Town Supervisor Updates

Dear Pine Plains 1.26.19

Dear Pine Plains,

Our Communications Committee met this morning over the idea of a unified “look” for the way Pine Plains presents itself to the world. They poured over the old Comprehensive Plan for vision and identified three things they feel we can highlight about our town: Community, Opportunity, History. Economic development is something we can all be a part of: just cleaning up your yard or painting your house makes town look better. Committing to buying local helps the town prosper. Getting to know your neighbors and attending events makes the town a better place to live. Even though you might commute somewhere else for work every day, coming home to Pine Plains should be a joy and a sigh of relief.

To that end, the Town Board will continue its efforts this year to write grants for a central septic system to enhance small business opportunities, to open up the rail trails for hiking and biking, to find a doctor for our clinic, to bring Town Hall back into town, to fix our beach and support our active Recreation Department, promote vibrant programs at our Library, including bringing back adult education, to reach out to developers about affordable housing, and to welcome new businesses to town which can thrive here.

Our program for Seniors is called The Adventurers Club. This year, we are booking more trips, including one to The Westchester Musical Theatre for An American in Paris. The Club meets every Wednesday from 11:30am to 1pm or so, and every senior is invited to come play cards, socialize or take part in our programs. Call Lori at Town Hall for more information. 518-398-8600 ext. 1

The latest word on the Carvel Development Project is that the new design will reflect healthy lifestyles, including passive solar construction, and be delivered sometime after the first of next year. Phase 1 will feature a resort. In the meantime, project manager Lisa Baker will be here for meetings with interested citizens.

This past week, Chair of the County Legislation Gregg Pulver and Supervisor Cloud met with people from and CAPE, the Center for Addiction Prevention and Education. We are proud to announce a collaboration with these groups to present a forum for people struggling with addictions of their own or their loved ones to speak with recovery coach CaraMia Bacchiochi and each other every Thursday from 1pm to 2pm in the back classroom of the Community Center. Called Group of Strangers, this will be a no-judgment, no pressure safe place to discuss anything. We have also spoken with PAARI, the highly successful program out of Chatham, which we hope to bring to Pine Plains soon. Their training will help our town police and others help those who want it when they want it. Group of Strangers begins February 7th.

It’s hard to say that warm weather in winter is disappointing, but Town Board member Matt Zick is always sad when it’s too warm to ice skate at the new town rink at the ball fields. So hope for cold and get out there and join him there!

Chill out, Pine Plains!


Dear Pine Plains, 1.18.19

Dear Pine Plains,

All morning I sat in the supervisor’s office fielding phone calls from the press about the life of Shannon Smith Kent, a native of Pine Plains, a decorated Navy cryptologist stationed in Syria, who died in the attack there. I dearly hope I took some of the chaos off the shoulders of her wonderful family, her mother a friend and fellow writer and teacher, her father head of State Troopers in our region. We are so heartbroken about this loss. But what a life she led. What courage and vitality it took for her to live so far away in such a dangerous place and find the kind of important work that few ever get to do. How much a product of this particular place and her parents she was. The town of Pine Plains will miss her. Flags are flying at half mast in her honor.

This week, we held our Re-Organization meeting for the year as well as our Town Board meeting. Catch the film version. It will keep you on the edge of your seats.

The ice rink is already popular with many skaters. It’s down at the recreation fields opposite the beach. We are closing in on lighting for the area too. If you have any old skates to donate, we are gathering them to distribute to growing kids in an exchange program. We will ask people to use them until they don’t fit anymore then exchange them for the next sizes if we have them, thereby keeping a bank of skates in perpetual loan-out.

We passed the creation of our Solar Law Task Force, and held a workshop meeting with the town board to gather their feelings about solar power in and around Pine Plains.

Look for a public Workshop meeting on a possible nuisance law that would pertain only to the hamlet and off-road vehicles in back yards. The Town Board wants input from townspeople on this.

In the meantime, Lisa Baker was in town on Tuesday for breakfast at the Platter to discuss the Carvel Development. New redesigned plans are expected to arrive about a year from now.

With renewed energy, we will strive to write grants this year for economic development drivers such as a community septic system for our downtown, beach repair, and lake preservation. We dream of affordable housing and town hall re-located to our downtown every day. There is so much to do!

We are expecting 6-12 inches of wet snow this weekend, so tuck in for being unable to get out. As this will be a long weekend for the King holiday, I suggest a visit to the library for a pile of books. (And Peck’s for popcorn!) Speaking of the library, look for some exciting news on our work with the library in conjunction with the Pine Plains Memorial Hall. Think Pine Plains Pop-Up Learning!

And stay upright on those skates, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 12.28.18

Dear Pine Plains,

At our last Town Board meeting, we spoke about numerous concerns which the town is facing. We will be putting together our Solar Law very soon, and will have a Workshop Meeting to discuss our goals on January 14th at 7pm. This is open to everybody.

We will soon be inviting the Council on Addiction Prevention & Education counselor CaraMia Bachiocchi to town to meet those who are struggling with addiction. At the moment, all we have to do is to decide on a good location where people feel safe to talk with her. If you want to try to understand better what parents and addicts are dealing with alike, try to see the movie Ben Is Back. Maybe not the greatest movie in the world, but very accurate to the experience.

LED lighting was approved by the Town Board on December 10th. Look for Central Hudson to be out replacing bulbs. This will save the town a significant amount of money each year in electricity costs (approx.. $6000/yr) and pay for itself in 3 years.

The Re-organization Meeting will take place right before the next Town Board Meeting on January 17th, 2019.

As the New Year approaches, we thought you’d like to know about ways you can contribute to Our Town and Beyond which don’t require anything from you but time. Here we go:

1)         Volunteer to drive the van for the Northeast Community Center out of Millerton serving our area—they take people to doctor’s appointments, shopping, anywhere they need to go when they can’t drive themselves.

2)         Get on a committee for the town—or form one! See something you’d like to have happen? How about preserving our history here, and helping to maintain the old scale, finding a place to display our 1897 LaFrance Fire Truck, keeping the Graham-Brush house up, getting involved in creating this walking museum of wonderful places? How about a marketing committee? Get the word out about Pine Plains in a way that attracts people to the things we want to preserve the most?

3)         Find out what they are doing to help people at your local church. The Food Bank runs out of the Methodist Church, for example…

4)         Volunteer to coach a team for our Recreation Department.

5)         Volunteer to help with the Community Garden, which is located down at Town Hall.

6)         Volunteer at the Library, join the historical society, help FOSL maintain their projects…

7)         Help write grants—if you’re good with engineering and creating specs, good with IT, good with writing, the only way small towns can achieve big things is with grant money!

8)         Volunteer next year for Town Clean-up Day: we will need people with trucks to pick up large items for folks who can’t bring them in themselves.

9)         Attend Town Board Meetings and voice your opinion. We film all the meetings but there’s nothing like being there in person.

Things like this are an enormous help to the community and gratefully appreciated. You don’t have to be rich in Pine Plains to be essential, welcome, and necessary to our economic development and to our hearts. And it’s a great way to meet new people.

Let’s work together, Pine Plains!

Dear Pine Plains,

Last week, Town Board member Sarah Jones and I attended the Land Use Law Conference at Pace Law School on Sustainable Development as a Market Driver. It was packed. Town Supervisors, land use lawyers, planners and planning boards were all in attendance from all over Westchester, Putnam, Orange and Dutchess Counties. This Town Supervisor was interested by the use of form-based codes for zoning, which allows for a town to make decisions for zoning based on what the town wants where, as opposed to being subjected to the whims of developers and corporations. This would create a kind of generic GEIS for use by prospective builders. The new Comprehensive Plan Review will therefore be an important factor in determining where things might be built in the hamlet, and what we as a town want built there. 

We got to hear from numerous town planners and builders on their experiences with economic development “their way”, increasing walkability for towns, sustainability for the environment in these towns, and hence economic development. “The three go hand in hand” was the theme of this conference. It turns out that when your town is walkable, your citizens are healthier, obesity is lessened, the air is cleaner, and your economy is stronger. As my kids would say, “duh”.

And make sure you look at the Library calendar for wonderful events there all winter. The Qi-Gong class on Thursdays at 11:30am is pretty fantastic. (Today we learned to move like cranes, monkeys, and tigers. I guess you had to be there…) It was awesome.

If you’d like to be on a committee in the coming year, please write or call Town Hall. We are looking for people to be on the Agriculture Committee, Trails Committee, Historic Designation Committee, Grants Committee. Or just come on in and suggest something you’d like to be a part of.

And watch for the opening of the Ice Rink down at the Ball Fields. We need cold weather to freeze the last few inches at the bottom and we’ll be good to go. You will go in by the big gate, and when it’s open the rink is open. Basically, the hours will be 10am-9pm weekdays, and until 10pmFridays and Saturdays. Wait for announcements. A watched rink never freezes…

Skate on, Pine Plains!

Dear Pine Plains 12.6.18

Dear Pine Plains,

One of the privileges of the job of Town Supervisor is that I am a member of the Dutchess County Supervisors and Mayors Association and attend a dinner once a month with 21 other folks dedicated to community service. This is an incredible bunch of people, working full-time for half- or third-time pay who have devoted their lives to their towns. (This is usually in addition to other full-time jobs!) We share experiences and advice freely and we all help and learn from each other. There is nothing partisan about this group. This past Tuesday, we met in Rhinebeck and went around the table talking about our challenges and our successes this year. Some of the challenges to towns in DC are staggering: brown field cleanup (with no funds to do it), aging sewer systems that are spilling waste, broken water systems, the opioid crisis, a “green fly” lake that must be cleaned up, speed limit-lowering arguments with the state, more arguments with the Board of Health, poorly maintained highway garages that need replacement, flooding… the list seemed overwhelming. Yet at the end everyone agreed with Supervisor Linda French of Dover, who said: “I love my job. I feel so lucky to wake up in the morning and set aside my own problems in order to do something that really counts and help my town.”

This week, Secretary Lori Patricola and I prepared and hosted a Holiday Feast for our seniors at the Community Center. Attendance was at an all-time high and much fun was had by all. Ham, twice-baked potatoes and homemade cheesecake! Join the Adventurers Club and be a part of this.

Which reminds me—Town Board member Sarah Jones hosts a Craft Day the first Tuesday of every month at the Community Center. 12-3pm Come work on knitting, rug hooking, whatever you do, with experts who will help and teach you.

The Town Board is holding a Workshop Meeting on the 10th at 7pm to discuss LED lighting and the addition of light to a section of Church Street between Poplar and Pioneer Drive.

On the 13th, the second meeting of the Solar Law Committee will be at 5:30pm at Town Hall.

The new town signs which Anthony Silvia made for the town at cost are receiving glowing accolades. We are very grateful. They are truly works of art. It is this kind of dedication to the town that exemplifies Pine Plains.

If you’d like to be a part of the future here, why not get on a committee? Please send your letters of interest to Rather than list all the possible committees to be on, write to us of your talents and interest and we will discuss the best fit for you.

If you need a place to just sit a while and listen to holiday music played by your neighbors, get down to the Pine Plains Presbyterian Church Christmas Concert on Saturday, December 15 at 4pm. Featured artists include Patrons of Harmony, Strings Attached, Jim Petrie, Dorothy Whitaker, Gerard Lisella, Pine Plains’ newly elected assessor, Lynda Wisdo, Stissing Mt Junior High School Instrumentalists, Stissing Mt Senior High School Brass Quintet, and Organist Ryan Orton. Following the concert, all are invited to stay for light refreshments. 

Sing out, Pine Plains!

Thanksgiving Thoughts

I want to tell you about my road trip upstate this week, and what I learned from driving Route 30 to Saranac Lake. Because it was far more educational than I ever imagined it would be.

With Coach at the wheel, I was able to watch out the window as town after town went by like a movie. A movie about devastation and folly. Each town we went through seemed to look worse than the next. We tried to figure out the cause: no investment from anyone IN the town, just outsiders—poor planning which led to sprawl and chain stores, which weren’t doing all that well themselves. (Key clue to a dying town: the location therein of a Dollar Store). No decent downtown, the old one boarded up and falling apart. These things were pretty easy to see. And these were towns with assets, lakes and mountains and trails and… What happened?

Then we arrived at our destination, the town of Saranac Lake. Totally different. An emphasis on its assets: many lakes, skiing, hiking, the outdoors. There had to be 4 stores featuring outdoor gear, bikes and kayaks. There were just a few restaurants downtown and a beautiful renovated hotel. And signs: every once in awhile we’d pass a sign that gave the history not of a building but a significant person who had grown up there or lived there at some time. Bela Bartok, Albert Einstein, numerous Olympic medalists… History was preserved all over this small town. There was also a wonderful pole with little blue flag signs pointing to the mountains within driving distance for climbing. Yes, there was an outskirts, where larger stores lived, but they did not interfere with town commerce. They complemented it.

I came home with fresh ideas about Pine Plains, what we have here and what to emphasize for visitors, and new energy for preserving these things. Most of all, I was thankful that I live here. And very thankful to all the people past and present who have fought hard to keep Pine Plains as safe, protected and beautiful as it is. Are we lucky.

Stay thankful, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

Budget Updates

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!

Updates on the October 18, 2018 TB Meeting!

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!

Highlights of the TB Meeting 9.20.2018

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.

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.




Highlights of the August 16 Town Board Meeting

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.