Posted by: Dawn Powell | September 21, 2011

Putnam Valley Town Board – Irregular Meeting 9/14/11

THE DEC MEETING – September 14, 2011

 I have to admit, he cracks me up.  Bob really makes me laugh.  He announced his “regularly scheduled town board work session.”  He says he never reads the blogs, where I call his irregular meetings irregular, but he makes a point to call it regular.  This one is more irregular than usual.  It is nowhere to be found on the website!  It’s supposed to be a secret.  (After this went to press, the meeting was posted and is now up.)

 After scheduling a special meeting with people from the DEC to talk about flooding, and dragging 4 DEC people away from the flood inundated state, Bob announced an exec session.  That wasn’t funny at all.  But the TB went into the backroom and left everyone waiting for half an hour.  After everyone found a way to entertain themselves, Bob deigned to reappear, and said, “Let’s get this show on the road.” His time is important.  The rest of us, not so much. They must have been talking about the Cornus, the TB’s newest targets, because Cinque and Zutt kept going in and out.

 It was a big week for him.  He scheduled a special meeting for Thursday because his response to the hurricane was so poor.  Guys, he’s been there for 9 years.  It’s not going to get better than this unless you get rid of him.

 But the DEC meeting.  There is a couple with 5 kids who have a serious flooding problem with the Peekskill Hollow Creek.  This is the kind of theater that Bob loves.  I’m not sure why this sort of thing ever gets to be the focus of a Town Board meeting.  He was trying to push an accelerated wetlands permit for this couple, but he hasn’t even identified what they would be getting a permit to do.  So how long have they had the house?  If they purchased it recently, was there a home inspection?  Did a professional engineer sign off on it?  Did the prior owners or realtor know there was a flooding problem.  Or is the problem new?  I have heard quite a few complaints about increased flooding in the vicinity of the cemetery.  There was new construction there.  Has that increased runoff?  There was a house built on the hill that had a septic failure?  Has that impacted the runoff?  Has anyone talked to the wetlands inspector?  Wouldn’t that be appropriate?

 I thought it was a good presentation.  The second presenter, in response to questions, tried to explain how short-handed the DEC is.  I know from firsthand experience that the cuts started there before the showy cuts that were made to make us feel the pain.  When Patterson wanted to close some state parks, and there was public objection, he opted to decrease enforcement.  At the time, I didn’t think it was a good compromise.  With the severe upstate flooding, how about, instead of pushing along repairs and ensuring that we keep making the same mistakes, what if we rehired some of those laid off DEC employees.  Bob never has a good word to say about the DEC, but I have always had good experiences.  We have vastly different perspectives on it.

   This year, we’ve had lots more rain than usual. We have streams and lakes and lots of bedrock.   And we have been building roads and houses as if none of this mattered.  A lot of people in the community live on the low side of a road, and their basements are flooded any time there is a heavy rain.  Houses and roads have been built on wetlands and in floodplains, and flooding has been a problem ever since.  It’s getting worse now.

 Road and house building methods have improved.  We have stormwater drainage and mitigations for wetlands.  But we need to do more and start to resolve problems that have been created over the years.  And we need to further improve the zoning code, and interpretations of that code.

 The third speaker from the DEC talked about the restoration effort that will help us with these problems – planting riparian buffers (unlike Bob’s continued assaults on river sides), natural plantings in parking lots and next to roads (instead of now  antiquated storm drains), rain gardens, permeable parking, green roofs.  The DEC website tells you how.  Their site is very useful.

 They have a program called Trees for Tribs.  They will help to vegetate streamside areas, provide a plan, and provide native shrubs and trees.  I was pleased to hear that in spite of Bob’s do nothing administration, there was a project in Putnam Valley at Eden Camp, formerly Camp Welmet.  Why not the schools, the other camps, the Town Park, Oregon Corners? I’m sure we can find lots of places.  Innovative local solutions are available.    

 Bob didn’t seem to hear any of it.  He just kept pushing the speaker to expedite a wetlands permit for this couple who don’t have a project.

 I know someone who tuned in for the meeting, hoping it would be live, and instead got Vinnie Leibell.  Interesting. 

 Bob doesn’t send out his irregular meetings live.  Only the regular ones.

 Great presentation, and if you tune in on streaming media, you won’t have to wait for Bob’s ubiquitous executive sessions.  That is, if they bother to post the video at all.  (As noted above, the meeting is now posted, although possibly not in time to save you from the regular meeting.) 

 Since Bob’s regular meeting this week is filled with lots of politics, and really boring politics, you might want to catch the irregular meeting instead.

 Adopt cats. Buy bagels.  Save sea turtles.

 And let’s pardon the turkeys too.

 DP


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