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Dear Pine Plains 2.19.21

2.19.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

It was a good month for attending to the paperwork of the last year, pulling together and finalizing the specs for 3 RFPs for the Highway garage as well as demo for 8 and 12 N. Main. These will all be out in the next week.

We received word from the State that speed limit reductions were approved for STREVER FARM ROAD, CARPENTER HILL ROAD, CHASE ROAD, AND BETHAL CROSS ROAD. All will be reduced to 35 mph. These come at no expense to the town for road speed studies due to the manner in which we made our presentation.  I want to thank Mike Manning for his invaluable help with this. Now we can ask for the next set of speed limit reductions!

The Willowvale Bridge is all set for repair in March, according to the County. This will be a one-lane bridge designed to slow down traffic in the area as well as to discourage trucks from using this spur as a short cut. The bridge design will be historic, reminiscent of the kind of work the County did at Patchin’s Mill.

My Broadband report is discouraging. We have a tremendous committee working on this, and have entertained numerous officials from both the legislature and the Broadband Companies themselves. I signed the NDA so that Consolidated would give us their maps and make an estimate as to what a build-out would cost to cover all corners of Pine Plains. They still have not sent this material. Altice was supposed to attend one of our meetings, set it up, cancelled and have not been heard from since.  But the fact is that adequate high-speed internet for everyone is dependent on the federal and state governments taking the lead on this and completing this work, perhaps naming internet access as a utility and finding the money. The internet companies are not going to complete service on their own. They will not invest the money. They will however, build out on a road if all the homeowners on that road join the contract to pay a $150 startup fee and $130/mo after that for 3 years. These fees pay the cost of extending the lines. Municipal Broadband in the form of a town-owned company just does not make sense for a variety of reasons here. We will continue to monitor changes in law and funding opportunities, but we also recommend looking into Starlink, a system using satellites that has contacted numerous homeowners for sign-up opportunities even though the system is not yet available. I think they might be looking for adequate numbers to make this worthwhile. We will keep you updated. A huge thanks to Jim Petrie for doing the data entry on the maps we created ourselves. Heroic undertaking.

I have continued my participation in the Pattern for Progress Fellows Class on Institutional Racism, and have found that you can expand the concept to people without money when it comes to ways of keeping certain kinds of people from owning their own homes via zoning. I think Pine Plains has actually done a good job paying attention to its zoning in this regard, and the new Zoning Review Committee will be tasked with securing more ways to ensure equity in housing availability in Pine Plains. At the Town Board Workshop on Monday, we launched the Zoning Review with our planners, and the work begins in earnest in March. It will take about 6 months and will clarify and adjust numerous items in our list of things to fix and change. This work comes as a result of the Comprehensive Plan Update we completed last year, as well as consultation with the Building Inspector, and the Planning and Zoning Boards as to issues that have come up which need attention in their minds.

Finally, a shoutout to some really wonderful high school students who have begun a group to look at Diversity in Pine Plains. They meet online every Thursday evening, and I look forward to hearing about their work together. Diversity is the key to sustainability.

So stay different, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud