Town Supervisor Updates

Dear Pine Plains 8.16.19

Dear Pine Plains,

It has been a week of “soul searching,” the soul being that of this Town. The Comprehensive Plan Update Committee met with our planner to discuss the survey results and where they point, and what recommendations we might make regarding actions to take once the Plan is revised to ensure that the goals of the town are met. We looked at all the different areas of the town and talked about locating various dreams there—a senior housing complex, a revitalized recreation area, affordable housing, commerce and light industry—and began what I hope is the creation of a viable plan for the town which we can put into code so that people who want to build something here know that they will have the approvals if their project conforms to it. Rather than planning being a scary process, it would be an exciting one, which would open up possibility for the kind of small, locally-owned growth people mentioned over and over again in their surveys. We will be having a Public Meeting on August 26th at 7pm at the Community Center to talk informally about the results.

Tonight, ChaNorth is hosting their monthly presentations at the Community Center at 7pm. If you haven’t been to one of these, go. They are a wonderful way to spend an hour looking at art and hearing some great stories. ChaNorth is the artists retreat at the old Spruce Farmstead at 2600 Route 199. They also do a studio tour near the end of each month, so that we can visit the art we heard about.

Summer is coming to a close and the kids are getting ready to go back to school. Please remember that we have a wonderful store run by wonderful people right in town which stocks almost everything they will need for their classes. Buying local is what keeps Pine Plains going, and the reward is new relationships with business owners who support all kinds of things in town themselves. For instance, The Stissing Theatre Guild! Many businesses buy ads in their program each year, helping to fund the plays. The Stissing Center opens officially on the 31st, (make reservations, even though it’s free!) and whereas they must fundraise all the time to build the Center they are also big contributors to what goes on in town.

And don’t forget our second annual Town Clean-Up Day, September 7th, 8am-3pm at the Highway Department. More on this soon…

Planning is this week’s operative word! Planning the future of the town, planning the next few weeks…

So plan ahead, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

 

Dear Pine Plains 8.3.19

Dear Pine Plains,

On Wednesday of this week, the County announced that Pine Plains had received 2 grants from their Municipal Innovation Grant Program: one for training for our police department in dealing with people with drug problems and mental illness, so the situation does not escalate; and the second for a central sewer/septic system feasibility study. The study award comes with a promise for future funding for the building of a system in our downtown, should we develop a viable plan for it.

The team of advisors for the grant was comprised of Dutchess County Planning and a few mayors and supervisors who are contractors and understand building. It is a bi-partisan committee. Which brings me to my next topic here this week, which is how well we work together now in Dutchess County. I know that it wasn’t always so, but I believe it is now. Here is another example of something which has become very important to our survival as a town: the sales tax. Most people don’t know that in DC, all sales taxes are put into a pool from which each town gets a percentage according to size. This ingenious plan has, in the past 8 or so years, saved numerous small towns in the County from dissolution. The only way the town of Pine Plains has been able to save money for projects has been through this funding, which allowed us to buy our own LED street lighting this year, and to balance our ambitions for the town with our low taxes. The larger cities and thriving towns have, of course, lost revenue because of this idea of sharing the sales tax. Shared revenues like this, and shared services, in which we as a town participate often with other towns in DC, means the difference between progress and standing still. I am all for progress, if it also means preservation of what we all hold most dear about Pine Plains.

Lately, the Recreation Department has been down at the beach on weekend nights making S’mores for all who come to join them. It’s a lovely thing to bring the kids to. Get on Facebook and watch for their announcements on the Pine Plains Recreation Department page. Coach Cooper has spent the past 2 weeks helping a blind camper attend camp upstate, then coaching with Sacramento King and Pine Plains son Tyler Lydon at the first of his basketball camps, the next of which will take place in Pine Plains August 5th through the 8th at Stissing Mountain High School. Justin Cooper and Zach Lydon will also be coaching.

We now have a YouTube channel! Town of Pine Plains will feature our meeting videos. We got off to a wonky start on these, but look for improvement as we all learn the new system.

So much of town government now includes understanding new technologies as they arise in order to run the town, as well as connect to State Government and other towns. The learning curve is steep and endless. The training is ongoing. If you think these skills don’t pertain to the future, you will not get there. This is a PSA for encouraging your children to take those technology courses seriously! It’s not too late for us old folks either. The Library is a good place to learn them too.

And there is an antidote for being on screens all day, and under stress in general: poetry! Theatre! Music! As we are about to open the Stissing Center for concerts and theatre events all Fall, make sure you pay attention to what cures all ails—art. Donate, attend and/or volunteer there, and we will all be rewarded.

Get your poetry on, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 7.26.19

Dear Pine Plains,

It’s been a quiet week in the shadow of the mountain. Much of it was spent catching up on the history of lake stewardship in the town, and the Comprehensive Plan Survey comments results. You can view the graph results on the website if you’d like, and the comments will be available as soon as they are collated by the Committee. When you look at things like this, patterns begin to emerge which point to all sorts of things: time periods of missing records, for instance, or actions not taken. So much of what I see in our history has to do with maintenance. I am obsessed with maintenance as the key to so many aspects of life and governing.

“The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on. Boasting is what a boy does, because he has no real effect in the world. But the tradesman must reckon with the infallible judgment of reality, where one’s failures or shortcomings cannot be interpreted away. His well-founded pride is far from the gratuitous “self-esteem” that educators would impart to students, as though by magic.”
Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work

I think this paragraph describes why Pine Plains is such a fine place to live. There are so many people here who can do so many things well, and can point to them as accomplishments, with no disputing it. People take great propriety over the town, moving branches out of the road when they come upon them, cleaning up at the beach, checking on neighbors… This is a form of maintenance too. It’s how you participate in the place where you live that makes the place worth living in. Thank you all who take responsibility for Pine Plains.

So look for the compilation of comments from the Comp Plan Survey on our website www.pineplains-ny.gov, think about something you might want to volunteer to do, and come out to Town Hall to get involved.

And this weekend, you can attend the ChaNorth Artists Retreat Studio Visit Day on July 28th starting at noon to see the art our visiting artists have made while they’ve been here. (2600 Route 199, the old Spruce Farm house!) There is a wonderful Spoken Word Poet there who will perform on the hour starting at 1pm.

And make plans to attend the Lions Club BBQ on August 10th or the pop-up West African Vegan Dinner at The Platter that same night.

“We’re not as free and independent as we thought. Street-level work that disrupts the infrastructure (the sewer system below or the electrical grid above) brings our shared dependence into view. People may inhabit very different worlds even in the same city, according to their wealth or poverty. Yet we all live in the same physical reality, ultimately, and owe a common debt to the world.”
Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work

Become a part of it, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

Supervisor’s Statement 6.20.19

There are a lot of people to thank for their hard work this month, but I don’t have enough time to list everybody, so I am choosing a few: our Assessors, and the BAR, who have been handling the grievances like the pros they are; Boy Scouts Jacob Henderson and Michael Hage, their parents and leaders, for their work building raised beds for our Community Garden; Lisa and Nelson Zayas, who have been distributing food to those in need during times when the Food Pantry is not open; and Bobby Lee Couse, who has gotten our ball fields just right for the baseball, T-ball, and soccer players swarm it nearly every night.

This week we held our first Public Meeting for the Comprehensive Plan Review, and I want to also cite the hard work of our Comp Plan Committee for writing the Survey which is available online and at the Library and various spots all over town and for hosting BFJ Planning, our consultants on the project. Their commitment has been inspiring already and we have a summer of work still ahead of us. The survey period ends July 10th and in the first 10 days we received over 150 responses. One of the fun facts that came up during the meeting was that Pine Plains has about 31 more people than it did in 2010! A growth spurt! I want to remind people that we are NOT rewriting an already beautiful timely Plan; we are tweaking it to bring it up to date and deal with the challenges that have come up since it was written. If you will remember, this comes via a grant from the Greenway Grants people.

This month the Town received a legacy from someone who loved it here, Edward Kinzer. He left us $25,710.60. We can discuss what to do with it later in the meeting, but I would also love to hear from people as to what they would like to see it applied to.

The Solar Committee is almost done with their recommendations to hand to Warren, and they too have done committed excellent work on this. It’s been a real joy to be a part of this. Once we have our Law in place, we can start working on trying to attract solar power to our own landfill. If we had community solar out there, people would not have to spend money putting panels on their roofs.

The last person I want to thank this week is Eileen Ciaburri. She has achieved 95% collected taxes for the town. That is unheard-of in most towns in Dutchess County. Thank you Eileen. Bravo!

This was the last meeting Stan Hirson filmed for us as he is retiring. We are so grateful to him for all the years he dedicated himself to the Town of Pine Plains.

 

Supervisor’s Statement 5.16.19

SUPERVISOR’S STATEMENT

 

Tax assessment letters went out this week. Just because the market value on your house went up does not therefore mean your taxes will go up. Please, if you feel upset or worried, go talk to our assessors. They are wonderful human beings like you, and their market values have gone up too. We have the best team in the County, and I can tell you, all the other towns are envious of our assessors. They’re open Tuesdays, Thursday, Friday morning and this Saturday morning, the 18th. Don’t sit at home fretting. Go find out the answers. And Grievance Day is Tuesday May 28th from 2pm-4 and 7pm-9 at Town Hall.

The Comprehensive Plan Review Survey is almost done. Our committee has been working diligently every Tuesday to pull together questions apropos of where we are now and what we might want to consider for the future now that so many things have been accomplished since 2004. In that time, the town has secured the preservation of most of our farmland and open space. Now is the time to work on downtown. When you receive your survey—which can be emailed to you as a Survey Monkey, or can be picked up at the Library as a paper survey, once again, do not think that taxes will go up because we are dreaming big. Dream Big and allow us to seek the help and funding from other sources for what we all want. And don’t forget June 17th at 7pm at the Community Center is our first Public Meeting on it. Come meet our new planners.

The Solar Law Committee is also very close in drawing up the regulations we want to see upheld in the Tier system these things require, addressing not only the roof-mounted in-town solar arrays we passed already, but ground-mounted, agricultural, and larger-scale arrays. Whereas we are encouraging the use of solar power here, we are protecting the landscape above all else. It may be that with the advent of more and more community solar projects, our residents can tap into that source for their electricity without having to build anything on their own.

Sarah and I traveled down to Pace Law School again for a very informative conference on affordable housing. There we met, among many other great people all working on this, a man from RUPCO, builders of the Woodstock Commons, a mixed-income development for seniors, young families and artists. Here is the thing to remember about affordable housing: it is not built to bring more people to town, it is built to keep people IN town. If people can afford to stay where they want to live, we will all feel a lot richer. He did ask me if we have a central wastewater system. Everything depends on that for new businesses and new housing to come in. No small town can afford to build these things are their own. That’s what grants are for.

Finally, I want to report on the Community Center. It is going great guns over there. People are renting it for birthday parties and baby showers, there’s Line Dancing on Thursdays and yoga and Tai Chi and the Book Sale Memorial weekend. Last night there was a lecture by a young woman who has been down on the border with Mexico, who gave a report on what’s happening there. It was extraordinary. We are so lucky to have this wonderful space.

 

Dear Pine Plains 5.10.19

Dear Pine Plains,

It’s raining, again, as I write this. It makes the colors of spring all that much more vibrant. Right? I never mind walking in the rain, but…

This past week, the Comprehensive Plan Review committee (or CPR as I like to refer to it) met again to work on our survey questions, which should be ready to go out very soon. They will be available in a Survey Monkey online or at the Library, and the sooner you can fill them out and return them, the sooner we have town input to work with. Stay tuned for that! Remember: the Comprehensive Plan is a visionary document. It identifies the town and hence what we can do to bring about a future which protects that identity. It is not zoning, but it affects what we can do about zoning. We meet generally at noon on Tuesdays for now. Anyone can attend and watch.

The Solar Law Committee also met. We are very close to some fine recommendations for drafting our Solar Law. These laws address solar panels and arrays via a 3 Tier approach. Tier 1 is for personal solar panels on rooftops in town; Tier 2 is for ground-mounted solar on farms and outside the hamlet; and Tier 3 is for large parcels of land. Our task is to protect neighbors, homeowners and the landscape and to promote the usage of solar power at the same time!

Tonight is the art show put on by Chanorth, which is an artist’s retreat located at the old Spruce Farm house on 199 just west of the hamlet. At 7pm, you can see their work displayed with a discussion at the Community Center. The Chanorth Art Center brings artists to town for periods of time to work on their own projects. I am dreaming of some kind of collaboration with artists to bring art into the hamlet. Anyone with ideas please contact me.

There is now yoga at the Community Center on Saturday mornings at 8:30am as well as on Monday nights. I have been going for awhile and can now touch my toes. A triumph! Thank you, Nichole Martini and Jordan Schmidt, instructors.

Coming up next week: on the 13th, the last home game for the girls basketball team will be played at the high school at 4:30. Go and lend your support. At 7:00 Wednesday the 15th at the Community Center, Abby Nathanson will be giving a report from the Border with Mexico, where she has traveled and assisted with the crisis there. This should be fascinating and informative.

Town Board Meeting is next week too, Thursday night at 7pm. On the docket: Martin Handler, School Superintendent, to explain the budget proposal and answer pertinent questions; and visitors from Habitat for Humanity to discuss affordable housing.

SAVE 2 DATES: JUNE 5TH 5:30-7:30 AFFORDABLE HOUSING SUMMIT at the Community Center and JUNE 17TH COMPREHENSIVE PLAN PUBLIC MEETING at the Community Center.

Stay informed, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

 

Dear Pine Plains 5.3.19

Dear Pine Plains,

This week, the Comprehensive Plan Committee met again twice to discuss how to create the Survey which will be available to everyone to fill out regarding our vision for Pine Plains. As this will be an Update to our original, quite beautiful, Plan, we are working to tackle those issues which have arisen as a result of the zoning inspired by the 2004 Plan. We are also looking towards a future which has new threats on the horizon as well as new opportunities. SAVE THE DATE June 17th we will hold the Public Meeting on this at the Community Center at 7pm. All encouraged to attend.

The incredible Stan Hirson will be retiring as cinematographer of our Town Board meetings, as we announced awhile ago. We will of course still film our meetings, but the quality will be going way down. Basically, we will put a camera in place and hit the button. We are sorry to see Stan go. We have archives which look better than the Godfather films! (Note: that is a joke!)

Board member Sarah Jones and I traveled down to White Plains on Thursday to take part in an affordable housing summit at Pace Law School. We met representatives from RUPCO as well as Hudson River Housing and look forward to showing them the town. Check out what RUPCO has done at Woodstock Commons… I was told that developers want to tie in to existing waste management systems when looking for properties… which is why it is so hard for small rural communities with no systems in place to attract them.

We are also organizing the next iteration of the Affordable Housing Partnership with Northeast and Amenia, which will be held the last week of May here in town at the Community Center. Details to come as they are set.

That week will also include a reading to be given by the Pine Plains Writers Group. Come to the CC at 7pm May 29th to hear the writings of your neighbors and friends in a relaxed and wonderful evening hosted by the Friends of the Library. Cookies and coffee involved.

It seems like every spring I look around and say: this is the most beautiful spring ever! Sarah and I said this again yesterday as we sped back north on the Taconic towards home. It is hard to argue with the beauty of blooming trees.

Bloom on, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Pine Plains 4.26.19

Dear Pine Plains,

Happy Arbor Day! Hug a tree! (This Town Supervisor confesses to actually having done that… no surprise!)

‘Twill be a rainy weekend, but don’t let that stop you from attending Opening Day at the ball fields, and signing up for Line Dancing at the Library starting May 2nd 6:30 pm for 5 weeks through the next month of Thursdays. Call Lori at 518-398-8600 ex1 to sign up!

This week we held our first meeting with our planners for the Comprehensive Plan Review, to take place over the next 6 months. We have a dynamic committee and will hold our first public meeting on June 17th at 7pm at the Community Center to get your thoughts on where the town is heading, and to talk about the Plan. You can access it on our website, www.pineplains-ny.gov. All are invited. We will also distribute hard copies of our survey (a short one of approx.. 10-12 questions) as well as have them available online as a Survey Monkey for those who sign up. Start dreaming about the future and come to this meeting!

I had a meeting with Dennis Wedlick on Monday, and got a tour of the affordable passive solar housing he designed in Ancramdale. It’s really impressive. Technically, this is a side-by-side 2 family structure, with 1250 sq feet of space in each, 3 BR with the possibility for a 4th or a formal dining room, a laundry room on the 2nd floor and 2 baths. It is being built with volunteers as well as the new owner, which is all per the way Habitat for Humanity works. They follow the owner their entire lifetime in the house as well to make sure it is maintained. Dennis was excited by all the possibilities in Pine Plains for this type of housing. If you have a lot in town which you are willing to donate to a project like this, please let the town know.

Pine Day was tons of fun. We set up the craft table and adults and kids alike made houses for Little People while we all listened to talks on composting and tree care, and the history of our trees. It was raining outside and everything felt lush with creativity and new buds. On Sunday, I walked around town and delivered the Little Houses to sites all over downtown. Look for them before they fall apart! Veronica at the Library has the list…

The Recreation Department has tons of events lined up for the summer, so pay attention to their Facebook page but also our website for more details and sign up!

And save the date for the Comprehensive Plan Review Public Meeting June 17th.

Dream on, Pine Plains.

Darrah Cloud

 

 

Dear Pine Plains 4.20.19

Dear Pine Plains,

It’s PINE DAY! Please come to the Library to participate in a wonderful few hours celebrating the trees of Pine Plains. From 10-11 we will be reading to the kids from our favorite books on trees; then holding a workshop for people to build small houses for the small people of the Mahegans, the Makiawisug. (They’ll be installed all over town afterwards—don’t worry, they’re biodegradable!) While that’s happening, the lectures will commence around 11:30, featuring local growers discussing composting, tree care, tree planting, tree history, and what we can all individually do to help mitigate climate change. If you’ve been reading the news recently, you’ll see the profound effect that trees have on carbon sequestration: in a nutshell, we need trees to do the work of keeping the planet cool. Seeds will be planted!

Thursday night at the Town Board Meeting, we passed the Unified Solar Permit Law, which defines solar installation zoning for rooftop and accessory building solar installations. This is our final “climate smart action” in becoming a Clean Energy Community, so as soon as the paperwork is in to NYSERDA, I hope to get word that we are in! I am really proud to be a member of a Board for which this has been a priority.

We will continue to work on the grand Solar Law for the Town of Pine Plains. This committee is awesome.

And so will be the newly formed Comprehensive Plan Review Committee. We meet for the first time on Tuesday at 12:30pm with our new planner, Frank Fish.

The town is also coordinating with the Library and Memorial Hall to work together on our calendars, so that events enhance each other rather than conflict with each other. This will be very important when the Hall opens officially in late summer, as our new Rec Director, Mike Cooper, has already blasted out of the gate with a hundred fantastic ideas about sports in Pine Plains. Keep an eye out on our website www.pineplains-ny.gov and on Facebook at Pine Plains Recreation Department and Pine Plains Town Hall: this is the best way for us to reach you about events! Hint: Save the Date for Ag Day!

Passover began last night and Easter is tomorrow. That feels profound to me this year. My grandmother was a Methodist who used to say, “With friends like God, who needs enemies?” Needless to say, my mother became an agnostic. My father was raised by Freemasons and became a Christian Scientist. Me? I became an artist. The intersection of that skill set with the work of government creates a powerful energy which I explore every day.

It’s going to rain all day—go to the Library, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Pine Plains 4.5.2019

Dear Pine Plains,

This week I drove to Ellicotteville, NY to attend the Syracuse University’s annual conference on infrastructure funding. It was inspirational and helpful, and once again, I got to meet fantastic people who work in government and want more for their towns. It’s hard to be a rural town in upstate NY, and we are the focus of this conference, which is very welcome.

I drove home at breakneck speed to get here in time to set up the Community Room for Marcus Molinaro’s Town Hall Meeting, which we held Wednesday night. The County Executive spoke at length before a packed house about such topics as the new jail being built in Poughkeepsie, (we now often have to pay to send inmates to other counties due to the lack of facilities here), the Special Olympics (cutting funding for this in any way is WRONG), economic development, and the new Stabilization Center. This center has beds and help for people fighting the disease of addiction. Help is there 24/7 for anyone who wants it, and the new facility is a model for other counties. That brought up the subject of a doctor for Pine Plains. The Town Board has been involved in trying to find a doctor, a PA, or perhaps a company willing to put an Urgent Care facility in here, where the old doctor’s office used to be. The executive promised to try and help us with this. The Town Board was very pleased to host County Executive Molinaro in Pine Plains.

April 12th is the Conference on Affordable Housing to be held at the American Legion in Millerton 155 Route 144 from 8:30am-3pm. Hosted by the Northeast Community Center, this promises to be an impactful and thoughtful gathering. You can sign up for this at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-conversation-housing-a-key-to-a-strong-local-economy-tickets-55922252964?blm_aid=25814

Today began with a nearly 3 hour meeting at the Moose with Gregg Pulver, Chairman of the Legislature, and Lisa Baker, Project Manager for the Durst Organization. As always—and as I said in my introduction for the County Executive, I am proud to be a part of the way government works in Dutchess County, and how we all collaborate, no matter what party we represent. This is unusual in the state and in the country and I think that’s what makes Dutchess County such a great place to live. My egg and cheese on a roll was really great.

Don’t forget Pine Day on the 20th. We are lining up speakers and a wonderful craft workshop, where people can make little houses for the Makiawisug, which Librarian Veronica and expert reader Nelson Zayas will be teaching us all about. Lectures on planting trees and composting and on actions we citizens can take to help us all survive climate change will be offered from 10-2pm. Please mark your calendars and bring children!

Peel back the winter mulch, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud