on the News
The new plan is substantially
different than the one the committee brought to public hearing April
6 that received over 100 pages of written and 2 1⁄2 hours of
oral comment. Most of the new changes made appear to have ignored
the preponderance of that input, which generally favored hamlet-based
redevelopment and strong environmental protections for the town’s
future growth. Instead, the committee appears to have now rewritten
the plan based primarily on comments provided by Crossroads Ventures
consultant and former Belleayre Resort project manager Gary Gailes,
who criticized the plan presented in April for what he called its
“no growth status-quo bias.” Those comments, according
to Gailes’ cover letter to the committee “are my own and
.. not made on behalf of or at the direction of any other person or
entity in Shandaken.”
Gone from the previous draft is nearly all of the consensus language
concerning environmental and quality-of-life protection that survived
four years of dialogue through two previous committees and until recently
enjoyed unanimous acceptance. No longer does the plan call for protection
for steep slopes and shallow soils or significant protections for
mountaintops, mountainsides, or ridgelines. The plan no longer calls
for future zoning & planning to reflect “a coherent and
sustainable approach to development,” and language has been
added indicating “development regulations should be flexible
enough to accommodate specific development circumstances,” a
truck-sized loophole according to several prominent regional SEQRA
attorneys. Emphasis on concentrating development in the hamlets has
nearly disappeared from the plan. By lack of reference to issues of
density, building size, etc, the plan would facilitate large-scale
projects such as the proposed Belleayre Resort, and will permit Crossroads
Ventures to amend its SEQRA filings to indicate compliance with the
town’s new planning goals.
Other changes incorporated by the committee include deletion of reference
to the protection of “surface and groundwater sources from pollution
and depletion,” and deletion of goals such as “recognizing
the special nature of the Catskill Park and Forest Preserve,”
or that development regulations should be “consistent and compatible
with the environment.”
“I find it disturbing that the public’s comments from
the last hearing were just completely ignored,” said Mary Herrmann,
a member of the town’s two earlier comp plan committees. “Also
that so much language that many of us worked so hard to come to agreement
on has just disappeared. There is a consensus in Shankaken that we
have to protect what makes this place special. But now, that’s
not reflected in the document any more.”
The issue of public input into the current draft has long dogged the
current committee which consists of chairman Chuck Perez, Harry Jameson
III, Rob Stanley, and Planning Board Chair John Horn. In contrast
to the town’s two previous committees, public participation
in its process has been extremely limited and sometimes met with verbal
hostility from the committee. Changes in language have been rarely
highlighted or open to public discussion, copies of various drafts
have been difficult to find and sometimes not posted when promised
on the town’s website. At least one resident who spoke at the
April 6 public hearing has received what she regards as a threatening
communication from a committee member for airing her views publicly.
In addition to changes in the text, other changes have been made in
the supplementary materials appended to the document, particularly
those relating to the town’s demographic data. A detailed analysis
of the 2000 census data prepared for the previous comp plan committee
has been deleted, presumably because the trends discussed do not support
a need for large low-wage employers in the town. Current housing data,
also not included, indicates that Shandaken has been leading Ulster
County since 1998 in the rise in value of single family homes at 19.5%
a year, as well as since 1990, the rise in personal income for its
Whether the Town Board will adopt the committee’s current document
or seek to modify it is unknown as of now. County Planning Board approval
for the final document is required; a version of the plan dated February
26 was submitted and some of the county’s recommendations appeared
to be incorporated in the latest draft while others were not. Several
of the county’s positive comments apply to language and emphasis
which no longer exist. While chairman Perez did promise to resubmit
to county planners the current version of the plan, as of our deadline
they had not received it. Additionally, a generic SEQRA review of
the plan is required under state law, a process yet to begin.
The committee’s final public hearing for the document is set
for 7:30 Friday evening, June 17, at town hall. Its current version
of the Comprehensive Plan is available at www.shandaken.us, listed
under “news,” or at www.phoeniciatimes.com
“The people have
spoken,” shouted John Tisch, a lifetime Olive resident who had
grown increasingly vocal at Onteora meetings about the tax hikes facing
his town since bills went out in January. A number of fellow members
of Olive Matters, the ad hoc group put together to fight the legislation
who held a major rally in Olive’s Davis Park two days before
the Tuesday vote, cheered and shouted similar statements of victory
as the remainder of the evening’s gathered crowd sullenly dispersed
just before midnight.
“Olive Matters got organized,” noted one man, his fists
raised above his head.
Boardmembers-elect Cindy O’Connor, Mary Jane Bernholz and Rita
Vanacore will join incumbents Lev Flournoy of Olivebridge, Marino
D’Orazio of Marbletown (just on the Olive line), David Patterson
of Glenford, and Herb Rosenfeld of Woodstock.
Johansson was appointed, at the board meeting held to accept the May
17 vote, to fill D’Orazio’s seat. On May 24, the board
voted to put the budget back up for a second vote, noting how it had
passed everywhere except for Olive, and that the anger vote should
A June 21 second voting date has been set district-wide, with many
former budget opponents, as well as all three of the boardmembers-elect
pushing for its passage.
Public hearings on the budget will take place June 7 and 14.
Also up for vote will be a proposition to purchase two school busses,
a means of avoiding the higher lease costs the district has been paying
since on a contingency budget.
Olive town supervisor Berndt Leifeld said this week that although
many in town are still upset at the ways in which the school district
“got into town business,” “personally, I think the
town’ll do the right thing… They go back to taking care
of school business and we’ll go back to doing our town business.”
According to teachers, poll-watchers and school officials at Onteora’s
four elementary schools voting was heavy all day… but particularly
at Olive’s Bennett Elementary in Boiceville. There, lines ran
50 to 70 people thick all day, and final voting dragged on for at
least a half hour after the polls were supposed to close.
The final district-wide budget tally of 1860 for and 1995 against
broke down to 373 for and 258 against the $43,011,783 proposed budget
in Shandaken, 675 for and 310 against in Woodstock, 394 for and 320
against in Hurley, and 418 for versus 1107 against in Olive.
The second proposition to spend $171,500 for new school vehicles was
also defeated, 2043 to 1,693, with Shandaken hosting 319 yea and 287
nay votes; 582 for and 357 against in Woodstock, and 365 for and 334
against in Hurley. Olive took down the proposal by coming out only
427 for and 1065 against the proposition.
The three top vote-getters for the district who all won three-year
seats starting July 1, were Cindy O’Connor of Shokan, with 2,038
votes, Mary Jane Bernholz, with 1,953 votes, and Rita Vanacore, with
1,817 votes. D’Orazio won the two-year seat filling out the
term of Tom Rosato, elected last year but resigned in January, with
a total of 1,760 votes.
The remaining candidates in the field of 10, in order of finishing,
were Anne-Marie Johansson of Olive, with 1648 votes; incumbent Kathleen
Hochman of Olive with 1,645 votes; Lisa Childers of Woodstock with
1,641; Jack Jordan of Pine Hill, with 635; Tom Hickey of Oliverea
with 597, and Cathy Neal of Shandaken with 550.
Broken down by districts, the results show the huge effect of the
massive Olive output of over 1500 votes to Woodstock’s under
1,000 tally, Hurley’s just-over 700 voters, and Shandaken’s
600 plus numbers. Over the years, Olive’s numbers have tended
to average the highest in the district, at least since the Onteora
Indian mascot issue arose in 2000, bringing down a budget with it,
while Woodstock’s have shrunk since the 2002 election, when
the present board was first elected. Shandaken and Hurley numbers
have stayed relatively low for the past three years, although the
former has shifted from being traditionally against to being for the
proposed budget this year.
From top district vote-getter down, the individual results were as
O’Connor won 119 votes in Shandaken, 323 in Hurley, 95 in Woodstock
and 1501 in Olive.
Bernholz received 73 votes in Shandaken, 229 in Hurley, 99 in Woodstock
and 1,552 in Olive.
Vanacore won 8o votes in Shandaken, 220 in Hurley, 49 in Woodstock
and 1468 in Olive.
D’Orazio got 347 votes in Shandaken, 377 in Hurley, 916 in Woodstock
and 120 in Olive.
Johansson received 260 votes in Shandaken, 260 in Hurley, 872 in Woodstock,
and 256 in Olive.
Hochman received 304 votes in Shandaken, 309 in Hurley, 893 in Woodstock,
and 139 in Olive.
Jordan won 302 in Shandaken, 174 in Hurley, 87 in Woodstock, and 72
Hickey received 297 votes in Shandaken, 150 votes in Hurley, 98 in
Woodstock, and 52 in Olive.
Neal received 323 votes in Shandaken, 105 in Hurley, 82 votes in Woodstock
and 40 in Olive.
“We’re all for the kids,” said Vanacore to those
around her following the unexpected results, as her fellow winners
“I thought it was all over,” said O’Connor, who
refused further comment. Bernholz sat, acknowledging congratulations
but also refusing to speak.
The three new board members all vowed to vote against re-implementing
the Large Parcel legislation should the issue arise again in August.
They will join three candidates who voted for it last summer plus
one, Dave Patterson of West Hurley, who was the sole vote against
its implementation last August.
Only Vanacore seemed willing to speak at any length following the
tallies late May 17.
“We’ve shown that we may be a small community but we’re
a tight community,” she said as midnight neared after the vote.
parties held their nominating conventions in the last week, with the
currently in-majority GOP choosing 30 candidates for 33 seats at its
caucus Thursday, June 2 at the Holiday Inn in Kingston, and Democrats
naming 31 candidates at the Hillside Manor on Monday, June 6.
At issue this election are a number of volatile nuts-and-bolts issues,
from the still-hemorrhaging county jail project, along with subsequent
county budget shortfalls, to the pressures of current casino proposals
in the northeastern and southwestern sections of the county and more
subtle policy issues being exacerbated by the region’s shifting
The mood at both events was combative, albeit in a more business-like
and slightly defensive manner, for Republicans, versus the aggressive
passion of Democrats fired up by state Assemblyman Kevin cahill and
Congressman Maurice Hinchey.
All have said that the three key areas to be watching over the coming
months will be the fight to find a permanent replacement for popular
Family Court Judge Mary Work, who moved up the state Supreme Court last
year; and increasingly volatile political scenes in Ellenville and Saugerties,
each facing major casino proposals.
The tenor of the Saugerties fight showed itself when that town’s
GOP refused to back its own town supervisor, choosing to support a local
developer instead of the popular Greg Helsmoortel, a town native, who
Republican bosses have said wasn’t acting “Republican enough.”
County Democratic boss John Parete of Olive said on Tuesday that he
was exuberant about his party’s chances to take the county legislature
for the first time in decades next November, noting the strong slates
he’ll be running against incumbents in all races.
Yet he also noted that it would still be an uphill battle, given the
nature of incumbency in all things political these days.
District by district, the battle for county legislature this year shapes
up as follows:
In District 1 (All of Rochester and Wawarsing, part of Marbletown; four
legislators): Democrats will be Incumbent Joseph Stoeckeler Jr., Lenny
Distel, Mary Mendola and Mary Sheeley against former Legislator Ed Jennings,
Jr., Tavi Cilenti, and incumbents Susan Cummings and Gerald DePew.
In District 2 (All of Denning, Hardenburgh, Shandaken and Woodstock
and part of West Saugerties; two legislators): The GOP will run incumbent
Michael Stock of Woodstock against Democrat incumbent Brian Shapiro
and former town boardmember Don Gregorious, both of Woodstock. Gerald
Ricci of Woodstock was undecided, as of presstime, whether he would
force a primary this summer.
In District 3 (All of Olive and Hurley, most of Marbletown; three legislators),
Republicans will run former Legislator Linda Bertone of Hurley, Chris
Johansen of West Shokan, and Thomas Buglisi of West Hurley against Democrat
incumbents Peter Kraft, Richard Parete and Robert Parete.
In District 4 (All of the town of Kingston, most of Saugerties, and
part of the town of Ulster; four legislators), the GOP will run Dean
Fabiano and incumbents Robert Aiello, Joseph Roberti, and Alice Tipp
against former legislator Gary Bischoff, Donn Avallone, Gilda Riccardy
and Michael Harkavy.
For District 5 (Most of the town of Ulster and part of the city of Kingston;
two legislators), the GOP will pit Peter Scott and incumbent James Maloney
against Democrat incumbent Michael Berardi and former legislator Brian
In District 6 (Part of the city of Kingston; two legislators) Republican
Chris Burns will face incumbents Frank Dart and Jeanette Provenzano.
For District 7 (Esopus and Rosendale; three legislators): The GOP will
run Gloria VanVliet and incumbents Joan Every and Brian Hathaway against
Democrats Alan Lomita, an incumbent, and Sal Silvestro and Phil Terpening.
In District 8 (All of Gardiner, most of Shawangunk, and part of New
Paltz; three legislators), Republicans Richard Walls, a newcomer, and
incumbents Albert Meyer and Glenn Noonan will be faced by Democrat incumbent
Tracey Bartels and newcomer Peter Liepmann.
For District 9 (Plattekill and Marlboro, part of Shawangunk; four legislators):
The GOP will pit incumbents Frank Felicello, Richard Gerentine, Wayne
Harris, and William McAfee against Democrats Stan Ackerman, Joe Amodeo
and Billiam van Roestenberg.
In District 10 (Most of New Paltz; two legislators), the Republicans
will race Shawn Davis and Lynne Gabrielli against incumbent Democrats
Hector Rodriguez and Susan Zimet.
For District 11 (Lloyd and part of New Paltz; two legislators), the
GOP incumbents Elizabeth Alfonso and Charles Busick will be faced by
Joe Avampato, a Democrat.
Finally, for District 12 (Part of the city of Kingston; two legislators),
the GOP will run Ron Polacco against incumbents David Donaldson and
For Family Court judge, Rosendale lawyer Tony McGinty defeated Wendy
Ricks, John Beisel and Frank Engel for the Democrat nod to face incumbent
Steven Nussbaum, appointed earlier this year.
Longtime Democrat County Treasurer Lew Kirschner will not be challenged.
Both parties have until late July to formalize their candidates.
In The Country
Co-creator of Kingston's successful Wall Street Jazz Festival and
founder of the Olive Jazz Choir, Stern is also a pianist who performs
locally, nationally, and internationally, composes and records, gives
private lessons, and teaches 7- to 10-year-olds in the Kingston schools.
Attracted to the "Wild West" character of the Catskills,
Stern settled here after living in New York City, Seattle, Westchester,
and various other places. She knew she had the found the house she
would buy when she saw the roomy addition to the garage, with a skylight
- a perfect music studio. She has been in her Boiceville home since
early 2001 and doesn't regret the decision, despite the challenges
of making a living as a musician in a rural area.
Keeping her busy currently are preparations for the second annual
Wall Street Jazz Festival, which takes place June 25th in the Stockade
District of uptown Kingston, from 2pm to 11pm. Last summer's debut
festival surprised everyone - including Stern and her co-producer
John Bilotti - with its success, as crowds filled the street throughout
the afternoon and danced until the last band left the stage. This
year is expected to be even better, with top-notch guest artists and
support from the City of Kingston, including shuttles from the Rondout.
Both Wall and North Front Streets will be closed off, and an audience
tent will be erected just in case the weather is not as cooperative
as it was last year. "Bring your own chairs!" Stern adds.
The unique feature of the Wall Street Jazz Festival is that, while
males appear in the backup bands, all its headliners are female -
as Stern says, "mothers in jazz." This year's lineup includes
Betty McDonald, Francesca Tanksley, Marilyn Crispell, Rebecca Martin,
Sumi Tonooka, Dena DeRose, Erica Lindsay, and others. Stern will also
perform - both solo and with the Olive Jazz Choir. She is also a member
of Estrella, the hot Latin dance band that will close the show. A
wide range of musical styles will be heard during the day, all under
the heading of "jazz," giving meaning to the Wall Street
Jazz Festival's new slogan: "Where the progressives meet the
traditions and all the leaders are women."
The Olive Jazz Choir was born a couple of years ago because, says
Stern, "I love voices in harmony." She calls jazz choruses
her "hobby," and she has led them at jazz camps and workshops
all over the country. The Olive Jazz Choir is open to anyone and currently
averages about 14 members, all recruited simply through word of mouth
among musicians. The choir is accompanied by Stern on piano, Rich
Syracuse on bass, and occasionally by a jazz ensemble, as seen at
the Wall Street Jazz Festival. They meet once a week for rehearsal
and give two major concerts a year, most recently at the Woodstock
Artists Association. "The payoff for me," Stern says, "is
I get to write tunes and do new arrangements of standards."
Although she says her "main thing" is playing jazz in small
ensembles, composition is a very important part of her life. Stern
has 10 CDs to her credit, on a variety of labels both American and
European, that contain her own original work as well as interpretations
of other composers. "I like to name my tunes by what is happening
to me at the time," she says, so that a history of her life is
encoded into her music. As her most important artistic influences,
she cites Eddie Palmieri, Keith Jarrett, and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
But jazz is not her only love. She also plays classical music and
has recently taken up the cello.
One of the ways Stern has fun is playing with Estrella, a Latin band
with an ever-changing lineup of musicians from around the area. "That's
the way a band should be," she says, " - amorphous, always
changing according to the gig and the members' availability."
The challenge of paying the bills is partly met by another of Peggy
Stern's "hats" - the music teacher. She has taught every
level of student, up through graduate school, but the ones she enjoys
most are her elementary school students. They have "the most
available minds," she feels, and this past year, she has enjoyed
writing a lot of music for them to perform. This includes a musical,
part fantasy and part science, called "What Happened on Mars,"
complete with air-bag shaped Martians who remind the hungry Earthlings
of marshmallows and almost get eaten up before a peaceful settlement
Peggy Stern is one of the people that makes our region so well known
as a hotbed of world-class creativity. Now that she's here in our
midst, does she think about settling anywhere else? "This is
my home, " she says. She talks about her love for the greenery,
the wildlife, the birds, the quiet, the ease of living that allows
you to "concentrate on your own inner workings." And she
says, "It's magical to me - the way you never know what the weather
will do, and when it does it, it does it with a vengeance. It makes
you pay attention!" Unpredictable, fascinating, dramatic - like
good jazz and the people who play it.