Monday, July 27, 2009

News That Matters - July 27, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

Alana Amram and the Rough Gems with special guests Adira and David and Lora Lee Ecobelli
at Arts on the Lake, Saturday July 24.

Good Monday Morning,

There was recycling at the 4H Fair! Yes indeed, a little activism on our part last year created an environment where this advance could take place. Kudos to the county's solid waste management director for properly saying that recycling was a public health issue and a hearty "You Are Welcome!" to those from CCE who thanked me in person over the weekend for leading that effort last year. Next year, composting for the hundreds of ears of corn that get sold...
As has become usual, I worked the Town's Stormwater tent and over the three days of the Fair and we spoke to about 200 people all in all. This is a bit shy of last year but then attendance seemed down overall. Behind our tent was the music stage and immediately next to us was UMAC, the martial arts center in Carmel, which gives rapid-fire and *very loud* presentations once every hour. We use that time to sit down and take a break since you can't to talk to anyone while the presentation is in progress. Well, you can, but you'd have to YELL REALLY LOUD and no one wants to talk stormwater when there's a 10 year old girl smashing boards to hard rock music.

While I'm sitting there watching the 2:30 demo yesterday I glance up and notice one of 'those people' I wrote about at the top of Friday's column standing away from the crowd snapping cell phone pictures - of me! I hope the lighting was good and he got my best side!

We need to thank Kent's supervisor, Kathy Doherty for her support in getting the word out about stormwater issues and Councilman Tartaro and Library Director Frank Rees for the loan of a laptop so we could play our PSA's for those who stopped by.
A volunteer who helped me out at the 4H Fair on Friday afternoon mentioned that he didn't ride a bicycle for local transportation as the roads in Mahopac were too dangerous. On Saturday an article appeared in the paper saying that a man had been hit on Route 6 in that town almost 5 years to the day after he was first struck by another car near the same location. When our children can't safely ride their bicycles, maybe the efforts of the Sheriff's and local PD's on drunk driving might be redirected a bit towards making our roads safer - during the day. Bicycles have equal rights on our roads and streets and drivers need to understand that.
Last week I also wrote to say that I thought my propane company was ripping me off and many of you wrote back to say in essence, if you think you're using too much propane there's a problem somewhere. Well, there's a problem. My apparent use of that precious commodity seems to be well beyond what others are using but I don't know how to prove it. I had a bit of a problem with the lines last spring and had the company come in and run a check for leaks. They found none. And, after replacing the valves and whatnots installed a generation ago and turning off the gas at every available spot, I'm still using the exact same amount. Something is wrong but I don't know how to find out what. If it's fraud, someone owes me a LOT of money. If it's something wrong with the system here, the danger, so I've been told, is extreme. Either way, it's not comfortable. I have no idea what the next step is but there's no way on the face of this earth I'm using a gallon a day and at $3.999 a gallon, which is what Burnwell is charging, I'm soon going to have to rob a bank to pay them.

According to an article in the NYJN, the Putnam County Legislature is seeking a change in the County Charter to allow them to make mid-year budget and/or service cuts, a power now held solely by the County Executive. Stating a significant loss in sales tax revenues, County legislator Dan Birmingham is leading the charge for the change. The county executive has challenged the Legislature to offer specific cuts but the Leg has responded that it's not their job to do so under the current charter. To me, if the Leg wants that authority they should offer those specifics and not wait for a change in the Charter to do so.

Lastly (and finally!) this Monday morning, the Eastern Putnam County Chapter of the League of Women Voters held a membership event yesterday at Sycamore Park in Mahopac. For those of you who missed it, the baked beans were great and the potato salad was, as they say, to die for. And the people were nice too!

And now, The News:
  1. Hundreds swim the Hudson from Newburgh to Beacon
  2. State, local factions struggle to control Putnam's Independence Party
  3. Thousands flock to Dutchess Rail Trail
  4. Stricter Phosphorus Standards Needed
  5. A plan to encourage bicycling beyond 'trophy trails'
  6. Delaware Aqueduct Leak
  7. Water Negotiator Aaron Wolf Spreads Liquid Hope

Hundreds swim the Hudson from Newburgh to Beacon

NEWBURGH-BEACON – Some 250 dove into the Hudson River Saturday to swim the one mile to raise money for the River Pool at Beacon, a swimming pool in the Hudson.

A fleet of kayakers escorted them across.

The floating pool was the brainchild of folk music legend Pete Seeger of Beacon, who led the swimmers on a song-filled rally in Newburgh prior to their swim.

Melissa Everett, executive director of Sustainable Hudson Valley, participated in the swim for the first time. “We’re understanding more as we study the historic economy and the emergency economy just how much work there is to do in preserving the river, building clean and green along with it,” she said.

Read More

State, local factions struggle to control Putnam's Independence Party

Susan Elan

An executive committee member of the state Independence Party has accused state Sen. Vincent Leibell, R-Patterson, of trying to seize control of Putnam's Independence Party, the county's third-largest political party, to sway local elections in favor of Republican candidates.

"Senator Leibell is hijacking our party for his own personal agenda," said Dhyalma Vazquez, chairwoman of the Yonkers Independence Party and secretary of Westchester County's Independence Party. "He's packing the party in Putnam County in his favor to chew up the opponents and spit them out."

Vazquez's accusation comes amid a power struggle between the state and Putnam committees over who can nominate and authorize candidates for public office in Putnam and who controls any money raised.

On May 17, state Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay signed a notarized resolution stating that only the state executive committee can exercise power in Putnam County in 2009 and 2010.

Read More

Thousands flock to Dutchess Rail Trail

POUGHKEEPSIE – Saturday’s beautiful weather brought people in droves to the new Phase II of the Dutchess Rail Trail, which opened two weeks ago.

Thousands of residents and visitors come to enjoy walking, running, rollerblading, biking and more.

Comments from users have been overwhelmingly positive, although many users have found they are out on the trail far longer than they originally anticipated because they meet up with friends or get chatting with other trail users.

Clarence Browne, a Town of Poughkeepsie resident who lives near Marist College, has already been out on trail several times since the official opening on July 9 and even recently purchased a new bike so he could ride the trail.

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Stricter Phosphorus Standards Needed

Riverkeeper supports the NY State Assembly Bill 8914 which calls for reducing the use of products that contain phosphorus in New York State. Phosphorus, which is currently found in some lawn fertilizers and household cleaning products, is a hazardous chemical when it makes its way into our waterways through lawn run-off and dumping into our sewers.

Read letter to NYS Assemblyman Sweeney in support of a statewide Phosphorus bill.

Read More

A plan to encourage bicycling beyond 'trophy trails'

Alexander Roberts

They are baby steps, but the Lower Hudson Valley is cycling toward a greener future.

In June, New Rochelle held a public hearing on a new ordinance requiring, "Off-street bicycle parking facilities shall be provided for any structure or use requiring site plan approval." It would mandate the accommodation of one bicycle parking space for each 10 required car parking spaces, and would apply to all multi-family dwellings of 10 units or more and mixed use buildings that require at least 10 parking spaces. Where any bicycle parking spaces are required, the owner would have to supply a bicycle rack with at least two spaces. The cost for this revolution: a few hundred dollars for a bike rack.

The hearing attracted about a dozen people, who were generally enthusiastic, thanks to a newly invigorated Westchester Cycle Club and Westchester Biking and Walking Alliance that is promoting bicycling as a legitimate means of transportation. (Cycling enthusiasts have been just as active in Rockland County, which has long been a magnet for cyclists escaping the traffic-clogged streets of New York City and New Jersey. - Editor.)

An even more ambitious proposal in Bedford would require widening the existing shoulders to a consistent 4 feet for 3.5 miles on Bedford Center Road between Route 117 in Bedford Hills and the Bedford Cross at Route 22 to make it safer for bike riders.

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Delaware Aqueduct Leak

Constructed between 1937 and 1945, the Delaware Aqueduct draws from four reservoirs – the Cannonsville, Pepacton, Neversink and Rondout – to provide between 50 and 80 percent of the City’s daily water demand. The 84-mile aqueduct consists of three distinct pressure tunnels connecting the Rondout Reservoir in Ulster County to the Hillview Reservoir in Yonkers, and crosses the Hudson River at a depth of 600 feet below the river’s surface. With the bulk of New York City’s drinking water supplied by the Delaware Aqueduct, restoration of its deteriorating condition is critical.

Two leaks in the Rondout-West Branch Tunnel, located at Wawarsing and Roseton, threaten the aqueduct with significant water loss or catastrophic collapse. Leak data indicates that the 33 to 37 million gallons per day escaping from the two leaks does not account for all of the water missing from the aqueduct. A leak below the Hudson River is an even more worrisome prospect.

Read More

Water Negotiator Aaron Wolf Spreads Liquid Hope

by Tom Jacobs, from Miller-McCune

In the early ’90s, as Aaron Wolf was finishing his doctoral dissertation, the Madrid Middle East peace process was just getting under way. The two sides decided to tackle five sets of regional issues, including the equitable division of water resources. As a budding expert on the subject—his research focused on the Jordan River and its dual role as “a flashpoint and a vehicle for dialogue”—Wolf agreed to advise the U.S. team designing the talks.

Fifteen years later, one remnant of that failed attempt at Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking remains: the water negotiations. “They still go on,” Wolf says. “The two sides have cooperative projects. In the second intifada, when they realized how much violence there was going to be, they took out a joint advertisement asking both sides to try to protect the water infrastructure.”

The lessons of that enduring success have stayed with Wolf as he has pursued a remarkable dual career as an Oregon State University (OSU) scholar studying water-resource issues and a hands-on mediator of water disputes around the world. Water, he has come to understand, is so central to the human experience that it can help even bitter enemies find common purpose.

“That’s what’s so heartening about this,” the gentle geoscientist says. “Water can be used as a means for people of different ideological backgrounds to talk about a shared vision of the future.”

Read More

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