WHAT TO EXPECT: Kingston Common Council Meetings in July and Local Law #6 (aka the Rochester Law)



Kingston Common Council Caucus  (Monday, 7/11)
Kingston Common Council Meeting (Tuesday, 7/12)


Caucus:    Conference Room #1   (7/11)
Council Meeting:  Council Chambers  (7/12)
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway  Kingston, NY  


Caucus:  Monday, July 11th  @ 7:00pm
Council Meeting:  Tuesday, July 12th  @ 7:30pm

Sign-up to speak and secure a seat at the council meeting on 7/12/16  at 7:15pm. 


The Kingston Common Council holds its monthly caucus and council meeting in July.

Local Law #6 (known as the Rochester Law), that proposes clearer requirements for shooting ranges in Kingston. It is a local law that will have its second reading and a full council vote on July 12th.

This event will be filmed and brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org thanks to Clark Richters and Kingston News


We encourage the public to attend and to speak on Tuesday, July 12th in support of the council adopting Local Law #6 (the Rochester Law). Local Law #6 emphasizes the creation of important buffers for a business such as a shooting range within our city limits.   

The issue is not about burdening the right to have a gun or to practice using a gun.  Given the potential health and safety issues of a shooting range,  finding the appropriate location for one is key. In our opinion, an appropriate location is NOT inside a densely populated or highly used area. 


The Kingston Common Council will hold its monthly caucus (Monday, July 11th) and full council meeting (Tuesday, July 12th) this month, a week later than normal scheduling due to the July 4th holiday weekend.

Among other important topics that evening, council business will include the second reading and a full council vote of Local Law #6 (known as the “Rochester Law”). This vote is the outcome of months of discussion and debate to properly vet Kingston’s current firearms law.

The Common Council will vote on whether it “wants to set specific criteria and restrictions for the opening of indoor shooting ranges in the city, or adopt a simpler approach that does not limit where such facilities could be operated.”   (*See below)



The new vetted law (Local Law #6 of 2016) aims to provide clearer regulations for operating indoor shooting ranges in Kingston, including important buffers “that would prohibit any new range from being located within 1,000 feet of the entrance to any school, church, hospital, youth recreational facility or location which, in the opinion of the police chief, would create a nuisance to any nearby resident.”   (*See below)


In our opinion, this unvetted law would “allow indoor ranges anywhere in Kingston with Planning Board approval” and should be dismissed.  (*See below)


We encourage the public to attend and to speak in support of the council adopting Local Law #6 (the Rochester Law). Local Law #6 emphasizes the creation of important buffers for a business such as a shooting range within our city limits.     

The issue is not about burdening the right to have a gun or to practice using a gun.  Given the potential health and safety issues of a shooting range,  finding the appropriate location is key. In our opinion, an appropriate location is NOT inside a densely populated or highly used area.  

*Excerpts in quotes from the Daily Freeman  VIEW

WHAT TO EXPECT: Laws and Rules Committee Meeting Tuesday, 5/17/16


Kingston Laws and Rules Committee Meeting 

Conference Room #1
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway  Kingston, NY  

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

The council’s Laws and Rules Committee will hold their monthly meeting where amending the current Firearms Law is scheduled to be on the agenda.

There is no scheduled public comment period for this meeting. 

This event will be filmed brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org thanks to Clark Richters and Kingston News


On Tuesday, May 17th at 7:00pm,  the City of Kingston’s Common Council’s Laws and Rules Committee will hold their monthly meeting in conference room #1 at Kingston City Hall.  Scheduled to be on the agenda will be a discussion of the amended Firearms Law, which the public expects will be the start of a thorough undertaking, looking closely at all of the items highlighted at a number of public hearings that are posted below. There is no scheduled public comment at this meeting.

Kingston Common Council Caucus and Full Council Meeting (5/2/16 and 5/3/16)

Laws and Rules Committee meeting 4/19/16 Public Comment

City of Kingston Planning Board Meeting Public Hearing 12/14/15

By the way, it was brought to our attention that in 1996, the Kingston Common Council, during a similar contentious debate over a proposed Gentleman’s Club on East Chester Street, hired a consultant to prepare a study.  The purpose of the study was  “to determine the potential primary and secondary impacts that may be associated with adult businesses, if such uses were to be established within the City of Kingston. At present, there are no lawfully existing adult businesses within the City.”

We believe that this is a model for the Firearms Law, as deserving for the same amount of care. 

Adult Use Study prepared by Greenplan, Inc. 

So it’s not the first time that the City of Kingston had to grapple with whether or not a potential business would provide a positive addition or detriment to the community.

Adult Use Zoning Ordinance that followed, and where the study is noted.





Got a Recalled Volkswagen? Donate Your $500 Gift Card to an Environmental Group.


By Rebecca Martin

When we were looking to purchase a car, it was important to us to find not only one from a company that was environmentally friendly, but also in an age of better technology, to purchase a car that had lower emissions while doing better on gas milage.  Of course, an electric car is perhaps the way to go, however the choices currently are limited for what we need,  and very costly too.

So we opted for a Volkswagen (VW) Diesel which promised as we understood it lower emissions and up to 40 mpg + on the highway.

As the world now knows, cars like ours are being recalled. “It’s been dubbed the “diesel dupe”. In September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that many VW cars being sold in America had a “defeat device” – or software – in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested, changing the performance accordingly to improve results. The German car giant has since admitted cheating emissions tests in the US.” according to a report by the BBC.

When I first learned of this, I called my dealership in Kingston straight away – requesting to surrender the car. I didn’t want to be driving around with an engine “emitting nitrogen oxide pollutants up to 40 times above what is allowed in the US.”  But due to it being a lease and with low mileage, I was told that VW wouldn’t take ours back. That it was “cheaper to fix a newer model then it was to replace it.”

Read more…

CALL TO ACTION: Citizen Support Needed TONIGHT (12/15) On Critical Resolutions that includes Microbead Ban, Pilgrim Pipeline, Greenline Project in Kingston.


By Rebecca Martin

THIS JUST IN:  A new public hearing on the Microbead Ban will occur on 1/19/16 and vote by full legislature sometime before the end of January. It has been tabled for tonight. More information coming soon. But please plan to attend to encourage the legislature to pass the remaining three other resolutions. 

For the past month, KingstonCitizens.org has been following and working towards the public being more aware of the importance to understand the impacts in Kingston of both the Pilgrim Pipeline and proposed Microbead ban proposal – all up for vote tonight at the Ulster County Legislature Meeting located at 244 Fair Street, 6th floor in Kingston. Public comment will begin at 6:30pm.  * THIS JUST IN: Plan now is for new public hearing on 1/19/16  and vote by full legislature sometime before the end of January. TONIGHT’S vote will only include the below three resolutions. 

We have attached information below on each of the resolutions with some key points for you to research before you speak.  Please keep your speech to 3 minutes or less.

Thank you!

Read more…

Water Sales Referendum will appear on the BACK of the ballot in the November 3rd General Election in Kingston, NY.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.39.21 PM

Monday, October 19, 2015


A Water Sales Referendum will appear on the back of the ballot in the November 3rd General Election in Kingston, NY. KingstonCitizens.org encourages Kingston voters to get out and vote ‘yes’ on what would be a positive and historic charter revision on the municipal water protection front for the community, and the region.  

Kingston, NY – A Water Sales Referendum to include the Kingston Common Council on all sales of water outside of the City’s corporate boundaries will be on the back of the ballot during the General Election on November 3, 2015.  Polling places are open on that day from 6:00am – 9:00pm.

Over the past year, citizens of Kingston and the region faced a potential threat to its water and watershed during the Niagara Bottling Company’s attempt to purchase a significant share of Kingston’s municipal water supply. During a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR), it was further revealed that the Kingston Water Board — a four – five member group appointed by the sitting Mayor of Kingston (who is also a member of the group) — was independent of City Government and had the sole discretion to approve such a sale. This decision making body’s power excluded Kingston’s Common Council and, therefore, all citizens of Kingston from the decision making process.

Read more…

KingstonCitizens.org sponsors a public educational discussion titled “Water and Waste Water Infrastructure 101” on Tuesday, March 24th


St-Marys-Water-Recycling-PlantKingstonCitizens.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.

For more information, contact Rebecca Martin at rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org


Our Guest:

About Candace Balmer, Water Resource Specialist RCAP 

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.

Sponsored by:

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.

Niagara Bottling Passes On Town of Ulster Site.



Over the past five months many groups have worked tirelessly across communities and political boundaries to collect important information regarding the proposed Niagara Bottling project. It has always been our aim to encourage a more open process which is critical when decisions are being made about how our public water resources will be managed, used and potentially sold.

The Niagara Bottling Company chose not to pursue a public scoping process and all that it would entail. We respect their decision.  Any impact that we might have made is a reflection of strong resolve, partnerships, commitment, patience and perseverance by us all. It is a great illustration of Democracy at work in the Hudson Valley.

As we shift gears and look forward to what’s next, we fully expect to continue to use our new capacity to advance the public good. There is a lot to do on the subject of water that has been brought to light by this proposal, and it is our goal to help protect this resource and its infrastructure so that it will remain in the hands of the people forever.

KingstonCitizens.org would personally like to thank our most intimate partners in this work.  Without their time, expertise and courage, the outcome would have certainly been different: The Woodstock Land Conservancy, Riverkeeper and the Esopus Creek Conservancy.

Thank you to Food and Water Watch, SaveCooperLake.org, Catskill Mountainkeeper, NYPIRG, The Wittenberg Center, Mid-Hudson Sierra Club, Red Hook Conservation Advisory Council, Clark Richters and Kingston News, SUNY Ulster Environmental Club, Scenic Hudson, Sustainable Saugerties, Slow Food Hudson Valley, Town of Woodstock, Town of Red Hook, City of Kingston Common Council and Conservation Advisory Council, Kingston Transition, Woodstock NY Transition and all of the local businesses who helped to get the word out and host public educational events.

But most of all – thanks to you. The citizens. It is because of you that the outcry for water protection has resulted in a huge win for our communities, the region and the State of New York and a huge opportunity to plan for wise protection, stewardship and management of our critical watersheds and public water supplies as we face the challenges of climate change.

In solidarity as we proceed.

UP NEXT:  Educational panels regarding Water, Infrastructure, Economic Development and more.

MAKING HISTORY: City of Kingston first city in New York State to Adopt Resolution to Oppose Pilgrim Pipeline.


By Iris Marie Bloom

The City of Kingston Common Council unanimously passed a Resolution to Oppose Pilgrim Pipeline. Kingston is now the 8th municipality in the state of New York to take a stand against Pilgrim, joining 22 municipalities in New Jersey.

Councilman Brad Will, who introduced the successful Resolution, said: “This unanimous resolution is consistent with Kingston’s Conservation Advisory Committee’s position. It protects the environment, residents, and business owners, and allows us to move towards a greener economy.” He credited Jen Metzger as the “dynamo” who warned him about Pilgrim. Will provided a map so the Kingston Common Council could see how directly it would threaten Kingston unless is it is stopped.


Kingston would be in the direct path of Pilgrim Pipeline. The five-mile evacuation radius in case of a pipeline explosion would be unmanageable for Kingston. A resident who lives on the Rondout Creek (me) testified last night that “The beautiful Rondout Creek, vital to the City of Kingston in every way, could be devastated by a drilling mud spill during Pilgrim’s planned horizontal drilling under the creek. An oil spill on the Rondout, such as the one on the Kalamazoo River, would not only destroy the Rondout Creek but cause health problems for residents and hurt the local economy. The Kalamazoo spill has so far cost $2.5B and counting. Residents there suffered respiratory, neurological and other health impacts from the intense fumes from the Kalamazoo spill.”




Making History

Kingston is the first City in the state of New York to oppose Pilgrim, joining the towns of Rosendale and New Paltz, and the Village of New Paltz, which are also in the pipeline’s direct path. RochesterRhinebeck, Woodstock, and Marbletown have passed Supporting Resolutions Opposing Pilgrim Pipeline. The two-state total is now 30, a new milestone!

WHAT TO EXPECT: Town of Ulster Town Board Meeting Thursday, 1/8/15 at 7:00pm

By Rebecca Martin

The Town of Ulster Town Board will meet on Thursday, January 8th at 7:00pm.  Although at this time, an agenda has not been posted to their site (we will continue to look for it and update this post when it is up), we expect that the board will have a discussion on the recent change to the SEQR timeline. As you know, it was reported last month that the Chazen Companies, Niagara Bottling’s consultant, had requested an additional 30 days to submit their scoping document. Originally, the delivery was to be December 22nd.   It is expected that the board will confirm the date change to January 22nd.

The public may speak at the front of the meeting on matters that are on the agenda, and then given time at the end of the meeting to speak on anything else.



60 Day Public Comment Period

Last December, KingstonCitizens.org generated a letter to the Town of Ulster as lead agency requesting a total of 60 days for public input during the public portion of the scoping process. This was due in part to the process start date being December 22nd – January 22nd and in the midst of three major holidays.

The date was reported to be moved to January 22nd, giving the Chazen Companies a total of 60 days to deliver their scoping document.

The public, in turn, wishes for the same courtesy.


Additional Hearings/Locations to Allow Public Input on Draft Scope

Because the proposed project is a complex and multifaceted one that has the potential to impact multiple communities and environmental resources, the public should ask the Town of Ulster to consider more than one public hearing on the scoping document to include locations in Kingston, Woodstock and Saugerties. Additional time and hearing locations in communities that will be potentially impacted would allow for greater public participation and input on the proposed environmental review laid out in the applicant’s draft scope.

FOLLOW:  SEQR Pos Dec Review Timeline



We ask that all residents prepare a statement in advance to be no more than 3 minutes in length and to please show respect to municipalities where you are a visitor.

Town of Ulster meetings are generally audio taped, however we will be on hand to to film the event thanks to Clark Richters of Kingston News.

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

Thank you.





Town of Ulster Town Board Meeting

Thursday, January 8th, 2014

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

Click on this LINK (coming soon)


KingstonCitizens.org Host Free Screening of TAPPED in the Town of Ulster, NY.


KingstonCitizens.org host free movie screening of “Tapped” in the Town of Ulster, NY on Thursday, January 15th at 6:00pm “Tapped” examines the bottled water industry and its long-term social, economic and ecological effects 

Kingston, NY – KingstonCitizens.org with the support of the Woodstock Land Conservancy, Riverkeeper and Esopus Creek Conservancy is proud to sponsor a free screening of the film “Tapped” at the VFW Post 1386 Men’s Auxillary at 708 E. Chester Street in Kingston, NY on Thursday, January 15th from 6:00pm – 8:00pm.

Niagara Bottling Company, a national water bottling plant based in California, wants to establish a plant in the Town of Ulster.  It seeks to purchase 1.75 million gallons of water per day from Cooper Lake, Kingston’s municipal water source located in Woodstock, and plans to utilize support from the Start-Up NY Program that gives 10 years of tax abatements to qualifying companies.

Tapped focuses on industry giants PepsiCo and Nestle. The film documents the filmmakers’ visits to a town containing a Nestle factory as well as tests run on the bottles the company uses for its products. These test results showed “several potentially harmful chemicals, some known as carcinogens.” The documentary also focuses on the fraction of bottles that is recycled, noting that “forty percent of bottled water is really just filtered tap water, and every day we throw away 30 million single-served bottles of water.”

The event is free. NO TICKETS ARE NECESSARY. The public will be met by representatives of KingstonCitizens.org to answer any questions regarding the proposed Niagara Bottling Company project in Ulster County.

If your school or organization would like to host a screening, please contact Rachel Marco-Havens for more information at rachel@kingstoncitizens.org

“Tapped” Film Screening Date and Location:

Thursday, January 15th, 2015
VFW Post 1386 Men’s Auxillary
Time 6:00pm
708 East Chester Street
Kingston, NY 12401


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.

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   Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect the environmental, recreational and commercial integrity of the Hudson River and its tributaries, and to safeguard the drinking water of nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents.

About Esopus Creek Conservancy  

  • is to conserve significant natural landscapes
  • in the lower Esopus Creek watershed
  • and in the Saugerties area
  • by protecting the rural character of the environment,
  • by conserving and protecting natural habitats,
  • by promoting biodiversity, and
  • by sharing an appreciation of our natural resources with the community through public outreach, education and advocacy.


Niagara Not Included in Start-Up NY Announcement Today (12/29/14)

The awaited decision from Governor Cuomo was issued today. Two of the five proposals submitted to Start-Up NY by SUNY Ulster were selected, but do not include Niagara Bottling. We are very pleased.

Start-Up NY is a new program, and we’ve seen multiple announcements made over the last 6 months at participating campuses. Until we hear otherwise, SUNY Ulster’s three other proposed businesses at Ulster (that includes Niagara) could be on the table at a later date.

We ask for the public’s continued awareness and participation in 2015.

READ the press release from today 12/29/14

Can We Do Better? KingstonCitizens.org Asks the SUNY Ulster Board of Directors not to Enter into the Start-Up New York with Niagara Bottling


December 16, 2014

By Jennifer Schwartz Berky

To the SUNY Ulster Board of Trustees, 

I am here with KingstonCitizens.org, an organization that now has over a thousand supporters and approximately 25 professionals in a region-wide coalition engaged in our work. (See Introduction to KC.org). We have been working since 2005 to increase transparency and civic engagement in Kingston, New York through public interest research, educational forums, and working in a non-partisan manner with our elected officials to support open government.

I am an urban planner with many years of experience in economic development and environmental conservation research, policy, and development work. As the Policy and Planning Advisor to Kingston Citizens and a trustee on local, regional and state boards, I am committed to providing well-documented information regarding discussions of public concern.

Your packets contain articles and references to support the statements I am making here today, so that you may evaluate and further discuss the points in this presentation. I and the members of our team are available for further discussion on this issue and welcome your questions.

Kingston Citizens has taken on the issue of the Niagara Bottling proposal because of an unprecedented outcry by residents in Kingston and surrounding communities that will be affected by this proposal. Hundreds of people have attended meetings in Kingston’s City Hall, scores have attended the Town of Ulster’s meetings, and 1,587 signed a petition within a 5-day period objecting to the State’s potential funding of Niagara’s 10.8 million-dollar grant proposal last week.

I have outlined 10 reasons why our organization and our many supporters are asking you not to enter into a partnership with the Niagara Bottling Company as part of the Start Up New York program. In your packets are the key references in this outline. A full folder of the resources we cite is being shared with Ms. Zell and Mr. Katt for your further analysis.

1. Alignment with the College Mission

The Niagara Bottling Company is not an appropriate fit for the SUNY Ulster mission: “SUNY Ulster is a vibrant community of learners distinguished by academic excellence, collaboration, innovation, service, and responsible use of resources.”

With what we present next, we ask you to fully consider whether the Niagara Bottling plant and your Start Up New York proposal are aligned with your mission. Furthermore, this is not an industry that links to SUNY’s educational mission articulated in The Power of SUNY, including 21st century, sustainability-oriented and environmentally-conscious education and job opportunities.

2. Student Goals for Academic Excellence

Students in the United States are increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability in social, environmental and economic terms. The Princeton Review recently reported that over 25% of applicants said that commitment to the environment would “very much” impact their decision on a college or university. The SUNY Ulster students must learn to compete in a global marketplace and, as they have said in their own words, “SUNY Ulster’s interactions with the Start-Up NY program, it has the capability to aid in the introduction of sustainable jobs and companies, as well as the potential to introduce unsustainable or environmentally harmful companies to the local area.” They are asking you to work with the former. They want to learn from socially-responsible companies. I hope you want this for them, too.

3. Transparency

The public became aware of the Niagara Bottling proposal several months after it went through several steps that would normally require public disclosure. Chief among these is the provision of water through the Kingston Water Department, whose “will serve” letter was issued, but not made publicly available until FOILed by KingstonCitizens.org, despite a potential lack of capacity and a known construction and maintenance decision that would require the assent of the Kingston Common Council, according to our City Charter.

When asked by the SUNY Environmental Club whether the students would have any input into Niagara’s proposed Start Up New York venture with the college, the president told the students that they could not participate in the college’s development of the Start Up New York plan.

4. Known Dangers of the Water Bottling Industry

The water bottling industry has become one of the world’s most wasteful industries. In 2007, when the last federal industrial energy data were published, the industry utilized 32 to 54 million barrels of oil, which is a third of a per cent of total US primary energy consumption. The Pacific Institute estimates that the total amount of energy embedded in our use of bottled water can be as high as the equivalent of filling a plastic bottle one quarter full with oil. Consumption of bottled water has grown 10 percent each year since these data were published. The bottling industry has managed to convince the public that bottled water is safer to drink than tap water. In truth, the industry is hardly regulated at all, with regular reports of contamination in the products. By comparison, municipal water supplies are tested at least hundreds of times per month and have a better safety record than bottled water.

5. Comparison of Costs vs. Benefits

The $10.8 million Regional Economic Development grant proposal, if awarded, would have provided Niagara with $90,000 per job created for 120 jobs and $270,000 per job for 40 jobs. Because the public has not been provided any information regarding the amounts associated with the tax incentives associated with Start Up New York, we are concerned that these are commensurately high in relation to the jobs created. The concept of “opportunity cost” must be considered here. According to the Start Up New York program regulations, here is a 200,000 square foot ceiling on the incentive award. Has the Board of Trustees evaluated other options?   Have you considered what this may prevent our community from doing in the future?

6. Economic Analysis

According the country’s leading economists in regional economic development and regional migration studies, “large incentive packages even when they are risky, unnecessary, damaging to the fiscal future of the locality, displacing, or place extraordinary burdens on constituents to fund future services (Markusen and Nesse 2007). “Companies that least need incentives have the resources to most effectively engage in opportunistic behavior. They cite documented cases where, after large incentives packages had been granted on the presumption of competition, corporate executives admitted that other sites were never seriously considered.” Timothy Bartik and other economists doing labor migration studies, have found that “a sudden increase in jobs as a result of a new plant or plant expansion—indicates that for every 100 new jobs in a region, about 7 will be filled from the ranks of the unemployed, about 16 by drawing existing residents into the labor force, and the remaining 77 from in-migration (Fisher 2004).” That study evaluated numerous cases of tax incentives in different regions, and noted that for “a fairly typical incentive package amounting to a 30% cut in taxes, only 9% of the new jobs arriving in a community will be attributable to the tax cut. The incentives provided to the other 91% are a pure waste of money.”

The leading scholar in this field, Timothy Bartik, has said that only 10 – 40% of jobs in these new industries go to area residents. He is with one of the country’s leading think tanks on labor studies, the Upjohn Institute in Michigan.  His work is the basis for my statement that fewer than half the jobs to area residents.  A literature review by economists Partridge and Betz from Ohio State University, who cite Partridge and Rickman (2006), Rowthhorn and Glyn (2006), and others, find that “in the long-term (about 7 years), approximately 80% of the new jobs go to migrants, leaving 20% of the jobs to original residents, with a larger share going to original residents in the short-term.

These economists also find that economic policies such as those being used to justify support for the Niagara Bottling plant “are really aimed to help politicians not residents, these policies slow needed adjustment mechanisms from poor to prosperous regions, and any benefits are dispersed to those who are already economically well off.”  The authors conclude that “economists are often highly critical of these policies because they focus on the place and not on the “people”. Economists also suggest such policies may slow the regional adjustment process and that the winners may be wealthy business owners or landowners—not the intended low-income residents (Glaeser, 2008; Pettus, 2006; Polese and Shearmur, 2006; Vigdor, 2007; World Bank, 2009).”

7. State Environmental Law

State agencies are specifically prohibited from funding an action until it has complied with the provisions of a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) (see section 617.5). Before considering the Niagara Bottling proposal for a Start Up New York tax abatements, we urge SUNY Ulster to allow the full environmental review process to occur so that all its related impacts can be evaluated, including the construction and operation of the plant, the sale of the water, the implications for Kingston’s overall water supply, the infrastructure required for withdrawals, and the potential impacts to the water bodies from which Kingston draws its water supplies.

8.  Niagara Bottling Company’s Track Record

  • The Niagara Bottling Company was found to have violated environmental regulations in California and Arizona.
  • Niagara Bottling sued the City of Groveland, Florida – with a population of just over 7,000 residents — which had to spend more than $1.4 million in its battle with Niagara and had to settle for $1.24 million credit toward sewer-utility payments and pay some other costs for the company. Niagara can use as much as 200,000 gallons a day in sewer service from Groveland for as long as seven years without being charged, which is among the most expensive of municipal services in any community.
  • Niagara employees, current and past, in plants across the country, have logged dozens of complaints about the company’s lack of training, safety procedures, criteria for performance its high turnover, forced overtime, and corporate culture of favoritism. If this were one plant, or just a few employees, we would not share these with you, but these reports came from several locations.
  • Industry reports show that – among the 90+ job categories at Niagara – many of the jobs, particularly in labor (not management) lower-paid than other employers in this industry. We are providing these for you in the digital file to Ms. Zell.
  • TheBureau of Labor Statistics (BLS is my source for the claim of lower pay and injury/illness at bottling plants. They issued several reports on this problem. Your packet has a page from a BLS report on this.

9. Your Role as Trustees

According to SUNY’s “Statement on the Governance Role of a Trustee or Board Member,” trustees or board members:

“…must act in good faith and exercise the degree of diligence, care, and skill that an ordinary prudent individual would use under similar circumstances in a like position. To conform with this standard, trustees and board members should:

  • Regularly attend and participate in board meetings and committee meetings where applicable;
  • Read, review, and inquire about materials that involve the institution, especially board minutes, annual reports, other reports, plans, policies, and any literature that involves the institution;
  • Have a fiduciary responsibility for the assets, finances, and investments of the institution and exercise due diligence, care, and caution as if handling one’s own personal finances; and
  • Use one’s own judgment in analyzing matters that have an impact on the institution.”

Among these fiduciary responsibilities, “When matters of fiscal governance become very technical and require greater expertise in assessing the fiscal condition of the institution or its long-term well-being, a board should seek the advice of experts.” Examples of this include:

  • Assessing any risk associated with the validity and reliability of financial data; and
  • Monitoring compliance with laws and regulations applicable to the institution’s operations.

10.  Leadership

Today, your students are asking you to make a commitment to exert leadership in your decisions regarding your relationship to Niagara Bottling. In order for Ulster County to give its students the tools to compete in our global market, they need to learn not only skills or to be trained in specific tasks. They need role models whose decisions reflect a respect for the public good and for the protection of our public resources. They deserve to see our leaders hold themselves to the highest standards and show that they are striving for the best opportunities they can secure for them.

Surely we can do better than this. We can evaluate proposals with a more inclusive process, one that is based in science and economics, and we can show our community that we want to fulfill a mission of academic excellence, collaboration, innovation, service, and responsible use of resources.”

Again, we are at your disposal to discuss this further. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Specific References

Bartik, T. J. (2012), The Future of State and Local Economic Development Policy: What Research Is Needed. Growth and Change, 43: 545–562. doi: 10.1111/j.14682257.2012.00597.

Fisher, Peter. 2004. “The Fiscal Consequences of Competition for Capital.” Prepared for the Conference “Reining in the Competition for Capital” Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs University of Minnesota February 27-28, 2004

Glaeser, Edward L. and Joshua D. Gottlieb. 2008. “The Economics of Place-Making Policies.” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity:155-239.

Gleick, P.H. and H S Cooley, “Energy implications of bottled water” Environmental Research Letters Volume 4 Number 1

Markusen, Ann, and Katherine Nesse. 2007. “Institutional and Political Determinants of Incentive Competition.” In Reining in the Competition for Capital, Ann Markusen, ed. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, pp. 1-42. http://research.upjohn.org/up_bookchapters/237

Partridge, Mark D. and Dan S. Rickman. 2006. “An SVAR Model of Fluctuations in U.S. Migration Flows and State Labor Market Dynamics” Southern Economic Journal 72(4):958-980.

Pettus, Ashley. 2006. “Rethinking New Orleans.” Harvard Magazine, January/February, Available at: http://www.harvardmagazine.com/on-line/010673.html.

Polese, Mario and Richard Shearmur. 2006. “Why Some Regions Will Decline: A Canadian Case Study with Thoughts on Local Development Strategies.” Papers in Regional Science 85(1):23-46.

Renkow, Mitch. 2003. “Employment Growth, Worker Mobility, and Rural Economic Development.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics 85(2):503-513.

Rodriguez-Pose, Andres. 2010. “Economic Geographers and the Limelight: Institutions and Policy in the World Development Report 2009.” Economic Geography 86(4):361-370.

Rowthorn, Robert and Andrew J. Glyn. 2006. “Convergence and Stability in U.S. Employment Rates.” The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics: Contributions in Macroeconomics 6(1).

World Bank. (2009) Reshaping economic geography. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.


General References on Sustainable Development

Anderson, Ray C. Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, and Purpose—Doing Business by Respecting the Earth. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2009.

Bartlett, Peggy F. and Chase, Geoffrey W. (eds.). Sustainability on Campus. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004.

Beavan, Colin. No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process. New York: Picador, 2010.

Benyus, Janine M. Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. New York: William Morrow & Co., 1997.

Brown, Lester R. Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble. New York City: W. W. Norton & Co., 2003.

Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962.

Cox, John D. Climate Crash: Abrupt Climate Change and What It Means for Our Future. Washington, D.C.: Joseph Henry Press, 2005.

Daly, Herman. Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996.

Farrell, James J. The Nature of College. Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2010.

Friedman, Thomas L. Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How it Can Renew America. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.

Green Building and LEED Core Concepts. Second Edition. usgbc.org/store.

Gore, Al. Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009.

Hawken, Paul. Blessed Unrest. New York: Penguin, 2008.

Hawken, Paul. The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability. New York: Harper Collins, 2010.

Katz, Greg. Greening Our Built World: Costs, Benefits and Strategies. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2010.

Martin, James and Samels, James E. (eds.). The Sustainable University: Green Goals and New Challenges for Higher Education Leaders. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012.

McDonough, William and Michael Braungart. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. New York: North Point Press, 2002.

Meadows, Donnella. Limits to Growth. New York: Universe Books, 1972.

Orr, David W. Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment and the Human Prospect. Washington, DC: Island Press, 1994

Royte, Elizabeth. Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash. New York: Little, Brown, 2005.

Worldwatch Paper #170: Liquid Assets: The Critical Need to Safeguard Freshwater Ecosystems

July 2005
Sandra Postel
ISBN: 1-878071-76-9
78 pages

By taking advantage of the work that healthy watersheds and freshwater ecosystems perform naturally, cities and rural areas can purify drinking water, alleviate hunger, mitigate flood damages, and meet other societal goals at a fraction of the cost of conventional technological alternatives.

But because commercial markets rarely put a price on these “ecosystem services,” and because governments around the world are failing to protect them, they are being lost at a rapid rate. Global warming is the wild card that could further exacerbate the impacts of human activities on the natural systems that safeguard our water supply—impacts that include falling water tables, shrinking wetlands, vanishing species, and a decrease in both the quality and quantity of available freshwater.

The biggest enemy is tap water,” said a Pepsi VP in 2000. “When we’re done, tap water will be relegated to irrigation and washing dishes,” said Susan D. Wellington of Quaker Oats, the maker of Gatorade. But its more than just words: Coca-Cola has been in the business of discouraging restaurants from serving tap water, and pushing “less water and more beverage choices.”

Read MORE 

Niagara and SUNY Ulster? Petition Created by SUNY Ulster Students. Please consider signing!


“He (SUNY Ulster president Donald Katt) was very focused on the economic benefits….If you’re going to be sustainable, you need to be culturally sustainable. You need to be economically sustainable and you need to be environmentally sustainable.”

Click on the image to view SUNY Ulster Students speak on the community college’s collaboration with Niagara.



“How can you say that we are going to create internships and assure jobs for students when we aren’t being taken into account”

Click on link to view more video.

Stand United To Problem Solve.



By Rebecca Martin

The Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) recent denial of significant incentive funding for the proposed Niagara Bottling facility is now well known. Although we do not know at this time how their decision will impact the outcome of Niagara in the Town of Ulster, we continue on in our effort for a proper, thorough SEQRA process.

Please send this crafted letter (and add text of your own) to request “60 Day Public Comment Period and Additional Hearings to Allow Public Input on Draft Scope

SEQR Positive Declaration Review Timeline. Sign-on to be kept up-to-date


Start-Up NY and Niagara Water Bottling Facility

The REDC effort foreshadows further actions to come. Our united citizen effort to influence the REDC will no doubt seek the same outcome of tax incentives offered by the Start-Up NY program. There is much more to say about why Niagara Bottling is not a good match for Start-Up NY  which we will get to in much greater detail shortly. 

KingstonCitizens.org as well as the SUNY Ulster Environmental Club (a group populated by SUNY Ulster students) will be presenting to the SUNY Ulster Board of Trustees on Tuesday, December 16th.  Their petition requesting SUNY Ulster Community College to “rescind their proposed partnership with Niagara Water Bottling Company” regarding Start-Up NY will be part of their presentation.

Let us lift the students by boosting the numbers of this important petition.  I’d like to see it over 1000 by the time Tuesday rolls around:

We request SUNY Ulster Community College Rescind Their Proposed Partnership with Niagara Water Bottling Company


Stand United to Problem Solve 

What is certain at this point is that the political leadership around the County has listened to the concerns of the larger community. It is proof that citizens carry a great deal of influence as we should.

The Niagara proposal had an initial appeal to some of our elected and appointed officials; it would help the Kingston Water Board finance much needed infrastructure repairs and upgrades, and begin to address a troubled underutilized property in the Town of Ulster that also carries a regional impact. These are not small problems. But the Niagara proposal, with its request to consume over 25% of a finite resource ended up not to be the best solution to them as perhaps reflected by the REDC’s change of heart.

It has been made crystal clear how the public felt about it.

So while we maintain our vigilance, we must also recognize the serious problems that we face that include Kingston’s aging infrastructure. The current water rate structure and it being updated to reflect sustainable (and perhaps more lucrative) measures (currently, the more you use, the less you pay. The less you use the more you pay).  The Kingston Charter being updated.  The health and protection of an important water body and the land that surrounds it. Providing support in ways to utilize the Tech City property for sustainable enterprises.  

It is our aim to stand united to problem solve and to support our elected and appointed officials to do the same.  We have been heard, and for as long as that continues we offer a positive attitude and collaborative approach toward the political leadership that seeks real solutions for the problems affecting the region.



Village of Red Hook Receives $3.8 Million Loan for Water Repairs from Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill.

Coalition Responds to Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council’s Grant Decision.

H2O Keep it Local_web sq

Thursday, December 11th, 2014


Kingston, NY. – A coalition of organizations and communities from Ulster County and New York State submitted a petition on December 5th to the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council. The group requested that the council not award grant funds to the controversial Niagara Bottling Company proposal in this year’s round of grant announcement.

“We are pleased with the Governor’s announcement today and the decision not to fund the Niagara Bottling Company’s proposal at this time. With the project being in the midst of a full environmental review, it is a good decision to wait until all of the related impacts can be evaluated.” says the rapidly growing coalition in the region.

The proposed Niagara Bottling 414,800 square-foot bottling facility will process up to 1.75 million gallons per day (GPD) of water from the City of Kingston’s water supply at Cooper Lake located in Woodstock, using over 25% of its capacity, with plans to truck in much more than that from springs in surrounding communities. The Group’s effort is to build a transparent, participatory process based on the facts about this project, having learned that the proposal is being promoted without adequate analysis of its potential economic and environmental impacts.  A “Positive Declaration” has been determined and a full public scoping process in the State Quality Review (SEQR) process from the Town of Ulster as Lead Agency is now currently underway.

For more information, contact Rebecca Martin at rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org