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

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

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

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

A little refresher on how this all works.

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

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

WHAT TO EXPECT:

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

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


THE FOCUS:

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

WHAT CITIZENS CAN DO:

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

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

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

NOT FEAR. JUST THE FACTS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

FURTHER READING:

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

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

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By Rebecca Martin

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

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

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

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

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

Read more…

VIDEO: Laws and Rules Meeting 4/19/16. Public Comment on Amending Kingston Firearms Law.

We are pleased to share video from last nights meeting, and we apologize in the case we have misspelled your name. If you wish to have changes made to it, please contact us at ourcitizens@gmail.com

Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org and filmed by Clark Richters

Thank you.

 

12:10 – 14:00
Ward 1 Alderwoman Lynn Eckert, Chair Laws and Rules Committee shares ground rules.

14:29 – 17:00
Mark Girstle, Hurley NY

17:04 – 18:23
Diane Bonavita, Kingston NY

18:29 – 20:20
Timothy Ivory, Kingston, NY

20:39 – 22:14
Rebecca Martin, Kingston NY

22:17 – 25:46
Jeanne Edwards, Kingston NY

25:52 – 27:27
Bill Forte, Kingston NY

27:38 – 30:53
Art Perry, Kingston NY

31:00 – 33:19
Matt Colangelo, Kingston NY

33:25 – 34:50
Gwen Sorenson, Owner of Stone Soup, Midtown Kingston

34:56 – 37:20
Hillary Harvey, Kingston NY
Reading testimony from Michael and Therese Drapkin
Residents and business owners in Kingston, NY

37:22 – 39:12
Owen Harvey, Kingston NY

39:15 – 40:37
Pam Blum, Kingston NY
Views reflect many of their neighbors

41:00 – 44:32
Richard Frumess, Resident (Rondout) and Business Owner (Midtown, Kingston)

44:36 – 45:16
Joanne Myers, Kingston NY

45:20 – 46:26
Lynn Johnson, Kingston NY

46:40 – 48:20
Ken Gruber, Kingston NY

48:21 – 50:35
John Grosswald, Kingston NY

50:40 – 54:08
Joe Leoni, Tillson, NY

54:18 – 58:37
Dr. Adam Soyer, Kingston NY

58: 38 – End of Video
Renate Soyer, Kingston NY

00:00 – 3:10
Renate Soyer, Kingston NY
(Continued from Video #1)

3:38 – 5:05
Mary Cavanagh, New Paltz, NY

5:10 – 7:12
Mark Porter, Kingston NY

7:29 – 14:35
Elmer LaSewr, Kingston NY
Representing neighbors

14:38 – 19:15
Marco Ochoa
Representing Latino Community

19:16 – 24:37
Pat Courtney, Resident and Business Owner, Kingston NY

24:52 – 26:37
Artie Zapell, Kingston NY

26:40 – 27:50
Michelle Hirsch, Kingston NY

27:52 – 29:17
Michelle Whittacker, Kingston, NY

30:00 – 34:30
Jay Martin, Accord NY

34:31 – 36:40
Stephanie Nystrom, Kingston, NY
Resident and Business Owner

36:49 – 38:33
Scott Harrington, Hurley NY
Kingston business owner

38:55 – 40:42
John Reinhardt, Kingston NY

40:50 – 44:33
Joan Horton, Kingston NY

44:39 – 48:50
Lorraine Farina, Kingston NY
(Clarifies Shooting Range info in Albany shared by Dr. Adam Soyer in his early testimony)

49:10 – 51:49
Robert Fancell, Kingston NY

51:50 – 54:12
James Childs, Kingston NY
Representing the Board of Education

54:20 – 57:36
Sue McConachy, Kingston NY
Business Owner

57:38 – End of Video
Nardia Bennett, Kingston NY

00:00 – 2:02
Nardia Bennett, Kingston, NY
(Continued)

2:20 – 5:30
Joe Pugliese, Kingston NY

5:35 – 8:30
Linda Hackett, Kingston NY

9:02 – 12:25
Jennifer Schwartz Berky, Kingston NY

12:28 – 13:50
Cassandra Burke

COUNCIL DISCUSSION

14:45 – 17:58
Nina Dawson (Ward 4)
Has concerns about amending the law.  Supports tabling amending the law.

18:02 – 18:22
Dan Gartenstein explains procedure.

18:23 – 20:57
Maryann Mills (Ward 7)
Discussed broken process. If law isn’t amended, the city will have to stop ceremonies/events such as memorials or re-enactments.

20:59 – 24:00
Lynn Eckert, Chair and Dan Gartenstein
– Asks for a motion.
– Maryann Mills makes a motion to move on Deb’s language to amend the law.
– Lynn Eckert reads the amendment.  VIEW TEXT
– Deb Brown seconds the motion.
– Lynn Eckert opens it up for discussion.

24:00 – End of Video
– Bill Carey brings up Bill Forte’s comments regarding ceremonies, etc was not included in Deb Brown’s text. There might be issues or exceptions to consider.
– Bill Carey asks Dr. Adam Soyer a question.
– Dr. Adam Soyer’s council Michael Moriello speaks.  He believes the current law is unconstitutional “on its face.”
– More discussion between Bill Carey and Dan Gartenstein.
– Steve Schabot (Ward 8), what can we expect as a time frame? Dan Gartenstein answers. Month to month.
– Doug Koop clarifies are we amending or tabling? Doug Koop states that he is against amending the law.
– Deb Brown “This is a commercial area. It is not residential.”
– Maryann Mills states the city is about to update all of its zoning as per the Comprehensive Plan which was newly adopted.
She states she has read comments such as “If the shooting range were proposed to be in a more affluent part of Kingston, it would never occur.” She disagrees.
– Maryann Mills “There is an art of shooting. Where better place for it to be then in our art community. The art of shooting joining our arts area.” (33:50 – 34:00)
– Nina Dawson continues debate.  As a mother, she has to look at the other side of things. Sorry that Dr. Soyer has had to wait for an answer, but feels that location is questionable.  How can we not review Jennifer Schwartz Berky’s comments?
– Mike Moreillo speaks to his memorandum.
– Dan Gartenstein explains process.
– Nina Dawson “What if some of us don’t want to vote on the amendment tonight?”
– Lynn Eckert, Maryann Mills, Dan Gartenstein discusses process.
– Deb Brown “Why did you have me write this, then?”
– Maryann makes another motion to move the amendment through committee.
– Dan advises the committee tables.
– Discussion between Bill Carey, Maryann Mills on items missing from amended text.
– Nina Dawson on the amendment.
– Committee votes. Maryann Mills and Deb Brown in favor.  Bill Carey, Doug Koop and Lynn Eckert are opposed.
– The amendment fails.
– More discussion, confusion on the vote.
– Lynn Eckert “there was an opportunity to table, but noone took it.”
– Meeting is adjourned.

 

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

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

What:
Laws and Rules Committee

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

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

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

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

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

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

LAWS AND RULES COMMITTEE

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

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

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

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

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


COUNCIL NOTABLES ON THE SUBJECT

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

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

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

Additional Reading from KingstonCitizens.org

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

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

 

 

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

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Editorial 

Yesterday, we learned that the proposed shooting range proposal slated for Midtown, Kingston was to be placed on the Finance Committee agenda for discussion today (Wednesday, 4/13).   If you are like us, that’s barely enough time to plan to attend for an issue that might be of interest. All of our schedules are thrown to get there within 24 hours. But this is the way our council has outwardly communicated with the public for as long as we can remember, making it very hard for citizens to engage.

At last March’s Public Safety/General Committee meeting, the shooting range proposal was also placed on the agenda. But unlike today, the agenda was never made public which means, citizens couldn’t plan to attend at all.  Dr. Adam Soyer, however, who is proposing the shooting range along with his supporters were in attendance. The discussion therefore, had only the potential of being one-sided.

Read more…

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

 

12670333_495578203958183_1121558481408475066_nAs citizens of Kingston are aware, last fall a proposed shooting range project came up on the radar for Midtown. Initially, the City of Kingston’s Planning Board, perhaps wishing to avoid a contentious and emotional public comment period on 2nd amendment rights, declined to host a public hearing on the subject.

A small group of citizens, however, respectfully pressed for one and ultimately, the planning board obliged.  In December of 2015, the first public hearing was scheduled and many good points were raised.

VIEW  public comment from December’s public hearing on the proposed shooting range. 

Testimony from this hearing revealed that a shooting range inside of Kingston is actually illegal.  Kingston City administrative law 223-3 specifically prohibits the discharge of firearms. “No person, other than in self-defense or in the discharge of official duties, shall willfully discharge any species of firearm within the city limits of the city of Kingston, New York.” 

There are other concerns for our Planning board to contemplate on Monday.  Regardless, the purpose of zoning is to uphold “the protection and promotion of the public health, safety and welfare” of a community.  Decisions of a Planning and Zoning board are not based on opinion.  Their role is to uphold the law and the law clearly states that discharging a firearm is illegal in the City of Kingston except under very specific circumstances.

So lets start there.

Read more…

The Power of You.

Photo courtesy of the Kingston Times.
Photo courtesy of the Kingston Times.

By Arthur Zaczkiewicz, MSW

News of Macy’s store closure at the Hudson Valley Mall is a serious blow to the local economy as over 70 jobs are expected to be lost. That’s on top of about 70 jobs that were eliminated when J.C. Penney shuttered its doors at the mall last year.

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.

Niagara Falls

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?

Read more…

City of Kingston Can and Should Reject the NYS DEC and Thruway Authority Request to Co-Lead SEQR Review for Pilgrim Pipeline Project. Here’s Why and How.

Map-of-SEQR-process

By Rebecca Martin
UPDATE:  Kingston did it! Both the City of Kingston Mayor and Kingston’s Common Council (unanimously) voted to send letters to both the NYS DEC and Thruway Authority.   VIEW the letters. 

On December 21st, the NYS DEC and Thruway Authority both agreed that together, they would become Co-Lead of the SEQR review for the Pilgrim Pipeline Project.

Because Involved Agencies have been waiting for some resolution of the disagreement, expressed by 29 towns, cities and counties, with Thruway’s November 21, 2015 proposal that it serve as sole lead agency, some might have thought that the co-lead agreement between DEC and Thruway was final.  But it isn’t.  It is simply 2 involved agencies making a new proposal for who should serve as lead agency for the environmental review of Pilgrim Pipelines project.  SEQR regulations require that all involved agencies be given the opportunity to respond to this new proposal, which they can choose to consent to or reject.

Furthermore, the reasons cited by 29 Involved Agencies that rejected the NY Thruway Authority’s proposal to be Lead Agency in the SEQR process in the first go-round :  that Thruway stands to gain monetarily from Pilgrim Pipeline to use their right-of-way and that they are not equipped or experienced in managing an environmental review process for such an incredibly large and complicated project, remain true.

The bottom line is that the NY Thruway Authority’s bid to take on the lead agency role was overwhelmingly rejected to begin with and yet they are still in the running. Also perplexing is that on the NYS DEC’s own website, they dissuade co-lead roles in SEQR and instead advise that “a single lead agency be established with the other agency actively involved in the process but not as co-lead agency” and for good reason.  What would occur if the two leads differed in opinion somewhere down the line? Which agency would trump the other for a decision to be made?

Read more…

DEC Relays Decision to Co-Lead Environmental Review in Pilgrim Pipeline Proposal.

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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) decision to share the environmental review responsibilities with the NYS Thruway Authority for the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline project was a big disappointment to us all at KingstonCitizens.org.

“The three cities who are “involved”  in this proposal – Kingston, Newburgh and Albany – all rejected the Thruway Authority’s request.” said Rebecca Martin, Executive Director of KingstonCitizens.org. “We count on the DEC to uphold their responsibility to protect the environment and our public, and a co-lead in an environmental review process is not a good compromise. From what I know, it is an unprecedented decision and in my opinion, the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal is the wrong project to test out a shared leadership role. We need the lead to be fully unbiased and do not accept one that shares to gain monetarily in anyway. How is the public to trust that it isn’t tainted otherwise?”

Read more…

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

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By Rebecca Martin

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

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

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

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

Read more…

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

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By Rebecca Martin

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

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

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

Thank you!

Read more…

City of Kingston Planning Board Meeting: Public Hearing and Testimony on Proposed Shooting Range

8:03 –  10:00
Introduction of Proposed Shooting Range project. New information regarding the application including a membership makes it not possible for the planning board to take an action this month. The planning board will reconvene a public hearing on January 11th, 2016 meeting.

10:05 – 17:02
Scott Dutton of Dutton Architecture and Dr. Soyer

Public Comment

17:21 – 20:00
James Richer,  not specified

20:07 – 21:50
Donald Gladstone, Hyde Park 

21:56 – 23:40
Elmer LeClair, Kingston

23:49 – 25:40
Frank Ostrander, Olivebridge NY

25:46 – 27:30
Christine Williams, Maybrook NY

Read more…

WHAT TO EXPECT: Public Hearing 12/14 on Proposed Shooting Range project in Midtown Kingston

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By Rebecca Martin

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.

VIEW
SafeShoot Fact Sheet

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.

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Common Council Unanimously Rejects Thruway Authority’s Lead Agency in SEQR Request. Public Encouraged to Stay Focused on Public Scoping Process Next.

 After the Lead Agency determination deadline on December 16th, KingstonCitizens.org urges the community to stay informed on the many upcoming phases of the SEQR review for the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal as it pertains to Kingston. We are anticipating a large scoping effort next.  Please SUBSCRIBE TO OUR MAILING LIST, and join our growing citizen base to become better informed, educated and effective.  

Photo Courtesy: Riverkeeper.
Photo Courtesy: Riverkeeper.

The following quotes were crafted by Iris Marie Bloom from Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines (CAPP):

Last night, the Kingston Common Council passed a memorializing resolution rejecting the Thruway Authority’s request to be Lead Agency in SEQR for the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline proposal.

“I’m thrilled it passed unanimously,” said Julie Noble, Chair of the Kingston, New York Conservation Advisory Council, after the Kingston Common Council’s 9-0 vote last night.

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