Dear Pine Plains,
It has been a week of “soul searching,” the soul being that of this Town. The Comprehensive Plan Update Committee met with our planner to discuss the survey results and where they point, and what recommendations we might make regarding actions to take once the Plan is revised to ensure that the goals of the town are met. We looked at all the different areas of the town and talked about locating various dreams there—a senior housing complex, a revitalized recreation area, affordable housing, commerce and light industry—and began what I hope is the creation of a viable plan for the town which we can put into code so that people who want to build something here know that they will have the approvals if their project conforms to it. Rather than planning being a scary process, it would be an exciting one, which would open up possibility for the kind of small, locally-owned growth people mentioned over and over again in their surveys. We will be having a Public Meeting on August 26th at 7pm at the Community Center to talk informally about the results.
Tonight, ChaNorth is hosting their monthly presentations at the Community Center at 7pm. If you haven’t been to one of these, go. They are a wonderful way to spend an hour looking at art and hearing some great stories. ChaNorth is the artists retreat at the old Spruce Farmstead at 2600 Route 199. They also do a studio tour near the end of each month, so that we can visit the art we heard about.
Summer is coming to a close and the kids are getting ready to go back to school. Please remember that we have a wonderful store run by wonderful people right in town which stocks almost everything they will need for their classes. Buying local is what keeps Pine Plains going, and the reward is new relationships with business owners who support all kinds of things in town themselves. For instance, The Stissing Theatre Guild! Many businesses buy ads in their program each year, helping to fund the plays. The Stissing Center opens officially on the 31st, (make reservations, even though it’s free!) and whereas they must fundraise all the time to build the Center they are also big contributors to what goes on in town.
And don’t forget our second annual Town Clean-Up Day, September 7th, 8am-3pm at the Highway Department. More on this soon…
Planning is this week’s operative word! Planning the future of the town, planning the next few weeks…
So plan ahead, Pine Plains!
Dear Pine Plains,
It’s been a quiet week in the shadow of the mountain. Much of it was spent catching up on the history of lake stewardship in the town, and the Comprehensive Plan Survey comments results. You can view the graph results on the website if you’d like, and the comments will be available as soon as they are collated by the Committee. When you look at things like this, patterns begin to emerge which point to all sorts of things: time periods of missing records, for instance, or actions not taken. So much of what I see in our history has to do with maintenance. I am obsessed with maintenance as the key to so many aspects of life and governing.
“The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on. Boasting is what a boy does, because he has no real effect in the world. But the tradesman must reckon with the infallible judgment of reality, where one’s failures or shortcomings cannot be interpreted away. His well-founded pride is far from the gratuitous “self-esteem” that educators would impart to students, as though by magic.”
― Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work
I think this paragraph describes why Pine Plains is such a fine place to live. There are so many people here who can do so many things well, and can point to them as accomplishments, with no disputing it. People take great propriety over the town, moving branches out of the road when they come upon them, cleaning up at the beach, checking on neighbors… This is a form of maintenance too. It’s how you participate in the place where you live that makes the place worth living in. Thank you all who take responsibility for Pine Plains.
So look for the compilation of comments from the Comp Plan Survey on our website www.pineplains-ny.gov, think about something you might want to volunteer to do, and come out to Town Hall to get involved.
And this weekend, you can attend the ChaNorth Artists Retreat Studio Visit Day on July 28th starting at noon to see the art our visiting artists have made while they’ve been here. (2600 Route 199, the old Spruce Farm house!) There is a wonderful Spoken Word Poet there who will perform on the hour starting at 1pm.
And make plans to attend the Lions Club BBQ on August 10th or the pop-up West African Vegan Dinner at The Platter that same night.
“We’re not as free and independent as we thought. Street-level work that disrupts the infrastructure (the sewer system below or the electrical grid above) brings our shared dependence into view. People may inhabit very different worlds even in the same city, according to their wealth or poverty. Yet we all live in the same physical reality, ultimately, and owe a common debt to the world.”
― Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work
Become a part of it, Pine Plains!
There are a lot of people to thank for their hard work this month, but I don’t have enough time to list everybody, so I am choosing a few: our Assessors, and the BAR, who have been handling the grievances like the pros they are; Boy Scouts Jacob Henderson and Michael Hage, their parents and leaders, for their work building raised beds for our Community Garden; Lisa and Nelson Zayas, who have been distributing food to those in need during times when the Food Pantry is not open; and Bobby Lee Couse, who has gotten our ball fields just right for the baseball, T-ball, and soccer players swarm it nearly every night.
This week we held our first Public Meeting for the Comprehensive Plan Review, and I want to also cite the hard work of our Comp Plan Committee for writing the Survey which is available online and at the Library and various spots all over town and for hosting BFJ Planning, our consultants on the project. Their commitment has been inspiring already and we have a summer of work still ahead of us. The survey period ends July 10th and in the first 10 days we received over 150 responses. One of the fun facts that came up during the meeting was that Pine Plains has about 31 more people than it did in 2010! A growth spurt! I want to remind people that we are NOT rewriting an already beautiful timely Plan; we are tweaking it to bring it up to date and deal with the challenges that have come up since it was written. If you will remember, this comes via a grant from the Greenway Grants people.
This month the Town received a legacy from someone who loved it here, Edward Kinzer. He left us $25,710.60. We can discuss what to do with it later in the meeting, but I would also love to hear from people as to what they would like to see it applied to.
The Solar Committee is almost done with their recommendations to hand to Warren, and they too have done committed excellent work on this. It’s been a real joy to be a part of this. Once we have our Law in place, we can start working on trying to attract solar power to our own landfill. If we had community solar out there, people would not have to spend money putting panels on their roofs.
The last person I want to thank this week is Eileen Ciaburri. She has achieved 95% collected taxes for the town. That is unheard-of in most towns in Dutchess County. Thank you Eileen. Bravo!
This was the last meeting Stan Hirson filmed for us as he is retiring. We are so grateful to him for all the years he dedicated himself to the Town of Pine Plains.
Tax assessment letters went out this week. Just because the market value on your house went up does not therefore mean your taxes will go up. Please, if you feel upset or worried, go talk to our assessors. They are wonderful human beings like you, and their market values have gone up too. We have the best team in the County, and I can tell you, all the other towns are envious of our assessors. They’re open Tuesdays, Thursday, Friday morning and this Saturday morning, the 18th. Don’t sit at home fretting. Go find out the answers. And Grievance Day is Tuesday May 28th from 2pm-4 and 7pm-9 at Town Hall.
The Comprehensive Plan Review Survey is almost done. Our committee has been working diligently every Tuesday to pull together questions apropos of where we are now and what we might want to consider for the future now that so many things have been accomplished since 2004. In that time, the town has secured the preservation of most of our farmland and open space. Now is the time to work on downtown. When you receive your survey—which can be emailed to you as a Survey Monkey, or can be picked up at the Library as a paper survey, once again, do not think that taxes will go up because we are dreaming big. Dream Big and allow us to seek the help and funding from other sources for what we all want. And don’t forget June 17th at 7pm at the Community Center is our first Public Meeting on it. Come meet our new planners.
The Solar Law Committee is also very close in drawing up the regulations we want to see upheld in the Tier system these things require, addressing not only the roof-mounted in-town solar arrays we passed already, but ground-mounted, agricultural, and larger-scale arrays. Whereas we are encouraging the use of solar power here, we are protecting the landscape above all else. It may be that with the advent of more and more community solar projects, our residents can tap into that source for their electricity without having to build anything on their own.
Sarah and I traveled down to Pace Law School again for a very informative conference on affordable housing. There we met, among many other great people all working on this, a man from RUPCO, builders of the Woodstock Commons, a mixed-income development for seniors, young families and artists. Here is the thing to remember about affordable housing: it is not built to bring more people to town, it is built to keep people IN town. If people can afford to stay where they want to live, we will all feel a lot richer. He did ask me if we have a central wastewater system. Everything depends on that for new businesses and new housing to come in. No small town can afford to build these things are their own. That’s what grants are for.
Finally, I want to report on the Community Center. It is going great guns over there. People are renting it for birthday parties and baby showers, there’s Line Dancing on Thursdays and yoga and Tai Chi and the Book Sale Memorial weekend. Last night there was a lecture by a young woman who has been down on the border with Mexico, who gave a report on what’s happening there. It was extraordinary. We are so lucky to have this wonderful space.
Dear Pine Plains,
It’s raining, again, as I write this. It makes the colors of spring all that much more vibrant. Right? I never mind walking in the rain, but…
This past week, the Comprehensive Plan Review committee (or CPR as I like to refer to it) met again to work on our survey questions, which should be ready to go out very soon. They will be available in a Survey Monkey online or at the Library, and the sooner you can fill them out and return them, the sooner we have town input to work with. Stay tuned for that! Remember: the Comprehensive Plan is a visionary document. It identifies the town and hence what we can do to bring about a future which protects that identity. It is not zoning, but it affects what we can do about zoning. We meet generally at noon on Tuesdays for now. Anyone can attend and watch.
The Solar Law Committee also met. We are very close to some fine recommendations for drafting our Solar Law. These laws address solar panels and arrays via a 3 Tier approach. Tier 1 is for personal solar panels on rooftops in town; Tier 2 is for ground-mounted solar on farms and outside the hamlet; and Tier 3 is for large parcels of land. Our task is to protect neighbors, homeowners and the landscape and to promote the usage of solar power at the same time!
Tonight is the art show put on by Chanorth, which is an artist’s retreat located at the old Spruce Farm house on 199 just west of the hamlet. At 7pm, you can see their work displayed with a discussion at the Community Center. The Chanorth Art Center brings artists to town for periods of time to work on their own projects. I am dreaming of some kind of collaboration with artists to bring art into the hamlet. Anyone with ideas please contact me.
There is now yoga at the Community Center on Saturday mornings at 8:30am as well as on Monday nights. I have been going for awhile and can now touch my toes. A triumph! Thank you, Nichole Martini and Jordan Schmidt, instructors.
Coming up next week: on the 13th, the last home game for the girls basketball team will be played at the high school at 4:30. Go and lend your support. At 7:00 Wednesday the 15th at the Community Center, Abby Nathanson will be giving a report from the Border with Mexico, where she has traveled and assisted with the crisis there. This should be fascinating and informative.
Town Board Meeting is next week too, Thursday night at 7pm. On the docket: Martin Handler, School Superintendent, to explain the budget proposal and answer pertinent questions; and visitors from Habitat for Humanity to discuss affordable housing.
SAVE 2 DATES: JUNE 5TH 5:30-7:30 AFFORDABLE HOUSING SUMMIT at the Community Center and JUNE 17TH COMPREHENSIVE PLAN PUBLIC MEETING at the Community Center.
Stay informed, Pine Plains!
Dear Pine Plains,
It’s PINE DAY! Please come to the Library to participate in a wonderful few hours celebrating the trees of Pine Plains. From 10-11 we will be reading to the kids from our favorite books on trees; then holding a workshop for people to build small houses for the small people of the Mahegans, the Makiawisug. (They’ll be installed all over town afterwards—don’t worry, they’re biodegradable!) While that’s happening, the lectures will commence around 11:30, featuring local growers discussing composting, tree care, tree planting, tree history, and what we can all individually do to help mitigate climate change. If you’ve been reading the news recently, you’ll see the profound effect that trees have on carbon sequestration: in a nutshell, we need trees to do the work of keeping the planet cool. Seeds will be planted!
Thursday night at the Town Board Meeting, we passed the Unified Solar Permit Law, which defines solar installation zoning for rooftop and accessory building solar installations. This is our final “climate smart action” in becoming a Clean Energy Community, so as soon as the paperwork is in to NYSERDA, I hope to get word that we are in! I am really proud to be a member of a Board for which this has been a priority.
We will continue to work on the grand Solar Law for the Town of Pine Plains. This committee is awesome.
And so will be the newly formed Comprehensive Plan Review Committee. We meet for the first time on Tuesday at 12:30pm with our new planner, Frank Fish.
The town is also coordinating with the Library and Memorial Hall to work together on our calendars, so that events enhance each other rather than conflict with each other. This will be very important when the Hall opens officially in late summer, as our new Rec Director, Mike Cooper, has already blasted out of the gate with a hundred fantastic ideas about sports in Pine Plains. Keep an eye out on our website www.pineplains-ny.gov and on Facebook at Pine Plains Recreation Department and Pine Plains Town Hall: this is the best way for us to reach you about events! Hint: Save the Date for Ag Day!
Passover began last night and Easter is tomorrow. That feels profound to me this year. My grandmother was a Methodist who used to say, “With friends like God, who needs enemies?” Needless to say, my mother became an agnostic. My father was raised by Freemasons and became a Christian Scientist. Me? I became an artist. The intersection of that skill set with the work of government creates a powerful energy which I explore every day.
It’s going to rain all day—go to the Library, Pine Plains!
Dear Pine Plains,
So many things happen in the course of a day at Town Hall. It’s tax season, so the door is constantly swinging with people coming to pay their taxes. They chat with Eileen, our Tax Collector, and have a cup of coffee, which we brew every morning now for folks who stop in, and highway department guys, and workers from the State on their breaks. Lately, people have been stopping in to enquire about vacant buildings in town, and to talk about what is possible to build in Pine Plains. Come in for a cup and a chat anytime.
This past week, I was able to sit down for coffee with Chair of the County Legislature Gregg Pulver at Moose on the Loose. We had a great talk about all our dreams for the town, and how to make them more than that. I also always get a great history lesson on Pine Plains, which really helps in taking things forward.
I also touched base with Carvel Development Project Manager Lisa Baker at Tower Pizza for lunch. We had a nice conversation about affordable housing among other things as they continue to re-design their project. They will be hosting designers up here next week.
This week we welcomed the opening of a new business in town: Spud Shack! The fries are awesome. Right next to Hugs and Kisses Florist and the Pine Plains Pharmacy!
On the Agenda for the Town Board Meeting on the 21st is the Unified Solar Permit, a Climate Smart Action which will count as our third step towards our becoming an official Climate Smart Community. Once 50% of our LED lights are in, we can then file for our last “action”. If you see Central Hudson around town putting in new lights, that’s what that is. Once again, this will save the town approximately $5000+ a year and pay for itself in 3 years.
We are very close to hiring a planner for our Comprehensive Plan review, which will commence very soon. Just to remind you, the Comprehensive Plan is just that—a plan. It is not a law or an ordinance, it is a vision statement, and as such exists to guide towns in their decision making and zoning. We’re looking forward to digging into that document, seeing what we’ve already accomplished, and looking to ways to bring it up to date. There are new strategies for town planning that have emerged since it was written and we hope to bring them into play using the Plan as a guide. You can read the old Plan online on our website, www.pineplains-ny.gov
Our new tractor is due to arrive in town around March 5th. Look for it this summer, as its mowing capacity is awesome. Shall we name it? (By the way, Highway Superintendent Heather Wilson got married on Valentines Day! They celebrated at the Stissing House. We wish her and Mike many happy years!)
BTW—we are still looking for a Recreation Director! The job description is at Town Hall. Long hours, low pay, much appreciation.
There has been no ice for skating during the recent thaw, and although our hockey enthusiasts are disappointed, hikers abound on Stissing Mountain and the geese are thrilled. There is nothing like the sound of geese coming in for a landing in the fields south of town.
Land safely, Pine Plains!
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.
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!