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Town Supervisor Updates

Dear Pine Plains 10.15.21

10.15.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

By now you have heard about the terrible fire on Hoffman Road, and the loss of Larry Pariseau. We extend our deep condolences to Kim his wife and family, and to all who knew and valued him as a citizen of Pine Plains, a volunteer firefighter and EMT, a member of the Church of the Regeneration, a first responder on 9/11, and a frequent visitor to Town Hall. Neighbor Richard Wager ran across the street to help Kim out of the wreckage and was first on the scene; the Pine Plains Fire Department reached the situation in minutes. It took all night and into the daytime to put out the fire, with the assistance of numerous departments from two counties. There was ancillary help from Rich at Stewart’s, who put food deliveries together for the firefighters; the Nuccios, who opened up the Moose and made sandwiches for everyone; neighbors Alice and Robert, who welcomed frightened people affected by the blast to their home next door; and Doug Weaver who spent all night at the site bringing invaluable equipment to help. Kim has lost her husband and everything she owned. She and Larry had just welcomed a family who needed a place to stay and they lost everything too. Now begins the work of helping them in a different way. This is what makes Pine Plains so dear.

We will have a public hearing on the Preliminary Budget next Thursday before the regular Board Meeting, as well as a packed agenda that night. Much of the work of the last few years is all coming to fruition in these last months of 2021 as we pass the text changes to our zoning, then the map changes, and hold a community meeting to reveal the results of our Sewer Feasibility Study in November. (TBA)

Friday October 15th—tonight! —is our Meet the Candidates Night. 7pm at the Community Center 2nd Floor of the Library. You will be invited to write down a question on a card and submit it to the moderator, who will then collate the questions for each category of candidate (Board Member, Supervisor, Legislator) and do the asking. They are asking everyone to formulate your questions so that all the candidates in a category can answer them. They estimate this meeting could take about 90 to 120 minutes. Everyone will have time to make opening and closing remarks.

This coming Sunday the 17th at 3pm The Stissing Center will begin its series of monthly play readings with The War trials of Robert S. McNamara by our own Donn Potter. Featured roles are being played by Andy King, Dave Owens, George Keeler, Marie Stewart, Brian Gerber, and Suzanne Ouellette. With such a stellar cast, this promises to be a wonderful afternoon of history and debate. $5 As with all other theaters, masks and vaccinations are required.

And get your tickets to the Cemetery Tour! It will be held both Friday the 22nd and Saturday the 23rd. Tickets are available on the library website. See townspeople bring the dead to life and tell their stories!

Alice and I spoke a lot about the tragedy this week, remembering past tragedies that took the lives of teenagers and other adults here, and wondering at the strength and resilience of the people who are the first to arrive to help. The toll this takes on those people is enormous, and we can only say thank you to those who do what the rest of us cannot. It also made us think about all the people employed by the Town who go beyond in their dedication to their work and to Pine Plains.

Take care of yourselves, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Our own Vinnie Parliman, an employee we could not do without.

Dear Pine Plains 10.8.2021

10.8.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

Ag Fair is upon us! The parade is Saturday morning at 9:30, followed by food booths and animal shows, a horse pull, a tractor pull, and general fun at the high school. See you there!

In addition, this year there will be a Square Dance at The Stissing Center to raise money for the FFA. The cost is $10. You can go to their website www.thestissingcenter.org for tickets or get them at the door. Masks and proof of vax are required.

THEN there will be fireworks over the ball fields courtesy of our own Recreation Department and Rich Prentice, our Dog Warden and Emergency Management person.

Farms and restaurants in the area are holding concerts and offering libations, so this will be a busy weekend.

Next week there will be a Meet the Candidates Night run by the League of Women Voters, a non-partisan voting advocacy group, at the Community Center, 2nd Floor of the Library, hosted by the Library Board of Directors. Masks are required the event will be held indoors. Friday October 15th at 7pm.

This week we held a Tentative Budget Meeting to go over all the wish lists of our departments for 2022. Much of the discussion was on the usual changes which frustrate every local small government: the rise in insurance rates, the need to replace aging equipment, the cost of keeping the programs we want going. We set our priorities as per the Comprehensive Plan, and they are: an active Recreation Department, a vibrant Library, fantastic employees, a downtown that is economically viable, and a safe place to live focused on our children, our seniors, our rural heritage and character. Having become a Clean Energy Community over the last 4 years led to significant savings in utilities, and it remains our goal as a Board to keep finding ways to cut costs and expand programs and pay people decent wages. The next step is to create a Preliminary Budget out of this discussion, which will be subject to a Public Hearing at the next Board Meeting on the 21st. The Preliminary will be posted before that date and available at Town Hall for perusal. The Water, Highway and Fire District Budgets are also included.

I met for the first time with the Dutchess County Housing Committee, to which I was appointed by County Executive Molinaro. This committee is made up of an amalgam of significant voices in the County: M&T Bank, Kirchoff Builders, Hudson River Housing, Dutchess County Planning, The Dyson Foundation, and numerous citizens and municipal officials. Here is the definition of “affordable housing”: it costs 30% of your income. For renters, this means rent plus utilities; for home owners it means mortgage, insurance, taxes. Since incomes have not kept pace with housing prices, a gap has occurred and many people have fallen through it. As regards building costs, it turns out that labor costs around the country have remained similar in all states. However, each state and municipality has their own zoning codes which create a time problem for builders in which their estimates can go moot by the time a project is approved. In New York State it can take years for a project to get approved due to all the variants in our zoning codes. (The average in Florida is about 10 months; in Tennessee it is four months. Of course, the lack of oversight on building has now become controversial with the recent collapse of an apartment building in FL, which led to numerous fatalities). The only people who can survive in this culture are the ones who have the money to put down and wait. Eastdale Village in Poughkeepsie on Route 44 has taken over 11 years to get started. Now it has a waiting list.  For a small rural town like ours, infrastructure is the key element for attracting developers. New homes add to the tax rolls and reduce taxes for everyone. Developers look for wastewater systems in place. The word “affordable” does not mean strangers coming here for Section 8—today it means our kids and our parents could find a place to live in Pine Plains if they choose to stay. I am looking forward to working on this quite brilliant committee and to what we might put into action.

We continue to film around town for a grant application on downtown revitalization and have already interviewed a wonderful group of people who are so key to our town. You will see us out again next week. Stan Hirson has kindly offered a treasure trove of his videos for our use as well.

Some people don’t understand why the Board continues to dream about bringing Town Hall back into town. And the short answer is: because it belongs there. The long answer involves the trailers our assessors work in, the cramped quarters and shared office space and lack of storage and aging heating and cooling systems and the very bad floor bending currently downwards and bouncing in the Town Clerk’s office. For people to be able to drop in on meetings and personnel, the tax collector and Town Clerk and police department would really be meaningful to the preservation of democracy here—especially around elections, when voting ought to be easy and walkable. This was supposed to be temporary—20 years ago!

And speaking of TSC, they are starting a play reading series called Local Produce, featuring local playwrights and performers. The first play up on the 17th at 3pm is The War Trial of Robert S. MacNamara written by our own Donn Potter. It features Dave Owens, Andy King, George Keeler, Marie Stewart, Brian Gerber, and Suzanne Ouellette, all long-time residents of Pine Plains. It promises to be an amazing event. Tickets for that are $10 also on the website or at the door. That IS downtown!

And please don’t forget The Cemetery Tours which benefit the Library. Tickets are going fast! Townspeople tell the stories of the folks long buried at Evergreen Cemetery and it is a wonderful event. It takes place Friday October 22 and Saturday October 23. Walking tours for the mobility impaired are at 5pm and for others at 6, 6:30 and 7pm Friday with an additional 7:30 show on Saturday. Tickets are available at the Library and on their website.

Phew! Celebrate local, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 10.01.2021

10.1.2021
Dear Pine Plains,Much news this week as to changes all around us. Perhaps the one that is of most interest is the fact that Sharon Hospital will be phasing out their Labor and Delivery department. So many people in Pine Plains were born at Sharon that I know this will bring up a lot of feelings. Here are the changes they are implementing:

  • Expanding Primary & Ambulatory Care: Sharon Hospital will pursue opportunities to expand its primary care footprint and ambulatory service offerings to best meet the current and future needs of the Sharon community. Investing in these services will allow Sharon Hospital to prevent, detect, monitor, and treat health issues earlier, improving patient outcomes and reducing the need for more complex care that requires a hospital stay.
  • Investing in Behavioral Health: Sharon Hospital will expand their adult behavioral health offerings to fill a gap in care in the surrounding region. By expanding adult behavioral health offerings, Sharon Hospital can better meet the needs of our growing 65+ population and expand our services to adolescents and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the future.
  • Consolidating Inpatient Care Services to Capture Efficiencies in Staffing and Care: Sharon Hospital will convene clinical and administrative work groups, including physicians and nurses, to develop a plan to effectively consolidate inpatient care services. These workgroups will ultimately allow for more effectively assigned staff and resources to better serve the needs of our patients, while keeping patients at Sharon Hospital whenever possible.
  • Phasing Out Labor & Delivery: Sharon Hospital has seen fewer than 200 annual deliveries for the past four years, an average rate of fewer than one delivery per day, some days passing with no births at all in a fully staffed unit. An underused Labor & Delivery unit cannot be maintained while also ensuring Sharon Hospital can continue serving its patients and community in the long-term.

Northern Dutchess’ Birthing Center will remain open as will Vassar.

The Tri-Town Coalition on Affordable Housing is offering training for advocates to learn how to help solve the region’s housing crisis. If you would like to be a part of this, please write Nathan at nathan@neccmillerton.org or call him at 518-789-4259 ext. 129. They write:

  • Priority will be given to participants who live or work in Millerton, Amenia, or Pine Plains. Sessions will he held once/month for two hours in the evening beginning in October. All trainings will be held virtually over zoom.
  • Stipends of $30/session are available upon request.
  • Stipends will be prioritized for those who do not otherwise receive compensation for their time from an employer or haven’t made or a previous commitment to volunteer service for their community. If you are interested in a stipend, please indicate that at registration for follow up. A request for a stipend does not guarantee approval.
  • Training provided by the Regional Plan Association with support from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation Northeast Dutchess Fund.

The Tri-Town Coalition (TTC) unites a geographic area including the towns and villages in Pine Plains, North East, and Amenia as a single voice to attract investment to our region and to address common challenges by combining our resources. The TTC does this in part by providing both information on housing ideas, innovations, and decision-making in our region and a platform for residents to engage with the process. We are seeking those who share our belief that everyone should be able to access housing that is within their means and who want to make that possible.

As everyone knows by now, Pine Plains is no different than any other town here and lacks affordable housing for young families and seniors. We have been working on this as a Board for many years. (Don says over 20!) The more people who volunteer to help the more likely we are to figure out a solution. In addition, I just received my appointment letter to the Dutchess County Housing Needs Assessment Steering Committee from County Executive Molinaro. As a co-founder of the Tri-Town Coalition on Affordable Housing, I look forward to bringing what I have learned from that experience to the County as a whole.  I will keep you informed about what we’re doing and how it applies to Pine Plains.

This summer I wrote a grant called the Downtown Revitalization Initiative for help with downtown revitalization, as per our Comprehensive Plan, and all our work/dreams regarding improvements to wastewater management and sidewalks/bikeways and bringing the Town Hall into town. The State got back to us asking us to make a video about the town. We are doing this in the next week with the help of Stan Hirson and Patrick Trettenero and lots of volunteers willing to be interviewed on the subject. Many thanks to everyone who said YES! You may see us filming around town this next week.

The DEC is asking us to monitor sightings of dead deer due to the wasting disease, which is transmitted via gnats. Unfortunately, we are finding a fair amount of them. If you spot any, please call the Town Hall and report the whereabouts to Alice in the supervisor’s office, ext. 1. We will then report to the DEC. They are also asking for people to watch for the spotted lantern fly cocoons. They look like white fluff stuck on a tree branch. Don’t remove them—but do report back to us or to the DEC directly. You can Google this for more information.

Ag Day is fast approaching! I can’t wait! And don’t forget the fundraiser for the FFA at The Stissing Center–a square dance! Saturday night the 9th, $10.

It’s Crazy Creature Time, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 9.24.21

9.24.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

The week after a Town Board Meeting is always made up of carrying out the instructions of the Board on various decisions we have made at the meeting. I thought I might depict a typical Monday after Board Meeting to give you an idea of what the job of Town Supervisor entails.

First, keep in mind that a Town Supervisor is a government position that is not like a mayor. Mayors are installed in Villages and Cities. Supervisors are installed in Towns. They have different jobs. My job is essentially to create the agenda for each meeting, to run the meetings via Roberts Rule of Order, to write and mind the Budget, to write grants for additions to the Town for which taxes cannot pay, and to be at Town Hall to answer citizens’ questions and help them with their problems. A Town Supervisor in Dutchess County has the ability to declare a State of Emergency, but that is the only power a Supervisor has. My vote is 1 of 5.

6am: Read and answer email

11am: Host meeting with County Office of Emergency Response Commissioner Dana Smith and Eoin Wrafter, Head of County Planning. They brought a team of consultants up to Pine Plains to meet with our Broadband Committee on the work we’ve done to map and identify where the holes are in our service. We also invited the Towns of Milan, Stanford, and Northeast/Millerton to the meeting, and all attended. Bottom line: they want to survey people all over again on the subject and this will take more time. We pushed back on this, asking them to seriously read our Report as published on our website, and to use our data to make recommendations as to building out the service in northeast Dutchess County. We hope they listen to us. All seemed to be good people trying to do their jobs well. They all know that internet should be considered a utility by now.

12:30pm: Spoke with the father of a veteran whose Hometown Heroes flag is in; flags hopefully going up this week.

1pm on: Re-read contents of last week’s Board Meeting, sent new laws to State divisions, corrected copy as passed, placed all the materials from the meeting in binder.

Answered more email:

Referred displaced tenants at Town Center to help from Hudson River Housing

Connected property owner to lawyer/engineer on easement situation

Received request from State granting authority to make a video about Pine Plains and why we                  need downtown revitalization; began reaching out to people who know how to make videos for                  help. Began formulating ideas.

Spoke with 2 citizens about the Bicentennial project to film and interview our elders on their own history in Pine Plains. Got some great stories. They promised to help me get the farmer they had in mind together with his mentee for the interview. John Boadle has consented to be interviewed by Ben Prentice. I hope more people will step up and agree to do this for the archives of our Town historical society.

Spoke with County regarding procurement requirements for the new playground. We need to bid this out. They have recommendations for help on this and companies to ask, as well as opportunity for piggybacking on a New York State bid. Many opportunities here to save money and get what we need.

Contacted Rec Dept to ask for help doing this. Met with Rec Director by phone.

Spoke with Town Clerk, Building Inspector, police department regarding various issues.

Spoke with County on grants received, how to process and administer.

Worked further on the 2022 Budget and Salaries.

Answered more email.

Signed checks, signed vouchers, contacted bank about SWEEP account. “Swept” money into General Fund.

Answered more email. Tracked down and sent town attorney account documents for new building.

A typical Monday.

This weekend is the Roast Beef Dinner at the Presbyterian Church 3039 Church Street. Please call ahead to order your dinners. They are $17 each and pickup time is from 4:30 to 5:30. Call Carol Hart at 518-398-7056 for yours. All proceeds go to purchasing wreaths for veterans at the Evergreen Cemetery as a part of National Wreaths Across America Day, which will occur December 18th at 12pm.

There is a blues concert Saturday night the 25th at 8pm at The Stissing Center.

Make plans to attend the Ag Fair which is going ahead on Columbus Weekend. You cannot miss Crazy Creatures.

This week I was invited to Bard College to take part in a class on Democracy and how to preserve it. The Town Supervisor of Red Hook was also invited, and we spoke with students about how we work, and what challenges we are facing. In return, we got to sit through the lecture on “citizen assemblies”, which was extraordinary. Basically it is a way to tackle an issue via a series of meetings of randomly selected townspeople from all walks of life. Many such assemblies can take place over a period of many months. In a way, we do this already with our Standing Committees. Our police Stakeholders Committee was highly representative of the town. But seeing the way this is set up was enormously eye-opening. The students may come to Pine Plains to help with our community meeting on the wastewater system. I have been invited to be a speaker at the Hannah Arendt Conference in October as part of this.

Supervisor McKeon commented that most of the celebratory events held in towns are not for the citizens themselves but for attracting visitors and money. I was reminded of our Ag Fair, our Town Decoration Day, and our Memorial Day, events designed FOR our own citizens, with the idea that you do not have to have money in order to participate. I know that is the mission of these traditions, and frankly, find it a huge relief. Visitors are always welcome, but these things are designed by and for the betterment of the town. And primarily for our children.

Which is not to say that any of it can be done without businesses here stepping up and sponsoring things.

So buy local, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 9.17.21

9.17.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

Don’t forget Town Clean-up Day tomorrow, 8am to 2pm. Get rid of your dad’s old Barcalounger that’s been sitting in the garage molding. Thank you, Lenny Liberta, for once again donating the dumpsters and the drivers. The Presbyterian Church is holding a roast beef dinner for pick-up next weekend, so plan for that. Let them know what you need. And there is chamber music at the Stissing Center this weekend. La!

I have a few New Age pals who like to say that you can change your destiny. I think of myself as Old Age, but I love that paradox of language. And last night the Town Board did change the destiny of the Town by voting in the first round of zoning text changes recommended by our Zoning Review Committee, which will loosen the grip of zoning on a number of properties and projects around Pine Plains. In particular, I know it is our hope that people will be able to use the new accessory dwelling unit law to turn a small barn or garage into an apartment for a starter family or a senior to live in, thus enhancing available affordable housing in the hamlet. Contact our Zoning Code Officer/Building Inspector Drew Weaver if you’d like to learn more about how to do this.

The other laws we passed and did not pass have to do with marijuana lounges and dispensaries. This Board did much research on the subject to best represent what the response was to the subject by townspeople. There was an overwhelmingly positive response to having a dispensary here. On-site consumption not so much. A few points really stood out in forming our decision: a) the State is regulating marijuana the way it does alcohol with numerous restrictions on where it can be sold and used; b) were we to opt-out of allowing a dispensary here, we would lose our place in a long line and years long process of putting out licenses and forming regulations; c) that process if we opt-in will take enough time that we will have plenty of time ourselves to regulate and zone the location of a dispensary. With this reasoning in mind as well as the benefit of the sales tax on marijuana of 4% for the Town, the Board voted to opt-in for allowing a dispensary here and opt-out of allowing on-site consumption of marijuana.

The Durst Organization is about to come back with their incorporation of citizens’ comments as a result of their scoping meetings, further affirming our collaboration with them on their Hudson Valley Project. The Planning Board, a group of citizens charged with oversight of all the building in the town, is the key to this collaboration and their careful decisions along the way could help to create an historic kind of development that is environmentally positive rather than exploitive.

All these decisions come out of a huge commitment to Pine Plains and a lot of hard work on the parts of numerous volunteers as well as the people we’ve hired to help us. The work has been collegial and imperative for the right kind of growth in Pine Plains in keeping with fulfilling the dreams of our Comprehensive Plan. When you look at a town with empty storefronts downtown, and broken roads, and a dollar store on the outskirts, you can see a destiny in that. It takes courage and hard, obsessive work to change that destiny.

Let’s make good history, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 9.10.21

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9.10.21
Dear Pine Plains,The big news from last week is still big news: we received grants totaling around $110,000 for a new all-abilities playground, 2 all-terrain wheelchairs, and the district formation of our potential central wastewater system. I wanted to explain here what this means. The Playground: it’s called a Bridging Pathways set and has the space for a wheelchair to go to every location in its immersive play space. It’s vast, and this money will pay for about half of it. The rest of the money will come from us all. The grant is for $70,000—and we need $141,000. You can write a check for any amount and send it to: Madelin Dafoe, Town Clerk, Box 955, Pine Plains, NY 12567 or drop by Town Hall and leave it with Madelin or Alice. Write it to: Town of Pine Plains but in the memo please write PLAYGROUND! Let’s do this!

The two all-terrain wheelchairs will allow people to get onto our trails and around our ball fields and onto our beach and right into the lake. They are fascinating pieces of engineering, and we hope this will open these assets to many new people. We will set up a way to check them out when we get them.

Finally, the money for the formation of a Sewer District is based on our Sewer Feasibility Study, which has just been completed. We are negotiating for the location for a possible central septic system, underground, and will be holding a public meeting on this in the coming months. Suffice it to say, the town needs a system: right now, restaurants cannot open with enough capacity to be successful, and regular people can’t open a new business due to the huge expense of the septic requirements by the Department of Health.

Next week’s Town Board meeting is on the 16th. There are two big laws being discussed: the marijuana laws and the zoning review changes. We are still accepting your input on whether to allow a dispensary or a lounge here in Pine Plains. We would love to have more feedback. Write me at supervisor@pineplains-ny.gov or drop off a note.

If you need a hunting or fishing license, our new Town Clerk is open for business from 10-1pm five days a week now! Come say hi to Madelin Dafoe.

The 9/11 Memorial Tribute in Stanfordville will take place all day at their Town Hall on Route 82. Many people in both communities read the names of the lost for a recording that will play all day. Stop by and see it.

There is a swing band playing at The Stissing Center tonight at 8pm! Go swing with them!

The first Narcotics Anonymous meeting took place last Tuesday at the Church of the Regeneration rectory, 16 Pine Street. Our recovery coach told us that sometimes people don’t want to come to a meeting in their hometown and prefer to find a place where no one knows them. But please give it a try and send people who would like to be a part of this in their own community to the meeting. There is something big to be said by those handling these issues to have a voice in our town, and the importance of their experience and knowledge is huge. Openness is how we get to recovery, and the whole community would benefit from that. It takes a town. The meeting will be every Tuesday at 6:30pm.

We will be discussing the 2022 Budget at the next Town Board Workshop on Monday the 13th at 7pm, but also the concept of affordable housing. Right now, people cannot find rental housing in Pine Plains that they can afford. Homes previously for rent are being sold in the current sellers’ market, and renovated places are going for high rents. The Town Board actually has been working on this issue since 2018. Finding the land to build a small development, finding a developer, finding a way to do this has been a constant effort. We helped found the Tri-Town Coalition on Affordable Housing with Millerton and Amenia, and it has come down to this: without a wastewater system in the hamlet, no developer will touch the town. Should we build one, they will come. There are many moving parts to solving this issue. If you’ve ever said or heard this phrase: “We don’t want those people here!” know that “those people” are now your kids and your parents and could be you.

Use this weekend to get out your items for Town Clean-up Day on the 18th. We will see you at the Highway Department from 8am to 2pm thanks to the generosity of Lenny Liberta, who donates the dumpsters every year and hauls them away. Remember, there will be fees charged for certain items. See our website. Think of getting rid of all that junk as getting rid of the past!

And never forget, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

 

Dear Pine Plains 9.3.21

9.3.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

THE FOLLOWING NEWS JUST CAME IN!!!!!

Pine Plains has just won 3 grants from the Municipal Investment Grant Program of Dutchess County:

Wastewater District Formation
Project Award: $32,600
Awarded Municipality: Town of Pine Plains
Project Description: Following the completion of a sewer feasibility study, the town will hire a consultant to assist with the preparatory requirements needed to form a wastewater district. The district would provide town residents and businesses with critical infrastructure for long-term sustainability.

All-Terrain Wheelchairs for Town Parks and Trails
Project Award: $7,530
Awarded Municipality: Town of Pine Plains
Project Description: Purchase two all-terrain wheelchairs for use by children and adults at town parks, trails, and the town’s public beach at Stissing Lake, giving residents and visitors of all abilities the opportunity to enjoy the town’s recreational offerings.

Stissing Lake Beach Park Wheelchair Accessible Playground
Project Award: $70,000
Awarded Municipality: Town of Pine Plains
Project Description: Purchase and install a Bridging Pathways Playground at the beach park at Stissing Lake. The playground will be fully inclusive and wheelchair accessible, while providing multiple and varied play components for all children to enjoy.

I am grateful and excited! On with other news:

On September 4th from 9-9:30pm, over 22 fire towers around the state will be illuminated to commemorate the service of the many volunteers who served as our fire observers in the past, who protected our communities from the ravages of forest fires. FOSL, the Friends of Stissing Landmarks, will light up our Stissing Mountain Fire Tower during that time, joining others across the Adirondacks and the Catskills. You will be able to see it from routes 199, 82, 83 and numerous side roads. Take a pause, find a spot, and look up at some history.

We are still accepting—and will until 10 days after the public hearing on September 16—comments on opting out of the opportunity for a marijuana dispensary or lounge here in Pine Plains. Please check out the Law as written, which is up on our website, as well as the numerous explanations I have sent the past month. We would love to have your feedback if you have not sent it in. Ideas for how to regulate any of these businesses would be welcome as well.

Be sure to mark your calendars for 9/11, a Saturday, and visit the memorial on the grounds of the Stanfordville Town Hall, where the names of those lost will be read on a recording made by many citizens of our towns.

And don’t forget Town Clean-up Day on the 18th! 8-2pm at the highway garage recycling area. Once again, Lenny Liberta is donating the dumpsters for the event. We do have to pay the dump fee at the landfill, hence we charge for certain items. Posters are all over town listing them. Anything with freon is about $20 as are mattresses and sleeper sofas. But furniture and junk is mostly free.

I am currently working on a huge grant for Downtown Revitalization via the State. This will be my third try. These grants are given out almost every year and are aimed at helping Cities, Villages and Towns renew their centers. We all write 15 pages of history and need and all the work we have done for the future and are judged on that. I have said many times here in the newsletter that I think prior Supervisors and I have all done great work studying our needs over the last 2 decades, working with County Planning on sidewalks and a design for the hamlet and a simple wastewater system, and we have a lovely stack of plans—but no way to implement them without a lot of help from the County, State and Federal Governments. They have never awarded a DRI Grant to a small rural town, but there is always a first time!

I am also working on the 2022 Budget for the Town. Health insurance has gone up a whopping 7%, unallocated insurance (buildings and equipment) has gone up about 5%, and salaries need to be brought up into the competitive realm. Our employees deserve that, and it is the best way to retain good people. Those are the biggest challenges I see right now to the budget. We will discuss the Tentative Budget at the next Board Meeting, and I will attempt (drum roll please) to put the budget document up on the screen during our meeting so people can see what it looks like. As always, the Budget will be put up on our website when it is more fully fleshed out and is always available for perusal at Town Hall. The hardest thing about writing a Town Budget is seeing clearly into the future and planning for it.

Madelin Dafoe has settled nicely into the Town Clerk chair at Town Hall. Please come meet her if you don’t know her, and get your licenses and records work here, 10-1pm every weekday. She has a wonderful smile.

The first official Narcotics Anonymous Meeting in Pine Plains will be held next Tuesday the 7th at the rectory of the Episcopal Church, 18 Pine Street at 6pm. If you know anyone interested in being a part of this group, please pass along this information.

AND our dynamic Recreation Committee is now raising money for a new all-abilities playground to be installed at the beach and ball fields area. You can write a check to the Town of Pine Plains but in the MEMO please put “Playground”. As you know, many attempts to get a new playground have failed over the years–but now we have a great shot at it. No amount is too small, no effort at fundraising wasted! Bring your check to Town Hall or find someone you know on the Committee. We need your help! It’s a really neat playground with wheelchair accessibility and lots of immersive things for kids of many ages to do. And no splinters!

As we go into the High Holidays in September, I am reminded of a blessing I heard as a child whenever terrible things were happening in the world: “May you live in interesting times.”

Stay blessed, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 8.27.21

8.27.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

I attended the Fair on Think Differently Day (Thursday) when the lights and sound are turned off for a while for people sensitive to chaos. It was pretty great. The horticulture building and Grange and art exhibits were all diminished, but there. The farm and animal barns are as full as ever. Some of my favorite tents are missing—the performance tent and the dog tent—but the rides and vendors were busy despite the heat and I plan on going to the 4-H horse show re-scheduled for Sunday. Fair Week is like a holiday week.

But we did manage to get a fair amount done at Town Hall. We are assembling Department budgets so that I can then deliver the Tentative 2022 Budget in September; we did more grant writing for a new all-abilities playground; we passed, at our last Board Meeting, the law for a standing zoning review committee, thereby making our Zoning Law a living document, which is key to progress here. Demo on 8 and 12 N. Main continues and the Final Draft of our Sewer Feasibility Study was delivered. We will be scheduling a public meeting about this in September or early October. I am looking forward to meeting with the County on the Broadband situation in northern Dutchess, where we will meet the consultant the County hired to map out areas not served. We have gotten together with Northeast, Milan, and Stanford to look into teaming up for funding for the build-out on underserved areas. The Marijuana
discussion also remains live, and we will present the Opt-Out laws for a Public Hearing at the next Board Meeting on September 16th. Please review Tuesday’s Special Edition of this newsletter for the nitty gritty on that. It is posted on our website and on Facebook under Pine Plains Town Hall. We will need comments sent to us as well as attendance at the Public Hearing for comments made in person. supervisor@pineplains-ny.gov

The Municipal Investment Grants issued by the County will be announced next week, and I am excited about this. We wrote over $100,000 in grant proposals this year and hope to hear at least some good news. Grants are the only way small towns can make improvements without raising taxes.

These last two weeks of August always feel like being on pause: school hasn’t started, it’s too hot, there’s prep to do before the launch of the Fall… In the old days there was School Shopping. Cliff Thorpe is still open, because he loves his work. Stop in there. I miss those days. Treasure these moments, parents!

And stay cool, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 8.24.21 Special Edition

8.24.2021

DEAR PINE PLAINS SPECIAL EDITION: THE MARIJUANA LAWS

Dear Pine Plains,

I am writing this Special Edition in order to make very clear what is happening around these laws for Pine Plains. I will try and make this as succinct and clear as I can as well as brief, but it is a complex issue. To whit:

  1. The State legalized marijuana this year with some important limits: licenses to open marijuana businesses would be set at an exorbitant $250,000 per license. This was very intentional to limit the number of establishments—dispensaries or lounges—in the State. In addition, only around 700 licenses will be issued, for the entire State of New York. Very key to the discussion here. There are a number of other limitations and requirements on these businesses, including ultra security measures for each.
  2. The State legislated a 13% sales tax for sales of marijuana, giving 4% to every town where it is sold. Counties receive another percentage. Sales tax collected by the Counties is distributed back to the towns which collected it. (This is different than our usual sales tax, which is distributed on a per capita basis to all towns regardless of where it is collected.) For Pine Plains, which has no real revenues, this would be a significant revenue. (How do towns make any revenue other than by taxing its citizens? Speeding tickets and grants. Stanford and Milan, for instance, make close to $1 million/year on Taconic speeding tickets. Millerton has an income from Route 22.)
  3. Marijuana would be treated like alcohol and cigarettes are—so that every law that rules alcohol/cigarette sales and use would apply to marijuana. In Pine Plains you can not openly carry liquor and drink it in public places like parks, or while walking down the street. You cannot smoke in buildings. Outside use near entrances or establishments must be regulated but heir owners.
  4. The State has mandated that a decision be made by every village, city and town as to whether they will allow a dispensary or a lounge in their jurisdiction. This decision has to be made by December 31st of this year.
  5. The decision to OPT-OUT means that a town can OPT-IN whenever it wants to. The decision to OPT-IN requires no law being passed at all. This is important to know, as it is the confusing part of all this. Pine Plains Town Board decided to present the OPT-OUT LAWS to the public in order to find out where people stand on the issue and get more feedback so that we can make an informed decision. The public hearing for that will be at the next Town Board Meeting on September 16, 2021 at 7pm. You are invited to attend. Wear a mask and socially distance.

The Town Board has done some extensive research on the issue which I have shared with you over the last few weeks in my weekly newsletter. The newsletters are stored on our website if you’d like to review a past one. At our Town Board Workshop on August 15th, we had a deep discussion with attendees about the subject. This is up on YouTube at our Town of Pine Plains site. I offered to reach out to other towns with experience with this as to the impact in their communities. I also offer some ideas around this here for contemplation. I am sure there are many more ideas out there which I welcome. But here is what I have learned so far:

Gunnison, Colorado: more of a city, 6000 people spread way out; nearest mental health services are 90 minutes away. Their mayor told me that Colorado gives a license to anybody, hence they zoned an area for dispensaries where they can do business to keep them out of their downtown.

We can zone where a dispensary might be situated. We can regulate a lounge.

He told me that they use their sales tax money to create mental health services for their community, which they are in process of doing. They also tacked on an excise tax of 5 cents per sale and use that for the same thing.

We could add an excise tax here and use it for a) a ride service for impaired drivers; b) a mental health worker who might help our police with things like homeless autistic people who need help, or domestic problems or untreated drug addictions.

Jim told me also that he has learned some valuable things about the drug. That for the most part it makes people peaceful, unlike alcohol; that its demonization led to it being tried out then widely used in the first place, because the credibility of its detractors was called out; and if that led to opiate use, the gateway was false information, not marijuana itself. He said he smelled it far less on the streets and on young people than he did before it was legalized. He has no lounges. He feels that legalization helped enormously in lowering overdose rates, as illegal marijuana was often laced with other drugs. Dealers of illegal marijuana moved into the legal growing of the plant, reducing crime. Many of his observations were truly surprising to me.

There will be more information and thoughts on this as ideas come in. We have a big decision to make in the next few months. Please help us find the best one.

Stay vocal, local Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Pine Plains 8.19.21

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8.19.2021
Dear Pine Plains,This weekend, the Stissing Center introduces their new organ to the world at 4pm on the 22nd which is Sunday! Don’t miss it! As they say in their flyer, everything from Back to Queen and in between.

And on Tuesday, our first NA Meeting will be held at 6:30 at the Parish of the Church of the Regeneration, 18 Pine Street. Anyone dealing with addiction and recovery is invited to attend. Enormous thanks to the church and Deb Hagan, our Recovery Coach, for pulling this together.

This past month we launched an inquiry into how people in town feel about the Town allowing a marijuana dispensary and/or lounge as a business in town. We have received more than 40 responses so far and a lot of conversations have taken place off the record about it. I spoke yesterday with the Mayor of Gunnison, Colorado, Jim Gelwicks on the impact of dispensaries and lounges in his small rural town in the mountains. I was so happy that he responded to my inquiry and we spent a lot of time on the subject. They have different state laws around the issue, particularly the fact that anyone can get a license to open a store. In NY, there are only 700 or so licenses available and they will be given out with an eye towards distributing them around the State. One of the main things he mentioned was that they used their sales tax money to create their first-ever mental health services for the town. They, like us, are far from any services and have none. (It takes them 90 minutes to reach help.) This is aimed at mitigating the impact of marijuana sales in the town. However, his observation has been that those with issues would find the drug no matter who sells it, and if it were illegal, there would be no way to control the quality. he also said something surprising to me: that when it WAS illegal, the rhetoric about the drug was proved to be false–it didn’t make people crazy, or violent, it made them drowsy and high. Thus the credibility of authorities on the subject was shot, and people tried harder drugs thinking they would also not be what they were told. In effect, he thought that the “gateway” people talk about was a problem with credibility and truth, not actual marijuana.  As regards the laws, if we do nothing, we automatically opt-IN to allowing both dispensaries and lounges, but we cannot opt-OUT ever again.  If we opt-OUT, we can still opt-IN at a later date. It’s complex. So in order to maintain control over the situation, on the advice of our town attorney, last night we voted to “opt-OUT” of both of these laws, so that we can “opt-IN” by either deciding to do nothing, or later, after the December deadline, when we will have more information about the State Law. That will give us guidance over what we need to re-zone or put into an ordinance to make this work in Pine Plains. Opting OUT gives us power over the situation because we can always opt-IN. It’s a bit hard to figure out the logic here, but that’s the way it is. Next month we will open a public hearing for more formal input on the laws. You can attend that meeting or submit written comments. We will need to hear from you during that process. supervisor@pineplains-ny.gov I will write another newsletter solely on this topic to make sure this is very clear to people.

The Town Park awaits the fountain, which requires a special machine to get it into the site, and a fix for the stone pathway that will secure the material so that feet and wheelchairs can use it.

The demolition of 8 and 12 N Main began with asbestos removal and should be totally done within the next two weeks.

We have now finished our two scoping meetings for the Hudson Valley Project at the high school and received a very warm thank you from the Durst Organization on the efforts of the Town Board and the School in working together to host this meeting. These meetings offered an opportunity for people to get up and ask for things to be studied as a part of the work that must be done to figure out the impact of such a project on the Town. The meetings are on YouTube at our Planning Board site as well as the Town Board site. But in general the comments added up to some really thoughtful and thorough thinking on the impact of the development on town life. They also opened up the written comments for an additional 10 days after the meetings. That period is now closed.

I am looking forward to a meeting with the County, their new Broadband consultant, whom they hired with money from the rescue Plan, and the three surrounding towns of Milan, Stanfordville and Millerton on how we might get together to receive grant money to build out the rest of our broadband service in northern Dutchess in a shared effort. This should take place the first week of September.

The completed Sewer Feasibility Study has just been sent in to us and the next step is a public meeting to present the findings to everyone. That will hopefully take place in September or early October.

The Zoning Review Committee has completed its work for this year, and if you recall, we are looking to pass a law here to make our zoning a living document so that we can convene the Committee yearly to review any problems that become known.

A hugely successful camp season has concluded and the Girls 10 and Under Softball Team well represented us at the State Finals and came home to a wonderful celebration at the Stissing Center.

There is so much going on in Pine Plains that it is hard to pare the details down to a newsletter. Watch for an extra missive or two in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud