VIDEO AND MATERIALS: KingstonCitizens.org presents “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know

By Rebecca Martin

Our educational forum on the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines project brought in an estimated 402 people to Kingston City Hall with another 1,400 or so who streamed our event live yesterday.  KingstonCitizens.org is pleased to share with you video from the entire event as well as materials for your review and to follow along.

As a reminder, in Ulster County, if you live in the City of Kingston, Town of Ulster, Town of Marlborough, Town of Lloyd, Town of Esopus, Town of Saugerties, Town of Rosendale, Village and Town of New Paltz or Town of Plattekill, then you are one of the potentially impacted communities listed in the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines project and are considered an ‘Involved’ Agency in SEQRA.

Take LOCAL ACTION TODAY and contact your elected officials in impacted communities to request that they make commenting on the upcoming draft ‘Scope’ document a priority by taking a proactive approach to identify potential impacts of the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines project that are unique to your community.  If your municipality is not listed above, but you live in Ulster County, please contact Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and ask that the county work with us to organize a countywide coordinated draft scope review.         VIEW for step by step instructions, emails, and phone numbers. 

Please join KingstonCitizens.org’s mailing list by subscribing to our newsletter for important future updates. We have much in store.     SIGN-UP for KingstonCitizens.org’s mailing list. 

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KingstonCitizens.org presents “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know

MATERIALS:  Please follow along
Local Call To Action: VIEW
Power Point Presentation  VIEW
SEQRA Scoping FAQ Sheet  VIEW

VIDEO ONE

00:00 – 08:04
Rebecca Martin, Co-Founder
KingstonCitizens.org

8:05 – 13:19
Mayor Steve Noble
City of Kingston, NY
“We have environmental staff that works on these issues….dedicated volunteers on a Conservation Advisory Council. We hope that Kingston can be a model for other communities up and down the Hudson River Valley”

13:20 – 21:47
Assemblyman Kevin Cahill
District 103
“I see many, many Kingstonians here, but I also see friends from other communities. Let me join our Mayor in welcoming you to Standing Rock New York.”

22:18 – 27:12
Jon Bowermaster

27:14 – 44:50
Hudson River at Risk #6:  “A Pipeline Runs Through It”

45:20 – 59:50
Powerpoint and Panel Discussion
Sue Rosenberg, CAPP-NY
Jeremy Cherson, Riverkeeper
Andy Bicking, Scenic Hudson
Jennifer Metzger, Citizens for Local Power and Rosendale Councilwoman

VIDEO TWO

00:00 – 59:19
(Continued) Powerpoint and Panel Discussion

59:20 – 59:50
List of Co-Sponsors and Supporters

VIDEO THREE

00:52 – 07:27
Brooke Pickering – Cole
Local Economies Project
Hudson Valley Farm Hub

07:38 – 14:00
Jennifer Schwartz Berky
District 7 County Legislator
KingstonCitizens.org Policy and Planning

14:01 – 18:20
Callie Jayne
Citizen Action NY

18:27 – 20:21
Local Call To Action  VIEW
Rebecca Martin, KingstonCitizens.org

20:33 – 27:31
Kevin J. Smith
Woodstock Land Conservancy
“There is a pumping station proposed in the Town of Ulster, and there is a trailer park directly across the Sawkill creek fro the very site of the pumping station.  When we speak about Environmental Justice? Here we are.  The trailer park has been flooded out several times. It is my understanding that the Heritage Energy property has been flooded out several times as well. All of this is just upstream from the confluence of the Sawkill with the Lower Esopus which is something of a delta. It’s where the Sawkill comes out of the mountains and the le wins it way out of the Rondout valley and they meet….what’s also there is the Town of Ulster’s wellheads. These are the kinds of things I would encourage you to get informed about and to reach out to your public officials.”   VIEW: Local Call To Action

28:17 – 32:52
Citizen Question
“Who are the owning parties of Pilgrim Pipelines, LLC?”

33:14 – 38:42
Citizen Question
“Where is the oil being refined when it gets to where it’s going with the Pilgrim Pipelines?”

38:44 – 40:05
Citizen Question
“Can you clear up the confusion for me from the film we saw today that speaks about two different pipelines?

40:06 – 42:57
Citizen Question
“Since the oil export ban was lifted, is there any action in NYS to overstep the 1909 act that it’s in place?”

43:00 – 46:10
Citizen Question
“If this is a private corporation using pipelines for private gain, where is the public good? Noticeably absent today is Congressman Faso. How do you foresee working with him as he seems to be in the pocket of big oil?”

46:12 – 50:00
Citizen Question
“You mentioned the federal government hadn’t a role in this project because it’s an NYS issue. What would Congressman Faso’s role be then?”

50:02 – 51:11
Senator Amedore’s position on the Pilgrim Pipeline.  “Senator Amedore stands with localities as it’s his belief that they know best of the effects it has on the community and its residents. We are located at 721 Broadway in Kingston, and we always welcome feedback. We are in the information gathering stages…we are here for you.”

51:20 – 52:43
At KingstonCitizens.org, we encourage you to get deep into your community and local government. Learn the law and process there first.”  – Rebecca Martin, KingstonCitizens.org

Thank you:  Lee Kalish, Daniel Clark and Prime Print Shop; Carly Winnie, Megan Weiss-Rowe, Kyle McIntosh of the City of Kingston; our KingstonCitizens.org volunteers: Kayce Waters, Heather Schwegler, Debra Bresnan.  The Kingston News and all of our co-sponsors and supporters.

 

LOCAL CALL TO ACTION: Ulster County Citizen’s Role in State Environmental Review Act (SEQRA) and the Proposed Pilgrim Pipelines.

Click on image to review full document.

By Rebecca Martin

On Saturday, January 28th from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm, KingstonCitizens.org will host an educational forum on the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines project. Our end goal for the day will be to clarify what are the important next steps in SEQRA for citizens living in potentially impacted communities of the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines project in Ulster County.

Until then, and after which (up until the scoping document arrives), here is a simple call to action that you can take to help your community prepare for the upcoming draft scoping document.

Although this effort is specific to our region, what we are working to accomplish can easily be applied to all of those living in potentially impacted communities up and down the proposed corridor of the Pilgrim Pipelines project.    Imagine if we could create a strong push for citizens to call their elected officials and request the scoping process was placed high on their list and to prepare in advance? What an impact it could make in the State of New York and New Jersey!

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday.    VIEW our event on Facebook

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Local Call To Action: Your role in State Environmental Review Act (SEQRA) and the “Scoping” Process for the Proposed Pilgrim Pipelines.

On September 14, 2016, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA), the co-lead agencies for the environmental review of the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines project, issued a positive declaration in SEQRA.

“A positive declaration, or “pos dec”, is a determination by the lead agency[s] that an action may result in one or more significant environmental impacts and so will require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before agency decisions may be made regarding the action.”

In addition to the pos dec, the co-lead agencies agreed to initiate a scoping process and extend the comment period for the draft scope once it is publically available. The purpose of a scoping comment period is to offer the public and interested parties the option to offer their feedback and “help determine the scope of subjects that will be studied in the DEIS concerning the Pilgrim Pipelines.”  The DEIS is the primary source of environmental information to help involved agencies consider environmental concerns in making decisions about a proposed action. The DEIS examines the nature and extent of an action that is identified as a potential environmental impact, as well as steps that could be taken to avoid or minimize these impacts.

VIEW:  FAQ Sheet on the SEQR “Scoping” Process.

In Ulster County, if you live in the City of Kingston, Town of Ulster, Town of Marlborough, Town of Lloyd, Town of Esopus, Town of Saugerties, Town of Rosendale, Village and Town of New Paltz or Town of Plattekill, then you are one of the potentially impacted communities listed in the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines project and are considered an ‘Involved’ Agency in SEQRA.

HELP YOUR COMMUNITY PREPARE. TAKE THESE SIMPLE STEPS FORWARD IMMEDIATELY:

1)  LOCATE the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines project’s desired path through your community.   VIEW and scroll down to find Ulster County. From there, locate your municipality.

2) Are you a citizen living in any of the listed potentially impacted communities?  If you are, continue reading. If you are not,  but you are an Ulster County resident, please go to #4.

CALL and/or WRITE your Town Supervisor or your Village/City Mayor. Include your Council or Board Member President or Chair, too. REQUEST that they make commenting on the upcoming draft ‘Scope’ document a priority by taking a proactive approach to identify potential impacts of the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines project that are UNIQUE to your community.

CITY OF KINGSTON: Mayor Steve Noble  (845) 334-3902
TOWN OF ULSTER:  Supervisor James Quigley  (845) 382-2765
TOWN OF MARLBORO: Supervisor Al Lanzetta  845-795-5100 Ext. 2
TOWN OF LLOYD: Supervisor Paul J. Hansut  845-691-2144
TOWN OF ESOPUS: Supervisor Diane McCord   845-331-0676
TOWN OF SAUGERTIES: Greg Helsmoortel  845-246-2800 x 345
TOWN OF ROSENDALE:  Jeanne L. Walsh  845-658-3159 ext. 3
VILLAGE OF NEW PALTZ (Interested Agency): Mayor Tim Rogers  (845) 255-0130
TOWN OF NEW PALTZ:  Supervisor Neil Bettez:  845-255-0604
TOWN OF PLATTEKILL: Supervisor Joseph Croce  845-883-7331 ext. 11

These items include: Land use, zoning and public policy; Vegetation and wildlife; Geology, soils and topography; Storm water, waste water; Water Supply, drinking water, water surface water, ground water; Wetlands; Cultural and Historical resources; Solid waste; Air quality; Noise; Community character, community services; Socioeconomic, fiscal.   (Click the image attached to view the Town of Rosendale’s document. Suggest that it could be used as a model for community).

3)  DISCUSS with your elected officials who could help to prepare your community document. Does your town or city have a Conservation Advisory Council? Could your local planning department be of assistance? Visit your local municipal website to find contacts and phone numbers.

4)  CALL the Ulster County government offices and request that the county as an “Involved” Agency in SEQRA help to coordinate all Ulster County potentially impacted localities in the draft “Scoping” process:

Office of Ulster County Executive Mike Hein  (845) 340-3800
Ulster County Legislator:  Chairman Kenneth J. Ronk, Jr.  (845) 566-7663
Ulster County Legislator: Majority Leader Mary Beth Maio  (845) 546-7878
Ulster County Legislator:  Minority Leader Hector S. Rodriguez  (845) 401-2000
Ulster County Legislator: Energy and Environment Committee Chair Richard A. Parete   (845) 687-4255
Ulster County Legislator: Energy and Environment Committee Deputy Chairwoman Tracey A. Bartels  (845) 255-0804

OPINION: On Unity and Tolerance.


By Rebecca Martin

UNITY:  The state of being united or joined as a whole.

TOLERANCE:  The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular, the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

I think a lot about narratives in my community work because narratives and strategic messaging is key to achieving a good end result. Generally, when things turn out to worse, it’s because the majority doesn’t have good, factual information in a format that they can understand. Words matter – and when we fail, it’s because – at least in part – that our emotion got the best of us without a good, trusted (and factual) message to turn to.

So is it ‘unity’ or is it ‘tolerance’ that is most realistic in America if a dialogue is our end game?

For everyone to be joined as a whole” as unity suggests, means the majority of one side needs to move over to the other. That’s beyond optimistic. That’s pollyanna.

Tolerance on the other hand, “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular, the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with” seems achievable in potentially bringing together more who live in a polarized state. Neither side loses anything by listening and, there is hope to learn something in that process. There is also a better chance at keeping relationships that matter intact.

There have been moments in the last several months where I haven’t been very ‘tolerant’ while trying to ‘unify’. Recently, I was told by a conservative friend in a moment of emotion, “Now you know how I have felt throughout the Obama administration.” To try to unify in that moment made me more indignant.

Had my narrative been one of tolerance, I might have had a different personal reaction. I know this because in contemplating it now, I am already more at ease.

I work hard and want to learn. Being human, I make mistakes and have patterns that require me at times to take several turns around the barn. The topical in learning is to listen. The deeper, more complicated parts are to pay attention to the tapes running insistently through our minds, trying to decipher what is true and what is not at any given moment. The gift in the work is from time to time, having access to our unique roadmap with a wisdom that is both mysterious and ancient.

On an even more personal note, music is the most compassionate teacher that I know. Beyond what I want it to do for me in the material world, what it provides is that infinite wisdom that I refer to and my access to it relies completely on the truth. To struggle to get there isn’t a punishment. It is work to get back to simple. Synchronicity and glimpses of grace, its reward. The same could be said for having a child. For having a pet. For getting lost in the woods. What a glorious opportunity to see simple in it’s most raw and real form. These are all miraculous reminders as we age and when we think we have seen and know it all.

Therefore, my personal reflection and new narrative today, that of tolerance. I’ll place the concept of unifying in the sandbox where it belongs.

President Trump’s First 100 Days: New York State and Local Initiatives, Policy and Laws Document

 

By Rebecca Martin

VIEW: Trump Initiatives and NYS Local/State Policy and Laws

Something has changed throughout the recent presidential campaign that led to Donald J. Trump becoming president. Whichever end of the spectrum you found yourself on, the citizen dialogue was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Over the past couple of years, I have witnessed hateful rhetoric. Anonymous blogs and posters throughout social media debating half truths fed by the media, slaying people in ways that were unfair, inappropriate and in some cases downright violent in nature. As overt as it has been, the anger leading up to where we are today has been a slow and simmering trajectory downward.

So now what? America is about to inaugurate an unapologetically crass multi-national business man turned reality star celebrity  who lost the popular vote to become president.  A man without any political experience on the grand stage to be the leader of the free world.

It is our aim at KingstonCitizens.org with the issues that we take on to understand the law and process around them.  Whatever side one leans towards, we appreciate the bureaucratic processes in place because we know that when ciitzens choose to lean in, there is that to protect them as they come to better understand governing.  When it’s not working, then there is a need for reform. Coming to better know the law and process provides a baseline, and these safeguards will most certainly erode if citizens do not become familiar with them.

Since December, KingstonCitizens.org has spent time preparing a document that outlines Trump’s initiatives for the first 100 days of his being in office and disseminating their context to better match initiatives, policy and laws as they pertain to NYS, Ulster County and our locality. It’s a ‘living’ document that we will work on throughout 2017  with volunteers  to provide insight so that your civic efforts might be more focused and pointed.

Government on every level is a civic responsibility. Beyond Trump, the challenges that we face today is a burden that we all must shoulder. To protect our republic for generations to come – if a future republic is even possible at this point- we must hold our neighbors hand no matter who that is or how different their point of view is from yours – and get to work.

A special thanks to all of our volunteer contributors.

VIEW: Trump Initiatives and NYS Local/State Policy and Laws

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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VIDEO: 1 of 5
Public Comment.  


VIDEO: 2 of 5
Public Comment.

Read more…

STATE OF THE CITY 2017: Mayor Steve Noble Annual Address.

 

Mayor Steve Noble’s annual “State of the City” address. This video was brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org with thanks to Kingston News.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor Steve Noble
State of the City Address
2017

“Good evening. I want to thank you all for joining us tonight for what I am confident will be another fine example of democracy in action. While I appreciate the opportunity to share with you what I believe are a number of significant accomplishments we have achieved together, tonight, just like any other night, is about the work. Following this annual message, the Common Council will resume its regular business, starting with an opportunity for public comment. It is this mechanism- this opportunity in which any individual can independently and respectfully express their support, opposition or general thoughts on city matters- that ensures your elected officials hear you. For those of you who showed up tonight to support a memorializing resolution I proposed reaffirming our great city as a welcoming and inclusive community- thank you. For those of you who showed up tonight to oppose this memorializing resolution- I want to thank you as well. If one of our greatest achievements will be to have created an environment in which the public is welcomed and engaged in the decision-making process of its local government, then I know we will have done right. While it is uncomfortable to hear opinions or views that are in such great conflict with our own, it is how we handle this conflict and how we treat those with whom we are in conflict that defines who we are as a community. I believe that tonight, just like any other night, Kingston will shine.

This year, some of our most challenging issues transcended the boundaries of our small city and reflected a greater divide of philosophy and values in our nation. Questions of gun control or immigration, both of which are long-standing, divisive topics that have yet to be resolved on the national level, entered into our daily conversations with our neighbors and friends. We eventually updated our City’s firearms law and are now considering a memorializing resolution to reaffirm the City of Kingston as a welcoming and inclusive community for all, including immigrants- something that has never been done before in our community. These have not been easy topics to broach and deliberate. Even our discussions around parking fees, an issue that most cities must grapple with, have delved into important questions of fairness and equity.

However, the fact that our community members hold such conflicting and opposing values from each other reminds me that Kingston is indeed a diverse community. It is my responsibility as your Mayor to ensure that each of you, regardless of our differences, is heard.

As we reflect upon our successes and challenges of 2016, I am more confident than ever before that we are moving forward. As you will see from the annual report that will be posted on our website this week, our departments are providing an incredible variety of essential public services.

A glimpse into our successes

Read more…

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Rebecca Martin

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

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

 

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

 

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

Read more…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRINGING SOME CLARITY AND UNDERSTANDING TO POTENTIAL DEBATE THIS EVENING. 

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

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

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

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

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

What are some of the concerns? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We support the 2017 City of Kingston Municipal Budget. 

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

Proposed Pilgrim Pipelines Project: Why Kingston and the Town of Ulster Must Stay the Course.

By Rebecca Martin

15107480_617901495059186_7368560605403904128_nThe Proposed Pilgrim Pipelines Project: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know and How Local Action Makes Global Impacts.  on Saturday, January 28, 2017 at Kingston City Hall located at 420 Broadway in Kingston NY from 1:00pm – 4:00pm (snow date January 29).  Guest panelists include Jeremy Cherson (Riverkeeper), Sue Rosenberg (Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipeline/CAPP) and Jen Metzger (Citizens For Local Power) and Andy Bicking (Scenic Hudson).    Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. This event will be filmed.

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Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC has proposed to construct two parallel pipelines each up to 20 inches in diameter that would run from Albany, NY to Linden, NJ along the NYS Thruway and through private property. In total, the pipelines would cover some 170 miles (including five laterals totaling nearly 13 miles), impacting 31 municipalities in Albany, Rensselaer, Greene, Ulster, Orange, and Rockland counties. The pipelines would receive an estimated 200,000 barrels per day of Bakken crude oil by way of rail into Albany, proposing to ship the crude oil in one mainline south and bring refined products back north.

The pipelines would run through several sections of the City of Kingston with even more pipelines crossings through the Town of Ulster (TOU).  It is also being proposed that one of the four pump stations (the only one that would be located near a residential area)  is to be placed only 200 feet away from a trailer park on Sawkill Road in the TOU impacting the Town of Kingston, too. 

Proponents have said that pipelines will reduce the need to transport crude oil using rails (bomb trains) or barges (in the case of the Anchorage project).   Kate Hudson of Riverkeeper disagrees.  “Having barges won’t prevent pipelines, and having pipelines won’t prevent barges, and transport by rail won’t prevent either of the others. None of these industries has made a compact with the others, saying, “If you move the oil, we’ll back out of the business.

In other words, more opportunities to move crude oil simply means more crude oil.  Not less.

The proposal has the potential for significant environmental impacts according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, stating that the Pilgrim Pipelines project “…would cross 257 streams and waterbodies (232 along mainline pipelines and 25 along laterals), including the Hudson River and multiple major and minor tributaries of the Hudson.  There are also 296 (9.2 linear miles) crossings of wetlands; including 25 crossings of NYSDEC protected freshwater wetlands (approximately 19 along mainline pipelines and 6 along laterals). Additionally, there will be four pump stations and 215 permanent access roads and temporary access roads at every mile.”

Read more…

What’s On The Ballot? Ulster County General Election November 8, 2016

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FIND
your polling place in Ulster County

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Proposal #1:  “In order to improve services to the children and families of Ulster County, reduce the need to raise property taxes, and satisfy state mandates, the County of Ulster proposes to relocate the current leased site of the Ulster County Family Courtn, located at 16 Lucas Avenue in the City of Kingston, County of Ulster, State of New York, to a more suitable county owned property situated less than 800 feet from the City of Kingston line, located at 1 Development Court, Ulster Avenue in the Town of Ulster, County of Ulster, State of New York. Shall this proposition be approved?”          

YES    NO

Read more…

What’s the Process? New Public Hearing Scheduled for the ICC (Irish Cultural Center)

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Last night, the Kingston Planning Board held its regular meeting with many items to discuss, one of which was the ongoing Irish Cultural Center (ICC) being planned in downtown Kingston. In September, citizens anticipated the planning board to make its determination in October for the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA),  but it was postponed because the ICC’s proposal scaled down its size (by 4.5%) after what appeared to be the public’s insistence for a project smaller in size and scale, and in pressing for a positive declaration in SEQR.  Later we also learned that it might have been influenced by a recent communication from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in late September.

When speaking to scale, they reported that, “The scale is very large in comparison to surrounding commercial and residential buildings.”  In regard to ‘Massing and Design Features’:  “The rectangular flat roofed façade with full width double height porches, does relate to the historic façade of the D+H Paymaster Building that was located adjacent to this site. Though the scale of the proposed building is much larger.

READ   SHPO’s letter to the Kingston Planning Board dated 9/30/16

No matter. A new draft of plans were presented last evening. The good news is that the ICC is listening. They have removed a proposed banquet facility and commercial kitchen that would eliminate parking by 2 parking spots (from 39 to 37). The proposed theater also decreased in size to 171 seats in total. There is a good description of all of these things in the attached video.

VIEW video from last evening’s meeting.

So what are the next steps in the process for the public? 

A public hearing is imminent, where the public will have the opportunity to view the new draft plan (available in the planning office, and not online) and then provide comments to the planning board for their consideration.  Last night, the client presented its new draft and the planning board announced what appeared to be a decided upon date for a public hearing of November 2nd.

According to the City of Kingston Zoning Code Section 405-30 , it states that #6 “ The Planning Board may hold a public hearing on the site plan if it determines that the matter is of wide public interest. If such a hearing is held, it shall be held within 62 days of the official submission date of the application, and notice shall be given at least five days prior to the date of such hearing by publication in the official City newspaper.”

If we are correct, that means that the planning board has 62 days to orchestrate a public hearing.  In this case based on a November 2nd public hearing, there are only 12 business days to respond and, according to comments made in the video, a final draft plan isn’t yet complete for your review even though the clock is already ticking.

So how does the planning board conclude review time before public comment? What’s their process and in this case, does it provide ample time for all parties involved?  It all seems so arbitrary even if it isn’t.

Finally, in an article released by the Daily Freeman today about the meeting last night, we were disheartened by the headline,  “Irish Cultural Center attorney says opponents of Kingston project are ‘dishonest’“.   After reviewing video from last night, we realized that Mr. Pordy’s comments were not taken out of context. In our 10 years of doing this work,  we can tell you that citizens truly advocating for their community are not dishonest. They deserve respect, and are wading through a maze of new information while trying to understand how city government works. It’s a very steep learning curve, and the majority of citizens that we have had the privilege in getting to know all want nothing more than to support their city’s best interests where they live and do business.   –  RM

The Hijacking of a City of Kingston Social Media Site?

A recent Hudson Riverport Post on Facebook
A recent Hudson Riverport Post on Facebook

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.

ADDITIONAL READING:

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.

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.”