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Dear Pine Plains 6.12.2020

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Dear Pine Plains,

Phase 2 means outdoor dining can take place at area restaurants, and the barber shop is open by appointment! (hint hint) Much of the work of area businesses this past few months has been in the realm of creating safe spaces for people to return to. Here at Town Hall, we are constructing plexiglas barriers for the Town Clerk and Assessor. Town Hall is open, just knock and put on your mask!

Local citizens in collaboration with area churches are holding a Non-Partisan Gathering for Racial Justice Sunday June 14th at 4pm behind the Clock Tower and Stissing House. Coach Jim Jackson, Pastor Ryan Larkin and County Legislator Gregg Pulver will be speaking. As you know, this is now allowable because we are in Phase 2. Before this, it would not have been.

It has been a quiet week, and since there are no grants to write this year (yet, I hope) I spent the week working on a series of White Papers (papers which explain things like the history of a project) about commonly asked questions in Pine Plains. What is the Durst Project? Why are we purchasing 8 and 12 N. Main Street? Why do we maintain a Town Police Force? The idea for this came from the mighty mind of our Planning Board Chairperson, Michael Stabile. Once completed, these papers will be up on their own Page on our website at where anyone can peruse and learn from them. So I thought I would give you a few highlights, just so you know what you will soon find there:

On the Durst Project:
 Q: What is the Durst Organization Hudson Valley Development project?
A: The Durst Organization plans to develop a 2,700-acre site in the towns of Pine Plains and Milan.  The company is exploring a sustainable hotel and residential resort concept for this property. The company believes that the “beautiful landscape and rural character of the Project site provides a unique setting to create a master-planned resort community that is both respectful of the natural environment and compatible with the character of Pine Plains and Milan.”
Q: What is the Durst Organization?  
The Durst Organization is one of the oldest family-run commercial and residential real estate companies in New York. Established in 1915, the company is owned and operated by the third generation of the Durst family. Members of the Durst Family have owned homes in Pine Plains for over [30] years.  In addition, The Durst Organization is a business partner in McEnroe Organic Farm in our neighboring Town of Millerton. This project is being spearheaded by Alexander Durst, the Principal and Chief Development Officer of the company, and a member of the fourth generation of the Durst real estate family.
The rest of the paper will include a timeline of the history of the project in town and a summation of where it is now.

On our Town Police Force:
Q: Why do we maintain our own police force in a small town like Pine Plains?
A: There are many good reasons:

  1. The Town Board feels that community policing by people who live in the community is just better for a small town. A good relationship between the police and their constituents is vital to the security and well-being of the town. 3 of 5 of our police not only live here but went to school here and have children in the schools here. All have a vested interest in the community.
  2. A town force is under the oversight of the Town Board. An ethical Town Board therefore has a lot of power over how town police conduct themselves, and can influence that.
  3. Having police in town makes sense for the kinds of crimes we have. Waiting for a sheriff/trooper to arrive can be fatal.
  4. It saves the Town a great deal of money.

The rest of the paper will outline what different agencies actually do and the cost breakdown for outside policing.

On the purchase of 8 and 12 N. Main Street:
Q2: Why now?
A:  The opportunity arose.  The property at 8 North Main Street came up for sale in 2018 and the Town purchased it in August of 2019.  The property at 12 North Main Street came up for sale in October of 2019. Since number 12 North Main is right next door to Number 8 and both are immediately next to an existing parking lot and the historical Graham-Brush House, as well as a mere 50 feet from the hamlet’s main intersection, the Town Board recognized this rare opportunity and began purchase negotiations.
Q3: Is the purchase of 12 North Main a fair deal?  Isn’t it owned by a related party?
A: Yes, it is a very fair deal.  The Town negotiated the final purchase price of 12 North Main at 50% less than asking price.  Moreover, the Town negotiated an extremely low interest rate (2%) from a local bank in order to help pay for removal of the existing structure. The low interest rate means that the bank has great confidence in Pine Plains, its goals, and its strategies to achieve those goals.

Number 12 North Main is currently owned by a relative of our Town Attorney.  In order to safeguard the Town’s interest, the Town is represented in this purchase by Gary Murphy, Esq. instead of by the Town Attorney.  In addition, the fact that we are buying it at half its listed price (and for less than we paid for 8 North Main), and the fact that a reputable bank gave us such a low interest rate, indicate that this is a very good deal for the Town.

The rest of the Paper will address more questions around the purchase.

These are just a few highlights of what is to come. Stay tuned, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud