Thursday, July 31, 2008

Get in the pool

This opinion piece appeared in the Townsman, July 24, 2008 edition

It is said with only a modicum of falseness that a true New Yorker is someone who has never visited the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. It seems it were a requirement of New York City "cool" to have ignorance or even disdain for these obvious spectacles; the idea, you see, is to show possession of such a vast inventory of worldly and subtle sophistication to render such structures as mere lumps for rubes, such as you and me, to gawk at and experience with dropped jaws when we venture from our nettle patch to the great metropolis. And venture we do along with nettle patch owners the world over. And not only do we gawk and boggle our brains at the lumps, but also at the museums and exhibits housed in world class institutions that New Yorkers must be proud to host but love to ignore (or at least claim to ignore).

How foolish of them, think we. Jewelry is diminished in our eyes if worn as an ostentation, but otherwise why shouldn't it be appreciated? What is wrong with, "Holy Cow, look how big that green lady is!" or "Hey uncle Zeke, I can see the top of your silo from up here?" What possibly could be so un-cool about that?

And yet, fellow Townsman, are we not guilty of the same willful ignorance of our own treasures? Been to the galleries lately? Watched a play on one of our stages? Listened to music in one of our venues? Tsk tsk. On a per capita basis I'll bet Woodstock has more people engaged with entertaining and edifying the public than any community on earth. Unfortunately, perhaps to maintain our vigilance against proscriptions effecting dogs or to save our energy for hating Bush, we diminish this asset by lack of attention, and to borrow from an old poem, these "graces shall be of no more worth than gold in mines where none doth draw it forth."

So here's a suggestion. Make a vow that after you go to the Library Fair this Saturday (you ARE going to the Fair, aren't you?) you will indulge yourself in at least one of the many worthy exhibits or entertainments so amply provided.

Try the new exhibit called "The Vanishing Village" at the Woodstock Historical Society, located on Comeau Drive (look for the sign on your right side while going up the hill). This is a marvelous collection of photos and paintings, some dating to the early 1900s, of the center of Woodstock. Yes, many of those old buildings are gone (alas, The Irvington, a lovely three story wood framed hotel that stood on the corner of Mill Hill Road and Rock City Road where now sits the Longyear Building), but many have survived. You will have a wonderful time teasing out today's still existing structures disguised by their original incarnations. You will see Woodstock's FIRST TRAFFIC LIGHT at the intersection just described. You will discover our town center's long history of hosting and entertaining and providing comestibles to visitors. The exhibit gets its name from a book published under that title in the 1960's. Some of you will be amused (or shocked or not amused one bit) to find out that at least as far back as 1904 people had prognosticated "the end of Woodstock" because of some new development or another. The culprit then was the establishment of the Byrdcliffe Arts and Crafts Colony. It may upset some of you to be shown a time when Woodstock had many more fields and meadows and far less number of trees, but be assured the people then somehow endured the sylvan deprivation. Go, I advise thee; go to this exhibit.

If you've still got some wind after that, walk to the top of Comeau Drive and catch the 5:00 performance of Shakespeare's The Tempest, staged by Woodstock's own Bird-On-A-Cliff theatrical company. For reasons that will be obvious once you look at the program I should be circumspect, but I can truthfully attest that for the last ten years Bird-On-A-Cliff has delighted the public with their free open theater Shakespeare productions, and there is no reason to think this year will be any different. (Caveat: A hat is passed during intermission, but whether you contribute or not is entirely your call.) Ever wonder about the original context of such phrases like "brave new world" or "what's past is prologue?" Here is your chance to find out. Bring a picnic. Bring a lawn chair. It's not only Shakespeare, but it is also a beautiful, happy little world to experience him. Performances are on Friday, Saturday and Sunday until the end of August.

Paul McCartney sang, "Don't you know that it's a fool who plays it cool, making his world a little colder." Don't be too cool, fellow Townsman; enjoy our treasures and sustain those who mine for them.

* * *

With great sadness we note the passing after a trying illness of musician and long time Woodstocker Artie Traum. With and without his brother Happy, Artie filled our dells with songs and music still appreciated the world over. He was also just one of the kindest and most sincere persons one could meet. I remember a night, oh gosh thirty some years ago, when Artie and Happy played a gig at the Joyous Lake where I was tending bar. Sitting at the bar was a woman in possession of years one was not used to finding in that particular venue. The rage in those days was tequila sunrises, which this woman ordered "without the tequila." She was Artie and Happy's mom! You never saw such a proud mom in all your life; man, she sat there and beamed the night through. It's a very happy memory, and one I will keep with the memory of Artie's generous smile. I know I am just one of many, many people offering the deepest sympathy to Artie's beloved Beverly, and to Happy and his family.

Woodstock Town Board Meeting, July 15 2008, part two

This article appeared in the Townsman, July 24, 2008 edition

Woodstock, July 15

Councilman Chris Collins' report to the Woodstock town board on his work to update the Woodstock comprehensive plan, a document meant to guide the Town in its land use decisions for the coming years, met with varied responses from fellow board members.

In 1998 the town board appointed a committee to update the Town's comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan committee, after conducting a survey and holding numerous "fire house" meetings in the several hamlets that were finished by the end of 1999, issued a proposed document in the spring of 2003. Its recommendations included the creation of a planned residential development (PRD) area for extensive housing development including senior and affordable housing west of Plochmann Lane bounded to the north almost as far as Glasco Turnpike and to the south near Mill Hill Road (state route 212), and also the establishment of a much larger light industrial district in the area adjacent the existing Ametek ("Rotron") manufacturing facility on Rte 375. It also made the suggestion that the Town "possibly consider" extending the municipal sewer toward the densely developed parts of Bearsville. Town boards have wrestled with the document since. Since his election to the town board in 2005 Collins has worked to reconcile the document with changing circumstances and opinions.

Earlier this year Collins received town board approval to engage the services of Kathy Daniels, a senior planner from the New York Planning Federation, to review the document and make recommendations with respect to completing an updated plan. In her March 6, 2008 letter to the town board Ms Daniels described the format, structure and organization of the plan as "very good," and felt the Town "would do well to build on this solid foundation."

However, Daniels felt that the plan could be could be "strengthened, generally by adding additional information that was either not originally included, by reorganizing information or by updating information because of the passage of time," reminding the Town that in its completed and adopted state the plan will be "the legal basis for the Town's local land use regulations." It was these deficiencies in the plan that Collins brought up for discussion.

Problems, according to Daniels, start with a lack of a future population projection. "While planners differ on whether to include this, the best plans do. A population projection can give you an idea how many future people and households you're likely planning for. This has an impact on planning not just for future land uses but future infrastructure and services." She recommended projecting a population for about 15 to 20 years out.

The section on housing, "is somewhat weak," according to Daniels. "There is no discussion of the current housing mix in the Town - that is the number of single-family, duplexes, mobile homes, multi-family units there are. This mix should be compared to surrounding communities or the county to see if the Town is providing for its regional fair share of housing needs."

The plan's lack of a section on public services and facilities was "a fairly big omission," according to Daniels, suggesting the plan "consider addressing, if only briefly, schools, libraries, fire, police and ambulance service…" Along this vein, Daniels noted, "I see a later recommendation to 'study available water.' This would be better to do as part of the comprehensive planning process." She thought the plan needed a section on public sewers, with detailed analysis of "plant capacity, current level of use, level of treatment and any issues or problems, including any problem on-lot served areas that you believe should be sewered."

The lack of a population projection made planning for recreation, traffic control, environmental protection, scenic resources, infrastructure and community services difficult, according to Daniels. She also thought that the original survey prepared by the comprehensive plan committee and sent to Woodstock residents in 1998 was "not statistically valid" since it only had a "disappointing" 15% return rate. She attributed the low return "to the overly-long length of the survey," and suggested a better return (35 - 40%) could be obtained by enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope and to not include questions that were "leading" and "either too detailed or too generalized to be helpful."

Collins's suggestion to the board that each member take on a particular area of the plan with the aim of addressing Daniels's concerns received differing opinions from the town board. Councilwoman Liz Simonson said, "My first impression is, should we take a ten year old document and try to build on it? I know you disagree with me, Chris [Collins], but this is a lot of work. I lean toward starting over. I question if we should use this [existing proposed plan] to build on."

Councilman Jay Wenk thought the town board should schedule more meetings. "This is an enormous amount of work."

Councilwoman Terrie Rosenblum thought the recent phenomena of high energy costs had to be included in a plan, but also cautioned the board against creating a plan with too much specificity as it would be the legal basis for land use decisions, as stated in Daniels's report.

Supervisor Jeff Moran was supportive of Collins's recommendation, suggesting to the town board "we should build on Chris's work," and promising to schedule the matter for more discussion at the August 12 meeting.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"…Long lives after them."

This opinion piece appeared in the Townsman, July 17, 2008 edition

It is amazing how incredibly evil people become once they are elected our town supervisor. The wickedness is now to be expected. In the good old days our supervisors were dumb as a bag of rocks, idiots, stubborn mules, louts, oafs, buffoons, baboons or airheads, but lately they are truly malevolent, nasty and mean. It is as if electing supervisors had been taken entirely out of our hands and put into the Devil's. And boy, is that Dark Angel shrewd. He picks someone who has fooled us by his or her dedication to our community, usually as volunteer to one to our many committees or organizations where not a sign of his or her insidious motives yet had been exposed. The Dark One then beguiles us by putting into his candidate's mouth sweet intentions and judicious sentiments. He casts a spell so that we feel a moment of joy and anticipation when the old supervisor is finally rid, and the new one oathed and given custodianship of the town ledger book. And then, Yikes!

Thus with Jeff Moran, who for all these years we confused for a thoughtful man with a generous spirit.

Let us inspect the perdition he has wrought in his six months as our political leader.

First, there is his infamous "abstention" on a resolution to refer the Farm Festival application to the ZBA for interpretation of Section 5Y of the zoning law, which prohibits the display of merchandise between a structure and the curb. His stated reasons for abstaining were that the following issues had not yet been adequately addressed; 1) the public's safety, 2) the additional expenditure of $6000 in Town funds and 3) the concerns of local merchants who pay high overhead to vend the same products as those to be offered by out-of-town merchants. What balderdash! The supervisor obviously hates fresh produce, and hates fun. That he then committed himself full bore to untangle all the minutia and red tape around the Festival, and successfully realized a safety plan, and addressed the concerns of the local merchants is of NO ACCOUNT. Read the letters in the paper yourself! Jeff is just evil, bad, terrible and a big kill-joy.

Now there is Jeff's malignant consideration of the Elna Ferrite building as possibly suitable for purchase and renovation for Town offices. Were this consideration not odious enough, he also should be condemned for the re-surfacing of an old idea to create an "office campus" on our sacred Comeau, even though all he did to advance this latter proposal was acknowledge he had indeed read about it in a local paper. As far as the Comeau-campus idea, Evil Jeff must know it has the same chance of being realized as the chance of dogs learning to use porta-potties. With respect to utilizing the Elna Ferrite building on the Bearsville Flats, anybody with half a brain knows that this is Evil Jeff's devious way of finding a good excuse to send a sewer pipe up the Flats and turn the corridor into a parade of Dunkin Donuts, Jiffy Lubes, Holiday Inns and other demonic delights. There should be no consideration of the Elna Ferrite idea on its merits; none, none whatsoever. It is just evil, bad and terrible.

Do I have it right? Isn't this exactly what we are supposed to think when we read some of the letters to the editor, or watch the Orcs on Thursday nights on public access tv?

Dear Reader, a thought for you: Jeff Moran is a good, decent fellow trying to do his best. If we don't necessarily swoon over all his ideas, believe me, the road from a supervisor's idea to its execution is no less short than the path from Jay Wenk to the Nobel Peace Prize. There are miles and miles of process in Woodstock, which can unfortunately tire good ideas, but certainly exhaust inferior ones. Take a breath. It's really going to be okay.

* * *

Last week a charming letter to the editor from a charming lady thanked Les Walker, the architect (responsible for the Comeau-campus hub bub), "for reminding 21st century Woodstockers of the main reason the Comeau estate was purchased by taxpayers in the late 1970's; to have a central location, [sic comma] on a beautiful piece of land, [sic comma] to consolidate Woodstock town offices."

My one quibble is that the original purpose for buying Comeau was to have a central location on a beautiful piece of land to consolidate Woodstock town services. Since that time the firehouse, rescue station and highway facility have been strewn like Hansel's breadcrumbs across our town; aren't such letters now a little quaint? Her admonishment to the new town board, "Let's not continue the previous town board's tradition of seeking piecemeal solutions to our building infrastructure needs," stings. Oh, doth it sting. More blessed and unguent were those years when town boards sought NO solutions "to our building infrastructure needs" other than to form committees.

Woodstock Town Board Meeting July 15, 2008

This article appeared in the Townsman, July 17, 2008 edition

A resolution introduced by Supervisor Jeff Moran to establish a capital fund to process a community projects appropriation in the amount of $5000.00 offered to the Town by Assemblyman Kevin Cahill for the purpose of "constructing a suitable memorial honoring the legacy of Woodstock activist Jane Van De Bogart" raised questions from members of the Woodstock town board. "I loved Jane dearly," said councilwoman Liz Simonson, but went on to question the nature of such a memorial and to raise the question of who should be memorialized. "Why not Billy Van Kleeck?" she asked as an example of the difficulty in making such a decision.

Van De Bogart was a member of the Woodstock town board back in the 1970s and early '80s, and before her death earlier this year also known for her involvement in many social causes including Women In Black, a organization advocating peace, and also as one of the prime organizers of the Town's annual Martin Luther King celebration. Van Kleeck was a long time volunteer fireman, fire commissioner and chairman of the Woodstock ethics board before his death this past July 4.

Ideas for how to properly use the grant ranged from planting a tree to placing a plaque. It was finally agreed to adopt the resolution and decide on a proper way of using it at some later date.

Senator Bonacic's appropriation of $10,000 toward energy saving improvements to the supervisor's cottage was accepted with less discussion.

A resolution to authorize the highway superintendent Mike Reynolds to coordinate with the Ulster County Department of Bridges and Highways and Michael Williams, owner of PhotoSensualis, the retail-gallery business that has moved into the former Not Fade Away location on Rock City Road, to install a sidewalk from the Mountain View parking lot to the north end of the building, install two pedestrian cross walks and close off to pedestrians the undersized sidewalk between the building and the street also raised some questions. Simonson wondered if the County was "bamboozling" the Town into sharing the expense for the improvements, and saw "no real justification for being pushed around." After Moran offered a detailed explanation of the unsafe conditions the board voted unanimously to adopt the resolution.

Moran's suggestion, first floated several meetings ago, that the Town look seriously into the prospect of buying the Elna Ferrite building on the Bearsville Flats, a 18,000 square feet structure big enough to house all the Town offices, police department, dispatch service and justice court received a boost in a letter to the board from Police Chief Harry Baldwin. Baldwin, who last year favored the renovation of the Town Hall, explained that at that time the Elna Ferrite building was not under consideration, and that because of its size and ample parking it was a far more suitable location for the Town departments. Baldwin claimed to be speaking for an "overwhelming" majority of police/dispatch employees. Simonson expressed wariness at the Town taking on another building, citing the great expense of all the Town's buildings for energy costs, and pointing out it would very likely only get worse in the future. Moran agreed, but pointed out that with all the Town services re-located to Elna Ferrite the Town could then one by one renovate the vacated Town Hall and Comeau offices and maintain them as public spaces much less costly to heat and cool. The supervisor promised to have a more fleshed out proposal in the near future.

Councilman Jay Wenk's proposal that two members of the town board make personal visits to sixteen residences in the Bearsville development to explain to the homeowners the danger their more than twenty-five years old underground oil tanks pose to the aquifer that feeds the municipal water supply was met with a cool response by other board members. Councilwoman Terrie Rosenblum thought it was much smarter to put the residents into direct contact with contractors who could discuss the specific costs of addressing the problem. Councilman Chris Collins was more comfortable with sending the residents a letter. Simonson thought Wenk should network with the New York State Rural Water Association for ideas on addressing the problem, and thought it was unfair to single out the residents with the visits recommended by Wenk. Wenk finally decided take the board's comments back to his sub-committee consisting of George ("Jerry") Washington, Craig Barber and Janine Mower.

Wenk didn't get much further with his proposal to adopt a resolution commanding Town employees and asking private motorists not to idle their vehicles for more than one minute. Wenk had served on the town board in 1992 when a similar resolution was unanimously adopted, "but sadly has not been enforced since," said Wenk. His new resolution would also cause printed reminders to be handed out by police and "volunteers" to motorists idling more than one minute. "That's just going to cause more litter," commented Moran, who just earlier during the meeting had heard a couple of complaints from attendees about rampant littering on the roadways. "I'm not crazy about the printed notices," Simonson agreed. Rosenblum had problems with wording in Wenk's resolution, which incidentally was not on the agenda or available to the public. After much discussion it was agreed that Moran and Rosenblum would bring up the issue of idling with the police department, who seemed to be the main idlers, according to Wenk.

Moran's repeatedly discussed proposal to expand parking on the upper Comeau inched forward past the concerns of Collins that such steps may negatively affect the Comeau easement now in litigation, with Simonson agreeing to work with town employees toward coming up with a plan, including "design elements" for the expansion. Paul Shultis Jr's speech to the board, "Soccer players are coming. It's up to you to provide a safe environment for our kids. If you don't expand the parking people will park on the road, and that is dangerous," seemed to have effect. Shultis is involved with the children's soccer program.

The town board approved minutes from past meetings, accepted budget transfers, accepted the town clerk's report, and approved payment of bills amounting to $99,453.75. Terrie Reynolds was appointed to the Woodstock ethics board. The Skate Park Task Force was given an additional sixty days (until the end of September) to make their recommendation with regard to a skate park facility. Russel Richadson from the Indie Program gave the board a big thank you for its support and monetary contribution to the program that uses non-tradition methods to educate children and maintain their interest in schooling. Town clerk Jacky Earley was not at the meeting, which did not break up until 11:35 PM.

Friday, July 18, 2008

William Van Kleeck, June 16, 1942 - July 4, 2008

This opinion piece appeared in the Townsman, July 10, 2008 edition

For most folks the connection will not be obvious, but for some who knew Billy Van Kleeck it will come as no surprise that his birthday was June 16. Yes, he was born on 'Bloomsday.'

Bloomsday is a world-wide celebration of the fictional account of Leopold Bloom's journey through the streets of Dublin on June 16, 1904 as chronicled in James Joyce's Ulysses, the novel that has in equal parts delighted and confounded readers since its publication in 1922. Whatever difference of experience or opinion, it is uniformly agreed Ulysses upended many of the prior conventions of the novel, and forever changed the course of literature. Only few would argue that it was not a masterpiece.

Billy's friends and loved ones will read this and wonder how on earth Billy and Bloomsday find themselves in one thought.

It isn't the stretch they might think.

The blood that ran through Billy was 100 percent 'old Woodstock.' Billy spoke in the distinct Ulster County patois with its clipped vowels and consonants so sharp they can cut stone. Billy behaved in selfless ways similar to the sons and daughters of the clans who nurtured and kept Woodstock beautiful through its history, and preserved the land that we now enjoy and inhabit with pride. But what distinguished Billy from many of his peers was growing up in Byrdcliffe.

Byrdcliffe, indeed, the hillside bastion of art and culture that distinguished Woodstock from its neighboring towns and infused its ancient mores with the charm, beauty, language -and indeed the sometimes colossal failure - of the artistic endeavor. Billy's father, Bert Van Kleeck, for a time was the property overseer, whose job it was to keep water running through the pipes, rain from falling through the roof, the buildings maintained and the roads cleared. Billy grew up in this world of honest toil performed in the service of the many creative people who came from far different environments to find refuge in Byrdcliffe's demi-paradise.

To try to explain Billy to a stranger would be both senseless and cruel, like describing a sumptuous meal to someone who did not partake. Senseless because capturing all Billy's wonderful qualities would be impossible, and cruel because even if one were to succeed it would only leave the listener all too sorry he had never known the man himself. Just let it be known that Billy's generous spirit extended to all, from the humble laborer, to the exulted artist, to everyone in between. To the comfort of some and discomfit of others Billy's eye discerned one thing in a man: his character. Whether clothed in overalls, tie-dye, fine silk or crude linen, it made no difference.

Funeral services are somber affairs, but so much lighter on our soul when they celebrate the life of a Good Man. There is sadness, there is sorrow but there is not that stuttering, incomplete sentiment that comes with saying farewell to a life not well spent. For Billy the church in Shady had never been so full. The family he leaves behind could not have felt more love. And even though the God of every creed forbids pride, there was not one person in attendance who did not feel it greatly for the privilege of knowing Billy.

Several people during the service told stories about Billy. They differed in detail but the theme was the same; he worked hard, he gave freely, he volunteered much, he took little and he forgave easily.

Were all the inhabitants of the earth to strive for such an epitaph there would be no war, no want, no fear.

So how do Bloomsday and Billy Van Kleeck find themselves in one thought? Bloomsday celebrates a great artistic achievement. Billy Van Kleeck's life was the essence of art; openess, hard work and regard for the truth. June 16 will never be the same.

One little story about Billy spoken at his service: For a while he drove for the Trailways bus company. One rainy day it pulled up to the stop in Woodstock, and when completely filled Billy had to tell a lady at the curb she would have to take the next bus. "How long's the next bus?" she asked. "Long as this one; about forty feet," answered Billy.

There's no replacing a man like that.

Woodstock Town Board Meeting, July 8, 2008

A serious lightning strike on the waste water treatment plant on June 30, causing extensive damage to pumps, the generator and ultra violet equipment for treating wastewater was apparently repaired with such dispatch that residents were not aware of the problem until Supervisor Jeff Moran informed the public at the July 8 meeting of the town board. Moran praised water/sewer superintendent Kevin Hunter and his department for the successful effort to contain the damage and get the plant operating in a timely fashion. Highway superintendent Mike Reynolds was also thanked for the resources he brought to allay the crisis. It is expected that insurance will cover the costs of the repairs.

Action on three topics; expanded parking on the Comeau; hiring an arborist to study the health and condition of several trees on the Comeau property, including a bitternut hickory described as in serious decline; and possibly adding ten or fifteen feet to the existing 75 foot high radio tower attached to the main town office building to enhance emergency communications, were all deferred until legal opinion can be obtained from Steve Barshov, the counsel engaged by the Town to defend the Comeau conservation easement. The easement, approved in a 2003 referendum, has dragged through court for almost five years. The town board by such deference honored the concern of councilman Chris Collins that any action on the Comeau might harm the Town's prospect of seeing the Woodstock Land Conservancy eventually enabled to enforce the terms of such easement.

With respect to improving emergency communications, in response to a question by councilwoman Liz Simonson, Moran quoted Jeff Staley, manager of the Town's municipal communication tower on California Quarry, as saying that facility is "ready to go" for attaching an antenna to serve the emergency needs of the Town. Collins, however, felt that there was "too much controversy" with the Quarry tower to consider using it for emergency communications. Representatives from Fire District Company 4 (Zena) have reported to Town officials on the extremely poor emergency communications in their area of the town. The matter will not be pursued until word from Barshov.

The eight giant white pine trees that had threatened neighbors' houses adjacent the Comeau property, and which were felled only after much contention culminating in a 3-2 vote at a meeting earlier this year, spawned another lengthy discussion concerning their disposal. Twenty minutes of debate resulted in a motion barely carried to authorize the highway superintendent, Mike Reynolds, to remove them, Collins and Wenk voting nay.

Another lengthy discussion on fees for use of town buildings followed, initiated by resident Cassia Berman's request for special consideration for her use of town buildings to conduct exercise classes. Berman, effective July 1, was to be charged $10.00 per hour, already a reduced rate because of her extensive use of town facilities. Opinion ranged from Collin's suggestion that Berman be "grandmothered" to the old rate of $5.00 per hour, to Moran's insistence that since "ultimately it is the taxpayers who pay to heat and maintain these buildings" users should be required to kick in more to defray the costs. Wenk, observing, "one of the wonderful things about a town board is that we can pick and choose," joined Collins in recommending the $5.00 rate. Dickering ensued, with Councilwoman Terrie Rosenblum recommending $7.50, Simonson $7.00. Resident Joan Schwartzberg asked the board how they could make a decision based on Berman's "hardship" without knowing what she charged for her classes. When asked, Berman reported she charged $15.00 per person, $12.55 if they purchased four lessons in advance, and that "generally" she had an average of four people in each class. Collins, feeling that the questions to Berman had become invasive, asked members of the press to show "sensitivity" in their reporting on a deliberation that was being broadcast live on public access television and streamed on the web. The conversation then meandered to a Simonson reminder that the board could declare Berman's classes a "town sponsored event" and charge her nothing. A motion offered by Moran and seconded by Rosenblum to charge $7.50 with the provision Berman offer free instruction to people receiving social services, or recommended by Family of Woodstock, or are employees of the Town was defeated. Over their nays a subsequent motion offered by Collins and seconded by Wenk carried to charge Berman $6.00 per hour until the end of the year. Another entity also seeking a break on the user fee did not attend the meeting.

Collins introduced a discussion concerning section 5Y of the Woodstock Zoning Law, which prohibits the display of merchandise between a structure and the curb or street, and which earlier this year had the Town in knots when launching the Farm Festival. Evidently conflating 5Y with a section of the law concerned with signage, Collins cited what he felt was clumsy and selective enforcement of the ban on sandwich boards. Moran brought the issue back to his understanding that 5Y was intended to reduce visual clutter and preserve pedestrian access on the town's sidewalks. Wenk used the moment to decry bicyclers using the sidewalks. A very round-about discussion finally ended in the idea to consult with various planning officials and resources before taking an action.

It was reported that at some point the town board will schedule a public hearing on a redacted water emergency plan, a document constructed by town officials involved with emergency response to disasters. According to Moran state law requires such a hearing.

The town board expressed no objection to the installation of a "peace pole" on the village green by private entities with the cooperation of the Woodstock Reformed Church. According to Moran the redwood pole will be about twelve feet high and inscribed with the word "peace" in no less than 180 languages. The dedication is scheduled for August 16. Wenk suggested that [president] Bush and [vice president] Cheney be invited to the installation "and then arrest them."

Wenk, in a 3-2 vote, Moran and councilwoman Rosenblum voting nay, finally prevailed in his six-month battle to adopt a town board policy on the agenda process. With Moran previously agreeing to add to the agenda any item requested by a board member the vote was anti-climatic, even if strung out by Simonson's reading Wenk's latest draft at the table before finally voting with the majority.

The supervisor revived discussion of the stalled Town Hall renovation project, budgeted for $1.6 million but having received bids for close to $2 million earlier this year. Moran reported discussions with low bidders resulted in bringing costs down to $1.8 million, still $200,000 above the authorized amount, "and not providing the quality of renovation originally conceived." Moran formally introduced "option B," the acquisition of the 18,000 square feet Elna Ferrite building on the Bearsville Flats. He expressed confidence that less money than would be spent renovating the Town Hall could purchase and renovate for municipal purposes the Elna Ferrite building. He emphasized its much better parking and the feasibility of moving all the municipal offices, not just police/dispatch/courts into its large space. He felt that Town employees were behind the idea. He also discussed an idea brought to him by Collins to arrange a forum where residents could weigh in on what to do with the Town's buildings. "Our Town," a local society that has met on several occasions to discuss town issues, was mentioned as one such forum. "But ultimately," said Moran, "the decision will lie with us."

Moran's "option B" was challenged by Simonson, first for his unsupported contention of the cost savings in purchasing and renovation Elna Ferrite, but also she objected to the idea of the Town buying yet another structure when the costs of maintaining and heating buildings was only going to "dramatically" increase in the coming years. Also, she was not ready to "throw down the toilet" the considerable amount of money already spent planning the Town Hall renovation.

Simonson appeared to have Collins's support for forging on with the renovation, Collins at one point almost offering a resolution for such effect. Wenk wondered if doing the renovation "piece meal" would be possible. Rosenblum, citing her recent arrival to the town board, wanted more assurance the renovation would serve the long-term interests of the town.

There appeared to be unanimous aversion to an idea floated last week in a local paper to create a "campus" of town offices on the Comeau property.

The discussion ended with an agreement that more information would be needed to arrive at a decision.

Other business saw the appointments of Ellen Altman to the telecommunications committee and Rosanne Haggerty to the ethics board. Kathleen Wilber's resignation from the summer recreation committee was accepted, the town board expressing its gratitude for her service. A mowing agreement was renewed with Hurley Lawn and Land, and C2G Environmental Consultants was given the job to remove and replace an oil tank at the wastewater treatment plant. Staff and rates of pay were established for the Woodstock summer recreation program. Mileage reimbursement for private vehicles used for town business was increased from $0.505 to $0.585 per mile. Trust and agency accounts were established, one to receive and disburse moneys from the Woodstock Reformed Church and private donors for maintenance and enhancements to the village green, and another to receive private donations for a proposed town-wide habitat mapping project. The June 27 deadline for a grant from the New York State Estuary Program to help fund the mapping project was missed. A resolution authorized dissemination and posting on the Town website a "Green Guide" prepared by the Woodstock environmental commission with much work performed by WEC member Megan Reynolds. The guide gives practical tips on energy and resource conservation. Collins advised the board on his progress with updating the Woodstock comprehensive plan, a new town-wide survey apparently now being considered.

In response to a question from Joan Schwartzberg the board was unable to confirm or deny rumors that the annual Volunteers Day celebration, in the recent past orchestrated by Sam Magarelli, would not occur in tandem with the annual fireworks display in August.

To correct the record, the town board did not vote to contribute $1000 to the Summer Indie Program, as was reported in a previous edition. It did at this meeting vote to contribute $500 to the program, which is supported by the Onteora School District, with the provision that children from Woodstock residing in the Saugerties and Kingston school districts would be eligible for enrolment.

The public portion of the meeting had opened at 7:30 PM after an executive session held for the purpose of interviewing candidates for the ethics board. After coming out of executive session supervisor Moran began the meeting with a remembrance of Billy Van Kleeck, who died July 4, and asked for a moment of silence. The meeting adjourned at 11:15 in the presence of the town clerk, the town videographer, two reporters and one member of the public.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Well Well Well

This opinion piece appeared in the Townsman, July 3, 2008 edition

Last week we discussed what you could do to replace your old home fuel oil tank, whether above or in ground. In a nutshell, if you don’t know how old your oil tank is, chances are it is time to REPLACE IT. If you don’t have the cash there is at least one local home fuel company that will perform the replacement and finance the cost over three years interest free. Believe me, you want to do it NOW.

With business out of the way, let’s parse the George (“Jerry”) Washington “Sub-Committee Report On Bearsville Area Fuel Tanks,” which was delivered to the Woodstock town board at its June 17 meeting under the imprimatur of councilman Jay Wenk.

Wenk, you recall, blasted the old town board for its “inaction,” and vowed if elected to rid the aquifer area of buried fuel tanks.

The opening sentence of the report reads; “The initial objective of the Jay Wenk Sub-Committee was to determine where fuel oil tanks were buried.”

Hate to quibble, but really what is of interest is where fuel oil tanks are buried. Many old tanks, in a sort of environmental Rapture, have left the ground over the years, and I can’t see the point in having them determined.

The report has some curiosities.

For one, on its data sheet it states, “13 Commercial buildings surveyed – None used Fuel Oil.” But, but… the Simulaids business (now moved to Saugerties), the single largest building in the area and the third largest in the town, unless they moved it with them has a 4000 gallon in-ground oil tank! How could Jay Wenk’s sub-committee have missed that? Anything (or anyone) else missing?

A third of the way down page 2 is a very sly addendum to Wenk’s “initial objective… to determine where fuel oil tanks were buried.” Without asking we are told, “During conversations with parcel owners, the topic of septic fields and potential public sewer connection were [sic] discussed. There were no indications that anyone was having septic tank or field problems [like they’d talk about it with representatives from the Town!] and there was a strong opposition to connecting to the town public sewer system.”

Three paragraphs later we are informed, “Septic system failure could affect the water quality of Wells 1 and 2 more so than Wells 3 thru 7. Septic contamination is not as disastrous as petroleum contamination and can be treated.”

Reading this you might think, oh heck, what’s a little salmonella or giardia in the water? As long as it’s not petroleum!

The purpose of this gratuitous addendum to Wenk’s report is to augment the paranoia some have toward the prospect of sending a sewer line up to the Bearsville development. Such a pipe, you see, would sprout Wal Marts, Burger Kings and a plethora of strip malls.

Washington, of course, has a history of disdaining sewer pipes. The hamlet sewer district arches around his property no less dramatically than Canada arches around Hudson Bay. Ask him why.

Now, point by point, a discussion of the Wenk/Washington report recommendations:

1) The recommendations restrict action to in-ground tanks. Big mistake. All oil tanks and the lines leading from them to the furnace are a potential disaster. Focusing on in-ground tanks could lull above ground tank owners into complacency.
2) The suggestion that the town board meet in executive session (that is, secretly) to discuss options and plans to eliminate in-ground tanks ignores the fact such a secret meeting would be illegal.
3) The suggestion to install monitoring wells on the perimeter of the “clustered tanks” can be improved by installing a monitoring well next to each in-ground tank. Why not know which tank is leaking? However, these monitoring wells are not cheap to install ($1500 a pop would not be unreasonable) nor is it cheap to analyze monitoring results (add a few hundred bucks more). Shouldn’t this money be used to remove the tanks?
4) Investigating the availability of devices attached to individual tanks that could indicate leakage would be a nice Wenk project. With the internet it should take him less time to investigate than it did to come up with and then write down the suggestion.
5) Engaging oil suppliers to alert the Town and customer of leaks, when the suppliers are already mandated to contact the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is superfluous.
6) Investigating financing the elimination of in-ground tanks with a funding plan is a splendid idea! And guess what; there is already at least one fuel company that offers interest-free financing over a three-year period. Been offering it for years. Again, such financing is available to owners of all oil tanks, above or in ground.
7) To drill the existing municipal wells deeper to a possible confined aquifer less susceptible to surface contamination was a recommendation made by New York State Rural Water Association several years ago to address the influence of surface water on the shallow municipal wells. Unless or until the Ulster County Health Department determines that the municipal wells are unacceptably influenced by surface water (primarily the Sawkill Stream) this is an unnecessary and expensive option. Much better would be the successful implementation of Wenk’s vow to rid the aquifer area of the potential for contamination by petroleum.

I quibble with Wenk/Washington’s gratuitous assertion that “Septic system failure could affect the water quality of Wells 1 and 2 more so than Wells 3 thru 7. Septic contamination is not as disastrous as petroleum contamination and can be treated.”

In 2003 the New York State Department of Health performed a source water assessment of Woodstock’s municipal water supply. The report states that all the municipal wells (clustered wells 1 and 2 are several hundreds of feet to the east of clustered wells 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7) have equal “high” susceptibility to enteric bacteria, enteric viruses and nitrates, which are products commonly generated by septic systems.

All the wells have equal “medium high” susceptibility to petroleum contamination.

If Wenk/Washington want to ignore that and revel in paranoid visions of Wal Mart, fine. But if we are really concerned with protecting the aquifer, and not just investigating means of continuing to get potable water in the event we pollute it, that sewer pipe needs to be considered and Wenk has to make a few more visits to the Bearsville neighborhood, hopefully with some home fuel company reps to offer their expertise and financial help with replacing oil tanks. Above ground and in ground.

Exclusive Interview with Senator Bonacic

This article appeared in the Townsman, July 3, 2008 edition

Woodstock, July 1, 2008

State Senator John Bonacic, representing the 42nd Senatorial District, which includes Woodstock, Olive and Shandaken, introduced and saw passed in the State Senate a bill to repeal the “Large Parcel” act. So far there has been no action in the State Assembly. The Large Parcel act, and its intended aim to even out property assessments for use by school and county taxing districts where one of the municipalities may contain a single property, such as a power plant or reservoir, that may skew the equalization rate in favor of such municipality, “simply did not work,” said Bonacic. “It polarized communities and drowned out other issues [effecting education] during school board elections.”

In a wide ranging interview with this reporter Bonacic spoke encouraging words for both the new Democratic Governor David Paterson and new Senate majority leader Dean Skelos (R-9th Senate District), who replaced Joseph Bruno as majority leader on June 24.

Of the Governor Bonacic said, “He not partisan, not confrontational and believes in compromise through honest negotiations. He is much more congenial [than former Governor Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in disgrace earlier this year] and I think has done pretty well in the short time he has governed.” He cited the difficult circumstances of Paterson’s sudden elevation to the governor’s seat and the fact he was still able to usher through the state budget without an embarrassing delay as an accomplishment that augers well for the rest of his administration.

Skelo’s elevation to majority leader “bodes well for Hudson Valley communities,” says Bonacic, who regards Mr Skelos as a friend (Skelos has been in the state senate since 1984, Bonacic since 1998). Although representing Long Island, Mr Skelos will “listen to upstate voices,” says Bonacic, and help the Senate counter balance New York City interests, which otherwise would “hold all the cards” in Albany. He praised Skelos for authoring of New York’s Megan’s Law (the informal name for laws in the United States requiring law enforcement authorities to make information available to the public regarding registered sex offenders), for his efforts to dramatically expand the state’s DNA databank, and for providing tools to police agencies to execute their law enforcement mission. Skelos will be “tougher and stronger than Bruno was in dealing with [Sheldon] Silver,” according to Bonacic, referring to the state Assembly speaker from New York City.

On another big issue looming over upstate New York, the huge deposits of natural gas under parts of the region including areas in the 42nd Senatorial District, Bonacic strongly supports “watchdog” efforts to protect the environment, but also points out that “in the last twenty years more than 75,000 natural gas wells have been dug in New York without environmental degradation.” Just as important as environmental safe guards, which he supports by giving the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) expanded authority over permitting and enforcement of environmental regulations, are safe guards to prevent property owners in the region from being “ripped off” by gas drillers. Bonacic spoke of his efforts to provide property owners with information regarding their rights and to lessen the chance of their losing out on the potential windfall. “All in all, this will be a win win for the region and the nation,” he said, citing the nation’s over-dependence on foreign energy sources. “But it is important that we first address both the environmental and equity issues.”

Bonacic sees a good possibility the State Senate will remain in Republican hands after this year’s election. “With [Hillary] Clinton off the top of the ballot,” and the fact that with former governor Spitzer gone the Democrats have “lost their money machine” he foresees the Republicans maintaining their slight edge. “But make no mistake,” he added, “times are changing in Albany.”

So far Bonacic has no opponent in his re-election bid.

Shapiro Builds Bridges

This article appeared in the Townsman, July 3, 2008 edition

Woodstock, July 1, 2008

Ulster County Legislator Brian Shapiro (D-District 2) has called upon the Coalition to Save Belleayre (CSB) to “reach across the aisle” and join with the Save The Mountain (STM) “to build an unstoppable movement in favor of our state owned facility [the Belleaye Ski Center in Highmount]”. In a message to CSB chairman Joe Kelly Shapiro suggested, “Let’s build bridges and recognize the things that we have in common.”

Shapiro’s message addresses two issues commonly conflated by the public. One, supported by CSB, is the effort of the State of New York to expand and enhance the state-owned Belleayre Ski Center, and the other, strongly opposed by STM, is to realize the Crossroads Venture plan to establish a major, privately owned resort including hotels, golf facilities, conference center and housing almost adjacent to the Belleayre facility.

STM opposes the Crossroads Venture project even after it was scaled back in size and supported by then Governor Eliot Spitzer. The proposed project still requires final approvals by various state and local agencies. Shapiro has also been highly critical of the proposed Crossroads Venture project.

Private ski facilities in neighboring Greene County, principally in the townships of Windham and Hunter, with the support of the Greene County Legislature have loudly opposed the proposed expansion of the Bellayre Ski Center, claiming the state subsidized facility has an unfair advantage over private facilities. They have been successful, along with other privately operated recreational facilities, in persuading the NY State Legislature to authorize the creation of a “blue ribbon” commission to evaluate whether state-owned recreational facilities constitute unfair competition to privately run golf courses, ski centers and camping sites. Shapiro characterizes this as “ill conceived legislation.”

Shapiro’s call came in response to reports of Joe Kelly accusing him in particular and the Ulster County Legislature in general of being “totally AWOL” in its support of the Bellayre project, accusing them of “mind-boggling inattention” and a lack of “willingness to fight for a property that pulls 200,000 visitors a year across the county from Kingston to Highmount.”

To Mr Kelly’s accusation that Ulster County legislators “sit back silently while Greene County ruthlessly attacks the biggest attraction in Western Ulster County” without the Ulster County Legislature “reacting in any way,” Shapiro cited a resolution he introduced calling upon the Ulster County Legislature to urge the state’s “major investment in Belleayre Mountain Ski Center,” which was unanimously adopted at its July 11, 2007 meeting and sent to various state agencies and officials.

Shapiro says that in a recent conversation with Joe Kelly he agreed that there is much work to be done to move forward to effectively advocate strong support for the publicly owned Belleayre Ski Center.

“I know the vast majority of “Save the Mountain” folks would immediately heed the call to support this publicly owned facility, which brings so much to our community and the local economy as well. Enlisting support for Belleayre should not exclude those opposing the Crossroads project, which needs to be considered separately based on its own faults or merits,” said Shapiro.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Water Wenks

This opinion piece appeared in the Townsman, June 26 2008 edition

Before people who live in and pay for the Woodstock Water District (“The District”) go flocking to the altar to George (“Jerry”) Washington erected by simpering Councilman Jay Wenk, who could not be more thankful for having his responsibility discharged by someone else, first let me confuse the Washington/Wenk report on buried oil tanks with facts.

The built-up area in Woodstock is served by an independent water system built in 1950, and extended several times (most recently in 1998). The total length of the 6" and 8" pipelines is approximately 8.25 miles. The District is served by seven drilled wells located near the Saw Kill Stream in Bearsville, with an average depth between 10-15 feet. The wells are plumbed through two pump houses and then into three storage tanks (stand pipes) with a total capacity of 1.3 million gallons. The District provides metered water to 732 hook-ups serving a population estimated at 2,400 people. In 2006 the District’s average daily demand was approximately 131,000 gallons. The highest volume pumped in one day in 2006 was 320,000 gallons. The total volume of water pumped in 2006 was 47,862,000 gallons, of which 43,518,702 gallons was billed to customers, leaving a total of 4,343,298 gallons of water (9.1%) lost through leaks, flushing tanks and hydrants, fighting fires and draining stand pipes.

The District draws its water from a groundwater source stored below the surface in porous rocks called an “aquifer.” The groundwater, as in this case, can be purified naturally as it filters through layers of soil, clay, rock and sand. As a result, groundwater requires less treatment than surface water (like City of Kingston’s Cooper Lake Reservoir, for instance, which requires expensive filtration). The water is disinfected with chlorine in the form of hypochlorite, and the pH is adjusted with sodium carbonate for corrosion control. Reports dated as recently as 2006 indicate that the municipal water supply is of good quality. EPA regulations, however, have become more stringent with regard to ground water influenced by surface water, which the existing shallow wells are to different degrees, primarily by the nearby Sawkill Stream. The District may at some point be mandated by the Ulster County Health Department to locate wells further from the Sawkill, or filter the water. Results from conductivity tests will tell. Filtering would be very costly. A 2003 report by the New York State Rural Water Association provides guidelines and advice with respect to the cheaper alternative of relocating the wells.

The District has in the past pumped up to 60,000,000 gallons in one year, with approximately 20,000,000 gallons unaccounted for. The wells have never gone completely dry, even during the historic 1963-1964 drought.

In the early 1950s shortly after the establishment of the District, the Bearsville housing development was constructed on the aquifer recharge area. Many of the houses were heated by oil, which of course required oil storage tanks. Tight lot dimensions caused many oil storage tanks to be buried. Whether above or under ground, a ruptured tank could contaminate the water supply. Also, the copper lines from the oil tank leading to the oil burner can deteriorate and leak. About twenty years ago a concern over the aging tanks emerged, especially the underground tanks that are extremely difficult to inspect.

State regulations prohibit the District from forcing homeowners to remove and/or upgrade oil tanks less than 1100 gallons. The oil tanks on the aquifer are less than 1100 gallons. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) can mandate tank replacement and other cleanup measures only after contamination has been detected.

Oil tanks and lines from the tank to the furnace should concern every property owner, no matter where they reside. Aside from the potential for costly environmental damages, New York State now requires prior to sale the full disclosure of property conditions, including age and location of oil tanks. Banks and lending institutions are very aware of the potential liabilities of old oil tanks, particularly buried ones, and in many cases will not authorize mortgages until the tanks have been upgraded.

If an oil tank or its lines located over the District’s recharge area were to contaminate the aquifer it would dramatically devalue all properties hooked up to the municipal water supply. “Catastrophe” would understate such an event.

Some residents hesitate to act from fear that their existing oil tank and line will be found to have leaked, and they will be held liable for the cleanup. But in most cases where tanks have been removed there have been no cleanup costs. Where there were costs they were generally minor. But points to consider are:

1. Cleanup costs are not covered by homeowner insurance policies.
2. If the tank or its line is leaking the cleanup costs are going to climb exponentially as time passes.
3. Even if you manage to sell your property you can still be held liable for cleanup costs. Yes, you could be retired to Florida only to find out that old oil tank you thought you left for the next property owner to take care of will eat your whole IRA.

Long story short: oil tanks and their lines, whether buried or above ground are a serious matter and the responsibility of preventing them from harming the environment is entirely up to the property owner.

What can be done?

Some home fuel companies for no fee will evaluate your current oil tank and lines, and if deemed necessary arrange for replacement. Costs can range from approximately $2000.00 to install a new above ground outdoor 275 gallon tank and properly dispose of the old one, to approximately $6000.00 to remove, properly dispose and replace an old 550 gallon underground tank with a new, approved double wall tank and install a monitoring well. An alternative solution would be to replace your oil burner with a propane furnace. There would still be the cost of removing the old oil tank, but no cost for the new propane tank. Your home fuel company can give you precise figures.

There is at least one local home fuel company that will remove and properly dispose an old tank and install a new one, or change the home heating system with a propane furnace, and spread the costs over three years at no interest. Property owners should contact their home fuel company and see if it will enter into such an agreement in exchange for a three-year service contract, and if not try another.

It is possible that with enough tank replacements or removals in a specific neighborhood that costs can be reduced by choosing a single contractor and coordinating the work. Since many of the remaining older buried oil tanks seem to be concentrated in one area over the aquifer the District should consider “jawboning” the residents toward this approach.

In a nutshell:
1) No matter where you live your oil tank and lines are a potential danger to the environment and to your wallet.
2) At least one local home fuel company will financially facilitate upgrading your home heating system (including waiving interest charges) in exchange for an extended service contract.
3) It may behoove you to network with other property owners with old oil tanks to see if a coordinated project will help keep down costs.
4) No matter how many oleaginous speechifiers with hidden political agendas orate on the matter, items 2 and 3 really address the problem.

Woodstock Town Board Meeting (Part 2) June 17, 2008

This article appeared in the Townsman, June 26 edition

Woodstock, June 17 2008

Russell Richardson, head of the Onteora Indie Program, spoke before the Woodstock town board at its June 17 meeting and asked for its moral and financial support. The program is aimed at “at risk” high school students and encourages “self awareness and self esteem” primarily using video workshops as a tool. The program has had its ups and downs in its relations with the school board over the years, but the recently elected school board appears “very supportive,” according to Russell. There will be a full schedule next year, including an after school program from 2:30 to 5:00 PM each school day. A 2008 summer schedule is planned, with up to eight children from Woodstock enrolled. Just recently Woodstocker Noria Gugliotta won first prize for Best Music Video out of approximately 300 entries to the youth video festival in Hunter. “Any gesture would be a very clear sign that we [the Indie Program] are supported by the community,” said Russell, who also cited area businesses as contributors. At the end of his presentation the town board, on a motion by councilwoman Terrie Rosenblum, voted unanimously to support the program and to allocate up to $1000 in financial aid. “I’ve taught art to high school students for thirty years,” said Rosenblum. “I am very aware of its value as an educational tool, and it pleases me to know the number of Woodstock youth benefiting from the Indie Program.”

Supervisor Jeff Moran announced the continuation of the Oral History Project: “Our Lives and the Mountain Through Storytelling and Art,” a second year that the Woodstock Oral History Collective will be recording stories of local seniors “whose families have lived here for generations, acting as caretakers of the land and of the culture.” The scripted oral histories will be read at the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum from 1-5 p.m., Saturday, October 18, 2008.

David Gross, member of the Woodstock environmental commission (WEC) but wearing his hat as a “private citizen,” read from a short essay calling upon businesses to recognize disposal and end-of-life costs of their products and their effects on the environment as part of their total cost. His subsequent colloquy with the board focused primarily on the wide use of plastic bags, and the devastation they have on the ecology. He encouraged the board to continue its policy of environmental stewardship, and while acknowledging that the township may not of the authority to ban plastic bags, he thought perhaps the county did. Councilwoman Terrie Rosenblum offered to work with county legislator Brian Shapiro, who chairs the legislature’s environmental committee, to construct a helpful resolution from the town board to encourage such an endeavor.

Mary Burke, chairwoman of the Woodstock environmental commission, announced a 22 page “green guide” constructed by WEC member Megan Reynolds. The guide is packed with information, including web addresses, to complement Woodstock’s carbon neutral initiative. The town board agreed to discuss the guide at its July 8 meeting.

To the palpable satisfaction of the room, councilman Jay Wenk’s proposal for a policy on the agenda process was deferred to a later meeting.

Also deferred for later meetings was a continued discussion of policy regarding town board members’ ringing up consultant fees without prior authorization from the supervisor, the idea of installing signage at the end of Hutchin Hill Road to prohibit overnight parking on that desolate lane often colonized by transients, and a proposal to move one of the Comeau trails to divert walkers away from the soccer field.

The supervisor’s suggestion to shift the schedule for collecting parking fees at the town’s main parking lot from Thursday through Tuesday to Wednesday through Monday was opposed by board members Chris Collin s, Liz Simonson and Wenk, who again accused the supervisor of “targeting” the Farm Festival held on Wednesdays. The Town provides an officer to direct traffic on days of the festival at a cost that was estimated to be $45.00 per hour.

Joan Elliot was appointed to the commission for civic design, replacing Barbara Yusko, who will now serve as an alternate.

The resignation of Eli Liss from the ethics board was accepted, the town board expressed its gratitude for his service as well. With the five member ethics board now comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans a candidate not belonging to either political party is being sought to fill Mr. Liss’s vacant seat. Local law prohibits the ethics board from having a majority with membership in one political party.

The board authorized another test of the sound level emitted during active play and use of the skate park at the Youth Center. Neighbors have maintained that sound levels at the park violate the zoning law. Proposals to move the skate park, including one to construct a new, enclosed facility on Andy Lee Field have not been entertained in recent meetings.

Rental fees were waived for a Hospice fundraiser to be held on July 5 at the Community Center from the hours of 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

Signs will be posted on Maple Lane reading “No Parking 2-10 PM Wednesdays, Except Authorized Vehicles.” Without amending the Town’s traffic and parking law the regulation cannot be enforced, but the board expressed hope that people will still obey.

A diseased tree will be removed from the area of the Woodstock Reformed Church, the town board’s approval necessitated by a 1956 local ordinance regulating the removal of shade trees within proximity of Mill Hill Road and Tinker Street.

Supervisor Moran appointed councilman Collins to serve as deputy supervisor, after receiving his assurance of at least one weekly meeting to discuss business of the town. Collins replaces councilwoman Liz Simonson.

After listening to committee reports that have been described in last week’s edition (June 19, 2008), the supervisor closed the meeting at approximately 11:15 PM.