Tuesday, October 21, 2008

News That Matters - October 21, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Tuesday Morning,

As most of you know, I act as "foster parent" to wayward youth, lost animals and whatever else shows up at my door, suitcase in hand and with nowhere else to go. It's the karmic payback for my own youthful days. I bitch and moan about it sometimes, but the wheels of karma spin round and round . . .

One of those who showed up was an elder cat named Blackie who moved in about 4 or 5 years back. Blackie, alas, is no more for we buried her Sunday afternoon. She was getting thin and frail and too old to jump on on things, and spent her last few weeks sleeping - though her appetite was healthy(!) and she had no problem maintaining her space with my other orphaned and heftier cat, Ulysses.

As time passed, and seeing that her life was probably measured in weeks rather than months, I took her to the East Fishkill Animal Hospital last Thursday seeking to make her last few weeks as comfortable as possible. Kidney failure, they said, but there's still time, and sent me home with a prescription for Tapazole. On the third day of the medicine she sank into a coma (Saturday evening) and died around 11:30 Sunday morning while I was at the Arts Center rehearsing for an upcoming play.

When I left Sunday morning to rehearse for Spoon River Anthology at the Arts Center, she was still in a coma, breathing slowly and regularly with eyes wide-open but unseeing and Richie was here with her when she finally stopped breathing later in the morning. When he left for the monastery, he left her on the floor on the soft, folded towel she'd spent her last hours on next to the wood stove, covered by another towel until we could get home and bury her.

When we came home late Sunday afternoon her body was missing and the towel she'd been covered with was outside on the back deck. It didn't take long to find her out on the lawn. She hadn't gotten there on her own: our dog, Acosta, had taken her there, ostensibly to see if she would play again. When we found her body, I called the dog and he came over, slowed, nudged her with his nose a few times, then laid down aside her looking all sad, pushing her with his nose again but of course, there was no response. He's going to miss her. Ulysses doesn't know what to do with himself. Blackie and he didn't get along very well but now that she's gone, he seems all out of sorts, listless and depressed. 

Nineteen years is pretty darned old for a cat and the years she spent here at the Asylum were filled with good company, lots of treats, warm laps and good company. When it's my time, I'd prefer to go the same way.

There's a show at the Arts Center tonight, rare for a Tuesday, but this one promises to be pretty interesting.

Robbie Rigo’s Different Sides

Tuesday, October 21 at 8:30 p.m.
Lake Carmel resident Robbie Rigo presents a quadraphonic solo performance of his long-awaited and recently released CD. Singer-songwriter Rigo will perform on acoustic and electric instruments including guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. His songs may be previewed by going to myspace.com and typing in Robbie Rigo. Rigo was a member of the group Jailbait and a 4-time Star Search winner. His own company, Rigo Music Enterprises, promotes live performances around the Tri-State area.

Admission: $10 ($9 AotL)
Reservations: rsvp@artsonthelake.org.

Come Friday evening there's a different sort of performance at the Arts Center. This one, a reworking and staged reading of Edger Lee Master's Spoon River Anthology, comes courtesy of Blue Horse Repertory, Lora Lee Ecobelli and a cast of more than a dozen - with the Kitchen Table Band adding live music to the performance. That show starts at 8 PM. Tickets are $10, ($9 for Arts on the Lake Members). To ensure a seat, I'd write for reservations: rsvp@artsonthelake.org

It's back to basics today; zoning, planning, energy and sprawl.

And now, the News:

  1. Brewster Honda's rezoning effort worries neighbors
  2. New Report Helps Citizens Fight Stormwater Pollution in Their Communities
  3. EPA faulted on waterway pollution from sprawl
  4. Lack of civic involvement tied to Central Jersey-style sprawl
  5. Turning the Tide on Harnessing the Ocean's Abundant Energy
  6. New Guide Helps Connecticut Communities
  7. With Free Bikes, Challenging Car Culture on Campus
  8. Federal Officials Seek to Relax Rules for Dumping Mine Waste

Brewster Honda's rezoning effort worries neighbors

Marcela Rojas
The Journal News

Brewster Honda is looking to expand its operations and has filed petitions for zoning changes at two locations in Southeast, town officials said last week.

One proposal at 2-4 Allview Ave. has some concerned about the prospect of a storage and repair facility bordering their residential neighborhood. The site was once a lumberyard but would have to change its use to accommodate cars, town Councilman Paul Johnson said.

"We will come and oppose anything that reduces our property value and quality of life," said David Kulo, a Meadow Lane resident.

"I'm nervous about the potential impact of this proposal."

Read More

New Report Helps Citizens Fight Stormwater Pollution in Their Communities

Thursday, October 16, 2008
By: American Rivers

Protect clean water and healthy streams in your community

Gary Belan, American Rivers, 202-347-7550 x3027
Angela Dicianno, American Rivers, 202-347-7550 x3103
Karen Schapiro, Midwest Environmental Advocates, 608-251-5047
Washington, DC -- Stormwater that dirty, oily runoff from streets and parking lots that contaminates local streams is a leading cause of water pollution in Ohio and around the country. Today, American Rivers and Midwest Environmental Advocates released a new report, “Local Water Policy Innovation:  A Road Map for Community Based Stormwater Solutions” to help citizens tackle this pervasive problem and ensure clean water in their communities.

“Polluted stormwater is a huge problem nationally, degrading America’s streams and rivers,” said Gary Belan, Director of American Rivers’ Clean Water Program. “However, it’s a problem that can be solved at the local level by citizens and community leaders alike. This report gives people the tools to make a difference.”

The threats posed by stormwater are caused locally, seen locally, and are best addressed locally.  Stormwater pollution begins when natural landscapes are altered, changing the way water moves over the land.  Hard structures such as parking lots and rooftops prevent water from naturally soaking into the ground. The rain water picks up pollution from streets and runs off into local streams.  A typical 10-acre parking lot will create 270,000 gallons of polluted stormwater runoff after only one inch of rain.  Our paved surfaces and rooftops generate 16-times more runoff than the fields they replace, increasing the frequency and severity of flash flooding.  Due to sprawling impervious surfaces, many urban areas now lose between 300 and 690 billion gallons of water annually that would otherwise be filtered back into groundwater and drinking water supplies.

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EPA faulted on waterway pollution from sprawl

By DINA CAPPIELLO – 4 days ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is failing to stem the pollution washing into waterways from cities and suburbs, the National Academy of Sciences reported Wednesday.

The report's authors urged "radical changes" in how the federal government regulates stormwater runoff so that all waters are clean enough for fishing and swimming.

"The take-home message is the program as it has been implemented in the last 18 to 20 years has largely been a failure," said Xavier Swamikannu, one of the authors and the head of Los Angeles' stormwater program for the California Environmental Protection Agency.

Stormwater runoff is the toxic brew of oil, fertilizers and trash picked up by rain and snowmelt as the water flows over parking lots, roofs and subdivisions.

Read More

Lack of civic involvement tied to Central Jersey-style sprawl

Friday, October 17, 2008 6:47 AM EDT
By Kristine Snodgrass, Staff Writer

   WEST WINDSOR — The affluence of central New Jersey has not translated into civic engagement among its residents, in part because of its pattern of sprawling development, according to a presentation to the West Windsor Township Council at its meeting Tuesday night.

   Nancy Kieling, president of the Princeton Area Community Foundation, cited data from a study conducted in the spring of 2007 that canvassed residents of Mercer County, Cranbury, Plainsboro, South Brunswick, Montgomery, Rocky Hill and part of Franklin Township.

   It found that although people in those central New Jersey towns are better educated, more ethnically and racially diverse, and have higher incomes — key indicators of community involvement — than national averages, they are no more likely to be involved in their communities than their national counterparts, Ms. Kieling said.

   Levels of volunteerism and civic engagement were found to be “average to low,” despite statistics that also said residents have smaller commutes and shorter workweeks than the national average.

   Without public space that encourages informal socializing, or bumping into people as might happen in a small town, people cannot network with each other, she said.
   ”Strip malls don’t make the same kind of connecting that town centers do,” she said.

Read More

Turning the Tide on Harnessing the Ocean's Abundant Energy

Several companies are in the midst of tests to determine whether their technology for harvesting renewable energy will sink or swim
By Larry Greenemeier

Three red snakelike devices bobbing in the waves three miles (4.8 kilometers) off the coast of Agucadoura, Portugal, represent the first swell of what developers hope will be a rising tide of wave power projects. Edinburgh-based Pelamis Wave Power, Ltd., (PWP) has since September been working with asset management firm Babcock & Brown, energy provider Energias de Portugal, and Efacec (a Portugese maker of electromechanical devices) on the Agucadoura project. This first phase will cost about $13 million and generate up to 2.25 megawatts. The company hopes to by early next year begin building installing another 25 wave-energy converters to increase the output to 21 megawatts, which is expected to serve the electricity needs of more than 15,000 Portuguese households.

Earth's oceans and rivers, pushed by wind and tugged by the moon and sun, ebb and flow over more than 70 percent of the planet, but only recently have researchers and scientists developed the materials and methods to finally harness some of that kinetic energy. There may not yet be a market for underwater turbines or wave-riding electrical generators designed to use ocean turbulence as a source of renewable energy, but that has not stopped a handful of entrepreneurs from trying to create one.

Although all renewable energy sources—sun, water and wind—suffer from peaks and troughs in productivity, "we consider wave energy to be more predictable than wind," says PWP CEO Phil Metcalf. "You look at the ocean 1,000 miles [1,600 kilometers] out, you'll get a good idea of what to expect over the next 24 to 48 hours. We think it's actually going to be easier to dispatch to the grid."

Read More

New Guide Helps Connecticut Communities

Plan for Agriculture

Jiff Martin, 860-638-4230, jmartin@farmland.org
Windsor, Connecticut, October 13, 2008—A growing number of local governments across the nation are recognizing the environmental and economic importance of farms and farmland. To help communities consider ways to support agriculture at the local level, American Farmland Trust (AFT) and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) have completed a joint publication: Planning for Agriculture: A Guide for Connecticut Municipalities.

This 62-page guide is designed as a tool to assist local governments in preserving and protecting agriculture in Connecticut as part of their local landscape, economy and natural resources. Divided into six simple yet informative sections, it is meant to help the reader fully understand the issues facing agriculture in Connecticut, what it means to municipalities and what steps can be taken to support agriculture in the state.

“Every community has its own community and agricultural character,” says AFT’s New England Field Representative Jiff Martin. “Regardless of how many working farms remain in an area, we encourage any community that values its farms and farmers to plan for agriculture, which is different than planning for open space. Planning for agriculture requires a proactive stance that recognizes farms as businesses and as important components of the landscape.”

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With Free Bikes, Challenging Car Culture on Campus

Published: October 19, 2008

BIDDEFORD, Me. — When Kylie Galliani started at the University of New England in August, she was given a key to her dorm, a class schedule and something more unusual: a $480 bicycle.

“I was like, ‘A free bike, no catch?’ ” Ms. Galliani, 17, a freshman from Fort Bragg, Calif., asked. “It’s really an ideal way to get around the campus.”

University administrators and students nationwide are increasingly feeling that way too.

The University of New England and Ripon College in Wisconsin are giving free bikes to freshmen who promise to leave their cars at home. Other colleges are setting up free bike sharing or rental programs, and some universities are partnering with bike shops to offer discounts on purchases.

Read More

Federal Officials Seek to Relax Rules for Dumping Mine Waste


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Interior Department has advanced a proposal that would ease restrictions on dumping mountaintop mining waste near rivers and streams, modifying protections that have been in place, though often circumvented, for a quarter-century.

The department’s Office of Surface Mining issued a final environmental analysis Friday on the proposed rule change, which has been under consideration for four years. It has been a priority of the surface mining industry.

It sets the stage for a final regulation, one of the last major environmental initiatives of the Bush administration, after 30 days of additional public comment and interagency review.

The proposed rule would rewrite a regulation enacted in 1983 that bars mining companies from dumping huge waste piles, known as “valley fills,” within 100 feet of any intermittent or perennial stream if the disposal affects water quality or quantity.

Read More

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