WHAT TO EXPECT: Kingston Common Council Caucus (6/1) and Kingston Common Council Meeting (6/2)

 

Monday, June 1st, 2015
Kingston Common Council Caucus
7:00pm
Conference Room #1
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway, Kingston

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015
Kingston Common Council
7:30pm
Council Chambers
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway, Kingston

Both meetings will be filmed. 

 

By Rebecca Martin

At last week’s Public Safety/General Government Committee meeting, a resolution for a referendum to be placed on the ballot in November passed unanimously through to the Common Council. The referendum, if approved by a full Council vote, would give the public the opportunity to vote on whether or not to amend the charter to include the Common Council for “Water Supply Outside of City”.

In Section C11-5C (Water Supply Outside of City), it says: (C) Such sales or sales must be approved by the New York State Water Power and Control Commission” (the NYS Water Power and Control Commission today is the Department of Environmental Conservation aka DEC).  The referendum would ask the public to approve or not the inclusion of the Common Council,  “and the common council.”   That simple amendment would give the public a say as to water sales outside of Kingston’s city limits.  Additionally, Kingston would automatically be an “Involved” agency in SEQR in the case one were ever triggered again.

In the meantime, the public’s water would have a layer of protection that would allow for thoughtful policy to be developed for sustainable growth and economic development using this precious public resource.

This is one of many steps that need to be taken in order to help protect Cooper Lake and our watershed as a whole.  But by assuring that the sale of water outside of our small, local municipality includes our Common Council – it is a significant one.

WHAT TO EXPECT: June 1st 

Caucus (Monday, 6/1), which is a public meeting of supporters and members of a specific political party (in Kingston, our nine alderpersons are made up of eight democrats and one republican), occurs each month the evening before the full Common Council meetings. Much discussion is generally had on all agenda items, as well as often, conclusions as to which way council members will cast their vote the following evening. There isn’t a sign-up for public comment during Caucus, however you may contact Matt Dunn, the Council Majority Leader (see email address below), if you wish to be added to the agenda. For those who can attend caucus,  it is always enlightening and in this case, and if added to the agenda, will help you to better understand the dynamics that surround this issue.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT: June 2nd

It is very important that the public plan to attend the Kingston Common Council meeting on Tuesday, June 2nd to speak in support of the public referendum as described above if you are in favor of it.  Please consider to thank the Public Safety/General Government Committee for their leadership role here and on passing the resolution for referendum through to Council. Request that the City take any necessary steps to make a referendum possible for the November, 2015 ballot.  A public comment period begins shortly after 7:30pm. Please arrive 10 minutes early to sign-up to speak.   Keep your comments succinct, respectful and no longer than 3 minutes in length.

If you cannot be in attendance next week but wish to share your thoughts with city officials regarding this matter, with “REFERENDUM:  Water Supply Powers” in the subject.

 

Mayor Shayne Gallo
sgallo@kingston-ny.gov
(845) 334-3902

Alderman-at-Large James Noble
jnoble39@aol.com
(845) 331-4696

Matt Dunn, Ward 1 and Majority Leader
ward1@kingston-ny.gov
(845) 541-8880

Brian Seche, Ward 2 
brian@seche.net
(845) 335-5971

Brad Will, Ward 3
bbieber693@gmail.com
(845) 616-8664

Nina Dawson, Ward 4
ward4@kingston-ny.gov
(845) 616-8592

Bill Carey,  Ward 5 
kingstoncarey5@yahoo.com
(845) 339-1361

Elisa Ball, Ward 6
ward6@kingston-ny.gov
(845) 430-8521

Maryann Mills, Ward 7
mmills1299@aol.com
(845) 331-7682

Steven Shabot, Ward 8
ward8@kingston-ny.gov
(845) 338-5060

Deb Brown, Ward 9 and Minority Leader
djbrown72@hotmail.com
(845) 338-0763

Additional Reading from KingstonCitizens.org:

Resolution for Referendum Passes Unanimously Through Kingston Public Safety Committee

Moving Towards a Referendum

Powers for Sale of Water Outside of Kingston Put to Referendum? We Say Yes!

Checks and Balances. Amend Charter to Include Kingston Common Council in Certain Water Sales.

Niagara Bottling Proposal Timeline: 116 Events

 

Resolution for Referendum Passes Unanimously Through Kingston Public Safety Committee.

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By Rebecca Martin

“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.” – Jacques Cousteau

Tonight, Kingston’s Public Safety/General Government Committee passed a resolution unanimously for a referendum that would include the Kingston Common Council for any water sales outside of Kingston’s City Limits.

WATCH VIDEO OF LAST NIGHT’S REFERENDUM DISCUSSION

Why is this important?

First,  a referendum would allow the City of Kingston residents to vote on whether or not it should have a voice in water sales outside of our community. Cooper Lake, our reservoir that resides in the Town of Woodstock, is Kingston’s responsibility to manage for its residents and our neighboring communities.

As we learned with the Niagara Bottling proposal, the water department that was organized in 1895 designed to keep politics out of water couldn’t have imagined the politics that would emerge through the interpretation of their original intention. Or climate change. Or water bottling companies. Or fracking. Or any other large extractions of water that would bring great profits to some while potentially decimating the locals ability to grow and to prosper.

Today, we are living in a very different time with the opportunity to reform the way our natural resources are managed. We owe it not only to ourselves, but to municipalities who are also impacted by our decisions and counting on Kingston to be good stewards as we proceed into the future.

Second, throughout the Niagara Bottling proposal, we were told that the City of Kingston hadn’t a seat at the table in the SEQR process because of the Charter. The Town of Ulster, who was hoping to attract Niagara to their community, relied on Kingston’s water in order for them to do so. It took many months of hard work to make the SEQR process a public one and even then, the city of Kingston had no right to be an ‘Involved’ agency.

We will support our Common Council to correct that in November and are pleased to speak more on the subject here all summer long to help the public to make an informed decision.

While we are all at it – the Kingston Water Department needs to do an up-to-date safe yield using climate change modeling.  Simply put, a safe or dependable yield projection is the amount that you can safely remove from a reservoir that can be naturally replenished within a certain amount of time.   6.1 million GPD (gallons per day) was what it was over 50 years ago. We are using close to 4.5 million GPD now.  It’s a ‘come to Jesus’ moment and time to apply modern strategies to our knowing.

A big thanks to Common Council members Bill Carey, Deb Brown, Matt Dunn, Brad Will, Steve Schabot and Brian Seche for three months of discussion. Your support tonight as a result is greatly appreciated.

Thanks, too, the Kingston’s Corporation Council for their support in helping us find a way to move this referendum through to the next step.

What’s next? This evening’s vote will result in a public referendum in November provided that the full Common Council votes in favor of the amendment in June, and the Mayor signs the legislation.

Please stay tuned and involved. There is more work to do.

 

RECOMMENDED READING:

Water Follies by Robert Glennon  (thanks Candace!)

 

Moving Towards a Referendum.

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CITIZEN ACTION: Attend the Kingston Public Safety/General Government Committee Meeting TUESDAY, MAY 26th at 6:30pm at Kingston City Hall (Conference Room #1) where a Public Referendum will be discussed on Including the Common Council in Municipal Water Sales Outside of Kingston’s City Limits. VIEW FACEBOOK INVITATION and please share.

By Rebecca Martin

In the news now for a couple of months, it has been reported that members of the Common Council led by the Public Safety/General Government Committee that is chaired by Alderman Bill Carey of Ward 5, wish to explore options to include the Common Council in sales of municipal water outside of Kingston’s boundaries.

In this week’s Kingston Times, our own Mayor is called a ‘formidable opponent’ against the work of creating a referendum.

“…the charter change would need approval from State Lawmakers, since they passed the enabling legislation to create the water department. Such approval is unlikely to be granted.” Said Gallo.

He also shares the concerns of the water department’s founders about political interference with a vital resource. 

“They may be well-intended,” said Gallo. “But it would do nothing but politicize the issue, which is what the state legislature was trying to avoid when the created a separate system.”

Kingston Times READ ARTICLE.

What the Mayor is referring to, is how the Water Department was set up in 1895 to protect the public. 120 years ago – and long before water bottling and other enormous water uses that may or may not benefit the people was in their purview.

We’re not asking that a referendum be placed on the ballot to change the organization of the Water Department/Water Board of Commissioners. We are requesting that a referendum be moved forth that simply includes the Kingston Common Council in sales of the PEOPLE OF KINGSTON’S PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY outside of the City of Kingston.  In essence, to allow the residents of Kingston to have a say in how its municipal water is used outside of the community. Reform that would protect the public, in line with adhering to what those long ago intended.

By implementing better checks and balances in this way, that we have all learned are necessary thanks to the Niagara Bottling proposal (a project that wanted to set up in the Town of Ulster using Kingston’s municipal water source from its reservoir located in the Town of Woodstock to bottle and to sell in the NE), the public would have an important seat at the table.

As to politicizing the issue,  do some of our elected officials not trust the public to choose what is right for their community?  We don’t agree with the Mayor’s take here. His opinion is but one, and although it is important, it should not trump all else. Lets get the language right, and let the people decide. That is democratic.

It is disingenuous for the Mayor to suggest that the process isn’t already political. What about appointees to the Water Board of Commissioners? Did you know that the Mayor has the sole discretion to appoint members without any oversight? Not only could the Mayor’s appointments be considered political, without full fair and open discussions about the appointments with the public, the lack of transparency and direct Democratic accountability could also be viewed as unethical.

Please see the Niagara Bottling TIMELINE for a refresher on exactly how politics in this case were used to work against the public good in our opinion.  Thankfully, we learned our rights and implemented them.   We will do the very same thing in this case.

You can also view a video from early in the Niagara effort where the Town of Ulster Supervisor James Quigley gives an Oscar winning performance.  (No politics at work here)

 VIDEO  / TRANSCRIPT

In ‘Revising City Charters in NYS’ it lays out the requirements for ‘Charter Revision by Initiative and Referendum’.   You can read the document by clicking on this LINK.

On Tuesday, May 26th at 7:00pm (Kingston City Hall, Conference Room #1) the Public Safety/General Government Committee will meet to discuss such a referendum. Members of the council have requested our Corporation Council to be prepared with information on the steps the Council must take.

This is another one of those moments where we are asking the public to attend and witness.  Committee meetings do not have a public comment period like the council meeting does. Your presence next Tuesday will be meaningful in support of our council members as they work to move the referendum out of committee and on to the next step.

 

ADDITIONAL READING FROM KINGSTONCITIZENS.ORG

Powers for Sale of Water Outside of Kingston Put to Referendum? We Say Yes.

Checks and Balances: Amend Charter to Include Kingston Common Council in Certain Water Sales.

 

 

 

Powers for Sale of Water Outside of Kingston Put to Referendum? We Say Yes!

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During the Niagara Bottling proposal, Kingston citizens and the Kingston Common Council came up close and personal to a glaring problem that it had not ever contemplated.

The Town of Ulster, a neighboring municipality,  wanted to bring a national bottling company to set up shop in Ulster using Start-Up NY tax abatements (and at least one other grant source) to bottle and to sell municipal water that, ironically, was not theirs.

Cooper Lake – the water body in the midst of the debate – is a reservoir owned by the City of Kingston located in the Town of Woodstock. The proposal didn’t just involve the forementioned,  but a hand full of other municipalities due to proposed wastewater discharges from the site into the Esopus Creek.

As for Kingston, outside of the Kingston Water Department (KWD), the residents (whose water and infrastructure it was) were not an ‘Involved’ agency in the SEQR process due to the KWD being independent and the charter being worded as it currently is.  It took months of hard work to simply be included as ‘Interested’ agency which in the end, gave us all little to no say at all (particularly in determining  ‘Lead Agency’ where you must be ‘Involved’ to be included in making that decision). A tremendous effort ensued, and the public prevailed.

Recently, we created a post called CHECKS AND BALANCES: AMEND CHARTER TO INCLUDE KINGSTON COMMON COUNCIL IN CERTAIN WATER SALES.  Since that time, we have learned that an amendment to the charter would require a referendum. If the council and citizens can swing it, by the fall of this year.

In Section C11-5C (Water Supply Outside of City), it says: (C) Such sales or sales must be approved by the New York State Water Power and Control Commission.” (that today is the DEC).  What may be proposed in a referendum are to include four simple words to this section:  “and the common council.”  That right there, would give the public a say as to its water supply outside of Kingston’s city limits.  Additionally, Kingston would be an “Involved” agency in SEQR in the case one were triggered. In the meantime, the public’s water would have a layer of protection that would allow for thoughtful policy to be developed over time for sustainable growth and economic development using this precious public resource.

VIEW our event page to stay informed on the upcoming Water Referendum.

 

Checks and Balances: Amend Charter To Include Kingston Common Council in Certain Water Sales.

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By Rebecca Martin

In yesterday’s Daily Freeman, there was a report on the desire of Council members to have ‘Authority over City of Kingston’s Water Supply” that could be subject to public vote.

At a recent Public Safety/General Government committee meeting, Ward 5 Alderman and chair of the committee Bill Carey introduced a resolution to amend the City Charter.  But City of Kingston Assistant Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein told the Committee that “they could not make the change through a resolution. He said the state’s Municipal Home Rule Law would require a public referendum be held because the council essentially would be expanding its powers.” Currently, the only public official who has any authority in the matter is the mayor, who sits on the city’s Board of Water Commissioners.

What we have learned over the past decade is that Government is more efficient when proper checks and balances are in place. In Kingston, one of the hardships of the Niagara Bottling project was the council not having a voice in the sale of an enormous amount of the community’s municipal water, leaving many questions in the way of science and modeling, climate change, safe yields, economic development and other critical aspects nearly impossible to challenge.

The Public Safety/General Government Committee was looking to explore an avenue that would include the Common Council in future certain sales of water.  Given the time it would take to update the charter in its entirety (which we would advocate for) a simple amendment as we understand it would give the council – and in turn the citizens – a seat at the table as Involved for any large sales of water outside the City of Kingston.

The Steps

1. All that appears to be required that is most minimal, targeted and yet comprehensive would be to adopt a local law to amend Section C11-5C (Water Supply Outside of City) of the Charter in the following way (and only adding four words that are underlined below):

“C:   Such sale or sales must be approved by the New York State Water Power and Control Commission (today is known as the DEC) and the Common Council.”

2. We found that based on Section 23 of the Municipal Home Rule Law (that list local laws requiring referendum) that it doesn’t appear that a local law passed by the Common Council to amend the Charter to provide for some form of Council approval of certain sales of water would be subject to a mandatory referendum. Section 23 of the Municipal Home Rule Law has the list of local laws requiring referendum, and we didn’t find anything close.

3. If this is correct, the Public Safety/General Government Committee could request that the Council adopt a local law that would amend the section. Once moved out of Committee, the Council would read the amended local law at their next meeting and vote the following month, giving the public 30 days in between for a chance to weigh in.

VIEW: Laws of 1896 and 1895:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kingston Alderman Questions Demolition of Potential Historic Properties in Kingston.

 

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By Rebecca Martin

Today, Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will issued a communication to the Common Council regarding his concern of the potential demolition of what are  potentially significant historic properties in Kingston. The public is invited to attend the next Common Council meeting on Tuesday, May 5th to voice in on the following information. To view KingstonCitizens.org’s Facebook invite on the upcoming meeting, please visit our FACEBOOK page.

###

Having reached out to residents who are experts in the field of historic preservation, please note the following:

Attached find two reports prepared by an ACRA-Accredited archaeologist for the NYS DOT in 2002, and two current real estate market estimates.  There is some discrepancy of physical address between tax roll, Ulster GIS, and the reports, but none regarding the historical significance of both properties – constructed ca. 1810-1830.  Note on page two of each report that the subject property “meets eligibility criteria” for inclusion on both State and National Historic Registers, and that each “embodies the distinct characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction; or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction.”

These two structures should be saved – along with others that we will be asked to appropriate funds for destruction.  They are two hundred year old structuresthat speak to Kingston’s history – they should and can be preserved.  Properties should be re-marketed to eligible buyers (individuals or organizations) for reasonable asking prices that facilitate and encourage their preservation.  Clear and attractive identifying signage should be placed at the properties that state they are City-owned and for sale.  Absent these steps, Kingston risks losing much credibility of the marketing message stating that “Historic Is Just Our Beginning.”

Equally important will be the City developing comprehensive and public-accessible criteria to evaluate not only the structural integrity – but also the historic value and status – of any property that is being considered for demolition.  This means the City has to do its homework with SHPO, DOT, the County, Heritage Area Commission, Friends of Historic Kingston, and any other entity that may offer valuable information regarding a given property’s status.

Thanks,

Brad Will
Alderman, City of Kingston

 

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FROM THE CITY OF KINGSTON TOURISM WEB PAGE:

Tourism

“The City of Kingston is nestled in the heart of Ulster County, New York. It is 91 miles north of New York City and 59 miles south of Albany. Kingston was New York’s first capital in 1777, and was burned by the British on October 16, 1777, after the Battles of Saratoga. In the 19th century, the city became an important transport hub after the discovery of natural cement in the region, and had both railroad and canal connections. Passenger rail service has since ceased, and many of the older buildings are part of three historic districts, such as the Uptown Stockade District, the Midtown Neighborhood Broadway Corridor, and the Downtown Rondout-West Strand Historic District.”

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UPSTATER ARTICLE, EXCERPT – DECEMBER 8, 2014:

Historic is Just Our Beginning – But We’re Not Just Getting Started

“Here in Kingston we say, “Historic is just our beginning,” but when it comes to historic preservation, we aren’t just getting started. We know that when people are looking to move to a city like Kingston, back to a place where population has declined over the years as factories closed or the shift took place toward the suburbs, they look for historic areas first.

“We have historic districts in Uptown where the original Stockade was established — along West Chestnut Street with grand views of the Rondout and the Hudson — and in the Rondout near the waterfront. But now we are taking steps and taking stock in our historic assets so we can plan for the future and expose our past.” – Gregg Swanzey, Director of Economic Development & Strategic Partnerships, City of Kingston

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Majority and Minority Leader ‘State of the City’ Addresses 4/7/15

Great speeches last night.  We appreciate the hard work of our common council.

Now you can watch at your leisure.   Thanks to Kingston News for making this possible and available.

Majority Leader Matt Dunn (Democrat)
“We will give the City of Kingston a voice for the potential sale of our water outside of the City limits.”   (20:30 – 21:42)

 

Minority Leader Deb Brown (Republican)
“(Washington Avenue Sinkhole) We are doing our due diligence and making sure all aspects of this major undertaking is done in the proper sequence. This is not a problem that happened overnight…to coordinate this project with the consultants, funding, grants, government entities, the bidding process, construction companies, easements, regulations, mother nature and unexpected failures is a major undertaking. We all want it to be done right the first time, not having to be looking over our shoulder going into the next decade. We are an old city with old infrastructures.”  (1:00 – 3:40)

12/2/14: Common Council Meeting Allocation of $25k for Council Representation

3:21 – 10:50      “We are not an Involved Agency”.  Against the $25,000 allocation.
Andrew Champ-Doren, Kingston, NY

11:03 – 16:03       DPW Budget
Michael Schupp, DPW      Kingston, NY

16:14 – 19:33    Police Department Budget
Chief Tinti, Kingston, NY

19:40 – 23:39        Parks & Recreation
Kevin Gilfeather, Kingston NY

23:50 –  25:51         “The Mayor is my hero.”
Ellen DiFalco    COK’s Mayor Office Administrative Assistant

25:58 –  27:40        Against the $25,000 allocation
Rev. Arthur Cost, Kingston NY

27:49 – 30:43
Doris Edwards, Kingston NY

30:55 –  33:03     “Where there is a balance of power the cost of government goes down.”
Jennifer Schwartz Berky, Kingston NY

33:20 – 39:17    Miscellaneous
James Richter

39:35 – 44:18      Pilgram Pipeline concern
Elizabeth Broad, Kingston NY

44:30 – 45:52      Against $25,000 allocation
Donald Julliard, Kingston NY

46:01 – 46:55
Phillip Guerrieri

 

#227 Resolution
Allocation of additional funds to hire a lawyer.

27:20 – 54:41
Common Council members debate. The resolution is defeated 5 – 4.

 

Support the Kingston Common Council on December 2nd.

The Kingston Common Council will discuss allocating $25,000 for their own municipal lawyer. 

On several occasions, the City of Kingston’s Corporation Council – hired to represent the City as a whole – has seemingly worked against the Kingston Common Council. Most recently regarding the Niagara Bottling Company and the City being included as an ‘Involved’ agency in SEQR.

Members of the Kingston Common Council have decided that it was in the publics best interest for a municipal lawyer to work specifically with the Council on matters when the Corporation Council does not cooperate.

With at least a year left under the current administration, it is unfortunate that the council is forced to go this route – but it’s important that they do. If you agree, please come to the Kingston Common Council meeting on Tuesday, December 2nd in support of their efforts.Kingston citizens, show your support with the Kingston Common Council allocating  $25,000 budget line in the 2014 budget to hire a separate municipal lawyer to represent our Common Council whenever deemed necessary. Public comment starts shortly after the meeting begins at 7:30pm. 

If you are not able to attend the meeting, please consider sending this letter or one of your own via email to:

SUBJECT: I support the Kingston Common Council Decision to Legal Representation.

ToJames Noble, Alderman-at-large commoncouncil@kingston-ny.gov
CCMatt Dunn, Majority Leader  
ward1@kingston-ny.gov
Deb Brown, Minority Leader 
ward9@kingston-ny.gov
Mayor Shayne Gallo 
sgallo@kingston-ny.gov

My name is xxx and I am a Kingston City Resident residing on xxxx.

I am writing in support of the Kingston Common Council placing $25,000 in the 2014 City Budget towards a municipal lawyer that specifically responds to the needs of the Council whenever they deem it necessary throughout the budgeted year.

Thank you.

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

By Rebecca Martin

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

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

Read more…

SPEAK DURING PUBLIC COMMENT ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4th At 7:30pm: In Support of Kingston’s Common Council Being Listed as an ‘Involved Agency’ in SEQR.

WHAT KINGSTONCITIZENS.ORG BELIEVES:

The Niagara Bottling Company’s proposal must be thoroughly evaluated for its environmental and economic impacts on our region. It is premature and irresponsible to agree to sell our water before due diligence is performed.

Read more…

IMPORTANT MEETING / IMPORTANT VOTE: Kingston Common Council on November 4th at 7:30pm

content_Kingston_City_Hall_2

WHAT
Kingston Common Council Meeting

WHEN
Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
7:30pm

WHERE
Kingston City Hall
Council Chambers
420 Broadway
Kingston, NY

WHY
The Kingston Common Council will vote to pass through two important memorializing resolutions. The first in support of the DEC as Lead Agency of the SEQR process for the proposed Niagara Bottling Company. The second in support of the City of Kingston being listed as ‘involved’ agency in the SEQR process.  READ: SEQR: Interested vs. Involved Agencies

Read more…

City of Kingston: Water Supply Permit and Water Supply Applications of 1954 & 1929.

FOIL Request DEC
By Rebecca Martin

Recently, we reached out to the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) to see if we could receive a copy of the most recent Water Supply Permit by the City of Kingston.  They asked that we FOIL (NYS’s Freedom of Information Law) for their records, which we did.

Read more…

What to Expect: October 7th Common Council Meeting in Kingston – Public Comment Session

Kingston's Cooper Lake reservoir in drought in 2012, where the water levels were down 12.7 feet.
Kingston’s Cooper Lake reservoir in drought in 2012, where the water levels were down 12.7 feet.

 

VIEW the post on KingstonCitizens.org
VIEW the event invitation on Facebook

WHAT
Kingston Common Council Meeting
Public Comment

WHEN
Tuesday, October 7th at 7:30pm

WHERE
Kingston City Hall
Council Chambers (top floor)
420 Broadway (across from the Kingston High School)
Kingston, NY

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By Rebecca Martin

It’s great to see so many residents and neighbors planning to attend the Common Council meeting on Tuesday, October 7th to speak or to simply be present on the proposed Niagara Bottling Co. project.

As you know, the Niagara Bottling Co. project came out of the blue for most everyone with an early article in the Times Herald Record (September 10th) and shortly after, making front page news in both the Daily Freeman and Kingston Times.  From the proposal presented by Peter Romano of the Chazen Company to the Town of Ulster Planning Board on September 16th, Niagara Bottling Co. expressed their desire to begin their build in 2015. In doing so, they would be using the City of Kingston’s Cooper Lake to bottle and to sell as well as scouting out other ‘spring’ sources in Ulster County and beyond. The project was approved to be sent for a SEQRA review with the Town of Ulster Town Board taking the lead. A resolution was granted on 9/18/14 – just about the time the public became aware by the media.  Romano’s presentations were not on either agendas posted by the Town of Ulster.

Because of the swiftness of it all, KingstonCitizens.org prepared a Facebook event so that the public could go in front of the Common Council as soon as possible.  Although our passion for the subject is a no-brainer, this effort also illustrates how important it is to the people for transparent processes to be a priority for all local municipalities.  Local officials, take note.

(It may be necessary to do the very same thing at the next Town of Ulster Town Board meeting, too.  Their next Town Board meeting is on Thursday, October 16th at 7:00pm.  Public comment appears to occur later in the meeting. Stay tuned).

 

WHAT TO EXPECT. WHAT TO DO

1. ARRIVAL: We expect a very large turnout. The meeting begins at 7:30pm, so please plan to arrive early (7:00pm) so to find parking, to sign-up to speak when the list becomes available and to get a seat. It’ll be standing room only.

2. KINGSTON COMMON COUNCIL: It appears that the Common Council were caught off guard as much as we were. Many, if not most, are as concerned too. As a first step, lets work with the council in finding a solution by including an action that you wish the Council to take that is well within their jurisdiction and abilities. We want them to come back to the table with an action in response to the public’s requests. 

In Kingston, those that issued the ‘will share’ was City of Kingston Superintendent Judy Hansen of the Kingston Water Department. As an independent board, The Mayor of Kingston is the only public official who is a member. Ward 2 Alderman Brian Seche was given the role as council liaison, though it is unclear if he ever attended a meeting. The council, unfortunately, was never alerted.

Suggested Actions to request:

– For the Common Council to organize a public hearing/debate with city officials and guest speakers (such as Food & Water Watch).

– That a resolution be drafted to protect groundwater and Kingston’s surface water (Cooper Lake) from being being sold to private companies to bottle and to sell.

3. PUBLIC COMMENT: The public is taking advantage of the council meeting “public comment” period where anyone is able to speak. On his evening, we will be discussing Niagara, the use of Cooper Lake, and other items.  As per council rules,  council members “are not allowed to engage in debate during this period.”   If the project gets any further, there will be time for debate and more. That’s a promise.

3. COMMENT LENGTH: Because of the number of people who will want to speak on the 7th,  we ask that you come prepared with a statement. What is typical is that a speaker is given 3 minutes each. Try to keep it to that length and as noted above, consider ending with an action that you wish the Kingston Common Council to make that is in their jurisdiction.

4. THOSE IN FAVOR…:  Jobs will be the argument made by those who attend in favor of the Niagara Bottling Co. project.  For those who wish to, please prepare facts to counter.

5. FILMING: The public comment period will be filmed.

If you have further questions, please send them along to Rebecca Martin: rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org

 

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

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

 

By Rebecca Martin

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

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

 

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