VIDEO: Laws and Rules Committee Meeting 5/17/16

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At last evening’s Laws and Rules Committee meeting, council members (there are five that include ward 1 alderwoman Lynn Eckert who is committee chair, ward 5 alderman and majority leader Bill Carey, ward 9 alderwoman and minority leader Deb Brown, ward 3 alderman Rennie Scott-Childress and ward 7 alderwoman Maryann Mills) had a full slate of issues to discuss. One of which that we have been closely following is amending the current City of Kingston Firearms law.

The effort, having come about due to a proposal to place a shooting range and gun shop on Prince Street in Midtown, Kingston, has been a contentious one and the public has worked over many months to share their points of view and research to be placed on record during public comment opportunities.  The result of which made the case for the current Firearms Law to be sent back to committee where it belongs, above and beyond anything else, so that council members are certain to get amendments right by a thorough vetting process.

At the onset, it was noted that a packet of ‘model laws’ had been sent to committee members in advance by Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein. Ward 3 alderman Rennie Scott-Childress said that after reviewing them all, he found the City of Rochester’s Firearms Law to be the best written law to consider, and suggests that it be used as the model for their efforts.

Maryann Mills states that the models are just a “stall tactic”.

When a motion is made for Rochester’s law to be used as a model,  it is rejected  by the committee majority (Deb Brown, Maryann Mills and Bill Carey) now moving out of committee to the council with a negative recommendation.

Later, Deb Brown’s amended text that she crafted, and that would allow indoor shooting ranges in Kingston, was brought back up and this time, included new language suggested by Maryann Mills to include more detail of the State of New York’s Penal Law (perhaps in response to the Veteran’s concerns).

What we learned, last night based on Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein’s interpretation of the penal law was that the Veteran’s memorial services and any of the current reenactments were never in jeopardy.  The law apparently had always allowed it.   Please view for more detail: Video 2, starts at: 29:55

Before having the chance to look through any of the materials that had been submitted for discussion, a motion to move the amended law written by Deb Brown and Maryann Mills out of  the Laws and Rules committee took place (supported by Bill Carey, who had also supported a thorough process shortly before). Deb Brown, Maryann Mills and Bill Carey not only rejected the potential model, they also passed through a completely un-vetted Firearms Law, again. It now moves out of committee, and onto the council with a positive recommendation.

We appreciate citizen participation, and know how hard the public has worked on this. It is  with regret that we must relay that we are all made to ask for a third time that the Firearms Law be sent back to committee where it never should have left in the first place until the law has been given the opportunity to be properly vetted.

WHAT TO ASK
That the Kingston Common Council at caucus (Monday, June 6) and their monthly meeting (Tuesday, June 7) request that the Kingston Firearms Law be sent back to the Laws and Rules Committee for a thorough vetting process.

WHO TO CALL (Please feel free to call all council members if you’d like. Here are key members for next month’s discussion)

 

Alderman-at-Large James Noble
commoncouncil@kingston-ny.gov
(845) 331-4696
Majority Leader and Ward 5 Alderman Bill Carey
ward5@kingston-ny.gov
(845) 339-1361
Minority Leader and Ward 9 Alderwoman Deb Brown
ward9@kingston-ny.gov
(845) 338-0763
Ward 4 Alderwoman Nina Dawson
ward4@kingston-ny.gov
(845) 616-8592
READ
A recent submission from Kingston City resident Neil B. Millens
AMENDING KINGSTON’S FIREARMS LAW: Begins at 10:53 

Excerpts:

10:53  Deb Brown and Maryann Mills discuss their amended text.
12:56  A packet of models are introduced.
13:22  Ward 3 Alderman Rennie Scott-Childress feels the City of Rochester is the best model from the package presented by Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein.  Deb Brown and Maryann Mills states that they haven’t seen it, and accuse models as being ‘stall tactics’.
15:32  Maryann Mills “I like what Deb wrote and how I amended it. What is it about Rochester’s law that you like better?”
15:42  Rennie Scott-Childress “It’s clearly researched. It better matches our comprehensive plan…” etc.
17:52  Maryann Mills notes Dr. Soyer’s lawyer, who wrote a letter to the council, that she says mirrors what is in the Rochester Law.  She believes that it’s all addressed in his information. Rennie clarifies and says ‘but none of it is in the city of Kingston’s law”.
23:05  Mention of a communication from the Board of Education on the safety zone for guns.  The school board says it went out to the entire council, and states that the ATF did not do proper measurements.
24:36  Dr. Soyer explains that he (ATF) provides a flyer to municipalities, but (the ATF) doesn’t take measurements, and there is no mechanism to do that.” The federal law does not prohibit private property from engaging in business and that the 1000 foot requirement doesn’t apply.  He’s never seen anything about a ‘safe zone’ before. He hasn’t seen a sign, doesn’t know what the distance is, etc.
27:07   Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein states ‘strongly’ that this is a discussion about the law, and not Dr. Soyer’s Safe Shoot.  It’s problematic to be talking about amending a statute to accommodate or defeat a specific proposal that is in front of the planning board.
28:18  Bill Carey states that the safe zone has nothing to do with the business.
29:55  Dan Gartenstein states that ‘Veterans shooting blanks out of rifles are not firing rifles. If there are no bullets, you’re not discharging a gun.”
30:52  Board of Education (BOE) president Nora Scherer points out that they mapped out the distance between the Prince Street location and Kingston High School on Google maps, which is what the ATF would have done as well. The Gun Free School Zone Act was not enacted when the law was originally written.  In terms of legislation, how the act may be interpreted.
31:55  James Shaugnessy from the BOE adds that he has concerns of what Dr. Soyer saying being true.  You’re talking about around the shooting range, that he doesn’t feel this should be allowed within the school zone, and states a statistic. The common council has a shared responsibility with the BOE that the children are safe before, during and after school hours.
33:52  Maryann suggests to move forward, to include Penal Law in its entirety.
35:40  Motion to add the Penal Law into the amended text.
50:29  Maryann asks about the Business Park, and notes JFK school (but what she is not understanding is that the location is more than 1000 feet away from the school). She states to push a business out of Kingston is absurd. We need whatever revenue we can get. “This is safe. I have researched it myself.”
52:35  Rennie sees it oppositely. That amending the law encourages opportunity. If we are going to choose to have a shooting range, we should be careful. We want the right business, and that’s what the comprehensive plan is all about.

 

00:00  Rennie speaks about the importance of diversity in business in response to questions prior to in the last video.
2:30  Bill Carey says he’s a no vote on the Rochester law, but it doesn’t mean he’s against it. 
3:58  
Ward 8 alderman Steve Schabot endorses a model to help to make the law clear.
5:05  Restates a motion to adopt the City of Rochester Firearms Law.  Lynn Eckert and Rennie Scott-Childress are yes votes. Bill Carey, Maryann Mills, Deb Brown oppose. The resolution moves out of committee and onto the council with a negative recommendation.
5:44  A motion is made to pass through committee Deb Brown’s amended text with Maryann Mill’s changes.  Lynn states “..is that right, that the law you wrote that was already sent back is what we are voting on now”
8:06  Maryann clarifies that the amendment that Deb Brown wrote now includes the penal law.  Dan Gartenstein states what Maryann is speaking of is Section 7B and gives an explanation about discharging vs. possession.
13:30  Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein clarifies the law in the way that it may impact the Veterans, and he states clearly that it does not.
24:22   Dan Gartenstein reads text of the new amended law. A vote is called. Lynn Ekert and Rennie Scott-Childress are opposed.  Deb Brown, Maryann Mills and Bill Carey are in favor.  Deb Brown’s text with Maryann Mill’s changes is passed out of committee and on to the council in June with a positive recommendation.


WHAT TO EXPECT: Laws and Rules Committee Meeting Tuesday, 5/17/16

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WHAT:
Kingston Laws and Rules Committee Meeting 

WHERE:
Conference Room #1
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway  Kingston, NY  

WHEN:
Tuesday, May 17th, 2016
7:00pm

WHY:
The council’s Laws and Rules Committee will hold their monthly meeting where amending the current Firearms Law is scheduled to be on the agenda.

There is no scheduled public comment period for this meeting. 

This event will be filmed brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org thanks to Clark Richters and Kingston News

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On Tuesday, May 17th at 7:00pm,  the City of Kingston’s Common Council’s Laws and Rules Committee will hold their monthly meeting in conference room #1 at Kingston City Hall.  Scheduled to be on the agenda will be a discussion of the amended Firearms Law, which the public expects will be the start of a thorough undertaking, looking closely at all of the items highlighted at a number of public hearings that are posted below. There is no scheduled public comment at this meeting.

VIEW
Kingston Common Council Caucus and Full Council Meeting (5/2/16 and 5/3/16)

VIEW
Laws and Rules Committee meeting 4/19/16 Public Comment

VIEW
City of Kingston Planning Board Meeting Public Hearing 12/14/15

By the way, it was brought to our attention that in 1996, the Kingston Common Council, during a similar contentious debate over a proposed Gentleman’s Club on East Chester Street, hired a consultant to prepare a study.  The purpose of the study was  “to determine the potential primary and secondary impacts that may be associated with adult businesses, if such uses were to be established within the City of Kingston. At present, there are no lawfully existing adult businesses within the City.”

We believe that this is a model for the Firearms Law, as deserving for the same amount of care. 

VIEW
Adult Use Study prepared by Greenplan, Inc. 

So it’s not the first time that the City of Kingston had to grapple with whether or not a potential business would provide a positive addition or detriment to the community.

VIEW
Adult Use Zoning Ordinance that followed, and where the study is noted.

 

 

 

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Amending the City of Kingston’s Firearms Law.

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Now that it has been determined that the current City of Kingston’s Firearms Law is to be fully vetted and amended,  citizens have an opportunity to submit their research to the laws and rules committee for consideration.

Amending the law is not based on public opinion.  Rather, reform is established by existing local, state and federal laws that are currently in place.  Therefore, if you are interested in submitting your research with applicable links to Kingston’s Laws and Rules Committee, please do so by writing to Lynn Eckert, Ward 1 Alderwoman and Laws and Rules Chairperson:   mailto: lmeckert80@gmail.com

Get your information to the committee chair prior to the next laws and rules committee meeting on Tuesday, May 17th at 7:00pm.

VIDEO: Kingston Common Council Caucus (5/2/16) and Full Council Meeting (5/3/16)

We are pleased to bring you video from this week’s common council caucus (5/2) and full council meeting (5/3). As you will see, we have marked much of the content specifically focused on the items that we have been following recently that include amending the firearms law and the Pilgrim Pipeline memorializing resolution. However, there is a good amount of information throughout, and we encourage you to take the time to also view the remainder of the footage.

Citizens did a great job in supporting the council in their decision making process last night, and in sharing their opinions on the location of the proposed shooting range. The outcome was that the council sent the amended firearms law back to the laws and rules committee for further vetting, which was seen as a positive action by all sides. In addition, an important memorializing resolution was passed showing Kingston’s support of Bill A9831a   sponsored by Assemblyman Skartados, “an act to prevent the construction of pipelines to transport hazardous substances or petroleum on property under the jurisdiction of the New York Thruway Authority.”

Although the items listed in the agenda move around some, everything is covered and you can follow along:

VIEW: Agenda

VIEW: Legislation

* Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. Filmed by Clark Richters of Kingston News.

 

  • Kingston Common Council Caucus:  May 2, 2016

00:00 – 11:03
Presentation by Megan Weiss-Rowe, Director
Communications and Community Engagement, COK

11:05 – 22:58
Ethics Law Amendment

23:00 – 38:35
Brenna L. Robinson, Director
Community Development and Economic Development, COK
Re: CDBG

38:37 – 43:40
Discussion re:  Pilgrim Pipeline, new memoralizing resolution.

43:42 – 59:50
Discussion: Amending Firearms Law

 

00:00 – 05:34
Discussion – Amending Firearms Law (Continued)

6:26 – 32:30
City Business: Properties, Bonding, etc.

 

  • Full Kingston Common Council Meeting, May 3rd, 2016

Public Comment Period

2:25 – 5:22
Lorraine Farina, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

5:23 – 7:05
Robert Fanchell, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

7:07 – 11:34
Lisa Robbins, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

11:35 – 13:35
Marco Ochea, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

13:36 – 15:15
Merna Cuovera, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

15:16 – 16:55
Sasha Frasier and youth from local Kingston Homeschooling Group
Amending Firearms Law

17:04 – 18:40
Maria and Keith Phillips, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

18:41 – 20:15
J. Wood, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

20:22 – 21:56
Adriano Fernandez, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

22:00 – 22:38
Octavio Perez Castillo, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

22:40 – 25:27
Pat Courtney Strong, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

25:29 – 28:07
Linda Marston-Reid, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

28:10 – 30:17
Peter Griswell, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

30:19 – 31:35
Michael Sweeney, Rifton
Amending Firearms Law

31:53 – 34:04
Steve Arresio, New Paltz
Amending Firearms Law

34:15 – 36:33
Sue Rosenberg, Sauterties (CAPP)
Pilgrim Pipeline

36:40 – 38:31
Robert Rogan, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

38:35 -41:05
Scott Marston-Reid, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

41:10 – 44:50
Adam Soyer, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

44:53 – 47:00
Nora Scherer
President, Kingston Board of Education
Amending Firearms Law

47:06 – 48:54
James Shaugnessy, Kingston Board of Education
Amending Firearms Law

49:02 – 50:45
Allison Woods, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

50:53 – 52:06
Kaycee Wimbish, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

52:09 – 54:05
Reverend James Childs, Kingston Board of Education
Amending Firearms Law

54:09 – 58:27
Ilana Berger, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

58:34 – 59:50
Darrett Roberts, Poughkeepsie
Amending Firearms Law

 

00:00 – 1:10
Darrett Roberts, Poughkeepsie (Continued)
Amending Firearms Law

1:20 – 2:40
Jenny Snyder
Amending Firearms Law

3:09 – 6:19
Shi, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

6:30 – 9:00
Ellen DiFalco, Kingston
Ethics Law

9:07 – 10:25
Pam Krimskey, Highland
Amending Firearms Law

10:30 – 13:18
Joe DiFalco, Kingston
Ethics Law

13:41 – 15:32
Elisa, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law

15:35 – 16:30
Lawrence McCauley, Kingston  (Letter read by Ward 9 Alderwoman Deb Brown)
Amending Firearms Law

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Resolution #120 of 2016
Amending Firearms Law

17:20 – 17:36
Reading, City Clerk

17:39 – 17:52
Ward 7 Alderwoman Mary Mills
Refers the amended firearms law back to committee

18:00 – 18:52
Ward 2 Alderman Doug Koop
Rejects amending the firearms law.

18:53 – 19:48
Ward 1 Alderwoman Lynn Eckert
Requests clarification as to whether this is a resolution or local law. 
Supports sending the amended law back to committee. 

20:22 – 20:38
Resolution is adopted 7 -1

###

Resolution #122 of 2016
Pilgrim Pipeline: Support Bill A9831a.

32:29 – 32:55
Reading, City Clerk

33:00 – 33:08
Resolution is adopted 8 – 0

 

 

 

WHAT TO EXPECT: Amending Firearms Law and Kingston Common Council Next Week. 

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As you are aware, last week at Kingston’s Laws and Rules Committee meeting, an amended version of Kingston’s Firearms Law (Chapter 223-3 in Kingston City Code) drafted by Ward 9 Alderwoman Deb Brown (that had been looked over by Kingston Corporation Council) was presented to vote to pass it through committee to council. The amended version states that No person, other than in self defense or in the discharge of official duties, willfully discharge any species of firearms within the city limits of the City of Kingston, NY except an indoor facility designed and constructed as a shooting range, pursuant to a site plan approved by the City of Kingston Planning Board and operated in compliance with the laws and regulations of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Division of Safety and Health of the New York Department of Labor

The amended law, however, was rejected by the committee with a 2-3 outcome. In favor was Ward 9 Alderwoman Deb Brown and Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills. Opposed was Ward 1 Alderwoman (and committee chair) Lynn Eckert, Ward 2 Alderman Doug Koop and Ward 5 Alderman (and Majority Leader) Bill Carey.

The law now moves out of committee and on to the Common Council next week (as a rejected item from committee) for a full council vote. Ward 6 Alderman Tony Davis, who works as a teacher for the Kingston City School District, must abstain and is considered a ‘no’ vote to whatever the outcome is next Tuesday due to the Board of Education’s resolution issued in early December of 2015.

A little refresher on how this all works.

The council meets on the first Monday of each month (this month, the date falls on May 2nd at 7:00pm) for their caucus where each of the parties have the opportunity to look over the draft agenda and legislation that will be placed in front of them to discuss. Generally at this meeting, council members debate each item and typically, the direction of the vote during the common council meeting is decided. This meeting is always open to the public. However, it is held in a small conference room which limits its capacity and generally, the public is not given the opportunity to speak.

On the first Tuesday of each month (this month, the date falls on May 3rd at 7:30pm), the Kingston Common Council hold their monthly meeting, where legislation and other items are put to a vote. This meeting is held in council chambers where hundreds of citizens can be easily seated.  Up front, there is always a public comment period where anyone can speak on matters that are on the agenda or otherwise. Generally, the public comment period is 30 minutes in length, and citizens are asked to keep their testimony to 2-3 minutes in length to allow for as many comments as possible.

WHAT TO EXPECT:

Monday, May 2nd, 2016  7:00pm  Conference Room #1    VIEW CALENDAR ITEM
Members of the Kingston Common Council will discuss the Amended Firearms Law that was rejected out of the Laws and Rules Committee and other agenda items.  This is an opportunity for the public to witness their council in action discussing the matter, and all other items on the agenda that evening.    THIS EVENT WILL BE FILMED.

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016   7:30PM  Council Chambers   VIEW CALENDAR ITEM
Members of the Kingston Common Council will cast their vote on the Amended Firearms Law and other agenda items. There is public comment up front starting at 7:30pm. Citizens wishing to speak should arrive at 7:15pm to sign- up at the podium and to secure a seat in council chambers.  THIS EVENT WILL BE FILMED.


THE FOCUS:

We request that the public support the council to send the amended Firearms Law back to the Laws and Rules committee for the text to be further vetted. This is in everyone’s best interest. The spirit of this law is a public safety and health issue, and there is no way around the fact that the law leaves out many critical features that should be in place to protect our community’s best interests.

WHAT CITIZENS CAN DO:

If you are only able to attend one of the two meetings, then we encourage citizens to attend the Kingston Common Council meeting that will take place on Tuesday, May 3rd at 7:30pm where the council will vote on the amended law. If you are comfortable to speak, then we request that you do so encouraging the council to move the amended law back to the Laws and Rules committee for further vetting. Citizens can also encourage or discourage the location of the shooting range/gun store – however, this discussion is more appropriate for the planning board and not the common council this evening. Changing the law is in their purview. Planning and zoning next week is not.

Residents can also submit a letter on the subject to the Kingston City Clerk
Carly Winnie at: cwinnie@kingston-ny.gov and request that she submit your letter to record, and to distribute to the entire common council and council president.

If your testimony includes support or opposition to the location of the range, please send it also to the City of Kingston Planning Department addressed to the Director of Planning Suzanne Cahill at: planning@kingston-ny.gov  requesting that it go on record and be distributed to all members of the Kingston Planning Board.

NOT FEAR. JUST THE FACTS.

KingstonCitizens.org is a non-partisan, citizen-run organization focused on increasing citizen engagement in local government and we’ve been at it for a decade. Regardless of how we have been portrayed, this platform does not take personal positions on issues.  We simply point out the law and process, and in light of which, make recommendations based on both.

We also work hard to provide information to help Kingston citizens be more informed on issues that are of grave concern. Because we are a citizen run organization reliant on volunteers, we cannot take on every issue that comes down the pike, though we wish we could. We do, however, use each issue selected by members of our advisory committee to illustrate the concerns of the public and, to expose any disconnects that might be present on any of the subjects in the way of transparency and process. We believe that when both are intact, than a more fair outcome is possible.

What we have found is that on any issue we are focused on, many of the same concerns we raise are re-occurring elsewhere.  It takes a village as they say, and hopefully, this work helps to encourage more citizen engagement in Kingston on all issues both large and small.   Being civic minded is the public’s responsibility, after all.

In light of which, in a recent article, Ward 5 Alderman (and Majority Leader) Bill Carey is quoted as saying “I think the fear is unfounded” regarding the location of the shooting range and gun shop being proposed for Prince Street in Midtown Kingston.

This point of view should be challenged. It is important to point out the Kingston Board of Education, in their resolution signed on December 9th, 2015 states that:  “…in the interest of safety and welfare of the students, faculty, employees and others present at the Kingston High School, hereby expresses its opposition to the establishing of a shooting range and gun store in close proximity to the Kingston High School campus…”

Here are several reasons why that on the public safety, health and economic development front (and given much of the public testimony), that concerns are indeed fact and not fear based:

Proximity of schools and childcare center.  The proposed shooting range and gun shop will be located at 92 Prince Street in Midtown, Kingston. This is close to the Kingston High School (within 655 feet).  The high school serves almost 3,000 students, and employs more than one hundred teachers and staff members. Further, the high school serves other students both within and outside of Kingston through after school activities such as sporting events, theater productions, and musical performances. The shooting range and gun shop is within 375 feet of the YMCA.   The YMCA serves thousands of children and parents, not only in Kingston but throughout Ulster County.

Public safety: prevalence of guns in a densely populated area. According to the Brady Center, where there is a concentration of guns, there is a concentration of gun violence.

Public health and welfare:  Despite guidelines about lead contamination for shooting ranges, recent research from the CDC shows elevated blood lead levels in ranges’ employees and customers. In Sacremento, an indoor shooting range was closed because of high levels of lead contamination inside and on the roof; lead levels were 70 times higher than the state hazard threshold.  One of the world’s leading safety engineering firms Tetra Tech said that increased attention to lead contamination and human health exposure “has put range owners and operators into areas outside of their expertise.”

Also, although the district is zoned for commercial use, it is in a “Mixed-Use Overlay” district, which allows residential.  The range is also next to a residential block.  The rear wall of the proposed range — and direction of the firing — is 70 feet from the nearest residence and residential block.

Public awareness: The public needs to understand how public business is conducted. Laws are not amended only on the basis of public opinion. They must be vetted for public safety, health and welfare. It is important for the public to participate with full knowledge of what constitutes and is acceptable process under the law.

Economic Development and Kingston Comprehensive Plan: Kingston 2025 appropriately envisions “a new core” in Midtown Kingston where the creative economy can take root and businesses can grow. It aspires to create a mixed-use center in Midtown, “with multi-family residential incorporated with ground floor retail; pedestrian and bicycle friendly streets; active use of sidewalks; traditional architecture and historic identity.”

“These nodes will be connected not only by a network of streets supporting slow-speed/high-capacity vehicular travel, but by a network of on-road and off-road bicycle paths, and by public transit ranging from shuttle bus to trolley.”  Prince Street and the intersecting network of streets are at the heart of this district.

Housing values:  According to Realtor.com, the value of property surrounding shooting ranges has been found to drop by at least 3.7%.

(**A statistic for a Noonday shooting range diminishing property values by 30% was an out-of-door range, and not indoors. We eliminated it from this list. Our apologies for any confusion). 

At the last Kingston Laws and Rules Committee meeting, residents and neighbors spoke in support and against the amended law and, the location of the range. We encourage you to VIEW this video for your information.

Finally, we’d also like to clarify, that in the spirt of Democracy,  KingstonCitizens.org respects all points of view. It is important to understand that a shooting range and gun shop inside of Midtown, Kingston – a Kingston specific issue – is far different than that of the Niagara Bottling proposal – one that had regional implications and that would impact communities in different ways that included Kingston, Woodstock, Town of Ulster, Saugerties, Port Ewen and Esopus.

In this case, Kingston’s Common Council needs to hear from Kingston citizens, and especially those who live, work and attend public schools, youth activities and child care in the Midtown area. Although public comment is open, we request that citizens living outside of the area respect those living in Kingston first. Specifically those in Midtown, which is the heart of Kingston. A good amount of investment has been poured into this area, and a lot more is known to be coming. That mustn’t be lost in this debate.

 

FURTHER READING:

Kingston Times: Gun Shooting Law Amendment Likely to be Revised.

PILGRIM PIPELINE UPDATE: Kingston Public Safety Committee Passes Resolution in Support of Bill A9831a

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By Rebecca Martin

Last evening, the Kingston Public Safety Committee passed a resolution to support Bill A9831a sponsored by Assemblyman Skartados, “an act to prevent the construction of pipelines to transport hazardous substances or petroleum on property under the jurisdiction of the New York Thruway Authority.”  

Kate Hudson of Riverkeeper gave a presentation of the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline project as well as an explanation of the bill and the timeliness of its passing.

The committee’s swift action was in part to act in time to send Kingston’s support to the NYS Legislature before their 2016 session ends in June. The resolution will come up for a full council vote next week.

In a memorandum from his office, the justification for the bill states that:

“An oil or refined petroleum pipeline constructed to longitudinally occupy the New York State Thruway would present a significant danger to the state’s natural lands, waters, population, economy, and tourism. A pipeline incident along the Thruway resulting in the leakage of oil or refined petroleum would have a significant and costly impact on adjacent residential communities, endangered habitats, open spaces, forests, farmlands, streams, aquifers, wetlands, scenic vistas, and water sources, including the Delaware and Catskill Aqueducts that supply water to New York City.  An incident would pose a threat to drinking water and thereby impact businesses, local economies, and the health and quality of life of the people in the affected area.  A pipeline incident would harm the endangered and threatened species that live along the Thruway, which include the red shouldered hawk, wood turtle, barred owl, bobcat, and Indiana bat. “


Kingston Public Safety Committee reads resolution text and votes 
unanimously to pass it through to council vote that will occur next week.
Video Credit:  Clark Richters of Kingston News.

“Pipelines can cause more damage than trains transporting crude oil. A rail car’s capacity limits the amount of petroleum it can transport, and incidents involving trains are discovered quickly. Pipelines, on the other hand, can leak for an indefinite period of time, and pipeline accidents are often discovered only after their effects have been felt.

Leaks go undetected. Even sophisticated leak detection systems, such as those that might be used in an underground pipeline, cannot guarantee the prevention of a serious incident. According to the Leak Detection Study performed by Kiefner & Associates, published on December 12, 2012, advanced pressure-sensitive systems (from Computational Pipeline Monitoring) detected just 17 of 87 incidents. The consequences of an undetected leak are dire, as quart of oil can contaminate up to a quarter million gallons of drinking water.

Oil pipelines have a history of accidents.  Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) indicate that more than 2,000 significant accidents involving crude oil and refined petroleum pipelines have occurred between 1995 and 2015, averaging 100 per year and resulting in about $3 billion in property damage.  Over time even a well-constructed pipeline becomes vulnerable to an incident caused by accidental impact, deterioration and corrosion, vandalism, terrorism, and natural disasters such as earthquakes. A poorly constructed pipeline is especially vulnerable to leakage from normal system stress and operation.”


Kate Hudson of Riverkeeper at Kingston’s Public Safety Committee
meeting explains the nature and importance of the bill.
Video Credit:  Clark Richters of Kingston News.

“Pipelines are not currently inspected to a degree at which the safety of New Yorkers can be guaranteed. Currently, 135 federal inspectors oversee 2.6 million miles of pipeline. Each inspector is thus responsible for supervising almost enough pipe to circle the Earth. While PHMSA officials may be aided by state inspectors, there has been no guarantee that this will occur in New York State. Furthermore, an analysis of inspection records obtained by the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) indicates that only a fifth of the nation’s 2.6 million miles of pipeline have been inspected by the PHMSA or its state partners since 2006. 

Local fire departments are not equipped to handle pipeline-related incidents. Preparation for an adequate response to such occurrences would necessitate a significant amount of funding and training.  Without proper training and equipment, our local firefighters would be put at great risk when called to duty. 

A pipeline along the Thruway would be aesthetically disruptive to the natural scenic views we have enjoyed for years and have relied upon for tourism. A pipeline would require numerous maintenance access roads. Moreover, large and noticeable shut-off valves would be frequently placed above ground along the route, with a higher concentration at environmentally sensitive locations such as wetlands and waterways. A typical pipeline shutoff valve associated with a 36-inch diameter pipeline requires stands over five meters tall and weighs approximately eight metric tons. 

Furthermore, it is entirely conceivable that a project along the Thruway might utilize two pipelines: one transporting crude oil south to refineries, and another transporting refined products north. Such a plan would significantly increase the risks and impacts of a single line. 

In the 2016 State of the State address, Governor Cuomo declared that by 2030, fifty percent of the state’s energy must come from renewable sources, and that protecting the environment should always be one of our top priorities. To fulfill the governor’s plan, we must refrain from investing in hazardous sources of energy like petroleum and crude oil. Disallowing the construction of dangerous pipelines is essential to this effort.”

VIDEO: Laws and Rules Meeting 4/19/16. Public Comment on Amending Kingston Firearms Law.

We are pleased to share video from last nights meeting, and we apologize in the case we have misspelled your name. If you wish to have changes made to it, please contact us at ourcitizens@gmail.com

Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org and filmed by Clark Richters

Thank you.

 

12:10 – 14:00
Ward 1 Alderwoman Lynn Eckert, Chair Laws and Rules Committee shares ground rules.

14:29 – 17:00
Mark Girstle, Hurley NY

17:04 – 18:23
Diane Bonavita, Kingston NY

18:29 – 20:20
Timothy Ivory, Kingston, NY

20:39 – 22:14
Rebecca Martin, Kingston NY

22:17 – 25:46
Jeanne Edwards, Kingston NY

25:52 – 27:27
Bill Forte, Kingston NY

27:38 – 30:53
Art Perry, Kingston NY

31:00 – 33:19
Matt Colangelo, Kingston NY

33:25 – 34:50
Gwen Sorenson, Owner of Stone Soup, Midtown Kingston

34:56 – 37:20
Hillary Harvey, Kingston NY
Reading testimony from Michael and Therese Drapkin
Residents and business owners in Kingston, NY

37:22 – 39:12
Owen Harvey, Kingston NY

39:15 – 40:37
Pam Blum, Kingston NY
Views reflect many of their neighbors

41:00 – 44:32
Richard Frumess, Resident (Rondout) and Business Owner (Midtown, Kingston)

44:36 – 45:16
Joanne Myers, Kingston NY

45:20 – 46:26
Lynn Johnson, Kingston NY

46:40 – 48:20
Ken Gruber, Kingston NY

48:21 – 50:35
John Grosswald, Kingston NY

50:40 – 54:08
Joe Leoni, Tillson, NY

54:18 – 58:37
Dr. Adam Soyer, Kingston NY

58: 38 – End of Video
Renate Soyer, Kingston NY

00:00 – 3:10
Renate Soyer, Kingston NY
(Continued from Video #1)

3:38 – 5:05
Mary Cavanagh, New Paltz, NY

5:10 – 7:12
Mark Porter, Kingston NY

7:29 – 14:35
Elmer LaSewr, Kingston NY
Representing neighbors

14:38 – 19:15
Marco Ochoa
Representing Latino Community

19:16 – 24:37
Pat Courtney, Resident and Business Owner, Kingston NY

24:52 – 26:37
Artie Zapell, Kingston NY

26:40 – 27:50
Michelle Hirsch, Kingston NY

27:52 – 29:17
Michelle Whittacker, Kingston, NY

30:00 – 34:30
Jay Martin, Accord NY

34:31 – 36:40
Stephanie Nystrom, Kingston, NY
Resident and Business Owner

36:49 – 38:33
Scott Harrington, Hurley NY
Kingston business owner

38:55 – 40:42
John Reinhardt, Kingston NY

40:50 – 44:33
Joan Horton, Kingston NY

44:39 – 48:50
Lorraine Farina, Kingston NY
(Clarifies Shooting Range info in Albany shared by Dr. Adam Soyer in his early testimony)

49:10 – 51:49
Robert Fancell, Kingston NY

51:50 – 54:12
James Childs, Kingston NY
Representing the Board of Education

54:20 – 57:36
Sue McConachy, Kingston NY
Business Owner

57:38 – End of Video
Nardia Bennett, Kingston NY

00:00 – 2:02
Nardia Bennett, Kingston, NY
(Continued)

2:20 – 5:30
Joe Pugliese, Kingston NY

5:35 – 8:30
Linda Hackett, Kingston NY

9:02 – 12:25
Jennifer Schwartz Berky, Kingston NY

12:28 – 13:50
Cassandra Burke

COUNCIL DISCUSSION

14:45 – 17:58
Nina Dawson (Ward 4)
Has concerns about amending the law.  Supports tabling amending the law.

18:02 – 18:22
Dan Gartenstein explains procedure.

18:23 – 20:57
Maryann Mills (Ward 7)
Discussed broken process. If law isn’t amended, the city will have to stop ceremonies/events such as memorials or re-enactments.

20:59 – 24:00
Lynn Eckert, Chair and Dan Gartenstein
– Asks for a motion.
– Maryann Mills makes a motion to move on Deb’s language to amend the law.
– Lynn Eckert reads the amendment.  VIEW TEXT
– Deb Brown seconds the motion.
– Lynn Eckert opens it up for discussion.

24:00 – End of Video
– Bill Carey brings up Bill Forte’s comments regarding ceremonies, etc was not included in Deb Brown’s text. There might be issues or exceptions to consider.
– Bill Carey asks Dr. Adam Soyer a question.
– Dr. Adam Soyer’s council Michael Moriello speaks.  He believes the current law is unconstitutional “on its face.”
– More discussion between Bill Carey and Dan Gartenstein.
– Steve Schabot (Ward 8), what can we expect as a time frame? Dan Gartenstein answers. Month to month.
– Doug Koop clarifies are we amending or tabling? Doug Koop states that he is against amending the law.
– Deb Brown “This is a commercial area. It is not residential.”
– Maryann Mills states the city is about to update all of its zoning as per the Comprehensive Plan which was newly adopted.
She states she has read comments such as “If the shooting range were proposed to be in a more affluent part of Kingston, it would never occur.” She disagrees.
– Maryann Mills “There is an art of shooting. Where better place for it to be then in our art community. The art of shooting joining our arts area.” (33:50 – 34:00)
– Nina Dawson continues debate.  As a mother, she has to look at the other side of things. Sorry that Dr. Soyer has had to wait for an answer, but feels that location is questionable.  How can we not review Jennifer Schwartz Berky’s comments?
– Mike Moreillo speaks to his memorandum.
– Dan Gartenstein explains process.
– Nina Dawson “What if some of us don’t want to vote on the amendment tonight?”
– Lynn Eckert, Maryann Mills, Dan Gartenstein discusses process.
– Deb Brown “Why did you have me write this, then?”
– Maryann makes another motion to move the amendment through committee.
– Dan advises the committee tables.
– Discussion between Bill Carey, Maryann Mills on items missing from amended text.
– Nina Dawson on the amendment.
– Committee votes. Maryann Mills and Deb Brown in favor.  Bill Carey, Doug Koop and Lynn Eckert are opposed.
– The amendment fails.
– More discussion, confusion on the vote.
– Lynn Eckert “there was an opportunity to table, but noone took it.”
– Meeting is adjourned.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT: City of Kingston Laws and Rules Committee Meeting Tuesday, 4/19/16 at 7:00pm

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THIS EVENT WILL BE FILMED thanks to Kingston News. Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org.

What:
Laws and Rules Committee

Where:
Kingston City Hall   420 Broadway  Kingston, NY
Council Chambers

When:
Tuesday, April 19th 2016
Sign-up to speak at 6:45pm.
Public Comment starts at 7:00pm

Why:
The Kingston Common Council Laws and Rules Committee will start the discussion on amending the City of Kingston’s Firearms Law  (Section 223-3) that prohibits the discharge of guns within the City limits for any purposes other than self-defense or the discharge of official duties.   Those members of committee who are in favor of an amendment are likely to want to include “Indoor Shooting Ranges” as a new condition, in light of a proposal to create
a Shooting Range and Gun Shop on Prince Street in Midtown, Kingston.

Please arrive at 6:45pm to sign-up to speak. Public comment will begin at 7:00pm.

Residents should prepare a statement in advance that includes stating their name, where they are from and be no more than 3 minutes in length. Please show respect to your fellow neighbors and elected officials this evening.

If you are a Kingston resident, consider calling your elected officials beforehand to share your opinions, concerns, etc.

LAWS AND RULES COMMITTEE

Lynn Eckert, Ward 1 Alderwoman and Committee Chair
(845) 392-3205

Deb Brown, Ward 9 Alderwoman
(845) 338-0763

Maryann Mills, Ward 7 Alderwoman
(845) 331-7682

Bill Carey, Ward 5 Alderman and Majority Leader
(845) 339-1361

Doug Koop, Ward 2 Alderman
(845) 706-5053


COUNCIL NOTABLES ON THE SUBJECT

Jim Noble, President common council
(845) 331-4696

Nina Dawson, Ward 4 Alderwoman
(845) 616-8592

If you do not see your ward noted here, please visit this LINK for more information.

Additional Reading from KingstonCitizens.org

On Process and Transparency: The Proposed Shooting Range in Midtown Kingston

Is Proposed Shooting Range in Midtown Kingston Illegal Under City Code?

 

 

On Process and Transparency: The Proposed Shooting Range in Midtown Kingston.

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Editorial 

Yesterday, we learned that the proposed shooting range proposal slated for Midtown, Kingston was to be placed on the Finance Committee agenda for discussion today (Wednesday, 4/13).   If you are like us, that’s barely enough time to plan to attend for an issue that might be of interest. All of our schedules are thrown to get there within 24 hours. But this is the way our council has outwardly communicated with the public for as long as we can remember, making it very hard for citizens to engage.

At last March’s Public Safety/General Committee meeting, the shooting range proposal was also placed on the agenda. But unlike today, the agenda was never made public which means, citizens couldn’t plan to attend at all.  Dr. Adam Soyer, however, who is proposing the shooting range along with his supporters were in attendance. The discussion therefore, had only the potential of being one-sided.

Read more…

Is Proposed Shooting Range in Midtown Kingston Illegal Under City Code?

 

12670333_495578203958183_1121558481408475066_nAs citizens of Kingston are aware, last fall a proposed shooting range project came up on the radar for Midtown. Initially, the City of Kingston’s Planning Board, perhaps wishing to avoid a contentious and emotional public comment period on 2nd amendment rights, declined to host a public hearing on the subject.

A small group of citizens, however, respectfully pressed for one and ultimately, the planning board obliged.  In December of 2015, the first public hearing was scheduled and many good points were raised.

VIEW  public comment from December’s public hearing on the proposed shooting range. 

Testimony from this hearing revealed that a shooting range inside of Kingston is actually illegal.  Kingston City administrative law 223-3 specifically prohibits the discharge of firearms. “No person, other than in self-defense or in the discharge of official duties, shall willfully discharge any species of firearm within the city limits of the city of Kingston, New York.” 

There are other concerns for our Planning board to contemplate on Monday.  Regardless, the purpose of zoning is to uphold “the protection and promotion of the public health, safety and welfare” of a community.  Decisions of a Planning and Zoning board are not based on opinion.  Their role is to uphold the law and the law clearly states that discharging a firearm is illegal in the City of Kingston except under very specific circumstances.

So lets start there.

Read more…

The Power of You.

Photo courtesy of the Kingston Times.
Photo courtesy of the Kingston Times.

By Arthur Zaczkiewicz, MSW

News of Macy’s store closure at the Hudson Valley Mall is a serious blow to the local economy as over 70 jobs are expected to be lost. That’s on top of about 70 jobs that were eliminated when J.C. Penney shuttered its doors at the mall last year.

Facebook users expressed sadness – and confusion, too, over the announcement. How could this happen when there’s several hotels being built nearby? New hotels means business is good, right? Then there were a small handful of others who said the community who scared off Niagara bottling and its host of proposed jobs deserved this and/or was cursed. We could have used those jobs – especially in light of the Macy’s closure, right? Well, no.

While the Niagara plant proposal (and its subsequent demise), retail store closures and new hotel construction seem to be disconnected events, I would assert that they are all driven by a single, powerful – and possibly unstoppable – force: you.

Niagara Falls

As reported in great detail in the pages here, the proposed Niagara Bottling plant at Tech City was an exhaustive, emotional affair that resulted in a positive transformation of the community – especially in regard to increasing transparency.

The proposed project triggered the gathering of a strong, and unified majority that stood up against the proposal. Partnerships were formed between community groups. Meetings were held, and events staged – all lubricated by social media.

Citizens gathered and found common ground, which ultimately morphed into a single voice that clearly said this was not a suitable project. Clean, safe and readily available drinking water belongs to the people first.

It was awe-inspiring because citizens themselves made this happen. You made this happen.

Unfortunately, Niagara picked up and moved its project just two hours away, to Bloomfield, Conn. And now that community is trying to sort through many of the same issues that Kingston struggled against.

One of the key issues of the Kingston project was that of transparency and properly informing the public. How could Niagara strike a deal with city officials so stealthily? Why wasn’t the proposed project presented to the public earlier? What happened? Where’s the watchdog?

Read more…

City of Kingston Can and Should Reject the NYS DEC and Thruway Authority Request to Co-Lead SEQR Review for Pilgrim Pipeline Project. Here’s Why and How.

Map-of-SEQR-process

By Rebecca Martin
UPDATE:  Kingston did it! Both the City of Kingston Mayor and Kingston’s Common Council (unanimously) voted to send letters to both the NYS DEC and Thruway Authority.   VIEW the letters. 

On December 21st, the NYS DEC and Thruway Authority both agreed that together, they would become Co-Lead of the SEQR review for the Pilgrim Pipeline Project.

Because Involved Agencies have been waiting for some resolution of the disagreement, expressed by 29 towns, cities and counties, with Thruway’s November 21, 2015 proposal that it serve as sole lead agency, some might have thought that the co-lead agreement between DEC and Thruway was final.  But it isn’t.  It is simply 2 involved agencies making a new proposal for who should serve as lead agency for the environmental review of Pilgrim Pipelines project.  SEQR regulations require that all involved agencies be given the opportunity to respond to this new proposal, which they can choose to consent to or reject.

Furthermore, the reasons cited by 29 Involved Agencies that rejected the NY Thruway Authority’s proposal to be Lead Agency in the SEQR process in the first go-round :  that Thruway stands to gain monetarily from Pilgrim Pipeline to use their right-of-way and that they are not equipped or experienced in managing an environmental review process for such an incredibly large and complicated project, remain true.

The bottom line is that the NY Thruway Authority’s bid to take on the lead agency role was overwhelmingly rejected to begin with and yet they are still in the running. Also perplexing is that on the NYS DEC’s own website, they dissuade co-lead roles in SEQR and instead advise that “a single lead agency be established with the other agency actively involved in the process but not as co-lead agency” and for good reason.  What would occur if the two leads differed in opinion somewhere down the line? Which agency would trump the other for a decision to be made?

Read more…

DEC Relays Decision to Co-Lead Environmental Review in Pilgrim Pipeline Proposal.

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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) decision to share the environmental review responsibilities with the NYS Thruway Authority for the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline project was a big disappointment to us all at KingstonCitizens.org.

“The three cities who are “involved”  in this proposal – Kingston, Newburgh and Albany – all rejected the Thruway Authority’s request.” said Rebecca Martin, Executive Director of KingstonCitizens.org. “We count on the DEC to uphold their responsibility to protect the environment and our public, and a co-lead in an environmental review process is not a good compromise. From what I know, it is an unprecedented decision and in my opinion, the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal is the wrong project to test out a shared leadership role. We need the lead to be fully unbiased and do not accept one that shares to gain monetarily in anyway. How is the public to trust that it isn’t tainted otherwise?”

Read more…

Got a Recalled Volkswagen? Donate Your $500 Gift Card to an Environmental Group.

IMG_0880

By Rebecca Martin

When we were looking to purchase a car, it was important to us to find not only one from a company that was environmentally friendly, but also in an age of better technology, to purchase a car that had lower emissions while doing better on gas milage.  Of course, an electric car is perhaps the way to go, however the choices currently are limited for what we need,  and very costly too.

So we opted for a Volkswagen (VW) Diesel which promised as we understood it lower emissions and up to 40 mpg + on the highway.

As the world now knows, cars like ours are being recalled. “It’s been dubbed the “diesel dupe”. In September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that many VW cars being sold in America had a “defeat device” – or software – in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested, changing the performance accordingly to improve results. The German car giant has since admitted cheating emissions tests in the US.” according to a report by the BBC.

When I first learned of this, I called my dealership in Kingston straight away – requesting to surrender the car. I didn’t want to be driving around with an engine “emitting nitrogen oxide pollutants up to 40 times above what is allowed in the US.”  But due to it being a lease and with low mileage, I was told that VW wouldn’t take ours back. That it was “cheaper to fix a newer model then it was to replace it.”

Read more…

CALL TO ACTION: Citizen Support Needed TONIGHT (12/15) On Critical Resolutions that includes Microbead Ban, Pilgrim Pipeline, Greenline Project in Kingston.

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By Rebecca Martin

THIS JUST IN:  A new public hearing on the Microbead Ban will occur on 1/19/16 and vote by full legislature sometime before the end of January. It has been tabled for tonight. More information coming soon. But please plan to attend to encourage the legislature to pass the remaining three other resolutions. 

For the past month, KingstonCitizens.org has been following and working towards the public being more aware of the importance to understand the impacts in Kingston of both the Pilgrim Pipeline and proposed Microbead ban proposal – all up for vote tonight at the Ulster County Legislature Meeting located at 244 Fair Street, 6th floor in Kingston. Public comment will begin at 6:30pm.  * THIS JUST IN: Plan now is for new public hearing on 1/19/16  and vote by full legislature sometime before the end of January. TONIGHT’S vote will only include the below three resolutions. 

We have attached information below on each of the resolutions with some key points for you to research before you speak.  Please keep your speech to 3 minutes or less.

Thank you!

Read more…