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.


Hmmm…Lawsuits

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.

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