KingstonCitizens.org is a non-partisan, citizen-run organization focused on increasing citizen engagement in local government.
By Rebecca Martin
VIEW: Commercial Shipping Organizations Proposal
It is always great when we have the opportunity to sit down with Riverkeeper’s Kate Hudson who is the Director of Cross Watershed Initiatives there. Her clarity on all of the issues she is charged with, and in this case the proposed anchorage project on the Hudson River, is a big help to citizens all throughout the Hudson Valley Region.
One of our big take-aways was to come to understand where we are today on the crude oil transport front. Having more anchorages means that empty barges traveling up from NYC can cut their travel time in half to park until a berth opens up in the port of Albany where shipments of crude oil arrive. There is much activity in North Dakota, and crude oil is transported on ‘bomb trains’ to Albany. Shipping companies are waiting (perhaps ‘frothing’ is a better term) to transport it back down the Hudson River to NYC so it can be sent out and processed in NJ and PA. This will become more of a problem for us in the Hudson Valley.
Last year, “With the stroke of a pen, President Barack Obama ended 40 years of U.S. crude oil export limits by signing off on a repeal passed by Congress earlier in the day….The restrictions lift immediately under a provision in the spending and tax package that the president signed into law. Congressional leaders earlier in the week reached an agreement to end the trade restrictions, established during U.S. oil shortages in the 1970s, as part of a grand bargain that includes tax breaks for renewable-energy companies and refiners….Repeal of the crude-export restrictions reverses four decades of a policy that has defined the nation’s relations with the rest of the world. Without the trade limits, the U.S. — now the world’s largest oil and gas producer — is free to export its crude, as it already does with refined products including gasoline. The U.S. Senate passed the bill with a vote of 65-33 after the House approved the measure 316-113 hours earlier.”
You might have noticed how low oil/gas prices have been lately. Or that there are fewer ‘bomb trains’ then there have been over the past handful of years. That’s because we are extracting more than we are able to sell domestically. There is a glut of oil in America which is mostly new. The lift of the 40 year restriction to exports is going to be a game changer and challenges all of the hard work that’s been done to ween us off fossil fuels. Believe us, once the market is open, what you pay is going to change.
What’s important to recognize here, is that the U.S Coast Guard is not the one proposing new anchorages on the Hudson River. Last year, citizens in the area noticed that barges had suddenly appeared, parked for long stretches of time in areas they had not been before. Complaints were made to Riverkeeper, who in turn, notified the Coast Guard. The barges, when investigated, were indeed parked illegally and were asked to move. So a month or so later, in January of 2016, “a group of commercial shipping organizations (representing Tug and Barge Operators, the HR Pilot’s Associations and American Waterways Operators) submitted a formal request to the U.S. Coast Guard…seeking to expand the number of official anchorage grounds for large commercial vessels in the Hudson River between Yonkers and Kingston from the current 2 (Yonkers and Hyde Park) to 43 berths in 10 locations, opening up 2400 acres to new anchorages in some of the most ecologically sensitive areas of the river.
To make things crystal clear on the ‘benefit’ front, our great Hudson River, and everyone living and relying on it would bear the brunt of the ongoing transport and any potential disaster. There will be no ‘benefit’ for you or for me. This is a situation where only the oil and shipping companies will stand to gain here.
With a proposal on the table, the Coast Guard must follow a process, and the first step is in giving the public the opportunity to respond. Known as “a notice of proposed rule making” (take note, they are not rule making at this point) please help them to build a record to enable them to DENY the commercial shipping organization’s request by submitting a comment no later than September 7th. It’s so important that you do so now.
Below is Kate Hudson’s helpful explanation of all of this. We’ll continue to look out and to post as this process unfolds.
By Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper Director of Cross Watershed Initiatives
There is much confusion, misinformation, and disinformation abound concerning this very consequential proposal. I would like to take a moment to get at the facts about what’s being proposed, by whom and why so we can be clear and speak with one voice about what needs to be done in order to protect our river and our river communities.
# 1: – WHAT IS BEING PROPOSED AND BY WHOM?
Several commercial shipping organizations (representing Tug and Barge Operators, the HR Pilot’s Associations and American Waterways Operators) submitted a formal request to the U.S. Coast Guard in January, 2016 seeking to expand the number of official anchorage grounds for large commercial vessels in the Hudson River between Yonkers and Kingston from the current 2 (Yonkers and Hyde Park) to 43 berths in 10 locations, opening up 2400 acres to new anchorages in some of the most ecologically sensitive areas of the river. 42 of the 43 berths are proposed to be “long term” which means that barges could anchor there for days. This is not as the vessel operators like to say as being “nothing new”. This would represent a huge increase in the anchoring of commercial vessels in the Hudson between the GW Bridge and Albany, turning our river into a parking lot for large barges and vessels while they wait for dock space to open up in Albany.
# 2 – WHY IS THIS PROPOSAL BEING MADE? WHAT THE SHIPPING INDUSTRY SAYS VS. REALITY.
Until late fall 2015, northbound tugs and barges frequently anchored off Port Ewen just south of the Rondout Creek. Riverkeeper received complaints from residents of communities on both sides of the river, which they referred to Captain Day of the Coast Guard, Sector NY. Day ultimately notified vessel operators that this was NOT an authorized, federally designated anchorage ground and that they had to cease using it. In response, the shipping organizations submitted their vastly increased anchorage request to the coast guard in January 2016.
Their clearly stated reason is exactly the point, the larger picture here: the vast increase in the transport of Bakken crude oil on the Hudson since the beginning of 2012
In its January 21, 2016, letter asking the Coast Guard to authorize additional anchorages, the Maritime Association of the Port of NY/NJ Tug and Barge Committee noted Albany’s role as an “export port … of Bakken Crude Oil and Ethanol.”
The industry emphasizes one commercial incentive in particular in its request: “Trade will increase on the Hudson River significantly over the next few years with the lifting of the ban on American Crude exports for foreign trade and federally designated anchorages are key to supporting trade.”
The reality: Since 2012 up to 25% of Bakken crude oil from fracked wells in North Dakota is coming through the Albany Port and then being moved south through the Hudson Valley to refineries in NJ and PA. In 2011, half a million gallons of crude oil was being handled in the Port of Albany. Because of permits that the State of NY gave two transloading companies operating in the Port of Albany (Global and Buckeye), up to 3 billion gallons a year can now be loaded from bomb trains to barges and brought down the Hudson. A fossil fuel commercialization of the Hudson that we have never seen before.
Permits are also being sought to allow those companies to load tar sands oil on to Hudson River barges which Riverkeeper and others have been fighting in the courts since 2014.
More oil exponentially increases the risk of spills and a spill of Bakken or tar sands oil is a spill from which the river will not be able to recover. Responders agree that a successful response to a spill in a tidal river like the Hudson would be able to recover only 15-20% of the Bakken oil spilled and only 5-10% of a sinking tar sands spill.
# 3 – DO WE NEED THE INCREASE IN CRUDE OIL SHIPPING THAT THIS PROPOSAL WILL FACILITATE? WHO WILL BENEFIT?
“Shippers now say this is about safety, but it’s really about oil as they so candidly said in their January 2016 letter to the Coast Guard:
CLAIM: Permanent, authorized anchorages are needed for safety. Vessel operators need a place to stop in the event of fog and ice – or as the Coast Guard told the New York Times, to “park and catch up on rest and then move on.”
RESPONSE: This is a problem that doesn’t need to be fixed. Commercial vessels already have emergency anchoring privileges. To our knowledge, the Coast Guard has never denied commercial vessel operators the ability to anchor when needed due to safety concerns.
CLAIM: “The three anchorages in the “Kingston Hub” are essential because the upriver section should be navigated only during daylight. Otherwise it is unsafe.”
RESPONSE: The barges anchored near Kingston weren’t waiting for daylight; they were waiting for dock space in the Port of Albany. Loaded crude oil barges routinely travel south through the Port of Albany, through this “narrow, dangerous” reach at all hours.
CLAIM: “Don’t you need gas for your car and oil to heat your home?”
RESPONSE: Refined products, like gasoline and heating oil, have been shipped from coastal refineries north up the Hudson to Albany for decades. That won’t change, and that’s not the issue. The barges that have been anchoring in the Hudson since 2012, when North Dakota crude oil production started, have not been barges transporting heating oil or gasoline. They are barges that transport crude oil and more often than not, they are anchoring because their loading terminals in Albany are at capacity. It’s disingenuous and dishonest to raise the specter of heating oil and gasoline delivery problems in this conversation.
During the peak crude oil years of 2013-14, we saw tremendous volume of crude oil traveling down the Hudson Valley: two trains a day, 3 million gallons each; a barge a day, with approximately 4 million gallons; and the tanker Aphrodite, doing a round trip from Albany to New Brunswick every eight days carrying 8 million gallons. That enormous volume was limited by what the coastal refineries could receive. But now that the United States has lifted its export ban on crude oil, industry predicts that we will see an enormous increase in volumes transported on the Hudson. Now, global market forces are the only limit.
CLAIM: “These products need to be transported by water. Maybe you’d prefer them sent up by rail or pipelines running through your backyards?”
RESPONSE: The maritime industry suggests that shipping oil by barge will prevent construction of a pipeline. The pipeline industry says that if we have a pipeline, we won’t need barges. And the rail industry says it’s the safest means of transport of all. They’re all wrong.
Having barges won’t prevent pipelines, and having pipelines won’t prevent barges, and transport by rail won’t prevent either of the others. None of these industries has made a compact with the others, saying, “If you move the oil, we’ll back out of the business.”
# 4 – IMPACTS TO THE RIVER, RIVER COMMUNITIES, CLIMATE AND OUR CHILDREN’S PLANET.
The risk of a catastrophic oil spill:
The cargo of greatest risk to the Hudson is petroleum. For decades and decades, refined petroleum products like gasoline, heating oil and diesel have traveled north to the Port of Albany. But starting in 2012, crude oil produced in North Dakota began arriving by train down the Champlain and Mohawk valleys. And the oil that does not continue by rail is being loaded onto barges and ships and carried south along the Hudson to refineries on the coast.
The risk of oil spill to the Hudson – already a serious threat due to the surge in barge and train shipments of Bakken crude oil since 2012 – will rise even further if new anchorages are granted to facilitate the movement of more oil.
And if these anchorages are authorized what else could we expect?
In other parts of the country, crude oil is being stored in vessels until prices rebound. Is that what we face here? Is that why so many anchorage locations are being requested? Or will the next request be a proportional increase in oil handling facilities in the Port of Albany to eliminate the current gridlock in the port and facilitate the movement of additional vessels?
More oil on the Hudson equals more risk of spills with all the impacts that would result: Including irreparable damage to the ecological health of the river as well as putting the drinking water of over 100,000 mid Hudson Valley residents on both sides of the river in jeopardy.
The sturgeon were here first. Several of the proposed anchorages are in areas relied upon by sturgeon for their survival. Both species of Hudson River sturgeon – Atlantic and shortnose – are on the endangered species list. Anchors and anchor chains scar and disturb the river bottom, where sturgeon spawn and feed and rest. The river bottom is disturbed by the anchor and chain that barges use. Scientists using side-scan sonar have documented anchor “scarring” of benthic (bottom) habitat used by federally endangered sturgeon at the existing Hyde Park anchorage and at the unauthorized Port Ewen anchorage that was used until the fall of 2015.
Two endangered species, shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon, live in the Hudson. The river off Hyde Park, for example, may have the highest concentration of Atlantic sturgeon on the entire Eastern seaboard at spawning time in early summer. The area off Kingston, and “Sturgeon Point” across the way in Rhinecliff – is an important area for shortnose sturgeon. And both species of sturgeon overwinter near the proposed anchorages at Tompkins Cove and Montrose. Before any new anchorages are approved, researchers must determine definitively whether the disturbance to sturgeon habitat is detrimental or not.”
Actions We Can and Must Take. Here is your opportunity to get involved.
We urge all local officials and concerned citizens to send their thoughts and concerns to the Coast Guard, so that the agency’s internal review leaves no risk unaddressed.
This stage of the process is vital. The Coast Guard is taking a hard first look at the industry’s proposal – and your comments and concerns. After that, the Coast Guard has the power to either:
- reject the industry’s proposal outright,
- modify it to address environmental or community concerns, or
- consider the industry’s proposal in full.
The anchorage proposal must get comprehensive environmental review. The Coast Guard is so far doing what we need them to do: Giving the public advance notice and soliciting input before deciding on a future ‘official’ proposal, anticipated in Spring of 2017. New anchorage grounds would clearly have a range of significant, far-reaching environmental impacts that must be looked into and understood before any decision can be made.
The National Environmental Policy Act requires a detailed review for most federal proposals as part of the decision making process. However, anchorage proposals fall into a loophole, and no such review is required for this proposal. The public should ask for a full environmental impact statement.
Speak up! Your community has a say. Many local communities have developed plans – Local Waterfront Revitalization Plans – for the future of their Hudson River waterfronts. The review of the anchorage proposal must address and be consistent with these plans. Don’t forget: Make sure your federal and state elected officials know specifics about where your community stands on the future use and development of its waterfront – whether you have an LWRP or not. Make sure your community files comments with the Coast Guard before Sept. 7.
Submit Your Comments by September 7, 2016.
READ: Proposed new Hudson River anchorage grounds: Critical issues and what you can do.
READ: 6 things you should know about the proposed Hudson River anchorages.
READ: Fact-check: Industry’s false claims about Hudson River anchorages.
Today, Mayor Steve Noble adopted Local Law #3 regarding “Rules and Regulations of Shooting Ranges in the City of Kingston”. In a press release issued this afternoon, he states:
“Over the past few months, the City of Kingston facilitated an open public process to address an antiquated local law that was no longer relevant or appropriate for our community. In doing so, the members of the Common Council, particularly the Laws and Rules Committee, participated in a robust and critical dialogue. I sincerely want to thank our Common Council for taking on this arduous task, for thoroughly and completely investigating the gaps in language in the outdated law and identifying best practices and models to adopt. It is through this process we have before us a comprehensive and effective piece of legislation that protects the rights and interests of all of our residents.
Equally as important, I want to thank the members of the public who participated in this process. It is not easy to believe in something with such passion and conviction and be met with resistance from others who simply will not agree. I cannot offer a simple solution to the complex nature of conflicting values and opinions. All I can do, and will do, is continue to support the rights of each of our constituents to express these differences. I ask that in doing so, we each remember that the person with opposing views is still our neighbor and that a healthy dialogue is built on the foundation of respect and willingness to listen.
Before I signed this law, shooting ranges were not permissible anywhere in the City of Kingston. While some will contend that Kingston has historically hosted a number of shooting ranges, we cannot refute the fact that from 1978 until 2016 this activity was not reflected in our law as an allowable discharge of firearms.
I signed this law today, not due to fear or public pressure. I signed this law because it is reasonable, appropriate, and quite frankly, it is our duty as leaders in our community to expect a potential new business to meet the standards and requirements clearly outlined in this document. It is my opinion that every law should be so detailed and transparent. I welcome this process as a way to ensure that when we refer to a law, there is no guesswork or vague interpretation involved. Our citizens deserve to live in a City where our laws are practical, well-defined, well-researched, and equitable to all constituents.
With the passage of this law, the City of Kingston is sending a message that safe, responsible new businesses are welcome and encouraged here and that we are committed to ensuring prospective business owners have clear guidelines and expectations.”
VIEW: Local Law of the Common Council of Kingston, NY Adopting the Rules and Regulations Regarding Shooting Ranges
Please view public comment from both of the Mayor’s hearings this month below. Filmed by Clark Richters of Kingston News. Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org.
Mayor’s Public Hearing #1
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Mayor’s Public Hearing #2
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Kingston Common Council Caucus (Monday, 7/11)
Kingston Common Council Meeting (Tuesday, 7/12)
Caucus: Conference Room #1 (7/11)
Council Meeting: Council Chambers (7/12)
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway Kingston, NY
Caucus: Monday, July 11th @ 7:00pm
Council Meeting: Tuesday, July 12th @ 7:30pm
Sign-up to speak and secure a seat at the council meeting on 7/12/16 at 7:15pm.
The Kingston Common Council holds its monthly caucus and council meeting in July.
Local Law #6 (known as the Rochester Law), that proposes clearer requirements for shooting ranges in Kingston. It is a local law that will have its second reading and a full council vote on July 12th.
This event will be filmed and brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org thanks to Clark Richters and Kingston News
We encourage the public to attend and to speak on Tuesday, July 12th in support of the council adopting Local Law #6 (the Rochester Law). Local Law #6 emphasizes the creation of important buffers for a business such as a shooting range within our city limits.
The issue is not about burdening the right to have a gun or to practice using a gun. Given the potential health and safety issues of a shooting range, finding the appropriate location for one is key. In our opinion, an appropriate location is NOT inside a densely populated or highly used area.
The Kingston Common Council will hold its monthly caucus (Monday, July 11th) and full council meeting (Tuesday, July 12th) this month, a week later than normal scheduling due to the July 4th holiday weekend.
Among other important topics that evening, council business will include the second reading and a full council vote of Local Law #6 (known as the “Rochester Law”). This vote is the outcome of months of discussion and debate to properly vet Kingston’s current firearms law.
The Common Council will vote on whether it “wants to set specific criteria and restrictions for the opening of indoor shooting ranges in the city, or adopt a simpler approach that does not limit where such facilities could be operated.” (*See below)
PROPOSED LOCAL LAW #6 OF 2016 ADOPTING THE RULES AND REGULATIONS REGARDING SHOOTING RANGES ESTABLISHED BY THE CITY OF ROCHESTER IN 2011 IN ITS ENTIRETY WITH THE REQUISITE CHANGES TO ADAPT TO KINGSTON’S CIRCUMSTANCES
The new vetted law (Local Law #6 of 2016) aims to provide clearer regulations for operating indoor shooting ranges in Kingston, including important buffers “that would prohibit any new range from being located within 1,000 feet of the entrance to any school, church, hospital, youth recreational facility or location which, in the opinion of the police chief, would create a nuisance to any nearby resident.” (*See below)
PROPOSED LOCAL LAW #5 OF 2016 ADOPTING THE RULES AND REGULATIONS REGARDING SHOOTING RANGES
In our opinion, this unvetted law would “allow indoor ranges anywhere in Kingston with Planning Board approval” and should be dismissed. (*See below)
We encourage the public to attend and to speak in support of the council adopting Local Law #6 (the Rochester Law). Local Law #6 emphasizes the creation of important buffers for a business such as a shooting range within our city limits.
The issue is not about burdening the right to have a gun or to practice using a gun. Given the potential health and safety issues of a shooting range, finding the appropriate location is key. In our opinion, an appropriate location is NOT inside a densely populated or highly used area.
*Excerpts in quotes from the Daily Freeman VIEW
After months of public speaking opportunities and hard work by both citizens and elected/appointed officials alike, the Kingston Common Council majority voted to send back an amended Firearms Law in early May that had been crafted by Ward 9 Alderwoman Deb Brown (the sole Republican) to committee (7-1,) due to it not having been properly vetted. Ward 6 Alderman Tony Davis abstained from the vote as he is employed by the Kingston City School District, after the Board of Education opposed the location of the shooting range in a resolution delivered last December of 2015. READ/VIEW
The law was assigned to Kingston’s Laws and Rules Committee, where the opportunity held promise that committee members would focus their energy on reviewing, in a coordinated fashion, the wealth of information for discussion that included model laws (where three had been presented by Kingston’s Corporation Council), a comprehensive study of the collective concerns of Midtown’s stakeholders, the recently adopted Kingston Comprehensive Plan, other appropriate state laws and whatever else was placed in front of them. If done properly, the process probably wouldn’t take very long and a new draft law that was embraced by the majority might have been sent out to the council for the local law process to begin.
But that wasn’t the case.
The three model laws that had been submitted by Kingston’s Corporation Council several days before the Tuesday Laws and Rules committee meeting was met by several committee members stating that they hadn’t had the opportunity yet to view them and to comment. Even though the purpose of the law being moved back to committee was to start a vetting process, it was the opinion of Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills that the models were a ‘stall tactic’.
Instead of tabling the matter right then and there to allow more time to be given for review, a motion was made to vote on whether or not the City of Rochester model – which was Ward 3 Alderman Rennie Scott-Childress’s choice model law – be adopted. It failed of course, 3/2 (Mills/Brown/Carey to Scott-Childress/Eckert), likely because it hadn’t the time necessary for all committee members to read (whether true or not), leading to the model law being moved out of committee to the June council meeting with a negative recommendation.
What happened next is the very law that was meant to be vetted (that had been changed by Ward 9 Alderwoman Brown to allow a shooting range anywhere in the city of Kingston after securing the necessary permits required, etc.) was further amended some by Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills to define what constitutes a firearm based on NYS Penal Law. (NOTE: Although we have tried, we haven’t yet been able to get a copy of the new law that was passed out of the Laws and Rules Committee last month to share with the public).
That passed through committee once again, 3/2 to our amazement. (Mills/Brown/Carey to Scott-Childress/Eckert) with a positive recommendation.
Whatever side of the debate you are on, it is well understood that in order for the proposed shooting range to proceed, the law must be amended to allow the discharge of firearms within Kingston’s city limits. If it is not, then it appears, based on Dr. Soyer’s lawyer Michael Moriello’s memorandum, that a lawsuit is imminent. VIEW the Memorandum.
There appears to be a great deal of confusion now as to what happens next, and although we are not clear what will occur next Monday or Tuesday, our position remains the same and that is for the common council to vet the current Firearms Law properly, with even more conviction after reviewing legislation in regard to discharging firearms from three other municipalities that have been presented: VIEW
The City of Rochester = 20 pages
The City of Poughkeepsie= 11 pages
The City of Mt Vernon = 3 pages
The City of Kingston = Several paragraphs.
The City of Kingston has a good opportunity right now to follow through on process with proper vetting of the Firearms Law to improve relations on the subject. It is exactly what citizens have advocated for. To dismiss it gives the appearance that the process is influenced by several. Whether it is due to there being council members who are supportive of the proposed gun range – or, council members who want to move this process forward swiftly. To us, it’s all one in the same. It has got to be done right. Otherwise, elected officials are not fulfilling their duty to the public who have elected them into office. Process takes time.
What appears to currently be problematic is that the Laws and Rules Committee has a majority of members who favor the proposed shooting range which diminishes the opportunity for a true vetting process. Therefore, maybe it needs to be sent to public safety, which would still be appropriate, with a different assortment of council members. Or, a task force for vetting the law is a better route. How do you keep politics out of the process for something as charged as this?
Citizens who wish to speak during public comment on Tuesday night certainly can relay their own personal views. But we encourage citizens to focus on what is in front of the council now and that is the law. Therefore, we recommend to continue to press for a proper vetting process by council members working as a collective, to help the community pull together rather than to pull apart.
It’s impossible to not wonder how might the process had turned out had there not been a timely shooting range proposal sitting in front of our council members. Citizens should keep that in mind as they compose their testimony for Tuesday and council members should keep that in mind as they go into caucus.
We will update you next week, prior to the Kingston Council Meeting on Tuesday, June 7th. Give this all some thought, and stay tuned. In the meantime, you can view the timeline below.
Proposed Shooting Range Timeline
a/o June 2nd, 2016
1) October 13th, 2015: Kingston Planning Board Meeting
Shooting Range is on the Planning Board’s Agenda as New Business. The item was eventually tabled to the November meeting. Among other things, the Firearms Law had been identified: “John Dwyer questioned the City code regarding firing guns within the City of Kingston. Kyla Haber stated that Suzanne Cahill had spoken with both Corporation Counsel and the KPD Chief to obtain opinion on the proposal and both are agreeable to the business, with obvious consideration that all necessary permits, noise mitigation and approvals by law enforcement are issued.” (other important items in the excerpts below are in bold. Please review full minutes at the link included).
Item #13: #90 & 92-94 Prince Street SITE PLAN to establish a shooting range in an existing commercial building. SBL 56.26-9-2.1 & 37. SEQR Determination. Zone C-2. Ward 5. Game Development LLC; applicant/owner.
Excerpts of minutes from Planning Board 10/13/15
Dr. Adam Soyer, applicant and Scott Dutton, project architect were present at the meeting. D.Soyer explained that the proposal is to create a shooting range, education classroom and a retail area for fire arms sales.
The concern of lead and environmental issues were raised at the meeting. A shooting range consultant has been brought on to advise the applicant with regard to the air filtration system. Information by, Carey’s Small Arms Range Ventilation, was submitted on the requirements and equipment that is needed to mitigate the lead that is expelled from ammunition. A HEPA filtration system with 1,000,000 BTUs will be added to create an environment where the air leaving the building will be cleaner than the air entering the building.
In discussion with the consultant, they told Dr. Soyer to estimate 200 people a week at the range with 40% of them coming on the weekends. Range time will likely be 1 hr. Dr. Soyer is looking into a system that will allow for visitors to check in and receive a notification of their time on their smartphone or other device.
Dr. Soyer also stated that he met with the Kingston Police Department and the Ulster Sheriff regarding the use and his business plan. Although this range would not qualify for training requirements because of the size, the police and sheriffs were very positive and stated that they may use the space for possible training.
Dr. Soyer stated that in talking to the department that issues pistol permits, they said that there are about 200 per month in Ulster County and that over half of them are women. Many people that have permits have never had any training and many have never even fired a gun. Life fire training is not required.
The Board asked if any guns would be used that were not pistols. Dr. Soyer stated that there is the possibility for 22 rifles which do not require a permit to fire. The Board asked about the retail area. Dr. Soyer stated that he is seeking approval to be a dealer.
K. Haber told the Board and the applicants that the Planning Office received a call from the ATF Investigator handling the permit application for this location and that he asked to be notified of the final decision by the Board. There is a timing requirement that addresses the date of the permit approval through the ATF and the approval from the Kingston Planning Board.
The Board discussed the whether a formal public hearing should be held for the application. It was originally anticipated that the public might wish to speak on the application. The Board discussed the fact that an article had been in the Daily Freeman noting the proposed use and the date of the Planning Board meeting and that no one was present to see the application or ask any questions or comments. Staff added that no one had been to the office to see the application either and that there had only been one call to the office before the application was submitted to ask questions about the use and express concern about lead contamination. R. Jacobsen added that he was hesitant to schedule a formal public hearing because he did not want the Planning Board meeting to turn into debate on guns and gun policies. The Board agreed that there was opportunity to speak in the beginning of the meeting and that there would be an open public speaking opportunity at the next meeting. Any questions or concerns could be expressed at that time.
READ: Daily Freeman Article “Kingston Planners Decline to Hold Public Hearing on Proposed Shooting Range”
J. Dwyer questioned the City code regarding firing guns within the City of Kingston. K. Haber stated that S. Cahill had spoken with both Corporation Counsel and the KPD Chief to obtain opinion on the proposal and both are agreeable to the business, with obvious consideration that all necessary permits, noise mitigation and approvals by law enforcement are issued.
Decision: The Board voted unanimously to table the application. The item will be placed on the November Planning Board agenda. (WP, RJ, JD, CP, JM – yes)
2) November 9th, 2015: Kingston Planning Board Meeting
Shooting Range is on the Planning Board agenda as “Old Business”. First time residents speak, and here request a public hearing. In this go round, Architect Scott Dutton states that there is overwhelming support for the shooting range by the police department who will use it to sharpen their skills. (we know today, that the site isn’t large enough for police to use the site to practice).
Item #15: #90 & 92-94 Prince Street SITE PLAN to establish a shooting range in an existing commercial building. SBL 56.26-9-2.1 & 37. SEQR Determination. Zone C-3. Ward 5. Game Development LLC; applicant/owner.
Excerpts of minutes from Planning Board 11/9/15
Dr. Adam Soyer, owner, and Scott Dutton, architect, were present at the meeting. Chairman Platte welcomed the applicants and explained to them that at the request of some of the speakers during the public speaking portion of the meeting, the Planning Board would like to hold a formal public hearing on the project. He added that while he was not trying to delay action, he and the Board felt that it was important to allow the public additional time to submit comment. At the October 2015 Planning Board meeting, no one from the public was present and at that time, the Board was able to ask a number of questions and receive a lot of information from the applicants. The Planning Board had discussed the possibility of scheduling a public hearing in depth but it was decided that a hearing not be held because articles had been in the paper and the Planning Office and Board had not received any comments or questions about the project from the public. They also had expressed concern that the issue would result in a debate that would veer off course from the actual application and that speakers would potentially use this as platform for gun control issues.
W. Platte asked if the applicants would be able to present and reiterate the information that the Board received previously to answer some of the questions that were asked by the public. Scott Dutton said that they will put together an information sheet with relevant details and explanations. He added that when this project first began, he spoke to the members of the Police Department about it and there was overwhelming support. It is important for officers to maintain their skills. As a resident and father, he said that he is often appalled when opening the newspaper about violence and dog attacks and drunk drivers. He has also been at public hearing where affordable housing is being proposed and people speak out against it. There are many uses that are feared by the public but he asked the Planning Board to consider this proposal as an application and not a debate on what is wrong with state and federal gun control.
The Board agreed to schedule a public hearing at the December 14, 2015 Planning Board meeting.
Decision: The Board voted unanimously to table the application and schedule a public hearing to take place at the December 14, 2015 Planning Board meeting. (WP, CP, JD, JM – yes)
3) December 9th, 2015: BOE Issue Resolution
Board of Education issue a resolution against the location of the proposed shooting range. VIEW
4) December 14th, 2015: Kingston Planning Board Meeting
Planning Board Public holds a hearing on the proposed Shooting Range. Approximately 42 speakers testify that evening. District 7 Legislator Jennifer Schwartz Berky relays that there is a Firearms Law in the city of Kingston code that prohibits discharging firearms within the city boundaries with exceptions, and the need for a special permit for membership in her public testimony. The issue is tabled.
Excerpts of minutes from Planning Board 12/14/15
Discussion: Dr. Adam Soyer, applicant/owner, and Scott Dutton, architect, were present at the meeting. Chairman Platte explained that the applicants would be giving a brief presentation to explain the plans for the project.
S. Dutton stated that he is the architect for the project but that he is also a resident of the City of Kingston, residing at 19 Canfield Street a little less than 300ft. from the property in question. This is the 3rd meeting before the Planning Board. Dr. Soyer submitted a “fact sheet” to the Planning Office to explain the business and operations in more detail. He made copies for the public to take and read through. We are here to explain the project and listen to the public.
The building is a 1-story, 2,200 +/- sf, masonry structure with a proposed 500sf addition. Dr. Soyer has owned the building and the adjacent parking lot for a number of years.
Dr. Adam Soyer spoke about the project. He has been a resident of Kingston for a number of years. The idea came about because he is a shooting enthusiast and because there are not a lot of options for places that he could target practice. The business name would be Safeshoot. It would be a 5 lane shooting range for members only. Permits are required for operation from the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. There are a number of concerns that have been expressed which include noise, environmental concerns and security. A range consultant has been obtained to assist in developing the range. Special materials will be used to mitigate noise outside of the building. A HEPA filtration system will be installed to ensure clean air. Both air and noise levels will meet the requirements of OSHA. All members wishing to use the range will need to be certified by a range safety officer which will be on site at all times. All users are required by law to possess a pistol permit. The retail section of the facility would be open to non-members. The classroom component would offer permit holders the ability to learn proper handling and safety.
5) January 2nd, 2016: Kingston Planning Board
The Planning Board places the proposed shooting range on hold until further notice. VIEW Article.
6) February 12th, 2016: Mayor Steve Noble
Mayor Steve Noble says shooting range would violate 1984 law. VIEW Article.
7) March 23rd, 2016: Public Safety Committee
Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills requests the firearms law be discussed during the Public Safety Committee meeting. Majority Leader Bill Carey asks who is in favor of shooting range that evening.
8) March 24th, 2016: Daily Freeman Article reports Ward 9 Alderwoman Deb Brown’s Support of Shooting Range.
Full article in the Daily Freeman reporting that Ward 9 Alderwoman Deb Brown favors proposed shooting range. VIEW Article
9) April 12th, 2016: Memo from Dr. Soyer’s Lawyer M. Moriello
Dr. Soyer’s Lawyer Michael Moriello submits a memorandum explaining legal reasoning which would support the continuation of the Soyer’s application VIEW Memorandum
10) April 13th, 2016: Kingston Finance Committee
Shooting Range placed on Finance committee meeting agenda requested by Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills. It is later removed from agenda by Ward 2 Alderman Doug Koop (and committee chair), suggesting it would be more appropriate for Laws and Rules
11) April 19th, 2016: Laws and Rules Committee
Firearms is placed on the Laws and Rules Committee chaired by Ward 2 Alderwoman Lynn Eckert. Eckert allows for public comment, and moves meeting from conference room #1 to council chambers. The law moves out of committee to the council floor with a negative recommendation. VIDEO
12) May 5th, 2016 and May 6th, 2016: Caucus and Council Meeting
Kingston Common Council Caucus. Discussion on Amending Firearms Law. The full council listens to around 32 speakers requesting that the amended law be sent back to the Laws and Rules Committee for further vetting. The council votes, and agrees to send it back to committee 7 – 1 (Doug Koop no vote to amend the law). VIDEO
13) May 16th, 2016: Ulster County Human Rights Commission Issues Letter
Ulster County Human Rights Commission issues concerns regarding Environmental Racism and other issues as it pertains to the location of the proposed shooting range. VIEW: Document
14) May 17th, 2016: Laws and Rules Committee Meeting
A motion is made to ‘adopt’ the City of Rochester Firearms Law as a model for Kingston, but is rejected 3/2. After, a motion to accept the simplified amended Firearms Law crafted by Deb Brown with new additions by Maryann Mills is, once again, voted out of committee and back to the council floor 3/2 without a formal vetting process. (Mills, Brown, Carey YES. Scott-Childress, Eckert NO). Ward 8 Alderman Steve Schabot is in favor of working with a model. VIDEO
15) June 6th, 2016: Laws and Rules Committee
The Kingston Common Council Laws and Rules Committee discuss the possibility of a model law from Rochester, NY crafted fro Kingston that would create buffers for a business like a shooting range in Kingston. It moves through committee with a positive recommendation 3-2 (Eckert/Childress/Carey – Brown/Mills). VIEW Daily Freeman Article
15) June 11th, 2016: Kingston Common Caucus
The Kingston Common Council meet and discuss the Rochester model law, which passes through to the council floor the following evening.
16) June 12th, 2016: Kingston Common Council
First reading of a new shooting range law as well as an amended version that includes shooting ranges with permits and the NYS Penal Law included in the current Kingston Firearms Law. VIEW: Daily Freeman Article
17) June 16th, 2016: Mayor Steve Noble is reported to favor the Rochester Law.
During a general press conference, the Mayor “wants the city to set forth specific criteria and requirements for indoor shooting ranges to operate in Kingston.” VIEW: Daily Freeman Article
18) July 12th, 2016: The Kingston Common Council Passes through Shooting Range Law (Rochester model). Rejects amendment to Firearms Laws.
The Kingston Common Council passes through the new shooting range law and rejects the amended firearms law 6- 2 on both counts. (Eckert/Koop/Scott-Childress/Dawson/Carey/Schabot – Brown/Mills. Davis abstains). VIDEO: One Two Three
19) July 21st, 2016: Mayor Steve Noble’s Public Hearing on Local Law #3 (Shooting Range)
The mayor’s public hearing takes place on Local Law #3 (Shooting Range). VIDEO: Public hearing
20) July 28th, 2016: Mayor Steve Noble’s 2nd Public Hearing on Local Law #3 (Shooting Range)
21) July 29th, 2016: Mayor Steve Noble Signs Legislation.
Mayor Steve Noble signs into legislation Local Law #3 on Shooting Ranges. VIEW: Daily Freeman Article
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.
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)
A recent submission from Kingston City resident Neil B. Millens
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.
Kingston Laws and Rules Committee Meeting
Conference Room #1
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway Kingston, NY
Tuesday, May 17th, 2016
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
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.
Kingston Common Council Caucus and Full Council Meeting (5/2/16 and 5/3/16)
Laws and Rules Committee meeting 4/19/16 Public Comment
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.
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.
Adult Use Zoning Ordinance that followed, and where the study is noted.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Get your information to the committee chair prior to the next laws and rules committee meeting on Tuesday, May 17th at 7:00pm.
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:
* 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
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)
36:40 – 38:31
Robert Rogan, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law
Scott Marston-Reid, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law
41:10 – 44:50
Adam Soyer, Kingston
Amending Firearms Law
44:53 – 47:00
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
Amending Firearms Law
3:09 – 6:19
Amending Firearms Law
6:30 – 9:00
Ellen DiFalco, Kingston
9:07 – 10:25
Pam Krimskey, Highland
Amending Firearms Law
10:30 – 13:18
Joe DiFalco, Kingston
13:41 – 15:32
Amending Firearms Law
15:35 – 16:30
Lawrence McCauley, Kingston (Letter read by Ward 9 Alderwoman Deb Brown)
Amending Firearms Law
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
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.
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: email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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.”
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 email@example.com
Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org and filmed by Clark Richters
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
14:38 – 19:15
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
57:38 – End of Video
Nardia Bennett, Kingston NY
00:00 – 2:02
Nardia Bennett, Kingston, NY
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
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.
THIS EVENT WILL BE FILMED thanks to Kingston News. Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org.
Laws and Rules Committee
Kingston City Hall 420 Broadway Kingston, NY
Tuesday, April 19th 2016
Sign-up to speak at 6:45pm.
Public Comment starts at 7:00pm
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
Deb Brown, Ward 9 Alderwoman
Maryann Mills, Ward 7 Alderwoman
Bill Carey, Ward 5 Alderman and Majority Leader
Doug Koop, Ward 2 Alderman
COUNCIL NOTABLES ON THE SUBJECT
Jim Noble, President common council
Nina Dawson, Ward 4 Alderwoman
If you do not see your ward noted here, please visit this LINK for more information.
Additional Reading from KingstonCitizens.org
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.
As 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.
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.
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?