Wednesday, February 25, 2009

NtM - February 25, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Wednesday Morning,

In a headlined story at MidHudsonNews, Putnam County Executive Bob Bondi said, when talking about shopping, "We need facilities off the interstate highway system so that our families don’t have long distances to travel and not have to spend hours on the road.” And you know what he's referring to.

Just the other day I drove from Carmel to the Danbury Mall. Total time? 20 minutes. That's not hours. If I go from my house here in western Kent to the Mall it's 30 minutes. If I drive from here to the proposed Patterson Crossing site it's about 15 minutes or from Carmel, about 10. That extra 20 minutes or half hour is worth not having to pick up the tab for a shopping mall here in town. And I'm not all that convinced that the time wouldn't be longer once traffic at Routes 311 and 52 are taken into account.

But what's worse, is that Bondi was complaining about this in an article that said Putnam's sales tax revenues increased substantially in 2008 over 2007. He really does want it both ways. See the article below.

If the County Executive would like to spend "hours on the road" he might try driving from Route 84 and 312 into the Hamlet of Carmel at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. The thought of adding additional traffic to our roads without first alleviating the bottlenecks, simply boggles my mind.

Immigration is in the news again with a census report on those of Hispanic origin living in the US today. But before the Assemblyman Who Shall Not Be Named gets all up in arms, and the White Hooded brigades take to the arson of innocent wooden crosses, I thought I might take a look at the numbers over time and see what percentage of the US population was foreign born.

The numbers at the bottom refer to census data starting in 1850 (1) and ending in 2000 (16). The numbers up the left-hand side reflect the percentage of those foreign born in the United States according to the decennial census for that particular year.

As you can see, the years 1860 (2) through 1920 (8) had the greatest amount of foreign born residents and it coincides with the great immigration waves that brought most of our immediate forefathers to these shores. While there's been an increase over the past 30 years, the percentages are nowhere near where they were 60 years ago when our families got here.

If that doesn't calm the rhetoric there are other, more sinister reasons for it. In fact, I'm willing to bet the rhetoric is eerily similar to the cries of, "No Irish Need Apply" that were heard when they got here.

The other day I questioned some numbers put out by candidates for County sheriff that claimed a vast increase in crime, especially that of DWI's. What I wrote was that since it was not a crime normally reported, it was impossible to say whether there were more drunk drivers on the road or if the county's enforcement policies simply showed an increase in arrests. There's an article below that supports my contention.

Lastly, Friday's Things To Do Edition is all but blank! If your group or organization has something planned please let me know.

And now, The News:

  1. 2008 sales tax revenue soars in Putnam County
  2. Carmel hotel project moving forward, slowly
  3. Stopping DWIs in Putnam County is top priority, DA says
  4. Water Tank Does Not Constitute a Private Nuisance
  5. Carmel kids learn what economic stimulus package means to them
  6. French farmer is new sun king
  7. Slice of Stimulus Package Will Go to Faster Trains

2008 sales tax revenue soars in Putnam County

PUTNAM COUNTY — Despite a downturn in sales tax revenue for the final quarter of 2008, Putnam County had the distinction of generating the largest year-to-year growth of sales tax receipts in New York, according to the state Comptroller’s Office.

Commissioner of Finance William Carlin brought the news to members of the Legislature’s Audit and Administration Committee Monday when reporting total sales tax figures for 2008 at $51,053,415, an increase of $5.1 million over 2007 and $2.2 million more than budgeted in 2008.

Carlin attributed the increase to the legislature and county executive adopting a sales tax rate increase last year that Carlin said “helped keep county property taxes low while keeping services in order that residents expect to receive.”

Carlin called the current state of the economy “extremely difficult. Times are tough but as long as we can hold our own, Putnam County government will remain in good shape.”

Read More

Carmel hotel project moving forward, slowly

Barbara Livingston Nackman
The Journal News

CARMEL - The owner of a site planned for a much-anticipated hotel and conference center is ready to inch forward in his project by signing agreements with the Putnam County Industrial Development Agency next month.

Construction of the Staybridge Suites complex with 123 rooms plus a banquet hall, though, isn't expected to begin in the spring and might be done in phases rather than all at once, said Albert L. Salvatico, president of Jaral Properties on Long Island.

"We're moving forward in our planning," he said, strongly emphasizing the word "planning." "We want to keep things going with the Putnam County agencies, and that is where we are at this point."

Read More

Stopping DWIs in Putnam County is top priority, DA says

CARMEL — District Attorney Adam Levy is determined to stem the tide of DWI arrests across Putnam County.

Last year 660 motorists were arrested for drunken driving by state, county, town and village police from Cold Spring to Carmel and from Putnam Valley to Putnam Lake—a dramatic 35-percent increase over 2007 when 475 intoxicated motorists were taken off Putnam roads.

Levy discussed the matter with members of the Putnam Legislature’s Protective Services Committee Monday when he called for the implementation of a countywide alcohol awareness program.

Levy told Legislators Mary Ellen Odell of Carmel, Mary Conklin of Patterson and Sam Oliverio of Putnam Valley, “The numbers speak for themselves. In addition to educating students at local high schools about the dangers of drinking and driving, new innovative ways must be created to approach those individuals who drink and drive who are no longer in school.”

Read More

Water Tank Does Not Constitute a Private Nuisance

A Town’s construction of a water tank 30 foot-high and 35 feet in diameter on an adjacent parcel does not constitute a private nuisance.  A private nuisance is an intentional interference with a person’s right to use and enjoy his or her property that is “substantial in nature” and “unreasonable in character”.  Copart Indus v. Consolidated Edison Co. of N.Y., 41 N.Y. 2d 564, 570 (1977).  Court rejected plaintiff’s allegations that the water tank would substantially interfere with the use and enjoyment of the property because it will be located approximately 60 feet from the property line and clearly visible from all parts of their back yard. 

The Court found that “things that are merely disagreeable, which simply displeases the eye no matter how irritating or unpleasant, are not nuisances.  The mere fact that the tower will be visible through their home is insufficient to raise an inference of substantial interference no matter how unsightly”.  The trial court had earlier dismissed the allegations that the placement of the water tank constituted a taking and that it was a public nuisance.

Balunas v. Town of Owego, 867 N.Y.S. 2d 788 (3d Dept 10/6/2008). 

Read More

Carmel kids learn what economic stimulus package means to them

PATTERSON — Congressman John Hall brought the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act down to the level of 12-year-olds during a visit to the George Fischer Middle School.

The 19th District Representative whose district encompasses all of Putnam County as well as sections of Dutchess, Westchester, Orange and Rockland counties, told some 150 seventh graders Monday at Putnam’s largest middle school located in Patterson, the stimulus package approved last week by Congress and signed into law by President Obama meant a great deal for their future.

“Your class sizes will be kept small while your teachers and teachers’ aides will be kept on the job,” he said. “Money has been set aside for school improvements and construction. The bill also affects your future because as you mature and attend high school, classes will become more competitive and when you further your education in college, loans will become available while making college more affordable.”

Read More

French farmer is new sun king

By Gus Trompiz

WEINBOURG, France (Reuters) - Bright winter sun dissolves a blanket of snow on barn roofs to reveal a bold new sideline for Jean-Luc Westphal: besides producing eggs and grains, he is to generate solar power for thousands of homes.

Economic crisis has cast doubt on funding hopes for many big renewable energy projects, but the giant panels built into roofs on this sloping farm at the foot of the Vosges hills in eastern France are attracting attention from farmers to financiers.

Westphal is one of a small but growing band of farmers in the European Union's biggest agricultural producer who are taking up new incentives for solar power to supplement farm incomes as well as help France meet renewable energy targets.

Read More

Slice of Stimulus Package Will Go to Faster Trains


It may be the longest train delay in history: more than 40 years after the first bullet trains zipped through Japan, the United States still lacks true high-speed rail. And despite the record $8 billion investment in high-speed rail added at the last minute to the new economic stimulus package, that may not change any time soon.

That money will not be enough to pay for a single bullet train, transportation experts say. And by the time the $8 billion gets divided among the 11 regions across the country that the government has designated as high-speed rail corridors, they say, it is unlikely to do much beyond paying for long-delayed improvements to passenger lines, and making a modest investment in California’s plan for a true bullet train.

In the short term, the money — inserted at the 11th hour by the White House — could put people to work improving tracks, crossings and signal systems.

That could help more trains reach speeds of 90 to 110 miles per hour, which is much faster than they currently go. It is much slower, however, than high-speed trains elsewhere, like the 180 m.p.h. of the newest Japanese bullet train. (The Acela trains on the East Coast are capable of 150 m.p.h., but average around half that.)

Read More

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