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Dear Pine Plains 2.8.19

Dear Pine Plains,

This week I attended the monthly meeting of the Dutchess County Supervisors and Mayors Association. It is a great resource for what other towns are doing, or not doing, and advice. As the rookie last year, I was drafted into becoming their Secretary, which suits my skill set and which I am happy to do. Hence, I am on the Board of this group. In that capacity, I get to go to meetings with the County Executive among other things. These meetings are usually rousing, opinionated, and thrilling. One of the main topics at both meetings was the fact that the proposed State budget for 2019 takes away State Aid for towns. This aid is called AIM. For Pine Plains, this is a loss of a budgeted $9,000+, which in a small town like this is a lot of money. If our AIM is cut, this will mean that the tax cap is exceeded and taxes will go up. Our group is writing a strong letter to the governor against eliminating this aid. Another topic at both meetings was ambulance service in Dutchess County. The County Executive is working on a Shared Service idea which would combine service for small towns in various areas at a rather heavy price. He warned us that this is coming in about a year. That said, there might be an opportunity for our Rescue Squad to become one of the providers of this service, which means they could be paid for their work.  I will certainly advocate for that if allowed. More on this as his plan is revealed. At issue also is the tax cap. The history of the tax cap is that it was imposed on school districts to keep them from going overboard, then imposed on towns in order to be equitable. Putting the tax cap into permanent status is on the table right now. Our feeling is that the tax cap should not include capital projects, which greatly inflate our budgets. Those are just a few of the things we discussed at both meetings. I believe that this is a very valuable association for Pine Plains to be a part of, and it’s always exciting to go down to the County Building and meet with CE Molinaro and his staff.

We had our first meeting of Group of Strangers on Thursday. From 1-2pm every Thursday, Addiction Recovery Coach CaraMia Bacchiochi will be here to just sit and talk with people about addiction. She’s a wise person and this is a safe space to talk about anything. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, and are reticent to talk with her, remember this: the stigma of being an addict is what prevents us from getting help when we need it. And if you think that no one knows what you’re going through in a small town, consider this: everyone knows. So take the first step and go talk to CaraMia!

I sat down with advocate Sam Busselle to discuss affordable housing this week as well. Sam helped start the Northeast Community Center in Millerton, which among other things, helps transport people from Pine Plains to their doctor appointments and the VA via their Dial-a-Ride program. He is trying to put together a collaborative approach for this between 3 towns. He is sponsoring a conference April 12th in Millerton on the subject and we will be in attendance. He is looking for interested investors. There is a lot of innovative action in this area including passive solar homes being built in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity at a cost of around $140,000.

So many balls in the air, so little time!

Stay juggling, Pine Plains!


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!