Rhinebeck – Mayor’s Message for June 2019

Rhinebeck’s summer season is off to a great start. We had fantastic weather and a great turnout for the Memorial Day Parade. Now, the outdoor tables are set up at our restaurants, plenty of visitors are stopping in to our local shops, and enjoying our friendly walkable community. Soon schools will be out and our kids will be busy with summer activities. We are lucky to live in this special place.

Of course, this busy season in the Village means we all need to be extra careful. Our residents have responded to the sidewalk campaign by making many improvements to the sidewalks, but we still have more work to do.  

Parking is another area we are working on. We have a new proposal for a Vehicle and Traffic law which would convert the east side of Garden Street from “No Parking” to “Loading Zone.” That would help to alleviate some of the parking issues in that area by giving trucks a place to offload without snarling traffic. Please come share your opinions as we work to improve parking in the Village center at the Public Hearing at our next Board meeting on June 11th at 7:00 PM.

The Task Force on short term rentals is making progress. Working with Code Enforcement officer John Fenton, we have identified 38 residents who were using their residences as rentals, including B&B establishments, room rentals and whole house rentals. We sent notices to everyone and heard back from most recipients. 16 are “owner occupied rentals” 9 have dropped out of the rental market, and 2 more said they do not rent their properties. 8 property owners are in the process of applying to the Planning Board for permits. 3 have not yet responded and have been issued Appearance Tickets. The Village board is working with our legal advisors on the draft of the new code which will be available at our next Board meeting.

The ever busy Trustee Neunecker also continues to work on the ongoing project to upgrade the Village water system. He updated everyone at a recent informational meeting. Phase One is the replacement our 100 year old water mains which are causing reduced water flow. We will be receiving bids this month with construction beginning in July and continuing until the spring of 2020. As this is a big project, taking place over an extended period of time, we want to work hard to keep all the residents in the loop, and aware of scheduling and possible disruptions. Pat Evans is joining our team as a volunteer Citizen Communicator. His job will be to act as go-between the Building and Water Departments and the public. I believe this will be an enormous help to crews and residents as the project gets underway.

Our regular Brush and Yard Waste removal is ongoing. Deputy Mayor Lewit and the highway crews remind us that the 1st and 3rd week of the month is pick-up on East and West Market Streets, and the areas north of them. The 2nd and 4th week is south of East and West Market Streets. Please remember that grass clippings are prohibited, and brush and limbs need to be 3 feet or shorter. Please put the debris out by Wednesday! We will continue to enforce this policy throughout the summer.

The Village now has some important research which will allow us to better plan for weather events. It is vitally important that we know when to open the valve at the dam at Landsman Kill, before a storm. Environmental Science students from Marist College, working with Dr Richard Feldman, as well as Village DPW John Fenton and myself, presented the results of a study they conducted during the spring semester. Not only did they analyze stormwater runoff, identify flood plains, and the watershed, they interviewed many homeowners across the Landsman Kill and Crystal Lake area. Those residents reported more wet weather, leading to more flooding, and ongoing loss of shoreline. Student Megan Nickle says the study determined that much of the Village of Rhinebeck is in the flood plan, with poorly draining soil, which leaves us vulnerable to flooding. Dr. Feldman presented his research, going back 48 years, which shows that climate change is leading to more wet weather events like hurricanes, and that they will continue to increase as the climate warms. The students measured the spillway at the dam, and were able to estimate how much could be discharged from the 4 valves, and provided a chart on how much to release based on weather predictions. This is an important step in preparedness, and I am thankful to Dr. Feldman and the Marist Students for their excellent work.

Using the information provided by the Highway Shared Services Study conducted by SUNY Brockport, Deputy Mayor Lewit reports that he has concluded that there is no compelling reason to consolidate Village and Town of Rhinebeck Highway Departments. He explains that the Town and Village departments perform different functions, so there would be no savings in consolidation. The Village Highway Department performs ongoing maintenance working with the Water and Sewer Departments and a variety of maintenance activities – many of which extend beyond street maintenance. In contrast, the town highway department is primarily focused on highway maintenance, repair and construction. 

Meanwhile, our newest Trustee Paul Korczak has been putting his skills to use in working to resolve the contradictions and finalize the language of the proposal to create a hospital district in the Village. The preservation of the character of the Village remains a top priority as we move forward towards presenting the proposal. Of course, there will be many opportunities for residents to review and respond prior to any action being taken.

As always, please reach out to me with any questions or comments. You can reach me by phone 845-876-7015 ext 2 at Village Hall or via email to MayorBassett@VillageofRhinebeckny.gov or come to see me during open hours from 1pm to 2pm daily.

Gary Bassett
Mayor Village of Rhinebeck

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