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…

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.”

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Why Does Passing The Water Referendum on November 3rd Matter?

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By Rebecca Martin

As part of our ongoing effort to educate citizens on the upcoming Water Referendum that will appear on the November 3rd  ballot,  we are happy to present this piece, “In their own words” to share insight from residents who live and work inside and out of the City of Kingston.

Our lives are intimately impacted by the decisions made by our elected and appointed officials on all fronts.  In this case, regarding water, by voting ‘YES’ to include the Common Council on all sales of water outside Kingston’s corporate limits, we have a real opportunity to assure better decisions to be made.

Please take note. The Water Sales Referendum will be on the BACK OF THE BALLOT on November 3rd.

Read more…

Water Powers Amended Legislation Passes Through Council

L/R  Kevin Smith (Woodstock Land Conservancy, Alex Beauchamp (Food and Water Watch), Kate Hudson (Riverkeeper), Heather Schwegler (KingstonCitizens.org), Steve Schabot (Ward 8 Council), Rachel Havens (KingstonCitizens.org/Earth Guardians NY), Aiden Ferris (Earth Guardians NY), Matt Dunn (Ward 1 Council), Deb Brown (Ward 9 Council), Charlie Grenadier (Kingston citizen!),  Rebecca Martin (KingstonCitizens.org), Bill Carey (Ward 5 Council), Jim Noble (Alderman-at-Large), Steve Noble (Environmental Specialist and Mayoral Candidate), Mary McNamara (Esopus Creek Conservancy).

By Rebecca Martin

Last night, the Kingston Common Council unanimously passed through an amended Water Powers resolution.

We will be following up with the Mayor’s office to get a date on the public hearing that is to occur in the next 10 days (the Daily Freeman reported 20) so that you can organize your schedules in advance to attend.   This – after ten months – will be the last meeting of this sort and ask prior to the November ballot.

Thank you for your participation.

READ: Kingston Times Editorial “Moral, Business and the Moral Imperative” by Dan Barton

 

“We are pleased to witness the second reading of the amended local law regarding Water Powers to include the common council in municipal water sales outside of Kingstons corporate boundary this evening. Once passed, the legislation will be on its way to a referendum and a public vote this fall.

Shortly after February 13th of this year, when the Niagara Bottling Company choose not to locate to the area, our community was left with an opportunity to examine our charter and to consider who was to be included in the decision making process for water sales outside of our community.

Since then, KingstonCitizens.org and our great partners – some of which we am pleased to say are here tonight – have had the distinct pleasure to support you, our common council, as you have taken a very important step in identifying a solution to effectively protect the interests of the public whom you represent.  You understand that the more eyes that are watching, the more minds that are aware of how their government functions – the more likely we can expect transparent outcomes. 

Thinking about water and our watershed together as a people and elected/appointed body is new for our community. Some are calling it historic.  That, is now a part of your legacy and its something to be very proud of.

So thank you, to all of our council members and council president for your collective concern, smarts and follow through on this matter. Swiftly, you addressed a glaring item and your action tonight illustrates great leadership to our community.”

– KingstonCitizens.org

 

PUBLIC SPEAKING 

Rebecca Martin, KingstonCitizens.org:   4:38 – 6:55

Alex Beauchamp, Food and Water Watch:  7:00 – 9:10

Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper:  9:21 – 11:05

Kevin Smith, The Woodstock Land Conservancy:  11:07 – 15:59

Jennifer Schwartz Berky:  16:03 – 18:27

Johannes Sayre:  18:34 – 22:34

Rachel Marc0-Havens, Earth Guardians NY:   22:52 – 24:44

Aiden Ferris, Earth Guardians NY:  24:52 – 26:14

 

SECOND READING, COUNCIL SPEECHES. RESOLUTION PASSES!

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Response to SUNY Ulster President Donald Katt: “…we resolve in this New Year to continue asking our leaders to be role models of citizenship.”

“As John Adams said, we are “a government of laws, and not of men.”  This is the ethic we hope to preserve through our work at Kingston Citizens, and we resolve – in this New Year – to continue to ask our leaders to be role models of citizenship.”  – KingstonCitizens.org

On December 29th, 2014  SUNY Ulster President Donald Katt RESPONDED to the hundreds of letters generated by KingstonCitizens.org from concerned citizens regarding the possible acceptance of the Niagara Bottling Company into the Start-Up NY program.

The long awaited ANNOUNCEMENT from Governor Cuomo was issued on that same day with two of the five proposals submitted to Start-Up NY by SUNY Ulster selected. Neither of them were Niagara Bottling Company.  Good work everyone!

However, 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 are committed to seeing this through to the very end with you.

Please READ KingstonCitizens.org’s Policy and Planning Advisor Jennifer Schwartz Berky’s response to President Donald Katt below.

Happy New Year to you all.

– Rebecca Martin

 

kc

Thank you for your LETTER dated December 29, 2014 in response to Kingston Citizens regarding Start-Up New York. We are dedicated to promoting transparency in government through civic engagement and public education. While we are interested in understanding the decisions that led to your support of the Niagara Bottling Company for Start-Up New York at SUNY Ulster, our focus is broader. For the past decade, we have engaged the community and our leaders in meaningful dialogue about governance and community development. We believe that the public has the right and the obligation to understand how decisions are made in the public interest.

In your letter, you suggest that Ulster County citizens and groups are engaged in a ‘robust debate’ regarding the Niagara Bottling Company proposal. However, so much of the information about the proposal has not been made available to the public. While we recognize the importance of confidentiality in certain aspects of business, the basis for decisions in the public interest must be clear. The public cannot engage in an open, fact-based debate where the decision-making criteria and process are not transparent.

As John Adams said, we are “a government of laws, and not of men.”  This is the ethic we hope to preserve through our work at Kingston Citizens, and we resolve – in this New Year – to continue to ask our leaders to be role models of citizenship. It is in this spirit that we invite you to meet with representatives of the SUNY Ulster Environmental Club and Kingston Citizens in the next two weeks to share  information regarding the Niagara Bottling Company proposal and to engage in – as you called it – “an important and welcome part of that discussion.”

In what follows, I respond to the points in your letter (showing your text in bold italics) with the hope that we can continue a fact-based dialogue in our proposed meeting:

Thank you for copying me on the email you sent to the Commissioner of Economic Development and the Chancellor of the State University of New York. New York has a history of robust debate when it comes to environmental and economic development issues and input from concerned citizens and groups is an important and welcome part of that discussion. […] Reviewing the process and the credentials that were considered in the case of Niagara Bottling, I cannot imagine an outcome other than that which we reached given the defined role that the College performs.

We welcome “robust debate.” Your letter states that you cannot imagine another outcome than the one reached by the College. However, debate and discussion are dependent upon a shared review of all available information. We would like to learn more about the scientific, economic and educational aspects of your decision making process. The Start-Up New York regulations require the college to describe, in its application, how the proposed businesses would generate positive community and economic benefits, including:

 diversification of the local economy,

 environmental sustainability, and

 opportunities as a magnet for economic and social growth.

These required criteria are not discussed in the proposal. We are concerned about how or whether the Niagara Bottling plant can meet these and the other criteria of the Start Up New York program.

I want to clarify the role of SUNY Ulster within the context of the Start-Up NY program with which we, along with many other components of SUNY have chosen to become actively engaged. The steps defined by the SUNY Chancellor’s office are clear and concise and include filing a plan for participation, which we did, being one of the first few in the state to receive approval.

As a part of that defined process, we named a committee to meet with and review proposed projects to determine if the prospective company was eligible to complete a proposal to be forwarded to New York’s Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) for consideration. At that point, if recommended, the campus president forwards the project to ESD.

Given the great need for economic development in our area and the importance of environmental sustainability – a responsibility we all bear, but which should be of particular importance to an educational institution that sets an example for its students and community – we ask that you share more information about the decision making process that led to the approval of Niagara Bottling Company’s application to participate in Start Up New York. The environmental ramifications, local, regional and beyond, are important in any enterprise. As such, opening questions for our dialogue with you and the Start-Up New York committee would include:

 What was the analysis that led to your decision to support the Niagara Bottling plant project?

 Was there a cost/benefit analysis as part of your evaluation? What were the results?

 What were the environmental considerations reviewed by the committee?

 As for the jobs and links to the educational mission of SUNY Ulster, what were the criteria used to determine whether these would provide meaningful educational opportunities for the students and link to SUNY Ulster’s mission?

 In addition, did the committee evaluate the proposed wages in connection with the living wage standards in Ulster County?

 What other proposals received by SUNY Ulster (you mention that about 20 businesses applied) and how were they evaluated? Is this evaluation ongoing?

We understand that the Start-Up New York application review process requires the college to provide certification of its notification of and any written responses to the proposal by the municipality or municipalities surrounding the proposed off-campus site, as well as responses by the college faculty senate, union representatives and the campus student government.  We appreciate the college’s esteemed tradition in the environmental management field and your awareness of this issue. Therefore, since the source of water from Kingston’s reservoir is in Woodstock, we question why these two municipalities were not participants in the notification process and why this documentation was omitted from the 39 PAGE AMENDED PLAN DATED AUGUST 29th, 2014 FROM SUNY ULSTER.

It is now up to other agencies with different clearly defined processes to analyze and make determinations about the viability and value of the project. Being an educator and one with a strong belief in informed decision-making based upon factual information, I look forward to the process unfolding. However, I am not a party to, nor a decision maker within those systems.

As the leader of SUNY Ulster, you are the key participant in this process. Although the final decisions are made in Albany, the Start-Up New York Regulations make you “a party to,” and “a decision maker” for our community. In addition, the PROGRAM REGULATIONS and STATUTE do not exclude SUNY Ulster Board of Trustees from the process. Given the size, complexity, and potentially regional impacts of the Niagara Bottling plant proposal, the planning process that you oversaw is nothing less than a critical step in the decision making process. If the SUNY Ulster President’s Office has been entrusted with the responsibility of recommending a project with so many implications for our community, we believe that you have an equal responsibility to help the public understand how and why you assessed the whole of this Niagara project as worthy of funding. Furthermore, as the SUNY Ulster Trustees have a fiduciary responsibility to the college, we believe that their role, even if voluntary according to Start-Up New York’s guidelines, is crucial in the decision making process. They are important leaders in Ulster County with deep ties in our community.

We have had about 20 inquiries, from a variety of companies. Companies seek us out, we do not recruit companies. To this date we have submitted three applications to ESD for final approval into StartUp. All three are manufacturing-related. I support Start-Up NY, because it is a new program that looks to address the need for jobs in upstate NY. I also support it, because it allows unique learning experiences for students with participating partners. It is my hope that residents of Ulster County understand that I pursued the Niagara/StartUp only for the benefit of our students and the improvement of our local economy.

We do not see economic development and environmental protection as an “either/or” scenario. We believe that there are better alternatives to the Niagara Bottling plant proposal. In our presentation to the SUNY Trustees, we outlined reasons for concern on both fronts. In 2007, Ulster County adopted a sustainable economic development plan, “Ulster Tomorrow,” that identified core competencies that would generate innovative clusters to build our economy. The plan was completed and approved with the help of a renowned economic consultant and input from scores of leaders in every sector in our county, including Trustees and members of the SUNY Ulster community. Although we do not have the details of the two companies that have been approved for Start-Up New York at SUNY Ulster, their business models appear to be more in keeping with the concepts of sustainable development. As you noted, there were about 20 inquiries for the program. We are interested in their proposals and the potential they offer for innovation and clusters that may truly lead to job growth in our area.

A water bottling plant is not a sustainable business. So far, 90 colleges in the United States have officially banned bottled water and your students are now proposing that you make a similar commitment to sustainability in college management and curriculum. Also, as we noted in our presentation, this particular industry does not align with the well-accepted principles of clustering and sustainable development adopted in the County and the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council’s (MHREDC) plans. It is an economically isolated activity that will rely on plastics manufacturing, an industry widely acknowledged to generate major pollutants in its extraction, production, and disposal processes. The use of a publically-financed infrastructure and our municipal water supply, a natural resource with finite possibilities, to support further economic development and growth in our area is inconsistent with the goals set forth in “Ulster Tomorrow,” the MHREDC plans, and the Regional “Cleaner, Greener” Sustainability Plan supported by Governor Cuomo. Finally, this proposal is inconsistent with the “Public Trust Doctrine,” which maintains that water and other natural resources belong to the public and it is the government’s obligation to preserve them for public use.

As participants in Ulster County’s diverse, educated workforce, the constituents of Kingston Citizens support SUNY Ulster and its mission: “SUNY Ulster is a vibrant community of learners distinguished by academic excellence, collaboration, innovation, service, and responsible use of resources.” We respect SUNY Ulster’s tradition of excellence in environmental and economic fields of endeavor. Your mission, including “responsible use of resources,” must be aligned with regional goals that have been defined, collaboratively, with other thought leaders who are likewise committed to define, preserve and develop our assets. Our regional assets are intertwined: our valuable natural resources have a shared and equal impact upon our quality of life as humans and on our potential for future economic development. The goals of benefitting SUNY Ulster students and improving our local economy must live in harmony with our region, its valuable natural and human resources, and its economic future.

We therefore ask you to have an open and productive dialogue with us, the college community, and our leaders in economic development and environmental resource management. Given the potentially imminent decisions regarding Start Up New York, we request you meet with us as soon as possible.

Respectfully,

Jennifer Schwartz Berky
Planning & Policy Advisor
KingstonCitizens.org

KingstonCitizens.org Offers Free Screenings of the Documentary TAPPED in December.

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VIEW Kingston “Tapped” Facebook Event

VIEW Woodstock “Tapped” Facebook Event

VIEW Saugerties “Tapped” Facebook Event

 

 

KingstonCitizens.org hosts free movie screenings of “Tapped” in Kingston, Woodstock & Saugerties“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 free screenings of the film “Tapped” throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley region. The first of three showings in this ongoing film series will be held in December in Kingston, Woodstock and Saugerties.

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, 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.”

All events are free and open to all. 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.

KingstonCitizens.org extends a very special thank you to all venue sponsors: BSP (Kingston), The Bearsville Theater (Woodstock) and The Inquiring Mind Bookstore and Cafe (Saugerties).

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 Series Screening Dates and Locations:

WOODSTOCK
Sunday, December 7th
12:00pm – 3:00pm
Bearsville Theater
291 Tinker Street, Woodstock NY  12498

(Private Event) Friday, December 12th
10:00am – 11:30am
Woodstock Day School Assembly
1430 Glasco Turnpike, Saugerties NY 12477

SAUGERTIES
Friday, December 12th
6:30pm – 8:30pm
The Inquiring Mind Bookstore
65 Partition Street, Saugerties NY  12477

KINGSTON
Sunday, December 14th
3:00pm – 6:00pm
BSP
323 Wall Street, Kingston NY  12401

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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.

KingstonCitizens.org Hosts Public Educational Forum “Bottled Water: Bad for People and the Environment” with Food & Water Watch.

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KingstonCitizens.org to host a public educational forum and discussion called “Bottled Water: Bad for the People and the Environment” on Thursday, December 4th at the Kingston Public Library 55 Franklin Street, in Kingston NY from 6:00pm – 8:00pm Guest panelist will be Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Regional Director of Food and Water Watch (Washington, DC).

Kingston, NY –  In September, the citizens of Kingston became aware of a proposed diversion of up to 1.75 million gallons per day of their municipal water supply to the Town of Ulster. The proposal to sell this water would support the profit-making interests of Niagara Water Bottling Company, a California company that projects in return 100 or so jobs that pay below industry standards. They are also expected to seek the maximum tax exemptions, potentially shifting the burden to residents and local business as part of Start-Up NY and other public funding sources.  Since that time, KingstonCitizens.org has led a concerted effort to understand the details of this proposal that has involved the Kingston community as well as residents in surrounding communities who would also be impacted.

KingstonCitizens.org is pleased to present a public educational forum titled “Bottled Water: Bad for the People and the Environment” on, Thursday, December 4th 2014 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm at the Kingston Public Library located at 55 Franklin Street in Kingston, NY.  All are invited to attend.

Guest panelist will be Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Regional Director of Food and Water Watch (Washington, DC).

The evening will be moderated by KingstonCitizens.org’s Policy and Planning Director Jennifer Schwartz Berky.

This event will be filmed by Clark Richters of Kingston News.

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

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

About Jennifer Schwartz Berky, Planning and Policy Director – KingstonCitizens.org:  Jennifer Schwartz Berky, the evening’s moderator, has over 25 twenty years of experience in the fields of architecture, conservation, economic development, and urban planning in the non-profit, government, academic and private sectors. Prior to launching Hone Strategic, she served as Deputy Director of Ulster County Planning for over seven years, where she was the lead researcher and liaison to the Ulster County Charter Commission. Before moving to Ulster County, she worked in Washington, DC at the World Bank and Urban Institute, at the University of Rome (Italy) and as a project manager of design and construction for New York City’s major cultural institutions. Berky has lived for extended periods in Argentina, Chile, France, Israel, Italy, and Spain. She earned a B.A. in Art History from SUNY Stony Brook and Masters’ degrees in Urban Planning (M.Phil.) and Real Estate Development (M.S.) at Columbia University, where she is also currently completing a Ph.D. in Urban Planning on the subject of environmental economics.

Insightful Letter to the DEC from Town of Woodstock Supervisor Jeremy Wilber

By Rebecca Martin

The attached letter was written by Town of Woodstock Supervisor Jeremy Wilber who shares solid arguments as to why the DEC should be Lead Agency in SEQR for the proposed Niagara Water Bottling project.  In contrast for me,  it raises more concerns as to Kingston Corporation Council Andy Zweben’s recent letter also to the DEC. Where are his loyalties placed?

Luckily, Kingston’s Common Council are asking the same questions and will vote on a Memoralizing resolution in support of the COK being an ‘Involved Agency’ in SEQR on Tuesday, November 4th.

Read more…

Jobs: Urban Agriculture and Niagara Bottling Co.

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By Rebecca Martin

Niagara Bottling Co. wants to come to the area (tax free) to bottle and to sell 1.75 million gallons of Kingston City Water (Cooper Lake) per day. The Water may be tax free too. It is unclear whether or not that to be the case at this time.

The City of Kingston’s Water Department has provided a ‘will share’ letter to the project, but has not yet negotiated a rate (probably because they can’t without the Common Council’s permission).

With an estimated 260 trucks per day coming and going out of the site! That’s a lot of trucks.

According to their proposal, ALL FOR 160 JOBS when the facility is working at full capacity.

LOOK HERE. Based on an Urban Agriculture study that was created specifically for Kingston, the City of Kingston has approximately 800 acres of zoned ‘vacant’ land in Kingston. With just 35 acres working for us inside the city, we would create approximately 156 jobs. Kingston is way ahead of the curve on the Urban Ag front in the Hudson Valley, too.

We can do this, Kingston.

 

READ THE REPORT
ON URBAN AG IN KINGSTON

 

Kingston Citizens: Niagara Bottling Company Project. YOUR WATER IS IN PLAY.

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Click on the image to view the film “tapped” that examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil.

 

By Rebecca Martin

We have recently created a Facebook invitation for the next Common Council meeting on Tuesday, October 7th.  Please consider coming to speak during public comment (at the beginning of the meeting) on the proposed Niagara Bottling Co. plan to bottle and sell Kingston City Water.

The timing here is crucial, given that the group has apparently been in private talks with City officials for several months. Media reports say that they are planning to get moving as early as 2015.

 

Read more…

An Ode to Farmer Jesica Clark.

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Photo by Dion Ogust

Over the past seven years, I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some amazing people. But none as dear and few as great as Farmer Jesica Clark.

I met her years ago, when she approached me to help as a consultant to the Kingston City Hall Victory Garden back in 2007, a project that was a 10×10 foot raised bed organic garden on City Hall grounds –  pretty unprecedented  – with the support of then Mayor Jim Sottile and former city clerk Kathy Janeczek who sadly passed in 2009.

Jesica was a young first generation farmer , who was working as the head farmer of Phillies Bridge Farm Project in Gardiner, NY – and I was so pleased to have her support and to pick her brain on how to make this project successful then. Allyson Levy of Stone Ridge also volunteered at that time, who has since become  a master gardener through the Cornell Cooperative Extension program and is co-owner of Hortus Conclusus. With such help, I couldn’t go wrong.

When I took post at the Kingston Land Trust as Executive Director back in 2010, Jesica got in touch with me again – as she was moving to Kingston and was looking for land to farm hoping for 10 acres. All I had then to offer was a small 1/4 acre parcel in the midtown area thanks to Binnewater Ice who had donated the land and a partnership with the wonderful Diane Reeder and the Queens Galley.

The space came with a free water source,  and I convinced her that creating a ‘farm’ on a small parcel could help Kingston to learn the benefits of urban farming.

She ran with it and moved away from her desired farm space and within a few weeks, Jesica had a three year business plan and a fundraising platform on Kickstarter. Very soon after, we negotiated a lease, a sublease – and she raised almost $6,000.00 to make the ‘farm’ concept a reality. The South Pine Street City Farm was born.

…and it was completely Jesica’s invention.  A space that grew over 150 varieties of vegetables with an educational component. In addition, she took on the task of developing ‘The Dig Kids – an Urban Farm Program” with me that in the past two years has successfully worked to transform the Everette Hodge Center garden and new garden plots at the Van Buren Street playground that not only educated each of us, but also dozens of children and their families in farming practices with the invaluable help of Megan Weiss of Kingston Cares who is someone else I hold in the highest esteem.  She started a farm stand (that Hugh Cummings built for free) selling her beautiful produce to the community three days a week at the farm, got involved with the Kingston’s Farmers market’s in uptown and midtown – and also developed a farm to table program providing vegetables to local businesses all over Kingston.

Jesica is one of the most hardworking people I know. But on top of it all, she has a deep understanding of how things work and is a savvy business woman. What’s more is her ‘can-do’ attitude that makes the impossible possible, with a personality that all of us have simply fallen in love with.

But her vision in being completely sustainable through farming a larger parcel is her dream – and she found such a space across the river. Although I am very happy for her, it is also with great sadness for me to see her leave Kingston.  She and her husband Daniel Clark (of Prime Print Shop in Poughkeepsie, who has also been essential and generous to our efforts) are the kind of residents that you  lose with a heavy heart.

Jesica Clark has put Kingston on the map on the Urban Agriculture front – something that is critical for us in this current climate. She has helped to remind us all something that our grandparents knew but has been lost in only two generations. We must grow our own food, help one another and do so with grace, beauty – and simplicity.

Her additional gift to our city is that she attracted another first generation farmer to Kingston – Kaycee Wimbish and her family – who will take over the South Pine Street City Farm, the Dig Kids Program and work towards a new and larger farm at the YMCA.  Because of Jesica, we will continue to pursue urban agriculture to benefit our community and continue to be a model for other Hudson River cities.

Thank you, Jesica.  For all of your hard work and in helping to make us more healthy and thoughtful citizens.

Rebecca Martin

Kingston Celebrates Earth Day with Earth Week

There are a whole week of events scheduled in celebration of Earth Day this year, 2010. Here’s the scoop:

EARTH WEEK 2010: Kingston Celebrates Earth Day’s 40th AnniversaryGreen Streetscape Improvements on Broadway

Date: April 20, 2010

Time:     2:30pm

Location:  Adjacent to 630 Broadway (Intersection of Broadway and Oneil Street)

The City of Kingston will hold a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Broadway to signify the installation of Mr. Big Belly Solar Compactors and dozens of Bicycle Racks along the Midtown Broadway Corridor. These streetscape improvements were made possible through the NYS Main Street Program, administered through the Rural Ulster Preservation Company. This funding has allowed the City of Kingston to improve amenities along Broadway with the purchase of 4 solar powered trash compactors and recycling units. Kingston will be one of the first cities in New York to purchase and implement these unique waste handling systems. Over time, these units will decrease the number of trips necessary to empty refuse along Broadway, while working to beautify the Midtown Area.  Representatives from Direct Environmental Corporation, makers of Mr. Big Belly will be on hand to demonstrate the units and answer questions.
Funds were also use to purchase bike racks, which will be placed along Broadway this Spring to encourage more Kingstonians to bicycle to and from residences and businesses along the Broadway Corridor.

RUPCO worked closely with the City of Kingston and the Green Corridor Project, which includes representatives from Sustainable Hudson Valley, Kingston Parks and Recreation Department, Mid Hudson Energy Smart Communities, RUPCO and numerous environmental professionals and Kingston residents to make this project a success. The Green Corridor Project aims to link environmentally minded businesses and institutions along Kingston’s main thoroughfare to attract and encourage a green economy in Kingston.
For more information, contact Steve Noble, 845-481-7336 or snoble@kingston-ny.gov

Forsyth Nature Center Hosts Kingston’s Storyteller Laureate

Date: April 22, 2010

Time:     4pm

Location:  Forsyth Nature Center, Kingston, NY

The Forsyth Nature Center will celebrate a very special Earth Day this year with Karen Pillsworth, Kingston’s Storyteller Laureate. Karen’s vibrant and energetic telling of stories for the earth will inspire audiences of all ages. All participants will receive an Earth Day gift of a tree sapling donated by the Friends of Forysth Nature Center. This event is free and weather permitting. For more information, you can call 845-481-7339 or visit the Forsyth Nature Center’s website.

Kingston Clean Sweep

Date: April 24, 2010

Time:     9am-12pm

Location:  Kingston Corridor

A spring clean-up of litter lying along the newly instituted “Kingston Corridor” will take place on Saturday, April 24, 9 a.m. to noon. The Kingston Clean Sweep is being sponsored by the Friends of Historic Kingston with support from the City of Kingston and more than 20 other local business and service organizations.

The city will be divided into eight sections, each overseen by one or more of the participating organizations. Volunteers will be provided with City-supplied trash bags that will be collected by the Department of Public Works following the event.  People are asked to bring their own work gloves and a broom, if possible, to sweep dirt piles from the sidewalks.  The event will take place rain or shine.

Volunteers are still needed in several sections along the “Kingston Corridor” which runs from the Thruway Circle down to the Rondout Creek.  Anyone who wishes to volunteer can call the Friends of Historic Kingston at (845) 339-0720 or e-mail fohk@hvc.rr.com .

Why Residents Must Continue to Recycle

With the abrupt change made this week to the recycling schedule (that is now bi-weekly) we grew deeply concerned. Not because we think weekly pick-ups are ‘the way to go’. But because the change was made without any effort to inform or educate the public. As it is, through the hard work of Julie and Steve Noble and Jeanne Edwards, Kingston was sort of on the up and up on improving it’s recycling numbers. That might be history unless something is done and soon.

Sure, not every municipality offers recycling to their residents. That may even be where we are heading. The fact of the matter is, Kingston has offered it as a service and we have come to expect it. If more people now feel inconvenienced and decide to trash their plastics and all, we are not only heading in the wrong direction but we are also encouraging a whopper of an expense in the long run.

Why? At this time, Kingston pays UCRRA (Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency) $71 a ton to then ship our garbage up the river some 250 miles. That’s what makes it so expensive. Weigh that against the national average, which is around $42.08 per ton.

Landfills are close to capacity. Perhaps not this year or next, but in the very near future our garbage may be shipped even further away. Now does that make any sense?

So please, hold onto your recycling until your new scheduled pick-up day. Give your bottles and cans an extra wash out to prepare them to sit for a week longer. That only takes a few seconds of your time. If you simply can’t wait, delivering your recyclables, yard waste and brush to the transfer station is free.

Encourage your Alderman to help solve this problem through good discussion and solid examples by looking outside of Kingston to see what might be useful to us.

– Rebecca Martin

Here are a couple of helpful links.

City of Kingston: New Recycling/Yard Waste Pick-Up Schedule

KingstonCitizens.org: Why Pay As You Throw?

KingstonCitizens.org: Plastics By Numbers

Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston! Mulching and Composting Brochure

Environmental Focus on Kingston: Thor’s Hammer

I know what Thor got for Christmas.

On December 26th at 10:05 P.M. there was a flashing burst of white atomic lightning.  Nearly 20 seconds later it was followed by a deafening clap of nuclear holocaust, world ending thunder.  And that’s exactly what I thought had happened.

After I dislodged the pieces of my heart from my throat and stomach, I looked outside expecting to see the world had been obliterated, my home the only survivor.  When I saw the planet was still spinning gently on its axis, I imagined my beloved, primordial maple tree had grown legs and ripped itself from the earth rather like one of Tolkien’s Ents.  However, it was still intact.  Perhaps the train trestle had collapsed?  But that too was still standing.

Winter lightning and thunder is said to be a rare event.  Lightning is born of out intensive atmospheric energy.  Cold air is less energetic and holds less moisture, making winter thunder unusual.  But it seems to me that I can recall several instances of it over the past decade or so and it seems to be increasing with frequency.  I wonder if it’s related to an el Nino weather event or the much debated global warming?

I paid enough attention in school to know that a thunderstorm occurs on the leading edge of either a cold or warm front as the two air masses collide.  Thunder is the manifestation of the super heated air (15,000-60,000 degrees Fahrenheit) created by lightning.  It causes the air around the lightning to rapidly expand and creates shock waves that rumble through the atmosphere.

I couldn’t even tell you what the weather was like that day or night.  The boisterous clap seems to have erased all memory of it away.  My research didn’t turn up any super cool nuggets of information on the subject either.  Perhaps someone out there has an interpretation of the cause of that pulverizing blow from Thor’s Hammer that they can share with us.

I did come across these brief interesting tidbits which I’ll share with you on the way out of this post.

Old Wives Tales:

  • If during the winter you have a thunderstorm, within 10 days you’ll have snow.
  • If there’s thunder during Christmas week, the winter will be anything but meek.

Cool New Word:

  • Astraphobia: The irrational fear of thunder and lightning.  (As in, Wilbur Girl’s cats suffer from extreme astraphobia.)

– Wilbur Girl