Monthly Archives: September 2009

Citizens Unite

I had the pleasure to take part in the audience of the Adlermanic event this evening at 721 Media. Almost all of the candidates (all but three, Shirley Whilock a democratic running in Ward four, Mike Gill a republican running in ward seven and Todd Langon a republican running in ward eight) were present in a well organized, effective discussion on some of the most pressing issues in the city of Kingston.

The mix of new and old candidates really brought home a feeling that was quite refreshing. I was reminded in this forum that everyone up there were just ordinary people wishing to do a public service  and certainly, did not have many (if any) of the answers to the problems that we face.

Thing is, there can be no solutions without more citizens productively involved.

So how do we bridge this gap? Most all were as stumped by the questions as the audience who asked them. The old rhetoric in these unprecedented times are about as meaningful as a lie.

I’d like to suggest that the citizens lobby and ask their newly elected Alderman in November to call monthly meetings in their wards to work to bring together the constituents to discuss all that’s on the table. They want input on the budget? Than bring the budget to a productive place to discuss the options so that we can wood shed and come to city hall public meetings and be on record in a way that is creative and meaningful.

There are citizens in Kingston who pay more in taxes than they do their mortgage payment– and they are pissed as hell about it. Who could blame them?  It’s particularly unnerving, for whatever the reasons noble or not, that our services are about to be cut though we will continue to pay for them. The city will see and use these savings elsewhere. But how does the homeowner benefit?

You could have the same discussion with those who own buildings that house important business in the city of Kingston and who are taxed higher than those who also own similar types of properties with empty store fronts and who are taxed lower.

On the subject of taxes, here’s a savings. While we operated our Ward 9 debates at City Hall, on a cool late summer night (in the 60′s)- the air conditioning was blaring making those present needing extra clothing to keep them warm. When asked to turn off the AC and to open the windows instead, we were told that the system was on a timer that only the city’s engineer could address.  I’d like to see that whole system tweeked. I can only imagine how expensive it is to cool that entire building down.

…And, alderman, let’s organize and communicate while there is still the opportunity to do so.

Citizen’s unite.

RM

Meet The Aldermanic Candidates. All Of Them.

You can bet that those of us here at KingstonCitizens.org are especially pleased to spread the word on this event.

Organized and sponsored by Kingston’s Uptown, Midtown and Rondout Business Associations, “Meet the Aldermanic Candidates:  A Moderated Forum” will take place on Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 beginning at 6:00pm. The event will be held at 721 Media Center on Broadway in Kingston, NY.

The theme for discussion that evening will be  “The City of Kingston’s Future: Growth Bound or Ghost Town” and light refreshments will even be served.

We’ve heard that all of the candidates have confirmed,  so residents citywide should make it a point to attend.

If you have any questions, contact the Business Alliance of Kingston at 845/331-2238

See you there.

Environmental Focus on Kingston: Leaf ‘em Alone

It’s that time of year again.

This year’s fall season will soon blanket the area in vibrant color.  As the joys of fall harvest fade, we’ll be left with the aftermath of fallen leaves.  The city will begin collecting leaves as of October 15th.  This also happens to be when they stop collecting regular yard waste, so be sure to have your gardens cutback by then.

Leaves may be placed in paper bags or left at the curb for collection.  Bags may be purchased at the City Clerk’s Office in City Hall for $.37 each or $1.85 for five.  DPW workers will begin in Ward 1 and systematically move throughout the city.  Collection will continue until the first snowfall.  After the 15th, you can call the DPW office at 331-0682 to get a better idea of when they will be in your neighborhood.

Municipal leave collection creates serious disposal problems.  Yard waste accounts for nearly 20% of landfill space.  Hauling bags of leaves to landfills costs taxpayers money.  We have to pay the workforce for their time and the fuel for the vehicles used in collection.  Large landfill piles of leaves produce methane gas as they decompose and breakdown.  Some communities have banned yard waste collection for these reasons.

This year why not try something new?  By composting your leaves you’ll have great fibrous, moisture retaining, organic matter to spread on your garden and lawn by next spring.  Plus it’s less work intensive than all the traditional raking, bagging and hauling.

A large variety of store bought composting bins can be purchased just about anywhere in the free trade zone.  But if you’re more of a spend thrift like me, you can make your own at minimal cost.  All you need is some chicken wire and 4 stakes to get started.  Your composting cage can be sized to fit the needs of your yard.

When adding leaves to your compost pile it’s best to keep each layer about 6-8 inches deep before adding a thin layer of soil.  Anything deeper and oxygen may have a difficult time cycling throughout the compost material.  Keep your pile moist and remember to turn the mixture regularly with pitchfork or other such tool.  You can even add in some grass clippings, coffee grounds and egg shells to it.

It’s that easy Kingston.

Another more passive form of composting is to just leave it on the lawn.  For this approach it’s probably better to just stick grass clippings though.  Leaving leaves on your lawn may make you popular with Mother Nature, but it will probably just really irritate your neighbors.  Not to mention that blowing leaves can easily clog storm drains.

Throwing away your leaves is a waste of a great nature resource.  By keeping leaves in our backyards we are all doing our yards, pocketbooks, community and planet a big favor.

Want to learn more about the ease and benefits of composting?  Check out what the DEC has to say about it.

Take this topic back to your Yahoo Ward Group and find out how your neighbors deal with their fallen leaves.

How do you take care of your fall leaves?  Take our survey and let us know!  

- Wilbur Girl

Tuesday Primaries

Are you planning to vote at tomorrow’s primary election?
(polls)

Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday, September 15th to choose candidates that will run in November’s election.

There is a good rundown in today’s Freeman: “Tuesday Primaries will set the stage for November elections”.

There have been many questions as to why some of our candidates are not yet putting up lawn signs. Only candidates who are to be in the primary elections can post lawn signs at this time. They will all have to come down after Tuesday. All candidates running for office will post lawn signs prior to the November election.

You might also call the Board of Elections to confirm your voting location, in the case that something has changed. Their number is: (845) 334-5470. Polls are open from noon – 9:00pm.

Click on the candidates links below, when available, to learn more about their current platforms.

In Ulster County:

COUNTY JUDGE: (Vying for the Independence Party Nomination)
Rep. Donald A. Williams vs. Dem. Deborah S. Schneer

District 5 LEGISLATURE: (Vying for the Independence Party Line). Voters select 2.
Rep. Fred Wadnola vs. Dem. Brian Cahill
Rep. James Maloney has forced an opportunity-to-ballot contest for the ballot.

District 6 LEGISLATURE: (Vying for Democratic line). Voters select 2.
Dem. Jeannette Provenzano vs. Dem. Frank Dart vs. Dem. Mike Madsen

WARD 1: (opportunity to ballot, Republican line)
Andi Turco-Levin

WARD 8: (Vying for Conservative line). Voters select 1.
Dem. Robert Senor vs. Rep. Todd Langon

WARD 9: (Vying for Democratic line).
Dem. Hayes Clement vs. Dem. Mark Halwick

Environmental Focus on Kingston: Give Me A “C”, “S”, “O”!

This year instead of a summer, we’ve had a monsoon season.

On average Kingston receives 47.48 inches of rain a year, with May being the wettest month. This summer alone we’ve been deluged with roughly 17 inches of the wet stuff. While my friends are all bemoaning the loss of blight ridden tomatoes, I’ve been worrying about a problem that runs a little deeper. Yup, I’ve been thinking about combined sewer overflow systems (CSO’s).

Kingston’s antiquated sewer system is a CSO. They were all the rage and considered the newest and greatest in waste flow management along the eastern sea board following the Civil War. The EPA defines these types of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems (NPDES) as “remnants of the country’s early infrastructure and so are typically found in older communities.” They estimate there to be roughly 772 CSO communities in the US today.

A CSO was designed to collect rainwater runoff, domestic sewage and industrial wastewater all in the same pipe. This slurry of toxic sludge is transported to a sewage treatment plant. Periods of heavy rainfalls or quickly melting snow exacerbate the volume of storm water runoff so that it exceeds the capacity of the system. Excess, untreated wastewater instead empties directly into nearby bodies of water – in our case, the Rondout Creek. Also, because of their age, CSO’s often fail or collapse at an accelerated rate.

The city’s CSO problems have been simmering for decades. In the past, city officials have all but turned a blind eye to our failure prone sewer. However, the growing number of orange and white barrels and yellow sawhorses that adorn sagging or collapsed parts of our streets are too becoming difficult to ignore.

The City of Kingston has been recently cited by the DEC for failure to take aggressive action to stem the flow of raw sewage into our waterways. A fully developed plan was due in September 2007. The DEC has warned that the city faces daily fines of $37,500 until corrective action is taken and a plan produced. As a result the Kingston Common Council has approved the borrowing of $93,000 to hire Malcolm Pirnie, Inc. to complete the necessary study, which must be done during the rainy season.

As immense as the CSO issues are that face our community, the average citizen can do plenty to assist with storm water abatement. In the next ENVIRONMENTAL FOCUS ON KINGSTON we’ll discuss the variety of ways this can be achieved.

DID YOU KNOW: What can YOU do?

The city of Kingston has an ordinance that prohibits downspouts to be connected to the sewer system. City ordinance A407-106 states “No person shall discharge or cause to be discharged any stormwater, surface water, groundwater, roof runoff, subsurface drainage or unpolluted industrial process waters to any sanitary sewer.” You can read the rest of the ordinance HERE. Scroll down to the appendix and open Chapter A407: Plumbing Code Administration. You’ll find the entire entry under section A407-106 of Article XVII.

Introducing: Environmental Focus On Kingston

A month ago, I put out the word looking for citizens to contribute to the KingstonCitizens.org blog’s. Thanks to those for being in touch.

I am happy to introduce a new series to KC.org called “Environmental Focus On Kingston” written by citizen ‘journalist’ Wilbur Girl. Below is her profile.

Please feel free to comment on these and all of our pieces, or to take the topic to your Yahoo! Group for further resident dialog.

Thanks, and more to come.

Rebecca Martin

Wilbur Girl is a third generation daughter of Kingston. Her roots can be found grown deep into a hill above the southwestern shores of the Rondout Creek in a home that has been in the family since 1943.

In “Environmental Focus on Kingston”, topics will focus on the simple environmental changes and actions everyday citizens can do like rainwater harvesting, composting, tips for greener living and recycling techniques. Learn more about what your neighbors and local businesses are doing to minimize their impact while maximizing their renewable resources. We’ll also look at trends and what other communities are doing to go green and improve their sustainability.

In The Groove

One of the organizers of the upcoming Drum Boogie Festival, Paul Rakov, has sent out a request to all interested parties (and particularly drummers).

They are searching for about 50 drummers to help lay down a beat to kick things off at Cornell Park on September 19th in Kingston. Drum legends Jack DeJohnette, Jerry Moratta and others will be soloing over your groove! It’s an extraordinary opportunity and so much fun, too.

Interested?  Here is the rehearsal schedule:

REHEARSAL
Saturday, September 12th
10am
Woodstock Percussion Studio
Shokan (Dubois Road off Rt. 28, turn right at the Reservoir Deli with the cow on it)
Lunch will be served

REHEARSAL AND PERFORMANCE
Saturday, September 19th
10am
Cornell Park, Kingston (off of Wurtz Street on the Rondout)
Lunch will be served

The concert is free and performers will not be paid. This is truly for the spirit of drumming, to bring some business to the Rondout and establish a festival that hopefully will blossom into something bigger in the year to come.

You can contact Paul Rakov if you have any questions by calling: 845/430-6182

Saving Important Programs In These Tough Times

We are hearing a great deal about the looming budget cuts coming to the city of Kingston.  As the city looks at what seems to be a four million dollar short fall in the 2010 budget, we need to look closely at how every dollar is being spent.

I’ve read many opinions as to where citizens and the city feel the budget should be cut. But nothing much on the services that citizens cherish that are in need of protection at this most vulnerable time.

I can think of a few. Our Public Library, the programming provided by our Environmental Educators, the work of Pat Johnson through the Parks and Rec department and the Everett Hodge Center.

What do you think? Feel free to comment here. Let’s also get something going in our Ward Yahoo! Groups. You can find yours on the main page of this blog, or visit KingstonCitizens.org. I’ll work to compile your comments and provide them to the common council and the mayors office to consider this fall.

Thanks.

Rebecca Martin

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