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KingstonCitizens.org is a non-partisan, citizen-run organization focused on relevant and current issues about Kingston, N.Y.

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VIDEO: Kingston Common Council General Government / Public Safety Meeting 10/22/14

By Rebecca Martin

The Town of Ulster Planning Board from 10/21/14. Special thanks to Clark Richters of Kingston News for capturing the evening.

 

Starts at: 0:43 – 14:47
Julie Noble, Chair of the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council presents recommendation for the DEC to be lead agency of the Niagara Bottling Company SEQR.

Watch the entire thing to watch the memorializing resolutions be read and passed on to council.
1: The DEC to assume Lead Agency for the Proposed Niagara Bottling Company  SEQR
2: For the City of Kingston to be changed to “Involved Agency”.

The entire video.  WATCH THIS!
A very interesting presentation regarding asset management. What is revealed here is that the City of Kingston does not have a cohesive strategy to manage its infrastructure. Throughout, elected and appointed officials were called ‘Stewards’ of our infrastructure.  Key word. STEWARDS.

VIDEO: Town of Ulster Planning Board Meeting 10/21/14

By Rebecca Martin

The Town of Ulster Planning Board from 10/21/14. Special thanks to Clark Richters of Kingston News for capturing the evening.

Starts at: 16:09
SUNY ULSTER –P-598 Change of Use
101 Frank Sottile Blvd. SBL# 48.8-1-1.212 Review

Starts at 40:13
NEW BUSINESS
NIAGARA WATER- BOTTLING FACILITY P-599 Site Plan
605 Boices Lane
SBL# 48.7-1-29.200
Review

 

In Solidarity.

unity-is-strength

 

By Rebecca Martin

Over the past four weeks KingstonCitizens.org, which was created almost a decade ago to help to connect Kingston residents to its local government so to encourage transparency and better communication, has become the hub for information for our entire region regarding the proposed Niagara Bottling Company project.

Without a doubt, the project concerns are many. But it is the potential of selling our most precious natural resource – the public’s water to a national bottling company –  that is our most pressing concern.  Sure, many of us would like to eliminate plastic bottles. Some may not be fond of ‘Corporate America’ (as Supervisor Quigley proclaimed last week on-air). But the real problem here….is the concept of selling off the public’s WATER to a national bottling company.  You can’t compare it to beer, to milk, to soda. We are talking about millions and millions of gallons of water each day being drained from our water source.  There isn’t any comparison.

Last week, the Town of Ulster amended the proposed Niagara Bottling Company SEQR ‘involved’ and ‘interested’ agencies. The NYC DEP was the only new ‘involved’ agency – and having them included is good. The others – the City of Kingston, Town of Woodstock, Town of Saugerties, Village of Saugerties, Town of Esopus and Town of Kingston were all categorized as ‘interested’ agencies.

Prior to October 16th, none of our municipalities were even listed. Good job citizens! Your hard earned efforts to show up at meetings, to write letters and to inquire ‘what can I do?’ made this critical step possible.   But as a municipality impacted by the project, ‘interested’ agency may be a step, but it is just not enough.

Tonight, the City of Kingston passed through two memorializing resolutions. One of which was to request that the City of Kingston be changed from ‘interested’ agency to ‘involved’ agency. It is most appropriate that it did so.

On November 4th, the Kingston Common Council will vote on whether or not to pass this through.  If it does, a communication could immediately be sent to the Town of Ulster. Hopefully, in time before the Lead Agency conversation in SEQR closes which might be on November 16th. Many of us have asked that the DEC take Lead Agency here given that originally, the DEC, Town of Ulster and Kingston Water Board were the three main ayers listed as ‘involved’ agencies. As a multi-jurisdiction project, the DEC as lead just makes sense.

Then why is including impacted agencies as ‘involved’?  Looking closely at the difference between ‘Interested’ and ‘Involved’ Agencies in SEQR, an interested agency has about as ‘much authority as the public‘.  However, as an involved agency,  the agency ‘has or will have a discretionary decision to make regarding some aspect of the action in SEQR’.

There is some debate as to the Kingston’s Common Council’s authority in the Charter over the Kingston Water Board as it is currently described, but there is no doubt that the public has come to the table to say that it wants to have a say in how its public water source is sold or how its 100 year old infrastructure that was paid for by the public is used. Could the Kingston Water Department have predicted or anticipated water bottling as it is done today back in 1895 when it organized itself as independent?  The purpose of which was to keep politics OUT of the public’s water supply. Now, as it appears, that may be working against us.  For any elected or appointed official to deny the Kingston public to have a say through its Common Council  in my opinion is wrong.

I’d like to publicly thank those who were present tonight – all of our Alderpersons who sit on the general government/public safety committee, Alderman-at-large James Noble, Alderpersons in attendance that included Matt Dunn and Brad Will and the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council for submitting such a thoughtful letter in response to the public’s attendance to their recent educational forum where they hosted Superintendent Judy Hansen.

On the subject of ‘involved’ agencies. Are there other neighboring communities now listed as ‘interested’  that should also consider passing the same sort of memorializing resolution to the Town of Ulster requesting ‘involved’ agency status?

Absolutely. Do it, and do it soon. You’ve got until November 16th.

Because this project isn’t just about building a facility in the Town of Ulster. It’s about using a neighboring municipality’s water source. A source that happens to be in the Town of Woodstock, that may not only be a sacred place to all living in and around it,  but could also be feeding its aquifer. A projected 260 trucks going in and out of a plant all day and night long.  Trucks potentially coming and going in addition from Spring sources from places such as Dutchess County (we have heard, though haven’t confirmed yet, that Niagara has isolated a spring in the Red Hook area). Air Quality. Congestion. Traffic Concerns. About water discharges that may or may not be questionable into the Esopus Creek.  About climate change and drought. And for what? 40 – 80 jobs?   It’s enough to stop any thinking person in their tracks in regard to going any further

In addition, how does a business like Niagara being in a ‘tax free’ zone impact our taxes? The town of Ulster residents will be footing the bill. So might the City of Kingston on the School tax front.  What dialogue is being had about that?  Hey listen, now that Tech City is in a ‘tax free zone’ trying to partner with SUNY UCCC to take advantage of 1o years of tax abatements – why settle on Niagara? Start-Up NY is a new program as of January. What are we doing going with our first shovel ready inquiry? Come on fellas. If the public is footing the bill, at the very least you could provide us with options to choose from with some  forward thinking companies.

When I started this process – it was quite like the great unknown. I knew I wanted to be involved, and I knew that I could rally at least 100 people to attend that first common council meeting on October 7th. Little did I know that in doing so, I would step into a work that would end up requiring a seven day a week, 12-15 hour day commitment in reading, speaking, writing, strategizing, researching and reaching out.  Given that the project was far enough along to be submitted to SEQR,   a great amount of catch-up was necessary.

On the subject of Kingston and its citizens, I want everyone to know far and wide that many of us understand that the City of Kingston making the decision to sell off its water not only impacts us here. It impacts us all.  Along in building a stronger citizen base in Kingston, it has been a most rewarding experience to also work side by side with citizens from Woodstock, Saugerties, Esopus and the Town of Ulster.  We want to connect with everyone to not only help to make this situation right, but to eventually enter into another chapter in all of this. Where we work to protect our ground and surface waters State wide by implementing the Public Trust Doctrine and to STOP DRINKING BOTTLED WATER.  To improve how our communities function and to think about connecting with our neighbors as we proceed into what is yet another great unknown in new and unpredictable ways.

What is absolute is that we will need one another.

Thank you for lending a hand. Without a doubt, I may be asking for two.

My warmest regards and thank you.

– Rebecca Martin

 

IMPORTANT MEETING / IMPORTANT VOTE: Kingston Common Council on November 4th at 7:30pm

content_Kingston_City_Hall_2

WHAT
Kingston Common Council Meeting

WHEN
Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
7:30pm

WHERE
Kingston City Hall
Council Chambers
420 Broadway
Kingston, NY

WHY
The Kingston Common Council will vote to pass through two important memorializing resolutions. The first in support of the DEC as Lead Agency of the SEQR process for the proposed Niagara Bottling Company. The second in support of the City of Kingston being listed as ‘involved’ agency in the SEQR process.  READ: SEQR: Interested vs. Involved Agencies

FACEBOOK EVENT INVITATION

 

By Rebecca Martin

Tonight at Kingston’s Common Council General Government/Public Safety Meeting, members of the Common Council passed through two key memorializing resolutions.  Please come to the next Kingston Common Council Meeting on Tuesday, November 4th where the council will discuss and take an action on passing them both through…or not. The public to witness is key to its success.

###

#1: Based on the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council’s recommendation given the multi-jurisdictional nature of the proposal, to request that the DEC take Lead Agency in the Niagara Bottling Company SEQR. 

READ The Kingston Conservation Advisory Council’s Recommendation.

###

Last week, the Town of Ulster made an amendment to the ‘Interested’ and ‘Involved’ agencies, adding the City of Kingston as an ‘Interested’ agencies. Prior to that, the City of Kingston was not listed at all.

#2: In response to this, the Common Council passed through another memorializing resolution that the City of Kingston be changed from ‘Interested’ to ‘Involved’ agency on the SEQR review.

READ Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will’s letter to the Committee. 

Lets rally.

Kingston Water Department ‘Will Serve’ Letter Issued on September 15th, 2014

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Click on the image for a PDF copy.

 

By Rebecca Martin

Today, we received a copy of the the ‘Will Serve’ letter (we had heard others and ourselves had been calling it a ‘Will Share’ letter.  The proper term is ‘Will Serve’) issued by the Kingston Water Department to Niagara Bottling, LLC on September 15th, 2014.

It was done the day before Peter Romano of The Chazen Companies gave their presentation to the Town of Ulster Planning Board on September 16th (click on link to listen. Romano’s presentation begins at 1:15:26), 2014.  As you recall, the Planning Board that evening agreed to pass ‘Lead Agency’ of the SEQR process along to the Town of Ulster Town Board. A resolution passed on September 18th, 2014 for The Town of Ulster as ‘Lead Agency‘ (click on link to listen. The Town Board discussion on Lead Agency begins at 16:30).

The letter ends by saying “Please let me know if this meets your requirements so that we can execute a more formal agreement that is acceptable to both parties” and  “The Board of Water Commissioners looks forward to working with Niagara and welcomes you to the City of Kingston.”

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From the Water Board meeting, 10/8/14. Supervisor Jim Quigley addressing the Water Board after the public had left.

7:29 Unidentified Commissioner: How long did it take us to get them to acknowledge that they wanted to negotiate with us for the amount of water and the price. It wasnʼt, you said, I guess April, but I think it was later than that. I mean, the email may have come…
7:43 Hansen: The email came, the initial email asking for the will serve letter came following the County meeting in April. But it was August before they started to actually negotiate directly with us.
7:58 Quigley: And the reason that was..
8:00 Unidentified Commissioner: I just didnʼt think it was late in the summer.
8:03 Hansen: It was August.
8:04 Quigley: Mr Ginsburg didnʼt sign the contract for sale till August, okay? They did not know they had a deal.
8:11Hansen: Right, right.
8:14 Unidentified Commissioner: And thatʼs why the will serve stuff sat from April until September.
8:19 Hansen: Exactly.

 

 

 

10/21/14: PLANNING BOARD MEETING PRIMER: Town of Ulster Planning Board Meeting regarding Niagara Bottling Facility

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By Rebecca Martin

This is a great primer for the Planning Board meeting this evening created by Jennifer Schwartz Berky, a Kingston resident and planning professional. It should help you a great deal in following along.

If you have any questions regarding this document, please contact Jennifer at:

jsberky@honestrategic.com

 

City of Kingston: Water Supply Permit and Water Supply Applications of 1954 & 1929.

FOIL Request DEC
By Rebecca Martin

Recently, we reached out to the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) to see if we could receive a copy of the most recent Water Supply Permit by the City of Kingston.  They asked that we FOIL (NYS’s Freedom of Information Law) for their records, which we did.

According to the DEC Region 3 office, no records could be located in the Environmental Permits Office that was ‘pertinent to your (our) request’.  It appears that the COK will need to apply for a new Water Supply Permit in February of 2015, though we don’t have all the information on this yet. Check back in.

What we do have, is a 1954 application that was filed with a hearing in Kingston on March 31st, 1954 and a decision on April 6th, 1954 for the ‘approval of the installation of a 12-inch supply main from the existing conduits in the Town of Ulster to a proposed connection with the internal water supply system of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) in the Town of Ulster in which Town of Board of Water Commissioners have not heretofore legally supplied water in large quantities.”

That the DEC has nothing new on file, all that can be done at this moment is assume that the last application submitted was in 1954. Lets say for now that is the case.

WATER SUPPLY APPLICATION NO. 2510 “For approval of the installation of a 12-inch supply main from the existing conduits in the Town of Ulster to a proposed connection with the internal water supply system of the IBM Corportaion in the Town of Ulster in which Town of the Board of Water Commissioners have not heretofore legally supplied water in large quantities.”  

What’s in the application?  Here are some items that we’ve found to process and research. Check back periodically as we become more familiar with the documents to share more for your information.

###

1. The Water Department says it has full authority to make the decision to sell the public’s water to the proposed Niagara Bottling Company project independently from City Government.

QUESTION:  However, the Mayor of Kingston is a voting member of the Water Commission and appoints each of its members.  What role might Kingston’s Common Council have in influencing the Mayor’s vote on the Water Commission?  How can we work to re-write the charter as it pertains to the Water Department for better checks and balances on water sales and infrastructure needs?

 ***

2.  In “Findings of Fact” point #10 (page 3), it says that in 1954, the Safe Yield was at 8 million GPD.  According to Kingston Water Department Superintendent, in 1961 it was estimated to be at 6.1 million GPD.

QUESTION: That would be a drop of 1,900,000 million GPD in the safe yield between 1954 and 1961.  Today, Hansen admits to using the 6.1 million GPD as a basis for their decision making – but that data is now over 50 years old and is not taking into consideration any modeling for climate change, future growth and future Economic Development for the City of Kingston.

 ***

3. In “Findings of Fact” point #9 (page 2), it speaks to a May 27th, 1929 Decision (see above for a copy of the decision).  It says:  “For approval of its acquisition of an additional source of water supply, for increasing the storage in Cooper Lake, for constructing the Mink Hollow conduits and Cooper Lake conduit, for constructing Binnewater equalizing reservoir, and for reinforcing the distribution system.”  It goes on to say “the project proposed under this application was never fully carried out and the Commission, in its resolution of November 14th 1947 in approving the works as then completed, rescinded such parts of its decision of May 27th, 1929 as referred to works proposed for future construction but not then completed.”

QUESTION: There appear to be some significant items here, though more research is necessary. TBA.

 ***

4.  In “Findings of Fact” point #14 (page 3)  it states that the maximum demands of the new plant of IBM were expected to be at 1 million GPD.  Following this statement, in point #15 it states that the ‘officials of the City of Kingston should be made aware of the fact that by meeting the demands of the new plant the limit of the capacity of its water supply facilities will be closely approached.’

QUESTION:  This is more of a thought process rather than a question.  At 1 million GPD, the Water Power and Control Commission (today known as the DEC) in essence is a warning to Kingston City Officials that the amount given to IBM on a daily basis is placing them at the potential risk to push the limit of the Safe Yield.  

***

5.  In “Conditions” (page 4) “A” – it states that ‘under the decision and approval the City of Kingston is authorized to furnish a water supply to the new plant of IBM Corp.  NO AUTHORITY, however, is given hereby to the city for the sales of water to any others from the supply main to be installed to such a new plant without further consent approval of the Commission.”

QUESTION:  What this means to me, is that that 12-inch supply main that was created to bring water to IBM in the Town of Ulster cannot be used for any other corporation without the approval of the Commission (the DEC).   How might that be applied in Niagara’s case? 

 ***

6.  In “Conditions” (page 4)  #1  it states that “Under this decision and approval the city of Kingston is authorized to furnish a water supply to the new plant of IBM Corp. NO AUTHORITY however, is given hereby to the city for the sales of water to any others from the supply main to be installed to such a new plant without further consent approval of the Commission”

QUESTION:  Once more, it appears that the City of Kingston hasn’t the authority to sell water to any other corporation through the existing 12-inch main except IBM without the consent of the Commission (DEC).  How might that impact the sale to Niagara today? Was Kingston Water Board aware of this, taking it into consideration before offering it’s ‘will share’ letter?

 

 ***

7.   In ‘Statutory Determiniations” (page 5) in the “Fifth” it says that said plans are ‘just and equitable to the other muncipalities and civil divisons of the State affected thereby and to the inhabitants thereof, particular consideration being given to their present and future necessities for sources of water supply.”

QUESTION:  What Science does the Water Department have to determine that ‘particular consideration’ was given to Kingston’s ‘present and future necessities for sources of water supply’ in the supplying Niagara Bottling Company with 1 million GPD – 1.75 million GPD where they, unlike IBM will use the full amount to bottle and to sell? 

***

HYPOTHETICAL:  It occurs to me as a thought process:   the 12-inch supply main installed for IBM can move 1 million GPD of water which Niagara wishes to utilize, probably in the first 4-5 years.   In their proposal, an additional 12-inch supply main is mentioned for future expansion. Although they are only requesting an additional 750,000 GPD from that pipeline as I understand it,  what’s to say that they wouldn’t push to get the additional 250,000 GPD that the main would have the capacity to bring. Are these numbers accurate?

SEQR: Interested vs. Involved Agencies

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By Rebecca Martin

Last night the Town of Ulster Town Board expanded both their ‘Involved’ and ‘Interested’ Agency list on a “Revised Resolution on Notice of Intent to Declare Lead Agency” (see pages 38 – 44) for the Niagara Bottling Facility project.

We are disappointed that involved parties don’t also include the Town of Woodstock, City of Kingston and Town of Esopus.

 

 

Involved Agencies are:
Town of Ulster Town Board (Site Plan Approval)
Zoning Board of Appeals (Variance to Reduce the number of off-street parking spaces)
Ulster County Department of Health (Water)
Ulster County Department of Public Works Highway & Bridges Division (Highway Permit Work)
City of Kingston Water Board (Water supply)
US Army Corps of Engineers (Nationwide Permit)
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Region 3 (Sanitary/Storm Water)
NYS Department of Health (Water)
Town of Ulster Sewer Department
Town of Ulster Water Department
Town of Ulster Highway Department
NYS DEP
NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (IDA)

Interested Agencies are:
Town of Ulster Planning Board (Advisory recommendation to the Town Board)
Ulster County Planning Board (Advisory recommendation pursuant to NYSGML Section 239 1 & m)
Ulster County Community College (Start Up NY Program Office)
Town of Woodstock
NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets
City of Kingston
Town of Saugerties
Village of Saugerties
Town of Esopus
Town of Kingston

 

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In SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review Act)

Involved Agency
An ‘Involved Agency’ for SEQR is involved when “the determination is made that the agency has or will have a discretionary decision to make regarding some aspect of the action.” Depending on how an agency first becomes involved in an action, initial responsibilities will vary.

Interested Agency
An ‘Interested Agency’ has about as much authority as the public, however – to be listed as an interested agency (as defined in 617.2 (c) to mean ‘a state or local agency. However, private organizations, interest groups and individuals all have an ability to participate in the SEQR process”.

READ the link to learn more about interested agencies, and particularly point #6 which lists “When and how may the general public begin to participate in review of specific action under SEQR” and #7 “How can interested parties who are not involved agencies be most effective in presenting their concerns about a proposed action?”

 

TRANSCRIPT: Town of Ulster Supervisor Addresses the Water Board 10/8/14

Untitled1

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By Rebecca Martin

We are pleased to share the transcript of the Town of Ulster Superintendent Jim Quigley addressing the Water Board on 10/8/14 following their Executive Session and after the public had left.

CLICK HERE to read and follow along below.

What I Saw, Did You Know? KingstonCitizens.org Wants To Hear From You.

 

research

By Rebecca Martin

Over the past couple of weeks, our readership has grown exponentially given the concern of the proposed Niagara Bottling Company project and the amount of information provided here.

With it, citizens have done an impressive job in learning more (and very quickly I might add)  to craft thoughtful speeches, ask insightful questions and to do it all with a pointed focus, grace and eloquence.

I have received hundreds of emails from citizens during this time period who wish to share their experience or to relay important information on the proposed water sale.

It’s completely inspiring, but has been somewhat of a puzzle to figure out the best way to relay the many points of view of the public for the public.

KingstonCitizens.org introduces  “What I Saw, Did You Know?”   It’s a place where citizens can share their experience and relay recently acquired knowledge for others to benefit.

Here’s how it works:

1. CATEGORY: For now, our category is the proposed Niagara Bottling Company Project.

2. WHAT I SAW: Write one page on a meeting you attended, a visit to a site, an article you read, a conversation with an elected official or citizen (it can also include what you heard). Keep it clean and above the belt (if you can).

3. REPORT: What one new thing did you learn that you’d like to share with the public. Please provide links in your piece as back up to your research.

4. WHO ARE YOU?:  Imagine a world where anonymous was no more?  I would really love if you’d tell us who you are, your city/town and email address. That way, you can be contacted by another citizen who might wish to connect. I totally understand if you’d rather not. In that case, please share your city/town and email address.

5. SUBMIT: to rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org   I’m starting a whole new section and will post for readers.

 

It takes a village as they say.  Help me in expanding our knowledge on all of the implications of the proposed Niagara Bottling Company project.