Recently, a citizen of the City of Kingston who lives near a new proposed Gas Regulating System to be located at 245 Washington Avenue by Central Hudson contacted us with some concerns. Gas and Electric Magnetic Field (EMF) Substations are a part of our landscape in Kingston, given the need for gas and electric in our daily lives.
But process is key, and it was the process that peeked my interest.
According to Suzanne Cahill, the City of Kingston’s Planning Coordinator, the site plan became available 1 1/2 weeks ago. How was any concerned citizen to know that the site plan was available for review, and then the heavier lift, how might they be expected to speak to process?
The short answer is that they really couldn’t.
The role of city planning and zoning is to provide the public with “the legal basis for all land use regulation to police power of the city to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of its residents” (Berman v. Parker, 1954). I’ve been doing this a long time, and over the years, I have lost confidence in the Kingston Planning Department. That’s why I hired a consultant to take a closer look at this.
GUIDANCE FOR TESTIMONY: Proposed Central Hudson Gas Regulating Substation in Kingston, NY. (Details available in the consultant report available at the end of this post).
Here’s what we recommend that you bring to the Planning Board’s attention on Monday.
The Ulster County Planning Board (UCPB) has not been notified of this action.
The public should request that a postponement of the review and decision based on the requirement to refer to the UCPB, (at least 10 days) of the public hearing as required by New York State planning and zoning laws.
The project must be “referred” to the Ulster County Planning Board for review because it is considered to have potential “countywide impact” being in a state right-of-way. This involves a more detailed look and time for the public to understand the proposal.
Relevant considerations that the Kingston Planning Board is required to consider include:
Compatibility of various land uses with one another.
Protection of community character as regards to predominant land uses, population density and relation between residential and non-residential areas
Such other matters as may relate to the public convenience, to governmental efficiency and to the achieving and maintaining of a satisfactory community environment.
Recommendations: Maintaining Safety at Regulator Stations
The Central Hudson audit reveals that significant monitoring does exist. This background reveals that the existence of monitoring by New York State. Citizens should require that:
The need for ongoing monitoring to reduce such risks.
Residents and others concerned with the safety of gas regulating stations should request that Central Hudson Gas & Electric (CHGE) provide detailed maintenance programs and written assurance of frequent monitoring as outlined in this example (above), including “monthly calibration” in conformance with current CHGE Gas Operating and Maintenance Procedures (in this example, Number 220, Calibration, Servicing, and Inspection of Gas Test, Detection and Monitoring Equipment). In the case of Service Regulator, Vent, and Valve, this example suggest a “combined inspection shall be performed on the following occasions: A) Each time a new service regulator and/or meter is installed and activated; B) Any time a meter is changed; C) Any time a service that has been inactive for a period of two or more years is reactivated; and D) At least once every 20 years on the regulator in a multiple meter set. There are numerous examples of the proper maintenance and inspection in the documents linked in Appendix B. These are just a few examples to cite.
Gas utility operators should inform and advise affected communities, schools, businesses / commercial facilities, and residents about the potential hazards presented by gas infrastructure. Gas distribution system operators should establish an emergency preparedness and response plan and communicate this plan to the public as necessary.
What are Gas Regulation Stations?
Natural gas moves through a community’s distribution system in pipelines of varying diameters and at varying pressures. Gas regulating stations protect the pipeline system and ensure it operates safely by reducing the pressure as the gas flows further into the system, similar to the way an electric transformer steps down voltage to a level suitable for residential use.
Generally speaking, the closer natural gas gets to a customer, the smaller the pipe diameter is, and the lower the pressure. Every regulator station contains safety devices to ensure that the pipe downstream (closer to homes and end users) cannot be over pressured. These safety devices can include additional regulators, relief valves and remote monitoring equipment, all of which require ongoing maintenance by Central Hudson.
Gas regulating stations supply pressure gas downstream to mains that ultimately deliver gas to each user. As the gas moves through the service line, it passes through a regulator at the meter to reduce pressure so that when a gas furnace or stove is turned on, the gas safely ignites in its familiar clean, blue flame.
Regulator stations are a necessary part of the pipeline system that brings gas safely to the end users for household equipment such as stoves, appliances and heating units. Utilities are required by federal regulation to inspect and test these stations throughout the year to verify they are:
In good mechanical condition; Adequate in capacity and reliability of operation; Set to function at the correct pressure; and
Properly installed and protected from vehicular traffic, dirt, liquids, icing and other conditions that might prevent proper operation.
VIEW: GUIDANCE FOR TESTIMONY: Proposed Central Hudson Gas Regulating Substation in Kingston, NY. Written by Hone Strategic, LLC
Last year, the Ulster County Legislature passed Resolution No. 251 “Amending The Rules Of Order To Set Procedure For Memorializing Resolutions” In it, it sets some protocols for memorializing resolutions stating that “any resolution which memorializes the New York State Legislature, Congress of the United States, or any other body to take an action which will not require a home rule message, shall be submitted and considered in Committee in accordance with the procedures set forth in these Rules of Order. When presented for consideration at a monthly or special meeting of the Legislature, Memorializing Resolutions shall not be debatable. Memorializing Resolutions shall, however, be amendable, may be referred to a Standing Committee of the Legislature, or may be withdrawn prior to a vote by the Legislative body.”
Only eight months later, District 18 Republican Legislator Richard A. Parete along with Legislators Dean Fabiano(District 3: Town of Saugerties, Town of Ulster) and Kenneth J. Ronk (District 13: Town of Shawangunk) have taken it a step further with a new resolution that would prohibit Memorializing Resolutions altogether.
“Amending The Rules Of Order To Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions”
Many citizens were present at the regular legislative meeting in February to speak during public comment and to encourage the legislature to reject a ban on memorializing resolutions. Only upon arrival did we learn that earlier in the day, the Ulster County Legislature’s Laws and Rules committee tabled the resolution instead of passing it through to the floor as anticipated.
As reported in the Daily Freeman, Legislator Richard A. Parete stated that “The main reason [I pulled it] is because the full Legislature wasn’t there, and I don’t know if it had the votes to pass.” Parete said he would wait until March when he expects more legislators to be in to introduce the measure.” VIEW The Daily Freeman Article.
How does this appear to the public? Not only is a ban on memorializing resolutions undemocratic, but tabling proposed legislation due to not having the votes for it to pass lacks transparency.
Thanks for your support and in following this issue through to the end with us. It is not only important for citizens to speak to the issue but to also be a witness.
WHAT’S THE PROCESS?
In February of 2017, District 18 (Town of Hurley, Town of Marbletown) Legislator Richard Parate withdrew Resolution No. 32 “Amending the Rules of Order to Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions” for the Ulster County Legislature.
1. LAWS AND RULES. On Monday, March 13th at 6:30 pm it is anticipated that the UC Legislature Laws and Rules Committee (K.L. Binder Library on the 6th Floor of the Ulster County Office Building, 244 Fair Street, Kingston) will discuss whether or not to pass the resolution out to the floor the following evening. VIEW Facebook Event.
2. FIRST READING. If approved, the Resolution will have its first reading (though not out loud) on Tuesday, March 14th (Legislative Chambers on the 6th Floor of the Ulster County Office Building, 244 Fair Street, Kingston) at the regular legislative session that begins at 7:05pm. No action can be taken. VIEW Facebook Event
3. SECOND READING AND VOTE. On Tuesday, April 18th at 7:00pm during its regular Legislative session (Legislative Chambers on the 6th Floor of the Ulster County Office Building 244 Fair Street, Kingston), it is anticipated that the legislation will have its second reading and folloing, the full body will vote. VIEW Facebook Event
1. CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR. We encourage citizens to contact their Legislator and request that they reject the ban on memorializing resolutions throughout the months of March and April. VIEW: Ulster County Legislature Website to Find Your Legislator.
2. DEMOCRAT LEGISLATOR JOHN R. PARETE SAYS HE SUPPORTS A BAN. Given this is a Republican supported ban, it is important for citizens to know that District 22 Democratic Legislator John R. Parete has announced that he supports the ban, and could be the swing vote on the matter.
If you live in the Towns of Denning, Hardenburgh, Olive or Shandaken, please consider calling or emailing your representative directly to discuss his point of view, and to share yours. (845) 657-8500 or send an email to email@example.com
3. SIGN OUR PETITION. Sign our PETITION where your name and any comments that you make go directly to Legislators Richard Parete, Kenneth Ronk, Dean Fabiano and John Parete.
4. PLAN TO ATTEND UPCOMING MEETINGS. Please consider: a) Attend and speak during public comment at the regular Legislative sessions on Tuesday, March 14th (7:05pm) when it is anticipated the legislation will have its first read. No action will be taken and; b) Tuesday, April 18th (7:00pm) when it is anticipated that the Resolution will have its second reading and a vote by the legislature.
5. SHARE WITH FRIENDS! Please share this post with friends to help us to get the word out. Thank you for your support.
REVIEW: Tell Ulster County Legislature That a Proposed Ban on Memorializing Resolutions is Undemocratic.
In 2015, the city of Kingston initiated the Hudson Riverport, a project that had “engaged the services of the firm Perkins+Will to produce an Implementation Plan, a Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (FGEIS) and a Market Conditions Update for 192 acres of Kingston’s Rondout Waterfront under the Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) Program of the NYS Department of State….The Common Council determined by resolution on October 6, 2015 that the Implementation Plan/Draft GEIS was complete and ready for public review and set a public hearing date. The comment period spanned October 8th through November 23rd with a public hearing on November 12th in Kingston City Hall Common Council Chambers.”
On October 11, 2015 in the Daily Freeman, an article “Kingston Seeks Public Input on Brownfield Plan” was printed/posted announcing the city initiative as well as the City of Kingston’s Hudson Riverport Facebook page that apparently had been created in 2014.
Just about a year later on October 10, 2016, we happened to notice language in a post on the City of Kingston Hudson Riverport Facebook page that appeared odd. To a recent article in the Daily Freeman, “Kingston Council Advances Downtown Flood Control Effort” it said in part that, “…The current administration should be thankful that the proposal was already written. All they had to do was get the design work started and resubmit the request for construction funds…”
That didn’t sound to us like the current office of Economic Development speaking. It is a fact that the “Hudson Riverport at Kingston” is a Facebook page created, owned and operated by the city of Kingston. So why would it suggest that “the current administration should be thankful that the proposal was already written…” for a project that it continues to organize and maintain?
Curious, we looked at the ABOUT section of Hudson Riverport of Kingston NY page, and there wasn’t a description or any details connecting the page to the City of Kingston initiative for which the social media site was created for when it was set-up. (VIEW: Hudson Riverport ABOUT section).
Unfortunately, we have reason to believe that the page continues to be administered by a past City of Kingston employee without having permission to do so, or without any guidance from the current Economic Development or Grants Management office. After looking around a bit more, there is at least one other just like it. An inventory of these sites needs to be collected.
The good news is that the City of Kingston is currently looking into the matter and will take the necessary steps to rectify the situation. Apparently, in the past a city employee could create a Facebook page on their own, without there being a secondary employee to be included as an administrator. That has now been implemented. However, for sites created prior to 2016, if a person who worked for the city being the sole adminstrator decides to act maliciously, they might take the entire site down where information meant for the public record that was posted over the years would be lost. Lets hope that that doesn’t happen in this case.
Perhaps the good news here, in an instance like this and if it ends up being what we suspect, will expose areas from past city management that must be improved.
There is no doubt that successful projects is the work of many. It indeed takes a village (or a city in this case). But for City of Kingston property to be used without authority or direction is inappropriate and completely misleading to the public. Aren’t city of Kingston staff and our elected and appointed officials from both the past and present days to be working on behalf of the public good? City property is the public’s property. When you are no longer employed, elected or appointed, hand over important information in good working order so that the city can continue to run smoothly during each of its transitions. It is each of their duties to do so.
READ: Daily Freeman Article, requesting comments on Riverport be sent to city-owned email address.
READ: Pages 9-10 of Ec. Dev. Brochure, documenting the project.
READ: Daily Freeman article about the public hearing process for the plan.
It is always great when we have the opportunity to sit down with Riverkeeper’s Kate Hudson who is the Director of Cross Watershed Initiatives there. Her clarity on all of the issues she is charged with, and in this case the proposed anchorage project on the Hudson River, is a big help to citizens all throughout the Hudson Valley Region.
One of our big take-aways was to come to understand where we are today on the crude oil transport front. Having more anchorages means that empty barges traveling up from NYC can cut their travel time in half to park until a berth opens up in the port of Albany where shipments of crude oil arrive. There is much activity in North Dakota, and crude oil is transported on ‘bomb trains’ to Albany. Shipping companies are waiting (perhaps ‘frothing’ is a better term) to transport it back down the Hudson River to NYC so it can be sent out and processed in NJ and PA. This will become more of a problem for us in the Hudson Valley.
Last year, “With the stroke of a pen, President Barack Obama ended 40 years of U.S. crude oil export limits by signing off on a repeal passed by Congress earlier in the day….The restrictions lift immediately under a provision in the spending and tax package that the president signed into law. Congressional leaders earlier in the week reached an agreement to end the trade restrictions, established during U.S. oil shortages in the 1970s, as part of a grand bargain that includes tax breaks for renewable-energy companies and refiners….Repeal of the crude-export restrictions reverses four decades of a policy that has defined the nation’s relations with the rest of the world. Without the trade limits, the U.S. — now the world’s largest oil and gas producer — is free to export its crude, as it already does with refined products including gasoline. The U.S. Senate passed the bill with a vote of 65-33 after the House approved the measure 316-113 hours earlier.”
At last evening’s Laws and Rules Committee meeting, council members (there are five that include ward 1 alderwoman Lynn Eckert who is committee chair, ward 5 alderman and majority leader Bill Carey, ward 9 alderwoman and minority leader Deb Brown, ward 3 alderman Rennie Scott-Childress and ward 7 alderwoman Maryann Mills) had a full slate of issues to discuss. One of which that we have been closely following is amending the current City of Kingston Firearms law.
The effort, having come about due to a proposal to place a shooting range and gun shop on Prince Street in Midtown, Kingston, has been a contentious one and the public has worked over many months to share their points of view and research to be placed on record during public comment opportunities. The result of which made the case for the current Firearms Law to be sent back to committee where it belongs, above and beyond anything else, so that council members are certain to get amendments right by a thorough vetting process.
At the onset, it was noted that a packet of ‘model laws’ had been sent to committee members in advance by Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein. Ward 3 alderman Rennie Scott-Childress said that after reviewing them all, he found the City of Rochester’s Firearms Law to be the best written law to consider, and suggests that it be used as the model for their efforts.
Maryann Mills states that the models are just a “stall tactic”.
When a motion is made for Rochester’s law to be used as a model, it is rejected by the committee majority (Deb Brown, Maryann Mills and Bill Carey) now moving out of committee to the council with a negative recommendation.
Later, Deb Brown’s amended text that she crafted, and that would allow indoor shooting ranges in Kingston, was brought back up and this time, included new language suggested by Maryann Mills to include more detail of the State of New York’s Penal Law (perhaps in response to the Veteran’s concerns).
What we learned, last night based on Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein’s interpretation of the penal law was that the Veteran’s memorial services and any of the current reenactments were never in jeopardy. The law apparently had always allowed it. Please viewfor more detail: Video 2, starts at: 29:55
Before having the chance to look through any of the materials that had been submitted for discussion, a motion to move the amended law written by Deb Brown and Maryann Mills out of the Laws and Rules committee took place (supported by Bill Carey, who had also supported a thorough process shortly before). Deb Brown, Maryann Mills and Bill Carey not only rejected the potential model, they also passed through a completely un-vetted Firearms Law, again. It now moves out of committee, and onto the council with a positive recommendation.
We appreciate citizen participation, and know how hard the public has worked on this. It is with regret that we must relay that we are all made to ask for a third time that the Firearms Law be sent back to committee where it never should have left in the first place until the law has been given the opportunity to be properly vetted.
WHAT TO ASK
That the Kingston Common Council at caucus (Monday, June 6) and their monthly meeting (Tuesday, June 7) request that the Kingston Firearms Law be sent back to the Laws and Rules Committee for a thorough vetting process.
WHO TO CALL (Please feel free to call all council members if you’d like. Here are key members for next month’s discussion)
A recent submission from Kingston City resident Neil B. Millens
AMENDING KINGSTON’S FIREARMS LAW: Begins at 10:53
10:53 Deb Brown and Maryann Mills discuss their amended text. 12:56 A packet of models are introduced. 13:22 Ward 3 Alderman Rennie Scott-Childress feels the City of Rochester is the best model from the package presented by Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein. Deb Brown and Maryann Mills states that they haven’t seen it, and accuse models as being ‘stall tactics’. 15:32 Maryann Mills “I like what Deb wrote and how I amended it. What is it about Rochester’s law that you like better?” 15:42 Rennie Scott-Childress “It’s clearly researched. It better matches our comprehensive plan…” etc. 17:52 Maryann Mills notes Dr. Soyer’s lawyer, who wrote a letter to the council, that she says mirrors what is in the Rochester Law. She believes that it’s all addressed in his information. Rennie clarifies and says ‘but none of it is in the city of Kingston’s law”. 23:05 Mention of a communication from the Board of Education on the safety zone for guns. The school board says it went out to the entire council, and states that the ATF did not do proper measurements. 24:36 Dr. Soyer explains that he (ATF) provides a flyer to municipalities, but (the ATF) doesn’t take measurements, and there is no mechanism to do that.” The federal law does not prohibit private property from engaging in business and that the 1000 foot requirement doesn’t apply. He’s never seen anything about a ‘safe zone’ before. He hasn’t seen a sign, doesn’t know what the distance is, etc. 27:07 Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein states ‘strongly’ that this is a discussion about the law, and not Dr. Soyer’s Safe Shoot. It’s problematic to be talking about amending a statute to accommodate or defeat a specific proposal that is in front of the planning board. 28:18 Bill Carey states that the safe zone has nothing to do with the business. 29:55 Dan Gartenstein states that ‘Veterans shooting blanks out of rifles are not firing rifles. If there are no bullets, you’re not discharging a gun.” 30:52 Board of Education (BOE) president Nora Scherer points out that they mapped out the distance between the Prince Street location and Kingston High School on Google maps, which is what the ATF would have done as well. The Gun Free School Zone Act was not enacted when the law was originally written. In terms of legislation, how the act may be interpreted. 31:55 James Shaugnessy from the BOE adds that he has concerns of what Dr. Soyer saying being true. You’re talking about around the shooting range, that he doesn’t feel this should be allowed within the school zone, and states a statistic. The common council has a shared responsibility with the BOE that the children are safe before, during and after school hours. 33:52 Maryann suggests to move forward, to include Penal Law in its entirety. 35:40 Motion to add the Penal Law into the amended text. 50:29 Maryann asks about the Business Park, and notes JFK school (but what she is not understanding is that the location is more than 1000 feet away from the school). She states to push a business out of Kingston is absurd. We need whatever revenue we can get. “This is safe. I have researched it myself.” 52:35 Rennie sees it oppositely. That amending the law encourages opportunity. If we are going to choose to have a shooting range, we should be careful. We want the right business, and that’s what the comprehensive plan is all about.
00:00 Rennie speaks about the importance of diversity in business in response to questions prior to in the last video. 2:30 Bill Carey says he’s a no vote on the Rochester law, but it doesn’t mean he’s against it.
3:58 Ward 8 alderman Steve Schabot endorses a model to help to make the law clear. 5:05 Restates a motion to adopt the City of Rochester Firearms Law. Lynn Eckert and Rennie Scott-Childress are yes votes. Bill Carey, Maryann Mills, Deb Brown oppose. The resolution moves out of committee and onto the council with a negative recommendation. 5:44 A motion is made to pass through committee Deb Brown’s amended text with Maryann Mill’s changes. Lynn states “..is that right, that the law you wrote that was already sent back is what we are voting on now” 8:06 Maryann clarifies that the amendment that Deb Brown wrote now includes the penal law. Dan Gartenstein states what Maryann is speaking of is Section 7B and gives an explanation about discharging vs. possession. 13:30 Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein clarifies the law in the way that it may impact the Veterans, and he states clearly that it does not. 24:22 Dan Gartenstein reads text of the new amended law. A vote is called. Lynn Ekert and Rennie Scott-Childress are opposed. Deb Brown, Maryann Mills and Bill Carey are in favor. Deb Brown’s text with Maryann Mill’s changes is passed out of committee and on to the council in June with a positive recommendation.
Facebook users expressed sadness – and confusion, too, over the announcement. How could this happen when there’s several hotels being built nearby? New hotels means business is good, right? Then there were a small handful of others who said the community who scared off Niagara bottling and its host of proposed jobs deserved this and/or was cursed. We could have used those jobs – especially in light of the Macy’s closure, right? Well, no.
While the Niagara plant proposal (and its subsequent demise), retail store closures and new hotel construction seem to be disconnected events, I would assert that they are all driven by a single, powerful – and possibly unstoppable – force: you.
As reported in great detail in the pages here, the proposed Niagara Bottling plant at Tech City was an exhaustive, emotional affair that resulted in a positive transformation of the community – especially in regard to increasing transparency.
The proposed project triggered the gathering of a strong, and unified majority that stood up against the proposal. Partnerships were formed between community groups. Meetings were held, and events staged – all lubricated by social media.
Citizens gathered and found common ground, which ultimately morphed into a single voice that clearly said this was not a suitable project. Clean, safe and readily available drinking water belongs to the people first.
It was awe-inspiring because citizens themselves made this happen. You made this happen.
Unfortunately, Niagara picked up and moved its project just two hours away, to Bloomfield, Conn. And now that community is trying to sort through many of the same issues that Kingston struggled against.
One of the key issues of the Kingston project was that of transparency and properly informing the public. How could Niagara strike a deal with city officials so stealthily? Why wasn’t the proposed project presented to the public earlier? What happened? Where’s the watchdog?
On Monday, December 14 at 6:00pm (VIEW KingstonCitizens.org’s Facebook event invitation) , the Kingston Planning Board will host a public hearing on the Proposed Shooting Range project. The sponsor of the project Dr. Adam Soyer, an orthopedic surgeon from Kingston, is looking to build a membership based indoor gun range and gun shop at 90 and 92-94 Prince Street by next fall. The range would be meant for mostly short-range handgun target shooting, with a plan that would host five lanes for shooting as well as a room for education and a gun shop. It has been reported that gun rentals may also be available.
The concerns of citizens who are opposed to the project include not only questioning whether or not the location – in the heart of midtown – is best suited for a shooting range where many renters, businesses and schools are located, but also environmental factors such as proper lead disposal (known as “projectiles” or ammunition), safety/quality of life issues such as potential stray bullets, gun sales and rentals and the upcoming adoption of Kingston’s Comprehensive Plan and an imminent citywide zoning overhaul that will follow to clarify the highest use of property in our Midtown area based on years of public input.
Lately, and historically in fact, Kingston Government has had a conflict with department behavior and the public’s expectation. Without clear policy in place, we rely on common sense behavior – and that can be quite subjective when things go astray.
About 6 years ago in the City of Kingston, a city employee filed a sexual harassment suit against the supervisor and a few other employees at the DPW. Their behavior that was widely publicized was despicable. To add insult to injury, the public learned that the COK didn’t have a Sexual Harassment policy in place, creating more concern. The cost of which felt by city taxpayers. Could the whole thing have been avoided?
Today, we are reading about city workers using their social media accounts in inappropriate ways in the headlines where policy is in place but clearly not adhered to. Conflicts of Interests are more common than not even though Ethics and all that it embodies are written into code.
With only a little bit of research, when we enter in ‘small city municipal policies’ what comes up is the different forms of government that include City Manager. No surprise. 1/3rd of small cities like ours have changed to incorporate it.
But given Kingston’s affinity to ‘strong mayor’ form of government (which is really new. Only 20+ years old) and which can and that we feel should be challenged and potentially changed (to city manager form of government), what we are searching for is what a municipality of our size and given our form of government generally does in the way of policy.
On first glance, Section 3: Village Operations: “Chapter 13: The importance of written policies and procedures” they state that “If your municipality is small or if it operates under a relatively close-knit management (which ours does), policies may be ‘understood’…..relying on ‘understood’ policies, however, may lead to misunderstandings.”
To us, city policies matter. Could the city of Kingston create a policy manual? According to our initial reading here, and elsewhere a policy manual would be most helpful, as a ‘well written, up-to-date policy manual guides managers and supervisors in making decisions, training and handling employment issues that relate to safety and health. A policy manual also offers other less obvious benefits such as: 1) A basic communication tool; 2) An excellent training resource. 3) A written documentation. 4) Saves time and manages complex operations. 5) Gives employees a right to know’
City Government’s role is infrastructure which is broad. It includes water and sewer pipes, roadways, signage, communication, contracts and all else that makes those living and doing business in Kingston easy. And that’s really it. I see Kingston government treading on the historic, the arts and other places one might say they haven’t any business and takes away from what it is meant to do.
There is no lack of important details that need attention in Kingston’s City Government. It may be a big effort initially, but it will make things run smoothly and more efficiently in the long run.
“Infrastructure must be maintained. People come to rely on that service. The general population doesn’t stop to think “If I didn’t have water, how would my life be affected? How valuable is that infrastructure to my quality of life that I have? How much am I paying for it vs. how important is it to my life?”
– Fred Testa, EFC
“Many municipalities say “I haven’t raised water rates. Re-elect me!” Not good. You need to continually keep pace with the cost of running your system. One of the ways you do that is by increasing your rates to recognize that things cost more as you move forward. You also recognize that things may not break next year, but may in five years – and you keep projecting future costs.”
– Candace Balmer, RCAP
Last evening, KingstonCitizens.org hosted a “Water & Waste Water Infrastructure 101” educational panel with guests Water Resource Specialist Candace Balmer of RCAP Solutions and Environmental Project Manager Fred Testa from NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation.
Close to 50 people were in attendance that included elected and appointed officials, representatives from many of our environmental organizations and citizens alike.
Thanks to our sponsors for this event that include the Woodstock Land Conservancy, Riverkeeper and Catskill Mountainkeeper and to Kingston News for providing a live stream of the event and the following video.
0:00 – 1:56: QUESTION, Dan Shapley ”If there is a water quality problem the community is aware of, but isn’t documented on the list it’s not helping getting funding for that project?”
“If the project is going to improve water quality (class b vs. class c) does that effect the score of the project?”
3:00 – 4:04: MODERATOR
MHI (Median Household Income) is $44,000 in Kingston, making us likely to be eligible for funding.
“How is the water supply changing based on growth and change in the landscape? The way we manage, monitor, maintain?”
4:06 – 5:58: Fred Testa, EFC
“State Department of Health has the role of regulating the quality of water.”
6:00 – 6:24:MODERATOR
“Would you say that there is an increasing burden on small communities in the way of managing infrastructure?”
6:26: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Demographic changes and the financial impact from shrinking communities.”
7:02 – 7:16: MODERATOR
“H0w is the role of the government changed to met that gap? Is it doing so?
7:17: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Water is free, but the pipes that are bringing it to you are not. It costs more than what they want to deal with.”
8:28 – 12:20: MODERATOR
“In the Kingston system, rates might have to go up to provide for infrastructure needs. In the present, we are struggling to meet that demand. Can we talk for a moment about different rate structures, and what you’re seeing as best practice? Kingston has a descending rate structure today.”
9:25: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“We advocate a level rate structure and per gallon charge so that there isn’t any base usage. It’s called FULL COST PRICING.”
“How does that play out in the community?”
10:18: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“You have fixed costs. If people decide to use less to save money, the department still has to meet those costs.”
11:24: Fred Testa, EFC
“Some small communities have a simple, flat rate. In the old days, things were more simple and it’s not as simple today. In waste water, sometimes the expense on the property owner is based in part on property values.”
12:21 – 13:38: MODERATOR
“You brought asset management which the City of Kingston is undergoing for its waste water infrastructure. Can you tell us more about it and how you might be involved? By the way, it’s the most expensive piece of infrastructure for the COK to run. It was found in our climate action plan that the municipality is responsible for that, and the cost of repairs would be 3 x more than we thought given it’s in the flood plain. Instead of it being $2 million dollars it’s more like $6 million in longterm costs.”
13:40 – 18:56: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“People don’t always understand where their dollars are going, (chemicals, transmission, admin, debt repayment, etc.). It’s about getting the most value for your equipment. It costs more to fix something once it’s broken than when it was planned for so to be replaced in a timely manner. Assets are pipes, buildings, tanks, equipment, security, tools, office/lab. These are things that you have invested in and you recognize that they have a life span and when they break, you want to make sure that you have access to the things that you need to replace them efficiently and think of about financing for these replacements beforehand. The first thing you do is an inventory. You want to identify what your assets are and prioritize your critical assets. Those that you’ll be really in trouble if you don’t have a back-up or money in the kitty for replacement. Many communities don’t have maps. It’s very important to know what and where these assets are. What’s the expected use for life of an asset and how much does it cost? You’ve got to be saving money and setting it aside in dedicated accounts.”
18:29 – 18:56: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Many municipalities say “I haven’t raised water rates. Re-elect me!” Not good. You need to continually keep pace with the cost of running your system. One of the ways you do that is by increasing your rates to recognize that things cost more as you move forward. You also recognize that things may not break next year, but may in five years – and you keep projecting future costs.”
19:11 – 19:52: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Long term vs. short plan terming – you want to have the name of what you are replacing in that account so that extra money in water budgets are not transferred. You need dedicated reserve accounts.”
19:57 – 22:58: MODERATOR
“The EFC brought a list of what Kingston has borrowed from the revolving funds since 1994/1998. How does EFC Work with a city like Kingston on Asset Management?
20:56 – 22:58:Fred Testa, ECF
“We would mostly be urging them to do that. Asset Management plans are a growing phenomenon. It wasn’t done in the past. There is a growing interest to do this and the DEC is starting to work on a plan making it required. What will the rates be? How will they need to be raised in order to avoid crisis? Asset Management will take communities a long way to know what will be happening. They are a live plan. They do no good to put them up on the shelf and not revisited and updated consistently.”
22:59 – 24:06MODERATOR
“The State is trying to incorporate best practices for rating and in awarding funding. Communities should invest where they already exist vs. sprawling. Invest in existing communities instead of newer projects.”
“Can you speak to New Paltz regarding waste water? You spoke about Smart Growth. What does that mean environmentally?”
25:18 – 26:35Fred Testa, EFC
We are looking at a project with new infrastructure or expand new service area. Has the municipality planned for growth in that area? Does it add properties that local growth hasn’t thought about. We are looking to see if the local gov have considered impacts on the communities. Was it planned for? Is a comp plan available to avoid uncontrolled sprawl that have adverse effects.
27:06 – 27:26QUESTION: Rebecca Martin (Kingston)
“Can you speak a little bit to inter-municipal partnerships and how funding increase, or the benefits?”
27:28 – 29:56Fred Testa, EFC
“We want to see that there is capacity at a treatment plant for both, that the communities have already talked. We want to see an inter-municipal agreement. A legal contract drawn up by the parties. Tying in smart growth, the idea is if there is a treatment plant nearby it may be best for everyone to make use of it.”
29:57 – 30:40: MODERATOR
“There was a discussion in Kingston and Ulster in looking at that sort of collaboration in the past. I don’t know where those discussions are today. Also Comprehensive Plans can engage in other communities under municipal law to generate inter-municipal agreements.”
30:41 – 43:04:QUESTION: Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will (Kingston)
“I think this should be mandatory attendance for all muniapl leaders. Looking at the revolving fund loans for Kingston and noticing out of 14 there are 3 that originated from the Kingston water dept, all happening in 2012 under 1/2 million – 6.2 million. In the dealings with the KWD are you in close contact or are there ongoing communications with KWD since 2012?
32:32:Fred Testa, EFC
“I myself haven’t worked with Kingston, but the water district is referenced here – but the COK was the borrower here, not the Water Department.”
QUESTION: Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will
“We have a flooding task force that looked at conditions in the Rondout, historically it’s been very industrial. Are there funding mechanisms to assist with businesses and private property owners to help mitigate flooding problems?”
34:49:Fred Testa, EFC
“Not through EFC. There may be funding through the Consolidated Funding Application.”
35:43: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“There may be funding through Community Development Block Grant for these things.”
35:59 – 38:13MODERATOR and Fred Testa, EFC
“Kingston is going through it’s brownfield area opportunity, a GEIS of great magnitude that will allow business and property owners to move through the SEQR process more quickly. Through the DOS. The program, unfortunately, has sun setted but hopefully there will be more opportunities.” (more on the CFA Program, Green Innovations grant, all happen in June). “Kingston has been on the ball and have qualified for a great number of grants. As have the county. We have a green infrastructure project for Sophie Finn School.”
38:19 – 40:22 Candace Balmer, RCAP
“I want to answer your question, Brad. The CDBG program, one is public infrastructure, planning, public facilities and economic development of small business and enterprise. I don’t know if the economic development section would apply, but it’s worth looking that up. For joint applications, there are strict requirements, but if you were a join applications you could apply for more funding.”
“Kingston is an entitlement city, not entitlement county. Kingston’s CDBG goes through HUD (Housing and Urban Development).”
40:44:QUESTION: Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will
“What is the percentage of applications that are approved through the EFC?”
40:54 – 41:00:Fred Testa, EFC
“Last year we financed every application.”
“The window is closing for the hardship applications. If Kingston wanted to apply for the round that moves forward in 2016 and are not listed this year how would that work?”
41:24: 43:04Fred Testa, EFC
I think Kingston has projects listed in the drinking water plant, but not waste water. The City received funding last September for a study 30,000 to study the engineering planning grant WW treatment plant for improvements. They can then give us a listing form, get on the intended use plan and get a score to hopefully be high enough to apply for hardship financing. Projects can apply for up to $25 million, $18 million at 0% The city is not in a position to apply because they are not on the list. Step one. Get on the list.“
“Troubled that we are talking about conventional waste water treatment plants. They don’t include pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, hormones. However newer technologies methods do. Those plants require less maintenance impacting costs. Who do we get to help us to be directed towards innovative approaches, especially considering NYS watershed?”
44:42: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Most don’t describe technology requirements, though must be technically approvable. In that way, it’s all fundable.”
45:18:Fred Testa, EFC
“If there are new technologies being considered, the DEC which permits waste water treatment plants allows them to discharge treated wastewater as long as it meets cleanliness regulations. If they are presented with new technologies, they are going to want to see proven technical evidence.”
Candace Balmer, RCAP
“If it breaks, they want to see that you can get the pieces easily for repair. That don’t want you to put in something that is problematic in that way.”
Kathy Nolan CM
“What you’re describing is a system that doesn’t have a way to perhaps get started in communities that use better technology. With the Green Innovation funding stream, can we can get a plant funded to be used as a pilot to see how it functions and if it’s possible to create more of them. We keep coming to the same point in the conversation. We need to do something that gets us into the better technology.”
Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Get with your regulator. Have them come with you and chat about concerns. Sometimes it’s an individual look at concerns.”
48:27 – 50: 04QUESTION: Joanne Steel, Mid-Hudson Sierra Club
“Town of Lloyd had a rebed system that was doing very well. Are you familiar with it?”
49:06 Fred Testa, EFC
“That was a wetland. It’s not a rebed for sludge.”
49:17Candace Balmer, EFC
“Though it’s an example of their working with the DEC to get that project off the ground.”
50:11 – 53:53: QUESTION: Mary McNamara (Saugerties)
“In our region there are often neighborhoods where Septic Systems have failed. To accommodate, water districts have been created. It’s to o expense to bring in a clean water program. The nearby surface waters are impacted. I see it more and more. What funding programs exist for individuals?”
51:25:Candace Balmer, RCAP
“Looking at it from a community perspective, what EPA has promoted is decentralized water management concept with responsible management entity. Pay the bills. You can have a management district that manage onsite. Woodstock has a management area where they inspect and repair individual septic systems. There’s a variety of ways. For individuals, there are not a lot of programs. If you are poor or elderly you can get up to 7500 in a lifetime and septic systems are one of them that you can use it for.”
53:34: Fred Testa, EFC
“There is Housing Improvement in CDBG to improve septic systems for private drinking water wells.”
53:54 – 58:05: MODERATOR
“Kingston represents a community that has experienced it all. Now we are dealing with the burdens in dealing with infrastructure. How do we look down the road to address this challenge?”
56:11 – 57:16: Fred Testa, EFC
“You need people to sit down and focus. Asset management approach forces people to look at specific elements of infrastructure and plan accordingly. Infrastructure must be maintained. People come to rely on that service. The general population doesn’t stop to think “If I didn’t have water, how would my life be affected? How valuable is that infrastructure to my quality of life that I have? How much am I paying for it vs. how important is it to my life?”
57:19 – 58:05: Candace Balmer, RCAP
“It takes the community. When we do project planning we get everyone at the table. The regulators, the public, the board. Lets all sit down at what we’re looking at and what it costs.”
This year, the theme for World Water Day is “Water and Sustainable Development.” It’s about how water links to all areas we need to consider to create the future we want. March 22nd is a day to celebrate water and to map a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water related issues. It’s a day to prepare for how we manage water in the future.
Guest speakers include water advocates and a special presentation of youth and prayers and tradition dance and song from local Native American communities.
The event will also showcase world renowned jazz musicians Jack DeJohnette and Larry Grenadier – both local to the Hudson Valley region.
In a career that spans five decades and includes collaborations with some of the most iconic figures in modern jazz, NEA and Grammy winner Jack DeJohnette has established an unchallenged reputation as one of the greatest drummers in the history of the genre. Th list of creative associations throughout his career is lengthy and diverse; John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Keith Jarrett, Chet Baker, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, Joe Henderson, Freddy Hubbard, Betty Carter and so many more. Along the way, he has developed a versatility that allows rom for hard bop, R&B, World Music, Avant-Garde and just about every other style to emerge in the past half-century.
As one of contemporary jazz’s most respected and accomplished bassists, Larry Grenadier has built an expansive body of work that encompasses a variety of significant projects with many of the genre’s most inventive and influential musicians. Over the course of a performing and recording career that spans three decades, he’s earned a far-reaching reputation, for his instrumental talent, for his instantly recognizable tone, and for his sensitivity, imagination and creative curiosity that have established him as an in-demand sideman and valued collaborator. Grenadier’s trademark upright bass work has been a longstanding fixture in the bands of pianist Brad Mehldau, guitarist Pat Metheny, and has graced albums and groups by a broad array of prestigious artists including Paul Motian, Charles Lloyd, Enrico Rava, Danilo Perez, Chris Potter, Joshua Redman and Kurt Rosenwinkel. He’s also found time to make three albums with his acclaimed trio Fly and to record five more with his wife, noted singer/songwriter and founder of KingstonCitizens.org Rebecca Martin.
The event is free to all, though a $10.00 recommended cover will be accepted at the door. Proceeds after expenses will be used to support a new KingstonCitizens.org mentorship program that provides opportunities for young and old to participate in regular city government meetings.
The film “TAPPED” will be screened at Kingston Candy Bar next door to BSP from 5-8pm. Visit and have your water bottle filled with filtered tap water!
To be considered as a Commissioner of the Kingston Water Board:
Please submit your resume/CV (Curriculum Vitae) to Carly Williams, City of Kingston Clerk: firstname.lastname@example.org by April 30th, 2015 (because we were not given a date by the Mayor’s office, this date is arbitrary. However, we presume that it gives the city time to collect interest and make a decision).
On May 31st 2015, Water Board Commissioner Al Radel’s term will expire. Radel has served as a Commissioner on the Water Board now for 15 years, which is three terms. We appreciate his service.
That means, that a spot is opening up – and we are hoping that citizens who are interested in serving will step up.
The Mayor of Kingston appoints citizens (and business persons) to most Commissions/Boards/Councils in Kingston. Recently, we reached out to the Mayor’s office to find out what the process was. You know how fast we move around here, and after the second request without getting information, we decided to lay out our questions in a PETITION to give the public a chance to weigh in. That petition is live now, so have a look, consider signing it and leave a comment.
The questions were simple.
KingstonCitizens.org requests that Mayor Shayne Gallo require Water Department Superintendent Judith Hansen to:
Make both the description of the Board of Water Commissioner’s role and length of term visible and public on the City of Kingston’s Water Department web page.
Make all of the current members of the Board of Water Commissioners biographies and length of service to date visible and public on the City of Kingston’s Water Department web page.
The City of Kingston’s Mayor, who appoints Board of Water Commissioners, publish a public notice in a timely fashion announcing its search for new candidates for the upcoming term. This announcement should include a description of the Board of Water Commissioner’s expected role; preferred experience / qualifications for candidates; contact info and deadline for submissions; and the term length.
Yesterday, we heard from Water Department Superintendent Judith Hansen who responded:
“The Mayor asked that I contact you to let you know that appointments to the Board of Water Commissioners are made by the Mayor and that if you have anyone that would like to be considered for the position, they should submit their CV to him via the City Clerk’s Office. Neither the Board nor any employee of the Water Department, including the Superintendent has any role in or input into the selection process.”
Not much in the way of answering our questions. Then later, we heard directly from Mayor Gallo’s office:
“This is in reply to your inquiry about how vacancies and/or appointments are made to the Board of Water Commissioners or any other City board or Commission. Be advised the following process has been used since the City Charter has been adopted: Any interested City resident and/or business person may apply for consideration to any City Board and/or Commission by providing a letter of interest with a resume and background information and/or curriculum vitae of said individual. The interested party should submit the above to the City Clerk’s Office. Upon receipt, the letter of interest shall will forwarded to my office for review and consideration. If you know of an interested City resident who would like to be considered for appointment to the Board of Water Commissioners and/or other City boards and commissions, please share the above information with them. Thank you for your interest.”
The points unanswered at least expose something critical. We have some information on the process, but nothing that we didn’t already know.
So why can’t the City of Kingston provide a description of a Water Board Commissioner? Or nail down their term? Or share their biographies and experience so that we know who is at the helm of our water supply? Or put out a notice in the papers to residents with a deadline for their response?
As we are entering into an election cycle, we will take these things up again at an appropriate time. We intend to advocate for Kingston to overhaul it’s city charter at a future date.
To be considered as a new Commissioner of the Kingston Water Board:
Please submit your resume/CV (Curriculum Vitae) to Carly Williams, City of Kingston Clerk: email@example.com by April 3oth, 2015 (because we were not given a date by the Mayor’s office, this date is arbitrary. However, we presume that it gives the city time to collect interest and make a decision).
On October 15th 2014, the national organization FOOD AND WATER WATCH submitted a FOIL request (New York’s Freedom of Information Law, Public Officers Law 87 et. seq) to Kingston’s Water Department to release “all records and documented communications, including direct written correspondance and emails, between Niagara Bottling Company and/or its representatives and the Board of Water Commissioners. In their letter, the same request was made of Mayor Shayne Gallo including any correspondence and emails between the Town of Ulster and Mayor of Kingston regarding the Niagara Bottling Company proposal.” There is that and more. Please read the attached.
“When an agency receives a FOIL request…the law states that it has five business days to grant or deny access in whole or in part, or if more time is needed, to acknowledge the receipt of the request in writing and indicate an approximate date by which the agency will respond to the request, usually not more than 20 additional business days”SEE EXPLANATION OF TIME LIMITS FOR RESPONDING TO A REQUEST.
Almost four months later and we still have not received anything. Are they hiding something?
You can call Kingston Water Department Superintendent Judy Hansen and request that she release the requested documents immediately:
Contact Mayor Shayne Gallo, too, to alert him of the lack of response by the Water Department to the initial and ongoing FOIL request: (845) 334-3902