CITIZEN ACTION: Attend the Kingston Public Safety/General Government Committee Meeting TUESDAY, MAY 26th at 6:30pm at Kingston City Hall (Conference Room #1) where a Public Referendum on Including the Common Council in Municipal Water Sales Outside of Kingston’s City Limits. VIEW FACEBOOK INVITATION and please share.
By Rebecca Martin
In the news now for a couple of months, it has been reported that members of the Common Council led by Alderman Bill Carey of Ward 5 and his Public Safety/General Government committee, wish to explore options to include the Common Council in sales of municipal water outside of Kingston’s city limits.
In this week’s Kingston Times, our own Mayor is called a ‘formidable opponent’ against the work of creating a referendum. Imagine that. Our top community leader is an opponent of the people.
“…the charter change would need approval from State Lawmakers, since they passed the enabling legislation to create the water department. Such approval is unlikely to be granted.” Said Gallo.
He also shares the concerns of the water department’s founders about political interference with a vital resource.
“They may be well-intended,” said Gallo. “But it would do nothing but politicize the issue, which is what the state legislature was trying to avoid when the created a separate system.”
What the Mayor is referring to, is how the State Legislature in 1895 set up the Water Department. 120 years ago, and long before water bottling. Or fracking. Or other enormous water uses outside of serving our community and local, committed business that have swept the national and the world today. Besides, we’re not asking that a referendum be placed on the ballot to change the organization of the Water Department/Water Board of Commissioners. We are requesting that a referendum is moved forth that simply includes the Kingston Common Council in sales of the PEOPLE OF KINGSTON’S PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY outside of the City of Kingston.
As to politicizing the issue?
Please see the Niagara Bottling TIMELINE for a refresher on exactly how the politics in this case were used to work against the public good. Thankfully, we learned our rights and implemented them. We will do the very same thing in this case.
You can also view a video from early in the Niagara effort where the Town of Ulster Supervisor James Quigley gives an Oscar winning performance. (No politics at work here)
On Tuesday, May 26th at 6:30pm (Kingston City Hall, Conference Room #1) the Public Safety/General Government Committee will meet to discuss such a referendum. Members of the council have requested our corporation council to be prepared with information on the steps the Council must take.
This is another one of those moments where we are asking the public to attend and witness. Committee meetings do not have a public comment period like the council meeting does. Your presence next Tuesday will be meaningful in support of our council members as they work to move the referendum out of committee and on to the next step.
During the Niagara Bottling proposal, Kingston citizens and the Kingston Common Council came up close and personal to a glaring problem that it had not ever contemplated.
The Town of Ulster, a neighboring municipality, wanted to bring a national bottling company to set up shop in Ulster using Start-Up NY tax abatements to bottle and sell municipal water that was not theirs ironically.
Cooper Lake – the water body in the midst of the debate – is a reservoir owned by the City of Kingston located in the Town of Woodstock. The proposal didn’t just involve the forementioned, but a hand full of other municipalities due to proposed wastewater discharges from the site into the Esopus Creek.
Speaking for Kingston, outside of the Kingston Water Department (KWD), the residents – whose water and infrastructure it was – were not an ‘Involved’ agency in the SEQR process due to the KWD being independent and the charter being worded as it currently is. It took months of hard work to simply be included as ‘Interested’ agency which in the end, gave us all little to no say at all (particularly in determining ‘Lead Agency’ where you must be ‘Involved’ to be included). A battle ensued, and the public prevailed.
In Section C11-5C (Water Supply Outside of City), it says: (C) Such sales or sales must be approved by the New York State Water Power and Control Commission.” (that today is the DEC). What may be proposed in a referendum are to include four simple words to this section: “and the common council.” That right there, would give the public a say as to its water supply outside of Kingston’s city limits. Additionally, Kingston would be an “Involved” agency in SEQR in the case one were triggered. In the meantime, the public’s water would have a layer of protection that would allow for thoughtful policy to be developed for sustainable growth and economic development using this precious public resource.
Here are the steps as we know them today. Please CONTACT YOUR ALDERMAN and encourage them to be proactive this year on a referendum in November 2015.
DETERMINATION: The city would need to confirm whether or not to make this change would require a referendum. Based on Kingston’s Assistant Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein saying so at the last Public Safety meeting (which we have an audio recording of), we know that it would. Next, we would need to clarify whether or not this could be included in the general election, or would require a special election process. We believe a referendum on the ballot in November would suffice. No special election would be required – but it’s good to confirm.
PETITION TEXT: Council committee (Public Safety/General Government) could put out a request to the council to vote on there being a petition process for referendum. If approved, the Corporation Council would draft language for the petition.
PUBLIC HEARING: A public hearing is required for a referendum, probably prior to the petition going out to the public for signatures.
PETITION SIGNATURES: The determination this year for an item to go to referendum is 5% of Kingston residents who voted in the Governors race. In 2014, 5% equals approximately 320 signatures which would be necessary for this to move through.
SUBMISSIONS: The political calendar is not yet available from the Board of Elections (BOE), however – a safe date for the referendum to be submitted to the BOE to be placed on the ballot is August 31st.
FEES: There are not fees charged by the BOE for adding referendums to the ballot.
Click on the image to review the Niagara Bottling CFA Application.
By Rebecca Martin
On November 26th, 2014, KingstonCitizens.org FOILED the Empire State Development office requesting a copy of Niagara Bottling’s Consolidated Funding Application for review. Month after month, we were contacted and told that the request was being worked on and that we would receive it shortly.
According to NYS Committee on Open Government, it states that “when an agency receives a request, the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) states that it has five business days to grant or deny access in whole or in part, or if more time is needed, to acknowledge the receipt of the request in writing and indicate an approximate date by which the agency will respond to the request, usually not more than 20 additional business days.“
The Empire State Development website however vaguely lists exclusions including grants it appears. Perhaps the language provides a loop hole in this case.
At any rate, we finally received the application on April 2nd, 2015. In their letter, they relayed that “Pursuant to section 87, subsection 2, subdivision (d) of FOIL, we have redacted portions of the Consolidated Funding Application that “are trade secrets or are submitted to an agency by a commercial enterprise and which if disclosed would cause substantial injury to the competitive position of the subject enterprise.”
In other words, all of the potential jobs and their salaries promised to the Town of Ulster site were blackened out. To this day, we still can’t get information on what those positions and salaries were to be as you can see in the application.
In addition, we requested the minutes of all meetings of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council at which the Niagara Bottling proposal was discussed.
They wrote that “pursuant to section 87, subsection2, subdivision (g) FOIL, we are withholding the non-public meeting minutes of the Mid-Hudson Regional Development Counsel that discussed Niagara Bottling’s proposal as they are “inter-agency or intra agency materials which are not (i) statistical or factual tabulations or date; (ii) instructions to staff that affect the public; (iii) final agency policy or determination; (iv) external audits, including but not limited to audits performed by the comptroller of the federal government.”
Perhaps it is truly in their purview not to share the information that we requested. Hard to know. You’d need to a lawyer to confirm that.
It shouldn’t be so difficult to request full transparency when allocating public funding, but apparently it is. In the end, following the process as we have all along the way, we hope to shed some light and even improve how future funding is allocated.
At a recent Public Safety/General Government committee meeting, Ward 5 Alderman and chair of the committee Bill Carey introduced a resolution to amend the City Charter. But City of Kingston Assistant Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein told the Committee that “they could not make the change through a resolution. He said the state’s Municipal Home Rule Law would require a public referendum be held because the council essentially would be expanding its powers.” Currently, the only public official who has any authority in the matter is the mayor, who sits on the city’s Board of Water Commissioners.
What we have learned over the past decade is that Government is more efficient when proper checks and balances are in place. In Kingston, one of the hardships of the Niagara Bottling project was the council not having a voice in the sale of an enormous amount of the community’s municipal water, leaving many questions in the way of science and modeling, climate change, safe yields, economic development and other critical aspects nearly impossible to challenge.
The Public Safety/General Government Committee was looking to explore an avenue that would include the Common Council in future certain sales of water. Given the time it would take to update the charter in its entirety (which we would advocate for) a simple amendment as we understand it would give the council – and in turn the citizens – a seat at the table as Involvedfor any large sales of water outside the City of Kingston.
“C: Such sale or sales must be approved by the New York State Water Power and Control Commission (today is known as the DEC) and the Common Council.”
2. We found that based on Section 23 of the Municipal Home Rule Law (that list local laws requiring referendum) that it doesn’t appear that a local law passed by the Common Council to amend the Charter to provide for some form of Council approval of certain sales of water would be subject to a mandatory referendum. Section 23 of the Municipal Home Rule Law has the list of local laws requiring referendum, and we didn’t find anything close.
3. If this is correct, the Public Safety/General Government Committee could request that the Council adopt a local law that would amend the section. Once moved out of Committee, the Council would read the amended local law at their next meeting and vote the following month, giving the public 30 days in between for a chance to weigh in.
Having reached out to residents who are experts in the field of historic preservation, please note the following:
Attached find two reports prepared by an ACRA-Accredited archaeologist for the NYS DOT in 2002, and two current real estate market estimates. There is some discrepancy of physical address between tax roll, Ulster GIS, and the reports, but none regarding the historical significance of both properties – constructed ca. 1810-1830. Note on page two of each report that the subject property “meets eligibility criteria” for inclusion on both State and National Historic Registers, and that each “embodies the distinct characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction; or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction.”
These two structures should be saved – along with others that we will be asked to appropriate funds for destruction. They are two hundred year old structuresthat speak to Kingston’s history – they should and can be preserved. Properties should be re-marketed to eligible buyers (individuals or organizations) for reasonable asking prices that facilitate and encourage their preservation. Clear and attractive identifying signage should be placed at the properties that state they are City-owned and for sale. Absent these steps, Kingston risks losing much credibility of the marketing message stating that “Historic Is Just Our Beginning.”
Equally important will be the City developing comprehensive and public-accessible criteria to evaluate not only the structural integrity – but also the historic value and status – of any property that is being considered for demolition. This means the City has to do its homework with SHPO, DOT, the County, Heritage Area Commission, Friends of Historic Kingston, and any other entity that may offer valuable information regarding a given property’s status.
Brad Will Alderman, City of Kingston
FROM THE CITY OF KINGSTON TOURISM WEB PAGE:
“The City of Kingston is nestled in the heart of Ulster County, New York. It is 91 miles north of New York City and 59 miles south of Albany. Kingston was New York’s first capital in 1777, and was burned by the British on October 16, 1777, after the Battles of Saratoga. In the 19th century, the city became an important transport hub after the discovery of natural cement in the region, and had both railroad and canal connections. Passenger rail service has since ceased, and many of the older buildings are part of three historic districts, such as the Uptown Stockade District, the Midtown Neighborhood Broadway Corridor, and the Downtown Rondout-West Strand Historic District.”
UPSTATER ARTICLE, EXCERPT – DECEMBER 8, 2014:
Historic is Just Our Beginning – But We’re Not Just Getting Started
“Here in Kingston we say, “Historic is just our beginning,” but when it comes to historic preservation, we aren’t just getting started. We know that when people are looking to move to a city like Kingston, back to a place where population has declined over the years as factories closed or the shift took place toward the suburbs, they look for historic areas first.
Lately, and historically in fact, Kingston Government has had a conflict with department behavior and the public’s expectation. Without clear policy in place, we rely on common sense behavior – and that can be quite subjective when things go astray.
About 6 years ago in the City of Kingston, a city employee filed a sexual harassment suit against the supervisor and a few other employees at the DPW. Their behavior that was widely publicized was despicable. To add insult to injury, the public learned that the COK didn’t have a Sexual Harassment policy in place, creating more concern. The cost of which felt by city taxpayers. Could the whole thing have been avoided?
Today, we are reading about city workers using their social media accounts in inappropriate ways in the headlines where policy is in place but clearly not adhered to. Conflicts of Interests are more common than not even though Ethics and all that it embodies are written into code.
With only a little bit of research, when we enter in ‘small city municipal policies’ what comes up is the different forms of government that include City Manager. No surprise. 1/3rd of small cities like ours have changed to incorporate it.
But given Kingston’s affinity to ‘strong mayor’ form of government (which is really new. Only 20+ years old) and which can and that we feel should be challenged and potentially changed (to city manager form of government), what we are searching for is what a municipality of our size and given our form of government generally does in the way of policy.
On first glance, Section 3: Village Operations: “Chapter 13: The importance of written policies and procedures” they state that “If your municipality is small or if it operates under a relatively close-knit management (which ours does), policies may be ‘understood’…..relaying on ‘understood’ policies, however, may lead to misunderstandings.”
To us, city policies matter. Could the city of Kingston create a policy manual? According to our initial reading here, and elsewhere a policy manual would be most helpful, as a ‘well written, up-to-date policy manual guides managers and supervisors in making decisions, training and handling employment issues that relate to safety and health. A policy manual also offers other less obvious benefits such as: 1) A basic communication tool; 2) An excellent training resource. 3) A written documentation. 4) Saves time and manages complex operations. 5) Gives employees a right to know’
City Government’s role is infrastructure which is broad. It includes water and sewer pipes, roadways, signage, communication, contracts and all else that makes those living and doing business in Kingston easy. And that’s really it. I see Kingston government treading on the historic, the arts and other places one might say they haven’t any business and takes away from what it is meant to do.
There is no lack of important details that need attention in Kingston’s City Government. It may be a big effort initially, but it will make things run smoothly and more efficiently in the long run.
Great speeches last night. We appreciate the hard work of our common council.
Now you can watch at your leisure. Thanks to Kingston News for making this possible and available.
Majority Leader Matt Dunn (Democrat) “We will give the City of Kingston a voice for the potential sale of our water outside of the City limits.” (20:30 – 21:42)
Minority Leader Deb Brown (Republican) “(Washington Avenue Sinkhole) We are doing our due diligence and making sure all aspects of this major undertaking is done in the proper sequence. This is not a problem that happened overnight…to coordinate this project with the consultants, funding, grants, government entities, the bidding process, construction companies, easements, regulations, mother nature and unexpected failures is a major undertaking. We all want it to be done right the first time, not having to be looking over our shoulder going into the next decade. We are an old city with old infrastructures.” (1:00 – 3:40)
As a final follow-up of the work, we are pleased to share a timeline of the recent Niagara Bottling Proposal in our area. For a good solid month, we have worked to encompass each event of significance to not only document, but to also help to further illustrate how incredibly complicated this was. The people working together with the help of many partners managed to stay on top of every detail and utilize their rights based on policy and the law (there is much room for improvement, too, as we found out in both departments).
What can we learn here to improve decision making processes in the future? A great deal – and we must never forget it and apply these important lessons to everything from here on out.
If there is an item that has not been recorded that you wish to share, please contact us.
It is our aim to also offer assistance and support to other communities who are in the midst of something similar. Please be in touch if you’d like by writing Rebecca@KingstonCitizens.org
Special thanks to KingstonCitizens.org’s committee members Debra Bresnan and Rachel Marco-Havens for their assistance.
Here are several key items:
An enormous amount of public funding was lined up to attract the Niagara Bottling project. It is hard to say what the tax abatements through Start-Up NY would have provided along with all the tax breaks that a Manufacturer is given in NYS – but over the course of 10 years it’s probably a fair assumption that it would have been upwards to $20-30 million +. That, plus the $10.8 million they would have received through the Consolidated Funding Application grant through the Mid-Hudson Economic Development Council (MHEDC) to go toward their facility build (an estimate $53 million for a new build, and not to reuse any of the buildings at the Tech City site).
A firm number of jobs and salaries were not ever provided to our group so that a cost analysis could be done to compare their worth vs. the amount of public funding that Niagara was looking to secure. Very few elected and appointed officials involved knew what they were, but had signed confidentiality agreements and would not release that information to the public.
STATE ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY REVIEW ACT (SEQRA): Pos vs. Neg Dec
The public was encouraged to wait for the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process to take place in order to get the basic information that they were requesting. Those who understood what was taking place worked hard to secure a ‘positive declaration’ in SEQRA in order for there to be a public process and thankfully were successful in doing so. It had been reported in the papers that Niagara was hoping to start their build in February of 2015 alluding to the Town of Ulster as Lead Agency probably counting on a ‘negative declaration’ – meaning no public input – sending the project straight to the planning board for a site plan review.
SEQRA, by the way and simply put, examines a project as it is submitted and relies on such submission to be accurate (and not segmented as this proposal clearly was). Determinations are then based on its accuracy for a proper review of the applicable laws.
PUBLIC FUNDING AND SEQRA
As it turns out and in this case, it is illegal in NYS for public funds to be awarded to a project before SEQRA takes place. Prior to the public’s awareness, the Niagara project had been selected as a priority project for the MHEDC. Whether shining the light on this fact impacted Niagara ultimately not being selected by the State in December is unknown. Though we suspect so.
START UP NY TAX ABATEMENTS
Start-Up NY is a new program of NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s that began in January/February of 2014. Corporations who come in from out of state and partner with a SUNY school may qualify for up to 10 years of tax abatements (tax free including employee, business, property, school and others). It is meant for corporations to move on campus to offer onsite internships for students but in SUNY Ulster’s case (located in Stone Ridge, NY), that wasn’t possible due to program allotment of 200,000 square feet to accommodate businesses under consideration. By utilizing their satellite campus’s however, Tech City located in the Town of Ulster where Niagara wished to locate (and for the most part empty since the early 90’s) could qualify.
Niagara Bottling applied and was selected by a very small number of people (four as we understand it) based on these qualifications as we know them: 1) Will the corporation provide jobs? 2) Does the corporation fit within the mission of the program/University? 3) Does the corporation conflict with any other business similar in nature within a certain radius of the potential new location?
…and that’s it.
The SUNY Ulster Board of Trustees (who have a fiduciary responsibility), students and faculty were not included in the decision making process. Furthermore, Niagara would require water from a municipal source (as well as local springs) that could have tremendous negative impacts to the community that the reservoir services (Kingston/Woodstock). The community-at-large were caught off guard, having not been alerted prior to reports in the papers with the process well underway.
LACK OF GOOD SCIENCE
Thanks to several of our partners (and their donors) that include the Woodstock Land Conservancy, Riverkeeper and SaveCooperLake.org, a number of studies were created to show the potential impacts of the water withdrawal, creation of plastic bottles using PET pellets, traffic and waste water disposal in a nearby impaired water-way known as the Esopus Creek. As you will see by reading through the timeline, there was little to none modeling to gauge future impacts. These studies helped us to show the potential dangers to our communities prior to SEQRA and in turn, helped us to secure a positive declaration in the process.
INTERESTED VS. INVOLVED AGENCY
In the SEQRA process, those who have a “discretionary decision” to make have a seat at the table and are listed as an ‘Involved Agency’. In Kingston, because the Water Board is independent – they alone would make the decision regarding the sale of the public’s water (and they alone were listed as an Involved Agency). All together, about nine people without any public oversight (unless you include the Mayor as the public, the only elected official who serves on the Water Board and who appoints all of its members, too).
All of the municipalities impacted directly that include Kingston, Woodstock and Saugerties fought another hard battle to be listed as an ‘Involved’ agency prior to not being listed at all. To be ‘Involved’ gives the group the opportunity to voice in on Lead Agency in SEQR. That is a critical moment in the process and much effort, too, was made to request that the DEC become Lead Agency of the project given its regional impacts.
Instead, each were granted only ‘Interested’ agency status, which in essence is not any more authority in the process than the average citizen.
That, right there, is a real glaring problem for our community and we intend to work with our elected officials in the future to help to provide the public with a larger role in decision making for sales such as these.
A LONGER PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD AND ADDITIONAL PUBLIC HEARING LOCATIONS IN SEQR
Another item that was important to our group given the complexity of the project was to request a longer public comment period than what is allowed in SEQR (which is 30 days once the scoping document is submitted by the client/consultant (Niagara/Chazen Companies)). Because it is not mandatory to allow for more time, the public was beholden to the Lead Agency/Client to allow for it or not.
In addition, given that the impacts of the projects would have included multiple municipalities, we also asked that Lead Agency offer public hearings outside of the Town of Ulster and in those impacted communities so to increase the number of the public and their opportunity to be heard.
We hope that you will visit this page periodically as we continue to fine tune and add any additional information that is helpful to understand better our experience.
To try to keep the timeline tight, we’re including these other entries here to get a little more insight on the City of Kingston’s Water Board and other municipal decisions that have been made over the past 100 + years.
If you have anything that you wish to correct or to add – or you are a community facing a similar situation and would like to speak to us – you can do so by contacting us at Rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org
2011: As a condition of the NYS DEC permit for Woodstock Commons to hook up to the Town of Woodstock (ToW) Water District, the ToW was required to develop and submit emergency back-up water treatment and supply plans to NYS DEC using Cooper Lake main on Tinker Street at site of the Town Hall renovation.
“Infrastructure must be maintained. People come to rely on that service. The general population doesn’t stop to think “If I didn’t have water, how would my life be affected? How valuable is that infrastructure to my quality of life that I have? How much am I paying for it vs. how important is it to my life?”
– Fred Testa, EFC
“Many municipalities say “I haven’t raised water rates. Re-elect me!” Not good. You need to continually keep pace with the cost of running your system. One of the ways you do that is by increasing your rates to recognize that things cost more as you move forward. You also recognize that things may not break next year, but may in five years – and you keep projecting future costs.”
– Candace Balmer, RCAP
Last evening, KingstonCitizens.org hosted a “Water & Waste Water Infrastructure 101” educational panel with guests Water Resource Specialist Candace Balmer of RCAP Solutions and Environmental Project Manager Fred Testa from NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation.
Close to 50 people were in attendance that included elected and appointed officials, representatives from many of our environmental organizations and citizens alike.
Thanks to our sponsors for this event that include the Woodstock Land Conservancy, Riverkeeper and Catskill Mountainkeeper and to Kingston News for providing a live stream of the event and the following video.
0:00 – 1:56: QUESTION, Dan Shapley ”If there is a water quality problem the community is aware of, but isn’t documented on the list it’s not helping getting funding for that project?”
“If the project is going to improve water quality (class b vs. class c) does that effect the score of the project?”
3:00 – 4:04: MODERATOR
MHI (Median Household Income) is $44,000 in Kingston, making us likely to be eligible for funding.
“How is the water supply changing based on growth and change in the landscape? The way we manage, monitor, maintain?”
4:06 – 5:58: Fred Testa, EFC
“State Department of Health has the role of regulating the quality of water.”
6:00 – 6:24:MODERATOR
“Would you say that there is an increasing burden on small communities in the way of managing infrastructure?”
6:26: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Demographic changes and the financial impact from shrinking communities.”
7:02 – 7:16: MODERATOR
“H0w is the role of the government changed to met that gap? Is it doing so?
7:17: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Water is free, but the pipes that are bringing it to you are not. It costs more than what they want to deal with.”
8:28 – 12:20: MODERATOR
“In the Kingston system, rates might have to go up to provide for infrastructure needs. In the present, we are struggling to meet that demand. Can we talk for a moment about different rate structures, and what you’re seeing as best practice? Kingston has a descending rate structure today.”
9:25: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“We advocate a level rate structure and per gallon charge so that there isn’t any base usage. It’s called FULL COST PRICING.”
“How does that play out in the community?”
10:18: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“You have fixed costs. If people decide to use less to save money, the department still has to meet those costs.”
11:24: Fred Testa, EFC
“Some small communities have a simple, flat rate. In the old days, things were more simple and it’s not as simple today. In waste water, sometimes the expense on the property owner is based in part on property values.”
12:21 – 13:38: MODERATOR
“You brought asset management which the City of Kingston is undergoing for its waste water infrastructure. Can you tell us more about it and how you might be involved? By the way, it’s the most expensive piece of infrastructure for the COK to run. It was found in our climate action plan that the municipality is responsible for that, and the cost of repairs would be 3 x more than we thought given it’s in the flood plain. Instead of it being $2 million dollars it’s more like $6 million in longterm costs.”
13:40 – 18:56: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“People don’t always understand where their dollars are going, (chemicals, transmission, admin, debt repayment, etc.). It’s about getting the most value for your equipment. It costs more to fix something once it’s broken than when it was planned for so to be replaced in a timely manner. Assets are pipes, buildings, tanks, equipment, security, tools, office/lab. These are things that you have invested in and you recognize that they have a life span and when they break, you want to make sure that you have access to the things that you need to replace them efficiently and think of about financing for these replacements beforehand. The first thing you do is an inventory. You want to identify what your assets are and prioritize your critical assets. Those that you’ll be really in trouble if you don’t have a back-up or money in the kitty for replacement. Many communities don’t have maps. It’s very important to know what and where these assets are. What’s the expected use for life of an asset and how much does it cost? You’ve got to be saving money and setting it aside in dedicated accounts.”
18:29 – 18:56: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Many municipalities say “I haven’t raised water rates. Re-elect me!” Not good. You need to continually keep pace with the cost of running your system. One of the ways you do that is by increasing your rates to recognize that things cost more as you move forward. You also recognize that things may not break next year, but may in five years – and you keep projecting future costs.”
19:11 – 19:52: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Long term vs. short plan terming – you want to have the name of what you are replacing in that account so that extra money in water budgets are not transferred. You need dedicated reserve accounts.”
19:57 – 22:58: MODERATOR
“The EFC brought a list of what Kingston has borrowed from the revolving funds since 1994/1998. How does EFC Work with a city like Kingston on Asset Management?
20:56 – 22:58:Fred Testa, ECF
“We would mostly be urging them to do that. Asset Management plans are a growing phenomenon. It wasn’t done in the past. There is a growing interest to do this and the DEC is starting to work on a plan making it required. What will the rates be? How will they need to be raised in order to avoid crisis? Asset Management will take communities a long way to know what will be happening. They are a live plan. They do no good to put them up on the shelf and not revisited and updated consistently.”
22:59 – 24:06MODERATOR
“The State is trying to incorporate best practices for rating and in awarding funding. Communities should invest where they already exist vs. sprawling. Invest in existing communities instead of newer projects.”
“Can you speak to New Paltz regarding waste water? You spoke about Smart Growth. What does that mean environmentally?”
25:18 – 26:35Fred Testa, EFC
We are looking at a project with new infrastructure or expand new service area. Has the municipality planned for growth in that area? Does it add properties that local growth hasn’t thought about. We are looking to see if the local gov have considered impacts on the communities. Was it planned for? Is a comp plan available to avoid uncontrolled sprawl that have adverse effects.
27:06 – 27:26QUESTION: Rebecca Martin (Kingston)
“Can you speak a little bit to inter-municipal partnerships and how funding increase, or the benefits?”
27:28 – 29:56Fred Testa, EFC
“We want to see that there is capacity at a treatment plant for both, that the communities have already talked. We want to see an inter-municipal agreement. A legal contract drawn up by the parties. Tying in smart growth, the idea is if there is a treatment plant nearby it may be best for everyone to make use of it.”
29:57 – 30:40: MODERATOR
“There was a discussion in Kingston and Ulster in looking at that sort of collaboration in the past. I don’t know where those discussions are today. Also Comprehensive Plans can engage in other communities under municipal law to generate inter-municipal agreements.”
30:41 – 43:04:QUESTION: Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will (Kingston)
“I think this should be mandatory attendance for all muniapl leaders. Looking at the revolving fund loans for Kingston and noticing out of 14 there are 3 that originated from the Kingston water dept, all happening in 2012 under 1/2 million – 6.2 million. In the dealings with the KWD are you in close contact or are there ongoing communications with KWD since 2012?
32:32:Fred Testa, EFC
“I myself haven’t worked with Kingston, but the water district is referenced here – but the COK was the borrower here, not the Water Department.”
QUESTION: Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will
“We have a flooding task force that looked at conditions in the Rondout, historically it’s been very industrial. Are there funding mechanisms to assist with businesses and private property owners to help mitigate flooding problems?”
34:49:Fred Testa, EFC
“Not through EFC. There may be funding through the Consolidated Funding Application.”
35:43: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“There may be funding through Community Development Block Grant for these things.”
35:59 – 38:13MODERATOR and Fred Testa, EFC
“Kingston is going through it’s brownfield area opportunity, a GEIS of great magnitude that will allow business and property owners to move through the SEQR process more quickly. Through the DOS. The program, unfortunately, has sun setted but hopefully there will be more opportunities.” (more on the CFA Program, Green Innovations grant, all happen in June). “Kingston has been on the ball and have qualified for a great number of grants. As have the county. We have a green infrastructure project for Sophie Finn School.”
38:19 – 40:22 Candace Balmer, RCAP
“I want to answer your question, Brad. The CDBG program, one is public infrastructure, planning, public facilities and economic development of small business and enterprise. I don’t know if the economic development section would apply, but it’s worth looking that up. For joint applications, there are strict requirements, but if you were a join applications you could apply for more funding.”
“Kingston is an entitlement city, not entitlement county. Kingston’s CDBG goes through HUD (Housing and Urban Development).”
40:44:QUESTION: Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will
“What is the percentage of applications that are approved through the EFC?”
40:54 – 41:00:Fred Testa, EFC
“Last year we financed every application.”
“The window is closing for the hardship applications. If Kingston wanted to apply for the round that moves forward in 2016 and are not listed this year how would that work?”
41:24: 43:04Fred Testa, EFC
I think Kingston has projects listed in the drinking water plant, but not waste water. The City received funding last September for a study 30,000 to study the engineering planning grant WW treatment plant for improvements. They can then give us a listing form, get on the intended use plan and get a score to hopefully be high enough to apply for hardship financing. Projects can apply for up to $25 million, $18 million at 0% The city is not in a position to apply because they are not on the list. Step one. Get on the list.“
“Troubled that we are talking about conventional waste water treatment plants. They don’t include pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, hormones. However newer technologies methods do. Those plants require less maintenance impacting costs. Who do we get to help us to be directed towards innovative approaches, especially considering NYS watershed?”
44:42: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Most don’t describe technology requirements, though must be technically approvable. In that way, it’s all fundable.”
45:18:Fred Testa, EFC
“If there are new technologies being considered, the DEC which permits waste water treatment plants allows them to discharge treated wastewater as long as it meets cleanliness regulations. If they are presented with new technologies, they are going to want to see proven technical evidence.”
Candace Balmer, RCAP
“If it breaks, they want to see that you can get the pieces easily for repair. That don’t want you to put in something that is problematic in that way.”
Kathy Nolan CM
“What you’re describing is a system that doesn’t have a way to perhaps get started in communities that use better technology. With the Green Innovation funding stream, can we can get a plant funded to be used as a pilot to see how it functions and if it’s possible to create more of them. We keep coming to the same point in the conversation. We need to do something that gets us into the better technology.”
Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Get with your regulator. Have them come with you and chat about concerns. Sometimes it’s an individual look at concerns.”
48:27 – 50: 04QUESTION: Joanne Steel, Mid-Hudson Sierra Club
“Town of Lloyd had a rebed system that was doing very well. Are you familiar with it?”
49:06 Fred Testa, EFC
“That was a wetland. It’s not a rebed for sludge.”
49:17Candace Balmer, EFC
“Though it’s an example of their working with the DEC to get that project off the ground.”
50:11 – 53:53: QUESTION: Mary McNamara (Saugerties)
“In our region there are often neighborhoods where Septic Systems have failed. To accommodate, water districts have been created. It’s to o expense to bring in a clean water program. The nearby surface waters are impacted. I see it more and more. What funding programs exist for individuals?”
51:25:Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Looking at it from a community perspective, what EPA has promoted is decentralized water management concept with responsible management entity. Pay the bills. You can have a management district that manage onsite. Woodstock has a management area where they inspect and repair individual septic systems. There’s a variety of ways. For individuals, there are not a lot of programs. If you are poor or elderly you can get up to 7500 in a lifetime and septic systems are one of them that you can use it for.”
53:34: Fred Testa, EFC
“There is Housing Improvement in CDBG to improve septic systems for private drinking water wells.”
53:54 – 58:05: MODERATOR
“Kingston represents a community that has experienced it all. Now we are dealing with the burdens in dealing with infrastructure. How do we look down the road to address this challenge?”
56:11 – 57:16: Fred Testa, EFC
“You need people to sit down and focus. Asset management approach forces people to look at specific elements of infrastructure and plan accordingly. Infrastructure must be maintained. People come to rely on that service. The general population doesn’t stop to think “If I didn’t have water, how would my life be affected? How valuable is that infrastructure to my quality of life that I have? How much am I paying for it vs. how important is it to my life?”
57:19 – 58:05: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“It takes the community. When we do project planning we get everyone at the table. The regulators, the public, the board. Lets all sit down at what we’re looking at and what it costs.”
This year, the theme for World Water Day is “Water and Sustainable Development.” It’s about how water links to all areas we need to consider to create the future we want. March 22nd is a day to celebrate water and to map a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water related issues. It’s a day to prepare for how we manage water in the future.
Guest speakers include water advocates and a special presentation of youth and prayers and tradition dance and song from local Native American communities.
The event will also showcase world renowned jazz musicians Jack DeJohnette and Larry Grenadier – both local to the Hudson Valley region.
In a career that spans five decades and includes collaborations with some of the most iconic figures in modern jazz, NEA and Grammy winner Jack DeJohnette has established an unchallenged reputation as one of the greatest drummers in the history of the genre. Th list of creative associations throughout his career is lengthy and diverse; John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Keith Jarrett, Chet Baker, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, Joe Henderson, Freddy Hubbard, Betty Carter and so many more. Along the way, he has developed a versatility that allows rom for hard bop, R&B, World Music, Avant-Garde and just about every other style to emerge in the past half-century.
As one of contemporary jazz’s most respected and accomplished bassists, Larry Grenadier has built an expansive body of work that encompasses a variety of significant projects with many of the genre’s most inventive and influential musicians. Over the course of a performing and recording career that spans three decades, he’s earned a far-reaching reputation, for his instrumental talent, for his instantly recognizable tone, and for his sensitivity, imagination and creative curiosity that have established him as an in-demand sideman and valued collaborator. Grenadier’s trademark upright bass work has been a longstanding fixture in the bands of pianist Brad Mehldau, guitarist Pat Metheny, and has graced albums and groups by a broad array of prestigious artists including Paul Motian, Charles Lloyd, Enrico Rava, Danilo Perez, Chris Potter, Joshua Redman and Kurt Rosenwinkel. He’s also found time to make three albums with his acclaimed trio Fly and to record five more with his wife, noted singer/songwriter and founder of KingstonCitizens.org Rebecca Martin.
The event is free to all, though a $10.00 recommended cover will be accepted at the door. Proceeds after expenses will be used to support a new KingstonCitizens.org mentorship program that provides opportunities for young and old to participate in regular city government meetings.
The film “TAPPED” will be screened at Kingston Candy Bar next door to BSP from 5-8pm. Visit and have your water bottle filled with filtered tap water!
To be considered as a Commissioner of the Kingston Water Board:
Please submit your resume/CV (Curriculum Vitae) to Carly Williams, City of Kingston Clerk: email@example.com by April 30th, 2015 (because we were not given a date by the Mayor’s office, this date is arbitrary. However, we presume that it gives the city time to collect interest and make a decision).
On May 31st 2015, Water Board Commissioner Al Radel’s term will expire. Radel has served as a Commissioner on the Water Board now for 15 years, which is three terms. We appreciate his service.
That means, that a spot is opening up – and we are hoping that citizens who are interested in serving will step up.
The Mayor of Kingston appoints citizens (and business persons) to most Commissions/Boards/Councils in Kingston. Recently, we reached out to the Mayor’s office to find out what the process was. You know how fast we move around here, and after the second request without getting information, we decided to lay out our questions in a PETITION to give the public a chance to weigh in. That petition is live now, so have a look, consider signing it and leave a comment.
The questions were simple.
KingstonCitizens.org requests that Mayor Shayne Gallo require Water Department Superintendent Judith Hansen to:
Make both the description of the Board of Water Commissioner’s role and length of term visible and public on the City of Kingston’s Water Department web page.
Make all of the current members of the Board of Water Commissioners biographies and length of service to date visible and public on the City of Kingston’s Water Department web page.
The City of Kingston’s Mayor, who appoints Board of Water Commissioners, publish a public notice in a timely fashion announcing its search for new candidates for the upcoming term. This announcement should include a description of the Board of Water Commissioner’s expected role; preferred experience / qualifications for candidates; contact info and deadline for submissions; and the term length.
Yesterday, we heard from Water Department Superintendent Judith Hansen who responded:
“The Mayor asked that I contact you to let you know that appointments to the Board of Water Commissioners are made by the Mayor and that if you have anyone that would like to be considered for the position, they should submit their CV to him via the City Clerk’s Office. Neither the Board nor any employee of the Water Department, including the Superintendent has any role in or input into the selection process.”
Not much in the way of answering our questions. Then later, we heard directly from Mayor Gallo’s office:
“This is in reply to your inquiry about how vacancies and/or appointments are made to the Board of Water Commissioners or any other City board or Commission. Be advised the following process has been used since the City Charter has been adopted: Any interested City resident and/or business person may apply for consideration to any City Board and/or Commission by providing a letter of interest with a resume and background information and/or curriculum vitae of said individual. The interested party should submit the above to the City Clerk’s Office. Upon receipt, the letter of interest shall will forwarded to my office for review and consideration. If you know of an interested City resident who would like to be considered for appointment to the Board of Water Commissioners and/or other City boards and commissions, please share the above information with them. Thank you for your interest.”
The points unanswered at least expose something critical. We have some information on the process, but nothing that we didn’t already know.
So why can’t the City of Kingston provide a description of a Water Board Commissioner? Or nail down their term? Or share their biographies and experience so that we know who is at the helm of our water supply? Or put out a notice in the papers to residents with a deadline for their response?
As we are entering into an election cycle, we will take these things up again at an appropriate time. We intend to advocate for Kingston to overhaul it’s city charter at a future date.
To be considered as a new Commissioner of the Kingston Water Board:
Please submit your resume/CV (Curriculum Vitae) to Carly Williams, City of Kingston Clerk: firstname.lastname@example.org by April 3oth, 2015 (because we were not given a date by the Mayor’s office, this date is arbitrary. However, we presume that it gives the city time to collect interest and make a decision).
KingstonCitizens.org sponsors a public educational discussion titled “Water and Waste Water Infrastructure 101″ on Tuesday, March 24th from 6:00pm – 8:00pm at the Kingston Public Library, 55 Franklin Street in Kingston, NY. The group’s guest will be Water Resource Specialist Candace Balmer of RCAP Solutions (Resources for Communities and People).
Kingston, NY: KingstonCitizens.org is pleased to present an educational discussion titled “Water and Waste Water Infrastructure 101″ on Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 at the Kingston Public Library, 55 Franklin Street in Kingston, NY. from 6:00pm – 8:00pm. Moderated by KingstonCitizens.org’s Jennifer Schwartz Berky, the group will have the opportunity to speak with Water Resource Specialist CANDACE BALMER to explore water and wastewater infrastructure, how it is and can be funded, the importance of regular maintenance and the reality of periodic rate increases to keep this huge investment functioning. A question and answer period will also take place.
This event is free to the public and will be filmed by Kingston News. Sponsored by KingstonCitizens.org with the support of the Woodstock Land Conservancy, Riverkeeper and Catskill Mountainkeeper.
Ms. Balmer joined RCAP Solutions in March 1997 after previous experience as Associate Director, Pollution Abatement Technology Program at Westchester Community College and as Project Engineer with Environmental Resources Management, Inc. (ERM). Advisory Boards and Task Forces: NY Onsite Wastewater Training Network (OTN); Lower Esopus Watershed Partnership (LEWP); NYC DEP-coordinated Ashokan Reservoir Working Group (ARWG). Education: A.A.S. Water Quality Monitoring; B.A. Anthropology; M.S. Environmental Engineering.
RCAP Solutions, Inc. is the Northeast regional partner of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP). RCAP is federally funded to assist small rural communities with water and wastewater projects.
About KingstonCitizens.org KingstonCitizens.org is a community-based organization committed to improving the quality of life of Kingston residents through accountability and transparency between the people and their local government. By providing citizens with current and important information through better communication, our work is meant to nurture citizen participation and empowerment through projects, education and fun.
With Support from:
About Woodstock Land Conservancy The Woodstock Land Conservancy is a non-profit organization committed to the protection and preservation of the open lands, forests, wetlands, scenic areas and historic sites in Woodstock and the surrounding area.
About Riverkeeper To protect the environmental, recreational and commercial integrity of the Hudson River and its tributaries, and safeguard the drinking water of nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents.
About Catskill Mountainkeeper
To be the strongest and most effective possible advocate for the Catskill region; working through a network of concerned citizens we promote sustainable growth and protect the natural resources essential to healthy communities.
KingstonCitizens.org creates timeline of the withdrawn Niagara Bottling Company proposal. The group has created a survey to capture the impressions of their partners and citizens to make a historical document.
Kingston, NY – KingstonCitizens.org is working on a timeline about the Niagara Bottling Project and wants to hear from the public.
On February 13, 2015, Niagara withdrew its plans to occupy the proposed site in the Town of Ulster. The proposed project would have included the purchase of 1.75 million gallons of water from the Kingston Water Department from our reservoir (Cooper Lake) located in the Town of Woodstock.
The group wishes to document citizens’ impressions of the events that occurred over the past six months. The group is working to create a historical document noting each critical event that can also offer insight, information and inspiration to other communities facing similar concerns that this proposal has brought to light.
TAKE THE SURVEY or visit www.KingstonCitizens.org for more information. Survey responses are due Monday, March 2, 2015.
For questions or more information, contact Debra Bresnan at email@example.com