Gina Fox – Blog Post – A Village Voice : Let me start with the positive things first.


I recently attended the Local Government Innovation Conference in Albany, hosted by NY Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. The key note address was by Chad Goerner, who worked for seven years (and based upon five DECADES of history) was successful in merging the township and the hamlet of Princeton, NJ. Next, was a session about cost reduction efforts for local government highway services while retaining, or in many cases, enhancing services while keeping costs down. Otsego County was an innovator in this. A familiar face led the next session. Aileen Rohr, the Supervisor of Hyde Park and Bridget Barclay, Exec. Director of Dutchess Co. Water and Wastewater Authority spoke about when it may serve a community to transfer local water treatment to the county. This can often lead to substantial savings for a municipality, again with no loss of service or personnel. Seems like an exciting idea and something to follow up with Gary Bassett, as our water liaison. At an opening reception, I met with Jeanne Walsh and Michael Warren, the supervisors, for Rosendale and Marbletown, respectively. They told me of a remarkable achievement. Both towns had outgrown their town halls. They ended up buying a closed school for one dollar and combined their town halls. Space is now abundant, money is saved and even made (they rent the old town halls for income) and taxpayers are thrilled. The state thought it was great also and gave them an award for innovation. Carl Ublacker, DOS Division of Local Government Services, has offered to help with our grant for exploring shared services in our highway departments. We have an initial draft that I have prepared with Christy Bonomo of Dutchess County. Our grant application will be based upon one that was successful for Tivoli, Town and Village of Red Hook but is being adapted to suit our needs. It took three years between the application process and the grant. Government moves slowly. On a side note: visit Albany if you haven’t lately. The capital building is spectacular at night and the Egg is a marvel. Cobblestone streets are so evocative and Albany has many. I had one of the best dishes in my life at Ama cocina: fingerling potatoes, queso, carmelized onions, crispy chorizo. That alone is worth the trip. Seriously.

Sinterklaas was a great success and although it gets bigger every year, our police and highway stepped up. There were no significant problems and Rhinebeck looked spectacular. We have received quite a few letters thanking our police and specific officers for graciousness. Thank Sgt. Dunn or his crew when you see them. They make a hard job look easy.
The tree commission has set dates for tree plantings in 2017. Both Saturdays begin at 9:00 AM. April 29 for the spring and November 4 for the fall. If any resident is interested in having a tree planted whether in the right of way or the BROW (beyond the right of way, meaning between the sidewalk and your home) please come to village hall for the necessary paperwork. BROW requires the homeowner to accept all responsibility for the tree maintenance, including possible removal, after five years. The tree commission will manage it until then. In real estate, mature trees are thought to add up to $10,000 in property value. The commission was very sorry to receive the resignation of James Marshall due to family needs. He was a terrific asset to the commission and the village. We look forward to his return when possible. If anyone has an interest in trees or beautifying our village and town please contact me or our village clerk, Pat Coon at 845-876-7015. Also a nod to Clerk Pat Coon for attending a webinar about Urban Forestry Grant Funding. We may be able to apply.
The cemetery is researching a source for native shrubs and plantings for the natural burial section. Nearly 15 trees were planted there this fall. They are getting closer to acquiring funding for the restoration of the Route 9 stone walls. More plot sales are coming in for the natural burial ground, mine being one. (Hope not too many people are cheering that.) It’s a lovely place. Visit it if you haven’t. Rhinebeck is lucky to be only the second municipality in NYS to offer a natural burial at this level of “green”.
Our highway department handled our two early snow storms very well and dealt with a very dangerous ice situation in between.  Although I had alerted the office that I was to be away it apparently caught the mayor off guard. Since I wasn’t there to read the prepared highway report, Trustee Traudt offered to read it into the record. The next day a press release announced that I had been removed as highway liaison and replaced by Trustee Traudt. No notice was given. No questions were asked. Board members were not notified. As of this writing, none of my phone calls to the mayor have been returned. I’ll let you know when I know more. Just know this, the village highway is committed to providing extraordinary service while working with one less person than they need. They come in overnight, stay late, and go the extra mile. I have been proud to be their liaison. I will officially request to be re-assigned at next month’s meeting February 7.
Happy New Year!
Gina Walker Fox