite a harrowing experience,
as we were stopped each time we found a new way to get home
by the ever-increasing floodwaters. Just when we thought all
hope was lost, and we would be spending the night at a Motel,
we met our kind stranger. He heard us ask for directions,
and instead of giving us yet another set of directions, which
might have brought us to another closed road, he had us follow
him, for 1/2 hour, until he found a way onto the Thruway.
We neglected to get his name, and have no way of thanking
the man who led 16 girls and 4 women back and around the streets
of Kingston NY. What a wonderful lesson of kindness for our
girls, this unknown stranger, who spent part of his Sunday
afternoon, leading us through the city .We hope, perhaps,
he might read this newspaper, and feel our gratitude.
Girl Scout Troops 1239 and 1234
Croton On Hudson, NY
We would like to thank our Phoenicia friends and neighbors
who gathered on a Friday evening to transport a weighty footbridge
from the Esopus bank back to its original location in our
yard. The flood had washed the twenty-foot bridge to a spot
almost an eighth of a mile away, where it rested, leaning
onto the edge of the river, miraculously unharmed. The crew
figured out–-through brainstorming, carrying, levering,
rolling, dragging, and loading it into the back of a van—how
to get it up a nearly vertical slope, over the guardrail,
down the road, and back onto its perch straddling the stream
behind our house. Several friends who passed by joined in,
some of them lending their rope and car. It turned into a
festive, problem-solving event in which everyone worked together
smoothly and generously and succeeded in restoring the excellent
bridge to its proper place. Many, many thanks to Bud Devoti
(the bridge’s builder, whose advice on flood recuperation
has also helped us tremendously), Chip Gallagher, Fergie,
George the firewood man, George and Jen Holz (also Joshua),
Jack Morelli, James Kopp, Johnny Asia, Mark Dorrity, Rob Cruickshank
and Marguerite, Rachel Weissman (also an excellent realtor),
and Tom Fraser.
Violet Snow, Sparrow, and Sylvia
As Chairman of the Ulster County Legislature, I am reaching
out to residents and businesses imploring that we band together
in an effort to provide donations to the victims still suffering
from the flooding that devastated many areas in our county.
Several Ulster County agencies have already taken the necessary
steps toward securing state and federal grants that will help
provide financial assistance. The time needed to accurately
assess the loss of real property under state and federal guidelines
is, however, lengthy.
Additionally, many of the victims have experienced a total
loss of all personal belongings and are left without the basic
necessities of day-to-day life. It is my hope that we can
unite during a time of extreme need for many of our neighbors
and help provide some basic essentials by donating things
such as: bottled water, food, clothing, toiletries and, of
course, monetary contributions. If there are people that may
have rooms available to rent or would like to donate construction
supplies or services, over 270 individuals have been temporarily
or permanently displaced and are in immediate need of housing.
Anything that anyone is able to donate is greatly valued and
may be sent to the United Way, 450 Albany Ave., Kingston,
NY 12401. Please be sure to earmark all donations as "flood
relief". I am speaking for all Legislators when I say
your thoughts and considerations are very much appreciated.
Richard A. Gerentine, Chairman
Ulster County Legislature
Having been code officer in Shandaken I certainly am aware
that it can be a difficult job at times. And I sympathize
with Mike because being a part time position it can be overwhelming
I prosecuted numerous cases and also got the first ever fine
for an illegal logging operation so contrary to your report
there have been cases prosecuted and successfully without
the aid of an attorney.
Almost all incidences of issuing a summons was done as a last
resort and most problems could be solved in the office with
the violator and his attorney before going to court.
I am aware that some cases will end up in court when all other
dialogue fails but a violation is a violation and most who
receive them know that and most attorneys will advise their
clients to settle first before going to court.
The code officer is a public servant and his principle responsibility
is to the taxpayers of the town and a big part of that responsibility
is to minimize any unnecessary expenditure of tax payer dollars.
As an attorney once told me "Litigation Is The Sport
Of Kings" !
I certainly hope that calling the town attorney doesn't take
precedence over good old home town diplomacy and that a vigorous
and diligent effort is made before spending money on an attorney.
Pine Hill, NY
I recently received a “Dear Constituent” letter
from Ulster County Legislator Mike Stock, which made me think
about being a “constituent” at various levels
of government, and I wonder how many people feel as I do.
When I hear from my Congressman or from our U.S. Senators,
I certainly can identify with issues concerning war and peace
and the national economy. State Senators and Assemblymen also
trigger interest on matters ranging from the death penalty
to property taxes. And government that’s closest to
us, our Town Boards, prompt keen interest in zoning laws they
pass which directly affect our properties.
But somehow, when we’re dealing with the County Legislature,
my eyes tend to glaze over. Sure, the local papers print large
headlines about “hot” issues like the jail and
UCDC, but I find it hard to get through those articles and
truly understand what’s going on.
That’s why I very much appreciated Mike’s one-pager.
He concisely explained what he’s doing to prevent future
mismanagement like what happened with cost overruns on the
jail construction; initiatives on economic development, and
another one to create better direct communication, with people
like me so my eyes won’t glaze over when I see something
in print concerning the County Legislature.
When you think about it, we pay taxes at every level of government,
and I’m happy to have a better idea of where that money
goes after we send it to the County Legislature.
This is from a letter circulated by Michael Stock to his constituents
dated 3/31/2005: "I have also suggested an earlier budget
review so that we may explore our options and establish priorities
on the services that we deliver. "
Quoted from the Daily Freeman 11/7/2004, "...lawmakers
say changes must occur early next year to avoid an even worse
budget for 2006...The question is, why don't we start making
those changes in January instead of starting in late October?
said Minority Whip Alan Lomita, D-Rosendale."
Or, take the suggestion he makes in the letter that an oversight
committee be formed for all future projects, which begs the
question: WHY didn't Michael Stock as Leader of the Majority
party or just member of the Legislature, or, just plain businessman,
DEMAND when the jail was first contemplated, that there be
an oversight committee based on Resolution 298 of Sept 10,
1987? THAT'S RIGHT, 1987!
" ESTABLISHING POLICY FOR FUTURE CAPITAL PROJECTS: SECTION
4: A special Legislative Committee to be comprised of the
Chairman, the Majority Leader, the Minority Leader, the chairman
of Ways and Means, the Chairman of Public Works, one member
of the Majority and one other minority member will be appointed
to oversee ANY major Capital Project and will be responsible
for liaison with, and information to, members of committees
and the general membership of the Legislature."
Mr. Stock and the Republican Leadership must have known full
well that an oversight committee was not only authorized but
required. The question over and over again is “why”?
Why did they refuse to implement oversight authority? Why
is it only now, after the horrendous errors in judgment that
are costing Ulster Country residents huge increases in taxes,
are they willing to “learn” from their mistakes?
Why are they not willing to own up to their mistakes? And
most importantly, why are we, the public, permitting it to
Pay attention voters, the Infirmary bonding issue is in the
wings. Remember Resolution 298 and the Jail fiasco! Fool us
once, shame on them...fool us 298 times, shame on us!
When I was standing on the bridge watching the flood waters
rise, I had an idea for the title of a song: "Why Don't
We Do It While It Floods."
(It is possible the word flood has more than one meaning here
and this title has not been copywritten.)
Self-observation: when I was a younger man pursuing women
I was afraid of being rejected. Now that I am older I'm afraid
of being accepted.
Mount Tremper, NY
I am a homeowner in Phoenicia and am writing to express my
concerns about the latest draft of the Comprehensive Plan
A comprehensive plan should foresee potential problems and
lay out a very clear vision; this is the same logic behind
our country's constitution -- it provided a plan and a vision
that would be able to weather the many changes in government
officials, economic tides and so on.
This plan as written leaves way too much out and offers too
many grey areas that could be taken advantage of by people
without our community's best interests at heart. It does not
provide enough of a vision and it does not provide a clear
procedure that would help our community avoid projects that
could devastate our towns.
I would like to see a plan that offers the chance for growth
in the qualities that make our community so unique and so
wonderful -- growth in main street-type development, growth
of small local businesses, protection of the natural beauty
that is so critical to both our local economy and our community
happiness, limits on the kind of development that could change
our community forever.
All over our country, we see the devastating effects of poor
planning -- and indeed, even a short trip south on Route 28
can provide a small model for what happens when short-term
greed gets in the way of careful tending of viable towns with
beautiful and vibrant business centers. In the towns of Phoenicia
and Pine Hill, Andes and Margaretville and Woodstock, on the
other hand, we can see the kind of community changes and growth
that are good for everyone. It's very easy to provide the
means for making a few people rich with quick growth and huge
projects (even when those projects, such as gambling, promise
to devastate our local people!); and those few rich people
need only go and buy more pristine land somewhere else to
get away from the effects they have wrought. But a comprehensive
plan should not allow for quick and easy changes; it should
require careful planning and allow for honest community input;
it should take every precaution against allowing for decisions
by those who may be thinking more of their own current gain
than for our children's ability to live in the same wonderful
community we know now. And in a place like Shandaken, with
its incredibly rich resources of natural beauty and small
town life, it should require that any changes enhance those
resources without threatening them in the least.
Let's make a comprehensive plan that will keep our community
beautiful for all of us while still allowing for responsible
growth that makes the most of what is already so wonderful
about our community.
Woodland Valley, NY
I've just read the Phoenicia Times article regarding the hearing
for Shandaken's Draft Comprehensive Plan, and once again I
am amazed at the degree of arrogance and distortion of which
Dean Gitter is capable. Mr. Gitter is quoted as saying "the
same small group of people goes on year after year holding
up the public's business and throwing roadblocks in the way
of progress." Has he forgotten the hundreds at the DEIS
public hearing in Boiceville who he provoked into booing him
off the stage? I have yet to publicly voice my opinion about
the proposed resort, and this is the first letter which I've
written. I am but one voice among the silent majority who
see through this charlatan's efforts to change the character
of our area forever, offering us empty promises of "
improving Shandaken's economy and future." What is so
obvious about Gitter's response is the fact that this Comprehensive
Plan was drafted to be compatible with his proposed project.
This is the reason that he is so displeased with the hearing.
The fact of the matter is, there were many articulate and
insightful analyses of the content of the draft. Rather than
offer any factual response, Gitter gave us nothing but more
We would like to clarify, again, the now infamous Article
78 petition, signed in 2001 by over 180 local citizens. The
point of the petition was NOT to prevent cell phone service
in Shandaken, as many have already stated. The petition questions
the decision by the Shandaken Zoning Board of Appeals to grant
the Umhey/Crown Atlantic Company LLC/ Verizon a zoning variance
to build a 192-foot cell tower. The Shandaken Zoning Code
had a 70-foot height restriction at that time.
We believe that the ZBA made a hasty decision in granting
the variance, considering that the following points were not
1. The site is necessary to provide safe and adequate service
and that there are compelling reasons, economic or otherwise
why the variance should be granted at the proposed site.
2. That alternative sites were considered which would not
provide adequate service, and
3. That the intrusion of the project into the community will
be minimal relative to the community as a whole.
That was the situation in 2001, and the reason we signed the
As to the current situation, it is our understanding that
technology has advanced to the point where tall towers are
not the only way for Shandaken to get complete cell phone
coverage. We feel that the present administration needs to
consult with cell phone companies that have technologies that
are not limited to very tall cell towers, to insure that highly
visual towers are only chosen for our town as a last resort.
We also feel that if towers are necessary, the height of the
towers should be governed by the technical need to provide
coverage to the entire town, not the desire of the tower owners
to rent out space on the tower to other communications companies.
In the meantime, Blake, as the editor of the Ulster County
Townsman, needs to stop using his newspaper to personally
attack individual residents. He should try arguing the issues
on their merits, instead of demonizing his opponents. It appears
that his arguments are so weak that he is trying to distract
his readers from the issues, by attacking one or two people
week after week. It certainly doesn’t reflect well on
his journalistic skills.
We think that he should stop singling out Judy Wyman as the
sole opponent of the unnecessarily high cell phone towers.
We, as well as many others, are opposed to these extremely
high towers. If Blake still feels the need to attack the signers
of the Article 78 petition, he should include our names as
Dennis and Diane Ladner
We attended the original ZBA public hearing held in Shandaken
four years ago at which questions and comments by the general
public, including letters and recommendations by the UC Planning
Board, would be discussed. Crown Atlantic had requested a
122 ft. variance to build a cell tower and a variance could
not be granted without a public hearing. They presented three
possible schematics: 90 ft., 140 ft. and 192 ft. and answered
It was ascertained that they wanted to get service “up
the Rt. 28 corridor” and would most likely need at least
3 more towers to do so even when one was put up in the proposed
location in Shandaken. Through discussion it was also learned
that the 140 ft. tower would serve local emergency services
just as well as the 192 ft. one but that Crown Atlantic would
then have less leasing space. That cell service is necessary
was not in question.
The ZBA board itself got in a heated discussion at the end
of the hearing when the chairman put the variance up for an
immediate vote, in effect dismissing the majority of public
input, including that of the UC Planning Board. Why have a
public hearing if all concerns, those of the UC Planning Board
included, were to be totally ignored and the variance granted
in Crown Atlantic’s total best interests?
Many of us gratefully signed onto the Article 78 lawsuit that
followed hoping that the public would not be so blatantly
ignored in the future and be treated with respect and due
consideration. It wasn’t about stopping all cell tower
construction but about the way the hearing was conducted.
Lindsay R. Hoyt Jr.
The long-dead cell tower Article 78 lawsuit, filed on June
18, 2001 has been over for 3 1/2 years. The 2 appeals (which
were about the process, not the cell tower variance itself)
have been over for more than 2 years. So here is the million
dollar question: Why do J. Blake Killin (the editor of the
Ulster County Townsman) and his allies, such as Eric Hansen,
continue to pound the drum as if the Article 78 were still
alive and the reason Shandaken does not have cell service?
The truth is that Shandaken could have had cell service years
Because there has been misinformation and misrepresentation
to the point that few have any idea what the Article 78 was
about, I am including the abridged version of a letter I sent
on 2/25/03 to both the Townsman and the Phoenicia Times. Understand
that this letter is over 2 years old and some things, such
as Zoning Board of Appeals members, have changed.
Letter to the Townsman, 2/25/03
I would like to set the record straight about the cell tower
1. The Article 78 was not about stopping cell towers. We wanted
a common sense approach to the planning and placement of cell
towers with current and future needs taken into consideration.
Stopping cell towers would have been impossible because federal
law allows them, although local law can determine height,
features, site requirements and locations.
2. The Article 78 was about the height of the tower which
was 122 feet higher than our zoning law allows. It was also
much higher than was necessary to serve the needs of the town.
Our zoning code allows for towers up to 70 feet high. Nearly
everyone in attendance at the cell tower public hearing felt
the tower should be as low as possible for multiple reasons
including, but not limited to, safety and aesthetics. The
majority of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) ignored the
public and gave a variance to allow a 192-foot tower.
3. At the information meetings leading up to the decision,
the company proposing the cell tower, Crown Atlantic, provided
maps showing the amount of coverage that towers of various
heights would have. There was no visible difference in coverage
between a 140-foot tower and a 192-foot tower. In fact, there
was not much difference in coverage between a 90 foot tower
and a 192 foot tower because of the lay of the land. Crown
Atlantic wanted it higher so they could sell space on the
tower to several different cell phone companies.
4. Attorney Paul Frieary, the attorney for the Article 78,
sent a letter to the town very shortly after the Article 78
was filed. The letter stated that we would be willing to drop
the Article 78 if the town was willing to come to the table
with the cell tower applicant and negotiate a solution to
the current and future cell tower situation. Mr. Frieary offered
his legal services to the town FREE OF CHARGE and expressed
his willingness to work with a town-appointed committee to
write a cell tower law that would both guarantee service and
protect the environment. Our former Town Board refused this
most reasonable offer. [For the record: Since then there was
an excellent draft cell tower law written under the DiModica
administration which passed muster with both the Town Attorney
and the Ulster County Planning Board, requiring only minor
changes. The current administration chose to scrap that law
and start over.]
As a resident or visitor to Shandaken, wouldn’t you
prefer cell service to be planned rather than haphazardly
done? Wouldn’t you prefer to have continual rather than
sporadic coverage along our main corridors? Wouldn’t
you rather have cell towers that blend with rather than dominate
the landscape? We certainly would.
The actual case was never heard by the courts for reasons
I will discuss later in this letter. The list of areas in
which the ZBA did not follow local law was never taken into
consideration by the courts. There are very specific criteria
which guide a ZBA in the granting of a variance and our ZBA
did not follow the criteria in a least 5 areas which are too
long to detail in this letter. (They are detailed in the article
78 which is on file in the town offices along with Mr. Frieary‘s
letter and all other related materials. Please check them
The case was dismissed on the issue of “standing”
which means that in the opinion of the single judge involved,
Judge Michael Kavannaugh, the members of the community who
filed the Article 78 did not meet the requirements which would
give us the “right to sue”. In other words, we
were denied access to the courts because in the judge’s
opinion we did not “suffer harm different from the public
There was no need for the town to remain involved in litigation
after the original Article 78. Once the original case was
dismissed, the issue at hand was with the legal system beyond
the town so there was no need for the town to spend money
defending what it had no control over. We believe the Town
Attorney gave questionable advice in that area. The town would
only need to be re-involved if an appeal had been successful.
At that point, the original Article 78 would return to the
courts to finally be heard.
It has been a long process. How different it would be in town
if our local papers told complete stories backed up with facts
rather than choosing to sensationalize, polarize and politicize.
If people really understood what has been going on, they might
find it very interesting. It has not been just about cell
towers. It has been about the complexities of the application
or non-application of law by local boards, citizens rights,
access to the courts and democracy. All of this affects all
By the way, contrary to what has been written in the Townsman,
we DO want cell service provided for our town. We just want
it approached with planning, common sense and an eye to the
future. That’s all we ever wanted. [End of 2/25/03 letter.]
Back to the present. Many very wise Shandakenites no longer
read the Townsman, and haven’t for a long time. Those
who see beyond Killin’s jaded version of things are
appalled at the Townsman’s ’witch hunt’
tone and malicious divisiveness. After having the Townsman
pointed out to them as the “official” town newspaper,
many new residents have asked with sincere apprehension, “Is
this what the people around here are like?” Fortunately,
I do not believe it represents the attitude of most local
I am joining the ranks of the Shandakenites who refuse to
waste their time reading the Ulster County Townsman, a newspaper
that seems to take pleasure in misrepresenting both facts
and people and pitting them against each other. For the record,
in the 5 1/2 years Blake Killin has been misquoting and misrepresenting
my actions and my motives, never once has he called me to
get my side of the story.
I imagine when you say that the town public record doesn’t
indicate that legal fees have been wasted that you are speaking
of the hard drive that had every sector on it over written
at the end of Peter DiModica’ s tenure as supervisor.
This act prevented any scrutiny of what was actually done
during his administration. His 24/7 preoccupation with stopping
Crossroads left many of the town’s problems to go unattended.
Perhaps you don’t recall paying thousands of Pine Hill
residents’ money to attorney Robert Feller to write
a law to wrest ownership from the legal owner of the Pine
Hill water system. This waste of money was never proffered
because it would have been challenged and more than likely
found to be illegal.
Perhaps you don’t remember the thousands paid to town
attorney Jeff Baker to write a law to make Crossroads pay
large sums of money for the site plan review. This law was
also not proffered because it would have made every project
(even as small as putting in a driveway) cost prohibitive.
While wasting money on attorneys, he didn’t spend the
proper money needed for the infiltration gallery called for
in the design and thereby left the town water supply in jeopardy.
You state that the Democrats did not fight either the Higley
farm stand or the Phoenicia Plaza. Well I beg to differ. This
is documented on the tapes of the meetings. When someone is
developing dilapidated buildings and then supplying a service
and providing employment I would think that the town would
bend over backwards to accommodate them, not do exactly the
opposite. I don’t imagine that there was any animosity
because Jimmy McGrath ran against the Democrats in the previous
election for supervisor. Just watch the tapes and come to
your own conclusion. The important thing is that they are
up and running.
Concerning snowmobiles and golf: I never received the town
survey and I’ve spoken to many other people who never
received one either. Did you send my survey form to my landlady
in New Amsterdam?
Now to speak of the issue I really want to focus on and that
is cell phone coverage. Judith you mention in your last response
that you would hope that ~ least some of the board members
would do their jobs. Why would you hope only some of them
do it? When they do do it, as in the case of the Z.B.A. granting
the variance for the cell tower four years ago, you act like
a spoiled child who has been told no for the first time. Then
you duped a lot of people into thinking that they were signing
a petition for cell phones. A lot of the signatories had to
file a grievance to have their names removed from the petition
when they found out that they in fact signed a petition that
would initiate an Article 78 that would in effect eliminate
cell phone coverage. Here is another waste of money for legal
fees. Thousands were spent on an attorney to defend the Z.B.A.’s
right to allow the variance. The court ruled in favor of the
town. Then thousands more were spent to defend the town from
your appeal. The town was vindicated again but by delaying
for so long the carrier provider gave up on this town and
left and that is how you stopped cell phone coverage in this
area. You were arguing over aesthetics. I’m sure the
experts told you that every time you wanted it smaller that
coverage would be lessened but of course you as a lay person
knew more then the experts.
Two Saturdays ago Shandaken was inundated. The command center,
police, rescue, ambulance, town employees, and regular people
exhibited a tremendous professional effort. A special debt
of gratitude is owed to the ALL VOLUNTEER FIREMEN of Mt. Tremper,
Phoenicia and Allaben. It was not just that night either.
The siren has been wailing all the time since then. They are
burnt and deservedly so. If you see one give them a hearty
pat on the back and a big time thank you. Many people risked
their lives that night to help others. They will be cheered
loudly at this summers’ parade. I would also hope the
Kenny Umhey will be leading that parade with his backhoe loader.
It was mentioned to the many times that night that cell phones
were badly needed in that emergency. My phone at home did
not work. In Ellenville a car was turned over in the flood
waters and a mother died but her daughter got out of the car
and was stranded, clinging for life on bushes in the raging
water. Being able to use a cell phone saved her. Last week
my teenage son was hit by a car on 28. He grew up on that
road and even though I’ve told him a million times to
be careful when walking there he still stepped out without
fully checking both ways. He didn’t see the car until
it was too late. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital
and found to only have a bruised hip. The reason I bring this
up is due to the fact that the driver and passenger in the
car had to frantically run up to houses which are few and
far between there to find someone home so they could call
for an ambulance. This is now personal to me. Last week I
called up a friend who lives in Edmonds Washington and asked
him if the Olympics and the Cascades had cell phone coverage.
He assured me that all the access roads had cell phone
coverage and on the news all the time is a story of a rock
climber having an accident and getting injured and then using
his or her cell phone for help. Then I called up the National
Park Service in Yellowstone. The operator assured me that
the park was covered with cell phone usage except for some
small dead zones. I then called up the N .P .S. in the Grand
Teton National Park and was assured that the entire park was
covered for cell phone usage except for the very remote north
face. He even told me what peak the main cell tower was on
as if I was going to hike up there and see it. I then called
Lake Placid and asked the same question and was assured that
they were covered except for some small dead spots. Judith,
do you think that these areas don’t “depend on
their natural beauty as an integral part of their sense of
place, quality of life, and economy” or is it over for
them because they have cell towers? Like I said, cell towers
are not permanent. This community has a lot of firsts. We
had the first ski slope in N. Y.S on Romer Mt. We had the
‘first official N. Y.S. campsite in Woodland Valley.
We had the first cable television service in N.Y.S.. How are
we doing on the list (and I’ll let you answer this one)
for cell phone coverage? If another lawsuit is filed against
the town everyone will be looking at you.
Eric Hansen’s continued attacks on Judith Wyman for
allegedly depriving Shandaken of cellular service are so misleading
that I’m left to wonder where he could get such consistently
erroneous information. It’s unfortunate that people
in our community would choose to attack others without even
having the good sense and decency to check the facts of the
issue at question. If the people of Shandaken are to make
intelligent, informed decisions regarding the future of our
town, a commitment is required from each one of us. Only by
attending public meetings, by really listening to the people
on both sides of contentious issues, and by critically weighing
the available news coverage can we begin to feel we’re
really informed. That news coverage must tell a story honestly
and in its entirety.
I cannot say whether J. Blake Killin (editor of the Ulster
County Townsman) has failed to grasp the facts around the
history of Shandaken’s current lack of cellular service,
or is simply unwilling to disclose them in a truthful and
complete manner. I do firmly believe that he has an obligation,
as a journalist, to do just that however. Mr. Killin has repeatedly
misled his readers regarding the Article 78 lawsuit which,
filed in June 2001, temporarily stopped a proposed 192 foot
tall cell tower from being erected on the prominent ridge
directly across Rt28 from the hamlet of Phoenicia. The truth
is that the Article 78 and legal appeals that followed have
been over and done with for almost 2 1⁄2 years. I repeat,
OVER AND DONE WITH FOR ALMOST 2 1⁄2 YEARS!
The Article 78 was NOT filed to stop cell towers. It was filed
because the proposed tower, at 192 feet, was higher than many,
including several experts, believed was necessary to serve
the purpose. The legal case that we brought to the courts
was never actually heard (and therefore, never ruled on) since
a technicality referred to as “standing” prevented
that. ‘Standing’, or ‘right to sue’,
means that in the judge’s opinion the persons filing
were not affected differently than the public-at-large. The
2 appeals were about the ‘standing’ determination,
not the cell tower per se.
In the meantime, the DiModica administration drafted a law
that would have encouraged visually low-impact cellular service
by making it extremely easy for cell companies to utilize
existing structures to place their equipment. And it would
have allowed for the more traditional towers, favoring those
that did not protrude so far above surrounding trees. Taller
towers would still be allowed but would be required to pass
greater permitting/regulatory scrutiny before being accepted.
Unfortunately there was not quite enough time to finish the
process before the administration changed.
When the Cross administration took over in January 2004 the
draft law was discarded and the process was begun all over
again with a new committee which is generally perceived to
be far less concerned with visual impacts to the area. The
new draft law allows cell towers of 180 feet and, if the current
Town Board passes it, presumably such towers will soon follow.
And if such a tower is built on that ridge across from Phoenicia
many in Shandaken will understand what so many of us have
strived to avoid.
We write in support of a member of our community, Judy Wyman.
malicious lies are spread about Judy is quite ironic because
she is a gentle, kind person who is always inclined to help
a friend, a neighbor or the community at large. Judy is willing
to step up to the plate and do what she can to protect what
is left of our wilderness. She’s steadfast in her readiness
to speak up for what she believes and absolutely heroic in
forgiving the abuse that she’s endured.
Judy, your efforts are greatly appreciated. We thank you and
we ask that
those who distort Judy’s words and actions to advance
their own agendas to just stop, and consider that this moment
is an opportunity to be generous to ALL the people of our
Richard Schaedle, Sylvia Persons, Ralph Persons, Helene Ford,
Robertson, Edna Hoyt, Rachel X. Weissman, Ruth Graham, Rusty
Graham, Holly George Warren, Robert Warren, Pete DiSclafani,
Rose-Marie Dorn, Jen Dragon, Doris Bartlett, Marcy Meiller,
Paul Van Blarcum, Guy Ruck, Jackie Persons,
Bea Blacksberg, Richard Blacksberg, Otia Lee, Chandra Lencina,
MJ Reiss, Howie McGowan, Chris Hutson, Dave Pillard, Michelle
Spark, Dennis Ladner, Diane Ladner, Jane Warrick, Roger Wall,
Jerry J. Siegel, Susan Penick, Mary Herrmann
Ian laughlin’ Nancy Panuccio
Sheryl Stephen Jan Jaffe, George
Pignatello, Lynn Davidson, John Conlon, Dave Channon, Karen
Charman, Anique Taylor, Loren Quimby, Elena Brasen, Kristin
Schroder, Dean Riddle, Bill Forbes, Sita C. Anderson, Lindsay
“Jody” R. Hoyt, David Congdon, Nancy Golloday,
Linda Rodgers, Michelle Persons-Wooton, Nita Friedman, Pauline
Vos, Liz Potter
People often ask me why I moved here from Colorado. Something
about the tone of this question suggests that I moved from
a magnificent land to an area of less beauty, less splendor.
What a misguided notion! I am daily more amazed at the beauty
and diversity of these soft, green Catskill Mountains and
feel privileged and gifted to live here.
In an effort to help keep my beautiful mountains and waters
clean, I am working with the Catskill Heritage Alliance to
do much needed clean-up work at the Ashokan Reservoir, on
two mornings, May 1st and May 21st. The spring rains and flooding
have left a mess! Please help us pick up the trash and debris.
We’re meeting at 8:45AM both mornings at the Frying
Pan area of the reservoir and will work for two hours. All
you need to bring are a pair of work gloves. Everything else,
including permits to be on city land, will be provided. Call
me for specific details. And please, please, try to make this
date. I can be reached at #688-2038.
On behalf of the Shandaken Democratic Committee, I want to
express our dismay at the terrible fire that destroyed The
Emerson Inn and Spa this morning. Like my neighbors, I woke
up to the sound of 2 fire alarms, and was distressed to learn,
shortly afterward, that the fire was at the Inn, and that
the best efforts of our volunteer firemen had not been able
to save the building.
The Emerson was a beautiful facility, and its loss is a tragedy
for its owners and creators, the people who worked there,
its guests, and our community as a whole. We all benefited,
directly or indirectly, from its presence, which brought visitors
to the Town of Shandaken who might otherwise never have ventured
into this region of the Catskills.
We hope this loss can be overcome, and if we pull together
as a community, perhaps it will be.
Patricia L. Ellison
Shandaken Democratic Committee