Thursday, March 5, 2009

NtM - March 5, 2009

News That Matters
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Good Thursday Morning,

Tomorrow (Friday) brings the weekly Things to Do edition of News That Matters so if your organization is planning an event for this weekend or early next week, please get it in to us today. Each week I ask the same thing and each week I receive notifications well after the issue has gone to press, too late for inclusion in the edition.

The ultra-violet rating for today is a 5. (Out of 10) This is the measurement of how strong the UV rays from the sun are. During the winter the rating numbers are down in the 1-2 range but now that the sun is higher in the sky everything is changing. So, while the air may feel cold, stand still for a moment with your face to the sun and you'll know spring is here.

Kent Manor is in the news again (see below) as it was in this column last week. I still have a question about it. I know county officials read this column and wonder about their lack of comment but here goes again anyway: How is it that the county allowed Kent Manor to owe them nearly $3 million in back taxes without foreclosing? Huh? The Town of Kent is being sued with Judge O'Rourke on the bench so we all know what's going to happen. Once he rules against us the town should sue the county for allowing this to go on as long as it did. I'd support that.

Remember when the county received a $10 million "gift" from the Ziff family for mucking up the Walter G, Merritt parkland and Bondi said he might use some of that money to recreate Kent Manor as a golf course? Okay... what happened? (He also said he'd use the same money to reopen Butterfield Hospital and we see where that got us.) If he was playing with ideas for the land, why didn't he take it for back taxes like he would your house?

Legislators in North Dakota have passed a bill that creates a sex offense category for showing a picture of your sonogram to others. Under the proposed law the fetus is a "full person" and being under the age of 18... well, you see where that's going. Not to be outdone, there's a bill floating in the West Virginia house to ban the sale of "Barbie" dolls and any other doll that encourages, as the bill says, "It shall be unlawful in the state to sell "Barbie" dolls and other similar dolls that promote or influence girls to place an undue importance on physical beauty to the detriment of their intellectual and emotional development." I wish I could make this stuff up.

General Motors is saying that unless we start buying their Hummers they're going out of business or we can give them $31 billion taxpayer dollars. Whichever comes first.

And now, The News:

  1. Trial for Kent Manor damages set for July
  2. Millions at stake in bottle bill
  3. (CT) Agreement made to purchase open space
  4. American Farmland Trust to Offer Technical Assistance to Connecticut Municipalities Seeking Farmland Protection 
  5. Is The Dead Sea Dying? Levels Dropping At Alarming Rate
  6. Select Roses Survive With Minimal Care
  7. Mets’ New Home Is the ‘Anti-Shea’

Trial for Kent Manor damages set for July

Michael Risinit
The Journal News

KENT - The legal saga over the controversial Kent Manor project could come to some conclusion during the summer, when lawyers for the town and the developer are due in court to determine what Kent must pay for delaying the construction of hundreds of townhomes.

State Supreme Court Justice Andrew O'Rourke has set a trial date of July 20 to figure out the town's liability - an order the town has appealed. The county, too, has recently appealed an order from O'Rourke concerning its role in the Kent Manor legal wranglings.

But whether the town can make good on a large award to the developer remains to be seen. The plaintiff is seeking "in excess of $15 million," according to a letter from Kent's insurance carrier.

"There is a limit of liability of $1,000,000 and a $5,000 deductible," Lisa Weber, a managing claims counsel, for the New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal wrote to the town in September.

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Millions at stake in bottle bill

Putting a nickel deposit on water, fruit juice and other containers uncaps debate
By BRIAN NEARING, Staff writer
Click byline for more stories by writer.
First published: Thursday, March 5, 2009

ALBANY — The potential fate of more than 4 billion non-returnable bottles and more than $100 million in bottle deposit returns drew a standing-room-only crowd to the state Senate's first hearing on a proposed expansion of New York's bottle bill.

On one side at the hearing convened by the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee were supporters of Gov. David Paterson's effort to expand the 5-cent bottle deposit on soda and beer to apply to water, sports drinks and other non-carbonated beverages. On the other side were large retailers and bottlers who see the law — in place since 1982 — as a messy, expensive inconvenience that drives up prices.

Holding up a soda bottle and a water bottle, Laura Haight, an environmental analyst with the New York Public Interest Research Group, noted that because of the deposit the soda bottle is four times more likely to be recycled.

"These beverages are a much larger part of the market than they used to be," she said. "This law will keep millions of bottles out of the landfills."

Industry leaders argued for the status quo, in which bottling companies get to keep the unredeemed nickels — worth more than $100 million a year.

Read More

(CT) Agreement made to purchase open space

The Herald Staff writer

WETHERSFIELD — The town is close to final approval for the purchase of a 81 acres of open space.

Town Council members announced last week that an agreement had been reached to purchase 81 acres of the Wilkus Farm property for $3.5 million.

The land includes 24 acres on the east side of Willow Street, 22.5 acres on the west side of the road and 34.5 acres on Thornbrush Road.

It is a property the town has eyed for quite some time, with many saying there are very few chances to purchase parcels of its size in town. Several years ago, local voters approved $4 million in open-space funds. The farmland had been considered the most desirable piece to save from development.

“A parcel like this doesn’t come our way too often,” Mayor Andrew Adil said.

Adil said the Trust for Public Land has worked on the proposal, negotiating a lower price for the land than the family of the late Wilkus brothers had initially wanted.

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American Farmland Trust to Offer Technical Assistance to Connecticut Municipalities Seeking Farmland Protection 

Jiff Martin: 860-683-4230,
Kachina Walsh-Weaver: 203-498-3026,
Windsor, Connecticut, February 25, 2009—To help communities consider ways to support agriculture at the local level, American Farmland Trust (AFT) and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) released a joint publication in October of 2008: Planning for Agriculture: A Guide for Connecticut Municipalities.  This 62-page guide was designed as a tool to assist local governments in preserving and protecting agriculture in Connecticut.
Building on the success of this report, AFT and CCM recently invited applications for up to 25 hours of technical assistance to implement some of the strategies discussed in the guide.   AFT and CCM were pleased to receive eleven applications from towns across the state.  Out of these applicants, the project’s advisory team selected six municipalities to receive technical assistance.

Read More

Is The Dead Sea Dying? Levels Dropping At Alarming Rate

ScienceDaily (Mar. 5, 2009) — The water levels in the Dead Sea - the deepest point on Earth - are dropping at an alarming rate with serious environmental consequences, according to Shahrazad Abu Ghazleh and colleagues from the University of Technology in Darmstadt, Germany.

The projected Dead Sea-Red Sea or Mediterranean-Dead Sea Channels therefore need a significant carrying capacity to re-fill the Dead Sea to its former level, in order to sustainably generate electricity and produce freshwater by desalinization. The study also shows that the drop in water levels is not the result of climate change; rather it is due to ever-increasing human water consumption in the area.

Normally, the water levels of closed lakes such as the Dead Sea reflect climatic conditions - they are the result of the balance between water running into the lake from the tributary area and direct precipitation, minus water evaporation. In the case of the Dead Sea, the change in water level is due to intensive human water consumption from the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers for irrigation, as well as the use of Dead Sea water for the potash industry by both Israel and Jordan. Over the last 30 years, this water consumption has caused an accelerated decrease in water level (0.7 m/a), volume (0.47 km³/a) and surface area (4 km² /a), according to this study.

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Select Roses Survive With Minimal Care

ScienceDaily (Mar. 4, 2009) — Roses have long been a favorite of gardeners, but they often require a lot of work to thrive. And the emphasis on organics has more home gardeners concerned about the environment and reluctant to use pesticides.

W. A. Mackay of Texas A&M University led a study comparing several varieties of roses to determine which grow best with minimal care under certain conditions. The results were published in the American Society for Horticultural Science journal HortTechnology.

Read More

Mets’ New Home Is the ‘Anti-Shea’


For those fans who hated Shea Stadium, fear not: Citi Field is nothing like its predecessor, the last bits of which lie in ruins a few hundreds yards away.

The Mets’ new park, which will open its doors for a Georgetown-St. John’s baseball game March 29, is far more intimate than Shea and corrects some of Shea’s worst faults.

Citi Field will hold about 42,000 fans, 15,000 fewer than Shea. The park is enclosed and many seats wrap around the outfield, so it feels much cozier than Shea’s open-ended bowl, which favored watching football.

During an extensive tour of Citi Field on Tuesday, Jeff Wilpon, the team’s chief operating officer, spoke in the Acela Club, a restaurant in left field that will have 550 seats, table service, a bar and wine cabinets for frequent patrons.

“There’s all this light and air, and then you’re looking back at the field,” Wilpon said. “We want to make people feel they’re in a living room.”

Read More

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