Community members in the Town of Ulster have asked Central Hudson to hold a virtual informational meeting in order to answer questions and concerns regarding Central Hudson’s “Gas Village” training facility project next to a residential neighborhood and located in the Esopus Creek watershed. They rejected that request and instead, scheduled an in-person meeting at their headquarters even in the midst of surging Covid-19 infections.
TAKE ACTION: You can support residents in the Town of Ulster to make this meeting virtual in order to be seen by more community members by contacting John Maserjian of Central Hudson Gas & Electric at: firstname.lastname@example.org
From Town of Ulster Community members to Central Hudson:
“We appreciate your response to our request for a community meeting to address the many concerns that we have for the environment, Esopus Creek watershed water quality, long-term noise and aesthetics due to the construction of your Gas Village next to a residential neighborhood and in the Esopus Creek watershed located off of route 9W. Being in-person as well as the format however, is not what we asked for and therefore we will not be attending.
The indoor in-person meeting that you have scheduled for September 22 at CenHud Headquarters is dangerous and irresponsible given the current realities of Covid-19. Your current plans will end up excluding a large segment of our community in the same way that 60% of our community members living directly adjacent to the construction site did not receive your 2019 notification letter about the approved project or its timeline.
Regarding the immediate concerns of public health and in-person meetings, they are not ours alone. Recently, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into legislation last week a law to extend remote town meetings due to safety concerns, our neighbors in the City of Kingston just this week reinstituted remote city meetings for the foreseeable future and in a recent Ulster County update, County Executive Pat Ryan wrote, “Due to the rapid spread of the Delta variant, Ulster County reported 573 active cases of COVID-19, on August 26 – the highest number of reported cases since April.“
The roving meeting format does not allow for complete transparency. This unstructured way of questions and answers facilitates sidebar conversations either muffled due to mask-wearing or inaudible to the rest of the public. Furthermore, you are forcing strangers whose vaccination status is unknown to be confined in a room for an hour or more and to walk around the room to see your displays and converse with each other. This increases risk and exposure.
If you choose to proceed despite these concerns that is your prerogative. But we request that you provide us with your construction timeline, as we asked for two weeks ago, by September 17, 2021.
Once we have that we can adequately review your plans and hold our own remote community meeting to compile town members’ and CenHud customer concerns and present those to you to address them.
Our goals are safety, inclusion, transparency, and collaboration. Respectfully, we urge you to reconsider and to make your upcoming meeting virtual. “
READ: Central Hudson “Gas Village” in Town of Ulster Destroys 28 Acres of Forest