Town Supervisor Updates

SPECIAL REPORT Dear Pine Plains 3.16.2020

SURVIVAL MEANS COMING TOGETHER BY STAYING APART

 

Dear Pine Plains, In the coming days, much legislation will be enacted which will change the way we live for a while—not forever—and the town, the county and the state need your help. In order to stop the spread of the coronavirus, it is imperative that we do two seemingly opposing things: stay home and go out—to help others and to buy local. You should count on the state to impose restrictions on eating in bars and restaurants, congregating in groups of more than 50, and perhaps even curfews, especially in more urban places. Many states are doing this, not just New York. All of the restaurants in Pine Plains are already moving towards providing take-out and curbside delivery, as well as delivery by car, and they need your patronage to survive this moment in history. Without you, they will not get through this. What you might not know is how much these businesses—and all the others in town—support this town, employ its young people, give food to the needy, sponsor ball teams, and provide the income people need to just live here. We are all now working together with both the Food Locker and Willow Roots to make sure that needy families and homebound elders eat during this crisis. If you have the time and resources to help, please contact me at supervisor@pineplains-ny.gov or 518-398-8600 ext 1

We cannot, we will not, get through this if we don’t do this together. Sign up for the town newsletter so that you can get more in-depth announcements, pay attention to Facebook, and assume you carry the virus and act appropriately. And check on your neighbors! Because that is the way they will know it’s safe to come check on you. Imagine what a sense of accomplishment we will feel if we beat this thing by working together.

PLEASE SHARE THIS EMAIL WITH ANYONE YOU KNOW IN PINE PLAINS! I plan to use this format to communicate by the minute with people, as well as Facebook. Stay well, Pine Plains! And see below for closings.

Darrah Cloud

IMPORTANT CLOSINGS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE:

Town Hall building is now officially closed. Supervisor, Secretary, and Town Clerk will be in, but the door will be locked to visitors. Please call us if you need something. Updates on town website at www.pineplains-ny.gov and Facebook. If we hold Town Board Workshop and Meeting this week, we will live-stream it. No audience, as per the suspension of the Open Meetings Law.

The Library is closed.

The Court is closed: effective 5pm Monday March 16th. The Court will contact any litigants with new dates. Arraignments will be processed in Poughkeepsie.

The Stissing Center is closed and all events cancelled through May.

The schools are closed.

The re-naming of the post office will be re-scheduled.

Peck’s, the pharmacy and all restaurants are open for takeout and delivery only. Call ahead. Please support them!

Dear Pine Plains 3.13.2020

Dear Pine Plains,

The many events I had in the line-up to post for this weekend have dissolved before my eyes as concerns and mandates about the coronavirus have come down from County and State Government. Our Office of Emergency Management in Dutchess County is a thorough, deliberative body of people whose main focus is on your safety and well-being. The Town relies on them to give guidance in what to say to our community and how to manage events. The spread of this unknown virus is something to handle knowledgeably, with a modicum of hysteria. In particular, it is important not to politicize it; to take it very seriously, to listen to the advice of those on the front lines of the fight against this disease, and to take the measures they recommend without becoming frightened. Fear makes us say mean things to each other. This is no time for that.

I have thought about 9/11 a lot during the last 36 hours. At least during that time, we had gatherings: music, plays, church events went on and they were important to our emotional survival. We were not quarantined in our homes but out in our communities looking for solace, looking to help. I think that is basic human instinct of the best kind, yet now we are prevented from even that as we are told to stay home, go nowhere, touch no one. Many of our kids are grieving the postponement of sports events and the high school play, on which they worked long hours and had high hopes. And their parents grieve for them. What to do?

Maybe the answer is in finding ways to be in touch that are new to us. In taking advantage of the time together by playing board games, reading, watching movies, learning something new. Digging in the back yard, in this glorious weather. Getting our hands into soil. Play your own music. Call old friends on the telephone, whom you haven’t spoken to in years. Read the Town of Pine Plains website!!

I am working on a new play about the Berlin Olympics at a theatre out in New Jersey, and staying in the guest house of a senior living center called Heath Village. It is an amazing place. The housing is single-story duplexes and triplexes mainly, scattered along a hill joined by walking trails through old pines. They have a pool and tennis court, and the architecture is sort of modern farmhouse. The best part: they have a pre-school on the property which uses volunteers from the residences on their Board and in their classrooms. I confess I wish this for our area. I think it would be awesome. They have numerous financial packages for residents, so that the income level is mixed, and are now building a real nursing care facility nearby. It employs many people. And it is a beautiful place. I am taking pictures…

Town Hall is open, the Town Board is working hard to choose an engineer for our upcoming Sewer Feasibility Study, the Durst Organization is home working on their application for the new development, and the air has cleared for the first time in decades in Beijing, China because no one is driving much. There are good outcomes to this moment in history.

Maybe the best advice for the coming weeks until the virus subsides—which most scientists believe it will, at least for this year—is to call before leaving the house to attend something. Small gatherings will go on. The history lecture at the Library on March 20th is cancelled. But the corned beef dinner at the Presbyterian church is still on. Get on Facebook—you can do it!—and read the Town of Pine Plains page for updates on the virus and ways of keeping it out of your life. Don’t think it won’t touch you—it will. We are all vulnerable to it, as are the people we love. Take it seriously, listen to the science, and stay informed. That is the best way to avoid both the virus and its accompanying panic.

Stay in touch, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 2.21.2020

Dear Pine Plains,

This month was a month of many meetings. The first occurred on February 3rd, when we met with potential engineers for the Sewer Feasibility Study. We expected 3 or 4 to show up, and we got 14 from 10 different companies. On February 10th, we launched the Sewer Feasibility Study at a Community Meeting held at the Community Center. Over 40 people attended and received a power-point presentation by Candace Balmer, of RCAP Solutions, or Rural Community Assistance Partnership, a national network of nonprofit organizations working to ensure that rural communities have safe drinking water and sanitary waste disposal infrastructure. They manage projects in this realm for the USDA, the EPA, the Equal Housing Opportunity, Department of Housing and Urban Development, CDFI Fund and the Small Business Association. I gave the intro, and it’s all on Pine Plains Views on their website.

Stan Hirson filmed that meeting, as well as the two meetings this week with the Durst organization. They came to tell us that they are withdrawing the new Neighborhood Development plans to pursue a new concept focused on a healthy lifestyle and recreation resort with hiking and biking trails, an equestrian complex, substantial environmental conservation and connectivity to the Town. They want to promote Pine Plains as an outdoor destination and foster tourism and economic support for the town. The new project will need a Planning Board special permit, a new development plan will be submitted, and all new environment impact statements will be created. Thanks to Stan, you can all watch the meetings on www.pineplainsviews.com

At the Dutchess County Supervisors and Mayors Meeting this month I was elected as their rep to the Dutchess County Transportation Council as a voting member. I look forward to serving them and the Town of Pine Plains in this capacity. This is in addition to my appointment to the Community Development Council for Dutchess County by County Executive Molinaro. Due to our Town Board Meeting last night, I was unable to attend the State of the County address. We shared it on our Facebook page Pine Plains Town Hall as well as our website.

Scammers are at it again with calls to vulnerable people about their Social Security being suspended. If you know anyone who might be vulnerable to this, please let them know they can just hang up!

March 1st, John Ryan Larkin will be ordained at the First United Presbyterian Church, 3pm. All are invited, but an RSVP is appreciated to: dyan.wapnick@gmail.com A reception follows. We look forward to getting to know John who is following in the footsteps of Carol Miller, and is now a resident of Pine Plains.

Buy your tickets to Peter Pan from the Stissing Theatre Guild soon—the play runs March 13-15, with 2 matinees at 1:30 Saturday and Sunday, and starting at 7:30pm Friday and Saturday nights.

It’s a leap year this year! Take a leap, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

 

 

 

Dear Pine Plains 1.24.2020

Dear Pine Plains,
Today I got a very nice letter from County Executive Marcus Molinaro, appointing me to the Dutchess County Community Development Advisory Committee. This committee works directly with Dutchess County Planning and helps towns in the County build and improve. I am honored and thrilled to be a part of this committee. Little do they know that I can rarely even find my cell phone…
The surveys for the Sewer Feasibility Study are going out this Monday in bulk. About 100 residents and businesses will receive a survey based on where they live. Along with the Survey, there is a cover letter explaining the need for wastewater treatment in small towns. I thought I would include it here in case you’d like to read it early on. When we revised the Comprehensive Plan this past year, we also sent out a survey, and many of the answers were delightfully delighted as to what people loved about the Town and where they want to see it go. In a nutshell, the majority said this: We like Pine Plains just the way it is—except we’d like it to be just a little better. That will take a lot of hard work on the part of our boards and citizens, but the groundwork for economic development anywhere in New York State is sound wastewater management. Without it, new business can’t come to town, old business can’t expand, and groundwater, and therefore wells, are at risk. People of modest means cannot open new businesses here because they can’t afford the expanded septic requirements over which the Department of Health rules. Read the letter at the end of this one for more information. There will be an informal information meeting at 7pm at the Community Center February 10th for anyone who has questions.
The Study is just that—a study. It is a gathering of information to discern how much a system might cost to build here, what kind of system might be best for our particular soil and land, and whether it truly is a feasible project for us to undertake. No referendum can take place on a project for which there is no information. Research is the mission of the Study. There are many new innovative ways to deal with wastewater, and the State and the County are strongly encouraging and supporting this, and making it a priority.
Tonight at 6:30 at the Library, the Little Nine Partners are holding a lecture on Pine Plains History and the Civil War. Come listen to our fascinating Town Historians as they talk about the people from Pine Plains who went to fight.
And finally, now is the time to begin saying good-bye to the pine tree in our town park. It has alas grown too big for where it is, and withstood too many storms that took down essential branches. Nelson Zayas will bless it before it comes down, and we will replace it with a new, smaller tree and a new Town Park as soon as the Beautification Committee gets going again in the spring. This tree has been a delight for many years, and offers to make furniture and other items from its wood have come in from local artisans. We will remember it.
Hug a tree in its honor, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud
Dear Residents and Business Owners,
Over the years, the people of Pine Plains have expressed interest in the Town building a wastewater
management system to replace aging septics and under-sized septic systems to allow for more
business and residential possibilities in our downtown area while at the same time maintaining the
rural character of the town. Currently, most businesses are operating with systems that are too small
for any kind of expanded use, or varied use. The Department of Health has changed its rules about
the size of systems and now requires 100% expansion room for any new system, or renovated
system. This means you must have 2 times the available property space to build/rebuild a system.
Many of our properties in the downtown have no room for systems big enough to serve things like
new or expanded restaurants, a dog groomer, or any business that requires water usage or serves
more than 12 people. (Example: El Guacamole was told to take out seating which had been in their
building for years—their system was deemed too small for more than 12 people. They had to tear
out seating, and were not allowed to put tables on their porch.) The town has recently missed out on
some wonderful new businesses coming in because of this limitation. Lack of space for septic
systems has also prevented the locating of multi-unit residential buildings in the hamlet.
Perhaps most importantly, old systems that do not treat wastewater adequately shed water with the
medicines people take as well as poisons they send into their sinks into our groundwater, which
affects the safety of well water. Many people in Pine Plains are still using wells for drinking water.
We are now in the research phase of enquiry into a project like this. This system might be a
conventional sewer system or it might be a community septic system; it might be large or small. It
might be located in one area or comprised of 2 or 3 small sites. In order to determine what
innovative ideas are out there for building something of this type here, and where it might be best to
locate such a system, what that would cost, and what grants and low-interest loan opportunities
there are for us to build it, we are conducting a Sewer Feasibility Study. This study is being funded
with grant money received from Dutchess County and the NYS DEC.
Your participation in this survey is greatly appreciated. Results will be published upon its conclusion.
You are invited to an informal town-wide meeting on February 10th at 7pm at the Community
Center to discuss the possible project as well as to a later town-wide meeting to discuss
survey results. Look for that date on Facebook/newsletter/posters/Millbrook News.
The Pine Plains Town Board

Supervisor’s Statement 1.16.2020

Supervisor’s Statement 1.16.2020 Town Board Meeting

Besides Grant paperwork, contracts and budgets, I’ve been finalizing the Sewer feasibility Study RFP, the commensurate Survey , and the shared service for fuel purchase.

Wednesday Alice and I attended the Cybersecurity Summit at Marist College at the behest of County Executive Molinaro, in order to learn how vulnerable we are at the local government level. Key points which I want to emphasize to everyone who works here, and to the public at large who run businesses:

Cyber attack is the new larceny. The most common attacks are ransomeware sent as a virus to computers through the opening of innocent-looking emails, seemingly sent by someone you know, and game-playing on the web. Any computer that goes onto the web is vulnerable.

Just because a computer is not networked into the main workplace server does not mean it is safe: it is networked into the wifi system, which is vulnerable, and also the wiring contains what is known as SWITCHES which are vulnerable connections. Switches can be hacked. WIFI can be hacked. Emails that have been hacked can convey viruses to your computer. This is called spearfishing.

Your computer then becomes a conveyor of viruses itself. Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL are particularly vulnerable to hacking. State-connected systems—our tax collector, Town Clerk and Justice system—are not safe from this.

All employees of the Town of Pine Plains MUST be on our official DOT-GOV email account. This is for insurance purposes, and protects you, the employee, from having to pay for any hack that occurs on your computer. Please stop using your personal accounts, or email addresses not on our system. And remember, any account you do use for work purposes can be FOILED.

The new criminals have software that enables them to imitate people you know—your grandson, your best friend–with very precise and familiar language as well as the same email addresses you think only belong to the person. Vendors in particular are being hacked. It has become very sophisticated.

Even worse, an industry has risen around both ransomware—which is the seizing of information like bank accounts, with a ransom set by the criminal to the owner—and the insurance companies trying to protect us from it. The FBI Agent who spoke to us stressed that we not allow our insurance companies to pay the ransom, as that has created a steady income stream for the criminals. Hacking has increased because of this.

If a municipality or a business gets hacked, the destruction is at the infrastructure level. Our police/justice system/bookkeeping would go out until it is rebuilt. In addition, money could be pulled out of our accounts without us being aware of it.

As an example of what we are up against, Dana Smith, head of Emergency Management for the County, cited the fact that the County is what they call “poked” over 100,000 times per DAY by hackers. Per day.

Size does not matter: towns such as Colliersville, NY and Rockville Center have been hacked with money taken from their accounts, personal information taken and software kidnapped. Many small towns do not have access to their records 24/7, because Town Clerks don’t work at that level, so there is no way for us to monitor what is going on.

In addition, if we are hacked, by law we have to report the situation to everyone who is affected by it. This means all consumers, tax payers, etc.

How to prevent it:

  • Do NOT open Word document attachments or videos unless you are certain they are from someone you know.
  • Get on the town email system.
  • Strengthen passwords—use 2-part authentication if possible
  • Backup files offline
  • Shut off blue tooth on phones and laptops when moving them—hackers can get through via blue tooth

What to do if it happens:

  • Dial 844-OCT-CIRT and report it immediately; they will then report to the FBI, the State Troopers.
  • Call the FBI and State Troopers anyway
  • Report attack to ww.ip3.gov

Final word on this: There are no international borders in cyberspace. Numerous countries are hacking into the United States every second. Much of the information stolen is information you may not be aware is being taken. The most targeted technologies are:

  • Agriculture
  • Business
  • Personal Information
  • Health Insurance
  • Government
  • Electrical grid

Hackers have what is called “machine learning”. This means that they will attempt many times to hack into your system, not just once and give up. Their software is sophisticated and hits anyone. It learns on its own and comes back in different ways to hit a system. No one who uses a computer and the web for work is safe.

 

State of the Town 1.2.2020

Just a few things since January 2018, which this Town Board has accomplished with the aid of numerous valuable members of the staff and committees:

Grant for EV Charging Station to bring Eco-Tourism into town

Grant for Comprehensive Plan Update hiring of Planners

2 Grants for a Sewer Feasibility Study which will cover all expenses

Sale of Old Library

Purchase of Ruth Pulver house for site for Town Hall or Municipal Parking expansion

Recovery Coach brought to town to help those struggling with addiction; continued work on this as funding was cut

Active Membership in Dutchess County Mayors and Supervisors Association,                  elected to the Board as Secretary

Co-creation and Membership in Tri-Town Affordable Housing Coalition with Amenia and Millerton and Membership and Founding Member in Quad-Town  Smart Housing Coalition (with Millerton, Copake and Ancram)

Re-vamp of Investment Policy for town’s General Fund, and reconfiguration of funds into interest-bearing accounts (annual revenue in 2019 approx. $20,000)

Held numerous town meetings at the Community Center to host the Durst Organization on the Carvel Property Development and to get public input, which resulted in their renewed interest in the project and re-design, soon to be revealed

Active support of new projects proposed for open land in the hamlet

Completed numerous climate-smart actions to achieve Clean Energy Community status at state level, including Unified Solar Permit Law and complete conversion to LED for Town Lighting, savings of $5-6000/year

Created a weekly newsletter for anyone with email or access to our website

Continued support for new website design, handled the implementation

Purchase and installation of an ice rink for Town Recreation

Extensive tree cleanup for Town Beach

Passed the use of Family ID for signing up kids to Recreational Activities

Active support of the Library and Community Center as well as our Seniors and our business community

Passing of a two-year-long Update of the Comprehensive Plan

Launch of Fund Balance Policy and Salary Raise Policy

Launched the writing of a Solar Law, still in progress

Launched Annual Town Clean-Up Day

Launched Playground Committee to build new all-accessible playground

Launch of Beautification Committee to re-build Town Park

Maintenance of a tight and necessarily small Municipal Budget so that people on limited incomes can continue to live in Pine Plains

We lost so many wonderful community members this year: we lost them to war, to cancer, to old age, to overdose. Each loss was deeply felt by the community and will serve as a reminder of how much one person can mean to a small town, and how important it is for us to not only maintain and endure but to do more in their honor. In 2 years of service here as Town Supervisor, I have seen what makes this place and its people so great, and what still holds it back.

In the Comprehensive Plan work we did this year, we were all surprised to find buried in the old Plan the notion that there was a rift between the townsfolk and the weekenders cited as needing to be repaired—and that was mentioned in 2004! We were looking for a place to put that in our new Date, but there it was! So I thought I would address that for a moment.

 

Here is what I hear on a daily basis in my office:

 

Weekenders! What is it with their attitude? They drive too fast. They think everyone born here is stupid. They drive “in” the “exit” at Peck’s. They don’t pay the plumber/electrician/housecleaner/contractor on time, or without complaining about the price. They ask for something to be done then change their minds once it’s done and tell you that you did it the wrong way. They question the integrity of the people they hire. They don’t want to meet anybody in town or get to know them, or participate in things here, they just want to hide in their houses. They don’t go anywhere but the Stissing House and the Platter. They only donate to causes their rich friends support, but never give to the Recreation Department or the Theatre Guild. They wander the aisles of Pecks Grocery in their pajamas. They like to say, Don’t tell anyone about Pine Plains we like it the way it is. What’s wrong with them?

 

Townspeople! What is it with their attitude? Don’t they realize how much weekenders and the people who moved up here have done to bring this place back from the brink? No one appreciates Peck’s Grocery more than weekenders! Weekenders donate to everything! Why is there this sense that people here resent those who have more, resent those who seem to get more when others have done the work, or worked just as hard, resent those who reap the benefits of this beneficent place, just because they didn’t grow up here? All they do is hang on Facebook and complain all the time instead of volunteering to make things better! They don’t come to town meetings. They don’t watch the meetings on the internet or read the website or the newspaper or come to community meetings or go to the Library more often… They don’t seem to care about Pine Plains anymore.

 

If any of this is familiar to you, then you know we have a problem. What about this: if we provide for not only a balanced budget, but a thriving, beautiful, healthy place to live, is not that an accomplishment of every tax payer and every committee member, every renter and every stay-at-home mom and every volunteer here? Rather than resenting each other, why not come together in the one thing we agree on: that Pine Plains is extraordinary. Let’s come together with pride, not resentment, and say, yes, yes this place is extraordinary, and I, with a lot or perhaps little to my name, was integral in helping to make it that way! I am proud of what we do for the people who live here and for those who want to visit and climb our mountain, and play sports with our kids under lights at night, I am proud to live in a place about which people say: I’ve never been anywhere as welcoming and kind as this!

 

Supervisor Statement 11.21.2019

Supervisor’s Statement 11.21.2019

This has been a month of finalizing projects. The 2020 Budget, the Comprehensive Plan Update 2019. We are near the end of our work on the Solar Law and I completed my training on affordable housing with Pace University Law Center two weeks ago. Sarah and I have continued meeting with the Tri-town Affordable Housing Coalition in an effort to figure out what kind of affordable housing project might work best for Pine Plains and we are also working in conjunction with Copake, Ancram, and Millerton on some kind of partnership perhaps between the 4 towns for infill housing.
Other than that, Thanksgiving approaches and I’d like to thank all our wonderful volunteers for their work on behalf of the town this past year. This month, that includes in particular, everyone on the Recreation Committee, all those working on the Beautification Committee headed by Vicki Sorocco, which is making great progress on a design for the corner park; Sandy Towers, Lenora Champagne, Suzanne Ouellette for their work on the Community Garden which has really taken off, and supplies food to both the Food Locker and Willow Roots, a not-for-profit formed by Nelson and Lisa Zayas to help feed people on a weekly basis. Dyan Wapnick and Lenora Champagne were largely responsible for putting together this year’s Cemetery Tours in late October and I’d like to thank them for a fabulous experience getting to know more about the history of the town, which a lot of people came to and really enjoyed. Finally, I want to thank Matt Finley for his work on the Board of Assessment Review. Matt has been a part of this committee for 15 years and has done an outstanding job for the town. He’s been on many other committees as well, and his commitment to Pine Plains has been beyond the call of duty and is much appreciated.

If you haven’t signed up for my weekly newsletter, you can do that at supervisor@pineplains-ny.gov

Dear Pine Plains 11.15.2019

Dear Pine Plains,

 

Thank you for coming out to vote and congratulations to everyone elected. Now we can move on!

This week, Sandy Towers and the Community Garden crew put the vegetable beds to bed. They have ideas for sharing garden space next summer which they will articulate at the next Town Board meeting. But I want to make sure I thank them in every location possible for their hard work and for getting their food into the hands of people who really needed it. Between these volunteers, and Nelson and Lisa Zayas, who founded Willow Roots in order to use all the food they produce and feed people in Pine Plains, pounds of fresh produce were distributed to people who needed it, and loved “shopping” the Zayas’ porch. Other farms got into the act and a movement was born in Pine Plains to help end food insecurity here.

We have now received the completed Comprehensive Plan Update and it’s a beautiful document. It will be up for approval of the Board at the next Board Meeting along with our Final Budget for 2020. So much hard work took place over the last year on both the endeavors and again, thanks to all who volunteered their time and intelligence. It’s a big accomplishment.

This weekend we put up the trees in town for Decoration Day and help is always needed. If you see a crew of teenagers and Carl Baden and Ibis, just join in. The Big Day is on the 30th, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Tree decoration begins at 3pm and all families are invited to pick up the decorations in front of the bank and then find a tree that needs you. The Fire Department is having a pre-holiday craft sale this weekend as well. Our 1897 LaFrance Fire Truck is back from its stay at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds and will be installed at the fire museum there when that building is completed.

I finished my last class of Affordable Housing Training last week at Pace Law School. For that last day, we were treated to tours of a project in Peekskill and Chappaqua Crossing, on the grounds of the old Readers Digest offices. That huge building was re-furbished as mixed-income housing, with common rooms and outdoor spaces, a workout center and office center. A trolley takes residents over to an outdoor shopping center or doctors’ offices. It was really impressive, yet blended into the landscape in a really tasteful way. Everyone I spoke to at this training told me that no one can develop affordable housing in Pine Plains until we get a sewer system.

Which brings me to the Sewer Feasibility Study which is about to launch: we will be sending out a survey with only 3 questions on it and only to business and homeowners in the residential/business district and perhaps adjacent to it. This survey will be essential to our study, so please, when you receive it, get it back to us in a timely manner. Your voice is important in this. As in all things. Drop by Town Hall and tell me your ideas, or write me at supervisor@pineplains-ny.gov And if you have a friend who isn’t on the email list yet, tell them to sign up.

Sing out, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

 

Dear Pine Plains 11.8.2019

Dear Pine Plains,

 

Communication is so difficult in our current world: people don’t trust the newspapers—and don’t read them anymore, social media is full of misinterpretations, rumors and bullies, very few people attend town board meetings or community meetings, and ignorance abounds about how town government works, what can be legislated, and what is actually going on. So I would like to ask you each for a favor now: would you please forward this letter to someone you think has not signed up for it, who would benefit from knowing what’s happening in Pine Plains? This comes from an examination of the vote count this past Tuesday. I ran unopposed, but there were a number of people who did not vote that line at all, or wrote in a name of someone who was not running. So, in my mind, that means we have disenfranchised folks who don’t care for “what’s going on” here, but may not actually know what’s going on. I imagine they might have valuable things to add to our conversation. I’d like to hear what they have to say. supervisor@pineplains-ny.gov

The re-design of the Durst Project is moving along, and I spent 2 hours with their Project Manager Lisa Baker this morning, going over the timeline and their perspective on all the changes going on around town. When we do our Sewer Feasibility Study, we will also look into ways for the town to hook into the sewer treatment plant they intend to build. There are so many ideas on the table about how we might get the infrastructure to welcome new affordable housing, new businesses, and therefore lower taxes here. The Study commences soon.

I am now a graduate of the Land Use Law Center Affordable Housing Training. And I have a plaque that contains a quotation from Marcus Molinaro, who attended way back when he was a young mayor of Tivoli: “Building communities one conversation at a time.”

Monday is Veterans Day. If you’ve heard me speak on Memorial Day, you know that my dad served in the OSS during WWII, the precursor to the CIA. His job was to go under the lines, fake being a German soldier, and smuggle out people important to the Allies. He was 21 at the time. He never spoke about the work he did for our country, but he wore it every day. Sometimes deeply sad for no apparent reason, he was always kind, welcoming to strangers, and committed to his family, the company he started, and all the people who worked for him. He brought in profit-sharing at a time when nobody else was doing that. He was a classic Eisenhower Republican. Which is why I fervently believe in working “across the aisle” in everything I do for the Town. Labels don’t make the person; the lives we lead say everything.

Let us all remember what men and women in the service fought for every day, and ask ourselves this: is the life I am leading worth what they sacrificed? If you want to do more, come serve your town. Volunteer for a committee. Volunteer to coach. Become a part of Pine Plains.

Come to Town Hall for a cup of coffee and a conversation, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

 

Dear Pine Plains 10.26.2019

Dear Pine Plains,

The word of the week this week is “networking”. In building affordable housing, to be exact. I have been attending the Land Use Law Center’s Affordable Housing Training, and last Friday we separated into tables of 6 and worked on developing a plot of open land in a particular community. I got to be at the rural table. We had a lot of fun mandating that the developer build sidewalks and improve a road, put in extra parking and use an existent old building to create new affordable housing at an old school grounds. It gave me entry into planner thinking, but also into how to create affordable housing someone might actually want to live in.

This Friday, I attended an Affordable Housing Summit led by Didi Barrett which involved a possible network of 4 towns, Pine Plains, Ancram, Copake and Northeast, in a discussion with the State Finance Department and 4 builders. The Durst Organization was there. We talked about the zoning required, and in-fill housing, which would put to use small open tracts of land in the hamlet. I know I have spoken about this before, but this forum put us all in a room for the first time in a way that made it clear that we might form a coalition to build more cheaply. The design for the homes is flexible, but the idea is to build passive energy homes which cost $125/month in utilities—that’s right, $125/month. This makes home ownership possible for people with good incomes, but who don’t have enough left over for the utilities after the mortgage payment. These are 2-family homes, and 2 of them would bring 4 families into Pine Plains to help lower taxes. In addition, it would help the surrounding farmland from being cut-up and be better for the environment, because Pine Plains is walkable and people wouldn’t have to get into their cars to come shop.

Our assignment: for this to work, each town needs to update their zoning and find 2 lots. If you have land you could donate (in town) please let me know; if you have a lot that might go for relatively little, let me know. If you like/hate this idea, let me know. These homes are called “zero-lot-line” homes, meaning they have a shared wall, but the homeowner would own his/her own land around it. You can go see a prototype in Ancramdale across from the Post Office, and ask for a tour. Theirs is being built by Habitat for Humanity. (Numerous restrictions for income level.) Ours would not have to be if we can make this coalition work.

I am working on new rental housing as well, and will update you on that when more information is at hand.

Tonight, the Library is hosting its Silent Auction at the Stissing House. If you have never been to one of these, here’s the scoop: you get a glass of wine and walk around tables and look at what’s being offered, then bid on something. You bid ridiculous amounts of money for simple things. You meet new people and you help the Library enormously because all the money you pay for things goes right to them, mainly for new programming and a new helper. Our library has become the center of culture here in town for all things educational, and it is constantly hopping with activities for children and adults alike. In this age when lots of people love to say that libraries are dead because everyone is on the internet, our library keeps community alive by inviting everyone to gather and pursue new interests. It will also be a center for the 2020 Census, with computers available for people who don’t have them to fill out their Census forms.

BRAVO to all who created and participated and attended the Cemetery Tours. They were even better than last year! When Mark Jackson came out of Potter’s Field with his guitar, I cried. And for those who wanted to know what that hymn was sung in the show, it is How Can I Keep from Singing

Pine Plains has such a beautiful history. Even if you did not grow up here, it connects us all in the legacy of our land, our businesses, and our homes.

Stay connected, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud