Thursday, April 28, 2011

Crossroads Project is Dead!

Remember STOP Crossroads?
Well, it is officially "stopped". The Crossroads Project is Dead!
There's a new "For Sale" sign on the Plesser property; the asking price is $4.5m for the 2 parcels or $2.975m for each separately.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Last Meet-and-Greet Tonight at Main Course

6pm at Main Course, all candidates were invited, hosted by Butch Dener

Plenty of time to schmooze before heading over to Village Board.

Word on the street is that there might actually be a sighting of Martin (McPhillips, not Sherow), he'll be the one wearing the fez.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Last Village Debate, and Other Options

Tonight is the last village election debate, at Deyo Hall on Broadhead Avenue, sponsored by the New Paltz Chamber of Commerce, 7:00. If you can't make it, I believe it will be taped and put on Channel 23 for rebroadcast later in the week. The election is next Tuesday, May 3 from 12-9 at the Village Fire House.

If you have seen enough debates, come check out "An Evening with the Fellows:Financing Smart and Sustainable Place-making", which I'll be moderating at the College Terrace at 7:30. This event will also be taped and broadcast on Channel 23.

If neither of those interest you, there is a New Paltz Government Efficiency and Effectiveness Community Advisory Committee meeting at Town Hall at 7:00. On the agenda is the recently released draft report.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Draft "Full Consolidation Study Report" Released on Web

Draft "Full Consolidation Study Report"


The DRAFT Full Consolidation Study report provides a detailed account of the Steering Committee's efforts to analyze and compare the feasibility and impacts of various options for consolidation of the Town and Village of New Paltz. The report focuses on the creation of a Coterminous Town/Village as the preferred option for consolidation, though there is discussion of other options that have been identified (including Village Dissolution and the creation of a City).
Previous versions of the draft were reviewed with the Steering Committee, and comments or questions received were used to make revisions. A summary of the questions and the response to each is also provided in Appendix A (Question Log).
This version of the DRAFT Full Consolidation Study report is being made available to residents of the Town and Village, as well as members of the Community Advisory Committee, for the purposes of gathering public input regarding the pros and cons of consolidation. It is hoped that the details provided in the DRAFT report regarding how consolidation might occur and the impacts it would have on taxes and other areas will help residents as they consider their position on the matter.
A series of public meetings will be scheduled in order to gather public input on the findings documented in the DRAFT report. These meetings will be publicized here on the project web site calendar and via other means, so stay tuned.

Video from the Village Hall Debate

nppa23 on Broadcast Live Free

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New Paltz School Board Candidates 2011

Four candidates have submitted their names for election to the New Paltz School Board on Tuesday, May 17th. In ballot order:

Brian Cournoyer

Stephen J. Bagley

Patrick Rausch (incumbent)

Michael Hekking

Incumbent Steve Greenfield did not submit petitions to get on this May's ballot.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Village Elections Debates and Forums Schedule

This is to the best of my knowledge - if anything is missing or wrong, I'm sure our not shy readers will let me know.

Friday 4/15 7pm /root Debate, 60 Main Street - Mayoralty and Trustee candidates

Sunday 4/17 1pm TownGownConnect Debate @ Village Hall - Mayoralty candidates only (Broadcast LIVE on Channel 23)

Thursday 4/21 8pm SUNY New Paltz Debate - Mayoralty candidates only

Monday 4/25 7pm Chamber of Commerce Debate @Deyo Hall - Mayoralty and Trustee candidates

Wednesday 4/27 6pm Main Course Meet-and-Greet with all candidates, hosted by Butch Dener

Tuesday 5/3 ELECTION DAY 12-9 at the Village Fire House

Update - Oracle coverage and video of the Woodland Pond debate on 4/11
Reminder - Debate today at Village Hall will be broadcast live on Channel 23

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I arrive in Florida without incident, even manage to get upgraded to 1st class on the flight down.  My friends meet me at the airport and all is wonderful.  since this is Florida, on Tuesday, we go to the Everglades for an airboat tour.  We see about 5 alligators in the wild.  This is a real tourist place and has alligator wrestling.  It's kind of low-key and low-budget but interesting nonetheless.  I go to pick up the bike.  One of the arms of the trailer had gotten bent slightly and one of the nuts hiolding he seat had managed to fall out.  All is better now.  It was close to 90 today!  Whew.  We'll try for the early morning start.  Not much shade in this state!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Unhappy Gadflies

Today was the monthly meeting of the New Paltz Government Efficiency and Effectiveness Study Working Group. I read this statement during public comment:

This statement is respectfully submitted to the New Paltz Government Efficiency and Effectiveness Study Working Group (WG) (renamed during the project as the Steering Committee) and the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) co-chairs, signed by seven CAC members.

We, the undersigned, have grave concerns about the study process and product to date. Concerning process, the WG rejected the CAC’s request to hold evening meetings, to provide detailed meeting minutes, including rationales for major decisions, and to abide by the Core Values for Public Participation1 guidelines (International Association for Public Participation;*

The study proposal, which was submitted to the New York State High Priority Planning Grant program as part of the grant application, clearly states, “Concrete processes and strategies will be incorporated into the process in order to communicate facts and promote a dialogue that will facilitate a high level of civic engagement.” The RFP for the project also states, in bold, “An enhanced public involvement plan to promote wide scale participation in the process is required.”

Despite these guidelines, from the start, there has been a lack of public participation and clarity about the CAC’s role in that public process. One CAC member asked, “Is the CAC expected to merely inform the public of decisions, or will the public be invited to engage in meaningful participation?” Another said, “I thought our job was to gather public input [in order to] inform the process of the study, not to just garner support for its conclusions.”

To further the goal of public participation, the grant application specifically required the creation of a project website to facilitate information-sharing between the WG, CAC, and community at large. In addition, the application stated, “Dedicated pages on both municipalities’ websites will provide a record of the study progress and include links to all relevant documents.” The website, through the members-only Ning site, failed to meet the basic access needs of many members, continues to have multiple outstanding and unanswered questions, and supplies limited, unclear documentation to outline the process as it has unfolded. Requests from the CAC for additional information and better explanations have also been denied. The Village and Town were complicit in these obstacles to public access, failing to even link to the site until the project had been underway for months, and never providing additional resources. While the consultants have repeatedly suggested that questions, comments, and suggestions be funneled through the website, their responses have been exceedingly slow or, more frequently, absent altogether.

Whether deliberate or unintentional, this failure to engage the public has led us to feel that the WG is secretive and disinterested in process. These concerns were reinforced when the WG chose not to release the draft report to the public. Perhaps as a result of this decision, not one CAC member commented on the substance of the draft report, either due to stated issues with the lack of disclosure (at least four members voiced this concern), or speculatively, disengagement due to lack of clear process and transparency. One CAC member stated, “I hardly think it's fair to presume that this relatively small group can adequately represent the diverse perspectives of all of New Paltz, when all of New Paltz has not had any opportunity to review such a document.” Another member said, “How can there be such a recommendation when the information leading up to this conclusion has not been disclosed to the CAC, let alone the public? This whole report is lacking public input. There should not have even been a draft without public input.”

In terms of product, while the work to date has included a thorough analysis of dollars (efficiency), there has been barely any discussion about governance (effectiveness). We refer again to the study proposal, which states, “[T]his project will not only review opportunities for efficiency, it will also consider all potential governance models.”

Although the WG has discussed some governance models, none of these discussions included or even considered public feedback. The draft report rejects many possibilities (e.g., city, village dissolution, a model of our own design, status quo) without any public discussion. This process and the conclusions concerning possible governance models fly in the face of the study proposal, which states, “[t]his neutral feasibility study will not presume any preconceived outcome, and instead will consider all options, including the prospect of alternatives not currently defined by law and the option of continuation of the existing structure(s).”

The proposal also says, “Dissent will be an acknowledged component of the discourse and will not be an impediment to the process.” We feel strongly that our dissent and our concerns (which have been expressed repeatedly to you) have been ignored. Furthermore, we deeply hope that the WG will recognize our commitment to this project, and will listen to and act on our constructive criticisms. We want to be ambassadors for this project, but as one member noted, “the CAC can only act as translators if they are informed. Information on the process thus far and decisions that have been made are not readily accessible in its entirety.”

Lastly, since the CAC, to date, has provided no feedback to the WG on the substance—only on process—of the report, we respectfully request that the language that the CAC provided “input and involvement” on the draft report be deleted. Perhaps if the process improves, then the final report can properly acknowledge the contribution of the CAC. The CAC has been eager and prepared to contribute, however it is impossible to do so when the group has not been given the authority, autonomy, or information necessary to fulfill the expectations outlined in the original proposal.

In closing, we wish to make clear that we have a desire to provide the citizens of New Paltz with the information necessary to make sound, reasoned, and informed decisions about improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our government. We have made it clear that to do so, we must engage the public early and often. Failure to do so will almost surely result in rancor, discontent, and mistrust. In this regard the CAC accurately reflects the sentiments of the community.

John Logan
Ira Margolis
Amanda Sisenstein
Caryn Sobel
KT Tobin
Brittany Turner
Michael Zierler

* Core Values for the Practice of Public Participation
1. Public participation is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process.
2. Public participation includes the promise that the public's contribution will influence the decision.
3. Public participation promotes sustainable decisions by recognizing and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision makers.
4. Public participation seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision.
5. Public participation seeks input from participants in designing how they participate.
6. Public participation provides participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.
7. Public participation communicates to participants how their input affected the decision.

Village Ballot Lottery Complete, Maybe

Today was the lottery drawing for the ballot order in the upcoming Village of New Paltz elections. Here are the results, in order of how they will appear in the voting booth:

1 Positive Party - Ariana Basco, Trustee (4 year seat)
2 One Community Party - Pete Healey, Mayor; Sally Rhoads, Trustee (4 year seat); Martin Sherow, Trustee (4 year seat); Stuart Glenn, Trustee (2 year seat)
3 New Paltz Party - Kip Ruger, Trustee (4 year seat)
4 Village Unity Party - Jean Gallucci, Mayor
5 Cooperative Party - Jason West, Mayor
6 Balance Party - Rick Bunt, Trustee (4 year seat)
7 Groovy Blueberry Party - Jon Cohen, Mayor; Amy Cohen, Trustee (4 year seat); Emily Crocetti, Trustee (4 year seat)
8 Community Connection Party - Shari Osborn, Trustee (2 year seat)

According to mayoral candidate Pete Healey, there is some concern/confusion about a few issues:
1 - Whether or not the ballot has room for 8 separate parties and if the last 2 or 3 may need to "share" a ballot line (and whether or not there is room for that)
2 - Whether or not it is legal to use the municipality name, "New Paltz", in a party name
3 - Whether or not more than one party can use the same word, in this case, "Community" in their name

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Village of New Paltz Candidates for the May 3rd Elections

Jon Cohen
Jean Gallucci
Pete Healey
Jason West

4 Year Trustee (two seats)
Ariana Basco
Rick Bundt
Amy Cohen
Emily Crocetti
Sally Rhoads
Kip Ruger
Martin Sherow

2 Year Trustee (one seat)
Stewart Glenn
Shari Osborn