The 2019 Preliminary Budget was approved and is available for perusal in the Town Clerk’s office and online. We thank our previous Town Supervisors for their vigilance over town finances. The town is in excellent shape financially. As we go into challenging times–health insurance increases upwards of 20%, vehicle insurance increases upwards of 10%–we are tightening our belts, paying strict attention to expenses, and finding new sources for revenues in interest-bearing savings accounts. If you have questions, I am happy to answer them!
The fire at Millerhurst was devastating to the Miller family, who have been on that land for close to 300 years. But it was also devastating to the many, many kids the Millers have mentored as junior farmers. As Emily Miller wrote, the cows all had names and lots of them grew up alongside our children here as friends and show animals. The Town has set up a memorial at the Gazebo for any and all to bring memories, flowers, drawings or photos to share with others. There’s a large pot of chrysanthemums on the top step waiting for more things. If your child feels sad, let him or her make something as a tribute and leave it there for all of us to ponder. What this fire did though to our thinking at this moment is bring home the power of community in tragic times. People have raised over $100,000 at this moment in the 4 days since the fire to give to the family. A mealtrain was set up. There are fundraisers to attend. There are jars at every restaurant collecting money to contribute. This is an homage to the Miller Family and all that they’ve done for our kids over the years, keeping our agricultural roots alive in our schools and the community. They are exemplary of what makes Pine Plains Pine Plains.
We gave a very heartfelt thanks to a citizen who took it upon himself to re-paint the historic landmark signs all around the area, George McGhee. We are the town and what we do matters here. Again, that’s what makes Pine Plains Pine Plains!
We thanked Kevin Walsh and John Hoffman for their vigilance in looking out for our environment here, and helping out with both lake preservation and our new impending solar law.
We hired Tricia Devine for the position of Planning and Zoning Board Secretary and who comes to us from a plethora of jobs overqualifying her for the position. Tricia and her family just moved here a year ago. She also helps run Farview Tree Service with her husband, arborist Sean.
Since our last meeting, I went down to New York to get a tour of the Dursts’ One Bryant Place to see how they build. The place is awesome. Beehives on the roof, rooftop farming, composting of household waste which gets sent to McEnroe’s and ice-making to keep the building cool in summer and get off the grid a bit more, which helps the whole city deal with surges in hot weather. This is what they do best, and they are beginning to realize that they can apply this to the development they want to build.
Budget Workshops/policy for budgeting: inflation is at 2.3%, cost of living is up 2.7%, cost of insurance of all kinds is up 20%, and oil and gas are up as well. We balanced wages with rises in costs, and did our best to give those who had not gotten raises in awhile at least something, while those who recently got raises will have to wait another year. Union contracts are usually set at a 2-3% raise every 3 years, and we will now try to give raises on a basis like that. The people we were able to give raises to hold positions which would become expensive for a variety of reasons were there turnover. Re-training is expensive as is overtime when someone has 2 jobs and chooses to work the one that pays the most and others have to cover for him; our town accountant stressed this as we poured over the budget. At this point, any change will cause a raise in taxes that would be a hardship to many people. That said, we will need to raise taxes a bit in order to stop pulling money from the Fund Balance to balance our budget. That money ought to be going for town improvements. The Proposed Preliminary Budget is available for perusal at Town Hall in the Town Clerk’s office, open 10-1:15 M-F.
We set up Saturday hours for the Town Clerk’s office, beginning in November. More details soon to come.
We are asking for bids for testing Stissing Lake’s vegetation.
We presented an updated Harassment Policy to the Town Board for consideration.
And today, Friday the 19th, we officially commissioned our new ERV Charging Station behind the Bank of Millbrook!
Last night’s Town Board meeting highlighted the submission of the Tentative 2019 Budget. We will now be working on revisions throughout October. All are welcome to view it on the website or come in to look at it. We created an Excel spreadsheet which breaks down expenditures into categories so that it makes for easier reading and comprehension of where our money goes.
We are able this year to buy an ice rink for the town. Matt Zick and I went down to Unionvale to see theirs and got a tour of their 160 acre farm-recreation park. It’s 80×100 and made of plastic walls that snap together with a liner. Volunteers will be appreciated to put it up every year and take it down, and to maintain the ice. Citizens are warned to read the signs which will go up when the ice is too soft to skate on. The liner can be damaged by skates going through the ice. We hope to put it up in November and have special nights for gathering to skate.
Fireworks will now be a feature of our Ag Day/Recreation Fundraising Day as well as Memorial Hall Tour Day October 6th. Technically, Ag Day starts on Friday, and there’s a roast beef dinner to raise money for the Fair; Saturday begins with a parade then booths and animal judging. Town Supervisor Cloud will have a booth to offer advice on permits and zoning and any other questions you might have.
Reminder: the NECC has a bus which seniors and others who need rides to doctors, shopping, and other locations in Dutchess County and Sharon, CT can use. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Town is looking for a Planning Board/ZBA Secretary. This is a part-time paid position. Training will be offered. Call 518-389-8600 and come in to fill out an application.
Lynda Ball (Wisdo) was appointed Assessor and will fill the position Bob Cordella left when he retired. She will be running for his term in November.
Volunteers needed! The Agriculture Committee needs members! Contact Town Hall to help us with this valuable committee.
The Old Library is still for sale. All price bids considered, within the scope of the RFP as regards what use the building might be put to. Imagine what you’d like to do and make us an offer we can’t refuse.
The Durst Organization came back to do an informational meeting on major changes to their Carvel Development Project. They are now considering building a resort as well as second-home housing. They are re-thinking the golf course idea and planning more trails, some paved. They have hired a Project Head named Lisa Baker, whom you will see around town. And they will be back with a design to show us in the spring. They are hoping to engage with local farms for agricultural programs as well as with artists to create art programs.
Finally, the Comprehensive Plan Review Committee is being assembled now. Look for meeting dates as we get the review underway. All citizens will be asked to participate in thinking about the town and dreaming about what more it could be.
Town Supervisor Cloud passed on some compliments to a number of people this month–Heather Wilson, for her work with the Town of Gallatin, who made a special point of thanking us for her innovative road-building; to Town Bookkeeper Karena Frenzel for work commended by Town Accountant Michael Torchia as a huge improvement over the past, and Jen Chase for a truly successful Summer Camp this year.
The Durst Organization will be back to speak about the Carvel Project on September 17, 2018 at the Community Center. All welcome in Pine Plains and Milan. This will be informational only, no comments taken at this time.
Faculty member Nelson Zayas is the new enrichment coordinator for the schools, and as such requested a small allotment so the kids can paint 2 snow plows from the Highway Garage. So passed!
The TB was introduced to a new recruit for the Police Department, Michael Belliveau. With our approval, Michael will now take the training to become a member of the PPPD. Michael comes with extensive experience as a Sheriff in Albany, with numerous training skills that will be of great value to Pine Plains. A veteran as well, the GI Bill will help him outfit himself, and his presence will help relieve the pressure on the rest of the force without costing the town any more.
We accepted and passed a bid on building the new septic system at the beach. Work will ensue soon. This is a special system designed to be near a lake, so that waste is pumped away from it.
Look for a tag sale on Ag Day along 199 as the Recreation Department raises money for next year.
As always, the meeting is posted here and on Pine Plains Views, and all are welcome to come to the next one on September 20th.
POP-UP ARTISAN MARKET: June 30TH 11-5PM at the Old Library on Main Street. Music in the Gazebo and talented craftspeople.
COMP PLAN: We have received a Greenway Grant to review our Comprehensive Plan and update it! We will be convening meetings with all the stakeholders and departments in town to create a brief survey to be sent out to the community. Stay tuned!
DURST: The Durst Corporation will be returning to town September 17th for a meeting with the Town and Planning Boards.
OLD LIBRARY: The Old Library is officially FOR SALE. Pick up a form to make a bid at Town Hall. As this is an RFP, the bids are very specific in their requirements. Invest in Pine Plains and a great old building in a key location downtown.
MORE RESOLUTIONS: We passed our Taser Policy and our extended agreement with American Tower for our cell tower.
SOLAR LAW: If you are interested in being a part of the committee to review and revise a Solar Law for Pine Plains, please write email@example.com
BOB COUSE TOWN CLEAN-UP DAY: September 8th, 2018 7:30am to 3pm Residents Only! Monitors will be on hand. Tires will be accepted for around $3/per tire, up to pick-up truck size; appliances will be accepted for a $15 fee if they contain Freon; latex paints need to be dried (poured onto kitty litter); no hazardous waste or electronics. Specifics will be posted closer to the date! Get rid of all those tires in your yard!
BEACH: It’s open every day with lifeguards! We continue to work on it, and have the septic field repair out for bids.
GRANT WRITERS: If you’d like to help the town seek money for repairs, dreams, and improvements, please write or visit Supervisor Cloud!
AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE: We are looking for a Few Good Folks to be on the Committee–they will play an integral role also in our Solar Law. Contact Town Hall.
Enjoy the summer! Bike the Lakes! Hike the mountains! Bring dinner down to the beach and meet your neighbors!
This month it was announced that Governor Cuomo would allot extra money for roads, and he included 2.6 miles of Route 199 coming into Pine Plains via the help of Legislator Didi Barrett. We are the only town in Dutchess County to receive this extra money.
We began work on a solar law, are tweaking our Taser Law, finished our new Trails Zoning law and put that into the books. We are also confirming an Investment Policy so that we can wisely and safely put our reserves to work more. September 8th will be Bob Couse Town Clean-up Day, so named for the person who suggested it at a meeting. We are working on what we can offer to people for free and for a nominal fee, but Lenny Liberta will be donating the dumpsters and driver. The Town will only have to pay for tipping fees. We are grateful to both men for their help. At the very least. we plan to offer a tire recycler for a small fee (probably around $3/tire) and eyeglass donation boxes provided by the Lions Club.
The Old Library is For Sale by RFP. Anyone interested can contact the Supervisor’s office at 518-398-8600.
Our Town Emergency Plan is being worked on by Rich Prentice, who will be meeting with all the parties involved: schools, Fire Department, Police and Highway, to get their feedback and participation in the cooperative plan.
The Community Garden is underway at Town Hall. Volunteers needed! Sandy Towers is leading the way with assistance from Suzanne Ouellette and Dave Humeston. Come help and reap the benefits of growing good fresh food you can harvest and eat, or give to those who can’t. The group can always be found in the garden on Saturdays!
Supervisor Cloud has applied for a Greenway Grant to review and revise our Comprehensive Plan. If we receive it, townspeople will be invited to participate in numerous forums to think more about the future here and who we are as a Town and what we want to see. Our original document is beautiful and enduring. We will update what has already been accomplished and look at it with an eye towards zoning for economic development.
The Carvel Development Project continues to be addressed via meetings with their liaison, and with potential planners to advise us, and meetings the Dursts are conducting with the Winnakee Land Trust, the Dutchess Land Conservancy and Scenic Hudson.
We are astounded by the wealth of wonderful people who help Pine Plains remain the beautiful place it is without fanfare or reward. We are looking for ways to honor them for their service.
The Town Board went immediately into Executive Session Saturday morning in order to deal with the selection of a planner for the Town to help with the Carvel Development Project as well as details on a number of opportunities which have come up around bringing Town Hall back into town. We adjourned with many things still on our list to discuss but ran out of time. We want to continue meeting like this, at least the Saturdays before Town Board meetings and will discuss this again at our regular meeting this Thursday night. Many exciting opportunities are presenting themselves and town input is sorely needed. Look for ways that you can be a part of the decision-making for the future of Pine Plains in the coming months!
The Community Garden is in full swing and volunteers are always needed. And Anthony Silvia is carving our new Town signs as we write. Look for them this summer!
We had a long, productive meeting on April 19th, 2018. Highlights include the hiring of Kerri Yamashita as a Special Prosecutor for our court, the passing of a decision to provide Disability benefits to employees contingent on further study as regards the category of employee for this (years of service, for instance, or full versus part-time), the hiring of Kyle Gillis as Beach Director, and the Highway Departments plans for fixing roads this summer. We passed an Arbor Day Resolution and welcomed Mark Wilson to town as new head of our Triathlon (June 30th! AND to include a children’s race and later start times!) Mark runs Triathlons for a living and feels confident he can bring more and more people to ours as he builds our reputation as a beautiful place to race. Bob Couse suggested a Town Cleanup Day. We will be looking into how to do this. The Town Board is currently interviewing Planners for help in going forward on the Carvel Development Project. We hope to meet with Durst representative, Yale professor Alex Felson, this coming Monday in a series of meetings all day.
We are also selling the Old Library. If you are interested in this lovely-but-in-need-of-renovation old building on prime Pine Plains real estate, please send an email of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org as we are preparing an RFP for the sale. I neglected to mention at the meeting that Sandy Towers is starting to work on the Community Garden once again out here at Town Hall. She really would love to have some help this year, and can be reached at 845-514-5550. The food harvested here is taken to our own Food Pantry once a month, but Sandy is open to new ideas for the distribution, since once things begin to grow there is A LOT of food available to families. Students are welcome to come help and bring food home. April Stark, a teacher at Seymour Smith, has brought her students to help plant, and Town Justice Dave Humeston is a regular volunteer. Join them! Call Sandy to give her your ideas! Many of you may not know that the Town has a vibrant Seniors Program, with trips and events provided free and for a nominal fee. This past Friday, we all went down to the Westchester Musical Theatre, had lunch and saw a fabulous production of Sister Act. Kathy Rigano, Town Secretary, and Ray Christiansen are to be commended for booking these excellent adventures and taking care of everyone who goes. Even the bus ride was wonderful—it was a chance for friends to catch up with each other, to meet new people, and to see the countryside from higher up than a carwindow. As per usual, I sighed with relief as we crossed into Dutchess County, grateful to be living in such a beautiful place.
This was a tough month for Pine Plains. We lost a number of beloved and important citizens. Two significant nor’easters swept through and knocked out power and roads for days. This brought to our attention the need for all of our departments to work together in emergencies, and for a plan of which all are aware. Warming and charging were made available at the Community Center and the Town Hall. Dry ice and bottled water for our area was delivered by Central Hudson to Red Hook. Most people stayed home and manned their generators, or came into town for a few hours to sit at diners with friends. Neighbors helped neighbors. We got through it. The County will soon be delivering a comprehensive emergency plan for the town, so that all systems work in a united way.
At the Town Board Meeting on the Ides of March, (not a time of evil, as Shakespeare had it, but a time for settling debts that goes back to the Romans!) we discussed a few of the following things:
The Old Library Sale: we will put it up for sale again ourselves, but this time with specific requirements for the renovation of the building, as it stands on prime real estate in Pine Plains.
We took a pledge to become a Climate Smart Community which will enable us to apply for grants with NYSERDA for energy-saving systems and an EV Charging Station.
The Trails Report was approved. Town attorney will draw up the necessary resolution.
We have launched a search for a Court Prosecutor.
It was nice to see students in attendance. We hope they learned a few things about good government!
On February 24th, the Durst Corporation came to the Community Center to present their project in an informational town-wide meeting. Highlights of the plan include much more green space and land conservancy than the original plan, a trail system open to the public which would allow us to walk from downtown Pine Plains all the way to Lafayetteville, an Affordable Housing Fund to be administered by the Town Board for in-town housing, and the potential for numerous jobs associated with the building and maintenance of the development. The potential economic impact of the project was suggested, though there remains a discrepancy between this potential and both the forestry tax exemptions (upwards of $6,000,00) they have received, and their proposed use of common space, which may conflict with businesses already established in Pine Plains. They spoke of being open to hearing about all of these impacts and more. After describing the development to us in a powerpoint, they requested feedback on the following aspects of the proposal:
- Layout and design of the project
- Size of the project
- Variety of housing and lot sizes
- Proposed public benefits a) Are all of them useful/up-to-date? b) Are there changes to be considered? c) Do any raise potential difficulties? d) Are there different benefits or amenities which should be considered?
You can read the NND on our website under About Us/Development. Please send your comments to email@example.com for inclusion in a report to the Dursts which they will address at the next meeting on March 17th at 10:30 am at the Community Center.