Dear Pine Plains,
The week after Town Board Meeting is always spent following up on the tasks set by the meeting. Short as that meeting was, there was a lot to do.
We are forming a committee to investigate broadband in the area, and who we might extend fast internet to all corners of Pine Plains. I spoke with Dr. Handler at the school and he told me that 10% of our students do not have the internet necessary to do their schoolwork online. That figure does not include college students sent home from their schools. During the pandemic, college students could be seen sitting in their cars near WIFI emanating from the library and other closed buildings, attending classes and writing papers on their cellphones. This is utterly wrong. I did speak with G-Tel out of Germantown, a locally owned company, who will look at Pine Plains for possible connection, but who can only lay new technology digital cable for a 2-mile radius from the light. The cost of more: $35,000 per mile. Grants are in question because of the pandemic. If you are interested in being on this committee, please call me at 518-398-8600 ex1. It will be a lot of work, but fascinating.
We found a misplaced workplace policy, written by the Town Board in 2011, and got it back up on the website and on our bulletin board.
We began an Excel spreadsheet to track escrow payments/accounts which are accounts developers must fund to pay for the town’s expenses incurred by them. (Engineers, attorneys, etc.)
We continued work on the white papers to be posted on the website which explain what projects are going on in Pine Plains and what their history is. www.pineplains-ny.gov/projects/ The Durst Project will be up there soon.
Due to an incredible increase in the use of the recycling center, we spoke with Welsh Sanitation in order to better the system here. There are 2 recycling bins, and we have now designated each one for different items. One is wholly for carboard, and the other for glass, cans, newspapers, plastics which qualify for recycling. We hope this will alleviate the need for an extra pick-up. Please be nice to Vinnie there.
Jen Chase’s Teen Beach Crew worked hard cleaning up the beach and setting out goose deterrents—only to have one of them stolen from the beach. The kids were deeply disappointed in this. If anyone has the coyote decoy they set up, please return it, no questions asked. The beach can’t open until the Board of Health deems it clean enough, and everything helps in this effort. BTW, lifeguard training will be held in Pine Plains on June 28th from 9am to 6pm. https://jellis.com/classes/local-lifeguard-training/10062251
I don’t know how many people know that the town owns its own cell tower. We are re-negotiating the contract on that now with our lessee, as new competition has arisen challenging their bottom line. The tower provides a small steady revenue for the town. We have few revenues—sales tax, mortgage tax and cell tower are our biggest.
Hence, I am looking forward to receiving 2nd Quarter news on our economy in Dutchess County. County Executive Molinaro has joined with counties from all over the nation to ask the federal government to help us recover lost revenues due to the pandemic. At the same time, he referenced that we have a healthy “rainy day fund” here in Dutchess County, 57 million dollars to be exact, to protect us against catastrophic emergencies like this, which is exactly why we put this portion of our taxes away somewhere safe. Pine Plains also has a rainy day fund, collected over the years via really sound budgeting. So far we have been on track compared to 2019. This 2nd quarter figure is all-important in determining where our revenues will be this year.
Many small DC towns (pop.50,000 and under) are joining together to ask the State to stop requiring expensive speed studies for speed limit changes on town roads. We will be a part of this, and I will let you know what happens. Changing speed limits is ridiculously expensive (they require engineers at a price of about $3500/road) and difficult, especially when dealing with State roads and the State—perfectly decent people who don’t know the area at all.
There have been some public comments/questions about things to do with Districts, so I thought I would explain what a district is. A District is a special area designated for service which not everyone gets. For instance, the Water District. People in the Water District pay a tax which the District uses to maintain pipes and equipment. The District sets its own taxes therefore, not the Town. We have a Lighting District as well. And a Fire District. The Fire District commissioners determine the budget for the year, give it to the Town Board, and spend it themselves without any interference from the Board. If something breaks at the firehouse, it is they who fix it. If you look at your tax bill, you will find your Fire District taxes outlined there as well as Water or Lighting. Only people living in those districts pay those taxes.
Municipal government is a complex, frustrating but beautiful system.
Finally, there will be a car parade through town for graduating seniors Saturday at 9:30am to celebrate their achievements. The actual graduation is going to be sometime during Phase 4 in July so that the school can invite more people. Look for news about that as the county continues to open up.
Let’s celebrate our kids, Pine Plains!
Supervisor’s Statement 5.21.2020
Much of my time lately has been taken up in preparing for the Phase 1 re-opening of Dutchess County, whenever that can occur, preparing for the next phases which will involve our recreation program and local restaurants and businesses, and keeping our numerous projects going under significant difficulty.
To that end, I would like to talk here a moment about a document the Town Board received on April 26th via email purportedly being a petition to call a referendum for the purchase of 12 N. Main. As you know, we have been in a Permissive Referendum period since our last Board Meeting in which by unanimous vote, the Town Board approved the purchase of this property for the town’s use.
While we are very sympathetic at this time to the concerns implied by the document, it would have been wholly irresponsible to accept this document as a real legal petition necessitating the instigation of a referendum which is a very costly undertaking for a town. The document submitted to us did not contain a single address for any of the signees as is required by law. We determined that almost half of the names were of people who do not live in Pine Plains, and the Court ruled that the document did not even have a stated purpose. Given the fact that it contained no valid signatures—and mindful that we are in a time of stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic—we might have taken it more seriously had there been at least valid addresses given. As it was, some people only signed their first names. In order to take this document seriously, we unanimously determined to treat it as possibly valid, and hired an attorney to work with the County Court to determine that. The decision was delivered to us on Tuesday and here are the last 2 paragraphs:
“Understanding our present circumstance, it understandable that obtaining actual signatures may have been difficult for the respondent. However, the petition is deficient in more ways than lacking actual signatures. The respondent made very little effort to conform with the formalities of a petition, and specifically failed to articulate a purpose for the petition, so that the Town or anyone else would know why a referendum was wanted by the respondent or the residents.
Coupled with the lack of authentication of the signatories, demonstrating that the signatories are actual residents of the Town, who opposed the Resolution for the same reasons . . . . the respondent has made little effort to oppose this motion, [his] second chance to give a basis for the petition. It is submitted late, as a letter, and still fails to provide some statement of purpose and reasons for its failure to adhere to the protocols of filing a petition. His neglect to do so appears to have little to do with [him] not being an attorney . . . . In light of the foregoing, the respondent has failed to give this Court a basis to not invalidate its petition. There is no stated purpose behind the petition that warrants overlooking the technical defects of the petition, even during this health crisis.”
Moreover, if the Board had accepted the flawed document, and ran an expensive referendum, we would have exposed the Town to the certainty of costly lawsuits by other Town residents who do not want the expense of a referendum. Court papers would rightly argue that the Board has no right to conduct a referendum on a legally flawed petition and counsel has advised that the Town would likely lose any such lawsuit.
Accordingly, the purchases of the properties in question have been conducted by the Board in good faith, in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, all with an eye towards achieving the Town’s stated goals.
However, despite this ruling, I just want to say that we hear those who signed this document, and take quite seriously your concerns. To that end, we also feel that our decision to purchase the property is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the town to acquire enough land downtown to make a difference in public life here, no matter what we do with it. Our ability to purchase a property appraised at over $230,000 for a price of $100,000 at an historically low interest rate of 2% is unheard of in any times. We have received many emails in support of the purchase, and a full history of how we reached this decision will be shortly up on our website under a new page called Current Town Projects. But just to remind you, we voted, again unanimously, to make our offer at the February 20th Board Meeting, then hired a lawyer to help with the contract, discussed the purchase extensively at the April 13th Town Board Workshop Meeting and voted again unanimously to make the purchase at the regular Town Board Meeting on April 16th, all to the letter of the law.
I want to end this statement by talking about some real heroes in town during this pandemic, people who have used this time to help others: Pat Nannetti and Ted Mallozzi of the Food Bank, Nelson and Lisa Zayas of Willow Roots, the new folks at the Old Library, who launched a campaign to raise money for out-of-work local restaurant workers, garnering over $28,000 from more than 100 townspeople and distributing all the money to 73 individuals; and Paige Arent, a 14-year-old student, who launched her own campaign to help people out of work, and raised more than $1500 all on her own. All of these people have been tireless in their dedication to helping others through the pandemic, and I want to thank you all on behalf of the whole town for your amazing accomplishments.
Dear Pine Plains,
As the numbers of infected people rise in the rest of the country, New York is seeing a plateau, which does not mean that the numbers are dropping, or that the virus is going away, but rather that more people are being tested and as we go down the other side of the peak, we will probably lose just as many people, if we remain in lockdown. Yet, all the Towns are in deep discussion about re-opening businesses and services. Here is a link to explain the biology of the virus, and why this is so challenging:
On Wednesday, we discussed how to restore municipal offices to past working order to begin May 18th. All Towns have submitted their plans to the County Executive, and we await advice and new ideas as we share our own. As regards Pine Plains, what was put in place on March 16th will largely continue. The door at Town Hall will remain locked. You can call ahead and make an appointment with the Town Clerk, Tax Collector, Assessors, Town Supervisor, and we will instruct you as to how to come by. The Town Clerk will be able to help people through her “walk-up” window on the side of the building. Masks must be worn in order to come into the building—no exceptions—and strict cleaning measures are underway.
This first phase of re-opening will also involve construction, as long as PPE is worn and social distancing adhered to. Projects deemed non-essential will be allowed to resume. If you own a business in Town and are confused about what restrictions will be in place when you are allowed to open, please call us. The County has a website which I have spoken about here before called the Dutchess County Business News Network or BNN which is incredibly valuable in keeping everyone informed, but know that the orders are changing almost daily. Whereas we really want to re-open we also really do not want to watch this illness flare up again. New numbers for the County will be out today after what they called a “data dump” yesterday which they had to sift through.
Whether we are able to open Camp this year or not is still in question, but Camp Director Jen Chase is planning for it should that happen, and along with Rec Director Mike Cooper is looking for alternatives in the event that we can’t. Please let us know how you feel about the possibility of Camp: would you send your kids, do you use/need camp for daycare, what are your fears and ideas about it… They would like to know. Ultimately, whatever we plan, we will all have to be prepared to shut it down in the event that numbers spike back up.
All week, we have been prepping for the Planning Board Meeting on May 13th at 7:30pm with the Durst Organization, which will be viewable on YouTube, at Town of Pine Plains. The Food Locker is open this Saturday, but Willow Roots will not distribute this week. Birthday celebration Truck Parades will continue throughout the lockdown, and you can schedule a drive-by by calling Councilman Matt Zick at 845-705-5533. Signs are up on lawns all over town as our high school seniors near graduation, asking folks to honk to let them know you’re out there cheering for them. I personally love driving by the electric sign at the high school every year which shows all the colleges the kids are off to. I hope we can all keep their spirits up in this difficult time, when they have missed so much of their last year.
So honk loudly, Pine Plains!
Dear Pine Plains,
First of all, let’s celebrate some good news. The County call I was on yesterday was all about re-opening Dutchess County businesses. The State has re-examined our location—along with Ulster and Orange Counties—as a hybrid between upstate and downstate, and as such deemed us “upstate” which will allow us to open sooner than Westchester and New York City. This opening will be a roll-out: slow but sure. It will take months. We were told to closely monitor executive orders from both the Governor and the County Executive, as changes may occur hourly, and may contradict what came before. This was the case when we shut down, so we are prepared to be vigilant here. I have been asked to be on a committee of Mayors and Supervisors to advise the County Executive on ideas for opening while keeping people safe in northeast Dutchess. We will be meeting daily to help design the roll-out. One idea has been to bring back outdoor dining as a way to help restaurants deal with the predicted 50% capacity rule that will be ordered. The extra tables under a tent/on a porch might help their sales quotient. Our own pharmacist Nasir Mahmood is serving on a County committee to bring testing to local pharmacies, with a prescription. The main problem is the availability of the actual tests. If you have ideas around opening things up in Pine Plains/Northeast safely, please call me at my office or write me there. 518-398-8600 ex firstname.lastname@example.org
The rates of infection are going down, albeit slowly, and spring is beautiful. Nurses and medical personnel, as well as people with birthdays, will be celebrated by drive-bys this week, a fine procession of police, fire and highway vehicles. Councilman Matt Zick is one volunteer you can contact to set this up at 845-705-5533.
Members of the Presbyterian Church and others are still making masks, and they can be found behind the church and out at Town Hall.
New entrepreneurs in town, the Brimers, who bought the Old Library, have a company called Industry Standard and are spearheading a drive to raise money for unemployed wait staffs at all our restaurants. Their message: The team at Industry Standard — Matthew, Whitney, and Ben (the family that is renovating the Old Library at the center of town) — is organizing a community effort to raise funds to support our wonderful Pine Plains restaurants and their hardworking employees during this difficult time. The Industry Standard team is taking care of distributing funds to the restaurants — but we need your contributions to make the magic happen. Due to the generosity of Pine Plains residents, we are able to match all donations 1:1. So for every $100 you contribute, local donors will chip in another $100, bringing your impact to $200.
It is easy for anyone to contribute securely online via credit card. If you can, please donate whatever you are able to here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/pineplains
Tax Grievance Day has been set for May 26th. Don’t be shy about bringing your evidential papers to our assessors if you think your assessment is too high. (Remember: a higher assessment does not mean your taxes will go up!) If they can’t do anything for you, the Grievance Committee is the place to take your case. Make an appointment at 518-398-8600 ex216 ASAP.
And finally, to that end, if you fill out the Census2020, you will be helping the town directly with funding from both the State and Federal levels. The more citizens we have, the more funding we qualify for. So please, even if you did not receive a card in the mail, because you have a P.O. Box, you can go online to Census2020.com and fill out your census by clicking on the link that says “Don’t have a number”. The system is easy to use and helpful. You can also always call Town Hall for help. We will be back in the office 5 days a week, 7:30am-3:30pm on Monday the 4th of May ready to help. The doors will still be locked to control traffic inside, and masks will be necessary to gain entrance.
When we are terrified, no one can tell us not to be, no matter how hard they try, especially if we have good reasons to be terrified: like falling from the ledge we are standing on, or failing a test that would change our lives, or losing our homes. Now we are terrified of just leaving our homes, of hugging our own relatives, of shopping in our favorite stores, the result of the early stages of a global pandemic; most of us have made it, many, many of us have not. We all respond to terror differently, but in general, it can either energize us or shut us down, disabling our thinking. In reaction mode, terror is…well, terrifying in and of itself. And when we fall into reaction mode, we often say things we don’t mean, we often lash out, and we often make things worse. It is time to start taking care of ourselves and others here in town so that we don’t fall into this trap. Sometimes there is no way out.
Take care of yourselves, Pine Plains. We will get through this. As Marcus Molinaro says, we are all in this together.
Dear Pine Plains,
The past few weeks have been tough on everyone. But resilient Pine Plains has really made an effort to wear masks and gloves while out shopping, patronize our local restaurants so that they stay open, and stay home! It has been hard on the kids not to see their friends, hard on parents out of work, or working from home, hard on essential workers, many of whom come from Pine Plains. That tells you a lot about our town. I get on calls with the County Executive twice a week with all the mayors and supervisors, and this week’s call was all about how slowly the state will open again, what to prepare for, and what to handle as regards things that will not happen as usual.
Many of these things are very disappointing: we will most likely be unable to hold our annual Memorial Day Parade the way we are used to holding it. Stay tuned here for updates on this as we figure out what we can do and how to do it. Camp may not take place and the beach may not open. Jen Chase, camp and beach director, is preparing as if everything is normal, just in case, so that we can jump in and make it happen, but we are being told not to count on it. The courts have gone online, using virtual arraignments, and many cases are adjourned now until May 30.
The good news is that the numbers are holding steady for the first time as most people get tested, and active cases in town go down as people recover. Spring has arrived and it has never been more beautiful. (I say this every year, to the dog). Local farms are planting and preparing for CSA delivery, and the abundance of food in our area has never been more welcome or essential or obvious as the main business around Pine Plains, well worth all our efforts to protect it.
This week, we received the first part of a submission for a development at the old Carvel estate on the west side of town from the Durst Organization. The Planning Board is going over it with our new planners, and the next Planning Board meeting on May 13th will take a look at this. You can access this meeting most probably on YouTube at our Town of Pine Plains site, LIVE. It will also be recorded.
ZOOM has allowed us to broadcast all public town meetings to a wider audience, both a blessing and a curse. Whereas it is wonderful to reach more people, many don’t understand that we cannot address immediately comments posted in real time. There is a comment period written into every board meeting (for Town Board) and if we can capture any, we will. If not, we gather them after the meeting and address them at the next meeting.
It has been stressful trying to run town government at a time when people are quarantined and feel unable to get out and be in touch. Many projects the town board has been working on for the last 2 years are coming to the fore, and we have kept them going. But that means that our decisions of the past seem like a surprise if you haven’t followed the progression of decisions we have made all along to get to this point. Two things I want to mention here: the old pine tree coming down in the town park, and the purchase of 12 N. Main to create a lot big enough for a new Town Hall (some day!)
More than a year ago, a man named Edward Kinsser died and left the town $25,000. The board decided to use that money to renovate the town park. Many people voiced their opinions, a committee was formed to design the park, and 2 arborists came in to look at the big tree. It was determined that it had sustained damage in a storm that would someday soon bring it down, and that it had grown too big for the space it was in. We made the tough decision to take it down knowing it would be replaced by something chosen by the committee that would not grow so big. It was imperative to take it down before it fell on its own, but also in spring so that the committee could begin the work on the park this summer. This was scheduled long before COVID-19.
The purchase of 12 N. Main has also long been in the works. The Comprehensive Plan and its recently completed Update call for Town Hall to be brought back into town. When opportunities arise to fulfill directives like this, it is wise to grab them, and that is just what happened here. The owners of both 8 and 12 N. Main decided to sell, and that location would bring Town Hall to a spot where it would intersect with the Graham-Brush House, our historic society’s home, as well as our municipal parking lot. Both lots are needed to address the space concerns we’ve had ever since we moved Town Hall out of town. Our assessors are in a trailer. Our court and police are not that easy to get to. And voting without a car is impossible.
Many many people are working tirelessly in town to feed those without jobs and food right now, to assemble help for people out of work, to mow the lawns of their neighbors and keep repairs going. The Fire Department has now partnered with the Highway Department to drive by the homes of those with birthdays, so look for parades of big trucks this weekend again, and until this crisis is over.
And our enormous thanks to everyone in town who is an “essential” worker for going in to work in these conditions, to maintain life and to save lives. You make the Town of Pine Plains a better place to live.
Stay proud, Pine Plains!
There are now 2,389 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Dutchess County, 35 fatalities, as well as 373 individuals who have recovered. There are over 257,000 cases statewide with over 15,000 hospitalizations and 15,302 fatalities. As always, we encourage you to visit our dashboard for the most up to date, verified, local data. Our dashboard has been visited over 400,000 times since it began.
Informational Flyers & Posters
Checkout our flyer which provides important tips to protect yourself and others as well as information on testing and how to get help. The flyer is available in both English and Spanish. We encourage you to share this information with your constituencies. We have also created two posters that should be hung in public locations to help keep residents informed about how to stay safe and how to get help.
Personal Protective Equipment Distributions
Dutchess County Emergency Response has been working diligently to procure and distribute critical supplies and personal protective equipment to front line healthcare professionals and first responders throughout the County. We have already distributed more than 152,000 surgical masks, over 41,000 N-95 respirators, 5,000 face shields and many more supplies such as gowns, hand sanitizer, germicidal wipes, gloves and bottled water. Individuals or organizations interested in donating N-95 respirator masks, surgical masks, fabric masks, gowns, gloves or disinfecting wipes should contact the Donations Coordinator Tijuana Vann: email@example.com. Healthcare and first responder agencies unable to obtain personal protective equipment may request emergency PPE at: COVIDsupplyrequest@dutchessny.gov
Dutchess County Emergency Management will be making fabric face coverings, manufactured by Hanes, available to local towns, villages, and cities. Each interested municipality will be provided two boxes, containing (100) 5-packs of washable fabric masks, in each box. The intent is for one box to be used to distribute the 5 packs to municipal staff members for use while working and for use outside of work, when unable to social distance. The other box can be used to distribute to local businesses and organizations, within the municipality, for essential staff to use (i.e. grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, food delivery, etc.). Additional boxes can be requested for additional distribution, as needed. These fabric face coverings can be used in place of surgical masks. (N-95 respirators are still recommended for use in any potential COVID environment.) Interested municipalities should email COVIDsupplyrequest@dutchessny.gov to arrange for pick up.
NY on Pause Update
- Governor Cuomo announced some parts of the state would be allowed to begin offering elective surgeries again. Dutchess County was listed as one of the counties that cannot begin elective surgeries at this time. We are working with local area hospitals to communicate to the state regarding the ability to take on some of these services and importance of doing so without delay.
- The Governor has also reiterated that he would look at reopening the state on a regional basis. The areas would be reopened based on what the spread, hospitalization, and containment efforts are for the region, along with the testing capacity of the region to test and trace positive cases. Dutchess County is actively tracking these and many other important metrics that will be used to determine when and how the County can be reopened.
- Updated guidance has been provided regarding restrictions on golf courses and marinas. See item number 13 in the State’s Guidancefor determining whether a business enterprise is subject to a workforce reduction under recent executive orders.
Funds Awarded through ‘Dutchess Responds’ Fund
In partnership with the Community foundation, we have awarded $32,400 from the Dutchess Responds Fund to aid County residents in need of critical support as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds have been awarded to community organizations that support to two priorities: Front Line and Service-Challenged needs. This second round of Dutchess Responds Fund grants follows the initial round of grants, announced earlier this month, which awarded more than $50,000 in funds to shore up the feeding programs throughout Dutchess County, with a special emphasis on fresh produce and distribution.
Grant applications will be accepted from non-profit organizations on a rolling basis and are available online through the Community Foundations’ website. More information can be obtained by contacting Community Foundations at (845) 452-3077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Volunteer Week
It’s National Volunteer Week! Huge shout out to our MRC Volunteers who have been invaluable during this Coronavirus pandemic. Thank you to all the volunteers throughout our community who are working diligently throughout this crisis to support those in need. Visit our website to learn more about the Dutchess County Medical Reserve Corps, or call the COVID-19 Hotline at 845-486-3555 and select option 7 to volunteer.
Business Community Update
Businesses are encouraged to visit DutchessBNN.com to sign up for daily emails and access important information and resources.
- A FAQ document was released by Empire State Development regarding how Code Enforcement Officers should handle all of the changes coming down from Albany, it can be found HERE.
- The Dutchess Business Notification Network and the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerceinvite you to participate in a virtual business town hall conversation on April 24th at 1pm with State Senator Sue Serino, State Assemblyman Lalor, and State Assemblyman Jacobson. The format will open with remarks and end with a Q&A session. Register HERE.
- The State Comptroller’s office has released a “COVID-19 Financial Survival Toolkit for New Yorkers.” It can be found HERE.
- The Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce is encouraging individuals to post updates about their business, regardless if the business is a member of not, onto the Member News portion of their website. If you are a member of the Chamber and want to post, click HERE. If you are not a member and want to post, click
We Will Fly Again
We’d like to extend our eternal gratitude to first responders, healthcare workers and all those who have stopped to help someone out just because they needed a hand during these uncertain times. Their courage and selflessness are a beacon of hope for us all. And it reminds us that resilience is a part of our county’s DNA and that ours is a history full of stories that prove our ability to overcome anything together. Please watch this video to see the inspiring and beautiful message from our own Dutchess Tourism’s new #WeWillFlyAgain Campaign.
As always, we encourage you to visit dutchessny.gov for the most up to date information. Our COVID-19 Information Hotline is available 7 days a week to help answer questions and provide assistance at 845-486-3555.
I am sitting at Town Hall surrounded by 48 inch square canvasses and paint kits donated to 8 local teen artists who submitted plans for paintings to the new owners of the Old Library. These will be distributed by appointment to the artists. The project was launched by Matt Brimer, Ben and Whitney Falk as a way to fill the windows in the Old Library while it is under construction. Each teen whose work was chosen will receive a stipend of $500. Grateful appreciation to Matt et al for this project, as well as this: he has secured access for the entire Pine Plains community to free and heavily discounted online classes and workshops from his company, General Assembly. GA https://ga.co is a mission-driven adult vocational school he helped to found which offers a variety of career-focused training programs in technology, design, marketing, entrepreneurship, data analytics, and more. It has long been a dream of mine in particular to see adult education brought back to Pine Plains. This is one great step.
Here is where Pine Plains residents can find General Assembly’s catalog of upcoming online classes:
https://generalassemb.ly/education?where=online#catalog-results. They can use the special discount code lovepineplains at checkout to get 30% off the list price. (Some are already free of charge.)
And here is a set of completely free online classes from General Assembly that happen every Friday during the pandemic: https://generalassemb.ly/blog/free-fridays/
Today the Governor extended the emergency order another 2 weeks to the middle of May. Once again, I want to thank County Executive Molinaro for great leadership during this pandemic crisis. I have said this pretty much every week in my newsletter since the virus came to Dutchess County. The mandates he and the governor have set down have been extremely helpful in determining what steps to take here in Pine Plains. As of this morning, the count is 7 active cases of the virus in Pine Plains.
We shut down Town Hall on March 16th and began a system of staggered hours for employees here, so that few are in the building at the same time, yet the work continues. I come in when others are gone, and am as always available to talk on the phone or by email. I find personal interaction far more valuable and helpful than social media. You can address concerns in-depth, and if questions come up that I can’t personally answer, I can find out and get back to people, and I do. I am in the office every day of the week on average. As much as I am here, I am not in charge. The Town Board is made up of 5 people, all of us very different, with different skills and experience, and the eclectic nature of this Board is I think what makes us effective. No one person can make any decision affecting the Town, and over the past 2 years, almost all of our votes have been unanimous. When the pandemic spread to Dutchess County, we as a Board decided not to postpone meetings—which was suggested to us, in light of what is required to hold a meeting legally, and the enormous effort it would take to set up and learn the correct technology to do so—but to learn how to work this technology ourselves and meet. They can be seen LIVE on Facebook.
Hence, many of the projects the Town Board has been working on diligently for the past 2 years continue to move forward. This month, the Durst Organization has begun submitting the necessary information for their re-vamped development of a family healthy-lifestyle resort at the Carvel estate to the Planning Board. The Board decided to hire Erin Moore and her associates as the engineers who will conduct the sewer feasibility study for the Town, fully funded and encouraged by both the State and the County as core infrastructure for economic development. Given our excellent gravel bed here in the hamlet, we hope they will find an economical and innovative way for businesses to thrive here. We do not foresee any kind of typical sewer system at all, and have made that clear to our new engineers. They will look for alternative ways to accomplish what we need.
2020 taxes have been paid and the check is in. Bravo Eileen! I think people pay their taxes on time in Pine Plains because they love coming in to talk to her. I opened a SWEEP account this year, so that I can keep our taxes in an account which makes interest while it sits there waiting to be spent. Our revenues will be down due to the pandemic, but due to the Board’s management of a healthy fund balance, we have a safety net for unprecedented historic emergencies, and we will get through the year fine.
We have received over 150 hand-made masks from some pretty incredible volunteers—Carole Godin, Hollie Bart, Joan Taylor and Sarah Miller—and distributed them to Town Police and all employees as well as our seniors and anyone else who came to Town Hall needing one. I personally drove masks to a number of people’s homes. They are all gone. I have to say that they are extremely stylish, so if you see someone sporting a really beautiful mask in town, one of these women probably made it. Now I know that a lot of you feel silly wearing a mask around, but it is really important as the virus peaks this week and next in Dutchess County that you protect not only yourself but the people you go near. The Governor has now mandated that everyone in a situation in which social distancing is impossible wear a mask, as well as all essential employees who serve the public. Employers have been charged with getting their workers the correct protective gear. In the words of County Executive Molinaro at his weekly Wednesday County-wide Facebook Meeting, “don’t be a jerk”. Wear a mask in public. As you probably know, Marc lost his own father this past week to the disease. You would be devastated if you gave the virus to someone you love, and they ended up in a hospital all alone to contend with some very extreme and frightening symptoms.
Thompson Pond and Stissing Mountain have remained open for people to hike. Sheriff’s Deputies, State Troopers and our own Town Police are patrolling the parking area and reminding people to social distance. They have told us that the majority of people there on weekends are family groups. We have not closed this area because our own townspeople have taken the virus seriously, and many are anxious and need to get outside. Enforcement is a problem, as the courts are shut down, but congregations of people for the purpose of parties or social gathering is currently against the law and punishable by a fine of up to $1000. New orders like this come down on an almost daily basis as the virus evolves and shows its ugly face in new ways and places, which makes dealing with these situations very difficult and stressful, but now easier with this legal backup.
And people in town are feeling that stress. This has been hard and it’s been frightening. Some are taking to Facebook to work out their anger and anxiety, others are staying home and sewing masks, and others are getting out to deliver groceries and food to those who can’t afford food or leave their homes. Numerous landscapers are mowing lawns for free. Many of us are home with children who can’t bear not seeing their friends, or who don’t understand what is happening, and have to do schoolwork we can’t comprehend ourselves. The Writers Group I run for the Library is writing about this moment, and the State Historical Society is compiling the stories of this rare and historic moment in time, so if you have one, no matter what your age, you can send it to our Little Nine Partners Historical Society, and they will see that it is archived along with their own accounts.
At the Town Board Workshop Meeting on Monday the 13th we discussed our decision to move forward with the purchase of 12 North Main as a way to acquire the land necessary for the building of a new Town Hall in the middle of town. Gregg Pulver told me that when the Town Board moved Town Hall out here 20 years ago or so, they planned to only be here for 2 years. They had always meant to be back in town where government would be accessible to more people, and that has been a focus of the original 2004 Comprehensive Plan as well as the Update completed in 2019. We have been talking about this as a Board for more than a year and a half. By buying both 8 and 12 North Main we will have the land to make this happen. The Town retained Gary Murphy in Millerton as the lawyer to represent us in this purchase. We plan to bond the purchase, which essentially spreads out the burden of the cost over many years, and right now, since rates are at historic lows, the cost of bonding would be essentially paid for by the interest revenue from our fund balance.
Finally, the Fire Department will come to your house to help you celebrate a child’s birthday. Call Matt Zick at 845-705-5533 to set it up. This will continue through around 5.15.2020 and takes place on weekends.
By now, all of us probably know someone who has the virus and is struggling to survive it. We all need to take a deep breath and be grateful that we can breathe. We will get through this. It will be over. What is important right now is that we keep it together for the sake of our parents and our children and the future here in Pine Plains.