Monday, August 21, 2017

Who Is Minding the Store? Gene Keeler Is Asking

Why should a front-page article in the Capital District’s regional newspaper about DA Czajka’s acceptance of appointments to handle two high profile investigations in the City of Troy interest Columbia County citizens? Why should Columbia County voters care? Two issues jump out to the reader.

From the reporting, it appears Mr. Czajka is using a Rensselaer County Grand Jury to pursue two potential criminal matters after being appointed Special Prosecutor in both matters.

The first matter involves essentially the alleged misuse of 911 tapes to influence a potential election in the City of Troy. The second matter involves allegations of several Troy detectives entering a residence without a warrant and a resulting alleged cover-up.

First: Columbia County has its own problems that need to be addressed by a fulltime DA and his staff.  Mr. Czajka was elected to serve and protect Columbia County citizens not Rensselaer County citizens. Unfortunately, Columbia County has its own severe opioid problem, shootings in Hudson, environmental issues and white-collar criminals. Why is Mr. Czajka spending his time in Rensselaer County when he is needed here? Mr.Czajka is neglecting his official duties to protect and serve Columbia County citizens. His office’s recent record cannot justify his significant absence from local duties. A number of high profile local cases were not successfully prosecuted i.e. arson, sex, larceny.

Second: Who is paying for these investigations? As can be seen from prior special prosecutor cases in the Albany area tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on these matters. The Columbia District Attorney’s Office is primarily funded by local taxpayers. Is Rensselaer County going to reimburse Columbia County for the investigations costs and expenses as well as Mr. Czajka and his staff’s professional time? How are the costs going to be determined?

These questions should be of great concern to Columbia County taxpayers considering our own problems.

Why is Mr. Czajka engaging in this behavior that is in direct conflict with the interests of Columbia County citizens? Who is minding the store?

Eugene Keeler                         518-965-3563
75 Spook Rock Rd
Hudson, New York 12534

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Commerce Park Pipeline: The $3.5 Million Question

Commerce Park, located in Ghent, needs to upgrade its sewage system.  Columbia County rejected building a new treatment plant in favor of a pipeline with four pumping systems that will transport its effluence into the Greenport treatment center.

The Greenport pipeline is estimated to cost  $8.8 million and the home-grown County plant $4.5 million.  A June 23 press release from the Columbia County Board of Supervisors argued that although the home-made system seems much less expensive, when you add in its annual operating costs of $162,000 versus the $45,000 for the Greenport pipeline (which includes fees to this town), it comes out even.

Is that true?  As a Greenportian concerned about the upcoming waste, I used the County's calculations from their June 1 Resolution for comparing the cumulative 30-year cost for the Greenport pipeline to the cost for building a new County treatment plant.  I used the same 3% interest and monthly payments of $449,582, and added in the two different annual operating costs.  

Over that period, the Greenport pipeline would cost about  $14 mill and the County home-grown system about $10.5 mill -- $3.5 million less after 30 years, even with the higher operating costs. After 30 years both systems will probably have to be rebuilt.

So why is the County spending that much more money on the pipeline to Greenport?   The new pipeline will have a capacity of 75,000 gallons per day, although Commerce Park only generates 20,000.  Hmmm. Could they be thinking of dumping even more sewage into Greenport from the proposed Amedore Project? Is the Commerce Park pipeline a Trojan Horse for a monster development that will damage Ghent, Claverack, and Greenport? 

Also what does Greenport get out of that annual $45,000 operating cost?  Nowhere is this mentioned in any of the documents. Are we selling out our ability to develop our own commercial area for some paltry amount of money?

The Greenport Town Board needs to give us an answer.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Will Greenport Become the Outhouse for Columbia County?

The Claverack Town Meeting on June 10 was packed – not only with Claverackians, but also people from Ghent and a number of us from Greenport,  We were there to hear about the proposed monster Amedore development on 9H, just south of the Rt 66 interchange. The lawyer for the developer opened with a long-winded presentation describing the process by which Claverack can mutilate its zoning laws to provide for nearly 600 rental units on one side of 9H and some box stores on the other, mostly cut out from a swath of former mined areas and farm land. (An aside, George Amedore Jr., 46th District Republican Senator, is a Vice President of the company.)

Subsequent questions from Ghent and Claverack residents closely scrutinized the rationale for this development: Retail stores are failing all over the country.  Why would anyone think these stores would succeed in this rural area?  The new residents would be almost half low-income and seniors.  How many tax breaks was the developer getting for reclaiming the mined land, for building units for people with low incomes?  If fully populated, these units could add up to 25% to the Claverack population.  Where would these new residents – many low income or seniors -- come from?  Who would provide the services – emergency, water, and sewage, for these new citizens?

And that's why we Greenportians were there.  To get some answers on the sewage. Just a week or so ago, many of us learned about a new pipeline that will carry waste from Commerce Park in Claverack to Greenport's own sewage treatment plant.  This pipeline is good for both towns.  It solves some environmental problems with the current Park's treatment system, which relies on a disintegrating steel container and puts inadequately treated waste into the aptly named Mud Creek. We also have an arrangement with Stockport to receive flow that does not tax our system.  These arrangements provide some funds that will help pay off the bond that financed our system and contribute to our operating costs. Because the Greenport Water Department has recently succeeded in keeping most of the storm water out of our sewers, our treatment plant has extra capacity.  We now can handle what would come in from Stockport and Commerce Park.  

(An important aside: there's still a stink in the air in the neighborhoods around our treatment plant.  So, even before the Commerce Park pipeline is built, we need to investigate whatever is causing the odor so it won't get worse.)

But, now, what about this Amedore development?  Is the Commerce Park pipeline a Trojan Horse, opening up the possibility for piping into Greenport the development's own smelly effluence? Hmmm.  Maybe.  In a recent Register Star article Amedore was quoted, "I inquired with the county about the sewer line [to Greeenport]. If it is feasible, connecting would be something we would consider.”

Ok, guess again.  We can handle the existing waste plus whatever comes from Commerce Park, but if we become the toilet bowl for every major development in nearby towns, we would eventually reach capacity.  Then what would be left for our own town's development?  And why would Greenport support competing big box stores in Claverack at the expense of Greenport retail?

Greenport is considering a Comprehensive Plan, which, if adopted, would be its first.  As part of it, Fairview Avenue is cited as being an area that could still take on new retailers and multi-unit residences (with incentives to improve the strip's aesthetics). The Amedore monster, built a couple miles from Greenport, could be the death knell to our struggling Fairview Avenue retailers and The Falls, an elegant new residential addition to the northern part of our town. And by taking Amedore's waste, Greenport would be a major participant in its own demise.  

And what's our own town board doing? Are they aware of any of these issues?  Are we just going to be hit with a fait accompli next year, an agreement that allows this disastrous development to pipe its excrement into our town -- a nail in Greenport's commercial coffin?

So, for our own self-interest, Greenportians should join with Claverack and Ghent to oppose a development that will harm us all and that will bring no joy -- only a wasteland -- to our communities. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Greenport Democrats Nominate Five Candidates for Town Offices

Voters at the Greenport Democratic Caucus held June 22 at the Greenport Community Center nominated Kathleen Leck Eldridge for Greenport Town Supervisor in the upcoming election in November. Voters also selected Democratic nominees Janice Brodowski and Carol Peckham for Greenport Town Council; Mark Gaylord for Town Highway Superintendent; and John Porreca for Town Justice.

Kathleen Eldridge, Democratic nominee for Greenport Town Council. 
Kathleen Leck Eldridge is a member of the Independence Party and a registered nurse and administrator at a local nursing facility. She is a lifelong Greenport resident.

Said Eldridge following her nomination: "My goal as Town Supervisor is to move Greenport forward for the benefit of our residents and to allay doubts about the future of our town. I plan to learn from past efforts and to focus on the steps ahead, while creating a strong support system for getting things done. With strong leadership and town representation, Greenport residents will have their voices heard and will help to contribute to a vision that will break out of the norm and achieve great things."

Janice Brodowski and Carol Peckham will be running for the Greenport Town Council. Janice Brodowski resided in Greenport for 43 years and has served as the town tax collector for 14. She recently retired from a 32-year career as a registered nurse, serving at Columbia Memorial Hospital.  Carol Peckham was born and raised in Averill Park, NY and spent her working life in New York City in medical publishing. She and her husband spent weekends in Greenport for 13 years, moving up permanently four years ago.  She is a member of the Greenport Comprehensive Plan Committee and cooks lunches twice a week at the Salvation Army in Hudson.   

Mark Gaylord has enjoyed a 12-year tenure as the Greenport Town Highway Superintendent and is seeking another term after maintaining and keeping the roads clear for his Greenport neighbors throughout a decade of hot summers and difficult winters. He is a lifelong town resident.

John Porreca has served as Third Ward Alderman in Hudson and as Greenport Town Supervisor. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Greenport Democrats Nominate First Female Town Judge.

On Monday, September 19, 2016, the Greenport Democrats nominated Victoria Hill as their candidate for Town Judge with an overwhelming majority. She would be the first female Greenport Town Judge.

Ms. Hill has a BA in criminology and currently holds the position of Chief Court Clerk at the Greenport Town Court, where she manages all aspects of the court processes and operations and is responsible to judges, attorneys, defendants, and victims. Her duties include the following: training personnel; allocating court resources; accounting for fees, fines, and other public funds;  preparing court calendars, files and forms;  assessing DMV suspensions; and reporting to the Office of the Comptroller at the end of the month.

In addition to her work at the Town Court, she also runs the day-to-day operations for two apartment complexes with over 200 residents and works part time in the Hudson school district.

And perhaps, most impressive, Ms. Hill is a Master Sergeant in the Westover Air Reserve Base, where she supervises 8 members in the Dental Section.  She is the Career Advisor for the unit, and also assists in the drug testing section. which tests 2400 Air Base members. And finally, she is the Medical Readiness NCO, ensuring that members are medically and dentally fit to deploy and that all their training is complete.

She has served in the Reserves since 2004, and before that in the Army for 4 years, when she worked as a mechanic.  She was stationed in Kentucky and Kansas and, in 1997, she was deployed to South Korea for 13 months.  She is currently a member of the American Legion, the VFW, and the Korean War Veterans Association. 

And to top it off, she has three children.

George Super, the chairman of the Greenport Democratic Committee said, "It is sometimes challenging to find excellent candidates for town offices, but we certainly have one now."  He thanked those who attended and participated with such enthusiasm, and he predicted good things ahead for Greenport Democrats.