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At last night’s Town of Ulster Town Board meeting, Town of Ulster citizens made a consistent request of their Town Board (who is Lead Agency in SEQR for the proposed Lincoln Park Grid Support Center, a gas-fired power plant project in the Town of Ulster) for a 90 day public comment period during the Scoping process.
At the end of a productive public comment period, Town of Ulster Supervisor James Quigley asked the rhetorical question, “Can I see a show of hands how many people want the Town of Ulster to comply with NYS SEQR law?”
Confused, citizens responded, “What do you mean? The 90 days?”
“No, no, no, no. I asked a question. How many people want the town to comply with the SEQR law?” asked Supervisor Quigley.
“What does that mean?” said citizens.
“Well you should have done your homework before you asked for 90 days!” he snipped.
Stunned, the citizens yelled out “Who do you think you are?” and “We’re not voting for you next time.”
“Fine with me.” said Supervisor Quigley.
“I guess the answer is no for the extension.” said a citizen as he exited the room.
That appears to be the case. We’ll see.
12:07 – 15:32
Regis Obijiski Ledge Road, Town of Ulster
“…in light of the open meetings law, please publish changes to agenda at least 24 hours in advance so that citizens can make plans to attend…second point, please extend public comment in scoping in SEQR to 90 days….the proposed project has escaped far beyond a decision to accept or reject complicated concerns such as human health, environmental impact, safety and residential properties abound….third point, comments and questions from citizens who submitted comments and given verbally to GlidePath at their 1/17 meeting should ask those questions again by submitting them during the Scoping process….lastly we are planning citizens scoping meetings to dissuade or defeat the power plant as proposed.”
15:50 – 18:20
Laura Hartman, Birch Street, Town of Ulster
“….thank you Town Clerk for adding going forward meeting schedule onto the town calendar…as representative of the TownOfUlsterCitizens.org, I am submitting two petitions this evening. One with approx. 279 of concerned citizens throughout the Hudson Valley, and one with 57 signatures from your consituents here in the Town of Ulster….it was originally written and supported by (the coalition) and I thank them for their support….we request that you provide a public comment period of 90 days and we thank you for your consideration.”
19:04 – 24:00
Fred Gnesin, Ledge Road, Town of Ulster
“…I along with 137 homeowners along with 100 or so renters in Ulster Gardens apartments who will be affected by the GlidePath project as it is currently formulated. It would seem that consideration of this location was the result of visual impairment and lack of thoughtful and humane consideration of the proximate population. It should be noted that the estimated value of the 137 residences is conservatively valued at approximately $32 million dollars. The value of such homes would decrease by 20% – 50% depending upon the selling stampede to evacuate the area due to the realistic potential of pollution and catastrophic fire hazard, water runoff, wild life eradication, noise, etc. that the project will clearly present. The proposal contemplates an unmanned facility, controlled remotely from a point in the midwest….that is somewhat akin to auto pilot airplane without anyone sitting in the cockpit. Shit happens. No facility like this has ever been built by GlidePath….its outcome at best would cause irrevocable harm to innocent residents of the Town of Ulster. Your fellow neighbors are expected to sacrifice for some fat cat hedge fund managers from Chicago, and the ToU will have gained nothing but potential three mile island….”
“15 seconds…” said Town of Ulster Town Board member John Morrow.
“You can read the rest, unless I am granted the opportunity…” said citizen Neeson.
Additional time was granted by Town Board Member Eric Kitchen.
“….the project would not hire anyone in the area. It is a no-win situation for us….I am a registered Republican all of my life, an independent thinker and fiscal conservative. Partisan opinions have nothing to do with this matter. This is personal.”
24:24 – 28:33
Dan Furman, Risely Street, Town of Ulster
“…Something disturbing has come to light. We questioned their (GlidePath) credentials and how they could do this safety. “We’re experts! We know what we’re doing”. They told us during their presentations that emissions would be 195 lbs per kWh. Their poster said this, the slides said this, and the guys in suits and ties said this….but they were challenged that night on that number she said not only is the number too low, it’s physically impossible. Apparently she as right. She said GlidePath called her and said, ‘yeah, you’re right. There was a mistake on the spreadsheet. It isn’t 195 lbs per kWH, it’s 850 lbs per KwH.” …when you’re going to build a powerplnt like this, the residents living near it have two concerns. Emissions and noise. If they’re experts in the this, how could they make such a big mistake on that number, and stand up there and tell us…this isn’t like they spelled the Town’s name wrong, or put down the wrong address. That’s a mistake. What this says to me is that they don’t know. They are going to build 80 foot smoke stakes and they don’t know what’s going to come out of them…does that bother you? It bothers me. They are not experts. They are executives. That number is not only wrong, it’s stunningly wrong.”
28:57 – 31:24
Karen Spanier, Lakeview Avenue, Town of Ulster
“I am concerned with the 850 lbs per KwH. That’s why I am asking for 90 days, to have more time to do homework.”
31:52 – 34:55
Vincent Guido, Old Flatbush Road, Town of Ulster
“The ask tonight is to have a 90 day public comment period….I would urge the Town Board to give the residents to look at these documents, get the help that they need and even help to inform you. Do we want to sacrifice a little bit of tax base and an extended water line for the quality of life in our town?”
35:30 – 36:30
“How long before the citizens will know if you’re going to grant us the 90 days?
Supervisor Quigley: “Can I see a show of hands how many people want the ToU to comply with NYS SEQR law?”
Citizens: “What do you mean? The 90 days?”
Supervisor Quigley: “No, no, no, no. I asked a question. How many people want the to town to comply with the SEQR law.”
Citizens: “What does that mean?”
Supervisor Quigley: “Well you should have done your homework before you asked for 90 days!”
Citizens:: “Wow. Stunning. We’re not voting for you next time.”
Supervisor Quigley: “Fine with me.”
Citizens: “Who do you think you are? I guess the answer is no for the extension.”
The Town of Ulster will host a public scoping meeting on Thursday, February 22nd at 7:00pm at Town Hall. GlidePath was stated to be present by Town Board members at the recent Scoping educational panel. Citizens from around the county are invited to (and should) attend.
More details shortly.
On Tuesday, February 13, Citizens for Local Power hosted an excellent public educational forum “Battery Storage, Climate and the Grid: The Proposed Lincoln Park Project n Context”.
With a proposal on the table to build a power plant in the Town of Ulster that combines a 20-megawatt gas-fired plant with battery storage, the group brought together a panel of experts that included: Jen Metzger, Director, Citizens for Local Power (moderator) Energy Storage 101: What We All Need to Know with Dr. William Acker Executive Director, New York Battery and Storage Technology Consortium (NY-BEST); Karl Rabago, Executive Director, Pace Energy & Climate Center and Co-Director of the Northeast Solar Energy Market Coalition and, Emissions Impacts of the Proposed Lincoln Park Project with Evelyn Wright, Energy Economist, Sustainable Energy Economics, and member of Citizens for Local Power.
Video made by The Kingston News, brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org
Because Evelyn Wright’s presentation spoke directly to the Lincoln Park project emissions impact, we will start here and extract some of the key points that she made that is new information to us and important for our community to have.
CLICK ON IMAGE TO REVIEW
Emissions Impacts of the Proposed Lincoln Park Project with Evelyn Wright, Energy Economist, Sustainable Energy Economics, and member of Citizens for Local Power
1:38 – 2:07
GLIDEPATH MISREPRESENTED ITS GAS EMISSIONS NUMBERS. GlidePath said this week that emission rate / diesel emissions was to be 800-850 lbs/MWH and not 195 which is the number they gave us at their open house meeting in the Town of Ulster on January 17th. “I told them that I thought 195 was impossible, and last week they called to confirm me that they had made a mistake in their spread sheet. Sorry.”
5:31 – 6:51
TOTAL YEARLY EMISSIONS OF LINCOLN PARK PROJECT EQUAL TO ALL HOUSEHOLDS IN THE TOWN OF ULSTER OR 1.5% OF ALL OF ULSTER COUNTY’S EMISSIONS. The total emissions for the Lincoln Park project during the course of the year is 30,272 metric tons CO2 equivalent, about equal to the annual emissions from all households in the Town of Ulster, or 1.5% of all Ulster County emissions.
7:03 – 11:04
RENEWABLES DON’T REQUIRE FOSSIL FUEL FOR BACK-UP. “GlidePath is making the argument that this project is supporting clean energy and it supports renewables….I wanted to break that down for you, because I think that’s something we’re going to hear GlidePath say over and over, ‘Well, if you’re going to have renewenables you’ve got to have fossils to back them up.’ That’s not true here.”
12:01 – 13:18
IF OUR AREA DOESN’T NEED PEAK CAPACITY, WHY DID GLIDEPATH CHOOSE ULSTER FOR IT’S PROJECT? “We know that the peak load in this region is declining. so we don’t need this peak capacity here. Our air quality has been improving to the point where in the last several years, we haven’t had any unhealthy air quality days at all. This is not true downstate where they really do need this additional peak energy. It’s much harder to get your air permits to build a facility like this in places that the EPA has designated bad air quality….we live in a remarkably clean place but that is literally why they are proposing this project here because they think they can get the permits more easily here because our air has room for pollution in it.”
13:21 – 15:58
GLIDEPATH IS A STORAGE AND RENEWABLE ENERGY COMPANY. THEY’VE NEVER BUILT A FOSSIL PROJECT BEFORE. “Glidepath has never built a project like this before. They are a storage and renewables company…I don’t know how they convinced themselves this was a great thing for them to do in order to get into the NYS market, because they have not built a fossil project before.”
Please click on the image to review
45:01 – 47:19
ENERGY STORAGE IS CHEAPER THAN A “PEAKER”. “Energy storage is already cheaper than a Peaker…ths project (Lincoln Park) is about making a Peaker cheaper with storage but head to head, storage wins standing on its own and, if we continue to develop and use storage wisely, we can get it down to the range where it starts competing with combined natural gas and we can really do something about carbon emissions.”
Please click on the image to review
45:28 – 46:01
“DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY IDEA IF THIS PLANT WILL MAKE NOISE?” “I heard Peter Rood (principal of GlidePath) say if he were a neighbor, his biggest concern would be the noise….these things are loud.”
On Friday, February 9th Environmental Advocacy Director Hayley Carlock and Land Use Advocacy Director Jeffrey Anzevino of Scenic Hudson joined close to 50 Town of Ulster residents and two Town Board Members (Morrow and Secreto) to discuss the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center’s SEQRA process and why public participation in developing the scope for the environmental impact statement is important.
“Public involvement reduces the likelihood that unaddressed issues will arise during public review of the draft EIS. From the public’s perspective, scoping is important because it offers an opportunity to ensure the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is as comprehensive as possible to minimize the project’s environmental impact on the community. It also increases the likelihood the project will be consistent with community values.”
Presented by Scenic Hudson. Sponsored by KingstonCitizens.org in partnership with CAPP-NY, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Riverkeeper and the Woodstock Land Conservancy.
Thanks to The Kingston News for filming this event, brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org.
KingstonCitizens.org wishes to welcome our new sister organization TownOfUlsterCitizens.org, a non-partisan, citizen run organization focused on increasing citizen engagement and creating a better Town of Ulster, NY. VIEW
WHAT WE RECOMMEND
1. Town of Ulster Citizens should attend the next Town Board meeting on Thursday, February 15th and request a longer public comment period (90 days). VIEW
2. The public and municipal leaders are invited to attend the upcoming educational panel “Battery Storage, Climate, and the Grid: An Educational Forum hosted by Citizens for Local Power” presented by Citizens For Local Power on February 13th. VIEW
1. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13th at 7pm: “Battery Storage, Climate, and the Grid: An Educational Forum hosted by Citizens for Local Power”. VIEW
2. THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15th at 7pm: Town of Ulster Town Board Meeting. Citizens should request for a longer public comment period in the Scoping process.
VIEW Petition Language
3. THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22nd. Public Scoping Meeting, Town of Ulster VIEW
4. THURSDAY, MARCH 22nd. Deadline for written comments.
1. Draft Scope for Lincoln Park Grid Support Center. VIEW
2. Concept Plan: Lincoln Park Grid Support Center. VIEW
3. Full EIS Part 1. VIEW
4. Full EIS Part 2. VIEW
5. FEAF for the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center. VIEW
By Rebecca Martin
Last night (2/1), the Town of Ulster (ToU) Town Board added a late entry to their Town Board Workshop Meeting regarding the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center, a gas-fired power plant being proposed in the ToU. As Lead Agency, the Town Board presented and passed a resolution for a Positive Declaration (pos dec) determination in SEQR, as well as proposed a public scoping session on Thursday, February 22, 2018 at 7:00pm at Town of Ulster Town Hall.
ToU citizen Laura Hartman attended the meeting last evening with several other concerned citizens. During public comment, Hartman graciously thanked the board for making a positive declaration for the proposal.
“I’d like to ask for 90 days for public input and for items like this to be listed in advance so that the public can have the chance to see (items that are of interest to them) to participate in the meetings” Listen at at 27:28
Our coalition of partners (that includes CAPP-NY, Catskill Mountainkeeper, KingstonCitizens.org, Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson and Woodstock Land Conservancy) has been waiting for a pos dec determination. In preparation, we created a letter that was ready to submit first thing this morning to Supervisor Quigley and the ToU Town Board requesting a 90 day public comment period with at least two public scoping meetings given the magnitude of the proposal.
TAKE ACTION NOW.
Citizens can help. Please SIGN OUR PETITION and request that the ToUTown Board as Lead Agency allow for a 90-day public comment period with at least two public scoping meetings on the Draft Scope of the Proposed Lincoln Park Grid Project
A LITTLE INSIDE BASEBALL. Connecting the dots.
A Positive Declaration is “a determination by the lead agency that an action may result in one or more significant environmental impacts and so will require the preparation of an EIS before agency decisions may be made regarding the action. The positive declaration starts the EIS process.”
A pos dec and public scoping process is a great step for our communities and county. However, the ToU Town Board has already scheduled a public scoping meeting to occur on February 22nd without releasing the draft scoping document.
Why is that significant?
A draft scope is submitted to the Lead Agency (and in this case, the Town of Ulster) by the applicant (GlidePath via Chasen & Company, their consultant) to release to the public. I like to think of a draft scope document as a ‘table of contents’. Typically, a 30 day window occurs for the public to review the document so to be sure that all items of concern for study are included. There is no one better to do this work than the citizens who live within proximity to the project with the support of the environmental advocates who have dedicated their life’s work to the protection of the area.
All of these items end up in the scoping document and will require the applicant to pay for consultants to do the required studies. This will be a costly process for GlidePath. Given the public’s disdain for the proposal, it will be interesting to see how far they go as a true indication of it’s profitability.
Speaking of which, while a project is undergoing the SEQR process, it cannot apply for any applicable tax incentives or grants. So that is an entirely other item that citizens will want to pay close attention to as we proceed
The ToU Town Board has already set the public scoping meeting to be 2/22 according to their agenda item without the release of the draft scope. This is problematic and indicates that they intend to release it sometime between now and the 22nd, banking on a 30 day window. This would leave the public with limited time to review and ask questions for a proposal of great magnitude. As far as I know, this is the first peaker gas plant being proposed in Ulster County. The project plans to re-connect new gas infrastructure at a time that citizens living in Ulster County and New York State have expressed their intention to segue from fossil fuels to renewables. A natural gas peaker power plant created by a company from the Midwest most certainly doesn’t do that.
DAILY FREEMAN: Ulster Town Board Members Declare Proposed Electric Generating Plant May Harm Environment.
KINGSTON TIMES: Ulster Power Plant People Get an Earful at Forum.
VIDEO: Town of Ulster Citizens Tell Elected Officials and GlidePath “We don’t want this project”
“You’re adding fossil fuel infrastructure. NYS and Ulster County is committed to not adding fossil fuel infrastructure, yet your coming into our community and our state and you’re telling us now that we need you to put in increased fossil fuel infrastructure, a 50,000 gallon diesel tank? and fracked gas? That is not what NY voters have asked for from their government….. we don’t want it. We don’t need it.” – Town of Ulster Citizen, Ulster County
Last night, the Town of Ulster’s Senior Center was filled to capacity – mostly with Town of Ulster residents – to learn more about the Midwest company GlidePath’s proposed project called the “Lincoln Park Grid Support System”, a natural gas power plant in the Town of Ulster.
Based upon statements made by citizens, it was clear there was a great deal of skepticism regarding the safety and even the need for such a project in the area.
Established in 2013, GlidePath has ten renewable projects in its portfolio. The Lincoln Park Grid Support System project, a 20-megawatt hybrid natural gas (diesel back-up) and battery generation system/power plant proposed for the Town of Ulster, would be the company’s first gas-fired project.
Town of Ulster citizens took a show of hands to see who was in favor of the project and who was not. Only one hand in support was raised. Peter Rood, Chief Development Officer of GlidePath stated that it would be up to Town of Ulster elected officials to decide whether or not the project would be built.
Begins at: 23:56 – 25:00
An excerpt from VIDEO Part 2
“…all of our opinions do count for you to make a decision about moving forward….take a poll so you are well informed on who wants this project in the room…just to see.” ToU Citizen
“I don’t think this will advance the conversation.” Peter Rood, GlidePath
“…but you said our opinion counts.” ToU Citizen
“They do, but I’m not going to count them though.” Peter Rood, GlidePath
VIEW PART 1: Video of GlidePath Presentation
Some Key Moments
- “How much of the time will the gas portion be running. If you’re running 24 hours, your emissions are going to be a lot higher than your numbers.” 23:35 – 25:05
- “You’re adding fossil fuel infrastructure. NYS and Ulster County is committed to not adding fossil fuel infrastructure, yet your coming into our community and our state and you’re telling us now that we need you to put in increased fossil fuel infrastructure, a 50,000 gallon diesel tank? and fracked gas? That is not what NY voters have asked for from their government….. we don’t want it. We don’t need it.” 25:00 – 25:59
- What’s the economic benefit to the Town of Ulster? 34:25 – 36:15
- Jennifer Metzger, Citizens For Local Power explains why this project is being proposed in the Town of Ulster. 40:05 – 41:20
- Have you discussed this proposal with the school (Chambers)? 47:45 – 50:05
- Emission stacks height. 54:39 – 55:16
- “Many of us have stopped listening, because we are not on board with this….if I were working for this company, I’d have to go back to my boss and say ‘this community wouldn’t even let us finish our presentation and what does that say? Your graphics show us solar, wind, hybrid, reduction…this is not a solar project. We are don’t feel like we are being told the truth.” 55:19 – 58:45
VIEW PART 2: Video of GlidePath Presentation
Some Key Moments
- There is a Principal Aquifer located underneath the proposal. 23:34 – 23:49
- Citizens raise hands to oppose the project. 23:56 – 25:00
- “So far, we don’t think any significant impacts under SEQRA law exists” 32:38 – 32:50
- How long have you been talking to the town? 38:20 – 38:46
- Next steps in SEQRA? 38:48 – 39:24
This morning, the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (UCIDA) rejected requests to move their regular meeting time from 8:00am to after 5:00pm.
Here are some of the highlights of the morning board discussion.
Several members challenged KingstonCitizens.org as having a large base but only producing a handful of letter requests and citizens before them on the matter. Last month when the item was before the board, it was tabled for further discussion. This occurred right before the holidays in late December, giving the public a narrow opportunity to submit a letter of support for a meeting time change.
Ask even the savviest of citizens what the UCIDA does and you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who can tell you. This is in part why we thought to pursue a meeting time change as a first step could allow for the potential of participation. For those board members who attributed their rejection in part due to the number of requests as insignificant, it is a poor way to build bridges of trust and better relations with the public, particularly those who wish to be more of a participant in the important work of the UCIDA.
During the discussion, a citizen shared the trouble that he encountered entering the public building a little ahead of 8am, being stopped by an officer on the ground floor level of the Ulster County building. The chair of the board in jest responded “you don’t look like a terrorist.”
Another board member, perhaps in reaction to the citizens in attendance being Kingston residents, shared with us his insight that ‘there is a bigger world outside of Kingston”.
Citizens had some trouble hearing the board during their discussions in Legislative Chambers, where microphones were available. Perhaps next month, if the group meets in the same location and there are people in the audience, they might elect to set them up.
There were some useful points made to consider, such as the potential ‘overtime’ necessary to pay staff for evening meetings, although this had not been mentioned last month as a consideration. One could also sympathize with other members of the board who outlined their personal reasons as to why a time change was a challenge. I was pleased that the board, on their own, requested to create palm cards with a simple explanation of PILOTs to be made available for the public in attendance.
In the end, my take-away was that the point was missed and that is, to include the public in new ways is a multi-prong process. Changing the meeting time should have been seen as a first step. Outreach and making process accessible and easy to understand (transparency), another. Ongoing storytelling and communication, another. Participation, when it doesn’t exist, takes time and effort and the board has three Ulster County employees appointed to them as staff to help. That the public does not regularly attend this or any other important public hearings, board, committee or commission meetings is a failing of at least these things.
Thanks to those who took the time to participate. We’ll try again another time, in some other way.
The Town of Ulster Town Board meeting agenda was posted this afternoon, and the proposed Lincoln Park Grid Support Center was not on it. It is not unusual for their agendas to be updated closer to meeting time, so we called the Town of Ulster Clerk’s office (and spoke to Suzanne who is always very helpful) who confirmed that the applicant pulled their item from the agenda tonight, and that there will be no discussion on SEQR and therefore, no determinations will be made. She also stated that the applicant wished to do more outreach into the community before going forward at this time to gauge the public’s concerns.
If you still are planning to attend tonight’s meeting, a reminder that the public can speak only on items that are on the agenda during the public comment period at the start of the meeting. If you wish to address items that are not on the agenda, you may do so during the second public comment opportunity at the end of the meeting.
KingstonCitizens.org will film the meeting tonight from start to finish thanks to Clark Richters and the Kingston News.
We view this as a positive step. A very special thank you to our coalition partners for all of their efforts. Lets continue to build our coalition and work collaboratively together on each important step as we proceed. Stay tuned, and friend our FACEBOOK page for updates.
1. Coalition Letter (12/15/17) “Lincoln Park Grid Support Center – SEQRA Review”
2. KingstonCitizens.org (12/16/17) “Lincoln Park Grid Support Center (a Gas-Fired Power Plant proposed in the Town of Ulster) and SEQR.”
TOGETHER, LETS CONTINUE TO TRANSITION OUR ENERGY SYSTEM IN THE MID-HUDSON VALLEY. From 2011 to 2016, the Mid-Hudson Valley region placed second in the state for the most solar installations, seeing an increase of 1,164% in Megawatts installed and an increase of 944% for projects installed.
“Under Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading Reforming the Energy Vision strategy, solar power is integral to driving the State’s clean energy economy while reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Clean, renewable energy will help the State meet its aggressive energy goals, make electricity more affordable for New Yorkers and bring about a more resilient and versatile energy system.” -RIichard L. Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance for New York said.
Lets continue our efforts in transitioning our energy system as leaders in the state with a 100% renewable energy project.
Citizen Call To Action
Please attend the upcoming Town of Ulster (ToU) Regular Town Board Meeting on Thursday, December 21st at 7:00pm and request the following during public comment (*)
- Support the Town of Ulster Town Board to declare a positive declaration for the proposed Lincoln Park Grid Support Center project. VIEW our Facebook Event
- Suggest that the proposal that seeks to reconnect natural gas infrastructure consider creating a 100% renewable project with battery storage.
(*) Citizens are invited to give public testimony at the beginning of the regular ToU Town Board meeting on any items that are listed on the agenda (at this time, the agenda is not yet posted. We will update the public on our Facebook event page when it is available. Please ‘like’ our event for updates VIEW). Citizens will have another opportunity to speak that evening on items not on the agenda at the end of the Town Board meeting. We ask that citizens be respectful when addressing the Town Board, and particularly those who do not live in the municipality. Keep your testimony to 3 minutes or less.
On Thanksgiving day while making a holiday meal for friends and family, I received news from a guest that a gas-fired power plant had recently been proposed in the Town of Ulster.
“Fracked gas” they said.
In addition, the Town of Ulster had its regular Town Board meeting a few days prior to the Thanksgiving holiday where the applicant and consultant gave a short presentation followed by the Town of Ulster making a request to be Lead Agency in SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review). That gave Involved Agencies only a 30 day window starting before one holiday to another (figures) to dispute their request, if applicable.
After eleven years, I had planned to step away from my volunteer work at KingstonCitizens.org to focus my efforts solely on my part time position in Water Quality at Riverkeeper (which I love, by the way) and my music career, come 2018. The news certainly dashed my plans. The balancing act continues!
A peaker project in the Town of Ulster. It wasn’t unfamiliar to me. In February of 2015, when Niagara Bottling pulled their proposal from a Tech City location in the Town of Ulster, I remembered hearing rumors of such a project and thinking to myself that after coordinating an intense five month citizen campaign and now having to find a way to move a timely charter change to address water powers with a referendum in the fall of that year, I’d have to come back to it if or when it appeared.
In November of 2017, here it was.
Didn’t Ulster County just recently install a large solar array near this location (and that feeds into the Lincoln Park substation, the same substation that would be used by this proposed project)? Furthermore, in December of 2016, Ulster County was prominently featured by National Geographic to highlight some of the County’s environmental achievements. That’s international coverage. So how would a natural gas power plant fit into our progress? Who attracted a midwestern company to come to the Town of Ulster with such confidence to propose such a thing? At the December 7th Town or Ulster Town Board Workshop meeting during public testimony, a citizen called it a ‘tale of two cities’. “How do you have a solar array project on one end of a property and a natural gas power plant on the other?”
READ the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF)
I’m about to get into a whole bunch of technical stuff to the best of my ability, only because I want readers to understand how the coalition letter came to pass as well as our call to action. SEQR is nothing new. I’m hoping that you will recall some of this language from the Niagara Bottling and/or the Pilgrim Pipeline proposals. If you need a refresher, you can go here VIEW
In the project’s environmental assessment form (link above), the “Lincoln Park Grid Support Center” is described, in part, in this way:
“The Applicant, Lincoln Park DG, LLC, is under contract to acquire three tax parcels between NYS Route 32 and US Route 9W in the Town of Ulster which total 120.92 acres, and proposes to construct the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center on a 4± acre portion of the property, with access from Frank Sottile Boulevard. The proposed facility is a natural gas-fired power plant that will supply power to the electric grid in the region….The facility will include a system of containerized batteries and a reciprocating engine generator system that is fueled by natural gas, with the capability to use on-site diesel when the gas supply is disrupted. The generator system will be housed within a steel Butler building and will require two exhaust stacks for combustion emissions which will be a maximum of 100 feet in height. The system will be available to the grid 24 hours a day and will operate based on the needs of the grid, with very little operation on some days and continuous operations on other days. The facility is expected to operate an average of 6 to 14 hours per day. Fuel combustion will result in primary emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX), and carbon monoxide (CO), and will require an air permit from the NYSDEC. Some ancillary waste will also be produced including used lubricating oil and reagent as part of equipment maintenance.”
On first glance looking at the list of Involved Agencies, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) seemed the best choice for a project that could be seen as a regional one, with potential environmental impacts that include air emissions, visual impacts, wetlands, the project footprint being within close proximity of a principal aquifer, cultural resources and threatened/endangered species There might be others. As a local matter, there were potential inconsistencies in the Town’s comprehensive plan and zoning code and concerns of something like this being built only approx. 600 feet away from a residential area.
Once a Lead Agency is designated, they may make a determination of significance for the proposed action (project) as being a positive declaration (pos dec) or negative declaration (neg dec) in SEQR. A pos dec in simple terms means that the project may result in having one or more significant adverse environmental impacts, triggering a full scoping process (to identify all of the potential impacts) with opportunities for public comment and then for appropriate studies to be identified and paid for by the applicant. A neg dec, means that the proposed action benefits “outweigh its adverse impacts” and would move the project to its site plan without any public comment. As a side note, a neg dec allows the applicant to apply/secure any public funding that might be available to its project.
The following video was captured from yesterday’s City of Ulster County Educational Workshop on Economic Development Services in Ulster County and Kingston on November 15th, 2017. Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org thanks to The Kingston News.
We appreciate the effort made by Ulster County’s Economic Development office and the City of Kingston Economic Development office to bring this together for the public in 2017. We hope to see this become a yearly event.
The next Ulster County IDA meeting will occur on Wednesday, December 13th at 8:00am. On the agenda will be a discussion to change the meeting time to later in the afternoon (after 5pm) to allow for greater public participation.
Video #1: Educational Workshop on Economic Development: PRESENTATION
(Click on image to review video)
The following video was captured from yesterday’s City of Kingston Police Commission Meeting on November 15th, 2017. Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org thanks to the Kingston News.
Thanks to the City of Kingston for moving the meeting to council chambers so to accommodate more citizens that evening.
Video #1: City of Kingston Police Commission: PUBLIC SPEAKING (Click on image to review video)
Video #2: City of Kingston Police Commission: Debate
(Click on image to review video)
(Click on image to review video)
CITIZEN CALL TO ACTION
- Request that the City of Kingston condemn police brutality in the City of Kingston.
- Request that the City of Kingston Police Department:
- Provide a summary of changes that have been made to the City of Kingston Police policies and procedures since the Fabian Marshall incident in 2015;
- Provide an action plan for continued improvements to the Department’s policies and procedure;
- Provide an overview of trainings completed by Department personnel on an annual basis, as well as a comprehensive description of the Department’s sensitivity training.
- As per Citizen Action of the Hudson Valley’s Petition VIEW
- Stop data by race and ethnicity, and use of force data including pepper spray and taser use;
- Inform the public on the complaint process, including a detailed overview of the process beginning with the submission of a complaint form and through the Police Commission review, ruling, and if applicable, appeal;
- Provide information on selection guidelines and term limits of Kingston Police Commission;
- Release of information on the number of investigations into complaints against members of the department concerning domestic violence, excessive force, coercion, and verbal abuse, and the results;
- Release of an immediate process to begin creating a community policing model that includes non-appointed members of the community as a civilian oversight board which would;
- Conduct investigations into all cases in which a department member discharges his or her firearm, stun gun, or taser in a manner which potentially could strike an individual, even if no allegation of misconduct is made;
- Systematically review reports and footage to conduct investigations into complaints against members of the department concerning domestic violence, excessive force, coercion, and verbal abuse, even if no allegation of misconduct is made;
- To investigate the the conduct of members of the Department concerning any investigative category, (excessive force, sexual misconduct, a false arrest, or illegal search or seizure, and/or committed another civil rights violation or tort.) even in the absence of a civilian complaint, when, based on information and belief.
Tomorrow, the Kingston Police Commission will assemble for their monthly meeting to be held at 4:00 pm at Kingston City Hall at 420 Broadway in Kingston, council chambers (top floor). We are told that there will be a sign-up for citizens to speak at the beginning of the meeting, so please plan to arrive at 3:45 to do so and to secure a seat.
As part of the agenda, the Police Commission will be reviewing a complaint filed by City of Kingston resident Fabian Marshall for discussion of an incident that occurred in 2015.
According to the Daily Freeman VIEW, “Fabian Marshall, 27, was found guilty Friday of obstructing governmental administration, a misdemeanor, following a jury trial before City Judge Lawrence Ball. The trial began last Wednesday. The case against Marshall dates to September 2015, when members of the Kingston Police Department were responding to a report of an assault on Broadway, the District Attorney’s Office said in a press release. The release said officers tried to interview Marshall, who was in the same area of the reported assault and matched the description of the assailant, but that he refused to comply, became uncooperative and fought with police.”
The event was captured on a police cam and cellphone which was fortunately released for the public to review. (GRAPHIC)
“…officers tried to interview Marshall, who was in the same area of the reported assault and matched the description of the assailant, but that he refused to comply, became uncooperative and fought with police.”
Being innocent of the alleged crime, Marshall seems uncertain as to why he was being approached by the police officer who acted in an aggressive manner without an explanation at the onset.
Marshall doesn’t appear to pose any danger to the officer carrying a gun and a taser. In the video, it is alleged that he is tasered 21 times. One time, in this case, was too many.
VIEW our Event Page for the UCIDA’s Wednesday Meeting
VIEW our Petition “UCIDA and PILOTs: Accountability to Taxpayers and Citizens.
Citizens have voiced concern about a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Tax) agreement and other tax incentives currently on the table for the ‘Hudson Valley Kingston Development (HVKD) LLC’ proposal in Uptown, Kingston.
According to their application, they propose to “build four boutique hotels in historic Uptown Kingston. There will be 43 hotel rooms in total, with a restaurant at the 301 Wall Street location. This will create a welcome space for community events and gatherings, and stimulate much-needed tourism and revenue for surrounding businesses.”
REVIEW HVKD’s application
Last week, the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (UCIDA) held a public hearing on the HVKD’s application. Very few members of the public were in attendance.
In our opinion, that’s probably because UCIDA’s process can be difficult to follow, especially for something like a PILOT agreement or tax abatements. Often, meetings are insufficiently publicized leaving many citizens in the dark.
Incentives are important tools in attracting and supporting business. Allocations of tax dollars in this context are governed by state law and to that end, there are real checks and balances here.
However if the public is not properly made aware of the opportunities that they have throughout the process, then only a handful of appointed officials are in a position to make decisions that will certainly extend beyond their tenure. For that reason alone, it is in everyone’s best interest for a transparent process to be a priority, one that will allow citizens a better understanding and to enter into a more robust discussion.
The next meeting on the proposal is to occur on Wednesday, October 11th at 8:00 am (in the Karen Binder Library on the 6th Floor of the County Office Building, 244 Fair Street, Kingston, NY). To help the public proceed in an organized manner, we offer the following information and a recommendation for the public to make to the UCIDA board for their consideration.
VIEW our Event Page for more information on Wednesday’s meeting.
Background on Industrial Development Agencies (IDA) From the NYS Comptroller.
First, appointments to the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency are made via resolution by the membership of the Ulster County Legislature. Members serve at the pleasure of the Legislature.
The Ulster County IDA must follow State law, based on background provided by the NYS Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the role of IDA’s in New York State are charged with the following:
“Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) are authorized to provide financial assistance for certain types of projects. Financial assistance includes the issuance of bonds by the IDA to finance construction of a project and straight-lease transactions. Because IDAs’ property and activities are tax exempt, the IDA may pass the benefits of certain tax exemptions (e.g., real property, sales and mortgage recording taxes) to the private entities that undertake the projects. The loss of revenue associated with these tax exemptions can be offset with an agreement for payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs), under which the private entity agrees to pay all or a portion of the taxes that would otherwise have been imposed had the project not been an IDA project. The IDA’s role is not just to act as the conduit for financial assistance, but also to monitor the success, progress, and cost-benefit of projects, including whether projects are honoring their commitments and agreements.”
In addition to making these decisions, the IDA must also provide follow-up on the projects where they have provided support.
“The IDA’s role is not just to act as the conduit for financial assistance, but also to monitor the success, progress, and cost-benefit of projects, including whether projects are honoring their commitments and agreements.”
The 2016 New York State IDA Law
In 2016, laws were put into place to increase the accountability and efficiency of IDAs.
“In June 2016, new legislation became effective to increase the accountability and improve the efficiency and transparency of IDA operations. For new projects, the law requires standard application forms for requests for financial assistance, uniform criteria for the evaluation and selection for each category of projects for which financial assistance is provided, uniform project agreements, annual assessments on project progress including job creation and retention, as well as policies to recapture, discontinue or modify financial assistance or tax exemptions.”
Next Steps in the process for the Hudson Valley Kingston Development LLC PILOT agreement and tax incentives.
On Wednesday, October 11th at 8:00 am, the Hudson Valley Kingston Development LLC is listed in the (Draft) AGENDA #12: Projects “Hudson Valley Kingston Development (Public Hearing held on October 4, 2017)”. There isn’t information listed as to whether or not the board will be making a decision regarding PILOTS or other available tax incentives for this proposal. Therefore, it’s important to make your voice heard now – and you can do so by
SIGNING OUR PETITION: UCIDA and PILOTs – Accountability to Taxpayers and Citizens. VIEW
The County must carry on its important business for the residents of Ulster County. We also support and appreciate new business opportunities in our area. However, given the concerns of the public, we request that any approvals of tax incentives for the Hudson Valley Kingston Development LLC be delayed by the board to allow the following:
- Provide additional public educational opportunities on the UCIDA’s process in assigning PILOTS and tax incentives to proposed projects, including, but not limited to:
* The necessary documentation that is required as evidence that an applicant demonstrates a need for a PILOT or other tax incentives as well as to show that the applicant has exhausted all other available options based on NYSEDC recommendations. VIEW
- How the UCIDA applies recommendations to this, and all project considerations, provided by the Ulster County Comptroller from his 2014 report “A Study of the Impact and Best Practices for Industrial Development Agencies”, specifically:* Support only Projects which likely will not proceed but for IDA assistance;* Require market analyses for “retail” (and services) Projects;* Calculate costs and benefits specifically attributable to IDA assistance;* Give PILOT points only for jobs attributable to IDA assistance;
* Interpret the cost-benefit analysis with care;
* Require proof of pre-assistance employment levels;
* Maximize public access to information;
* Consider a scoring category for local support.
- The UCIDA’s follow-up procedures after-tax incentives are awarded.
- Additional public hearings to be scheduled and publicized for more public input.
On Thursday, September 28th at 6:00pm at City Hall, the first in a series of forums regarding the ongoing effort to update the City of Kingston’s zoning took place.
The theme for this month’s public forum was “Consolidation and Reformatting of Residential Districts and Bulk Standards.” A presentation on the topic took place to discuss the current code, why this topic is important and what has been discussed by the Zoning Sub-Committee so far regarding potential changes. Participants broke into smaller groups each facilitated by a city employee, where citizens in attendance provided comments and asked questions.
After watching the video, you can submit your questions or comments by sending an EMAIL to the City of Kingston’s planning office. We recommend that you copy the Mayor of Kingston at SNoble@kingston-ny.gov and send yourself a copy for your records, too.
CALL TO ACTION: Can we encourage 20 new Kingston citizens to submit an application to serve on a topic that interests them? We think we can.
Would you like to make an impact on government in the City of Kingston?
As many of you know, one of the most important aspects of our work at KingstonCitizens.org is to point citizens in the direction of process and the law when there is an issue of concern so that their effort can make a real difference.
Perhaps one of the greatest ways for the public to get involved which is not well known is to submit an application VIEW to be appointed to sit on one of the twenty-five boards, commissions or committees that exists and that is reliant on citizen volunteer’s in the City of Kingston.
In 2016, Mayor Steve Noble launched a brand new initiative hoping to “Attract and recruit volunteers for Kingston’s Boards, Commissions, and Committees“.
“All individuals interested in serving on a board, commission and/or committee must complete an application and submit it to the Mayor’s office for review. This information will be used in determining which individuals are best suited to serve, based on their qualifications, backgrounds, skills, and interests.”
Some of these important bodies have very long terms, so when a spot comes up – it’s important to know. Get in there! Kingston relies on the talent in its neighborhoods to help to define itself going forward.
The 2017 primary election will occur on Tuesday, September 12th. The polls are open from noon – 9:00 pm.
We know that primary elections can be confusing, and that’s why we created a guide intended to help City of Kingston residents successfully vote for their candidate tomorrow. Please be in touch if you notice any errors or to make suggestions in the comment section.
The best of luck to all candidates. Get out and vote Kingston citizens!
Can I vote in in the City of Kingston 2017 primary elections?
In a closed primary a registered voter may vote only in the election for the party with which that voter is affiliated. For example a voter registered as Democratic can vote only in the Democratic primary and a Republican can vote only in the Republican primary.
How can I find what district or ward I live in in the City of Kingston?
Please view the City of Kingston Ward map HERE
How can I find my polling place?
You can find your polling place HERE
What does it mean if someone is listed on the ballot?
When a candidate’s name is listed on the ballot, it means that they are in an actual primary (such as in the Kingston Common Council race in Ward 8). The other ward races are OTB primaries, where only endorsed candidates are listed. The others must be written in.
What does “Opportunity to Ballot” mean? (OTB)
An “Opportunity to Ballot” (or write-in) means voters affiliated with the party that is on the ballot are free to write any individual’s name in. For instance, if you are a Republican and you have the option to write-in a candidate in your ward or district, you may do so instead of voting for the listed candidate. An opportunity to ballot is the result of petitioning within an election district and if valid petitions are submitted with enough signatures, this opens the ballot for a write-in.
Where can I find information about the party’s in this year’s City of Kingston primary race?
In this year’s 2017 City of Kingston Primary races, the following party’s are involved (in alphabetical order):
The Ulster County Conservative party can be found on FACEBOOK.
Not to be confused with the “Independent” party, the Ulster County Independence party can be found on FACEBOOK for more information.
The Ulster County Republican party’s website can be found HERE.