Tuesday, September 03, 2013


Democrats are alive and well and working in Dryden! Visit our official website here.

Lots has happened since my last post. After the Town Board passed a zoning amendment in August 2011 making it clear that gas drilling is not allowed in the Town of Dryden, Anschutz Exploration, Inc filed suit to overturn the amendment claiming that the town's land use authority is preempted by state law regulating the gas industry. In November 2011, we successfully defended the amendment in court and swept local elections.

The Town continued working to update zoning regulations to conform with the 2005 Comprehensive plan and in 2012 the Town Board passed a much clearer updated zoning ordinance - including the gas drilling prohibition. Anschutz declined to pursue an appeal of the Tompkins County Supreme Court decision. Norse Energy sold nearly all their assets in New York and bought at least one lease from Anschutz. Norse was allowed to file the appeal Anschutz had abandoned and filed for bankruptcy reorganization shortly thereafter. 

In May 2013, the NYS Appellate Division upheld the lower court decision and Norse's attorney promptly filed for permission to appeal. Last week the NYS Court of Appeals agreed to hear the case and new set briefs will be filed by both sides by the end of this year. The Court of Appeals hearing could be scheduled as early as May 2014.

This goes on alongside the work the town board normally does. We've won two awards for the Varna Development Plan. We've gotten Varna traffic improvements on the regional Transportation Improvement Plan. We've developed a strong Road Protection Program. The Conservation Board has mapped and described areas which qualify for protection as Critical Environmental Areas. We formed the Agricultural Advisory Committee to strengthen policy decision input from the agricultural community. The Planning Board is reviewing the Comprehensive Plan to evaluate what updates may be necessary to conform with accepted sustainability goals. We launched a monthly newsletter to help residents know more about what the town offers. The Conservation Board, with input from the Recreation Commission and Agricultural Advisory Committee, is developing an Open Space Plan. We're continuing plans for the Varna Trail from Game Farm Road to Mount Pleasant.

Meantime, Democrats swept Village of Dryden elections with Mayor Zimmer and two new Trustees willing and able to take on the village's serious water supply issues and build a strong working relationship with the town.

Now we're launching another campaign to re-elect Supervisor Sumner and Councilperson Leifer and to elect a new candidate for Town Board, Greg Sloan and a new candidate for Highway Superintendent. 



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ellis Hollow Fair

The Varna Fire Truck is always a kid magnet. This year the fire department also brought a display borrowed from the McLean Fire department to help kids learn to "stay low" in a smoke filled room.
Varna Fire Chief Roy Rizzo


 The fair is always fun - music, food, horses, vendors. who could ask for more.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Images from Dairy Day 2011

Dryden Ahead of the Game on Gas Drilling

No matter where you stand on the issue, it's pretty clear that Supervisor Sumner and the Town Board are moving ahead rapidly with all of the potential protections the town needs.
Sumner said they have been hard at work on the issue, finishing their own work on their town's critical environmental areas and hiring an engineering firm to perform road assessments and help them draft road protection laws. They're also considering an aquifer protection ordinance and have added an industrial noise ordinance to their proposed new zoning code.

"I feel like we're doing pretty well, we've benefited from the experience of Pennsylvania (where gas drilling is currently going on)," she said. "We have some breathing space until gas companies move further north, but we're not resting."

Labels: , ,

Monday, October 13, 2008

Town Board Candidates

After nearly two years of presidential campaigning, it may be easy to lose sight of local elections, but in the past week Jason Leifer's campaign signs have been popping up around town. I've had the pleasure of working with Jason on the Town Board this year. He's been an active member of the finance, technology, block grant, community center and personnel committees, as well as liaison to the Recreation Commission.

On the technology committee, Jason helped write the successful grant application for state funding for wireless broadband access. He's now working to update the the Time-Warner franchise agreement as well as keeping town hall technology up to date.

The community center committee has implemented grant program to help fund long needed repairs and improvements in the Ellis Hollow, Varna and Etna community centers as well as helping the new Cafe in the Village of Dryden.

Jason has successfully promoted a program to use long dormant block grant funding to help residents pay for weatherization home improvements. The block grant committee has also forged partnerships with Tompkins County Area Development to promote economic development in Dryden and with Alternatives Federal Credit Union for small business development.

I'm happy to support Jason in his campaign to continue on the Town Board.

This morning I found the new webpage for the Republican candidate for Town Board. Interesting to get a glimpse of a photo of the candidate. I've never met him. To the best of my knowledge, he's never been to a Town Board meeting. I had regularly attended Town Board meetings, including budget hearings for more than a year before running for office and I still found the learning curve pretty steep.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Governor Paterson in Ithaca


Governor Paterson was in Ithaca yesterday to announce a grant of $104,000 to Tompkins Community Action to provide home weatherization assistance to Tompkins County elders. Governor Paterson was joined by (L-R) NYS Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, Ithaca Mayor Carolyn Peterson, NYS Senator George Winner and US Representative Maurice Hinchey.

HeatSmartNY.org links to some useful information, but you may get more specific information by calling the Tompkins County Helpline: 211.

Note also that the Town of Dryden is implementing a $300,000 grant for safety and energy home improvements for income-eligible homeowners. Contact the Supervisor's office for more information.


I enjoyed watching these young spectators, tired of the speeches, making shadows on the sidewalk.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Obama's Health Care Plan

Oh, dear. I've been away so long, it's hard to know where to start.

Here's one thought.

I found the link to this Wall Street Journal article on my favorite economist's blog, Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal

Why Obama's Health Plan Is Better - WSJ.com

Sen. Obama's proposal will modernize our current system of employer- and government-provided health care, keeping what works well, and making the investments now that will lead to a more efficient medical system. He does this in five ways:
- Learning. One-third of medical costs go for services at best ineffective and at worst harmful. Fifty billion dollars will jump-start the long-overdue information revolution in health care to identify the best providers, treatments and patient management strategies.
- Rewarding. Doctors and hospitals today are paid for performing procedures, not for helping patients. Insurers make money by dumping sick patients, not by keeping people healthy. Mr. Obama proposes to base Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals and doctors on patient outcomes (lower cholesterol readings, made and kept follow-up appointments) in a coordinated effort to focus the entire payment system around better health, not just more care.
- Pooling. The Obama plan would give individuals and small firms the option of joining large insurance pools. With large patient pools, a few people incurring high medical costs will not topple the entire system, so insurers would no longer need to waste time, money and resources weeding out the healthy from the sick, and businesses and individuals would no longer have to subject themselves to that costly and stressful process.
- Preventing. In today's health-care market, less than one dollar in 25 goes for prevention, even though preventive services -- regular screenings and healthy lifestyle information -- are among the most cost-effective medical services around. Guaranteeing access to preventive services will improve health and in many cases save money.
- Covering. Controlling long-run health-care costs requires removing the hidden expenses of
the uninsured. The reforms described above will lower premiums by $2,500 for the typical family, allowing millions previously priced out of the market to afford insurance.

Note that in every way, this is designed to reduce health care insurance premiums for both individuals and employers.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Beck Farm Tour

Beck Farms hosted a gathering yesterday to give local policy makers more insight into farm life. The message loud and clear is that one after another, economic and legislative changes challenge farmers. With each wave of changes a few more farmers quit and some of the rest grow larger.

In New York, large farms are still "family farms." Russ is a third generation co-owner of Beck Farms. Russ's grandfather, Martin, started the farm in the 1920s with twenty cows. I met the Becks in the 1980s, when Martin was in his 90s and Russ was working with his father Ron. Becks now farm more than 2,000 acres and milk 1,200 cows.

I've had great respect for the Becks' skill and ethics for the twenty-five years I've known them. The romantic in my heart still loves the image of cows grazing in lush green pastures and the rich yellow cream in milk from grass fed cows. But the Becks and their workers know a lot more than I do about what it takes to get a hundredweight of milk to market. Above all, healthy, relaxed cows make more milk. It was much more comfortable in this open barn with its dozens of fans than it was outside.


Feed components, including corn and grass and alfalfa hay, are stored in these bunkers.






They're measured out by this bucket loader into the feed wagon which spreads them in front of the cows.

People in the crowd asked about bovine growth hormone (BGH.) There's so much contradictory information in the popular press, I haven't made any effort to take a stance. While I doubt the reassurance of reporters and farmers I don't know, I do know the Becks. I know how well educated they are and how much they care about their business. So, I'm prepared to accept that BGH is a protein that's digested by the cows and does not affect the milk.


The tour ended back at this tent where it began and ice cream was served! Among those still listening after the two hour tour were, from Dryden:

  • Town Board members David Makar and Jason Leifer

  • Building Department head, Henry Slater

  • Environmental Planner Dan Kwasnowski

  • Highway Superintendent Jack Bush

  • Planning Board member Marty Hatch

  • Attorney Mahlon Perkins

  • Conservation Board Chair Craig Scutt

  • County Legislator Mike Hattery
This is Ms 4562 - not a great name, but she's a pretty good looking cow.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Volunteer First Responders

This legislation may be a good sound-bite for co-sponsor NYS Senator Seward and Governor Patterson, but I can't imagine it's actually going to help our volunteer firefighters and EMTs. From the Ithaca Journal:

A bill [S4617A] that recently passed both houses of the state Legislature and was signed by Gov. David Paterson on Tuesday will give volunteer firefighters and EMTs expanded opportunities to secure health insurance... By allowing volunteer fire and ambulance companies to access the health insurance plan offered to municipal employees, volunteers will be able to purchase health insurance at a group cost.

Here's the full text of the bill:

AN ACT to amend the general municipal law, in relation to the establishment of a volunteer firefighter and ambulance worker health program.

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

Section 1. Section 92-a of the general municipal law is amended by adding a new subdivision 7 to read as follows:

7. The provisions of this section shall apply for coverage of volunteer firefighters, as defined in section three of the volunteer firefighters' benefit law, and volunteer ambulance workers, as defined in subdivision one of section three of the volunteer ambulance workers' benefit law, provided however, that the total cost of participation by such volunteers and their families shall be borne by such volunteers.

Section 2. This act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth day after it shall have become a law, provided however, that nothing in this act shall be construed to affect any existing enrollment periods in effect within any political subdivision.

That's it. That's the entire law. I'm hunting for Municipal Law Section 92-a. I suppose it has to do with who's eligible for municipal health insurance coverage. But it appears to me that six months from now, volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers can ask the Town to provide health insurance for which the volunteer will pay the full price.

First of all, Town of Dryden employees are all covered by Teamsters health insurance and we're only allowed to cover a limited number of non-Teamster members. Maybe we can work that out with the Teamsters.

Secondly, the Teamsters insurance is pretty expensive. I'll check the rate later today. But it's hundreds of dollars a month. I wonder how many volunteers who need insurance could afford that?

So, it sounds to me like it's up to local government again. Let's find out if providing health insurance would help in recruiting and retaining volunteers. If it will, let's figure out how to do it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Things Take Time...

On West Wing staffers referred to Friday press releases as "taking out the trash." Stories released on Friday don't get as much attention over the weekend as weekday stories. That seems to be the fate of Friday's story about the EPA's report on the public welfare threat of global warming. I heard about it on The News Hour. But PBS didn't post it on the website. This LA Times article is very similar to the PBS story. This NY Times article has a different perspective.

As I understand it, last year the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases are air pollutants subject to federal regulation under the Clean Air Act. If the EPA finds they are a threat to the public, the court said, the agency is required to produce regulations to reduce the risk. Apparently, the EPA report found that indeed, greenhouse gases are a public threat but that the Clean Air Act is inadequate to address the issues. Incidentally, the report released Friday called "Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" triggers a 120 day period allowing for public comment.

All this relates to a comment Councilperson Makar made last week just prior to the Town Board meeting: "Why can't we get anything done?" (He might have said it louder than that.) His frustration surrounds a number of good ideas that have grown into proposals and stalled there. Several of these hinge on putting to use a substantial fund the town has accumulated from repayments of former HUD loans.

David did a great deal of research for these proposals last year. And Jason Leifer has joined in the effort to put together proposals for:
  • teaming with Tompkins County Area Development to make at least one substantial economic development loan,
  • teaming with AFCU in a program to make matching grants to small businesses
  • small grants to low and moderate income households to make home improvements related to energy conservation.
Given all the development work David did last year, you'd think seven months in 2008 would have been enough to get the programs off the drawing board. But, no. One of the obstacles is that we don't have a staff member committed to economic development or housing. So, all the work has fallen to board members who have other full time occupations because their town salaries are about $500 a month. Furthermore, the Town Board meets only once a month. In addition to these three programs, last week's agenda included at least ten other major issues and several less critical ones. We try, and often fail, to keep the meeting under four hours from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM. That doesn't leave much room for discussion and action.

(Crossposted at Five Wells)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Dryden News

Congratulations to Ann Leonard and Friends of Hammond Hill State Forest. Ithaca Journal reports that they have received an $8,600 grant from the New York State Horse Council to repair Hammond Hill trails. I know they've been working on this grant for a while and I'm happy to see their efforts rewarded. It's a great example of residents accomplishing a project without government help (or hindrance.)

The Journal also reports plans for celebration of Freeville Fire Department's 100th Anniversary beginning with a parade at 11:00 and carrying on through fireworks after dark. It's another example of residents working to make the community a better place. The Town of Dryden provides financial support to the Freeville Fire Department (and the other three department in the Town of Dryden) but it's a drop in the bucket compared to the volunteer efforts of the people who respond to emergency calls, maintain the equipment and the station, participate in ongoing training and carry on the countless thankless administrative tasks needed to keep this service strong in the Freeville area.

More later, perhaps, on the four and a half hour town board meeting last night - my second consecutive thirteen hour day. For now, I'm going to go relax in the garden.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Population Trends

Ithaca Journal has an article this morning from Albany headlined:

Census: NYC grows as Upstate cities shrink
This is the kind of article Simon would have loved before he had so many more important things to think about. To the Journal's credit (and I can't remember if I've ever said that before) the subtitle is: "Ithaca one of few to grow" and they include a table of data from Tompkins County and the towns and villages in the county.

A look at the data shows that NYC grew by .3% since 2000 while Tompkins County grew by 4.7%. The increase is distributed throughout the county ranging from 11.1% growth in the Town of Ithaca to 1.1% and 1.2% respectively in the towns of Groton and Newfield.

It's interesting to me that the Village of Cayuga Heights (in the Town of Ithaca) grew by 12.3% while the populations of all other villages in the county remained nearly unchanged. That's a trend we hope to change as more towns adopt land use plans to encourage growth in villages and hamlets.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Reminders

I really miss Simon's pointers to articles of interest in the Ithaca Journal. But since I'm forced to try to keep up with local news on my own, I must say the new Ithaca Journal format is much improved. From the front page, you can scroll down to "Communities" and click on Dryden for specific Dryden stories (though you get more if you actually search on "Dryden" or "Freeville."

It's worth mentioning that the Cortland Standard has better local news - but the website only gives you the headlines. You need the print edition for the actual news.

Reminder: A Recreation Masterplan Visioning Session will be held at the Varna Fire Station tonight at 7:30. We had a similar session last month at Town Hall but very few people from the west side of town attended. I know Town Hall seems like it's on the other side of the world for people in the south west part of the Town of Dryden. So, we're trying to make it easier for you to participate in long range planning recreation in the Town. Please come.

Reminder: This month's Town Board meeting is THURSDAY at 7:00 at Town Hall. We changed the dates of the July and August meetings to accommodate Steve Stelick's fierce loyalty to Wednesday night Music in the Park. If you're free tonight because you were planning on coming to the board meeting treat yourself to Music in the Park. Tonight it's Greg McQuade.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Meetings...

I've been to a number of good meetings recently.

Last week town officials met with representatives of TC3, the Village of Dryden and neighboring property owners including Willowbrook and the fire department to consider development of a trail from the TC3 dorms to Neptune Drive. Lots of good ideas and concerns arose. Is it a nature trail or a way for TC3 students to get to the village or both? Will it reduce pedestrian traffic on Lee Road? Are there safety issues? How much will it affect wildlife habitat? No answers yet. But enough interest to pursue the idea.

Monday (usually my day off) I met with zoning and planning officials and the consultants working with the Planning Board on implementation of the Comprehensive Plan to review preliminary concepts involved in updating zoning ordinances. Again, lots of ideas and questions. How to preserve the rural character of the town without infringing on landowners rights? How to protect agricultural land and activities and encourage development in areas already developed.

Monday night Varna residents met with the Tompkins County Planning Department and Transportation Council to look at the Rt 13/366 Corridor Study. There are two approaches to dealing with Rt 13/366 traffic: land use policies to guide development along the corridor and traffic calming tools to enhance safety in populated areas like Varna. Residents are primarily focused on safety: traffic lights, sidewalks and speed limits.

Last night a small group met at the Dryden Cafe to talk about ways to address child health and obesity. Predictably the discussion focused on nutrition and recreation. Many existing programs and opportunities in Dryden were identified. The task ahead is to get more people to participate.

Friday, June 27, 2008

So much to do, so little time...

At the beginning of the year David expressed his intent to blog more frequently. I've often echoed that intent, but neither of us are really succeeding. My Five Wells blog is mostly for fun - and for practice writing. I've managed to post there about twice a week lately, though I used to post daily.

This blog has loftier goals to keep people informed and engaged in local issues that affect our lives. Yet I'm barely managing twice monthly posts. Here are some of the reasons that I run out of time or energy before I get to this blog.

From yesterday's schedule:
  • Meeting with TC3 and other property owners around the area behind the town hall to discuss development of a trail from the TC3 dorms to the village.
  • Meeting with Ed Bugliosi from USGS to plan development of a new well for the Village of Dryden. This is more urgent that it sounds. The health department mandates that the water supply be able to provide water even in the event that one well has to be shut down for maintenance for up to five days. Even if the health department didn't mandate this, it would be a good idea.
  • Meeting with representatives of municipalities throughout Tompkins County to hear from the lawyer now consulting on the formation of a consortium to help control health insurance costs for municipal employees, Cooperative Extension regarding training for elected and appointed officials, Tompkins County Emergency Services about - well, emergency services, Tompkins County Planning reporting on the Cornell initiative supporting housing and transportation improvements. And after rushing through those topics we got to the highlight: discussion of dog control and the SPCA contract. This may sound less urgent that, for example, the Dryden Village well. But part of the question is, "Will the Town of Dryden really be paying $45,000 for dog control next year."
  • Scanning my mail and email to see if there's anything I have to respond to immediately.

Other hot topics this month:

  • Meeting with Village of Dryden officials regarding sewer use rates and plans for a new waste water treatment facility
  • Legislation requiring operating permits for places where hazardous materials are stored or hazardous processes are used and assembly areas accommodating more than 100 people.
  • Proposed improvements to the Ithaca Area Waste Water Treatment Facility
  • Planning for development of parks and recreation town wide
  • Transportation planning and the Rt 13/366 corridor
  • Hiring an assistant for the town bookkeeper

Routine monthly meeting commitments:

  • Bolton Point Water Commission
  • Dryden Recreation Commission
  • Dryden Youth Commission
  • Town of Dryden Planning Board
  • (The Zoning Board of Appeals, Conservation Board, Emergency Services Committee and Personnel Committee are doing fine with their appointed Town Board liaisons so I don't go to their meetings, tho' I'd like to sometimes.)
  • Ithaca Area Wast Water Treatment Facility
  • Tompkins County Council of Governments
  • Town Board meetings

Things that are pretty far down on my task list that I wish were higher up

  • Updating the town's hazard mitigation plan
  • Implementing the Comprehensive Plan
  • Publishing the 2007 Annual Report
  • Analysis of town energy use
  • Development of orientation material for new town board members
  • Housing and economic planning
  • Development of Personnel Department performance review program
  • Internal Audit
  • Search for new accounting software to improve financial reporting

Things I wish never had to be on my task list:

  • Returning calls to people who don't like the way highway right-of-ways are maintained.
  • Hmm.... there must be others...

Okay. I think I get it. If I write here more often, I can focus on specifics and maybe get some feed back. Now I'm going to go work in the garden for a while to think.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I had some time between an appointment on the west side of town and a meeting on the east side. Happily, I had my camera with me so I took the opportunity to pursue one of my favorite projects: capturing views that define the Town of Dryden. The tidiness of this Cornell research property east of Freeville is inspiring. I think it looks like it could be a model railroad layout.



Adjacent to the Cornell test plots is the Marquis farm. I think the Belgian horses you saw in the Dairy Day parade live here. And the Draft Horse Association meeting was here a month or so ago.



Pulling back from the view of the farm, this is a very different view. You can just make out the farm's silos at the upper right.

I've spent twenty-four hours beating down the knee-jerk feeling that this is a cruel wound on the surface of my beloved mother earth. Clearly, I need to know more about mining.

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Mineral Resources (which needs a catchier name) says: "Remember, if it can't be grown, it has to be mined."

Furthermore:

[I]n 2004 crushed stone remained New York’s leading non-fuel mineral, and salt move up to second place, followed by cement (portland and masonry), construction sand and gravel, and wollastonite. [Wollastonite?] These five commodities typically account for 98% of the State’s nonfuel mineral value which USGS ranked at $1.11 billion in 2004.


I recently finished a new garage with a concrete floor and bought several truckloads of gravel to extend the driveway to the new garage. So, this year I'm well above the average mineral consumption of 50 pounds per year. I have to ask myself, "Where the hell did I think it was coming from?"

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Love a Parade

The Dryden High School Marching Band! When my kids were in school, the band didn't (couldn't?) march. I'm glad they're doing it now. They've foregone the expense of the Seventy-Six Trombones type uniforms that I remember from my high school days. And that's okay. The music is fine.



There were fire trucks of every color. I was especially glad to see Etna's black rescue vehicle there.


Neptune Hose Company fielded an excellent color guard. W B Strong's Chief Andy Down and his beautiful Great Dane led the Freeville engine. The boy scouts were there and several law enforcement agencies.

The parade led to the Village Green where hundreds of people gathered to reflect on Memorial Day traditions.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Busy, busy, busy...

Oh, dear. I can't believe I haven't written here since March. Maybe I can find time over the weekend to catch up. We're alive and well and working very hard. We had a very nice Town Board meeting at the Etna Fire Station in April, a public meeting to discuss the planning board's new design guidelines, a public meeting to discuss long range recreation planning.

Wednesday's Town Board meeting finished just before midnight tho' I had worried that we wouldn't be able to get to everything in the five hours we had allotted. There was very little jocularity and hardly any time wasted at all. We covered
  • two special use permit applications for ice cream stores,
  • a presentation of the design guidelines developed by the planning board,
  • the annual report from the Dryden Youth Commission,
  • discussion of plans for the salt storage barn that will help protect wetlands adjoining the highway garage property,
  • reports from County Legislators Mike Hattery and Martha Roberson regarding annual assessment and budget challenges.
  • Recreation Director Melissa Bianconi's report on the Masterplan and current recreation programs,
  • proposals for changes in the operations permit fee schedule and for maintenance of the new town hall's fire alarm system.
  • discussion of plans for a new sign marking the new town hall,
  • discussion of plans for the Dryden-Freeville trail,
  • approval of plans to purchase audio-visual equipment for the board room,
  • approval of rate changes for the ambulance service,
  • nomination of Duane Testut for the NYS Volunteer of Valor award,
  • proclamation of EMS recognition week to be celebrated beginning Sunday, May 18,
  • approval of improvements planned at the Ithaca Area Waste Water Treatment Plant of which we are part owner,
  • support for a trail being developed in Caroline which extends into Dryden,
  • discussion of amphibian mortality in the Thomas Road area,
  • introduction of proposed new personnel policy manual,
  • plans for a new microgrant economic development program,
  • several changes in job titles, descriptions and staff salaries,
  • and, believe it or not, many, many more things...

We were dragging a bit in the office yesterday. When I left last night I thought I would actually be taking today off. But as I drove home I thought of several things I want to work on today. So, I'll be going in after all - any minute now.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Recreation in Dryden

After a morning meeting with the Director of the SPCA, an afternoon meeting with Tompkins County Council of Governments about a health insurance consortium and SPCA negotiations and a suppertime meeting with a school district superintendent search committee meeting, I met with the newly formed Recreation Masterplan Steering Committee. We invited about a dozen people with various interests in recreation to discuss what direction the masterplan should take.

The piecemeal approach we've been taking for the past year or two creates conflict at each step among people who want nature walks or photography classes or youth sports; or who want any of those closer to their own neighborhoods. I think we can agree that we want all of those things and we want them to be where it will be easier for residents to enjoy them.

The Recreation Masterplan is an opportunity to envision what we want recreation in Dryden to look like twenty years from now and to plan how to achieve that vision. We're still in the stage of assessing what we have to work with: parklands, school facilities and faculty, community centers and such. Some remarkable successes show up. Our new Recreation Department is maturing. Our youth sports program is strong. In a 2000 survey for the comprehensive plan, people commented that they'd like to have concerts in the park. We have a well established Music in the Park summer program now, not only in Montgomery Park in Dryden, but also at Ellis Hollow Community Center.

The Comprehensive Plan proposed several recreation centers located around the town with one large, centrally located one. That would give us an opportunity to develop a wide variety of programs tailored to each communities and still open to all residents of the town.

The next step is planning a public meeting for the last week in April. What do you think? What recreation facilities and programs would you like to see in Dryden?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dog Control

Large chunks of yesterday and today are devoted to dog control. You may recall reading about the controversy when the SPCA said they couldn't possibly continue contracting with towns for dog control without doubling the price. The town of Dryden paid about $18,000 in 2007 and the SPCA asked for $36,000 for 2008. All Tompkins County towns plus the city and the county protested and started looking for alternatives.

In October the SPCA came back with a proposal to increase the cost to towns by 50% for the first six months of 2008 and 100% the rest of the year which we accepted because there wasn't enough time to research alternatives before we had to present our budgets for approval.

The Tompkins County Council of Government is continuing to explore alternatives. I met with a subcommittee yesterday. I'm meeting with the Director of SPCA and TCCOG today. I remember ten or twenty years ago when stray dogs were a frequent problem with my chickens and sheep. It is better these days. Dog control is important (not to mention mandated) But it's expensive.

Do you think if people knew how much it costs for the SPCA to pick up and deal with stray dogs they'd be more careful about keeping their dogs home?