Thursday, August 31, 2006

Proposed Energy Law

It feels like the proposed Renewable Energy Law is teetering on the threshold of bureaucratic purgatory. And it's getting hard to tell who's poised to push in which direction. Each new and improved version draws a flurry of responses from a new or revisiting stakeholder. Each proposed change has to pass through the eye of several needles.

I must say, the only corner from which no obstacles have arisen is the Town Board. All Town Board members have been supportive and willing to meet at any time to take the next step. Hurdles have been coming from the Conservation Board, the Environmental Planner, Zoning Enforcement and, yes, the town attorney. The Conservation Board has been silent for about a week. Dan K. has acquiesced. Henry's most recent request involved only the insertion of two words. And yesterday I got approval from Mahlon to correct a significant typo introduced last week by his office.

So once again, the final draft is ready to go out. It's actually FinalDraft.v6. And once again I have the feeling I'm throwing it into the fan. Since changes were still being kicked around, it could not be introduced at the August 23 meeting or yesterday's ground breaking meeting. Now it will be reviewed one last time by anyone still willing to reread it and, barring any further last minute objections, will be introduced at the September 14 Town Board meeting. If no substantial objections are raised, board members may set a public hearing date near the end of September. Once again barring substantial objection, the Board may vote, following the close of the public hearing, to pass the law.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Dave Makar

At last night's caucus, Dryden Democrats nominated David Makar to run for Dryden Town Board. After nearly two years in his new home on Slaterville Road and building his website design and development company 544 Productions, Dave has been looking for ways to work in the community. He recently joined the Varna Volunteer Fire Department and after many conversations with Dryden democrats including Simon St Laurent, Martha Robertson, Mike Lane, Kathy Zahler and myself, he has decided to run for a seat on the Town Board. Among the issues Dave is concerned with are strengthening existing community centers, economic development, particularly around the Rt 13/Rt 366 intersection and affordable, universal high-speed internet access throughout the Town of Dryden. I didn't plant that last one. Remember Dave's a web developer. He gets it that internet access is an economic issue for Dryden residents.

Check out Dave's blog Dryden is Home for stories about his participation in Women Swimmin' (to benefit Hospicare), fishing, and gardening.

We'll be arranging opportunities for Dryden voters to get to know Dave over the next few weeks. If you can help with the campaign, please contact Simon St Laurent.

Friday, August 11, 2006

August Town Board Meeting

Several issues were discussed in depth last night while some others were glossed over.

The Public Hearing on the development of a Dollar General store on North Street remains open pending further information on the lighting plan, traffic plan and more.

The Varna Community Association, taking the initiative on emergency planning, asked the Town to fund a generator which would enable them to provide shelter and meals in the event of a power outage presuming the outage does not affect the natural gas supply. The sense of the Board was that we cannot fund this project at this time, but we need to work on a town-wide emergency plan.

Jessica Houle asked for Town support for the OURS program helping youth in the Congers Trailer Park neighborhood. Environmental Planner, Dan Kwasnowski, agreed to meet with her to help develop a grant concept.

Highway superintendent, Jack Bush, has postponed replacing a grader 'til next year and will be replacing a sand/salt spreader and acquiring a 6' rotary mower. Jack estimates the cost of expanding the parking area at the Finger Lakes Land Trust's Ellis Hollow Creek Road property to be $2,500 in materials and $3,500 in labor. Etna Community Association thanks the Dryden crew for mowing the playground and asks for help repairing the post office parking lot. Jack will try to help with the request to lower the speed limit on Baker Hill Road later in the summer when summer road repairs near completion.

The big news from the Engineering Department is that bids for the new town hall have been received and opened. The total of low bids for construction, HVAC, electric and plumbing total by $31,132 (1% of the $2,965,000 authorized for the project.) Architect, Tony Egner, submitted a list of items totaling $108,450 which might be altered to bring the cost of the project down to the authorized amount. Egner, the low bidders and the Board town hall committee will meet to review the proposals. Following this meeting, the Town Board will call a special meeting to approve resolutions to issue contracts for construction of the new town hall.

Town Engineers have completed plans for Pinckney Road sewer and water districts. Property owners will be asked if, in view of the high cost, there is interest in continuing. Engineers also recommend purchase of a small building to house new radio telemetry equipment provided by Bolton Point, saving the town $190 a month in current phone service required for telemetry.

From the Recreation Department: action on the skateboard park will be delayed 'til the town attorney drafts the necessary agreement with the village. Fall sports schedules are available. Recreation coordinator, Jennifer Dube, on behalf of Varna Community Association, requested funding to replace mildewed carpet in the Community Center and replace old folding tables. After lengthy discussion of the community center budget line added to the 2006 budget the board concluded that the intent was to provide seed money to pursue grant funding for a larger capital project. We agreed to release enough money from that line for each community center to request up to $2,000 to fund recreational programs for residents. In this way, although the town cannot invest in privately owned facilities, some of Varna's program costs can be funded enabling the community association to afford to replace the carpet.

Code enforcement Officer, Henry Slater, submitted a request from New York Atlantic-Inland Safety Inspections to exempt one of their inspectors from new town regulations governing qualifications of electrical inspectors.

Environmental Planner, Dan Kwasnowski, introduced a proposal to begin work on updating town zoning regulations in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan adopted by the Board last year.

The final draft of the proposed Renewable Energy Law was distributed to Board Members. Since this draft was not available until 5:00 PM on the day of the meeting, no action is proposed at this time. Board members may comment and revisions may be made until the interim Board meeting expected to be scheduled before the end of August. At that time, if the Board agrees, the law will be introduced and a public hearing scheduled for September.

Glenn Wolford presented a proposal from the NYSDEC to acquire a 33 acre parcel of land near Irish Settlement Road. The parcel is landlocked and would make a valuable addition to the Yellow Barn Forest and would remain on the tax rolls (as does other Yellow Barn Forest land) and the Board endorses the proposal.

Councilman Tier said he'd like to talk to Etna Fire Chief, Tom Lobdell, before discussing the Etna Fire Department Contract.

Cayuga Press's HUD loan and Emergency Services coordinator were not discussed and will presumable appear on future agendas. Someday I'm going to look at items that continue to show up on the agenda month after month with little or no progress.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dryden Democratic Caucus

Let me bring KAZ's comment to the front page.
The Dryden Democratic Caucus is Tuesday, August 15, at 7 PM at Dryden Town Hall. All registered Democrats from the Town of Dryden are encouraged to attend. We select candidates to run on the ballot in November in one of two ways: via petition and by caucus. The latter is old-fashioned, but far more interesting.

There is one local contest this fall. Dan Tier was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Mike Hattery's resignation. Consequently, that seat is up for election this year.

Registered Democrats, please join us at the Caucus Tuesday. Meet with your neighbors. Show your support. Voice your opinion. Have some fun.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Upcoming Town Board Meeting

The following items are scheduled for discussion at the next Town Board meeting, August 10 at 7:00PM:

a) Energy Ordinance
b) HUD Loan – Cayuga Press
c) Nita’s replacement for Dryden Youth Commission
d) Community Center at Conger Trailer Park
e) Dollar General Hearing Continuation
f) Town Supervisor’s Term
g) Emergency Services Coordinator
h) Etna Fire Department Contract
i) DEC Acquisition of Land for Yellow Barn State Forest
j) Pinckney Road Water & Sewer Hearing
k) Tompkins County Water Resource Council Representative
l) Dryden Ambulance Award
m) Telemetry NYSEG Tank Building

Discussion items are near the end of the agenda, so it's often 9:00 or later when they come up. Still, discussions are lively and frank. Though comments from non-board members are not routinely part of the discussion, residents may ask to participate and the supervisor may agree. Even if you don't wish to speak, consider coming to the board meeting to listen. It's really the only way to find out how things work.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ask a Woman to Run for Office

When I ran for the Town Board last year, I was focused on becoming the only Democrat on the board. Halfway through the election when a newspaper reporter asked me what I thought about becoming the only woman on the Board, I was momentarily stumped. Here in the Ithaca area, we're a tad further along the road to enlightenment than some others places. Women's issues were not uppermost in my mind.

Recently Irene Stein, from the Tompkins County Democratic Committee, invited me to participate in Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Campaign School. I felt like I'd been invited by Eleanor Roosevelt herself and I jumped at the chance. We met tonight for introductions.

The training, designed by people at Emily's List, is designed to encourage pro-choice, Democratic women to run for office and win. Emily's list was started in the 1980s at which time no Democratic woman had ever been elected to the US Senate in her own right. EVER! In fact, of 1,889 people who have served in the US Senate since its inception in 1789, only 33 are women. Of 10,546 members of the House of Representatives, 203 are women.

Why so few? According to a Brown University study (pdf) "women are significantly less likely than men to view themselves as qualified to run for office. In addition, women are less likely than men to receive encouragement to run for office from party leaders, elected officials, and political activists."

Does it matter? Well, more than half of eligible voters in the US are women. 15% of the 109th Congress are women. Let's find out if women can make a difference. People at Emily's List and the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee are working hard to recruit qualified women and support their campaigns. If you're a woman, think about running for office. If not, donate to Emily's list and ask a woman you know to run.

Seriously, find out who your local, state and national representatives are and when their terms expire. If you need help with this, email me. Find your local Democratic Committee. Go to a town board, city council, county or state legislature meeting and see what they do. It's hard work but its not rocket science. So, run! Or help someone run. Really. We need you. Get going!

(Cross posted at Five Wells )