Gardiner Planning Board Continues Its Misbehavior

Background On the Fight Over Development of Gardiner’s Open Spaces

For those who are new to Gardiner or are not “plugged -in” to the local political scene, a long-standing dispute in town surrounds the issue of development of lands within the town’s borders.  Local Democrats and environmentalists always seem to be fighting with contractor-dominated groups and Republicans about protecting (or not) the open-space in Gardiner and the town’s rural character.  Proponents of “smart development,” including the current Democratic Town Board and Supervisor candidates, fear a day when Gardiner looks more like Paramus than Gardiner.  Here’s a little recent  history.

In the early 2000’s there was a battle-royal over the proposed development, on 2700 acres of one of the most pristine and iconic sections of the Shawangunk Ridge, of a massive project of expensive homes.  The grassroots “Save the Ridge” campaign was organized and, in the end, prevailed in protecting the land.  The lion’s share of that land is now part of Minnewaska State Park.

2008 brought the Great Recession and pressure for development in Gardiner eased somewhat.  Now that the economy has rebounded, local land owners and developers are more eager to cash in on turning acres of open-space into lucrative business opportunities.  Perhaps more ominously, outside business interests are buying up Gardiner land and putting up high-end housing and resorts.

One project under consideration is threatening to develop an 86-acre property owned by Philadelphia investors between Shaft Road and South Mountain Road into a ten-lot major subdivision.  The land is a sensitive and ecologically-unique wetland.  A second project, Heartwood, consists of 141 acres, sandwiched between Route 44/55 and the Shawangunk Kill, directly adjoining the western boundary of the Tuthilltown Spirits property.  The developers, a Wall Street couple with California investors, want to build a 70-unit year-round ecotourism resort.  Neighbors, fearing noise, groundwater and other problems, have organized to oppose the project.  (You may have seen the “Stop Heartwood” lawn signs near the area.)

The Gardiner Planning Board

The approval of these and all proposed developments in town is done by the Gardiner Planning Board.  The nature of this body is such that it attracts membership (seven members and one alternate) that have a vested interest in development.  For as long as anyone can remember, the Planning Board has been dominated by the construction industry and large land owners in town who have a direct interest in approving development projects.  Its current chairman is Paul Colucci, the owner of the largest construction company in Gardiner.  The board’s other seven members include two more contractors and a hydrologist.  Gardiner Dems have succeeded, despite the bitter opposition of the current Town Supervisor, in having two environmental attorneys appointed in recent years to bring more balance to the board. However, environmental interests are still outnumbered and their concerns are frequently ignored and, worse, mocked by the contractors and their allies on the board.

Two letters, set to appear in the New Paltz Times this coming week, center on an especially controversial Planning Board meeting last Tuesday, September 19 during which the Board voted to approve a negative declaration on the development of the Shaft Road property.  The authors of these letters, David and Barbara Sides, were both in attendance at that meeting of the Planning Board. David is a volunteer member of the Gardiner’s Environmental Conservation Commission, which weighs in on projects like this.  Barbara is Vice-Chair of the Gardiner Democratic Committee.  Both are long-time Gardiner residents.

Shame on You!

Shame on the perpetrators.  Shame on the enablers.  Shame on the Gardiner Planning Board (PB) for shirking their responsibility to the citizens, the environment, and common decency to their own peers and the public regarding the Shaft Road development.  Special shame on board member John Friedle, who once again demonstrated his ignorance, misogyny, arrogance, condescension, and just plain nastiness.  PB members as well as the public were intimidated and bullied into submission yet again.  At one point the harassment became so bad that a member of the audience shouted out for it to stop!

What happened?  To explain I need to back up a bit…

First there was a “secret” meeting.  While minimal notification was made in the Middletown newspaper, normal posting on the Gardiner website was not.  Therefore, most residents were not informed and the meeting was poorly attended.  It appears that these sneaky tactics were used to make an early decision on the Shaft Road project without any public opinion.

Fast forward to this week’s public meeting.  The PB ignored their own hired experts, including their paid advisor, attorney Dave Brennan.  They ignored the town’s Environmental Conservation Commission’s (ECC) reports.  They ignored their own Master Plan’s water and habitat preservation clauses.  They ignored numerous residents concerned about the degradation of their environment.  They ignored fellow board member Carol Richman, an environmental attorney, who pleaded her case to consider the correct map.  Friedle even went so far as to accuse her of “doctoring the map” to make her case.  They ignored the facts.  Instead they listened (as usual) to Jim Freiband, the Town Planner, who for many years has followed his own agenda to the detriment of our town.  Clearly all but the ecologically conscious had already made up their minds at the “secret” meeting.

According to the experts, the ECC, and many local residents the Shaft Road development should be pared down to mitigate the water and habitat issues due to sensitive wetlands on the property.  This is not about stopping all development.  It is about reasonable and responsible development which enhances our town as opposed to damaging it.  In fact, removing one lot would have helped considerably.  However in spite of the facts, the PB pushed to a vote for a “Neg Dec”, which “is a determination that an action will not result in a significant adverse environmental impact…”

As a volunteer member of the ECC, partner with Riverkeeper, climate tracker at the Mohonk Preserve, and someone who truly cares about our town, I take great offense at having our carefully researched reports summarily disregarded.  Shame on you, Gardiner Planning Board!

David Sides, Gardiner

To the Editor:

Several years ago current Supervisor Marybeth Majestic’s controversial project to construct a driveway to property up on the ridge was before the Planning Board. Chairman Mike Boylan threatened to have police remove then Gardiner Environmental Conservation Commission Chair Carol Richman from the meeting.  Carol was attempting to deliver a required report to the Planning Board making the ECC’s case for further environmental scrutiny of the proposed driveway. The driveway was being constructed on the most ecologically sensitive, “protected” and iconic land in the Town of Gardiner.

That night, Carol was shouted down and silenced. Last Tuesday night at the Planning Board meeting as in several prior meetings, it happened again. Carol Richman, environmental attorney and Planning Board member was shouted at, most egregiously by John Friedle, intimidated by other board members, and, finally, ignored.  The Planning Board issued a “negative declaration” on the Shaft Road development meaning that any action taken on that property will not result in an adverse environmental impact.  To reach this conclusion, the Planning Board ignored two of its own members, paid ecological experts, the Gardiner Conservation Commission and the town’s Open Space Plan.

The Planning Board chose, once again, to defer to its consulting planner, Jim Freiband as it has so often in the past, which brings into question its judgment as well as the integrity of its processes.

Misogyny, bullying and disrespect have no place on our Gardiner volunteer boards. We can do better!

Barbara Sides, Gardiner

Stay tuned to this space for more information on the development battles in town and the implications of the November 7 local election for those concerns.

Take-Aways from the Faso Forum

On Thursday evening, August 31st, John Faso, representing New York’s 19th Congressional District (which includes Gardiner), attended a “town hall” style meeting held at the Esopus government building.  The event was planned and sponsored by Move Forward NY 19, a progressive group with which the GDC is very much allied and involved (and whose founder, Debra Clinton sits on the GDC).  Faso has previously only consented to small, tightly controlled events, fearing the kind of anger that has poured out toward Republican members all over the country since Trumpism took hold. Faso event

[For clips of the event and the entire program, go to Move Forward’s website by clicking here.]

The event was a success from the standpoint that 1) It was well-planned by Move Forward NY and went smoothly; 2) Faso showed up; 3) he was finally forced to confront a room of his constituents and face a variety of questions that would not be characterized as “friendly,” and 4) he made obvious to us what we will confront in running against him in the fall of 2018: a career politician adept at verbal bobbing and weaving who sounds way more moderate than he votes.

Faso danced his way around tough questions related to the environment and climate change, tax policy, immigration, dark money, and health care, sometimes sounding like a moderate and at other times saying, “We agree to disagree.”  These issues were raised by questioners from Move Forward, the Gardiner Democratic Committee (Tim Hunter, Lisa Lindsley, and Tom Kruglinski asked questions) and other activists and concerned citizens looking for accountability from their congressional representative.

However, anyone hoping that Faso might move substantively away from his right-wing bent surely walked away disappointed.  The unfortunate reality is that we in Gardiner are represented by a freshman Republican Congressman, with limited scruples, seeking maximum financial advantage in a closely divided district; hence his refusal to disavow dark money from the infamous right-wing Mercer family. He will always try to sound as balanced and reasonable as possible without offending his base or alienating House leadership. His dance is well-choreographed and predictable.  As an Albany politician and lobbyist, he has been practicing it for decades.  In Washington, he has become a valued member of the Trump-enabling Republican majority.

And, quite unlike Trump, he’s smart, articulate, and informed.  This means that we, as Democrats, need to work that much harder to nominate, campaign for, and elect an excellent candidate to take Faso’s place in 2018.Faso Protest

Tom Kruglinski
September 3, 2017

GDC Member Excoriates Faso In Letter to Editor

GDC Members Barbara Sides, Mike Kruglinski, Glenn McNitt, Tom Kruglinski, Tim Hunter, as well as Town Supervisor candidate Lisa Lindsley, attended the Move Forward NY Faso Forum held on August 31 at the Esopus Town Hall.  Afterward, Barbara penned her reaction in a letter to the editor.

September 3, 2017

To the Editor:

At the forum in Esopus last Thursday evening, Congressman John Faso was asked if he will continue to take money from the Mercer family to finance his campaigns.  The Mercers, billionaires who have supported Breitbart and Steve Bannon to the tune of $10 millBarbara Glenn and Mikeion, also gave Faso $1 million to defeat Zephyr Teachout in the 2016 race for CD 19’s Congressional Seat.

Faso refused to answer the question.  Instead, he stated that he doesn’t read Breitbart and that Robert Mercer is not a racist.  Neither of those questions were asked.  Not only did Mr. Faso fail to condemn the far-right Breitbart news organization known for its racist, xenophobic, misogynistic and untruthful publishing, his non-answer assures us that Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah, a member of Trump’s transition team and a champion of Steve Bannon, will continue to fund his campaigns.Faso has voted 87.8% of the time with Trump.  He stated again last Thursday that he believes in the “magic” of the market, not regulation.  He challenged the highly respected Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that 22 million people would lose health insurance under Trump Care – which he voted for.  By doing so, he also voted to defund Planned Parenthood.

Faso is owned by the Mercers. His allegiance is to them, not the people of CD 19. We must elect a representative in 2018 who serves the people of our district and not the purveyors of lies and dark money.

Barbara Sides

Thank You For Your Support

“All Politics is Local” – Tip O’Neill

July 18, 2017

Dear Fellow Democrats,

Thank you – for coming out this past Friday and voting to endorse the Gardiner Democratic Committee’s candidates. Because of your enthusiastic participation, Lisa Lindsley won the caucus vote 105-46 against her challenger, Marybeth Majestic. Lisa will appear on the Democratic line on November’s ballot as well as on the Working Families Party Line, the Women’s Equality Line and is endorsed by the Hudson Valley Labor Federation.

You also voted by acclimation to endorse David Dukler and Warren Wiegand for Town Board, Bob Rich for Town Justice, Michelle Mosher for Town Clerk and Brian Stiscia for Highway Superintendent. Friday’s caucus was a display of democracy at its best at the local level. Tracey Bartels is our candidate for County Legislator. Again, thank you!

29gardinerdemocratsltWe Democrats face a very tough local election in November and we are writing to ask for your financial help. Elections are expensive. The committee supports its candidates with ads, mailers, signs, events and printed handouts to encourage voters to come out and exercise their right to choose their representatives – a right that is being severely compromised on the federal level. Please help us elect candidates right here in Gardiner who reflect Democratic values. Whether the issue is town finance, taxes, the parks, open space or development, whom you elect will determine what laws are enacted on our behalf and what our town looks like now and well into the future. But we can’t do it without your financial support. We have great candidates – lets get them over the finish line!

A donation in any amount would help, but please be as generous as you can. Please use the DONATE button on our website to contribute. Or send a check payable to the Gardiner Democratic Committee to PO Box 145, Gardiner NY 12525.

Thank you!

The Gardiner Democratic Committee

The Gardiner Democratic Caucus is This Friday!

DemocraticLogo

Democratic Caucus, Friday, July 14, 2017, 7 P.M. Democracy in Action in Gardiner

Vote this Friday to Choose Your Committee-Endorsed Town Candidates

Lisa Lindsley – Supervisor

David Dukler – Town Board

Warren Wiegand – Town Board

Bob Rich – Town Justice

Michelle Mosher – Town Clerk

Brian Stiscia – Highway Superintendent

What The Caucus Is All About 

Your vote is your voice! See you at the Caucus.

The Gardiner Democratic Committee

Lindsley Addresses Open Space Issues in New Video

The Gardiner Democratic Committee’s endorsed candidate for Town Supervisor, Lisa Lindsley, has released a new video in which she discusses her views on preserving Gardiner’s character and open space issues.  She addresses her vision of smart development, Planning Board concerns, and she differentiates herself from her opponent, the incumbent Town Supervisor.  Lindsley also calls on all Gardiner Democrats to attend the Democratic Caucus on July 14 at 7:00 pm at the Town Hall and support her quest to apply her progressive Democratic values to town government.

Take a look:

 

July 4 Exhortation

July 4, 2017

Dear Fellow Democrats,

A NY Times op-ed contributor recently posed the question, “How do you shame the shameless?”

The Trump Administration’s contempt for:

• The poor – especially poor children
• The unemployed
• The uninsured
• Non-white immigrants and refugees
• The press
• Women
• The right of Americans to vote……
goes unaddressed by Republicans in the House and Senate. In fact, the cruel “healthcare” bill passed in the House that will deprive 23 million citizens of health insurance was celebrated by Trump and the peoples’ “representatives” with beer and high five’s. Shameless, indeed.

Feeling furious and powerless is exhausting and unproductive. Action is the antidote and we are writing to give you an opportunity to take action right here in Gardiner. On Friday, July 14th, 7 P.M. at Gardiner Town Hall the Gardiner Democratic Committee is holding a caucus. There you will have the opportunity to vote for the endorsed candidates of the Committee, Lisa Lindsley, a founding member of MFNY, for Town Supervisor, incumbent Dave Dukler for Town Board, Warren Wiegand for Town Board, Bob Rich for Town Justice, Michelle Mosher for Town Clerk, and Brian Stiscia for Highway Superintendent. Your vote will determine who will be on the ballot in November.

Elect local leaders who reflect our Democratic values. Town Board members enact local laws that affect the quality of our lives. They also make appointments to boards, committees and commissions that oversee development and our natural resources, settle ethics issues and mediate assessment disputes.

Let’s elect the leaders we deserve. Make our democracy work right here in Gardiner.

See you at the caucus!

The Gardiner Democratic Committee

Latest Lindsley Video Features Discussion with SUNY Professor Glenn McNitt

Lisa Lindsley, the Gardiner Democratic Committee’s endorsed candidate for Town Supervisor, has released a new video featuring a discussion with retired SUNY New Paltz political science professor and longtime Gardiner resident, Glenn McNitt.  In the video, Lindsley and McNitt talk about the importance of getting involved in the democratic process and the Democratic values they both have been fighting for for many years.  Lindsley also outlines the principles on which she is running for Supervisor.  Take a look:

What to Expect at the Gardiner Democratic Caucus on July 14, 2017

The Gardiner Democratic Party will hold its nominating caucus on Friday, July 14 starting at 7:00 pm and going on until all business is completed (estimated 8:30-9:00 adjournment).  The business of the caucus is to decide who will represent the Democratic Party on the ballot on November 7 for local town positions.  This is an opportunity for those registered as Democrats in the town of Gardiner to get directly involved in the democratic process.

Last month, the Gardiner Democratic Committee endorsed candidates for town offices whom it thought would best represent local Democratic values.  Those candidates are:

(The Committee also endorsed Tracey Bartels for re-election to the County Legislature.  However, Tracey will gain access to the ballot not through the caucus, but through a petitioning process currently underway.)

The Committee-endorsed candidates do not automatically get on the ballot.  They first must prevail at the July 14 Caucus.  At the caucus, all candidates—those who have been endorsed by the Democratic Committee and those who have not been so endorsed—will have an opportunity to speak. After speeches, registered Gardiner Democrats in attendance will cast their ballots and the winners will get the party’s nomination and be placed on the Democratic line on the November ballot.

Any of the Committee-endorsed candidates could be challenged at the caucus by other Gardiner candidates wishing to get on the ballot.  At this time, the Committee is only aware of one challenger to our endorsed candidates: Marybeth Majestic, the current Town Supervisor, is expected to challenge Lisa Lindsley for the Town Supervisor nomination.  It is also expected that Ms. Majestic will seek the Republican nomination for Supervisor in 2017.  Ms. Majestic, though a registered Democrat, ran and won on the Republican line in 2015.

Those who have attended the Gardiner Democratic Caucus in years past have been both impressed and excited to see, and be part of, the nuts-and-bolts of the (small-d) democratic process in action.  At a time when that democratic process is being attacked at the national level by a hostile foreign power, we hope that Democrats will get “fired up” and participate in making that process a success right here in Gardiner!

Dem Supervisor Candidate Lindsley Releases New Video

Lisa Lindsley, the 2017 candidate for Town Supervisor endorsed by the Gardiner Democratic Committee, has released a new video introducing herself to Gardiner residents who may not know her.

 

Read Lisa’s bio here.  Like Lisa’s Facebook Page here.

Please remember that we need all Dems registered in Gardiner to come and support Lisa at the Gardiner Democratic Caucus on Friday, July 14 at 7:00 pm at the Gardiner Town Hall.  Let’s get out there and support a real Democrat!