Friday, June 19, 2009

June Blog

Budget / Economics

We are wrapping up the tentative assessment rolls for the Town and the drop in property value is even worse than we expected. This along with the new fees we keep getting from the Governor’s Office (which take effect this month – instead of the beginning of next year; heck, I guess that we should be glad they aren’t retroactive!) such as the MTA Payroll Tax expected to cost us around $27, 000 per year, as is the new MVP surcharge, around $28,000 per year make for a challenging budget (update!!! The State Insurance Committee has just denied the MVP surcharge – well, they denied it for this year; it will go into effect Jan.1).

I have mentioned to the Board that I have found that there is a computer-operated system that could go on our salt trucks that would monitor / measure the salt that we put on our roads. This would replace the manual system that is used presently and is supposed to be much more efficient. The cost to fit our trucks would be about $140,000; but the manufacturer claims that the system could save up to a third on our salt (which is very expensive) in a normal winter season (we spent about $700,000 last year on salt).

In addition, I have to thank the men and women of our Police Department. They have agreed to extend their contract with no cost of living raise next year and a 3 ½% raise the following year. This is pretty unheard of – now, we did agree to a no-layoff clause and some scheduling changes; but, in a recession, crime goes up and, as our department is not overstaffed, Police layoffs were not really a consideration. This zero percent raise next year will be very helpful in making our budget.

These are just two areas that we have looked at to save money. As far as recreation, which is another big budget item, we have instituted new fees and raised others and we will be looking to see how much closer to break-even we ware getting than we have been in the past.

Philips Road

The developer had appealed to move the Philips Road case to the New York State Court of Appeals and Dutchess County has filed a brief in support of the developer in the suit against the Town of East Fishkill. Well, the New York State Court of Appeals allowed Dutchess County to file their brief in the Philips Rd. court case and then denied the application to appeal and awarded the Town $100 in costs. The only option left for an appeal to reverse the original decision made in the Town's favor (keeping Philips Road open) is to appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

Hillside Lake

We have had two contractors look at the lake and, as we have said, it appears that hydraulic dredging is the way to go. We will be bringing in a professional to help with final design plans and permit applications and we are examining the specific content of the material that will be dredged from the lake. l.

We have made a grant application to DEC for $400,000 to implement a Clean Lake Septic Program and would like to design an artificial wetland at the lake discharge. In addition we are making an application to DEC to allow us to stock Norwegian Grass-eating Carp in the Lake (thanks to Hillside Lake Board member Nancy Foti for that suggestion). I am told that the carp are very efficient at taking care of plant growth.

Presidential Way Water

We will finish installing the waterline in the next few weeks and homeowners can begin to connect shortly thereafter. Water can begin flowing to the homes, hopefully, by August.

Rec Building

Due to the fact that the schools are seriously curtailing the amount of time that their facilities are allowed for our Rec programs we will be, again, considering the building of a Rec building (the new schedules will devastate some of our programs). By chance, I was discussing a local project with an architectural firm the day after the Rec Workshop where the facility cuts were announced and I brought up the issue of a possible Rec building. The firm had experience with such projects and provided some very good ideas for us to consider. I have asked the Town Board to consider looking for a professional to help us with, not only the design / build; but, also an analysis of operating costs. Our Rec programs have been seriously impacted; but, so have our citizens (in this economy), so we are taking a very serious look at such a project to see if it is even feasible. If it turns out that it is too much of a burden, we would certainly put off any action until such time as the economy recovers; still, I think we should perform the analysis.

Brettview Water

We have signed an agreement to purchase the Rand Water Company that serves the Fishkill Plains area and Brettview and are designing the filters to solve the Iron and Manganese problem. We still have a ways to go; but, we are getting closer to resolving a very difficult problem. Actually, in addition to the filters we will be upgrading the facilities and system to be more efficient – something that needed to be done, anyhow.

Shenandoah Water

We have taken over the Shenandoah Water System as IBM and the contractor are finishing up the final stages of the project. If we can work things out with Fishkill as far as supply and storage, this system has the potential to supply water to the Wiccopee and Lake City areas. As well as the High School.


We have resolved flooding issues in the Long Hill area and we are finalizing our plan to take care of the flooding in the area of Dogwood Road. I have put out a letter for a professional firm to analyze the Fishkill Creek / Lake City flooding and have received three Letters of Interest. I am hopeful that we can engage the services of a professional to draft a plan to address the Fishkill Creek flooding, get the required permits from DEC, and get to work.

In addition, we are waiting for approval from SEMO on our Hazard Mitigation (read flooding) Grant and hope to get to work on that, if approved. Ed Hoxey from Dutchess County Soil and Water had called to say that he is trying to get the Army Corp of Engineers moving on the Fishkill Creek project again.

Open Space

The good news is that Fishkill Farms has finally been approved to be put in a Land Trust (preserving much of the farm forever) – the bad news is a huge fire that destroyed the barn (the good news is that no one was hurt). I can’t say enough about our firefighters and the response from the firefighters from surrounding towns and cities – they were terrific (in fact, Town of Beekman Supervisor John Adams, who is very involved with their fire department, said that our firefighters and coordinators did an excellent job attending to the fire).

The Johnson Farm Community Supported Agriculture is making terrific progress thanks to the Johnson Farm CSA volunteers. We are looking to engage the services of a farmer (a paid position) familiar with growing crops naturally for the season and if anybody is interested they can contact me at 221-4303.

Our Open Space Preservation Committee has met with our Town Planner, AKRF, to discuss putting together an Open Space Preservation Plan and the Town Board is also considering legislation to maintain open space. Speaking of legislation, when we first started meeting well over a year ago, the East Fishkill Open Space Committee thought that the only way to preserve open space was to fund outright purchases with an Open Space Bond. After talking to several professionals, we have come to realize that there are many ways to preserve open space such as: outright purchase, term easements, legislation and zoning changes, and programs such as Community Supported Agriculture. Our group is terrific and we will be looking forward to holding public workshops beginning sometime in September.

In Closing

Well, that’s about it – I would like to mention that I ran into a gentleman who designs websites and we will be looking into updating our site to provide more information on as well as improving our communication aspects. He had some very good ideas and an upgrade is well overdue.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March Post

Budget / Economics

Is it spring yet? Boy, I hope so – this winter we have had a bunch of these three to six-inch snow storms that have killed our highway winter budget. ‘ last tally we were something like $180,000 over our salt budget (road salt has gotten very expensive over the last couple of years) so we had to transfer funds from the blacktop budget.

As everybody knows, this economy has been terrible. Although we had dropped our revenue projections significantly, Mortgage Taxes for February were even lower than our estimates. After our trend analysis a couple of years ago we had adjusted our revenue and expenses and last year I think is the first year in many that the General Fund actually finished in the black. Due to the slumping economy, we worked hard to keep taxes flat this year (Town-wide assessments were down about 5.5%, we raised taxes by about 5.1%; so, many people actually saw a small reduction in their taxes); looking at overall tax bills, Town taxes are only 9 to 14% of your total tax bill, the rest being school, county, fire district, and library. Looking forward, next year is going to be a challenge.


You know, for all the pain the Town-wide revaluation caused (and, the way the contractor did it, it was painful!) it has actually allowed us to be much more accurate in identifying property values (that is why we recognized the 5.5% reduction, itself the Town-wide average, last year – remember these values are based on the assessments as of July 1 the year before; as we all know the values have fallen even further since then). Our Assessors have done a terrific job of completing the reval that that company had begun some years ago and they are always working to maintain accurate assessments.

Philips Road

And, just when you think it’s over…although the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, denied the application by the developer to appeal the Town’s decision to keep Philips Road open, another suit has been filed. In this case there is an appeal to move the case to the highest court in the land; I believe it is the New York State Court of Appeals.

In addition, our own Dutchess County Attorney (the attorney for the Executive Branch, not to be confused with the Legislature) has asked permission to file a brief in support of the developer in the suit against the Town of East Fishkill. We were relieved when we won the case; but now, with Dutchess County moving to have the road closed, we can only hope that the lower court’s decision is upheld.

Hillside Lake

Recently our Town Engineer, Scott Bryant, met with a company that does dredging out at the lake. Yesterday we met with another firm that has done the design work and permitting on such projects. No matter how we slice it, it is a complicated project due to the location, size of the lake, amount of material to be removed, and the type of material. Although we still have to decide if we can find a place to take the material or if we use it in the lake, it appears the project will run between 1.5 to 2 million dollars.

Another problem that comes up over and over is how do we avoid “nitrogen loading” of the lake. The concern is that having so many residences with septics so close to the lake, as well as the stormwater discharges, there may be runoff into the waterbody of an excess of nitrogen which would create problems. If we invest this much money into lake remediation, we want to be sure that we solve the problem. I have asked our Grant Writer, Michael Hagerty, to look into grants and, especially, technical assistance that may be available from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (a government agency) that deals with water and watershed protection. In the future people that live in the Hillside Lake District may be asked to fill out a confidential income survey from the Town; we would use this information to see if we qualify for grants and low-interest loans for the Hillside Lake Project.

Presidential Way Water

We have finally acquired all the property easements to put in the waterline. Since we are using some EPA funding, we have to submit a letter to the EPA stating that we have all the approvals and easements required to do the project (which we now have). Our attorney and engineer have sent the documentation and when we get approval (in a few weeks) we can award the contract (the low bidder has been calling every few weeks asking when they can begin). Baring any unforeseen circumstances, we should have the waterline in by the summer.

Brettview Water

Brettview water has been a real problem due to siltation and discoloration for some time. Over the last few months we have had meetings with the owners of the Rand Water system as well as the Department of Health, representatives from the Wappingers Central School Board, and School Superintendent Dick Powell to discuss where we go from here. We have come to an agreement with the owners to sell us the system and we will install the filters to resolve the problem. We are still working out some details; but, we hope to complete the purchase and install the filters by the middle of September. I know that it has been a long time; but, there may finally be some light at the end of the tunnel.

Shenandoah Water

We met with representatives from the Town of Fishkill which is supplying the water for the Shenandoah Waterline. They have both a short-term and a long-term solution to the problem of the elevated levels of Chloride (“blending” the water with that from another source) that will bring the levels down well within State Department of Health guidelines. They also agree that the people in the Shenandoah District should not pay for the modifications to the system to meet these guidelines. That being said, last Thursday, the Town of East Fishkill agreed to review, and possibly, accept the section of the waterline that is located on public roadways. That will allow the company to begin the house connections. The EPA has agreed to host a public information meeting this month at the Fire Training Center located on Rt. 52 to answer questions.


We have been working to resolve significant flooding issues off of the Dogwood Road area to Route 82. Our Engineer has identified a property upon which the Town has a drainage easement that may help resolve these issues. We are doing some preliminary design work and are in discussions with the owners about the scope of work to be done – yet, it will be a time before we finally get the project moving.

In addition, we have taken the lead in an application to FEMA for grant money for hazard (flood) mitigation. We are representing our Town as well as Fishkill, Wappinger, and the Villages of Wappingers Falls and Fishkill in this project and are rated high on the of the list; still with all of the problems with the economy, it seems the approval process is taking longer than it should. It is our hope to do projects that will address the flooding of the Fishkill Creek.

Open Space

Unfortunately, it appears that the application for Fishkill Farms to be put in a Land Trust has stalled with just about everything else in Albany pending the sorting out of the State budget. Our Open Space Preservation Committee has met with our Town Planner, AKRF, to discuss putting together an Open Space Preservation Plan and the Town Board is also considering legislation to maintain open space.

Shared Services

With everyone’s budgets in such a funk, we have been looking for ways to provide services and share the costs. One area that has been hit hard is recreation space provided by the schools. Members of our Recreation Committee, the Wappingers Central School Board, Councilwoman Walker, and I have met to discuss how we can work together to provide more field and, hopefully, indoor recreation space. Our meeting was very promising and members of our boards are to meet again in a few weeks. I would like to say that School Board President, Doug Bitteker, and new Board member, John McMahon, are genuinely interested in the people they represent. Both gentlemen listened to our concerns, outlined their limitations with their budget, brought up some excellent points, and left us all with an understanding that we shall do our best to work together.

Well, that’s about it - if anyone has any questions or concerns about any of these, or actually any, issues at all you can e-mail me at, or stop in at the Town Hall.

Monday, November 10, 2008

November Already! Blog

I don’t know where the time goes, here it is November already! I had hoped to write a blog a few weeks ago, but things just kept coming up. This is pretty much an update of things that we have been working on:

Philips Road / Sagamor Sewerage Lawsuits

A few weeks ago we received word that we won the lawsuit brought against the Town by developers regarding our decision NOT to close Philips Road. This is terrific news and I would like to thank our law firm of Wood and Klarl and the firm of Sive, Paget, and Reisel, PC for their defense of the Town’s decision. Last week we received notice that the attorneys for the developer are requesting permission from the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department to appeal the decision. Our attorney, Tom Wood, told me that it is unlikely such permission will be granted because the Judicial Panel unanimously ruled in our favor.

Regarding the lawsuit brought against the Town by Sagamor Sewerage Corp. in response to the Town Board’s decision to deny the rate increase application, both sides have submitted documents supporting their position (the Town included all documents from the Coalition, as well as having the documents reviewed by their attorney). After a couple of adjournments, including a period of a month when the Judge had the flu, we are expecting a decision in early December.

Hillside Lake

When I took office in January 2006, Morris Associates had prepared a plan to dredge Hillside Lake to return it to a viable water body again. Unfortunately, the plan was quite expensive (and that was considering fuel and trucking costs in 2005 / 2006 dollars). Last year the Hillside Lake Board, Councilwoman Ethel Walker, and I met with Great Eastern Ecology, one of four companies to respond to a Request for Proposals for the Hillside Lake project to look into a more cost effective proposal. It seemed that they had a good knowledge and record of wetland and water body restoration; but after changing lead scientists and project managers – as well as missing deadlines – (although they had some good ideas) the final proposal was somewhat disappointing. Next, we contacted a company by the name of American Dredge who specializes in that type of work. After several discussions regarding what would be required to use a hydraulic dredge, it does not appear that we have the large dewatering / settlement area to make that work. In the meantime we are reviewing the original dredge proposal to see if we can make it more cost effective. One consideration is that we may not be able, due to costs and logistics, to bring the depth of the entire lake down to a depth that will stop the vegetative growth that is choking the lake and, instead, commit to an annual maintenance with a hydraulic rake. We are drafting the new plans and discussing the preparations of applications for the permits from the DEC and the Army Corps of Engineers. Once we get the scaled down plan complete we will meet with the residents to discuss the scaled – down and full – dredge proposals.

Presidential Way Water

Although we are very close to actually putting the waterline in the ground to supply Presidential Way with water, it looks like it won’t happen until next year.

Brettview Water

The Brettview water situation has been a nightmare from the get go due to the fact that we are dealing with a private water company, Rand Water. For almost three years we have been asking Rand to install filters to remove the Iron and Manganese in the water that they supply to Brettview, as well as Fishkill Plains Elementary and Van Wyck Junior High Schools. They refuse to install the filters even though the Town’s contract with Rand states that we will pay for part of the cost. We have discussed this situation with the Dutchess County Department of Health on many occasions and we are told there is nothing they can do because the Iron and Manganese concentrations are consistently just below the Maximum Contaminant Levels allowed (in spite of the fact that we brought three water filters that were as black as pitch to one meeting). We have identified another source of water for the Brettview area (unfortunately, that would leave the schools still using Rand water) which we hope to have on line – but, it is still over a year away. In the meantime, our water operators, VRI, are doing their best to address each situation and they have implemented a rigorous testing and flushing program. Still, the water that we get from Rand is the problem.

Shenandoah Water

Boy, what a mess. As part of the Consent Decree with the EPA, IBM has nearly completed the Shenandoah Waterline. In fact, around August / September, IBM and the EPA were pressuring the Town to take over the system. We have since found out that the source wells in Fishkill have a problem with levels of Sodium and Chloride that are above the Maximum Contaminant Level. We are looking at other options to provide water to Shenandoah – but this really threw a monkey into the wrench, as they say. We hope to provide water to other areas such as John Jay High School, Lake City, and Wiccopee; but, with this new development, everything is on hold. **Update to Shenandoah Water** We met today with Town of Fishkill Reps and their engineers - contrary to the original claims of problems with Sodium and Chloride, there seems to be a problem only with Chloride. It appears that there is a trend of higher Chloride, with one spike over the MCL. Fishkill has a plan to mix the water from the Shenandoah source wells with other wells to reduce the Chloride levels and implement a monitoring program for one year. After that they have a plan to connect to yet another source with much lower Chloride levels that will supply Shenandoah as well as many homes and businesses in Fishkill. At first I was skeptical, but after talking to the engineers, this plan may have some merit.

Ryan Drive Water

The EPA, under the direction of a gentleman named Lorenzo Thantu, has been working very hard to address the water problems at the Ryan Drive Superfund Site. Although some controversy has erupted regarding the proposed source of water for the people in the Superfund Site, the EPA is incorporating alternatives into the proposal to provide some discretion as to the source of clean, safe water. This is phase one of the program, phase two will be actual remediation of the pollution.


East Fishkill is spearheading an effort to put together a FEMA – approved Hazard Mitigation Plan to address flooding problems BEFORE they occur. The Towns of Fishkill, LaGrange, and Wappinger, as well as the Villages of Fishkill and Wappingers Falls have signed on to be included. The first step (which we made last week) was to apply to FEMA for a grant to create our plan (we were, sort – of, pre-approved by SEMO a couple of months ago). This is a multi-year process; but, once we have a FEMA approved plan, we can implement mitigation projects using FEMA grant money. Our Grant Writer, Michael Hagerty, has been instrumental in coordinating with FEMA and SEMO and writing the grant application.

In addition, Congressman John Hall has been to our Town Hall with people from the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss flooding of our creeks, including Fishkill Creek, and they are committed to helping resolve these problems also. There seems to be a lot of talk about the problem; but these are long-term plans. In the meantime, we did install another pipe under Lake Drive and we have had the developer modify the storm water retention ponds on the Stone Ridge subdivision; unfortunately, Con Ed simply says that the flooding in not their fault and they have not been very helpful in discussing the topography of their property.

Speaking of flooding, we have built a 250,000 gallon retention pond on an area in the Legends subdivision which is helping alleviate flooding problems on Dogwood Rd. Two local developers, Creekview Homes and Reiger Homes helped with this project – and we appreciate their help. In addition, we are planning work on an existing drainage easement that should resolve more of the problem. A lot of credit must go to our Town Engineer, Scott Bryant, who has been working very hard to solve a difficult drainage issue. Scott has also been working very closely with Highway Superintendent, Dennis Miller, and they have done a lot of work addressing floodplains and streams in the Wiccopee area as well as storm water run – off from the Long Hill area. All told, I am very impressed by the drainage work that our people have done this year.

Open Space

Last August I received a call from the Dutchess County Land Conservancy regarding Manhattan District Attorney, and local farmer, Robert Morgenthau, making an application to place nearly two hundred acres of Fishkill Farms in a land trust keeping that property a farm forever. I was asked to supply a letter of support for the application by September 8th. This is terrific news and at the August meeting of the East Fishkill Town Board we passed a resolution in support of that application. I compiled a report describing the work of our Open Space Preservation Committee, as well as letters of support from Assemblyman Marc Molinaro, County Legislator Alison McAvery (who represents that district), a letter from me, the East Fishkill Historical Society, our Town Board resolution, as well as a map and a very in - depth book of open space properties that we have on file (many thanks to Don McGrath for all of his hard work on that). We put all this together and had it to Dutchess Land Conservancy by the deadline – thanks to all who helped in our support of this application and many thanks to Bob Morgenthau for his desire to maintain a part of East Fishkill as we remember it, a farm.

Speaking of farms, this year one of the finest people that I have ever met, former Town Councilman Jessie Johnson, passed away. It is my understanding that it was Jesse that pretty much managed the affairs of the family farm on Carpenter Road. Coincidently, this year our Town Historian (and Open Space Committee member), Carolyn Plage, came up with the idea of a Community Supported Agriculture program which she presented to an audience at the Town Hall. Well, it is funny how these things happen, because it is very possible that we are going to have our first C.S.A. at the Johnson Farm next year. In the C.S.A., there are different option for participation – one is to purchase a share and then during the harvest season you can go and pick up fresh, naturally grown vegetables at the farm. This is a great thing because it allows the farm to continue as a farm and it also allows people to consume naturally grown produce that is grown locally. I cannot say enough about the Community Supported Agriculture group – they are terrific and I thank the Johnson family for their interest in keeping, as Bob Morgenthau does, some of our farming heritage.


Yep, it’s budget time again and this time things are tough for all of us. The Town tax is 9 to 14 percent of your total tax bill – that is $2.07 per thousand, so a house worth $400,000 would pay $828.00 in Town Taxes. Still, that is an increase of 7.37%. As we all know, property values are falling and we calculate a reduction in the Town wide assessment of 5.08%, which means that the amount that we need to raise through taxes is 2.29% more, or $56.00 for a $400,000 house more than last year.

The revenue side of our balance sheet has taken a beating as Mortgage Taxes, which made up about two and a half million dollars a few years ago is now projected to come in (hopefully??) around eight hundred thousand in ‘ 09. The Sales Tax revenue has held pretty steady, though. We are looking at shortfalls in both the General and Highway Budgets that we will cover out of our “rainy day” fund balance – and we are still in very good shape; but, we need to shore up revenues.

On the expense side, although the cost of fuel went through the roof earlier this year, hitting all of our budgets – it appears that they are (thank goodness) returning to earth. Regarding the budget, it takes a certain amount of money to operate the Town (providing snowplowing / road repair, police protection, recreation facilities, and the normal operations: Assessors, Court, Building Department, Comptroller, Tax Receiver, Planning, various boards, and me and the Town Board). Some of these functions bring in revenue to offset their operations – some do not (Court, Building Department do – Planning / Zoning, Highway, Police, Tax Receiver, Assessor do not). Of course there are always State and Federal unfunded mandates (for example, as of last January New York State requires a pre-inspection before a building permit can be issued – it doesn’t sound like much, but it is more time required for the inspector to make an additional inspection, the Assessors get more exemptions to administer each year, and of course there is the huge MS-4 unfunded mandate, which is sure to grow). So we need a certain amount of capital to operate and provide the services that are necessary to the public, and those that the State and Feds tell us are necessary.

A few things that we have done: we have raised fees where appropriate so that the fee covers the costs of operations; the Police and the Highway Department now purchase their fuel from the same supplier and we are looking into joint commodity purchases with Dutchess County; and everyone except for “grandfathered” union employees now pay a portion of their benefits.

I think that we operate on a pretty lean budget; our Town Hall is forty years old and we have very little Town debt. Our biggest expense, as with any business, is personnel; yet, Highway is down from about thirty-two people in the early nineties to around twenty four now. The Building Department had four fulltime inspectors a few years ago; now they have three fulltime and one part - time (I know that I will receive a call from Dutchess County Personnel after they read this blog!). Employee benefits are a huge problem, going up double digits for the last several years. This is a tough environment to operate in. We recognize that everything is going up and it is putting a strain on everybody;
but, I think that our people have done a good job in keeping expenses down.


All – in – all, I would like to thank our employees. I think that we have some of the hardest working, courteous, and conscientious people working for us. They realize the situation that we are all in and everyone is doing their best to do their jobs, with the additional workloads, and are very pleasant and helpful, to boot.

Government / Firehouse Issues

I just came from a presentation at the Wiccopee Fire Substation where United States Senator Chuck Schumer announced that he would work along with State Senator Saland and Assemblyman Marc Molinaro to provide emergency access from Townsend Rd. by the Substation to Interstate 84. This emergency access would allow much quicker emergency response to incidents on Rt. 84, possibly saving lives and attending to potential disaster, before it gets out of hand. This is a terrific coordinated Federal and State effort and we look forward to the day when the access is actually provided (or, as Larry the Cable Guy would say, “git ‘ r done!”).

As far as today’s ceremony went, I must say that I am incredibly proud of our volunteer Fire Departments – sometimes I get a little busy with work and I don’t think about the hard work and sacrifice that our volunteers put into becoming the best at what they do. It was today at the presentation where Chuck Schumer was talking about volunteerism and that not all countries have people who volunteer; he said, “…that is what makes America great.” Well, I thought about all of the people who attended today and all of the people that I know who are volunteer firefighters, EMTs, and first responders and how hard they work. The Town of East Fishkill is really a special place, we have so many good people that live and work here, that volunteer and who are, I believe, the most professional and knowledgeable first responders going. I am really proud of that – it says a lot about our Town and our heritage.

I would also like to commend for their hard work and diligence in bringing the matter to the attention of the higher elected officials, John Jackson, Station 4 Captain, Dan Jackson, Station 4 Chief, Scott Post District Chief, and Chairman of the East Fishkill Fire Commissioners, John Paraskeva – good work, guys.

Odd’s ‘n Ends

And in closing, a local businessman has been posting correspondence that I had sent him regarding his annual request for a traffic control officer in his place of business. I am not sure what he is trying to convey but I would point out that it is not unusual for a municipality to provide a police officer for traffic control for flea markets, special events, etc. In my nearly three years in office, we had not had the time to develop the proper guidelines or cost of these assignments (an officer had been provided for that assignment for as long as I can remember); so, when the gentleman came in this year, I told him that we would notify him of the actual cost and we sent him back the check he had left as he did in the past. The bottom line is that although we have provided such services in the past, the Town of East Fishkill is requiring that any such assignments be fully compensated by those benefiting from the service and not the taxpayers.


Well, that’s about it – we keep pretty busy around here. If anyone has any questions or concerns you can respond to the blog, e-mail me at, or stop in at the Town Hall. Thank you and I wish everyone safe and happy holidays.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

July 2008, already? Blog

I had started this blog and hoped to be done by 11:30 a.m. - it is almost 3:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon and I have not even gotten to the other work that I need to. Anyway, I just wanted to let everyone know about a few of the things that we are doing...

Town Hall Presentations

I think that education (for all of us) and the exchange of information makes government work more efficiently. That is why we are hosting, and filming (for our Channel 22), a number of forums. They are:

July 17, 2008 7:00pm- Environmental Protection Agency:
This is a question / answer forum on the Hopewell Precision Superfund Site given by the EPA. All are welcome to attend.

July 21, 2008 7:00pm - 9:00pm: Dutchess County Legislative Environmental Committee:
The Town of East Fishkill is hosting a public forum by the Dutchess County Environmental Committee on July 21st at 7:00 PM at the East Fishkill Town Hall. Dutchess County Legislators Marge Horton, Rob Weiss, Alison MacAvery, David Kelly, Joel Tyner, and Peter Wassell, as well as Town Supervisor John Hickman, will be on hand to listen to the public regarding environmental issues of concern. This will be a good chance to discuss environmental issues with your Legislators; public input and suggestions are welcome. For more information contact Environmental Committee Chair Joel Tyner at 876-2488 or Deputy Environmental Committee Chair Peter Wassell at 350-1007.

July 29, 2008 7:00pm- 8:00pm: Dutchess County Cornell Cooperative Extension: invasive plants species in our area including the “mile-a-minute” vine.

We will also be hosting a presentation by our MS-4 Coordinator, Walter Artus, for contractors on Low Impact Development – all board members and the public are invited to attend – the date has not yet been set.

Speaking of Channel 22 – in addition to our presentations, we have been putting our Town Board and Planning Board meetings on television and hope to have the Zoning Board on soon.

Planning / Zoning

Our new Planners AKRF are getting up to speed very quickly. Their plan review has been excellent and we will be addressing several zoning laws that need attention. We are getting back on track with our Senior and Workforce Housing legislation and we will be (probably next year) be addressing plans for the Hamlet. In addition, we hope to adopt Town – approved policies and procedures that developers can implement in their design to provide development that is environmentally friendly and efficient.


Boy, this is a tough one – with the boneheads (that is being charitable) that created the mortgage mess and the speculators and manipulators (example: any little, even the smallest, oil – producing country says there MAY be a disruption and the price of oil jumps through the roof!) we are all hurting. I really do believe in smaller government (many of the positions and departments that we have created here are the result of passed-down legislation and unfunded mandates); but, I do think that government should protect and maintain the things that are essential for the people, such as fuel (heating, transportation, etc.) and regulate the markets so that crooks can’t make millions and pawn off the losses to the taxpayers. Did they blow it.

Anyway, I think that we operate pretty efficiently / frugally. Our Town Hall is forty years old – built by my Grandfather when he was Town Supervisor (people used to say “Lyn, why are you building such a big Town Hall?” I am glad he did, we are crowded – but it works). I don’t think that we are overstaffed and we are looking to provide services more efficiently (the water services that we subbed out has been a terrific savings). I would like to point out that if you look at the pie charts in our lobby – the School budget is between 65 to 76% of the tax bill while the Town is between 9 to 16%.

O.k., budgets are based on two things: expenses and revenues.

Expenses: As I said, I think that we are operating a pretty “bare bones” operation – still, we are currently receiving the budgets from each department and we will be meeting with department heads to cut expenditures that are not necessary. Presently our Police are fueling up at the Highway Garage which has saved us money from our previous arrangement with other vendors and we will be looking to see if we can find any savings in the Town insurance package. Fixed costs such as retirement and health benefits (these costs are set by the New York State Retirement System and the health providers that we have contracted with) have been increasing at an alarming rate over the last few years and if we can see some relief in them it will certainly help our budget picture.

Revenue: We need to increase our revenue. First, the Town Board and I are pushing to have services provided paid for by those that benefit. There have been changes to our recreation and sports programs to address this issue and we are looking to increase the fees charged by our Building Department; in addition, we have been pretty successful in obtaining grants (although as Federal and State budgets get tighter there be less grant money available) and we have more people contributing to the cost of health benefits. In fact we made some changes to health benefits, not only in contributions; but, also in length and type of coverage. Through the PILOT Program East Fishkill IBM provides between 7.5 and 8 million dollars in revenue – a large chunk of our School, County, Town, and Fire District budgets. One thing that I feel is very important is developing an industrial tax base. I know that it is not a popular idea, but the old IBM West Complex is empty. This is an industrially zoned property, over one hundred acres, which could potentially provide more tax revenue and, importantly, jobs.

My feeling, and the feeling of the Town Board, is that things are tough all over and we will do our best to keep our Town Tax reasonable. Hey, we are all in this together and, personally, I find the current economic situation very, very scary.

Shennandoah Water

IBM is fast completing the Shenandoah Water line to address the Shenandoah Superfund Site and should be turning that over to the Town by the end of the year. That pipeline has been upsized to allow the Town the ability to serve other areas along the Rt. 52 corridor and, as soon as we resolve some supply and storage issues, we will be looking to make that water available.

Brettview Water

Although we have tried to have iron and manganese filters installed by the owners of Rand Water for three years now, they still refuse to do so. It is the iron and manganese that reacts with the chlorine in the water that produces the silt and brown coloring of the water that we purchase from Rand to serve Brettview. We have discussed the matter with the Dutchess County Board of Health and they insist that the iron and manganese problems do not pose a health risk and that it is only a nuisance. We have gone so far as to propose the purchase of Rand Water so that we may install the filters ourselves (we have done a financial and operation analysis and this could be feasible), but the owners will only sell on their terms; terms which we cannot accept. We have identified another source close to Brettview which we are presently having tested and hope to bring this online to solve their water quality issues.

Presidential Way

Concurrently with our efforts to solve the Rand Water problem, we have been moving forward with the plan to bring water to Presidential Way. We hope to break ground as soon as possible – but the timetable rests entirely upon New York State Audit and Control. If the cost of the project to the homeowners is above a certain threshold an application must be made and approved by Audit and Control – a process which takes between six and nine months.

Article 78 Lawsuits

In the next few weeks we should be receiving rulings from the courts regarding the Town Board decisions not to close Philips Road and not to approve the rate increase requested by the Sagamor Sewerage Corporation.

Dogwood Flooding

I would like to thank Creekview and Rieger Homes for their participation in the construction of a 250,000 gallon retention pond to address flooding issues on Dogwood Road. Although this is only one part of the solution (we have been denied permission to build another pond that we had proposed) – we are still working on other measures to address the situation and I am confident that we will contain the flooding. I would like to point out that we would never have gotten this far in the resolution of these problems had it not been for the work of our Town Engineer, Scott Bryant.

Lake City Flooding

Con Ed has done a study of their right -of-way and stated that their property does not contribute to the Lake City flooding. I have written back and asked for copies of the surveys and elevations to see if there is anything that can be done to help alleviate the flooding from the back of Circle Drive. We have had the developers of the Stone Ridge subdivision change the discharge from their retention pond and we plan to install another pipe on Lake Drive (by the pond), at an appropriate elevation, to help the Guildersleeves Creek discharge more water at a point below Lake City – a possibility that Scott Bryant noticed during one of the rain storms.

Hillside Lake

Earlier this year we contracted with Great Eastern Environmental to develop some options for us to make Hillside Lake a viable water body again. I had provided them with the information that they had requested and they were to come back sometime in June. Unfortunately, due to staffing changes, they dropped the ball. I met with them Friday and registered my dissatisfaction with their fulfillment of their obligations. They understand and have promised us at least two plans in the next few weeks.


There really is so much more: trying to build a new Recreation and Senior Complex to address our needs; working with our Open Space Preservation Committee to keep our town a place where we want to live; working with the Fishkill Creek Watershed Committee to address many issues of development, flooding, and the environment; looking for new water sources to supplement sources that we currently use; trying to make sure that all of our boards operate efficiently and fairly; working on updating the Master Plan for the Town (probably setting up that committee before the year is out); always being concerned with revenue and expenses; and, most importantly, listening to and addressing the needs of our constituents – the people we work for.

In closing, I would like to recognize the many people who work for the Town. We have a lot of hard working, conscientious, people who really care about the people who live here and I think they do a tremendous job.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Quick Blog

Quick Blog

Things have been pretty busy around here, but I would like to put out a quick blog.

Congressional Hearing

For the first time in the history of the Town of East Fishkill a Congressional Subcommittee hearing was held at our Town Hall. Congressman John Hall, along with the Committee Chair Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Congressman John Boozman, held the meeting of the Congressional Committee on the Environment and Water Resources here to address issues of the Ryan Drive Superfund Site and the response of the EPA. I was very impressed with the hearing and I hope that legislation mandating stricter measures for TCE handling and other guidelines are implemented so as to prevent any other such tragedies.

Low Impact Development

On April 17th we sponsored a seminar by the DEC on Low-Impact Development. This means development that allows stormwater to be kept on site in ponds and water gardens to recharge the aquifier instead of sending it into our creeks and streams. I think that this is an excellent concept – unfortunately, the seminar was not very well attended. We shall have more!

New Planners

At the April 24th Town Board meeting we will be appointing a new Town Planning firm named AKRF (yeah, kind of a funny name – but they have something like 230 people on staff including traffic experts, planners, hydrologists, experts on open space, and others – a very impressive firm) after reviewing five proposals. The Planning firm that is currently with us has been with us for something like 28 years – hmmmm, looking at the Hamlet, not to happy with that track record! In fact as they began to scale back on working for our Town late last year, issues that require Planning and SEQRA initiatives (zoning changes, including Senior and Workforce Housing) pretty much came to a halt. Anyway, we look forward to addressing those issues as well as establishing a new vision for the Town (with public input) and updating our Master Plan, much more extensive Planning Board plan review, and some special projects including Hamlet revitalization. Also some changes to the planning process such as a new application requiring much more information up front (thank you Mr. Koch and Mr. Staudohar for that) and a change to response deadlines will make the process more efficient. I think that these changes will have a profound, positive effect on the further development of our Town.

Hillside Lake

Great Eastern Environmental is currently working on some proposals for the Hillside Lake remediation project – we expect to be making a public presentation this summer.

Grant Writer

Our grant writer, Michael Hagerty, has secured a $7,500 grant for Hamlet Planning, we have submitted a $25,000 reimbursement application for our sidewalk project in front of the Mahopac Bank, we were denied a $150,000 grant from Dutchess County for our Senior and Recreation center, but our grant writer has submitted another grant application for the new Rec building and is currently working on grants for more Hamlet sidewalks, trees, planning services, and disaster remediation.

Lake City Flooding

I spoke to a manager at Con Edison this week, their engineers have been to their property behind Lake City and will have a report to us in a couple of weeks. We are working to see if we can keep the water from coming in from the back of Circle Drive. During the last storm, Councilman Dahncke and I ran into Town Engineer Scott Bryant in Lake City. Scott pointed out that the inlet to the pipe that runs under Lake Drive into the pond could be lowered to take more water. I looked at the watercourse maps and I see that that pond discharges into the Fishkill Creek at a point below Lake City. We are looking into whether it would be feasible to make this a major discharge point. In addition, even though the DEC denied our creek permit, after several phone calls (and a discussion with Congressman John Hall’s office) I finally got a response to my letter. Maybe, maybe, with some help from DEC we can address some Fishkill Creek issues (this is one reason that I REALLY like Low – Impact Development techniques).

Dogwood Flooding

In addition, Scott Bryant has proposed a solution to stop the huge flooding of the Dogwood Road area – something that we hope to resolve this year. Since we hired Scott as our Town Engineer last year, we have made significant progress in addressing issues that have plagued us for years. Scott has been a tremendous asset.


We are still waiting for the court to make a decision on the Town Board refusal to close Philips Road, should be another month – or – two.

The Town Board has been notified that we are being sued for failing to approve the wastewater rate increase request for the Sagamor Sewerage District – another case that should take a few months.

Town Clerk

Carol Hurray is our new Town Clerk, replacing Dottie Mekeel who has retired after nearly forty-years in that position. Carol has been meeting with other Town Clerks to discuss issues that are common to them all. She has installed a new computer with the BAS Town Clerk software and has been making changes to procedures in the office. In her first four months in office Carol is doing a terrific job.

Presidential Way

We will be holding a public hearing for the expansion of the Presidential Way Water District, known as “Brettview 2.” This will allow another leg to be incorporated to create a loop system. DEC has acknowledged receipt (though not approval – yet) of the water supply application and the Town is working to ensure a consistent supply of water.

Open Space Committee

Our Open Space preservation Committee has been meeting regularly. We have identified several properties that we feel represent the rural heritage of the Town and we have had discussions with a couple of the landowners. We are currently in talks with property owners to bring back farming on one of our old agricultural parcels – possibly through Community Sustained Agriculture (a new farming concept which we will be providing presentation on in a month – or – so). We have been discussing a bond issue to help fund open space and we will be having public meetings on that in the future also. In addition, the Open Space Preservation Committee will be working with our Conservation Advisory Council and our new planners to address open space in the planning process.

Channel 22

Our municipal Channel, 22, has turned out to be a fantastic way to bring government and information to people who ordinarily could not attend the meetings. We have had a few technical and programming issues, but as we work things out I feel that this is going to be an incredible tool for providing public information.

Well, ‘ gotta run – there is always something to do! You know, with the changes that we have made in the last few years – the building moratorium, appointing in – house Town Attorney and Town Engineer, new laws on wetlands protection and lot – count formula, examining open space and senior and workforce housing, hiring new planners, as well as trying to be open and listening to the public, I am proud of the progress that we have made and I thank my Town Board for working as a team to address these issues.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

January Blog

‘sorry it has taken me so long to write a new blog – it seems that the end of the year gets soooo busy. In November we have elections and budgets, then end-of-year stuff (including a little presentation to our Town Clerk, Dottie Mekeel, who retired after nearly forty years – it was real nice), then reorganization and - wow, here it is January 2008!

Anyway, it has been a busy two years and I do think that we got a lot accomplished; but, there is still so much to do.

Town Engineer / Town Attorney / Town Comptroller: I have to say that since we have established and filled these positions things have really come together.

For instance, our Town Engineer, Scott Bryant, although he has been really good at managing the Town’s projects – he has been excellent in working on what he calls “the big picture.” Take water for example, he has maps and reports and has been working to identify water sources and distribution systems to create an integrated town water system. Not more than a year ago, before Scott came on board, projects in front of the Planning Board were being considered with no thought as to resources that they could offer the Town. Since, that time we have found water sources that we are working to access and we are working to put together a distribution system which will provide water to areas in need.

You know, I read about other Towns getting rid of their contract engineering firms – I don’t think that that is the answer. I find that with Scott on board the communication and oversight with Morris Associates has improved tremendously (Morris has some very talented people on staff; I find that engineers generally have their specialties – no one engineer can know everything about water, wastewater, structural engineering, etc.).

Our New Town Attorneys, Tom Wood and John Klarl (of Wood and Klarl), have many years of municipal experience. Tom has been terrific in advising us on everything from land use, affordable housing, and open space preservation to water district formation, and General Municipal Law and John has a tremendous amount of experience in Planning, Zoning, and, also, General Municipal Law. Together they have brought an incredible amount of experience and knowledge to our legal affairs.

Our Comptroller, Christine Mitchell, and her staff have been excellent in recording and verifying our fixed assets, verifying and paying our bills, working with our insurance company, analyzing our revenue and expenses, and putting together budget projections, as well as identifying problems that may arise. In fact, two weeks ago I told Christine my concerns with the economy – I think that we are all a little concerned. I said that we had better look towards tightening our belts even more – the economic outlook is sure to be “challenging” (unfortunately our recent Sales and Mortgage Tax revenues are down a bit this period – not a good sign).

In-house: Many of the changes that we have implemented are changes to policies and procedures done in-house. Some examples are: cash collection for many of our departments is now done in one office, road bonds are reviewed regularly before they come due, and bills that are submitted for payment are receiving a higher degree of verification than before. I asked Scott and Christine to do an analysis of how efficient our Highway Department is at blacktopping compared to the private sector (it turns out that they are pretty good), we are now comparing our catch basin cleaning operations with the private sector, and we have decided that it is more cost effective to outsource our water department operations. I have discussed this outsourcing with many people. Presently, we are at a crossroads with the water department: do we expand our water department (at considerable expense) to handle current and growing responsibilities or do we find a company whose core business is the water business. We have spent a lot of time interviewing several companies that have responded and we have impressed upon them the very important matter of service to our customers. One company, VRI, seems to hold those same values - they have put in a lot of time helping us and reviewing our systems at no charge. We have contracted with them to oversee our water districts – they have a large staff and a lot of experience in the field and I think that they will do an excellent job. We are trying to be sure that taxpayer money is well spent and that we operate efficiently.

MS-4: We have hired John Paraskeva as our MS-4 Officer. John has been following the MS-4 program (yep, that big unfunded mandate from the state) for sometime now and he has the background to put that knowledge to use. John will be working under Scott Bryant and Walter Artus, our MS-4 Coordinator, in the development and administration of our MS-4 program.

Grants: Our grantwriter, Michael Hegarty, announced that we have been approved for a $7,500 grant from the state to engage the services of a Planner to work on our Hopewell Hamlet Plan. Unfortunately, Dutchess County has recommended that our application for a Community Block Grant to help with our proposed Senior and Recreation center be denied. Michael is currently working on more grant applications and it is great to have him on board.

Sagamor: The Sagamor Wastewater rate issue is a very emotional subject for many people in that neighborhood. In an effort to provide relief and rate stability, the Town made a proposal to take the system over. On Saturday, January 5th, a vote by the homeowners in the district was held on that proposal. Due to low turnout and a contingent of homeowners in the district opposed to Town ownership the proposal failed. The Sagamor Wastewater District will continue to be owned and operated by a private company.

Lake City: Con Edison will be working with us this year to alleviate the flooding situation from their property onto Lake City. On the other front, I have found it to be very frustrating working with Dutchess County on clearing a huge obstruction on the Fishkill Creek. After months of waiting and unreturned phone calls, this past December we finally made an application to DEC to remove the blockage. Unfortunately, DEC returned the application as “incomplete.” They also included a list of rules and regulations to protect the floodplain and ecosystem. Now, I am the last person that would want to damage the floodplain – and I am a big believer in the ecosystem (hey, didn’t we just pass a wetlands protection law), but this obstruction spans the width of the creek at an area of high banks, is probably five to six foot high, and it is dense - being made up of several LARGE trees and smaller branches. I still feel that removing this obstruction may help the discharge of water through the creek and possibly relieve some flooding.

I must say that I do agree with Mr. Ed Fowler about the problems with the creek and the volume of water that it can handle (last year I was amazed at the grass still hanging in tree branches five feet over my head from the April storm – this was in an area of the creek that was very wide – it must have been an incredible amount of water flowing at that time!). Development and construction have added a huge amount of water runoff to the Fishkill Creek. I will be having a seminar for our Planning Board on Low Impact Development which promotes natural landscaping to keep storm water on site (still, it is like closing the barn door after the cows are long gone).

I don’t know if I ever will be able to remove the obstruction – fortunately, Mother Nature is working on it. I checked the other day and I see that one huge tree that was uprooted up on the bank is now in the creek – the creek has eroded the bank creating about a three-foot wide channel around the obstruction. I guess that the creek will now makes its’ new channel.

Brettview / Presidential Way: We are still looking for a new source of water to serve Brettview and Presidential Way. We have identified areas that can supply close to half the water required – and we are still looking for more. The Town Board and I have directed Scott and our engineers to make the DEC and DOH applications to get the Brettview 2 (Presidential Way) project approvals.

Hillside Lake: Councilwoman Walker, the members of the Hillside Lake Park District Board, and I met with representatives of Great Eastern Ecology to discuss making Hillside Lake a viable water body again. We are looking for alternative proposals to the full dredge plan put together by Morris Associates. It was an excellent meeting – Great Eastern uses natural approaches such as artificial wetlands and special plantings to provide solutions to address the issues of nutrients, and aquatic growth; while sedimentation requires source analysis. They will be putting together some options that we can present to the public in the next few months.

Well, that’s it for now – at least that is all that I can think off (there is still so much going on). I will leave you with a copy of my speech from the reorganization ceremony. I hope that it is not boring (well, it is a speech), but I do look forward to working with my board this next term. Thank you.

Supervisor’s Address:

Two years ago I stood before you along with, then, returning Councilwoman Walker, newly elected Councilman Dahncke, and the rest of the Town Board; at that time we described a new direction that we would be taking our Town. I stand here before you today to say that we have made major strides in our quest – we have instituted our moratorium, enacted legislation to protect our wetlands, created a Senior & Workforce Housing Committee (which has finished a final draft report), created an Open Space preservation Committee, and are currently working to address water, stormwater / flooding, and wastewater issues. Yet, we have only just begun. We have changed many internal processes in our government; we have analyzed many of the services that we provide always asking ourselves how we can do things better. We have tried to make our government more open and responsive and we have brought talented people onto our staff whose bottom-line concern is what is best for our Town. We have done a lot of things in the past two years – but we have a lot of work ahead of us and I am confident that we, as a team, will succeed.

This year I welcome returning Councilman Peter Cassidy and newly elected Councilman John Koch. Returning to the board, Councilman Cassidy brings years of service, experience, and stability. Councilman Koch brings his many years of experience on our Planning Board, dedication to our Town, and new ideas. County Legislator Robert Weiss brings to the Legislature his knowledge of business, understanding of the environment, and community involvement.

I have always respected people that serve from parties other than my own. I feel that if you truly have the best interests of the people in your heart, although we may hold different points of view, we will find common ground. This new board is made up of members representing more political parties than any other time, probably, in the history of our Town. As we see in the newspapers and on television, getting people of differing political parties to work together to address complex problems has become more the exception than the norm causing political gridlocks. I truly believe that this new board will set an example to those other levels of government as we tackle the complex problems that face our constituency. I believe that this Town Board will set a shining example to many levels of government of people working across party lines for the best interests of their community.

The Town of East Fishkill, I feel, is a special place. We have exceptional resources, talented people, an educated workforce, a strategic location, a long and rich history and culture. Yet, we face challenges just like anyone else: environmental problems, economic concerns, and development pressures – just to name a few - and difficult decisions will have to be made. I am confident that these officials new and returning are up to that challenge and I would like to say thank you to all of you, for allowing us the privilege to serve.

Monday, October 08, 2007

October (where does the time go) Blog

When our web-person set up our blogspace she told me that I should post a new blog every two weeks. Wow, I have been able to blog only about every two months! There is so much going on that I normally am in the office seven days a week – although only a few hours Saturday and Sunday – (holidays included, although my wife did put her foot down about Christmas Day) and I don’t get a chance to write my blog as much as I should.

Some people have suggested that I should hire an assistant; problem is: I hate to spend the money. As everyone knows, generally, the biggest cost of any business is personnel. Actually, I don’t think that the number of people employed at the Town Hall has actually grown much – but the costs have! A BusinessWeek article that I read last year summed it up pretty well. It said, ‘over the years the private sector paid much more than the public sector. To keep employees without paying higher wages, the public sector provided good benefit packages. Over the last decade, though, as the costs of employee benefits have increased by double digits almost every year, it is starting to look as if the public sector would have done better by paying premium wages’. Who would have thought that benefits would have taken off as they have? With the employee contracts we negotiated this year we have addressed some of the issues with benefits and we will continue to do so with all Town positions.

Oh, before we get too far I would like to thank Assemblyman Marc Molinaro. He has helped us with our application to D.O.T. for our Lake Walton / Robinson Lane turning lanes (still a couple of years away – this is fastrack in D.O.T. terms) and now he has helped in an application that was stalled in D.O.T. for the Hopewell Plaza entrance and with the D.O.T. / M.T.A. resurfacing of the railroad tracks on Rt. 82 at Fishkill Rd. Marc has been very responsive to the needs of our Town and he will be at our Town Hall on October 22 at 6:30 p.m. to meet with the public to discuss issues.

Public Service Announcement:

There is an invasive plant species known as the “Mile-a-Minute” vine that has been found in a five acre site in LaGrange. If you get a chance, “google” this vine. It is almost certain that we will be facing this predatory varmint next year.

New Laws / Moratorium / Montage:

At our September 27th Town Board meeting we adopted our Wetlands Protection, Steep Slopes Stabilization, and the Lot Count Revision Laws. I am very proud that we have taken steps to protect very valuable water resources as well as address slope erosion and to make a common sense revision to our lot count formula. We had taken much public input and faced a bit of opposition, but I think these laws are fair and represent a turning point in the direction of our Town.

In addition, we did vote to raise the building moratorium threshold to allow applications for up to ten lot subdivisions. This was to give the smaller developers and local people relief – residential construction has always been a part of our local economy – although this would never have been considered without the adoption of the three laws cited above. As to the larger subdivisions, that is still a matter to be considered along with the review of our Master Plan.

The zoning application which would have allowed the Montage Senior Housing project to proceed was denied. As Councilwoman Walker put it ‘although we recognize the need for this type of housing, and this is a very nice project, this is not the location for it … the Town Board is taking a new direction in how we look at the impacts on our water and resources’ (this is not verbatim – but I think you get the gist of it). In addition, there were many, many people who spoke against the project and only a handful that supported it. The problems we identified is that approving this zoning change would have allowed this type of development as an “as of right” in three other areas of Town, disturbed over 180 acres of wetland and floodplain, and did not appear to provide housing that was in a price range to help local seniors. I would point out that presently there are two other senior and workforce projects being proposed.

Workforce and Senior Housing Committee:

I have received the final draft of recommendations from our Workforce and Senior Housing Committee which are being reviewed by the committee prior to submission to the Town Board (and then Planning Board) for their review.

East Fishkill Open Space Preservation Committee:

Our E.F.O.S.P.C. had a booth at Community Day. I would like to thank those members that manned the booth – it is so important to get our message out. Although we are just starting, it is important to gather public input and support. We meet on the second Monday of the month at the Town Hall at 7:00 p.m. Normally it is just the seven members of the board and me that meet, but we look to having informational public presentations in the future. Even at this stage of development in our Town it is very important to work to preserve what we can of our heritage and open space.

Brettview Water / Presidential Way Water:

Our Town Engineer has been doing a terrific job in overseeing numerous Town projects as well as addressing some problems that have been issues for years. Scott takes a “big picture” approach that makes a lot of sense. Recently we have been reviewing some twenty-year old studies on water that may offer some new options to solving problems at Brettview and Presidential Way. Although nothing is concrete at this point we are examining some interesting proposals.

Lake City Flooding:

Lake City was hit again in this year’s April N’oreaster. As I understand it, this was a repeat of flooding that had occurred less than two years prior. What really got me is that these two events were unlike past flooding in that I am told that the water came from a completely different direction. This summer I took a kyack trip down the Fishkill Creek from Lake City. I went with a friend who is an outdoorsman and we kept to the Creek that seemed to flow closest to Lake City (the Creek does fork in several areas – seemingly, only to reconnect further on downstream). I cannot tell you how many times I had to carry the kyack over downed trees. As we went we would discuss if this or that tangle of downed trees could actually cause a backflooding event. At one point we suggested that the flooding may actually be a cumulative effect of all the downed trees. Then we came to an area, bigger than all the rest, of a very, very significant damming situation caused by a section of downed trees. This dam was dense, five to six foot tall, in an area of a high stream bank. This was much larger than anything that I had seen in the Creek from the Warren Drive Cul-de-sac (actually bigger than anything I had seen in my trip from the Palen Rd. bridge).

We are taking a three-pronged approach to the Lake City flooding:

We are making an application to the D.E.C. to remove this barrier.
We have replaced some storm drain pipes in Lake City and done some minor grading to be sure the water gets to the Creek.
If we get permission from Con Ed, I would like to see if we can intercept the stormwater before it gets to the Circle Drive residences.

Fishkill Creek:

I had been attending the meetings of the Fishkill Creek Watershed Committee for some months now (first Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at the library). I must say that after two trips down the Fishkill Creek I have seen the damage that development, siltation, and runoff have done to our poor creek.

I will be working with the F.C.W.C. to bring surrounding communities “on board” with an intermunicipal watershed agreement.

I will be having a presentation to our Planning Board on Low Impact Development that illustrates construction designed to minimize stormwater runoff (inviting other communities to attend).

I am budgeting money to begin a long-term Fishkill Creek maintenance project working in conjunction with the Fishkill Creek Watershed Committee.

In my trips down the Fishkill Creek, in many areas I found our creek to be beautiful. Other areas showed distress and destruction and I hope that with new practices and maintenance we can revitalize our Fishkill Creek.

Hillside Lake:

I have written to four companies that specialize in lake remediation. Two have responded, one with a written proposal. I hope to meet with the boardmembers of Hillside Lake along with these professionals so that we can put together another option to the full dredge proposal designed by Morris Associates. The full dredge proposal was projected to cost 3 million dollars and would have an incredible impact due to lake material dewatering and truck traffic on the community. It is my intent to have another proposal in addition to the full dredge proposal for the community to consider. I would like to meet with the board later this year and have a public presentation in the late Winter / early Spring of 2008 to consider our options.


I think that we have made good progress in improving our financial house; yet, I have asked our Town Board and Comptroller to consider a bare bones budget. One thing that I think is necessary is to build our industrial and commercial tax base. One example is that we are considering a law that would make an office building use “as of right” in an industrial zone. At the present time, offices are allowed in an Industrial Zone only if the use of the office is accessory to the use of the property. By allowing offices in an Industrial zone we would enable more flexibility in the marketing of those types of zones (I would have no problem with, say, an accounting firm taking offices in I zones).

In addition, we are trying to gage our operating efficiencies. I have asked our Town Comptroller to compile data on the cost of specific Town operations to see if we provide these services in a cost effective manner. Services such as brush pick up (which I hope to bring back), water district services, and paving are being examined to see if we should provide those services in-house or if it is more cost effective (or even possible) to sub them out.

Then there are: UNFUNDED MANDATES. The Grandaddy of these, this year, is the MS-4 program. MS-4 stands for Municipal Separate Storm System something-or-other (I can never remember) a mandate handed down from the Feds to the State to the Towns which says that we have to perform an extraordinary amount of work to be sure that the water that runs off properties into the storm drain discharges is very clean. This means there will be costs for (a lot off) maintenance, enforcement, inspections, and record keeping. Unfortunately, there is no funding provided (except for one $9,000 grant that we will be applying for). I sent a memo to the Planning Board a couple of months ago to establish stormwater districts in subdivisions with such drainage systems to offset the costs of maintenance – a policy which would have been very helpful if begun some years ago – but, who knew? MS-4 will be with us forever and we will be working on best ways to fund it.

Actually, when I look at the breakdown of taxes I see, for example, that last year in Wappingers the School Taxes were 68% of the tax bill, the County 16%, and the Town 14% (that year the Fire Tax was 4%). Although I hear a lot of talk in Albany about changing the way schools are funded (one example is an income-based tax), I do not think things will change until the school boards become more cost conscious and until laws are changed that will allow impact fees to be collected from developers to construct new schools (hey, if they did not build so many houses – we would not need so many classrooms). ‘ just my thoughts.

Philips Road:

Immediately after the Town Board voted not to close Philips Road, the developer filed a lawsuit against us to force us to do just that. The case is now pending in Appeals Court.

Sagamor Sewerage:

We will be having a public hearing on the proposed purchase of the Sagamor Sewerage facility / system by the Town in October. A town operated system will save some money and provide stable wastewater rates. We would also look to see if we could save money by bundling the operations and maintenance with the plant that we are building in the Hamlet.


We are finishing the first school tax cycle under the reval. As I have said before, the Southern Dutchess Consortium (eight Towns and Cities) contracted with M.J.W. in, I believe, 2004 to conduct this joint revaluation. To be honest here have been some issues with the process. First, I have had a major problem with the timeliness and the data collection by the contract vendor M.J.W. Ironically, had we the time we could have addressed inaccuracies found in some of the data. Unfortunately our Assessors received huge amounts of property valuations (overall, twelve thousand in East Fishkill) with little time before the vendor sent out notices. Our Assessors worked nights and weekends, right up to the legal deadline, to address these issues. We also found that the vendor response and follow-up was deficient and I am now told that had the data been compiled sooner, the vendor could have included school apportionment calculations which would have provided more accurate projections.

I had asked the members of the Consortium to meet for a “post-reval” conference. We have met twice more since that first conference and we are examining our options. New York State Office of Real Property Services attended the last meeting and they were very helpful. We are putting together a plan to maintain our valuations at full market. This is very important when it comes to taxing across municipal borders (such as school taxes) and reflecting changes in the valuations due to changes in the market. Again, we had not had a town-wide revaluation done in thirty years and valuations got pretty out-of-whack (similar properties assessed at much different values). It is our intent to keep our assessments fair and equitable so that we all pay our fair share. It is a difficult process at best, especially after thirty years. In my opinion, the vendor made a tough process much, much more difficult.


Well, that’s about it - I am sure that there is more but that is all that comes to mind. We did install a credit card machine to pay tickets in the Traffic Court (saving time in billing and transactions) and we are looking at appointing a town-wide safety coordinator (which will lower our insurance premiums). Boy, it is a busy Town – until next blog. Thank you.

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