Town of Rhinebeck  July Newsletter Supervisor’s Message

In January, we published a list of the Town Board’s 2018 Initiatives and Projects. As the end of June marks the midway point of our fiscal cycle, I want to update you on some of our progress.

Shared Service and Consolidation Grants

The Town and Village Highway and Maintenance Departments Consolidation study has been awarded to SUNY Brockport and is getting underway. We expect a White Paper with a plan early next year. We are also happy to report that the Town and Village Highway Departments are continuing to work together to pave Village roads with Town equipment. This season we tackled Crosmour Road and Violet Place and saved Village residents over $20,000.

We have completed the Request for Proposals for our Town and Village Court Consolidation Study and aim to have it approved by the County, awarded, and underway before the end of the year.

Our Town Building, Zoning, and Planning Process Study is well under way with the very impressive PACE Law School Department of Public Engagement and Training. The Deputy Director, Tiffany Zezula, is heading up this project and we have already received constructive advice on our departments’ structure. A complete overview will be delivered to us in five to seven months.

Our Town Pool and Buildings need a Master Revitalization and Renovation Plan. Our Park Committee is taking this project on and the Town will be reviewing the needs and considering funding options during our 2019 Budget process. 

Projects with the Village

Our Joint Environmental Committee oversaw the completion of the Town and Village “Environmental Policies and Actions” document (which I will post at the end of this letter). Additionally, with a grant from the Good Work Institute, we are working a joint food waste recycling and composting program (a survey is also posted at the end of this letter).

The Mayor and I continue our work with Riverkeeper and are both members of the Hudson River Drinking Water Coalition. We continue our advocacy for the River as we monitor the Oil Barge Ban and plans down river in New York City for an Army Corps of Engineer flood control system, which would permanently and adversely affect our river.

Additionally, Frank Intervallo, our jointly-appointed Emergency Coordinator, continues to work on updating our protocols in conjunction with the County Emergency Services Department.

While we did discuss the necessity for more parking in the Village and the possibility for developing parking at the site of our future Community Center, across from the Starr Library, because our Thompson Mazzarella Park Committee was not in favor of the proposal, we will not be pursuing this further at this time. 

Departmental Projects

Digital Archiving of Building Department records 1972-Present, Single Appointed Assessor, Town Wide Reassessment Project, Hiring Zoning Administrator and Enforcement Officer: All projects and initiatives are completed or in progress. After bifurcating the Zoning Administration position into Administrator and Enforcement Officer, it’s clear that that we need one full time person to oversee these duties. We are looking for the right candidate to join our fantastic Town Hall staff. Passion for land use, Zoning Law, serving the public, and willingness to learn a must. Please see the job description: 

https://www.rhinebeckny.gov/uploads/3/9/4/4/39447425/2018-06-04_zeo_full_time.pdf 

On our home page:  https://www.rhinebeckny.gov/

Green Initiatives

Our EV Charging Stations are ready to be installed at the Starr Library Parking lot.  Our Highway Department will be able to trench for the electric as soon as paving is completed in a few weeks. Thanks Barry Sherrod! 

Councilperson Chauncey Walker is still working hard on the multi- municipality LED Grant, we are still exploring possible Community Solar at our old landfill, and walking and biking trails with Winnakee.

Land Use and Local Laws

I’m happy to say that in June we received a $205,347.23 check from the New York Attorney General as reimbursement for our legal fees in defending the Town in two lawsuits as per our participation in the Greenway Plan.

We continue to work on and polish our Workforce Housing, Historic Preservation, and Four Corners Zoning laws and look for a final draft on each early next year. Additionally, we are preparing to defend the Town on an appeal of our win on the Amanda Miller et al vs the Town of Rhinebeck – Community Solar Law.

Miscellaneous

We upgraded the entire Town Hall electrical system (the original system from 1939), installed air conditioning and heat pumps in the large public meeting room and behind the stage for our computer server, had our Town Seal redrawn and adopted as our Town Logo, then updated all of our stationery with the new logo and had business cards made as well.  Outside, we took on a major tree clearing project in our Natural Burial Cemetery, town playground and tennis courts.  

We’ve made great strides with Amtrak and have been working with Bill Hollister, Amtrak’s Senior Manager of Government Affairs. Issues addressed are the needed Federal level stations upgrades in compliance with the American with Disabilities Act, State-funded State of Good Repair, upgrades, and maintenance to the station, and to resolve our Payment in Lieu of Taxes for services provided by the Town to Amtrak. Also, we have been working with the State’s Department of Health and Long Term Care, the State’s Ombudsmen, and our Building Department to address issues at the Kings Heights Adult Home in Rhinecliff and to ensure a good quality of live for the residents there. 

As I touched on above, the municipalities from the Towns of Rhinebeck and Red Hook and the Villages of Rhinebeck, Red Hook and Tivoli are requesting your input on a joint food waste recycling and composting program under consideration. Please take a few minutes to complete the attached survey: https://goo.gl/forms/TCCwVs7zlzbvjHN02

Lastly, New York State law allows Towns to take over the management of cemeteries. Since June of 2002, the Town of Rhinebeck has administered the Cemetery, which is currently in the capable hands of the Cemetery Committee, headed by Suzanne Kelly, and lovingly administered by Groundskeeper Garry Slater. The Town Board’s liaison, Ed Roberts, has recently been working with the Cemetery Committee on a variety of issues, from repairing one of the stone walls, to landscaping and removing dangerous or dying trees. Our cemetery is an import piece of our local history and we are proud to have one of the state’s first Green Burial grounds. You’ll read more about it in Ed’s article, which will be posted on Facebook this week.

Please come by and visit me at the office. I am in Town Hall weekdays.  I promptly answer my emails at supervisor@rhinebeckny.gov, and I’m eager to help you in any way I can. 

With Warm Regards,

Elizabeth Spinzia

Supervisor, Town of Rhinebeck