PARTICIPATE! Attend Regular Ulster County Legislature and City of Kingston Council Meetings.

By Rebecca Martin

How can we improve local government? By becoming more civic-minded rather than a single issue participant and attending regular, monthly meetings of both the Ulster County Legislature and City of Kingston Common Council.  That’s a potent and simple place to start.

To help you to get on your way, KingstonCitizens.org has put together a schedule of 2017  for both elected bodies.   “Many hands make light work” as they say. If each of us attended one or two meetings a year and shared what we witnessed – the landscape would look and feel very different.

Here are simple steps you can take to become a more engaged, local citizen.

  1. Sign up for the dates and times that are most convenient for your schedule (see below)
  2. Attend meetings. Make sure you check the calendar prior to attending, as all dates/times are subject to change (see below).  Make sure you add the dates to your personal calendar so you are reminded of your commitments.
  3. Write a one-page (or more) summation of your experience.  What happened that evening? How many citizens were present? Did you speak during public comment? What issues were discussed?  What significant decisions were made?  What did you learn and what outcome would you like to see on the issues that were discussed that evening?
  4. Submit your piece to KingstonCitizens.org:  rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org to be shared in our “Citizen Opinions” section (rules apply).
  5. We can help you to identify your council and legislative representatives and will encourage you to send a copy of your report directly to them as well.

 

Get Started. 

  1. Ulster County Legislature:  Dem/Rep Caucus and Regular Legislative Session
    1. VIEW:  Visit this link and choose dates and times that work for your schedule.
    2. VIEW:   Check the Ulster County Legislature Calendar a week prior to your meeting. Dates/times may be subject to change.  You can also access an agenda at the legislative site.
  2. Kingston Common Council: Caucus and Regular Meeting
    1. VIEW  Visit this link and choose dates and times that work for your schedule.
    2. VIEW: Check the City of Kingston municipal calendar a week prior to your meeting. Dates/times may be subject to change. You can also access an agenda at the City of Kingston website.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  Join us in becoming familiar with local government.

VIDEO: Kingston Common Council Reaffirms Kingston as “Welcoming and Inclusive” in a Memoralizing Resolution.

VIEW
FAQ Sheet and a copy of the memorializing resolution and letter from Kingston’s faith community. 

We are pleased to bring you video from last night’s Common Council meeting, where more than 300 people turned out at Kingston City Hall. 62 speakers signed up to speak in support or in opposition of a memorizing resolution to reaffirm Kingston as a ‘welcoming and inclusive city’.

In the end, those who spoke in favor of the common council passing the memorizing resolution held a margin of about two-to-one.

After hours of testimony, the memorializing resolution was adopted 5/3. Those in favor were Eckert (ward 1), Scott-Childress (ward 3), Dawson (ward 4),  Carey (ward 5), Schabot (ward 8).  Opposed were Davis (ward 6), Mills (ward 7) and Brown (ward 9)

Following, the council discussed and voted upon a fee schedule for metered parking and kiosks.

Video from last evening is brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org with thanks to Kingston News.

 

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VIDEO: 1 of 5
Public Comment.  


VIDEO: 2 of 5
Public Comment.

Read more…

FAQ Sheet: The City of Kingston as a “Welcoming and Inclusive City”.

Here are key facts to clarify much of the misinformation on the matter of Kingston’s proposed memorializing resolution on being “welcoming and inclusive”. We hope it is helpful to citizens of Kingston as they prepare their testimony on Tuesday, January 10, 2017.  Please arrive at Kingston City Hall (420 Broadway, Kingston – council chambers) at 6:45pm to sign-up to speak and to get a seat. The Mayor’s ‘state of the city’ address will begin at 7:00pm, and the Common Council will have their January council meeting following at approximately 7:30pm.  Public comment will take place at that time.

 

VIEW
Initial letter from 21 City of Kingston faith groups requesting Kingston declare itself a ‘sanctuary city’.

VIEW
Memoralizing Resolution
“Kingston as a Welcoming and Inclusive City”.

IS THE CITY OF KINGSTON DECLARING ITSELF A “SANCTUARY CITY”?
No.  In the memorializing resolution, although the “whereas” states that “these practices are generally considered to be ‘sanctuary city’ principles”, the proposed action of the City of Kingston is simply to reaffirm that it has always been and will always be that of “a welcoming and inclusive city”.

VIEW: Mayor Steve Noble’s reasoning why the memorializing resolution is not titled a ‘sanctuary city’.  (Begins at 23:56 – 25:28)

WHAT IS A MEMORALIZING RESOLUTION
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A memoralizing resolution does not set forth policy or law. Instead, it creates text to cause people to remember. It is a tool to both educate and in this case, to remind us of our principles and values.

WHY IS THE CITY OF KINGSTON PROPOSING A MEMORALIZING RESOLUTION THAT “REAFFIRMS KINGSTON AS A WELCOMING AND INCLUSIVE CITY”?
In November of 2016, Kingston’s Mayor Steve Noble received a letter from 21 members of the local faith community requesting that Kingston declare itself a ‘Sanctuary City”.  In response and following process, the mayor issued a communication to Alderman-at-Large James Noble requesting that their concerns be referred to the appropriate council committee for discussion. The matter was assigned to the Kingston Common Council’s Laws and Rules Committee. After  much research and collaboration, extensive questioning of both Mayor Noble and Police Chief Egidio Tinti, debate and public comment, a memoralizing resolution was drafted based on models adopted by municipalities from across the nation, reaffirming Kingston as a “welcoming and inclusive city”.  The memorializing resolution passed positively out of the Kingston Common Council Laws and Rules Committee for a full council vote on January 10th.

VIEW:  Mayor Steve Noble explains the context of the memorializing resolution (begins at 1:10 – 7:54).

IS THE CITY OF KINGSTON VIOLATING ANY LAWS BY PASSING A MEMORALIZING RESOLUTION THAT “REAFFIRMS KINGSTON AS A WELCOMING AND INCLUSIVE CITY”?
No.  The City of Kingston Police Chief Egidio Tinti reviewed the memoralizing resolution and found no conflicts with existing practices and procedures of the Kingston Police Department.   Immigration is federal law, not local law. Kingston, and all US municipalities, is barred from making laws relating to immigration.

IS THE CITY OF KINGSTON AT RISK OF LOSING FEDERAL FUNDING BY PASSING A MEMORALIZING RESOLUTION THAT “REAFFIRMS KINGSTON AS A WELCOMING AND INCLUSIVE CITY”?
No. The current memoralizing resolution does not change any existing laws, rules or practices of the City of Kingston or the Kingston Police Department and is consistent with the principles of the NYS and US Constitution.

READ: “Trump Can’t Force “sancutary cities” to enforce his deportation plans.” in the Washington Post. 

Public Educational Forum “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know” on January 28, 2017

Jon Bowermaster will be in attendance to speak and to show his film “A Pipeline Runs Through It’ to be presented at the beginning of the event.

By Rebecca Martin

KingstonCitizens.org to host a public educational forum and discussion called “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know and How Local Action Makes Global Impacts” on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at Kingston City Hall Council Chambers located at 420 Broadway, in Kingston NY from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.  Guest panelists include Jeremy Cherson of Riverkeeper, Sue Rosenberg of Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipeline/CAPP-NY, Jen Metzger of Citizens For Local Power and a Rosendale Town Councilwoman and Andy Bicking of Scenic Hudson. The short film “Hudson River at Risk 6: A Pipeline Runs Through It” will be presented by Writer, filmmaker and adventurer and six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council Jon Bowermaster.

The event is brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. Co-sponsored by Riverkeeper, Citizens for Local Power, Scenic Hudson, CAPP-NY, the Local Economies Project and the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, Kingston Land Trust, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Woodstock Land Conservancy, Earth Guardians NY, Citizen Action NY and Sustainable Hudson Valley. With support from the City of Kingston, the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council, Town of Rosendale, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Ulster County Legislature and 103rd District Assemblyman Kevin Cahill.

 

VIEW Event on Facebook for up-to-date information on this important local event.

 

Kingston, NY – Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC has proposed to construct two parallel pipelines that would run along the NYS Thruway and through private property—one pipeline carrying Bakken crude oil south from Albany, NY, to a refinery in Linden, NJ, and the other carrying refined products north. The 170+ miles of pipelines, together with nearly 13 miles of lateral pipelines, would impact 31 communities in Albany, Rensselaer, Greene, Ulster, Orange, and Rockland counties, as well as 30+ communities in New Jersey. The carrying capacity of each pipeline would be 200,000 barrels (or 8.4 million gallons) per day, which would more than double the number of trains carrying volatile Bakken crude to the Port of Albany at the peak of Bakken crude production in 2014.  The increase in crude-by-rail volume means that the project will also impact many communities north and west of Albany through which the CSX and Canadian Pacific rail lines run.

Read more…

Council Votes Tonight. Support the City of Kingston 2017 Municipal Budget.

By Rebecca Martin
The 2017 City of Kingston Budget passes unanimously out of Finance Committee on 11/28. Those in favor include Doug Koop, Rennie Scott-Childress, Tony Davis, Steven Schabot and Deborah Brown.
The 2017 City of Kingston Budget passes unanimously out of Finance Committee on 11/28. Those in favor include Doug Koop, Rennie Scott-Childress, Tony Davis, Steven Schabot and Deborah Brown.

This year, we have witnessed many unprecedented, positive changes in the city of Kingston. One of which was a whole new way of engaging the community with a budget forum held at Kingston City Hall in August as well as an online survey where citizens had the opportunity to voice in on the Mayor’s 2017 municipal budget.

Soon after, the finance committee met on a weekly basis for about six weeks to interview department heads who unveiled their department’s needs.  To be thorough, Kingston Mayor Noble also requested a special committee meeting to discuss special events, fees and to respond to any other concerns raised about the budget. I can’t recall a time when I have seen such transparent and collaborative efforts made between all elected and appointed officials in the City of Kingston.

After hours upon hours of research and discussion, the finance passed the city’s 2017 budget out of committee and on to last evening’s council caucus (12/5). Its fate is now in the hands of our entire common council who will vote to pass the budget or not this evening (12/6).

Some say that the 2017 COK budget is the first in decades where a balanced budget has been achieved that also includes a tax cut.  It’s a forward thinking document; one that places the COK on solid footing for the future.

The highlights include a tax levy of $17,650,940, which is a $0 increase from 2016. What’s really exciting is that it slowly addresses the long-standing issue of the homestead / non-homestead, decreasing the homestead tax rate from $10.16 per thousand to $10.10 per thousand and the non-homestead tax rate from $18.31 per thousand to $18.13 per thousand.  Items such as raises were determined through a multi-member committee. It was a long and well-vetted analysis, using comparable salaries from similar communities. The result moves toward fair pay for all (for both male and female employees alike) and gives Kingston a competitive edge when openings become available in attracting the best and the brightest.

The city will continue to provide extensive services at a cost effective rate, too. You’d be hard pressed to find a private hauler for the price that most are paying through the City of Kingston’s Department of Public Works. We know how important that is to Kingstonians.

BRINGING SOME CLARITY AND UNDERSTANDING TO POTENTIAL DEBATE THIS EVENING. 

With ample time for discussion throughout the estimated three-month process, we still expect several items to come to the floor this evening for debate. Below, we’ve tried to pull together a little background to help citizens follow along.

Hiring a part-time clerk for Kingston’s Common Council.

A part time common council clerk position was implemented to assist the council in their administrative needs. This would include creating timely agendas, minutes and even audio recordings of all caucus and council meetings.  It’s the sort of thing that we have been advocating for since we began this work in 2006. It’s an exciting prospect for all citizens. 

1) In the City of Kingston’s charter, the city clerk (who is appointed by the mayor) manages all “records, documents and other papers for the city”.  Their role also includes being the council’s clerk without any detail outside of going to monthly council meetings.  In other words, a single position is to maintain the needs of both the executive and legislative branches of government, the latter to a degree.

2) Some believe that it makes sense for our common council (legislative branch) to have its own PT clerk that can work independently of our city clerk (executive branch).  It may avoid any potential conflicts as to how much time is applied where given that the city clerk position is appointed by Kingston’s Mayor.

What are some of the concerns? 

As we understand it, Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills wants the council to move the $16,000 allotted amount towards an asset management ‘manager’ position.

1) To date, the City of Kingston is awaiting recommendations from Barton and Loguidice, LLC, the consultant hired to provide the city with an asset management gap assessment several years ago. In 2015, recommendations in three phases were made to move Kingston toward adopting a citywide asset management software system. Long term maintenance and sustainability may be part of phase three, which could give the city a better understanding of the role an asset management ‘manager’ could play, including their qualifications and pay.  Some say that without this critical information, making any determinations on what and how to fund this position is premature.

2) There are also other key variables that would come into play, such as a grant that was written to cover a fleet manager position and that would manage all vehicles in the city. Kingston should learn if they have secured this grant soon and if so, the position might reduce the responsibilities of a future asset manager.

Making Kingston’s Corporation Council a full-time position. 

Historically, Kingston’s Corporation Council has been a part-time position, allowing those appointments to work for the City of Kingston while also maintaining a private practice. Although at a glance, none of which is reflected in Kingston’s charter.

1) Kingston’s Corporation Council is another appointment made by the mayor, serving at his/her pleasure. In the charter, it states that: “The Corporation Counsel shall be the primary legal advisor to the Mayor, Common Council and of all commissions, departments and other offices of the city. The Corporation Counsel shall conduct, supervise or monitor, as required, the prosecution and defense of all actions or proceedings brought by or against the city or by or against any of its officers in their official capacity and appeal from all such orders, decisions and judgments as he or she deems advisable.”

That’s a pretty large list of responsibilities for part-time council. As a side note, and if their position is indeed 20 hours, what happens when/if they have not choice but to go over their allotment of time?

2) Some believe that it isn’t realistic or fair to expect corporation council’s full attention to city matters when they are also being pulled by a necessary private practice.  Others suggest that in addition, maintaining both private and public work in tandem could open up the possibility of conflicts of interest (especially in a small city such as Kingston).

We support the 2017 City of Kingston Municipal Budget. 

We appreciate the mayor, common council, all Kingston city departments and citizens for their hard work since the summer to craft such an exemplary budget for Kingston. Their efforts deserve our wholehearted support.  We encourage citizens to sign-up to speak tonight at Kingston City Hall (420 Broadway, Council Chambers at 7:30 pm) in favor of passing the 2017 City of Kingston municipal budget through council. In doing so, we are placing our best foot forward as we go into the new year.

VIDEO: Memorializing Resolution Passes Through Kingston Common Council Opposing Anchorage Proposal.

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By Rebecca Martin

VIEW:  Kingston Common Council’s Memorizing Resolution:  “Resolution 214 of 2016: Resolution of the Common Council of the City of Kingston New York, Approving a Memoralizing Resolution Opposing the Adoption of the U.S. Coast Guard Proposed Rule 2016-0132.”

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Tonight, the Kingston Common Council passed a memorializing resolution “opposing the adoption of the U.S. Coast Guard Proposed Rule” for the Anchorage project with a vote of 7 – 1 (Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills being the solo ‘no’ vote, stating she had more questions. At this time, she seemed to be supportive of the Shipping Corporations request to create 43 berths in 10 locations, opening up 2400 acres to new anchorages in some of the most ecologically sensitive areas of the river.  42 of the 43 berths are proposed to be “long term” which means that barges could anchor there for days. This is not as the vessel operators like to say as being “nothing new”.  This would represent a huge increase in the anchoring of commercial vessels in the Hudson between the GW Bridge and Albany, turning our river into a parking lot for large barges and vessels while they wait for dock space to open up in Albany.)  Ward 4 Alderwoman Nina Dawson was absent this evening.

READ:  “Citing navigational safety, Kingston alderwoman won’t oppose Hudson River Anchorages.”  (Daily Freeman)

The U.S.  Coast Guard is taking comments until Dec. 6 on its WEBSITE. With the passing of resolution 214 of 2016, the Kingston Common Council will now be in a position to submit theirs, and join Kingston Mayor Steve Noble who earlier in the year, on August 22, 2016, submitted comments ending with “The City (of Kingston) has spent decades revitalizing its waterfront. Many organizations have worked to clean up the Hudson, to protect its habitats and make it attractive to recreation and tourism. For safety sake, transient vessel berthing is acceptable. Long-term use is not.”

VIEW 26:46 – 29:00:  Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills defend her position in support of the proposed Anchorage project during the Kingston Common Council Caucus on 10/3/16.  It begins at 26:46 and ends at 29:00.  (Video brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org by Clark Richters of the Kingston News.)

VIEW 40:46 – 44:09:  The passing of the memorializing resolution video is below. It begins at 40:46 and ends at 44:09.  (Video brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org by Clark Richters of the Kingston News.)

Ward 1 Alderwoman Lynn Eckert prior to the vote states that, “We are obligated to protect the public good. There are too many people who rely on a healthy, ecologically sound Hudson River.”

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

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WHAT:

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

WHERE:

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

WHEN:

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. 

WHY:

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

CITIZEN REQUEST

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. 

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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)

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PROPOSED LOCAL LAW #6 OF 2016 ADOPTING THE RULES AND REGULATIONS REGARDING SHOOTING RANGES ESTABLISHED BY THE CITY OF ROCHESTER IN 2011 IN ITS ENTIRETY WITH THE REQUISITE CHANGES TO ADAPT TO KINGSTON’S CIRCUMSTANCES

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)

PROPOSED LOCAL LAW #5 OF 2016 ADOPTING THE RULES AND REGULATIONS REGARDING SHOOTING RANGES

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

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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

Process Rules. Vet the Kingston Firearms Law.

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After months of public speaking opportunities and hard work by both citizens and elected/appointed officials alike,  the Kingston Common Council  majority voted to send back an amended Firearms Law in early May that had been crafted by Ward 9 Alderwoman Deb Brown (the sole Republican) to committee (7-1,) due to it not having been properly vetted.   Ward 6 Alderman Tony Davis abstained from the vote as he is employed by the Kingston City School District, after the Board of Education opposed the location of the shooting range in a resolution delivered last December of 2015.  READ/VIEW

The law was assigned to Kingston’s Laws and Rules Committee, where the opportunity held promise that committee members would focus their energy on reviewing, in a coordinated fashion, the wealth of information for discussion that included model laws (where three had been presented by Kingston’s Corporation Council), a comprehensive study of the collective concerns of Midtown’s stakeholders, the recently adopted Kingston Comprehensive Plan, other appropriate state laws and whatever else was placed in front of them.   If done properly, the process probably wouldn’t take very long and a new draft law that was embraced by the majority might have been sent out to the council for the local law process to begin.

Read more…

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

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WHAT:
Kingston Laws and Rules Committee Meeting 

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

WHEN:
Tuesday, May 17th, 2016
7:00pm

WHY:
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

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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.

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

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

VIEW
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. 

VIEW
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.

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

 

 

 

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Amending the City of Kingston’s Firearms Law.

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Now that it has been determined that the current City of Kingston’s Firearms Law is to be fully vetted and amended,  citizens have an opportunity to submit their research to the laws and rules committee for consideration.

Amending the law is not based on public opinion.  Rather, reform is established by existing local, state and federal laws that are currently in place.  Therefore, if you are interested in submitting your research with applicable links to Kingston’s Laws and Rules Committee, please do so by writing to Lynn Eckert, Ward 1 Alderwoman and Laws and Rules Chairperson:   mailto: lmeckert80@gmail.com

Get your information to the committee chair prior to the next laws and rules committee meeting on Tuesday, May 17th at 7:00pm.

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

We are pleased to bring you video from this week’s common council caucus (5/2) and full council meeting (5/3). As you will see, we have marked much of the content specifically focused on the items that we have been following recently that include amending the firearms law and the Pilgrim Pipeline memorializing resolution. However, there is a good amount of information throughout, and we encourage you to take the time to also view the remainder of the footage.

Citizens did a great job in supporting the council in their decision making process last night, and in sharing their opinions on the location of the proposed shooting range. The outcome was that the council sent the amended firearms law back to the laws and rules committee for further vetting, which was seen as a positive action by all sides. In addition, an important memorializing resolution was passed showing Kingston’s support of Bill A9831a   sponsored by Assemblyman Skartados, “an act to prevent the construction of pipelines to transport hazardous substances or petroleum on property under the jurisdiction of the New York Thruway Authority.”

Although the items listed in the agenda move around some, everything is covered and you can follow along:

VIEW: Agenda

VIEW: Legislation

* Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. Filmed by Clark Richters of Kingston News.

Read more…

WHAT TO EXPECT: Amending Firearms Law and Kingston Common Council Next Week. 

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As you are aware, last week at Kingston’s Laws and Rules Committee meeting, an amended version of Kingston’s Firearms Law (Chapter 223-3 in Kingston City Code) drafted by Ward 9 Alderwoman Deb Brown (that had been looked over by Kingston Corporation Council) was presented to vote to pass it through committee to council. The amended version states that No person, other than in self defense or in the discharge of official duties, willfully discharge any species of firearms within the city limits of the City of Kingston, NY except an indoor facility designed and constructed as a shooting range, pursuant to a site plan approved by the City of Kingston Planning Board and operated in compliance with the laws and regulations of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Division of Safety and Health of the New York Department of Labor

The amended law, however, was rejected by the committee with a 2-3 outcome. In favor was Ward 9 Alderwoman Deb Brown and Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills. Opposed was Ward 1 Alderwoman (and committee chair) Lynn Eckert, Ward 2 Alderman Doug Koop and Ward 5 Alderman (and Majority Leader) Bill Carey.

The law now moves out of committee and on to the Common Council next week (as a rejected item from committee) for a full council vote. Ward 6 Alderman Tony Davis, who works as a teacher for the Kingston City School District, must abstain and is considered a ‘no’ vote to whatever the outcome is next Tuesday due to the Board of Education’s resolution issued in early December of 2015.

A little refresher on how this all works.

The council meets on the first Monday of each month (this month, the date falls on May 2nd at 7:00pm) for their caucus where each of the parties have the opportunity to look over the draft agenda and legislation that will be placed in front of them to discuss. Generally at this meeting, council members debate each item and typically, the direction of the vote during the common council meeting is decided. This meeting is always open to the public. However, it is held in a small conference room which limits its capacity and generally, the public is not given the opportunity to speak.

On the first Tuesday of each month (this month, the date falls on May 3rd at 7:30pm), the Kingston Common Council hold their monthly meeting, where legislation and other items are put to a vote. This meeting is held in council chambers where hundreds of citizens can be easily seated.  Up front, there is always a public comment period where anyone can speak on matters that are on the agenda or otherwise. Generally, the public comment period is 30 minutes in length, and citizens are asked to keep their testimony to 2-3 minutes in length to allow for as many comments as possible.

WHAT TO EXPECT:

Monday, May 2nd, 2016  7:00pm  Conference Room #1    VIEW CALENDAR ITEM
Members of the Kingston Common Council will discuss the Amended Firearms Law that was rejected out of the Laws and Rules Committee and other agenda items.  This is an opportunity for the public to witness their council in action discussing the matter, and all other items on the agenda that evening.    THIS EVENT WILL BE FILMED.

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016   7:30PM  Council Chambers   VIEW CALENDAR ITEM
Members of the Kingston Common Council will cast their vote on the Amended Firearms Law and other agenda items. There is public comment up front starting at 7:30pm. Citizens wishing to speak should arrive at 7:15pm to sign- up at the podium and to secure a seat in council chambers.  THIS EVENT WILL BE FILMED.


THE FOCUS:

We request that the public support the council to send the amended Firearms Law back to the Laws and Rules committee for the text to be further vetted. This is in everyone’s best interest. The spirit of this law is a public safety and health issue, and there is no way around the fact that the law leaves out many critical features that should be in place to protect our community’s best interests.

WHAT CITIZENS CAN DO:

If you are only able to attend one of the two meetings, then we encourage citizens to attend the Kingston Common Council meeting that will take place on Tuesday, May 3rd at 7:30pm where the council will vote on the amended law. If you are comfortable to speak, then we request that you do so encouraging the council to move the amended law back to the Laws and Rules committee for further vetting. Citizens can also encourage or discourage the location of the shooting range/gun store – however, this discussion is more appropriate for the planning board and not the common council this evening. Changing the law is in their purview. Planning and zoning next week is not.

Residents can also submit a letter on the subject to the Kingston City Clerk
Carly Winnie at: cwinnie@kingston-ny.gov and request that she submit your letter to record, and to distribute to the entire common council and council president.

If your testimony includes support or opposition to the location of the range, please send it also to the City of Kingston Planning Department addressed to the Director of Planning Suzanne Cahill at: planning@kingston-ny.gov  requesting that it go on record and be distributed to all members of the Kingston Planning Board.

NOT FEAR. JUST THE FACTS.

KingstonCitizens.org is a non-partisan, citizen-run organization focused on increasing citizen engagement in local government and we’ve been at it for a decade. Regardless of how we have been portrayed, this platform does not take personal positions on issues.  We simply point out the law and process, and in light of which, make recommendations based on both.

We also work hard to provide information to help Kingston citizens be more informed on issues that are of grave concern. Because we are a citizen run organization reliant on volunteers, we cannot take on every issue that comes down the pike, though we wish we could. We do, however, use each issue selected by members of our advisory committee to illustrate the concerns of the public and, to expose any disconnects that might be present on any of the subjects in the way of transparency and process. We believe that when both are intact, than a more fair outcome is possible.

What we have found is that on any issue we are focused on, many of the same concerns we raise are re-occurring elsewhere.  It takes a village as they say, and hopefully, this work helps to encourage more citizen engagement in Kingston on all issues both large and small.   Being civic minded is the public’s responsibility, after all.

In light of which, in a recent article, Ward 5 Alderman (and Majority Leader) Bill Carey is quoted as saying “I think the fear is unfounded” regarding the location of the shooting range and gun shop being proposed for Prince Street in Midtown Kingston.

This point of view should be challenged. It is important to point out the Kingston Board of Education, in their resolution signed on December 9th, 2015 states that:  “…in the interest of safety and welfare of the students, faculty, employees and others present at the Kingston High School, hereby expresses its opposition to the establishing of a shooting range and gun store in close proximity to the Kingston High School campus…”

Here are several reasons why that on the public safety, health and economic development front (and given much of the public testimony), that concerns are indeed fact and not fear based:

Proximity of schools and childcare center.  The proposed shooting range and gun shop will be located at 92 Prince Street in Midtown, Kingston. This is close to the Kingston High School (within 655 feet).  The high school serves almost 3,000 students, and employs more than one hundred teachers and staff members. Further, the high school serves other students both within and outside of Kingston through after school activities such as sporting events, theater productions, and musical performances. The shooting range and gun shop is within 375 feet of the YMCA.   The YMCA serves thousands of children and parents, not only in Kingston but throughout Ulster County.

Public safety: prevalence of guns in a densely populated area. According to the Brady Center, where there is a concentration of guns, there is a concentration of gun violence.

Public health and welfare:  Despite guidelines about lead contamination for shooting ranges, recent research from the CDC shows elevated blood lead levels in ranges’ employees and customers. In Sacremento, an indoor shooting range was closed because of high levels of lead contamination inside and on the roof; lead levels were 70 times higher than the state hazard threshold.  One of the world’s leading safety engineering firms Tetra Tech said that increased attention to lead contamination and human health exposure “has put range owners and operators into areas outside of their expertise.”

Also, although the district is zoned for commercial use, it is in a “Mixed-Use Overlay” district, which allows residential.  The range is also next to a residential block.  The rear wall of the proposed range — and direction of the firing — is 70 feet from the nearest residence and residential block.

Public awareness: The public needs to understand how public business is conducted. Laws are not amended only on the basis of public opinion. They must be vetted for public safety, health and welfare. It is important for the public to participate with full knowledge of what constitutes and is acceptable process under the law.

Economic Development and Kingston Comprehensive Plan: Kingston 2025 appropriately envisions “a new core” in Midtown Kingston where the creative economy can take root and businesses can grow. It aspires to create a mixed-use center in Midtown, “with multi-family residential incorporated with ground floor retail; pedestrian and bicycle friendly streets; active use of sidewalks; traditional architecture and historic identity.”

“These nodes will be connected not only by a network of streets supporting slow-speed/high-capacity vehicular travel, but by a network of on-road and off-road bicycle paths, and by public transit ranging from shuttle bus to trolley.”  Prince Street and the intersecting network of streets are at the heart of this district.

At the last Kingston Laws and Rules Committee meeting, residents and neighbors spoke in support and against the amended law and, the location of the range. We encourage you to VIEW this video for your information.

Finally, we’d also like to clarify, that in the spirt of Democracy,  KingstonCitizens.org respects all points of view. It is important to understand that a shooting range and gun shop inside of Midtown, Kingston – a Kingston specific issue – is far different than that of the Niagara Bottling proposal – one that had regional implications and that would impact communities in different ways that included Kingston, Woodstock, Town of Ulster, Saugerties, Port Ewen and Esopus.

In this case, Kingston’s Common Council needs to hear from Kingston citizens, and especially those who live, work and attend public schools, youth activities and child care in the Midtown area. Although public comment is open, we request that citizens living outside of the area respect those living in Kingston first. Specifically those in Midtown, which is the heart of Kingston. A good amount of investment has been poured into this area, and a lot more is known to be coming. That mustn’t be lost in this debate.

 

FURTHER READING:

Kingston Times: Gun Shooting Law Amendment Likely to be Revised.

PILGRIM PIPELINE UPDATE: Kingston Public Safety Committee Passes Resolution in Support of Bill A9831a

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By Rebecca Martin

Last evening, the Kingston Public Safety Committee passed a resolution to support Bill A9831a sponsored by Assemblyman Skartados, “an act to prevent the construction of pipelines to transport hazardous substances or petroleum on property under the jurisdiction of the New York Thruway Authority.”  

Kate Hudson of Riverkeeper gave a presentation of the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline project as well as an explanation of the bill and the timeliness of its passing.

The committee’s swift action was in part to act in time to send Kingston’s support to the NYS Legislature before their 2016 session ends in June. The resolution will come up for a full council vote next week.

In a memorandum from his office, the justification for the bill states that:

“An oil or refined petroleum pipeline constructed to longitudinally occupy the New York State Thruway would present a significant danger to the state’s natural lands, waters, population, economy, and tourism. A pipeline incident along the Thruway resulting in the leakage of oil or refined petroleum would have a significant and costly impact on adjacent residential communities, endangered habitats, open spaces, forests, farmlands, streams, aquifers, wetlands, scenic vistas, and water sources, including the Delaware and Catskill Aqueducts that supply water to New York City.  An incident would pose a threat to drinking water and thereby impact businesses, local economies, and the health and quality of life of the people in the affected area.  A pipeline incident would harm the endangered and threatened species that live along the Thruway, which include the red shouldered hawk, wood turtle, barred owl, bobcat, and Indiana bat. “

Read more…

WHAT TO EXPECT: City of Kingston Laws and Rules Committee Meeting Tuesday, 4/19/16 at 7:00pm

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THIS EVENT WILL BE FILMED thanks to Kingston News. Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org.

What:
Laws and Rules Committee

Where:
Kingston City Hall   420 Broadway  Kingston, NY
Council Chambers

When:
Tuesday, April 19th 2016
Sign-up to speak at 6:45pm.
Public Comment starts at 7:00pm

Why:
The Kingston Common Council Laws and Rules Committee will start the discussion on amending the City of Kingston’s Firearms Law  (Section 223-3) that prohibits the discharge of guns within the City limits for any purposes other than self-defense or the discharge of official duties.   Those members of committee who are in favor of an amendment are likely to want to include “Indoor Shooting Ranges” as a new condition, in light of a proposal to create
a Shooting Range and Gun Shop on Prince Street in Midtown, Kingston.

Please arrive at 6:45pm to sign-up to speak. Public comment will begin at 7:00pm.

Residents should prepare a statement in advance that includes stating their name, where they are from and be no more than 3 minutes in length. Please show respect to your fellow neighbors and elected officials this evening.

If you are a Kingston resident, consider calling your elected officials beforehand to share your opinions, concerns, etc.

LAWS AND RULES COMMITTEE

Lynn Eckert, Ward 1 Alderwoman and Committee Chair
(845) 392-3205

Deb Brown, Ward 9 Alderwoman
(845) 338-0763

Maryann Mills, Ward 7 Alderwoman
(845) 331-7682

Bill Carey, Ward 5 Alderman and Majority Leader
(845) 339-1361

Doug Koop, Ward 2 Alderman
(845) 706-5053


COUNCIL NOTABLES ON THE SUBJECT

Jim Noble, President common council
(845) 331-4696

Nina Dawson, Ward 4 Alderwoman
(845) 616-8592

If you do not see your ward noted here, please visit this LINK for more information.

Additional Reading from KingstonCitizens.org

On Process and Transparency: The Proposed Shooting Range in Midtown Kingston

Is Proposed Shooting Range in Midtown Kingston Illegal Under City Code?