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?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Comprehensive Plan Implementation

The projects I like working on most are the ones that I know residents have asked for. The Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2005 was developed by the Planning Board with a great deal of input from the public. The one thing we all seem to agree on is that whatever changes may take place, we want to preserve the rural character of the community.

With that in mind, the Planning Board has been working with Behan Associates on design guidelines to help developers understand what we want and to help the Planning Board with site reviews. The residential guidelines make it possible to achieve the desired density - say one house per two acres - by clustering ten houses on five acres and preserving fifteen acres of adjacent open space rather than spacing out ten houses each on two acre lots with no open space. The commercial guidelines use shared driveways and parking lots to reduce the number of "curb cuts" in high traffic areas.

I'll try to describe the project more fully in the near future. The guidelines are available at the town hall. There should be some discussion about it at the next town hall meeting 7:00 PM, APRIL 9, AT THE ETNA FIRE STATION.

[Edit 4/2/08 Behan Associates has provided links to last month's presentation of the design guidelines. I think it's particularly interesting to click on Residential Guidelines and scroll down to page 8 to view residential development in 1800. Continue scrolling to see increased residential development in successive decades and imagine what the next slide would look like if development continues this way. ]

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Things we're working on...

Lots of exciting things are going on in the town that I keep forgetting to write about.

In keeping with our effort to bring town meetings to the public, the April Town Board meeting will be held April 9 at the Etna Fire Station. The agenda includes time at the beginning of the meeting for anyone to speak for a few minutes if they wish. If there's something you'd like to have added to the business agenda contact me at

A grant from the Governor's Universal Broadband Access program was awarded last week to Clarity Connect in partnership with the town and TC3. This $430,000 in state funding along with substantial "in-kind" support from the town will make it possible for Clarity Connect to embark on bringing wireless internet access to all of the Town of Dryden.

The project, involving construction of up to twelve wireless towers is expected to cost more than $1 million over five years. We explored co-locating on existing towers and found it to be impractical or impossible. The wireless towers proposed will be between 100' and 150'. The devices necessary are small and the towers overall are inconspicuous compared to existing telecommunication towers. General areas, for the proposed towers have been identified but not specific sites. The project will be subject to the same building permit and site review process as any construction project and all planning board meetings, in fact all town meetings, are open to the public.

We're in the process of applying for another Community Development Block Grant for housing rehabilitation. The grant, like one we had nearly ten years ago, will enable low income homeowners to address energy efficiency or health and safety problems in their homes. To apply, call 844-8888 or come to the town hall to ask for an application.

I'm out of time and I've barely scratched the surface. More later.