MINUTES OF THE TOWN OF ESOPUS
October 17, 2007
PRESENT: Kathy Quick; Andy Bicking, Michelle Higgins, David Higgins
ABSENT: Louise Ferrente, Corrine Brown, Joan Cipher, Bob Santiago, Emily Pereira
Town Board liaison: Debbie Silvestro
Andrew Bicking called the meeting to order at 7:10PM
Bicking reported that Santiago and he had discussed the past activity of the Environmental Board including the speaker presentation; work on the website, tree distribution and Fall Festival.
Silvestro said she would like Board input on members of the community that would be active volunteers. Bicking said he had discussed identifying new members with Santiago. There was discussion on landscaping at the new Town Hall. Silvestro reported on the status of the building and the geothermal well drilling. Bicking wanted to know who in the Town the Environmental Board could thank for the “green” building. Silvestro said that she had Charles Lanzen speak to the Town Board after she had spoken to Manna Jo Greene. He is a local engineer that does both commercial and residential buildings.
Bicking asked if it would be possible to get together about planting. Silvestro felt that by the spring, most of the building work would be done, and it was possible to do a July planting. He asked who was managing the project. Silvestro said the Clerk of the Works was Charles Wesley. Quick asked if people donated, if they might get a plaque donated with their name. Higgins hoped that purchase of the plants would stay local.
Bicking said that Santiago suggested that the next speaker be Chris Bowser, a local resident, from Clearwater. He also suggested that any future events be done with the cooperation of the Recreation and Waterfront Advisory Boards. Silvestro thought it would be a good idea to coordinate with them especially since Scenic Hudson had a lot of education programs, and the Rec Board was looking for kid activities. Bicking thought it would be a good summer program for the kids to get involved with Scenic Hudson programs. Quick suggested that the kids earn badges for hiking the Shawangunk trail, Black Creek and other trails: an achievement badge. It would get them outdoors for a short two-mile hike. Silvestro said that would have to go before the Rec Board.
Silvestro said they may want to wait until the December meeting since the Rec Board was working on a budget for next year which they had to present to the Town Board. Bicking asked what the Environmental Board’s budget was. Silvestro said it was between $1,500 and $1,800. The pay-outs were generally for secretarial (personal) services. If the monies are not spent, then they go back into the general funds. Higgins said the money should be spent before the end of the year and suggested a billboard to educate about backyard burning. Or there could be a Learn and Serve component where the kids could use the UCAT bus.
Bicking asked who wanted to reach out to the Rec Board and discuss coordinating events. Silvestro said she would contact Wesley if he would reach out to the Rec Board.
There was discussion about the Fall Festivals and the 5K race. Silvestro felt it was too dangerous to have runners mixed with people “yard selling” She said the drivers were not paying attention to the runners. She hoped to encourage more people to use the shuttle bus to help alleviate some of the traffic concerns.
Bicking discussed how to get the community more involved with Environmental issues and making it a “greener” community. He said some municipalities had come up with ways to create a more “green” vehicle fleet. Quick was concerned that referrals were not being made to the Environmental Board from other Town committees. Higgins said that perhaps the Environmental Board needed more of a presence in the Town. She thought it may be better for the Board to come up with a plan and present the proposal to the Town.
Silvestro said that some changes were made under Chapter 9; Article (D) to the Town law regarding the Environmental Board. She said the Chairman of the Recreation Commission could be appointed as an ex officio member of the Environmental Board. Bicking said advertising and outreach efforts of accomplishments for the past year should be laid out with future actions. Higgins said one area they could be more visible about would be to have a one-day composting or community recycling day. Silvestro thought it would be a good idea to collect Christmas trees and grind them up. Higgins reported that Robert Graves would be implementing a mass wet composting project modeled after a Connecticut school. One thing she was really looking at doing in the school cafeteria was to educate the kids about dumping their garbage in one container and having them separate right in the cafeteria.
Higgins discussed the City of Kingston looking at a company called Recycle Bank who encouraged recycling by a rewards system which really isn’t a reduction process. She had contacted several communities using a “pay as you throw” system which would make people more aware of what they were throwing out and look at waste reduction. She said the Town of Esopus recycling center was very user friendly and thought the residents should be encouraged to visit and save money. Another project she was looking at was the rail trail and she asked if it may be connected to Esopus. Higgins would like to see a trail inventory of the Town whether it was Town owned or privately owned that could be linked together. Silvestro said it was one of the goals of the municipalities along the Hudson River to map these trails, link them together, and publish them on the internet. Silvestro said the Rec commission had a development plan around the site of the new Town hall that includes a walking and biking trail.
Silvestro said she had gotten a call from the Resource Recovery Agency to provide recycling bins at the Fall festival, but said that the containers had large holes cut in the top and users were throwing in garbage. She said the Agency had promised to get back to her with weights, but was skeptical about any marketable recyclables. She felt that smaller holes should have been used like the recycling bins in Europe.
David Higgins said that the Board should consider doing the Spring garden festival at Adams and setting up a booth.
Bicking said there were a lot of ideas about projects to do next year and would like to discuss the next steps. Higgins asked what the Waterfront Advisory Board did. Quick said they reviewed projects in the waterfront district and coordinated the water chestnut cleanup. Silvestro said that the Board probably would not repair or purchase another harvester. Higgins asked what the impact would be. Silvestro said the water chestnuts would overtake access to the River. There was discussion about invasive species in the River. Silvestro said that Zimmer (WAB) was very much in favor of controlling the water chestnuts, and keeping a channel open so the kayakers could have access.
Bicking proposed that at the next meeting, the Board consider planning the next two or three years of projects. There was discussion about the November meeting date since it was the day before Thanksgiving. Higgins suggested early December. Silvestro recommended that Bicking speak to Santiago and get back to the Board with a date.
OPPORTUNITY FOR MUNICIPAL COOPERATION
Bicking said Santiago spoke to him about municipal cooperation along the Hudson River. He said that Santiago was going to get him some literature.
He also reported that Cipher had submitted a letter of resignation, and said that the Board was supposed to be composed of nine members, two teens. There was discussion on contacting the High School about interested individuals. He said Chris Bowser may be interested in sitting on the Board. He found out that Dan Shapley, the Environmental Reporter for Poughkeepsie, had just moved into Town and would be an asset. He is currently running a nationwide website. Bicking said that Santiago’s term was up this year as well.
There was discussion about the Gordon property and Scenic Hudson acquisition. He said that the landfill was right along the property and there had been some soil run-off. They were determining whether there was any encroachment. Silvestro said the current owner was also in litigation with the Town.
Higgins asked about the Open Space meetings. Bicking said he would give her his “biased” opinion, and that was that it didn’t clearly define a plan of action. One of it’s achievements, though, were that it did define natural resources which may give the Economic Development people an incentive to preserve open spaces from development.
Meeting adjourned at 8:15pm
Prepared by Laura Petit, Secretary