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March 18, 2010
March 18, 2010 11:56 AM | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Marijuana Is Safe And Natural Medicine

Nowhere is it clearer than the “case for medical marijuana,” that New York Senators need to put patient’s needs ahead of politics. This legislation has failed since 1998 to become a law — a law to stop arresting sick and dying patients from arrest, prison, and criminal records. Now that the New York Assembly is on-board, it’s time to convince the remaining doubtful Senators that the people of New York need this law. Citizens, patients and Health Care Professionals, it’s time to stand up and let Senator John Bonacic know we demand protection for people with cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, arthritis and other serious ailments. New Jersey just added this safe and natural medicine to its doctors’ bags; it’s time New York joined 14 other compassionate states and did the same. Please go to www.nypatientsfirst.org to become a part of the solution! This should be the year we start protecting patients, but your voices are needed.

Jennifer Rog

Kingston

Likes Lea

In the February 25 article about the economic situation and the lay offs these past months, you highlighted Lea in particular. I don’t know her personally, but reading all these letters and any mention of her name to the locals, it always became a passionate discussion. First I thought, boy these people have nothing better to do. Then hearing what they all had to say about this person made me curious. I have been in human resources for over 20 years, and feel I have good judgment of people, so on my way home from skiing thought I would pop in to Sunfrost. Well, good fortune would have it, there she was. With an obvious fan base of customers buzzing around the cafe counter, as I walked in her welcoming smile greeted me and at once I felt at home. She had a magic touch of making each person feel she was there just for them, making recommendations of food, what to do for this and that ailment, even telling one customer to make sure they add acidophilus to their dogs diet. Her appearance was conservative and feminine with a beautiful embroidered skirt her hair neatly pulled away from her face and just enough sass in her voice to keep the crowd entertained. It would seem that Sweet Sue’s couldn’t afford to lose Lea’s talent. Maybe I should open my own restaurant and get Lea running it. She would ensure success.

Christina Moltaine

Brooklyn

Negative Adult Behavior

The Town Board meeting on March 9th was truly beyond belief! The number of attendees that resorted to rudeness, discourtesy, disrespect, false accusations and innuendo was staggering! It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to think they rehearsed in advance of the meeting. There were loudly voiced interruptions and several disparaging remarks aimed at the Town Board. The absurdities that flew around the meeting room were disgraceful. One has to ponder what the possible purposes were behind the number of privately owned video cameras that were recording this debacle.

I’ve talked with several people that told me they felt so intimidated and threatened by all the tension and aggression displayed by several of the attendees that they left the meeting room and went home.

The leash law has been on the books in Woodstock for decades. It is long past time for it to be enforced. Surely no responsible dog owner could object. As a leash-only dog owner I can honestly state that if an unleashed dog approaches me I always experience some degree of concern. I am also frequently at the Comeau property and cannot count the number of times I have seen individuals simply let their dogs loose, as if it is their right to do so. It isn’t! Every individual that has any reason to go to the Comeau property deserves to feel safe. They also deserve the freedom of knowing that they aren’t going to step in dog poop! I love dogs, but I accept the fact that not all people do. I respect that fact and take the personal steps necessary to guarantee that my dogs never create a problem for anyone.

I noted two OCS high school students in the audience. It is a requirement in certain classes to include attendance at area municipal board meetings in order to gain a personal view of “government in action.” What a shame they were exposed to such negative “adult” behavior! Hopefully they noted the decorum exercised by the Town Board members while they were being bombarded by so many unbridled individuals.

Woodstock finally has a hard working, research-driven, fact-oriented, responsible Town Board. They are dedicated to serving the public and they have tackled innumerable issues that have been beaten to death but never resolved because of the obstructionist actions of some previous TB members. This Town Board is determined to accomplish things within as rapid a time-frame as is responsibly possible. They most decidedly do not deserve to be attacked. There is a vast difference between asking questions and requesting explanations and the throwing out of invalid, unsubstantiated, undeserved accusations. This Town Board deserves our attention and our respect. Anything less is totally unacceptable.

Mary Phillips Burke

Woodstock

Low Tax Woodstock

In response to a growing public misperception, as evidenced from recent letters to the editor, I would like to set the record straight. Woodstock does not have the highest property taxes in Ulster County. In fact, Woodstock has the lowest property taxes of any town in Ulster County, except Olive. The assessor’s office also has a record of Woodstock’s trend as one of the lowest taxed jurisdictions in New York State. If anyone cares to inquire, it’s all public information.

Here is a chart published by the Ulster County Real Property Tax Service agency, presenting the effective tax rate of each town in Ulster County.

Using the chart for 2010 tax rates, a home that is worth $200,000 in Woodstock will pay approximately $3,240 in combined town, county, and school taxes ($200,000 x 1.62%). Whereas, a home that is worth $200,000 in Marlborough will pay approximately $5,520 in combined taxes ($200,000 x 2.76%), an amount that is seventy percent more than those in Woodstock! Yes, low-tax Woodstock.

Marc Plate, Assessor

PROPERTY TAX RATE ANALYSIS

Municipal Effective Tax Rates for 2010

Marlborough 2.76%

New Paltz 2.56%

Kingston (c) 2.49%

Wawarsing 2.47%

Denning 2.42%

Kingston 2.35%

Ulster 2.33%

Shawangunk 2.32%

Plattekill 2.29%

Saugerties 2.12%

Lloyd 2.12%

Rosendale 2.11%

Esopus 2.09%

Gardiner 2.08%

Hurley 2.05%

Rochester 2.03%

Marbletown 2.00%

Hardenburgh 1.96%

Shandaken 1.73%

Woodstock 1.62%

Olive 1.55%
Love Me Or Leash Me

Hooray for the Woodstock Dog Owners Group for standing up to the outrageous leash law! I have two 130 pound Bulgarian Bear Hunting Dogs that I got from a shelter (they had been abused and trained to fight bears, wild boars, wolves, each other — terrible!). I’ve been working with them a little and after a few stitches and lots of Milk Bones “Grenade” and “Napalm” are now the sweetest fellas. (Not too many treats though — they leave me two or three soup-can-sized “gifts” a day as it is. Each.) They love to run and jump and will charge right up on you and show their own brand of affection! Most of the time those rascals come to me after I call to them a few times. They are so energetic! As long as you don’t make any sudden moves, or are under four feet tall, they are just fine! Oddly enough, hats and really old people bother them a little too, but I’m working on that. And other dogs. Those big oafs still get “a little testy” sometimes when they get around other dogs, but hey, “dogs will be dogs.”

Anyway, there is no good reason why I can’t let them run free to explore our beautiful community. It breaks my heart to have to put them on leashes — it’s just not fair to them at all. People are the problem! St. Bernard once said: “Love me, love my dog.” Woodstock’s enforcement of the leash law disregards our rights. If you leash my dog, you leash me!

Gary T. Vaggio

West Hurley

Sign Gone

The sign that obstructed the Great Lawn view at the Comeau has been removed.

It is an example of the Town and the Woodstock Land Conservancy working together for us via the Easement. Thank you, Jeff Moran and Kevin Smith.

Joan Walker Wasylyk

Woodstock

Don’t Underestimate The Music Curriculum

Well, here we are again. Dr. Ford said she was pleased to present pianist Justin Kolb to an enthusiastic audience last Thursday evening, a program where the wonderful music faculty was praised from the stage and the importance of the school music program emphasized. But now, as last year, we face the prospect of the dissolution of the elementary strings program at Onteora. Talk of it simply being a matter of “more group lessons, less private ones” is inaccurate and misleading. The most recently hired music teacher, Melissa Glover, will probably not be able to stay on in a part-time position. Without her, there is a cascading effect of inefficient travel and instruction. I could quote from my previous letter last year when we were faced with a similar situation. The enormous benefits of this music curriculum in our schools cannot be over-emphasized. It is programs like these that will attract new families and families who may have gone elsewhere for their children’s education. For most families, the school music program is the only chance their children will have to learn to play an instrument, and that allows students from all ethnic and economic groups to learn a common language and be part of a musical community. Who knows what talent and self-expression and self confidence might develop from that opportunity? Most important to remember is that once such a program is allowed to expire, it will be almost impossible to resuscitate; these things only go one way...

The very real correlations between music education and the growth of the brain, music education and mathematical ability, music education and graduation rates, may lead to the danger of underestimating the value of music education for its own sake. If you value it, stand up for it. Do your cost/benefit analysis if you must; I don’t think you’ll find that saving the half-time cost of one teacher will make up for the very real and irreplaceable loss that the Onteora district will experience if they make this disastrous cut.

Lauren Silver

Phoenicia

Comeau Spirit! At the last Woodstock town Board meeting, a very positive action unfolded. Residents passionately told the Town Board of their many concerns for recent actions on the Comeau property. Unfortunately, Supervisor Moran seemed more concerned with “timekeeping” the speakers instead of listening. The various opinions expressed had a united theme, stop your plans to degrade the Comeau property with development and overuse.

It was obvious that the majority of residents felt that the Town Board is playing fast and loose with provisions of the Comeau Easement. By proposing to eliminate the Town Planning Board’s input, they signal their callous disregard of the public interest. This Town Board is more concerned with “fast tracking” their vision of Comeau even before a stewardship committee is appointed.

I applaud all of you who came to the Town Board meeting. I was a part of the Comeau Easement process in 2002-2003. I had become weary of the government’s attempts to obstruct the terms of the easement, even to today. You raised my spirits.

I remember standing in a field in Bethel in 1969 and wondering if anyone felt as I felt...and then thousands walked over that hill...we were a Nation.

Thanks for showing up.

Marge Farnett

Woodstock

Permit Me My Doubts Who will get the permits for the new Accessory Upper Parking Lot at the Comeau and how many will there be? Will they require Woodstock residence?

I am concerned about the announcement and timing of the distribution of any permits.

Why are several projects being proposed all at the same time immediately after the Easement was signed? What’s the rush?

Holly Post

Woodstock

Upper Class Pavilion

I am writing to correct the misquotation of what I said at the Town Board meeting last week. I do not disapprove of leash laws but there has been a custom (unwritten law) that dogs may be off leash in the Comeau woods and I hope that will continue. I also said that people whose dog is uncontrolled or who do not clean up after their dog should be fined and I do not think it would take many tickets to correct these offenses. I question the need for additional soccer fields because I don’t see much activity there except on Wednesday afternoons and on Saturday and I certainly question the need for a pavilion which seems contrary to the Easement, would require clearing a lovely woods and meadow and would be an unnecessary expense when people are hurting, businesses failing, schools and other services being cut back. It all seems more upper class suburban than Woodstock in character.

Elaine Hencke

Woodstock

Woodstock Vols On The Spot

I’d like to thank the Woodstock Fire Department for coming to the Library last week when both our sump pumps failed and the basement filled with water. Your swift arrival and efficient work was much appreciated. It is true what they say, “Nothing Beats a Woodstock volunteer.”

Amy Raff, Director

Woodstock Public Library

Woodstock Will Rue The Day What exactly is the benefit of the RUPCO issue to the town of Woodstock? To the bigger picture of this town, that seems to be dying slowly as more and more businesses are closing? Whether we admit it or not, this town is described as “the most famous small town in the country” — I would go further and say the world. I have been at local stores where visitors from other countries are asking where the festival was held? While we all know it really was in Sullivan County and that Max Yasgur’s farm is now Bethel Woods, this town is a tourist town. It is what supports the economic life of the town and it did in the past, in winter and summer both.

Anyone with even one eye can see the decline in front of us. Again, what is the benefit, for the higher good, of our town by allowing this area to be forever changed by a RUPCO set-up?

My friends, much like a hairline crack in a windshield of a car, the crack does not stay small but grows until the window is no longer viable and will have to be replaced. Woodstock will rue the day construction of the RUPCO building begins.

Instead of taking the hardest look at what are the immediate economic needs of this town, which affects us all, our town council seems to feel that bringing in this situation is a step in a right direction? We need business’s that are thriving, not just surviving. How will RUPCO make us grow? Will it bring in abundance...will the inhabitants be able to shop at the local stores, etc?

Is it smart to bring in a faction that already is set in scarcity mode? I am not going to belabor the many issues involved insofar as the pros and cons of the RUPCO matter — eg: ‘need of afforable housing’, etc. Much like an airplane, car, train, if the pilot, driver, conductor are no longer able to safely navigate the mode of transportation, all the riders will go down with the ship.

Woodstock is a ship and we are sinking. Throwing the town a lifeline made of cement is not going to help us.

While I was against the KTD proposed issue, in hindsight, it would have been a much better situation for the town as a whole. My position was simply based on the pragmatic areas that I didn’t think a small town could manage properly...however, we also would have seen the energy of the spiritual abundance that Woodstock could be proud of, a furthering of our ‘mission,’ so to speak, that would have translated to stores and restaurants also seeing the growth of their business’ and thereby the trickle down postitive benefits that keep any town alive.

In order to “help” a few, we would be sacrificing the entire town. I applaud Robin Segal and the clarity she has regarding RUPCO.

“Build it and they will come” — to whatever “field” we build. Woodstock is in ‘crisis mode’ and needs an immediate transfusion of taking the right road, and making the smartest decisions, for the bigger picture of our town. As I write this, I see that the hairline crack in our windshield has grown.

This business of affordable housing is simply a “beard.” It’s a cover-up but there is no doubt someone will reap their reward, at the cost of the make-up of our town.

Louise Luna

Woodstock

RUPCO Following Procedure

Lying Washington style has come to Woodstock. You know the formula; ignore the truth, use scary words and use them often so that when they begin to sound familiar folks may mistake familiarity for fact.

Now we are hearing fraud, white collar crime and FBI investigations in reference to RUPCO’s planned affordable housing in Woodstock, all because Woodstock Commons Limited Partnership, the original name of the structure that would eventually receive the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit subsidy funds, was not registered well in advance, many months for sure and possibly longer, of the funds being available. There was no mystery here, no fraud, no white collar crime and nothing to investigate. RUPCO has built much housing with the exact funds that will be used in Woodstock and knows well that government agencies require submission of the Limited Partnership corporate papers before transfer of monies. RUPCO acted in a very ordinary way in the long process of developing affordable housing.

Strangely Robin Segal, a children’s book author, who moved to Woodstock last year buying a house a stone’s throw from the proposed new housing, has registered the Woodstock Commons LPC name herself and now controls it. RUPCO was required to change the name on all documents. This name change resulted in our tax money paying those who worked on this unnecessary task.

There are many of us who want to see RUPCO’s affordable housing built in Woodstock. We believe that all humans need and should have the right to decent housing. We know that the extraordinary scarcity of subsidy results in RUPCO type development being the only choice. Let’s house our brothers and sisters.

Judy Flynn, Liz Rosen, Sue and Murray Kiok, Bobbie Shlasko

Woodstock

Thanks, Justin

On behalf of Onteora Central School District and the HS Music Department, I would like to thank Justin Kolb, pianist, for gracing our Auditorium with his talent. Justin Kolbs’ expertise was matched by his program selection, knowledge, insightful comments, and humor. We truly appreciate his support for our fine music program.

Leslie Ford

Superintendent

SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT CONTINUES

Of all the serious problems facing Woodstock, the town board has decided to aggressively enforce the leash law in the Comeau property as a priority. It has positioned unsightly metal signs at the entrance of the Comeau threatening “Prosecution” and “Fines.” It has wasted an exorbitant amount of time at town meetings on this subject sacrificing time for other important town business

The Town Boards decision is divisive and is out of touch with our dog loving community. It has created mistrust and resentment. There is not one town board member who routinely walks a dog in the Comeau and, hence, they have no first hand knowledge of the extraordinary experience for the dog and owner. They are relying on “numerous complaints” that I find mysterious and misleading. I FOILed for any formal dog complaints at the Comeau. The town board has ignored my request and I have not yet received one formal dog complaint at the Comeau property.

It appears that Woodstock in under siege by a new administration that freely practices “selective enforcement” of zoning laws. That is, all laws are not equally enforced. Take for example, Woodstock zoning law 260-53 that states: “Displays of merchandise, exhibits and advertising which are located between the face of a building and the curb edge of a public driveway or thoroughfare are not allowed.”

There are numerous violations of this zoning law, especially along the hamlet’s commercial strip. This law is not enforced and the infractions are ignored. The same town officials who are knowingly ignoring this law are passionately enforcing others. Not only is this inherently unjust, it clearly demonstrates favoritism. Historically selective enforcement is recognized as abuse of power, because it violates the rules of law, allowing the power structure to apply laws only when it chooses.

Furthermore, the ZBA chairman is politically entrenched with most town board members. He nominated Jeff Moran at the Republican caucus and passionately campaigned for the three Ms as Republicans. The ethics law states, any town official must recuse him or herself if there is a reasonable appearance of a conflict of interest or impropriety. Woodstock’s ZBA chairman has sadly developed a reputation as a rubber stamp. He allows the practice of selective enforcement by remaining silent instead of challenging when his political buddies come before him for a ruling or interpretation. If he refuses to act as an oversight that imposes checks and balances, then, he may as well be replaced by an $8.49 rubber stamp purchased on eBay that simply states ‘approved” and save us all wasted time at ZBA meetings.

Jay Cohen

Woodstock

Woodstock Elementary Vital

In the letters column of your March 11 issue, a writer suggested that the Onteora School Board “put the Woodstock School up for sale and relocate the students to a real campus with expansion possibilities in West Hurley. Just think...nine acres directly across the street from a golf course and walking distance to the infamous ‘Woodstock.’ What hotel chain wouldn’t eat that one up?”

A hotel? I’m not conversant with the hospitality industry, but I do know that our local innkeepers, like our restaurateurs and other seasonally dependent entrepreneurs, have a very difficult time attracting customers in the off season, which can be six months or more of the year. My guess is that were the hospitality industry to have identified “the infamous Woodstock” as a viable location, we would have had one by now. Woodstock does not need another large property sitting empty.

It is true that West Hurley’s mothballed 37-acre campus has great potential, but the dwindling student population made it untenable to keep it operational. It is true as well that districtwide enrollment has dropped precipitously over the past decade or so, but the population of Woodstock Elementary is on an upswing. Moreover, it is true that consolidation appears to be the trend of our age, but this is not a magic bullet. One problem may lie with the configuration of the Onteora School District, the state’s second largest in terms of geography, encompassing Olive, Shandaken, West Hurley and Glenford, much of Woodstock, and portions of Marbletown and Hunter. A first step could be for the Commissioner of Education, in concert with BOCES, to fund a study of Woodstock’s three school districts — Onteora, Saugerties, and Kingston Consolidated — to examine a redistricting plan and evaluate the possible benefits to the students and the community.

Once a Town loses its elementary school, it does not get it back. In my capacity as Town Supervisor as well as a private citizen of Woodstock, I feel strongly that our community derives great cultural, economic, and emotional benefits from the presence of the Woodstock Elementary School, and I believe that keeping this school open should be a priority for our elected school board (to whom, whatever our differences may be, I extend my deep gratitude for their valiant service — past, present, and future — in a very difficult and generally thankless job).

Jeff Moran

Woodstock Town Supervisor

Victory

I’m renting my niece’s kid this summer and signing him up for soccer at the Comeau...that way I can get a parking permit and walk my dog.

Lilly Cano

Woodstock

Trailing Expectations

There are many good aspects to the Town Board’s Comeau Trails Taskforce’s proposal as presented at the February 9 meeting. Different structures discussed (Puncheon-bog bridges; Burrito turnpikes; etc.) will go a long way towards dealing with our perennially wet conditions along the trails at Comeau. The erection of an information kiosk at the parking lot, already studied and planned out by the Comeau Users Group (CUG), is much-needed. However, we do have concerns about this plan.

One concern of ours is relocating trails. On one hand, the relocation of the Stage Trail is a good thing, providing direct access to the East Trail from the Upper Parking Lot without interfering with Bird-on-a-cliff Theater. It has never worked to walk across the lawn and the area behind the stage is always too wet. A good plan. On the other hand, the idea of moving the West Trail is a bad one. The Taskforce wants to route a new trail through the woods west of the soccer field, coming out behind the Sledding Hill. We believe this idea is unnecessary and destructive. Unnecessary, because a form of raised walkway could readily be built across the problem area near the West Trail-head and this would deal with the wet area at that location, allowing the continued usage of one of the oldest, most long-lived trails at Comeau. Destructive, because the small wetlands at the location of the new, proposed trail are really a chain of small Vernal Pools — Woodfrog habitat. Many of us have heard Woodfrogs at this location. Also destructive is cutting a trail that is not necessary. One hears people say it would only be a “small path” and would only entail cutting a few trees. Most of our trails started as “small paths” — look at them now. We, as lovers of Comeau who walk its trails daily and year-round do appreciate the need for improvements. We also urge the Town Board and its Trails Taskforce to postpone any relocation of the West Trail until such time as the Comeau Stewardship Committee, has been created and performed appropriate environmental reviews at this location.

Barbara Silver, Brett Munson, Chloe Dresser, Dave Holden, Eva Van Rijn, Fanny Prizant, Joan Walker-Wasylyk, Michael Platsky, Sharon Broit

Woodstock

Peaceful Coexistence

At the last town board meeting, The Woodstock Soccer League accused the town of being stingy and negligent in its support of organized youth recreation in Woodstock. They claimed Woodstock had 780 acres of open and available land, but only a pathetic 10 acres, about 1 percent, was dedicated for organized youth recreation. With all this available town land, they said Woodstock’s dog owners should find somewhere other than Comeau to exercise their dogs and make room for additional soccer fields.

These were rather harsh criticisms of the town. I obtained the list of town owned lands they were referencing. Indeed, the town does have a substantial amount of property, but most of it could hardly be considered open or accessible. The largest parcel of about 400 acres on the side of Mount Guardian between Meads Mountain Road and Byrdcliffe was deeded to the town by the Whitehead estate in April 1976. Over 100 acres consisting of three parcels exists between Zena and Morey Hill Roads. None of this property has easy accessibility or parking for organized recreation or dog walking.

Excluding the Comeau, the town actually uses and manages 190 acres of which Andy Lee Field, Rick Volz Field and Mallory Grove comprise 43.4 acres. About 23 percent of the town’s useable property is dedicated to organized youth recreation.

One question the Woodstock Soccer League would not answer during the town board meeting was how many soccer players are Woodstock residents. In fact, their response to this simple question was quite evasive. It appears the substantial growth in the soccer at Comeau is the result of attracting youngsters from surrounding towns.

Dog walkers and soccer players have peacefully coexisted on the Comeau for many years, and there is no reason why that should not continue. If restrictions and constraints on the use of the Comeau are needed, they should be applied to all users.

Ken Panza

Woodstock

Spend Our Way From Recession

Federal minimum wage is currently less than $8/hour. If, and I emphasize if, congress had a real intention and interest in recovering from the sinkhole “we” are in now, they would raise it to $10/hour. If people had higher income, which many are now cheated out of by the greed of their employers, they would be “consuming” more; thus creating more jobs. Of course the megabank crooks on Wall Street would have to be forced to loan money to small business, and charge less interest, even to wealthy business like military equipment producers. However, those should be forced to have no lobbyists in D.C. Did you think they do not lobby for war? Isn’t that the way they insure huge profits by trading the lives of young men and women for excess profit? As some closing good news; if we don’t dump the parasitic HMOs and get Single Payer Health Care like the civilized nations, making the CEOs of the HMOs ever richer, and the rest of us poorer, will not get us out of recession; and may even lead to depression. Also, by no COLA this year for Social Security, we guarantee that those depending on SS income will spend less this year on anything but necessities, thus helping to keep the recession going while they suffer. But don’t worry; the greedswine of Wall Street, still collect their multi-million “bonuses,” so maybe some of them will buy a couple of new limos, take a few world tours, throw lots of big parties, etc., thus pulling us out of recession; no?

Phil Sullivan

Woodstock

Planning Board Lacks Accountability

At a January 7 meeting the Planning Board agreed to hold a workshop on affordable housing. I brought this up one week later during the January 14 Public Hearing on RUPCO’s site plan, and Paul Shultis, Jr. interrupted me and told me that I remembered wrong. I said I was sure of what I heard, and that I could verify what was said because the meeting was taped. Shultis then said, “Well, I’m going to correct the record and say that we will not be addressing it [affordable housing in Bearsville] until the subcommittee reports back to us.”

My questions are: how can the Planning Board chair unilaterally correct the record of a previous meeting, when the record/minutes of the previous meeting had not been produced yet, so there was nothing to correct? Why did every other member of the Planning Board say nothing when Shultis did what he did, when it was clear that a person cannot simply change a record because he feels like it? And why, now that the draft minutes have been produced, do they corroborate my version, not Shultis’ unilaterally corrected version?

The Planning Board’s recordkeeping is shameful and illegal. I am not able to consult the minutes of the January 7 meeting because they do not exist. The draft minutes of that meeting, which by law were required by law to be available to the public by January 21, were only made available to the public on March 15. One week ago I received a letter from Robert Freeman, executive director of the Committee on Open Government in Albany, advising me of this law. He copied every member of the town board as well as the secretary of the Planning Board.

The Planning Board has not produced even draft minutes of any meeting this year, after January 7, violating the law with each failure. The only way the chairman of this pathetically run “board” has been able to lie to me in public and get away with it even for two months is by preventing me from consulting the minutes or draft minutes, which would have supported my version of events. And even if the draft minutes had been made available prior to March 15, they have not been approved by the board. In fact, no planning board meeting draft minutes since June 2009 have been approved by the planning board, which means that there can be no accountability of their actions.

When it comes to RUPCO, a multimillion-dollar project that will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in increased property taxes, a project on which the Planning Board is lead agency, shouldn’t there be some accountability, particularly in the face of outright lies?

Robin Segal

Woodstock

RUPCO Income Eligibility For those of you who not aware of the income eligibility for the RUPCO proposed housing project, Woodstock Commons, here are the facts from RUPCO’s DEIS. Unfortunately, I can’t put this in a table for easier reading but here goes.

There are 53 units. One is for the caretaker, 52 are open to the public via a lottery. Of the 52 units there are 20 senior units. Ten of those units are for those people with a maximum annual household income of 30% of the Average Median Income (AMI). Six units are for income levels between 30% and 50% of the AMI. The remaining four units are for those between 50% and 60% of the AMI. These are all 1-bedroom apartments with only 1 or 2 people allowed to live in them.

According to the latest published income levels 30% AMI is an annual household maximum of $14,650 for a family of one and $16,700 for a family of two. 50% AMI is $24,400 for a family of one and $27,900 for a family of two. 60% AMI is $29,283 for a family of one and $33,437 for a family of two.

There are 32 family apartments. There are 21 units for households with a maximum annual household income of 50% of the AMI. 11 units are for maximum annual household incomes of 60% AMI. Because these are 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom units, the family sizes range from one to six people. For a family of one or two, the numbers are the same as for the senior apartments explained above. For the 50% AMI, a family size of three the maximum household annual income is $31,350, for four it’s $34,850, five it’s $37,650 and six it’s $40,450. For the 60% AMI, a family size of three is $37,659, for four $41,834, five it’s $45,150 and six it’s $48,487.

This is the breakdown of the 32 family units. Of the 1-bedroom units, three are at 50% AMI, and one is at 60% AMI. Of the 2-bedroom units, ten are at 50% and six are at 60%. Of the three-bedroom units, eight are at 50% and four are at 60%.

Six one-bedroom apartments are set aside for the frail elderly, two 2-bedroom apartments are set aside for the developmentally disabled and 10 apartments are set aside for artists.

How many of you will actually qualify? How many apartments do you think are left for you to apply for and what do your think your chances are when you put your name in with hundreds of others into that state lottery?

For more information, please visit www.woodstocksage.com

Iris York

Woodstock

Bye-Bye Birdies

This week in The New York Times, there was a piece about global threats to migratory birds. The Interior Department is finally adding climate change to the list, which has long included destruction of habitat and loss of wetlands. Clearly, Woodstock is willing to combat climate change — the town is installing solar panels. But strangely, the planning board is unwilling to protect our wetlands, a.k.a. critical bird habitat. In fact, they still see no problem in allowing RUPCO to build a 52-unit complex with roads, 24-hour lighting, clear cutting and retention ponds right smack in the middle of them. They’ve happily accepted the FEIS, omissions and all, and are on track for approval. So this is it. We have a few days to comment before they make their final decision. So please, tell the board to save our wetlands. We can have affordable housing and still protect our feathered friends.

Cheryl Chapman

Woodstock

Onteora Board Makes Solid Decisions

I just left this week’s 3/16/10 Board of Education meeting, still in progress at our beautiful Phoenicia Elementary School, and wanted to take a minute to reassure students, parents and Onteora district taxpayers that yes, the Board heard your impassioned pleas tonight. They heard your requests, your suggestions and your fervor and they were clearly moved.

At the point I left the meeting to come home after a long, long day, the Administration and the Administrative Cabinet were presenting the three different proposed budget scenarios to the Board. With many of the line items, I was so pleased to hear Board Trustees remark, “This needs to be looked at again” or “We can’t support a cut like that.” Hot button items like the music program, the talented and gifted program, athletics — the Board Trustees were asking all the right questions for our students and our families and therefore, for all of us in our community.

During such a difficult time for public education and for schools nationwide, I’m delighted that we have such a caring, well-rounded, opinionated Board that’s not ready nor willing to take the easy way out; a Board that’s looking at all the angles with educated, caring insight; a Board that stands by its good decision to abandon an unpopular strategic plan from the recent years past.

Unless we as a community vote to approve a tax increase above and beyond what’s on the table right now, cuts will come and they certainly will hurt. But I am confident that our Board of Education Trustees are making solid decisions, so now, before I collapse in bed, I want to say, thank you!

Abbe Aronson

Mount Tremper



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