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

 

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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.

Read more…

VIDEO: Kingston Conservation Advisory Council Meeting 10/14/14

Standing room only. Great job, citizens.
Standing room only. Great job, citizens.

The Kingston Conservation Advisory Council did a great job hosting a public meeting this evening with guest Water Department Superintendent Judy Hansen.

Thank you to the Kingston CAC, League of Women’s Voters, Judy Hansen and Clark Richters of Kingston News who filmed the event for the public.

Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org

 

Read more…

IMPORTANT marks to hit this week: October 13th – 17th

By Rebecca Martin

These are the important marks to hit as we enter into a new week regarding the Niagara Bottling Company Proposal:

* All week long *
CALL Martin Brand regional director of the NYS DEC region-3. 845/256-3033. Request that the DEC be lead agency for the SEQR review of the Niagara Bottling Company proposal. You can email him too at:  martin.brand@dec.ny.gov

* Tuesday, October 14th 6:30pm – 8:30pm *
ATTEND the upcoming Kingston Conservation Advisory Council Meeting on Tuesday, 10/14 at 6:30pm.   Water Department Superintendent Judy Hansen is scheduled to be present to answer questions regarding Kingston’s Water Supply as it pertains to the proposed Niagara Bottling Co. Project.  The Kingston CAC meets the 2nd Tuesday of each month from 6:30-8:30 at City Hall. These meetings are open to the public.  This meeting will be held in council chambers, the large room on the top floor of Kingston City Hall.  This event will be filmed. 

* Wednesday, October 15th  – 8:10am *
CALL in at 8:10am and ask Mayor Shayne Gallo all of your questions regarding the Niagara Bottling Company proposal.  WGHQ 920 AM    845/331-9255  See their SCHEDULE

* Thursday, October 16th – 7:10am *
CALL in at 7:10am and ask Town of Ulster Jim Quigley all of your questions regarding the Niagara Bottling Company proposal.  WGHQ 920 AM    845/331-9255  See their SCHEDULE

Niagara Bottling Company Proposal. Could Tax Abatement For 10 Years Impact Kingston City School District?

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By Rebecca Martin

The Niagara Bottling Co. project is looking to come to the area taking advantage of the ‘Start-Up NY” initiative (‘Start-Up NY’ helps you start, expand or relocate your qualified business to a tax-free zone in NY State’)

In simple terms, that means that if they were to ever come to Tech City in the Town of Ulster, their taxes would be abated for 10 YEARS. Does that include school tax too?

Read more…

WGHQ: Live Call-in: Mayor Shayne Gallo and Town of Ulster Supervisor Jim Quigley

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By  Rebecca Martin

Call-in to ask questions regarding the Niagara Bottling Proposal to both City of Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo and Town of Ulster Supervisor Jim Quigley on WGHQ 920 AM.  845/331-9255

Mayor Shayne Gallo: 8:10am 
Wednesday, October 15th

Town of Ulster Supervisor Jim Quigley: 7:10am
Thursday, October 16th

Hit it Kingston citizens.

View their schedule HERE

Kingston Water Board: Members and Term Limits

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By Rebecca Martin

Are you as curious  as I to know who sits on the Kingston Water Board?

Call me old fashioned, but I have a great deal of respect for those who volunteer for boards, councils and commissions in Kingston.

However, this five member board believe that they alone have the authority to decide whether or not Kingston’s water source can be sold to the Niagara Bottling Company. Five people who view themselves as independent of Kingston City Government.  (?)

Joseph DeCicco, President
Al Radel
Robert Niedzielski
Raymond McSpirit
Dennis Croswell
Shayne Gallo, Mayor

In 1895 by a special act of the NYS legislature to provide potable water to the residents of the City of Kingston, it says that the Water Board is a “financially and administratively independent department within the City of Kingston and is governed by the Board of Water Commissioners. The Board is a continuously sitting body and each member is appointed to a five (5) year term by the Mayor. The Mayor is a voting member of the Board.”

A five year term.  I’d like to see how long each member has served. I have a hunch that some of them have been sitting around that table for longer than five years.

What was relevant in 1895 – over 100 years ago – probably isn’t all relevant today.  Back then, in being independent the idea was to keep politics out of water.  How’s that working for us in 2014?

Have a look at the Town of Ulster Supervisor Jim Quigley addressing the Water Board after everyone left.  VIEW

Furthermore, to assume that back then it was ever anticipated  that bottling and selling surface and groundwater and shipping it far and wide – or climate change would be in their purview is just plain silly.

Reform is a good thing, folks.

This builds a stronger case of the need to update Kingston’s charter.   I like the idea of exploring new forms of government too while we’re at it, such as City Manager Form of Government where a professional with a background in public administration could be hired.  KingstonCitizens.org recently hosted a public educational meeting on the subject and it was enlightening.

Here’s how I feel about THAT.  But we’ll take this all up again at another time.

For today, it’s important for Kingston citizens to look at every aspect of the proposed Niagara water deal and that includes who this Water Board is.  Their backgrounds and for how long they have served should be made priority.

 

 

WHAT TO EXPECT: October 14th Meeting Hosted by the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council

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WHAT

Kingston Conservation Advisory Council: Monthly Meeting/Special Presentation
with Kingston Water Department Superintendent Judy Hansen

WHEN
Tuesday, October 14th
6:30pm

WHERE
Kingston City Hall, Council Chambers

By Rebecca Martin

We are pleased that the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council has quickly organized a meeting to host Kingston Water Department Superintendent Judy Hansen. She will be giving an overview of the Kingston Water Supply and Distribution system, present the details of the Niagara Bottling Proposal as it pertains to the City of Kingston and the scope of what the involvement/authority/commitment the City of Kingston would have into the project.

The League of Women Voters of the Mid Hudson Region will moderate the public Q&A period following the Kingston Conservation Advisory Committee Council members have their own public Q&A period with Hansen.  Questions will be requested in writing prior to the meeting.

Below is the agenda and ground rules for the public.

Kingston is fortunate to have a Conservation Advisory Council with many years of environmental experience. The group has sponsored many great INITIATIVES  that includes CLIMATE SMART KINGSTON  that embraces comprehensive policies and programs for the City of Kingston to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance operational and energy efficiencies, reduce energy costs, support local job growth, and adapt to a changing climate while improving quality of life, saving taxpayer dollars and promoting social justice.   It’s a document that Judy Hansen as of Wednesday hadn’t yet read, or distributed to the Water Board.

READ more to learn about the members and their long standing history on environmental matters.  City of Kingston employees Gregg Swanzey (Director, Office of Economic Development & Strategic Partnerships) and Julie Noble (Chair, and Environmental Educator) are both members.

KingstonCitizens.org will be filming this meeting.

For more information on this meeting, contact Julie Noble at: JulieLNoble@kingston-ny.gov

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VIDEO: Kingston Water Board Meeting 10/8/14

-By Rebecca Martin

Special thanks to Clark Richters of Kingston News for being available to film this meeting.

PART 1:
Rebecca Martin speaks to the Water Board
1:13 – 31:18

Water Board Approves Town of Ulster as Lead Agency on the SEQR Review
31:33 – 35:32

Cooper Lake Dam Project
44:32 – 55:17
“The Devil’s in the details” – Judy Hansen

Part II

Tech City request to hook up water in “building 29” in the Town of Ulster. 
7:04 – 9:45

“…for possible sale….any negotiations we may enter into” (Tech City)
8:39 – 8:48

I do not believe that they have yet made a decision on this.  It sounds like Judy is sending all board members a digital copy of the letter submitted.

Part III

Town of Ulster Supervisor Jim Quigley addresses the Water Board “personally hurt”
1:20 – 3:08

Where are you in the SEQR process?  
3:09 – 6:44
We would like the DEC to take Lead Agency for this SEQR process. 

Niagara Consolidated Funding Application.  Judy says the ‘Will-Share’ was issued in April, 2014.
6:45 – 9:06
Judy asks why citizens would wonder if the Water Board was involved in the Niagara CFA?  Noone knew for sure, but it was thought that perhaps Niagara needed a ‘will share’ from the Water Department to submit in time with their application to be considered in the area. Knowing now that they had their letter from the Water Board since April, it gave them plenty of time to submit by June.  Who would approve a grant for a water bottling facility in unless they had a confirmed water source?  Unless they are trucking it in from elsewhere. It’s only logical, fellas. All of which should be looked into by any interested parties.

 

 

Presented by Rebecca Martin

I have some very specific points I’d like to make today, but before I do – I would first like to thank you all for your service to the Kingston Community. We all understand the enormous responsibility that you carry in making sure that the community’s water is safe and clean for the residents. Judy, I admire your long standing affiliation in Kingston City Government and know that the respect that you have has been hard earned.

We are here today, not because it is our wish for a fight, or a protest – but because we want to be useful. We understand that our community on the infrastructure front is in trouble and that bringing it all up to date, costly. But we also know that our Water Board making a decision to sell our water in this way feels short sighted, especially given the public’s need now for more information on the project, and in what other options might exist. What’s troubling is that the Water Board and Town of Ulster are far into this Niagara proposal and it was done without any input from the public. The project went to SEQR. That’s a final review process. The action wasn’t even all inclusive in its scope.

So you see, it shouldn’t be difficult to understand why what you referred to as ‘hysteria’ last night is simply the public’s concern. We not only want to understand the parameters of this proposal and how our Water Department came to the conclusion that it’s a good idea for the community – we also want to seek other options in solving our infrastructure needs. In working with citizens in this way – you nuture a trusting environment with your public – because after all, it is the public’s Water Department. You may be an indepedendent commission at this time – and that may actually need to change given things are far different today than they were back in 1895 – but you are still part of our local government which means our tax dollars are paying for every aspect of your work.

1. Niagara Bottling Company came to you in April of 2014. At what point did you hire an engineering firm to do an analysis of Cooper Lake and when was the Board’s “Will-Share” letter written and submitted to “The Chazen Companies”, Niagara’s consultant?

2. As you know, Niagara Bottling Co. submitted a Consolidated Funding Grant Application in and around June. Their proposal was somehow selected as a regional priority by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council in August of 2014. A month prior to the public knowing that their water supply would be necessary for such a project to come to the area. What was the Water Board’s role in supplying any needs for this application to be submitted?
– Judy Hansen: None. However, it is revealed later (video #3) that the Will-Share letter was submitted to Niagara in April.  I would suspect that they needed that in order to submit a CFA grant. 

3. The city of Kingston’s Cooper Lake’s Safe Yield seems to remain at the 6.1 million GPD. Is that correct? How does the Water Department go about determining this number outside of the 1957 drought?
– Judy Hansen: Last safe yield assessment was done in 1961.

4. Does the Water Board have an ongoing capacity list that includes yearly water usage of the community, contracts it has with other municipalties, etc for water use in the case of emergencies, promises to developments coming to Kingston, and the TOU for that matter as it applies. Can that list along with the Safe Yield be made available to the public each year so that we grow closer to our water source and our communities needs?
– Judy Hansen – The water department bases its use through meter reads.

5. The city of Kingston is a Climate Smart Community and convenes six times per year to strategize, plan and implement the goals of Kingston’s Climate Action Plan that was presented in 2012 under Mayor Shayne Gallo’s administration. There is an entire section on ‘Sustainable Resource Management’ and ‘water conservation and efficiency’ that includes protecting our water resources. A resolution was passed by the common council, signed by the Mayor. Was the Kingston Water Board ever a part of the Climate Smart Community effort? Has the board read the final report? With our Mayor sitting on the Water Board, was this report ever discussed while being advised as you were contemplating bottled water as a business that we wished to participate in? You can find the Climate Smart Kingston Plan by on the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council’s website.
-Judy Hansen – Participated in the Climate Smart Visioning, but never read the report or submitted it to the Water Board.

6. A SEQR review for the proposed Niagara Bottling Company is now underway with the Town of Ulster Town Board as lead agency. Do you understand that the City of Kingston and the Board of Water Commissioners were not listed in the Action of the EAF (Environmental Assessment Form)? As I noted last night, it appears as though segmentation has occurred and that’s illegal under SEQR – and if that’s true, then the Town of Ulster is in a very vulnerable position.

According to reports, the City of Kingston has not decided whether or not it will sell its water for the Niagara proposal. But given the TOU’s confidence and swiftness in SEQR makes it appear that maybe your minds are made up.

If the Water Board and the City of Kingston decides that it wishes to sell its water, it will trigger a SEQR review of its own. At that point, the City of Kingston or Water Board will have to list all of the and properly send out letters to express its interest in being a lead agency, if that is what it wishes to do. It only could if everyone comes back in agreement, too. Otherwise, the dispute would be handled by the DEC Commissioner. Those agencies and municipalities would include the DEC, the Town of Woodstock, Town of Ulster and others – and perhaps even the NYC DEP given that in the case of an emergency, the Ashokan Reservoir becomes involved as Judy informed us in her press release.
Following our conversation today, the Water Board signed off on a letter submitted by the Town Board requesting to be lead agency of the SEQR review. It passed. The city’s opportunity to be lead agency is now gone in this instance.

7. Finally, what I really want to impress upon you today is that the citizens coming last night, today – a week from today – and for as long as it takes are doing so because we want to be involved. We want to help. In light of this, has the Water Board orchestrated a comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan and presented it to the Common Council? Is 16 million dollars really all that you need to provide clean water to Kingston residents at this time? What are the long term needs and plans for water infrastructure? What if the City of Kingston itself orchestrated a Capital Improvement Plan that included Water. Solar. Composting. What would that number be? With Kingston’s bond rating in good standing, bonding is cheap for municipalities to the tune of somewhere in the 2-3% range as I understand it. Given that infrastructure is a hot topic nation wide – there must be State and Federal Funds that could offset the costs once we identified our overall need.

As a concerned citizen who today speaks for many of us, I urge you to slow this process down. Give us a chance to work together. Lets call a meeting with our council and identify the Water Departments needs so to begin a conversation on what other options there might be.

Thank you.

AUDIO: Kingston Water Board Meeting 10/8/14

By Rebecca Martin

Today at the Water Board meeting, a resolution was passed to approve the Town of Ulster as being ‘lead agency’ on the SEQR review for the Niagara Bottling Plant. We were told that the City of Kingston (i.e. the Common Council) had no authority to dictate whether our water was to be sold or not. That it was strictly up to the Water Commission. An appointed body by the Mayor of five people.

Read more…

Food & Water Watch Testifies at Kingston Common Council Meeting

 

BeauchampAlex-WEBAlex Beauchamp is the Northeast Region Director at Food & Water Watch. Based in the Brooklyn office, Alex oversees all organizing efforts in New York and the Northeast. Alex has worked on issues related to fracking, factory farms, genetic engineering, and water privatization at Food & Water Watch since 2009. His background is in legislative campaigning, and community and electoral organizing. Before joining Food & Water Watch, Alex worked for Grassroots Campaigns, Inc., where he worked on several campaigns including organizing support for renewable energy in Colorado, fundraising, and running get-out-the-vote operations. Alex graduated from Carleton College with a degree in political science. He can be reached at abeauchamp(at)fwwatch(org).

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It’s Our Water: Good Work! Standing Room Only at the Kingston Common Council Meeting 10/7/14

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By Rebecca Martin

Great work, everyone. Thanks for showing up and testifying this evening. Your support made the start to this campaign a successful one.

Special thanks to Kingston’s Common Council, who really were as surprised as all of us regarding the proposed water sale to Niagara Bottling Company.  A big thanks to Alex Beauchamp of Food and Water Watch. It’s great to have your support. Wasn’t it  fantastic to have the jazz musicians Jack DeJohnette and Larry Grenadier with us this evening? Did you guys catch that?

Thanks to  Clark Richters of Kingston News for capturing the entire evening. Video of tonight’s meeting will be available shortly.

Our next steps over the next two weeks are two upcoming meetings where we ask residents to be present to witness. Public comment may or may not occur – but our presence will say plenty.  They are:

Read more…

DEP and the Ashokan Reservoir? More on SEQR and Agencies Involved.

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By Rebecca Martin

Today, a press release was printed in the Daily Freeman that was written by the Water Department Superintendent Judy Hansen.

In it,  the Ashokan Reservoir is noted as part of Kingston’s emergency water planning. I’ve bolded this text in the body of the press release below that states:

“The availability of back-up supplies like NYC’s Ashokan Reservoir is also part of our emergency planning. Kingston has the right to obtain water from the Ashokan Reservoir and was poised to access this supply in both 1957 and 1981.”

If I am reading this correctly,  it appears that the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection)  would also be an agency listed, if the action in the EAF had included Kingston and its water source (which it should have).

Read more…