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KingstonCitizens.org: Regional Community Accomplishments on the Proposed Niagara Bottling Project

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By Rebecca Martin

Last night was in essence the conclusion of many months of discussion regarding Lead Agency and  the proposed Niagara Bottling project. It has been a deeply intense time period for many hard working people who are dedicated in making this a sound process. Today starts a brand new phase with our collective group of many talented and tenacious citizens, organizations and elected officials.

It’s important that we take a moment to acknowledge and to thank all of those who we have had the good fortune to work and be guided by. In a few short weeks, collectively Riverkeeper, The Woodstock Land Conservancy, the Esopus Creek Conservancy,  Save Cooper Lake, the Kingston Common Council, Town of Woodstock, Food and Water Watch and hundreds of residents of the affected communities have succeeded in placing this proposal under a great deal of public scrutiny.   Thank you.

Much gratitude must also be given to the team that has assembled under the KingstonCitizens.org umbrella.  In essence, it is a dream to see this platform work as it was intended to do and on a most critical issue.  Thank you Kitty McCullough, Debra Bresnan, Karin Wolf, Rachel Marco-Havens and Elizabeth Littleton and Beth Bengston.

To Jennifer Schwartz Berky who is one of Kingston’s treasures. A very generous soul, a dear friend, a true professional and spectacular partner to have.   To my co-chair, Heather Schwegler  who is savvy, smart and keeps us all in good humor.

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Your involvement has made many positive outcomes possible. Some of them include:

~ The City of Kingston Common Council has been incredibly supportive of the public’s request by voting unanimously in favor of three resolutions requesting that the DEC be Lead Agency of the Niagara Proposal and that the CoK be added as Involved Agency in the SEQR process.

~ The early commissioning of the Carpenter Report thanks to the Woodstock Land Conservancy and Riverkeeper has begun to identify and document a sampling of the numerous potential impacts that must be considered as part of the scoping process. (More on this shortly)

~ The Town of Ulster issued a Positive Declaration on the Niagara Proposal. This was not at all a foregone conclusion in September and October.

~ The Town of Ulster determining to require a full public scoping process of the proposed action ensuring that the public and all interested and affected parties, communities and agencies have the opportunity to contribute to the scope of the EIS.   This is not required to do under SEQRA regs, this is a big win for the public and a direct result of the full-court press by the public, grass-roots community groups, elected officials and affiliated organizations.

~ The applicant amending the proposed action once to include a much wider geographic scope and add additional Interested and Involved Agencies including NYC DEP and the Mink Hollow brook and Beaverkill, as well as the Cooper Lake Reservoir and KWD supply and distribution system.

~ NYS DEC pledging to play a proactive role in the SEQRA process.

~ NYS DEC informing the TOU that it must require the applicant to expand the scope of action to include the Whole Action, and avoid Segmentation per SEQRA, with multiple additional items that must be analyzed.

~ NYC DEP adding specific items that the Town of Ulster must require the applicant to address.

Onward!

 

VIDEO: Town of Ulster Town Board Defeats Resolution of City of Kingston and Town of Woodstock as Involved Agencies. Passes Resolution Clearing ToU as Lead Agency and Positive Declaration.

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By Rebecca Martin

* Because we want to get this information out to the public ASAP, we are still extracting important details from the video and of documents pertaining to  SEQR in the proposed Niagara Bottling Project over the next few days.  Please check back daily on this post as we do so and thank you.

Tonight at the Town of Ulster Town Board Meeting, the Town Board under the leadership of Supervisor James Quigley passed several resolutions that included a Resolution for the City of Kingston and Town of Woodstock to become Involved Agencies (Denied Unanimously, though with some hesitation),  2) A resolution clearing Lead Agency to construct a water bottle facility. (Resolution passed unanimously.) 3) A resolution declaring a positive SEQR declaration (passed unanimously).

The public comment was incredibly rich. Take a moment and review it below.

I ask that the citizens not be discouraged and to continue to be diligent.. There is a great deal underway to protect our interests. As the Town of Woodstock Supervisor Jeremy Wilber states in his public comment “There are citizens that transcend the borders…that are going to involve themselves. We would rather be inside the tent with you spitting out than outside the tent spitting in. But we will be an involved party….I just hope that we won’t have to dwell on legalisms as neighboring towns and as people and that share a very neutral concern for the future of our water sources of the area.”

We are united and committed in seeing our region prosper and in working together to find alternative solutions in addressing Kingston’s aging infrastructure.

Special thanks to Clark Richter of Kingston News for filming this evening.

 

Initial Public Comments

1:26 – 4:41
Kevin Smith, Chairman of the Woodstock Land Conservancy

4:45 – 6:11
Dennis Doyle, Ulster County Planning Board

6:20 – 8:05
Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper

8:14 – 11:57
Rebecca Martin, Kingston, NY
READ REBECCA’S SPEECH

12:00 –  15:44
Jennifer Schwartz Berky, Kingston, NY

15:55 – 18:37
Rev. Betsy Stang, The Wittenberg Center for Alternative Resources

18:47 – 22:13
Kitty McCullough, Kingston, NY

22:19 – 25:21
Rachel Marco-Havens, KingstonCitizens.org
READ RACHEL’S SPEECH

25:30 – 28:45
Robert Barton, Town of Ulster

28:58 – 31:58
Donald Gregorius, UC Legislator

31:57 – 35:39
Jeremy Wilber, Town of Woodstock Supervisor

35:55 – 39:39
Henrietta Wise, Olivebridge, NY

 

On Niagara Bottling Company Resolutions

0:10 – 1:08
Resolution including City of Kingston and Town of Woodstock as Involved Agency
Resolution defeated unanimously (though with hesitation)

1:12 – 1:41
Resolution clearing Lead Agency to construct a water bottle facility.
Resolution passed unanimously

1:42 – 2:29
Resolution declaring a positive SEQR declaration
“I would the people in the audience to know the that the town board is dedicating itself to an open and public process…as requested.”  – Supervisor James Quigley
Resolution passed unanimously

Closing Public Comments

2:46 – 5:21
Robert Barton, Town of Ulster

5:28 – 7:31
Jeremy Wilber, Town of Woodstock Supervisor

7:37 – 10:14
Rachel Marco-Havens, KingstonCitizens.org

10:23 – 11:27
Donald Gregorius, UC Legislator

11:35 – 13:40
Jennifer Schwartz Berky, KingstonCitizens.org

13:47 – 16:34
Kevin Smith, Chairman of the Woodstock Land Conservancy

16:43 – 20:09
Rebecca Martin, KingstonCitizens.org
READ REBECCA’S SPEECH

20:24 – 21:24
Mike Berardi, Town of Ulster

 

The Wittenberg Center: “Positive Declaration in SEQR Essential For Potential Level One Archeological Sites.”

“We are writing concerning the proposed Niagra Bottling Plant SEQR review process. We are asking for a positive declaration on the following grounds. We strongly believe that both Cooper Lake and the location of the proposed Niagara plant are potential Level One archeological sites.

We are writing concerning the proposed Niagra Bottling Plant SEQR review process. We are asking for a positive declaration on the following grounds. We strongly believe that both Cooper Lake and the location of the proposed Niagara plant are potential Level One archeological sites.”
                   – Rev. Betsy Stang and Rev. Jim Davis, the Wittenberg Center for Alternative Resources

 

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Click on image to download the entire letter.

Mayor Shayne Gallo this Morning on Kingston Community Radio.

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By Rebecca Martin

This morning, Mayor Shayne Gallo was live on Kingston Community Radio where he discussed his point-of-view regarding the proposed Niagara Bottling Company project. It begins at 1:36:09.

I don’t have enough, and the majority of Kingston residents and business/water users don’t have enough information to say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’.”
Since September, KingstonCitizens.org has provided the community with documentation, expert evaluation and videos of almost every significant meeting to expose a great deal of information. It is one of the key reasons, in fact, that the city currently has what it does in order to have crafted several resolutions in support of the DEC being Lead Agency and the CoK being named an Involved Agency.  In addition, the work that has been forged through a steady citizen effort is perhaps would be one of the main reasons a Positive Declaration (pos dec) will be determined. Without a pos dec, the public wouldn’t have any of the information the Mayor claims it needs. 

There’s transparency now.
There is transparency now, thanks to the citizen volunteers working diligently to provide factual information (or to show in some cases the lack thereof).

Quite frankly, I don’t care about the non-residents.
He most certainly should given that the sale of Kingston’s water impacts the entire region. The amount of water Niagara is asking for, too, is an exorbitant amount even for them.  Everyone should be watching this closely, as how this process is handled will set a precedent on how national/international water bottling companies proceed in NY State. 

I’ve only gotten five phone calls, including the individual who is spearheading the opposition against the project.
Is that so?  Kingston citizens. Let the Mayor know what you think either way.  Let it also be known that KingstonCitizens.org is not spearheading ‘opposition’.  All along, it has been our goal to work to bring information out to the public so that the public has an understanding and a voice in the matter.  If there is opposition, it’s because the public isn’t comfortable with the way this process has been organized thus far.  Elected officials involved need to take responsibility here.

In the meantime, give him a buzz.  845/334-3902. 

There is no reason why the SEQR process can’t work.
He’s right. But in order for that to occur, a positive declaration must be determined, a coordinated review must take place and the Action must not be segmented. 

Mayor Gallo – “It’s the construction, it’s a 53 million dollar installation of basically a water work that will provide water, ok, for their product. So with all due respect Walter (the radio host) a project that size, OK….

Walter (Radio Host) – “The City, the water department is going to spend $53 million dollars.

MG – “No, here’s the thing – you see you’re also not informed properly first of all.

W – “I’m  just asking the question.”

MG – “The water department stepped back, the Town of Ulster with Niagara they are going to have to spend the money for the SEQR process. The COK is not spending a dime. We’re not an involved agency….here’s how it works. If we were involved in the design, the construction and the funding. If we had discretion over any one of those things with this project then we’d be the Involved Agency. But we don’t!

This all begins at 1:38:59.  The Mayor speaks about there being a “53 million dollar installation of basically a water work that will provide water, OK, for their project.”  In other words, the estimated cost of the facility is $53 million dollars based on the Environmental Assessment Form crafted by Niagara and their consultant the Chazen Companies and a consolidated grant application that Niagara Bottling Company submitted through the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Council (in fact, here they are seeking more public funding for the build of the plant – on top of the tax abatements they would hope to receive through Start-Up NY. The grant funding will be determined by December 10th).  He also insinuates that the City of Kingston won’t ‘pay a dime’ for the SEQR process which is again is true. The applicant always pays for all of the associated environmental study costs. But this isn’t news.

According to the WILL SERVE  letter issued by the Kingston Water Department, it is determined that in order to provide the Niagara Bottling Company with their water request, “the preliminary estimate for the cost of the work, without a geotechnical investigation and assuming minimal rock removal, is approximately $2 million dollars”.

What does that mean? The Kingston Water Department has clearly stated here that additional improvements to the Kingston Water Department water distribution system would be necessary.  If the Niagara Bottling project is approved, the City will need the assent of the City of Kingston Common Council in order to make those improvements. See Kingston Charter C11-4  making the City of Kingston an INVOLVED AGENCY. 

All of this begs the question. Who is the one that is misinformed?  Citizens, it most certainly is not you.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Town of Ulster Town Board Meeting Thursday, 11/20/14 at 7:00pm

By Rebecca Martin

The Town of Ulster Town Board will meet on Thursday, November 20th at 7:00pm.   Scheduled to occur that evening is the Town of Ulster Town Board to give final approval of itself as being “Lead Agency” in the proposed Niagara Bottling Company SEQR process.

The public is invited. Public comment on any matters will be made available following “Old Business” at the end of the evening. We expect that to occur between 8:00pm – 8:30pm, though it may be later.   Please see Supervisor James Quigleys’ note below.
We ask that all residents prepare a statement in advance to be no more than 3 minutes in length. Please show respect to municipalities that you are visiting.

Here are several posts to research that will help you to create your 3 minute speech so to hit key points that evening.

On a Positive Declaration in SEQR.
LINK1   LINK2  

Why the City of Kingston should be an Involved Agency.
LINK1   LINK2

Insightful letter to the DEC from Town of Woodstock Supervisor Jeremy Wilber.
LINK

Their meetings are always audio taped by the Town and we will be on hand to to film the event thanks to Clark Richters of Kingston News.

If you have any questions, please contact me at: rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org

Thank you.

 

TOWN OF ULSTER
TOWN BOARD

WHAT
Town of Ulster Town Board
1 Town Hall Road
Lake Katrine, NY

WHEN
Thursday, November 20th, 2014
7:00pm

WHERE
Town of Ulster Town Hall

AGENDA
Click on this LINK

 

As per Supervisor James Quigley regarding this month’s meeting:

“A DRAFT AGENDA will be posted Tuesday morning (we have linked it above) and is subject to change. There are no items currently listed on the Agenda related to Niagara Bottling. I am awaiting the Resolutions from Counsel prior to place the item on the Agenda. A Revised Agenda will be posted as soon as possible. There are two opportunities for the Public to speak during the meeting. In the beginning Statements may be made on Agenda Items. At the end of the meeting is Public Comment for any and all topics. Remember these are times for the Public to make statements to the Board not enter into a debate with the Town Board.  Anyone who wishes will be able to address the Board during these periods. Comments are limited to three minutes per speaker and there is no yielding time to other speakers.”

 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The Future of Kingston’s Water Supply Must Not Be Left in the Hands of the Town of Ulster.

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In September, the citizens of Kingston became aware of a proposed diversion of up to 1.75 million gallons per day of their municipal water supply to the Town of Ulster. The proposal to sell this water would support the profit-making interests of Niagara Water Bottling Company, a California company that projects in return 100 or so jobs that pay below industry standards. They are also expected to seek the maximum tax exemptions, potentially shifting the burden to residents and local business.  Since that time, KingstonCitizens.org has led a concerted effort to understand the details of this proposal that has involved the Kingston community as well as residents in surrounding communities who would also be affected. … Read more

VIDEO: Kingston Water Board Meeting 11/12/14

After today’s Water Board meeting, I would advise that the Town of Ulster – or anyone else for that matter – to stop stating that the City of Kingston’s Water Department will benefit from the sale of water to Niagara until there are estimated budgets and science in place to be absolutely sure.

Special thanks to Clark Richters of Kingston News for capturing today’s meeting.

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Why the City of Kingston Should Be an Involved Agency in SEQR

The Action submitted by the Chazen Companies (for Niagara Bottling Company) yet passed by the Town of Ulster Town Board and Town of Ulster Planning Board is incomplete and doesn't include Water delivery in the Action. This is known as 'Segmentation', illegal in SEQR.

The Action submitted by the Chazen Companies (for Niagara Bottling Company) yet passed by the Town of Ulster Town Board and Town of Ulster Planning Board is incomplete and doesn’t include Water delivery in the Action. This is known as ‘Segmentation’, illegal in SEQR.

By Rebecca Martin

ACTION:  There are only four days left for Kingston to be added as an Involved Agency. Call Mayor Shayne Gallo at 845/334-3902 or email sgallo@kingston-ny.gov to request that a new letter from the Corporation Council be issued to the Town of Ulster requesting the City of Kingston be Involved Agency. Here is why:

Read more

Recent NY State Water Regulations Not Ready for Prime Time

By David Ganje

In New York state, groundwater rights are based on landownership rights. A property owner can withdraw as much water for use provided the rights of other property owners are not adversely affected. Water systems in the state require Water Supply Permits issued by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) if they have the capacity to withdraw 100,000 gallons per day or more of ground or surface water and they do not qualify for an exemption under state regulations.

Read more

ACTION: Request Positive Declaration Determination in SEQR for the Proposed Niagara Bottling Company project.

By Rebecca Martin

ACTIONContact those listed below to alert them that the ACTION in the current Environment Assessment Form (EAF) for SEQR (drafted by Niagara/The Chazen Companies) is too narrow in scope and might jeopardize a positive declaration determination which would allow for a full Environmental Impact Statement  and further public Comment.

Read more

Town of Ulster Supervisor James Quigley on Initial Reports to Show Fiscal Benefits/Impacts of Niagara, Incremental Infrastructure Costs. “Have we seen anything? No. Because they don’t exist yet.”

By Rebecca Martin

Attached is video from tonight’s Town of Ulster Town Board meeting (11/6/14).  Public comment begins at 29:10 where the board (i.e. Supervisor James Quigley) defensively answers questions regarding the Niagara Bottling Plant proposal. The questions posed include those on infrastructure costs, trailor truck traffic, City of Kingston resolutions, tax implications and a request to learn of any analysis on the fiscal benefits/costs of the Niagara project.  Residents were told that the TOU is awaiting the start of the SEQR process and has done no preliminary research or has any information to share. … Read more

Insightful Letter to the DEC from Town of Woodstock Supervisor Jeremy Wilber

By Rebecca Martin

The attached letter was written by Town of Woodstock Supervisor Jeremy Wilber who shares solid arguments as to why the DEC should be Lead Agency in SEQR for the proposed Niagara Water Bottling project.  In contrast for me,  it raises more concerns as to Kingston Corporation Council Andy Zweben’s recent letter also to the DEC. Where are his loyalties placed?

Luckily, Kingston’s Common Council are asking the same questions and will vote on a Memoralizing resolution in support of the COK being an ‘Involved Agency’ in SEQR on Tuesday, November 4th. … Read more