letters to the editor


A letter to the Rhinebeck ZBA

September 19, 2013

To: The Village of Rhinebeck ZBA

From: Keith Greeney and Donna Zulch, Rhinebeck, NY

Re: Health Quest Site Plan for Rhinebeck

The proposal by Health Quest to expand it’s Rhinebeck facility by 81,450 SF has very little to do with the improvement of health for Rhinebeck citizens. It has been poorly planned and is now being pushed onto our community as a “necessary” health facility. This is a self-serving assessment made by Health Quest and not by the communities of Northern Dutchess County.

While other new health facilities, other than Health Quest, are being built in Rhinebeck, Red Hook and in Kingston, Health Quest seems to be in a last minute race to lock up its control as the “only” healthcare provider in the area by consuming private doctors’ offices. Now Health Quest wants to build an expansion onto Northern Dutchess Hospital as they see fit, even though the Rhinebeck community has not asked for this expansion. The citizens of Rhinebeck do not want a mega parking lot at the northern edge of the community; we would like to maintain the greenbelt that currently exists there. We also do not want the ZBA to approve the 3-story building which would end up being 9 feet over the Village law as written.

The Health Quest plan is presented with total disregard for our community.
An example of out-of-control growth is Health Quest’s claim that the hospital delivered over 1000 babies this past year, while we have a declining enrollment in our local schools. Just because we have a great not-for-profit Upstate Films theatre and people travel from far to come to our movie house, do we expand and put in a Mega Movie House? No, of course not! Rhinebeck does not need it nor do we want it.

The overall proposal is unacceptable to the Rhinebeck community. This was stated clearly in the Rhinebeck’s COMMUNITY VISION as clearly outlined in the THE RHINEBECK PLAN developed by Sally Mazzarella and her committee members and approved by the Rhinebeck Town Board with full support from the Rhinebeck Village Board. Just a few of the items follow:

􀂉 Adopt innovative solutions to preserve open space and the rural landscape, and adaptive reuse of existing buildings; cooperate with the village in planning a smart growth strategy. Discourage sprawl;

􀂉 Preserve gateways to the village and hamlet, and create/maintain greenbelts (distinct edges) around these settled areas to preserve the identities of the village and town.

􀂉 Preserve the town’s historic character, as defined by historic buildings and features.

􀂉 Develop a better understanding of traffic conditions, regional transportation plans, and transportation alternatives.

􀂉 Connect the town and village with a network of walking and biking trails.

��� Protect water quality and water resources.

􀂉 Adopt signage and lighting standards to reduce visual clutter, enhance community character and reduce light pollution.

Health Quest has not only ignored the following in the Rhinebeck Plan, but they also have failed to be good community advocates:

“On the importance of protecting and managing community resources, three out of four respondents placed a high regard on environmental, cultural, and agricultural resources. Other community resources, such as the Northern Dutchess Hospital and libraries were also considered very important or important, but only slightly less so.

The overall picture that emerges is of residents who enjoy the rural and historic character of the community, feel strongly about the village as the center of the community, and wish to have a say in the way development is occurring. Residents, by an overwhelming majority, favor community resource protection, but they also wish to see the tax base expanded with limited new commercial growth that is developed in a small scale manner, serves local needs, is locally-owned and operated (i.e. no national franchises) and is managed in an environmentally sound manner.”

To continue, “Town officials have been presented with a clear mandate: Residents overwhelmingly like the town just the way it is, and are not interested in any growth that would not be considered ‘smart.’ Residents place extraordinarily high value on the community and environmental resources that make Rhinebeck a special place to live, and will only tolerate new development if it respects and conserves those values. Residents understand the implications of failing to establish clear smart growth policies and ensuring their implementation.”

Where was Health Quest’s “2nd Phase Plan” in June, 2008. Their medical services are already way beyond the needs of Rhinebeck and the Northern Dutchess County area. Health Quest is building an empire to service Kingston, Ulster County, Columbia County, Poughkeespie and who knows where else. Northern Dutchess Hospital, a voluntary, non-profit institution located on Route 9 on the corner of Montgomery Street and Route 9, is part of the Health Quest health care system, which includes Vassar Brothers Medical Center, Putnam Hospital and other affiliates. We do not need this kind of growth here in Rhinebeck. Kingston is more suitable as a medical hub than Rhinebeck. Our small community is just too small for this kind of unnecessary growth.

We live in Rhinebeck and we are urging The Village ZBA to delay any expansion until the community has more time to investigate its need of this large expansion that goes against everything in THE RHINEBECK PLAN written by Sally Mazzarella with community input.

Letter to the Editor:
When my children were growing up, I worked full-time, as did my husband. My children were involved in various athletics. I, my husband, and my kid’s grandparents traveled a lot to get the kids to sports while we ran ourselves ragged. Now, I see my neighboring community in Rhinebeck, which is filled with hardworking and educated people presented with a golden opportunity to develop a Community Rec Center where residents could go to one place to serve the needs of all families, but Rhinebeck is passing up this opportunity in favor of open space.
The Thompson-Mazzarella Recreation Park, a public park purchased and paid for by taxpayers, is before the Planning Board for site plan approval. The park is 82 acres, yet only 1 turf field is being proposed together with 2 baseball fields for recreation! Various athletic groups have repeatedly asked for more athletic fields to be added to the plan. The athletic groups have not asked for taxpayer money, but have offered to donate labor and materials to build the fields themselves – as they have done so in the past. Instead, they have been met by remarkably resistance from the Park Committee, and the Town – who want to make the Rec Park an open space park instead. Interestingly, a little further north is Red Hook who is also in the process of presenting a new proposed Rec Park plan. Red Hook appears to be much more friendly to its residents: Their park is 1/4 the size of Rhinebeck (22 acres) and they are proposing 4 new soccer fields and 2 new baseball fields!
I don’t understand why RECREATION can not be an equal concept in Rhinebeck’s “Rec Park”. It’s not just a park. Who makes up the Committee who designed this Park anyway? It seems the Committee’s central mission is to preserve open space and expand walking trails while limiting the number of athletic fields – even though it is a huge parcel of Rec space to share. Why is the Rhinebeck residents’ petition urging the Town to put more athletic fields at the Rec Park being ignored in favor of open-space? Was there a needs-analysis for the walking trails that are on the plan? Evidently there’s over 300 miles of walking trails in Dutchess County, but the petition and needs for more fields are simply not enough to add more athletic fields to the Rec Park? I drive around and see people playing sports in fields anywhere they can seem to grab some flat space. Why are taxpayers being denied a Rec Park that represents the needs of the community? Whomever is designing this park seems to want to make it all park and very little recreation.
The hearing on this is on September 17, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. in Rhinebeck’s Village Hall.Residents should come out and tell the Town that they want RECREATION put into its only Rec Park and that open space should not silence the need for residents wanting a little bit of space to play on at the Community Rec Center. There seems to be plenty of room there for both with 82 acres. How sad for Rhinebeck if they miss this opportunity.
Jean Genovese

The Public Hearing is scheduled for  6/18 (Tuesday)

at 7:30 p.m. at the Rhinebeck Village Hall.


Letter to the Editor:  June 17th, 2013

Linda Murray wrote:

I am a Rhinebeck Soccer League (“RSL”) Coach (GU10), Secretary on the RSL Board, wife, mother of 2 children, volunteer, and a practicing lawyer.

Background on Rec Park:
In short, about ten years ago, the Town/Village of Rhinebeck purchased land adjacent to Rhinebeck’s Rec Park for approximately $800,000. As a result, the Rhinebeck Rec Park now consists of approximately 82 acres. Despite its new size, the Thompson Mazzarella Park Committee (“TMPC”) has held steadfast with its site plan that proposes only 1 soccer field and 2 baseball fields. Currently, local athletic groups struggle to find fields, maintain them, and share them. RSL’s enrollment alone is over 200 players and this does not take into consideration the Mens’ League Soccer, Womens’ League, the Hispanic American Soccer League, the High School teams, Modified teams, Lacrosse, field hockey, or any other sport. Now, put this into perspective with our neighbor: Red Hook’s new proposed Rec Park is only 22 acres and they are proposing 4 new soccer fields and 2 new baseball fields. This does not include the 12 acres that Greig Farm has preserved for its Soccer Club!

Money and Legal Documents:
Dutchess County gave the Town/Village of Rhinebeck ~$285,000 in taxpayer money towards the acquisition costs of the property on the condition that the Town/Village amend the language in an existing Conservation Easment (held my Winnakee Land Trust). In exchange for that County taxpayer money, the Town/Village/Winnakee complied and the language was amended and the new “USE” of the Rhinebeck Rec Park property was re-defined as follows:
“The Property shall be used solely as a public park devoted to outside (outdoor) recreational uses, both active and passive, and to the extent consistent therewith, agricultural, forestry, horticultural and related purposes . . . Active outside (outdoor) recreational uses . . . include but are not limited to organized sports and related facilities, such as ball fields, soccer fields, tennis and basketball courts, but exclude motorized activities.”

Then, in 2009 the Town Board adopted a Master Plan for the Park which states that “new recreation fields will take approximately 17 acres of active agricultural lands out of production.” Master Plan, p.1, para. 2. Yet, active recreation in the proposed site plan constitutes only 5.4 acres of space. This is less than 32% of the adopted plan and quoted 17 acre development approved by the Town Board’s Master Plan.

Notwithstanding all of the above, the TMPC has strongly resisted adding more active recreational fields. Instead, they have devoted most of the Rec Park to walking trails and open space.

Public Outcry:
In support of more active recreation at Rhinebeck’s Rec Park, several months ago we have introduced a petition to the Town with approximately 250 signatures supporting more soccer fields. We introduced an analysis of needs for more soccer fields and/or athletic fields in our community. Seventeen (17) people spoke at a Rhinebeck Planning Board hearing on 12/17/12 [one week before Christmas] imploring the TMPC to add more soccer fields. Lacrosse was at that same hearing asking that they be considered in equation too because they have no fields to play on either. Several lawyers appeared on behalf of a Group of “Concerned Citizens” stressing the need for the TMPC to go back to the table and listen to its constituents and add more active recreation fields – as they were required to do.

The TMPC has added no new active recreation fields since the last hearing date nor have they announced any plans to do so. Instead, they have introduced plans to the Town Board just 2 months ago showing  NO added active recreation for our youth.

Rhinebeck Rangers

Rhinebeck Rangers

Taxpayer money was specifically earmarked to use this property for recreation. Taxpayers are stretched to the limit today and told to do more with less. Here, the County gave Rhinebeck a golden opportunity to enhance its only Rec Park to meet the needs of all generations, including its youth. Yet, taxpayers’ money to improve the Rec Park for everyone is being directed towards open space in lieu of more soccer/sports fields.

Youth sports are vital to our children’s’ mental, physical, and emotional growth. Obesity is a national epidemic. Evidently, the County saw those needs when it told Rhinebeck to change its conservation easement before they gave it money to buy the property. This agreement with the County and these needs have fallen on deaf ears in Rhinebeck. I and my brother-in-law (Robert Murray) have spear-headed this effort and devoted 100s of hours on just trying to get Rhinebeck to comply with legal agreements that were signed by public officials years ago. We have 100s of supporters. Notwithstanding, Rhinebeck’s new Rec Park site plan proposes 1 field devoted to soccer/lacrosse on 82 acres.

Thank you,

Linda  Murray

December 14, 2012
To the Editor:
In remembering Drayton Grant as the year ends, we want to pay special tribute to her many spontaneous acts of kindness and generosity which have been the catalyst for numerous enduring projects and traditions in the Hudson Valley and beyond. One of the notable projects is the U.S.-Africa Partnership for Building Stronger Communities African-themed benefit brunch and cooking demonstration. The colorful event is held annually to raise funds to support travel scholarships for students participating in the SUNY Albany School for Social Welfare Summer Study Tour to Africa program. When Drayton met the project founder, Distinguished Service Professor, Dr. Shirley J. Jones – a Town of Clinton resident – and heard about the program, she recognized a need, quickly engaged some friends, created an ad-hoc committee, and chaired the first benefit in the spring of 2005. Since then, benefit proceeds have enabled more than 40 students – who otherwise would not have been able to afford the travel cost – to have an extraordinary experience of “hands-on” learning about cultural and religious diversity, international social and economic policies, and methods for becoming change agents in our global society. Drayton’s early leadership and continued infectious enthusiasm, determination, boundless energy and generous sponsorship remain our energizer as we plan our 9th annual fundraiser to be held in June 2013. She will always be in our hearts.
The Benefit Committee
Beverly Canin
Joyce Carter-Krawczyk
Frank Cutulo
Linda Goff
Dr. Shirley J. Jones
Joel and Vera Kaplan
Aclen Lewis
Deke and Rene MacPherson
Inka Savrda
Ashley Schoessow
Fritz and Debbie Sonnenschmidt
Shirley Swenson
Margaret Gilliam White
Mary I. Whitehead
Mary Elizabeth Taylor Wohl

November 3, 2012

Thank You Rhinebeck!

I’m sure I speak for so many other parents when I convey my thanks to the people of the village of Rhinebeck for another magical and wonderful Halloween evening. Your spirit, energy and love shone through every time my children marveled at your decorations, ooh-ed at the costumes you wore, and of course giggled with delight as you filled their bags with goodies.
For my 6-year-olds, Halloween is their favorite holiday of the year (yes, even better than Christmas). And who can blame them for thinking so? Walking through the decorated village filled with pumpkins, ghosts and witches as day turns to night, using a police-provided glo-stick to see their way from house to house, laughing and screaming at all the costumes — it is the pure joy of being a child. And watching my children that way is the ultimate joy of being a parent.
The news bombards us with all the horrible things in this world, it sometimes makes it hard to see all the good right in front of our faces. Halloween condenses into one evening the reasons we moved here, and want so much to raise our children here.

Thank you again.

Frank Seldin

August 28, 2012

To the Editor,
The 167th Dutchess County Fair has come and gone for another year. For several years I have been trying to establish an open and cooperative relationship with Fair management. I am pleased to state that in the last several months we have made significant strides in that regard. The current management has been willing to work with us and address our concerns regarding the impact such a large event has on a small Village such  as Rhinebeck. This year’s fair unlike last year was blessed with six days of perfect weather. This served to balance the attendance at the fair over six days and along with the new traffic management plans that we have instituted led to a very effective flow of traffic and pedestrians and ultimately provided for a very positive experience for all. There is not enough room to name all the names but my sincere gratitude goes out to those in Fair management, law enforcement and emergency services that made all of this happen. I have said all along with willing participants great things can happen. It happened this year at the Dutchess County Fair.

Thank you all.
Jim Reardon

NYS Sheep and Wool Festival Concern

August 24,2012

It appears that the NYS Sheep and Wool festival has many Workshops and people come from all over the country to attend October 18-21, 2012 at the fairgrounds.. and there doesn’t appear to be enough local hotel/motel//B&B options. I wonder if the townspeople (readers of this blog) know about http://couchsurfing.org. If not, perhaps you can host some interesting out-of-towner fiber lovers (knitters, etc) for a few days by finding them there. It’s a match making site for travelers and hosts.

Many of you have spare rooms and perhaps hosted a reporter or 2 during the Clinton Marriage thing… Well this website is a well-organized method of hosting and being hosted during your own travels… Etiquette and protocol are all on the website. There’s a Mid-Hudson Valley group…. http://www.couchsurfing.org/group.html?gid=17220 Thanks for helping host visitors to Rhinebeck and beyond! I know that right now, people are trying to book places to stay and have to go 30+ miles away. This is another solution.

Hope it works out for everyone. -D

Thank You, David

Aug 13th, 2012

FYI  to all attempting to sell a house.

A con artist is making a habit of pretending to be a cash buyer, who wants to move in quickly. She gets inspections done, acts excited and honest…… She has no money. She lies constantly and makes false promises. We moved out of our home, everything is on a truck and after 6 days of falling for her excuses and lies, we are moving back in to our house. After consulting g with Redhook and Rhinebeck realtors we are her FIFTH victims. (As far as we know, there may be more). She works in Hannaford if you are concerned and want her name, contact me. She has caused no end of stress and money lost…..I have no understanding why, but if we can stop this happening to another family this post will be worth it.

Thank You,

Louise Lloyd Payne

July 23,2012


Dear parents and community members.

My 13 year old son was taking a walk in Ferncliff Forest, checking out the fish and exploring nature.  He thought a man (~50 years old) was following him and so he started walking in erratic directions and quickly realized that the man was indeed following him.  The man propositioned my son to come into the woods for a “little fun” with him.  My son escaped to the parking lot and a young couple in the Forest called the State Troopers.  The police didn’t arrest the man because he “never touched” my son.  Apparently, according to the police there have been several unsafe incidents in Ferncliff Forest. The local troopers told me that Ferncliff Forest attracts transients’ etc.

PLEASE DO NOT GO ALONE!!! We as parents need constant reminders that these pedophiles and egregious people are everywhere and we must never let our guard down.

Carol Ann Michetti-Stracher

June 27. 2012

Dear Rhinebeck Community Forum:

NYS Assemblyman Kevin Cahill will be my special guest at a Terry Gipson for NYS Senate event this Friday evening, June 29, from 6:30 to 8:30pm, at the Rhinecliff Hotel. Kevin needs no introduction to many in Rhinebeck for whom he currently serves. His district was recently redrawn to include Red Hook, so this will be a great opportunity for the people of Red Hook to meet him, too.

Among many other strong legislative proposals, Kevin is the driving force behind the Equity In Education Act which would improve the quality of public education while reducing reducing property taxes for 95% of New Yorkers. This is a good idea whose time has come. It would allow seniors to stay in their homes longer and encourage working families to stay in New York. I’m the only candidate for the state senate in the 41st district who supports Kevin’s plan and I’m ready to go to Albany work with him to get it done.

All are welcome, so please join us in giving Kevin a warm welcome to Red Hook and Rhinebeck. (More details are available at http://www.terrygipsonny.com/welcome-kevin-cahill.)

Hope to see you Friday!

Terry Gipson
Democratic Candidate
NY State Senate District 41
Dutchess and Putnam County

June 21,2012

To the Residents of the Village of Rhinebeck,

I am once again saddened by the recent attempts by H. Knick Staley to discredit the Rhinebeck Village Board in regards to our effort to construct a new Police Department.

Mr. Staley unsuccessfully ran for the Village Board this past March and one of the issues of his campaign platform was the construction of multi million dollar multi agency facility to house the New York State Police, Rhinebeck Police Department and Rhinebeck Fire Department. Keep in mind that this would require purchasing an additional parcel of land large enough to construct this building, construction costs and infrastructure improvements all funded by the taxpayers. Yet he continues to chastise the Village Board, which for the last two years has painstakingly studied the issue, conducted a lengthy feasibility study, stayed committed to minimizing the impact to the taxpayer and ultimately reached the best possible solution.

In his recent letters to the editor that appeared in the Daily Freeman, Poughkeepsie Journal and the Hudson Valley News Mr. Staley sings the praises of other communities such as Pleasant Valley that purchased a Town Hall building by putting it to the voters. The reality of the situation is that the Pleasant Valley town hall has been flooded out twice over the last several years and it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that if one were a taxpayer in Pleasant Valley one would favor this move. Mr. Staley also commends the Millbrook Village and Town for consolidating their courts.

What he fails to state is that my self and the Village Trustees have undertaken steps to consolidate and share services with the Town. First, we attempted to consolidate the three current Fire Departments into one Fire District. The reality of this situation is we have no legal authority to make this happen. It needs to be a mutual agreement reached by the Commissioners of the three fire companies and we have not been able to achieve that at this time. I am hopeful that in the future this can become a reality.

Second, I approached the Town Board and asked them to partner with us and form a taskforce to study how the Village and Town could share and consolidate regarding waste and recycling. Currently the Town operates the transfer station yet they haul no waste. The Village hauls waste and takes it to the county burn plant in Poughkeepsie. Admittedly, I will not claim to be the smartest person in the world but am I wrong that this does not add up? This taskforce is nearing completion of their study and I am hopeful we can collaborate and operate more efficiently and cost effectively yet once again we have no legal authority to force this. It will require a mutual agreement between the two municipalities.

Third, the Village and the Town Highway departments currently share equipment on an as needed basis. The Town Highway Department has the fuel depot that the Village uses for the Highway Department, Fire Department and Police Department. The Town Highway Department also has the salt storage facility and the Village Highway Department gets their salt form the Town. These last two issues are an example of sharing of services that leads less duplicity and ultimately less cost to the taxpayer.

As far as consolidation of the Town and the Village governments, I am strongly in favor of the town merging into the Village. The village is the heartbeat of the community and as long as that remains I will support it wholeheartedly. The reality is that Mr. Staley uses consolidation as a ruse that he is a champion for the taxpayer when the reality is that he has never been to a Village or Town Board meeting and voiced that. It is no more than political grandstanding on par with Albany and Washington that serves no legitimate purpose.

Mr. Staley talks about the Red Hook Police Department and openly states that they are in trouble. What does he base this outrageous statement on? I personally have had conversations with Mayor Ed Blundell of the Village of Red Hook and state unequivocally that the Red Hook Police Department is not in trouble. In fact our two Villages parallel each other in that we both have Police Departments that provide coverage to our respective towns. The Town Boards recently have cut back their budgets for police coverage. This translates to less coverage for the Town, not that the Village department is in trouble.

Mr. Staley states and I quote “I have asked the Rhinebeck Village Mayor and trustees both in person and writing to put the construction of the new station to a referendum”. I state emphatically he has never once spoken to me about anything concerning the Police Station nor has he attended a meeting about the police station. On May 29, 2012 the Village Board held a workshop meeting to present information to the public. In a May 16, 2012 letter he stated he had a conflict and would be unable to attend (golf league took precedence). In his letter he states and I quote “if the Board wants to borrow money to build more plant rather than consolidate to save money and space, that they put the issue to a permissive refurrendom (sic) and let the taxpayers have a say”. If Mr. Staley was paying attention he would know that this is required by New York State law and the Village Board has complied with those requirements. On June 13, 2012 the Village Board held a public hearing and took comment from the public. Everyone that spoke at that meeting supported the construction of the Police Station and thanked the Village Board for doing due diligence regarding this project. Once again Mr. Staley was not in attendance.

The Rhinebeck Police Department was housed for 14 years at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds for free. Unfortunately there were no plans put in place to address future needs. In 2009 the building became unsafe and had to be torn down. For the last 3 years our Police Department has operated out of a sub-standard rented trailer. They have used an old cell tower building as their locker room. They have operated in a most professional manner and have done what they had to do, not once complaining. As Mayor, New York State law dictates that the Mayor oversees Police operations. Over the last four years I have had the pleasure of getting to know and work with all the members of the Rhinebeck Police Department. They do an outstanding job for Rhinebeck and its’ residents. They deserve better than what they are getting.

In closing I would like to state that I have a difficult time understanding Mr. Staley’s motives for opposing the Police Station. Annually he stages the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot to benefit Ferncliff Forest. The Rhinebeck Police Department provides the traffic control for this event, goes out of their way to make sure this event goes off without any problems and does it at no cost to Mr. Staley or Ferncliff. Perhaps he or we should re-consider.

Jim Reardon

p.s I would encourage everyone to view the public hearing regarding the construction of the Police Station. I will be aired next Tuesday June 26 at 9:15 am and at 2:15 pm. If any one has any questions feel free to contact me at 845-876-7015 or atvillage.mayor@rhinebeck-ny.gov

June 18th, 2012

The American Rottweiler Club been told that A3507 will soon be going to the New York Assembly floor for a vote.  This Bill would prohibit insurers from refusing to issue or renew, cancel, or charge or impose an increased premium for homeowners’ insurance policies based on the breed of a dog owned.

Please use this  link to contact your assembly member and/or as many assembly members as possiblehttp://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/

This is an extremely important bill for anyone who has a dog, no matter what the breed.  Have your friends, family, send emails, faxes and make phone calls.  Please let’s give this our best effort to get this bill passed before Albany shuts down for the summer and all is lost.

If this does not pass in the Assembly it would mean that next year the entire process has to start all over again, in both the Senate and the Assembly.

Eileen M. Rowley
Atlantis Mediation
216 Zipfeldburg Road
Rhinebeck, NY  12572

March 19, 2012

The latest round of campaign literature distributed by the Staley/Klaproth campaign makes the claim that I am “An Angry Mayor‘. They obviously do not know me very well and I would state that the word that best describes me is passionate. Passionate about the Village of Rhinebeck and serving the people is who I am.
They also refer to my “handpicked” team. Admittedly I recruited Wayne, Howie, Terry and Brant and I support all of them as they are good men that work exceptionally hard. I would remind Mr. Staley and Ms. Klaproth that I only get one vote and it is the voters in this Village that picked them, not I.
They go on to state that I “want a compliant board so badly that I have been authoring vitrolic screeds attacking them”. One only needs to read the papers and blogs to get a clear understanding that all I have done is present facts that have countered their claims.
It is they who are angry and it is because I will not tow the party line. I told them this at the Republican caucus upfront and face to face. They now are saying that I am openly campaigning for Terry and Brant throughout the Village. Excuse me for being honest. The last time I checked, this was the United States of America and we have a constitution that guarantees me the right to campaign and support the candidate of my choosing. For them to even make that statement is a clear indication of their belief system and political stance.
Tomorrow the voters will have their say. They have a choice, select candidates that will work hard, openly and honestly for everyone in the village or vote for people who want to deny you your rights if you do not agree with them and bring political dysfunction to our Village. The choice is yours, choose wisely.
Yours truly,
Mayor Jim Reardon

March 18th, 2012

Brant Neuneker, Village Trustee on cable franchise agreement

I guess I need to address my position that I would like to pursue the option of getting more money for theVillage of Rhinebeck under a new cable franchise agreement one more time.  I don’t understand why this issue is being belabored by the opposition.  I never imagined it would be controversial.

Mr. Ely points out that our that our cable franchise agreement is not expired  and that it will never expire because it is automatically renewed by New York State.  The agreement is expired by its terms and for purposes of this analysis, the fact that it is automatically renewed by operation of law (something I am aware of) is a distinction without a difference.

In fact, my source tells me (a free ethical consultant) that the state imposed an automatic renewal of the agreement because it was intended to give the parties a contract during a period when they were engaging in re-negotiations.  It is probably an indicator there is some weakness in the regulatory framework if a contract is automatically renewed into perpetuity where such negotiations don’t exist.

I didn’t make any misleading implications that we can get Time Warner to contribute $400,000-$500,000 for PANDA support.  What I specifically wrote was that, “One of the consultants thinks there is a possibility we could retrieve $400,000-$500,000 for the five local communities…”  I wish to pursue this and neglect the interests of the Village, if I don’t.  I didn’t think I had to clarify my position by saying that I wish to use only affordable consultants—it is obvious.

The taxpayer/cable ratepayer allocation for PANDA contributions (for either capital or non-capital items) will be discussed openly down the road if a probability of recovering PANDA funding presents itself.  I welcome Mr. Ely’s contributions to the discussion when we reach that point.  Such a discussion won’t be resolved here.

We did get PANDA contributions in our original agreement, the presumption is that both a) this is a good thing and b) since the contract was for ten years, long expired, maybe we should affordably seek some more.  If I am about to make a mistake in this harmless pursuit, I am sure my fellow board members will be the first to tell me.

Yours, Brant Neuneker, Village Trustee.

March 19th, 2012


There are numerous inaccuracies and incomplete/misleading information in the letters to the editor here about the village’s cable franchise. Four such items are detailed below:

1) The statement that the Village’s cable television franchise “has been expired for years” is false. By law, the contract is automatically renewed by New York State and never expires.

This is easily verified. Visit the Village clerk’s office and ask to see the franchise documents. By law, all of these documents (including the renewal) must be kept there and made available for public inspection.

The mindset of whether the contract “has been expired for years” vs. the mindset that we have a contract that remains in full force forever will prove foundational to how successful the Village is in its dealings with the cable company (see item 4 below). Any attorney qualified to participate in cable television franchise would tell you that our cable franchise is not expired and will never expire under the current New York laws. Any ethical expert/consultant would tell you the same thing.

2) Implying that negotiations can get Time Warner to contribute $400,000 to $500,000 to PANDA’s support is misleading.

In the case of our current contract, PANDA support was very modest and limited to equipment only. There were no funds for PANDA staffing, operations, rent, utilities, services or other non-capital expenses.

As the industry currently operates, any significant new monies for PANDA equipment will be obtained directly from cable customers via a further increase on the line of their monthly bill labeled “Franchise Fee”. This is very different from a corporate contribution and very different from winning a concession in a negotiation, as explained below.

Under the current laws, the Village can impose a Franchise Fee when a cable television company uses the Village streets to “run their cables” to their customers’ property within the Village. The Franchise Fee is then listed as a line item charge on cable customers’ bills, then collected by the cable company and then sent straight to Village government. Simply put, a Franchise Fee is the Village’s cable tax.

The mindset of whether you’re trying to take from cable company’s profits vs. just taking more from local subscribers will prove foundational to how successful the Village is in its dealings with the cable company (see item 4 below). Again, any ethical expert/consultant would tell you this upfront.

3) Inferring that $400,000 to $500,000 more could be raised through the Franchise Fee to support the operations (e.g. staffing, operations, rent or other non-capital expenses) of PANDA is similarly misleading. The Village is already at the maximum amount allowed by law in this category.

Again, any ethical expert/consultant would tell you this upfront and understanding the limits of law will prove foundational to how successful the Village is in its dealings with the cable company (see item 4 below).

4) The statement about getting the five municipalities (Red Hook, Tivoli and Rhinebeck towns and villages) together in a collaborative effort to get more money from the cable company is incomplete because it ignores some very important history.

Red Hook, Tivoli and Rhinebeck worked together in the late 1990s and paid one of the leading telecommunications law firms in America to help us enforce our current cable contracts. Upon succeeding in this enforcement effort, this law firm was asked to take on the job of re-negotiating our cable franchise with Time Warner for us. They respectfully declined, telling us that we had some of the best cable contracts they’d ever seen and that no one else has been able to get a cable contract anywhere near as great as ours in many, many years. This law firm went so far as to say it would unethical for them to take the Village’s money for trying to re-negotiate and advised all five municipalities to keep their existing cable franchise contracts, which will never expire under current law.

In 2002, ignoring this advice, Red Hook and Tivoli got together on their own to re-negotiate their cable contracts with Time Warner. After paying over $50,000 for their “expert/consultant”, Red Hook and Tivoli went to a public hearing for their proposed replacement cable franchise contract. There was a public outcry at this public hearing over the glaring inadequacies of the proposed replacement contract and all that their citizens would lose under this new deal. The proposed replacement contract was then abandoned and Red Hook and Tivoli ended up staying with their current cable franchise contracts after wasting over $50,000 of taxpayer monies on their “expert/consultant”.

Poated by Joe Ely

 March 18th, 2012

Dear Editor,

Thanks for providing the Rhinebeck Community Forum. It has helped fill the
void of not having a local newspaper, and your hard work in maintaining
this site is greatly appreciated.

My name is Terry Gipson and I am seeking re-election as a Rhinebeck
Village Trustee on Tuesday, March 20.

I would like to respond to a letter from resident Ellen E. Moore, who
recently posted a reply to Mayor Jim Reardon’s “Facts for Rhinebeck
Residents”.  Hopefully, this will help clarify some of the questions she
raised about my position on various issues.

Rhinebeck is my home. My business and my family and friends are based
right here.  I am passionate about serving this community to help preserve
its outstanding quality of life. That’s always been my commitment as a
Village Trustee, and I hope to be re-elected so that I can help continue
all the progress we have made over the last two years.

My passion for public service is also why I am a candidate for the NY
State Senate in this November’s election. It has always been quite normal
for current elected officials to seek higher office. Our new County
Executive is a good example. He has continually and successfully run for
other positions while being Mayor, County Legislator, and State Assembly

I am excited about continuing to advocate for Rhinebeck as a Trustee, and
my Senate Campaign has not and will not interfere with my sworn duties to
protect and defend the Village of Rhinebeck.  If I am fortunate to be
elected this Tuesday, then one of two things will happen in November:

1.  I will be elected to the State Senate and our community will a new
energetic voice advocating for us in Albany. As state law would require me
to resign as Trustee effective January 1, 2013, Rhinebeck’s Mayor would
appoint a temporary replacement. This Trustee would hold the office for
three months, and in March, 2013, Rhinebeck Villagers would elect a new
Trustee as part of our yearly Village elections.

2. I will not be elected to the State Senate, and I will continue to serve
Rhinebeck as diligently as I have been for the last two years. Rhinebeck
will then have a Trustee whose political capital has increased beyond
measure.  That’s a powerful asset when trying to get things done on a
County or State level for Rhinebeck – a place that has often been ignored
by these entities in years past.

I, along with my supporters and my neighbors, see this as a “win win”
opportunity for Rhinebeck, and I appreciate all the support I continue to
receive throughout our community in both of these endeavors.

In response to questions about “the events code”, I can speak to what I
currently know on this subject. There is no events code in the Village. A
draft of a proposed code was workshopped last year and presented at two
public hearings after that. The public response prompted the Board to form
a community steering committee to examine this subject in more detail.
Currently, we are looking for ten committee members to represent each of
the following groups (two per group): Village Residents, Chamber of
Commerce/local business, Dutchess County Agricultural Society, local
not-for-profit organizations, and public safety.  We have received many
applications from residents and business owners that want to serve on this
committee, and we are in the process of reviewing them all.  It is
important that we give equal consideration to every applicant and I am
committed to making sure the committee is independent, non-partisan, and
fairly reflects the diverse interests in our Village.

Regarding the issue of our cable franchise agreement. Thanks to the
efforts of Trustee Neuneker, we have obtained information from expert
consultants in this field.  There is potential for taxpayer savings and
increased revenue from Time Warner to the Village. In my opinion, pursuing
such potential cost-saving options are what a dedicated and pro-active
public servant should do whenever possible for the people they serve.

The Village Board is in the process of preparing the budget for the coming
fiscal year. This is a lengthy and complicated process. The new 2% tax cap
requirement has made it even more so.  Both Trustee Neuneker and I
attended a state-sponsored tax cap workshop earlier this year to make sure
we were up to speed on the challenging new regulations.  It is still too
early in the process to say how the cap will effect us, and I encourage
anyone that is interested in this issue to attend our budget workshops. As
we have done for the last two years, it is our intention to help prepare
the most cost-effective budget we can in order to provide the services
vital to the residents of Rhinebeck.

As always, I am happy to discuss any issue and I can be reached at
917-834-5432 or Terry@GipsonDesignGroup.com. I am continuing to go door to
door over the next few days.  When you see me, please feel free to stop
and say hello.

It would be an honor to continue serving my community, and I ask for your
vote on Tuesday, March 20, at Town Hall. The polls are open from 12:00
Noon to 9:00 PM.


Terry Gipson
Rhinebeck Village Trustee

March 18th, 2012

Supporting and reelecting Brant Neuneker and Terry Gipson as Village Trustees is in the best interest of all Rhinebeck residents. Their due diligence and thoughtful work has been an example of what makes public service, when performed in such a manner, a truly unselfish act. Both have no personal special interest in each and every opinion they have forwarded to the Board, only their desire to move Rhinebeck forward in accomplishing the many public policies and work that have been left lingering for years. Having attended Village meetings and watched many on PANDA I have always been impressed at the level of thoughtful discussion and preparedness both have exhibited.
Their opposition have created for themselves fictitious opponents to campaign against forwarding misrepresentations of the facts and history of their work. This type of politics serves no purpose other than to grind progress to a halt and divide citizens into opposing “camps”.
Please get out and vote this Tuesday for what I believe are two of Rhinebeck’s best and honorable citizens.
Thank you
Posted by Jeff Romano

March 18th, 2012

A vote for Brenda Klaproth and Knick Staley is a vote for RESPONSIBILE GOVERNMENT and not the games that Neuneker and Gipson are playing with the current village board. I will be SO glad when this election is DONE. The mud slinging by the incumbents has been an absolute disgrace. They should hang their heads in shame!

Posted by Steven Mann

March 18th 2012

 Brenda Klaproth commented on Rhinebeck Village Trustee Brant Neuneker Responds to Mike Collins cable franchis letter.

From both a legal and a practical standpoint, Mr. Neuneker is wrong in saying the Village’s cable franchise is expired. This can be verified by calling the NYS Public Service Commission and asking them if the Village has a cable franchise in force with Time Warner.

In addition, if he checks the record he will see that the Public Service Commission was requested to do an audit in 2000 and another in 2004. Following this precedent one should have been requested in 2008. Since I came off the board in March 2008, I do not know if an audit was done. “But wait”. Mr. Reardon was on the board so I suggest that he be asked.

A check was received in 2002 from Time Warner for the discrepancy found in the 2000 audit, and most likely for the latter audit as well.

Posted by Brenda Klaproth, Candidate for Village Trustee

March 17, 2012

Rhinebeck Community Forum

To the editor:

On March 20, I’m voting for Terry Gipson and Brant Neuneker for Rhinebeck’s Village board. I have looked at the arguments and proposals made by their opponents – along with Ms. Klaproth’s record as a previous board member. I see nothing to suggest that they will do a better job. If you do your own research, I think you’ll agree.

Rhinebeck has something rare. At a time when ranting and raving seems more common than thoughtful discussion, our Village board has focused on the issues. Brant and Terry have been critical to this atmosphere.

By listening to all viewpoints and then calmly and thoughtfully pursuing the Village’s best interests, they have helped foster non-partisan cooperation and civility that has led to more progress than the Village has seen in many years. If we don’t re-elect Terry and Brant to the board, many initiatives will be at risk, including:

• Efforts to ensure that back up plans addressing safety, traffic, parking, etc., are in place when large events are held at the fairgrounds or elsewhere in the Village;

• Action on the recommendations of our Pedestrian Task Force;

• Improved enforcement of the existing Village plan;

• Enhanced transparency, outreach, and community involvement;

• Ongoing and sensible planning for police and fire services;

• Infrastructure maintenance and repair; and

• Planning for shared services that will save money for the Town and Village

Please join me in voting for civility and good government. Let’s reelect Brant Neuneker and Terry Gipson.

 Posted by Debi Duke

March 17th, 2012

Gipson, Neuneker are good for Rhinebeck and deserve re-election

For the past four years, I have attended every sin­gle Rhinebeck village meeting, often being the lone citizen there. I’ve ob­served how a collabora­tive relationship among the five trustees devel­oped that has led to fo­cused problem-solving. Unlike the dysfunctional bickering in Albany and Washington, this biparti­san group (three Republi­cans, two Democrats) has tackled complex, long overdue village issues.

Through rigorous analysis and by involving experts, volunteers, the county Planning Depart­ment and state agencies in open workshops, public hearings and countless public meetings, they have grappled with park­ing problems, sidewalks, the fire department, the need to appropriately house the police depart­ment, drainage issues, trees, signage, trash pick­up, long-term capital planning, and instituted ethics and procurement policies, to name a few. They have done all of this by actually controlling spending! The two Democrats, Terry Gipson and Brant Neuneker, are seeking re­election on Tuesday. But, I am scratching my head in puzzlement when I read the literature of their op­ponents. Suggestions like moving the fire and police departments would incur huge tax hikes. Other­wise, they offer neither new plans nor ideas, but would continue current policies. That’s a nice trib­ute to the incumbents.

The current team is one of the hardest work­ing, most dedicated group serving all Rhinebeck’s stakeholders. Terry Gip­son and Brant Neuneker deserve another term to work with their Republi­can counterparts to en­sure Rhinebeck’s eco­nomic vitality.

Posted by Heinz Sauer, Rhinebeck

March 16th, 2011

A response to FACTS FOR THE RESIDENTS OF RHINEBECK. Plus some thoughts on Terry Gipson running for the New York State Senate.

In reading Mayor Reardon’s “post” he wants to make clear that “We [village board] do not have the time nor the energy to let political affiliation enter into our decision making process. Who has said it does? Mayor Reardon, in fairness to all of the candidates not one has publicly said this election is about “political” affiliation. The Democrats website does reference cross-party support as the reason to establish a second line on the ballot as ‘Rhinebeck United’. That’s kind of dealing with “political” affiliation. Both parties stated their party affiliation during their programs on PANDA. There is also the matter of not having a list of names for the Events Code Steering Committee ready for presentation at the March 13 Village board meeting. Okay, that doesn’t have much to do with “political” affiliation but it sure sounds like politics!

I understand the point of Mayor Reardon’s post is to provide me (a voter) with facts and “point out inconsistencies that will allow [the voters] to make a decision based on reality”. Mayor Reardon’s post was very long. It was difficult for me to see all the facts and inconsistencies he was trying to point out.

So, to try to better understand what “facts” Mayor Reardon was presenting to me, I decided to search in his post for those issues which are also being considered by the candidates. In listening to the candidates on PANDA I think their campaigns are addressing primarily 3 issues: the property behind the firehouse (14 Center Street), the cable franchise with Time Warner, and the 2% tax cap. The Republican candidates also mentioned the Events Code. My apologies to Mr. Neuneker and Mr. Gipson if I do not include them as also seeing the Events Code as an issue. Neither men spoke clearly about it on the PANDA program, “A Conversation Between Trustees Brant Neuneker and Terry Gipson”. However, Brant Neuneker was working on a draft for the Events Code and at a 2/8/11 Village Board meeting spoke about that draft. Again, my apologies if I perceived Mr. Neuneker and Mr. Gipson as not seeing the Events Code as having become an issue to address.

 1.)The 14 Center Street property behind the firehouse:

Mayor Reardon, you posted many ideas by Mr. Staley regarding this property and the Fire Department/Village Hall building. These thoughts you could not “get my hands” around and then gave about 10 statements as facts that you thought would help me as a voter get clarity on this issue. As I read them I found only 1 relevant fact; the property was purchased with the plan to convert it to a police station. Everything else is either an opinion, an interpretation of an opinion, a negation of comments Mr. Staley may or may not have made as you have written them, or not germane to 14 Center Street.

You are correct that the building itself is not a “significant structure” With few exceptions, no structure on its own would be listed on the National Register.

The Village Board considers the option of removing the building and replacing it with a “new and modest stand alone police facility of approximately 2000 square feet” as the most cost effective solution. I don’t think this option takes into account the needs associated with a specialized building and what those needs cost. I also don’t think this option takes into account future growth which is anticipated for the village. This option also seems contrary to a goal of both Mr. Neuneker and Mr. Gipson who want a thriving community that attracts tourists and people who want to move here, start families and send their children to our schools. In essence, a community that grows.

You write that what will ultimately happen to the property has not been decided. It is in the “discovery phase”. So, in essence, all ideas can be still on the table.

Even those you can’t get your hands around.

 2.)The cable franchise with Time Warner:

No facts given. It makes sense not to try to give any. This is a complicated area and best left to people who are experts.

 3.)The 2% tax cap:

No facts given. Possibly there is an allusion to addressing the cap when your post mentions approaching the Town Board with the “idea of forming a joint Town/Village task force to study solid waste.” Or, that the Village Board “formed a group to look at the possible consolidation of the Rhinebeck, Hillside and Rhinecliff Fire Departments and that process is ongoing.” This, however, is not something the current Village Board can take credit for as the idea has been discussed for at least the last 5 years.

At the end of this section of your post you write a comment about the groups the Village Board formed and include, “…and neither Mr. Staley nor Ms. Klaproth volunteered for any of these worthwhile projects.” What a disrespectful and unprofessional comment to make about two people who have given much of their own time over the course of decades to worthwhile projects, societies and events in our village. You owe them an apology Mayor Reardon.

 4.)The Events Code:

Mayor Reardon your post states “no one came” to the work shop (not true) or village meetings when the Events Code was initially discussed. Then, “finally people showed up and voiced their opinions” at two public hearings. I believe it was after people “finally” showed up and voiced their opinion that the Board “listened to the people”. And there were some pretty interesting people who showed up too! Lets see…..

Well, to start with a packed house full of village and town residents and business owners who had lots of opinions to voice. Others who showed up included: Linda Keech, the Executive Director with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Dutchess County talking about the 4H program at the Fairgrounds; Richard Golden counsel for the Cornell Cooperative Extension; Don Fleming of the Rhinebeck Aerodrome; Robert Babirad speaking on behalf of the Rhinebeck Chamber of Commerce; Deborah Breen Executive Director of Northern Dutchess Hospital Foundation with concerns about what may be driving the development of the Code and Colleen Cruikshank Executive Director of the Rhinebeck Area Chamber of Commerce with a letter from Charles North of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce expressing strong opposition to the proposed legislation.

I know, I know, the Events Code was not about the Dutchess County Fairgrounds/Fair and that was then this is now and there was going to be a Steering Committee to address these concerns (but has since been tabled). Mayor, what happened that even people representing the Dutchess County Regional Chambers of Commerce, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Northern Dutchess Hospital Foundation, and our local Chamber of Commerce thought the Events Code was about the Fairgrounds. Where did the communication network with the community the Village Board says it has break down?

Isn’t it something that despite the presence of the Village lawyer and a trustee with law in his background, the Board was not able to see the problems with the draft; the language used, some of the content in the draft, as well as the redundancy of the content as it related to statutes already in place at the county and state levels?

Your post commented on other matters besides the campaign issues in his post. For example, a number of times he makes reference to the Republican candidates use of the phrase “institutional memory” and not knowing what the phrase means. Don’t sell yourself short Mayor. You grasp what the phrase means. You simply chose to take a phrase that was void of emotional content and embelish it into one with a negative connotation. By taking that liberty you then used it to present the Village Clerk and Lawyer as victims of it. You used them to apply some political spin with emotional buttons. Not very nice of you Mr. Mayor.

Sorry Mayor Reardon, overall I didn’t see many facts in your post; but I did see a couple of tigers in the livingroom and something kinda funny.

Here’s a tiger…. How can it be, with the turn out the Village Board got regarding the Events Code, that Mr. Neuneker, Mr. Gipson, and given your involvement with their campaign, you, have not spoken to that meeting either on their PANDA program or you, through a post as this campaign has progressed? I am not referring to the next step in the process of achieving an Events Code. I am talking about recognizing the public, the response you got from us and the lessons you learned. Lets face it, you boys got busted on this one! The absence of a personal response from the Board; but primarily the candidates on the Board, is cowardly and demostrates a concerted effort to avoid the topic and create distance from it. Those two strategies are very political. It is also shows a lack of ownership of the mess you Mayor Reardon and they helped create. Instead of owning the mess and saying something like,  “Look, democracy is messy;  we jump in, we can make big mistakes, but we learn. Here is what each of us has learned from the Events Code concept so far and here is the direction we hope to bring to the table…”

Oh look! Another tiger………..Terry Gipson running for the New York State Senate. Really? But I notice all his signs telling us to Vote for Gip have disappeared. Well, at least in Rhinebeck. I heard even the bumper sticker he had on his car is gone. But don’t fret. I’ve seen the bumper sticker on other cars. So ‘Gip’, help us kick the tiger out of the living room. Give us the scoop. Are you or aren’t you still running for the New York State Senate? How are you juggling your campaign for State Senator with your campaign for Village Trustee. I imagine some of your public appearances have to be triaged. Mayor Reardon, have you and the Board been doing some thinking and talking about the future in case Mr. Gipson wins? Or, confident he won’t so you don’t give the matter much thought. Or, you figure you’ ll cross that bridge when you come to it? And the Mayor considers the Village Board transparent…………

C’mon now Gip how “excited” (your word used on the PANDA program) can you be to get back to the job of Village Trustee when you’re running for the NYS Senate? How committed can you be to the job of Village Trustee? It could explain why you lean more toward ideas than specifics when you speak. Kind of makes the word “excited” and for that matter most everything else you says sound like rhetoric. Mr. Gipson, the ethical thing to have done would be to have removed yourself as a candidate for Village Trustee.

Okay, enough about the tigers. Here’s something funny I read in your post Mayor Reardon. The Village Board formed an Ethics Board. That’s not the funny part. And back in 2010 the current Village Board passed an Historic Preservation law “for the express purpose of protecting the historic character of our village”. That’s not the funny part either. Then Mayor Reardon said, about the law, “As a governmental agency we had no obligation to abide by this law we enacted”. Now THAT’S funny!

Check out the candidates programs on PANDA.See the schedule on PANDA’s website.

Posted by Ellen E. Moore, Resident

Rhinebeck Village Trustee Brant Neuneker Responds to  Mike Collins cable franchis letter on March 7th

March 13th, 2012 

In his letter dated March 7, Mike Collins is critical of my statement that we should pursue a cable franchise re-negotiation for the Village of Rhinebeck in an effort to get more money from Time Warner.  This letter is in response to his post.  No actually Mr. Collins, Time Warner has not been knocking on our doors in an effort to renegotiate our franchise agreement.  We have not heard from them in a long time.  But I do have years and years of experience in negotiating commercial contracts, many times in a setting where I represented a fly speck party against an entity with much greater bargaining leverage.  I learned that it absolutely doesn’t hurt to ask for terms that can be beneficial to a client.  What can we lose?

Our current agreement has been expired for years but contained a contribution from TCI to support PEG Access Channels.  In our case this would be support for PANDA.  Logically the contributions were intended to be for support over the original ten year term of the agreement.

In fact, I have spoken to two consultants on this issue both of whom think we should be asking for PEG dollars as part of a new agreement negotiation.  One of the consultants thinks there is a possibility we could retrieve $400,000-$500,000 for the five local communities that you mention in your letter.  I won’t apologize for pursuing this issue.  It will be difficult to get these municipalities together in a collaborative effort to get more money from the cable provider but I neglect the interests of the Village of Rhinebeck if I don’t try.

Interestingly, you point out that the New York Public Service Commission (Commission) does cable franchise revenue audits for free.  My research reveals the Commission will analyze the previous two years revenue as part of its analysis and even then does not collect the lost revenue for the municipalities.

Since 2007, it would appear that Time Warner has been calculating the revenue share appropriately for the Village of Rhinebeck,  No red flags would appear then from such a state audit.

However, the consultant we retained (who is paid on a percentage of money retrieved and not fees up front) has discovered that in 2005 and 2006 the Village of Rhinebeck may have been underpaid to the tune of about $15,600.  That’s almost $8,000 per year.  Because of the six year statute of limitations, 2005 is as far back as we can collect.  But wait.  Brenda Klaproth, one of my opponents in the upcoming village trustee race, is strangely criticizing my efforts to analyze our franchise agreement revenues.  Why didn’t she just fix the issue when she was on the board in 2006?

Brant Neuneker, Village of Rhinebeck Trustee


On March 20, 2012 the voters of the Village of Rhinebeck will be charged with selecting two individuals to represent them for the next two years by voting in the Village elections. This is our Democratic process at work.

For the record I am a registered Republican. Over the last several years I have had the distinct pleasure of working with Wayne Rifenburgh (Republican), Howard Traudt (Independent), Terry Gibson (Democrat) and Brant Neuneker (Democrat). This board has been a very cohesive, practical, thoughtful, hardworking group of individuals that has only one desire and that is to do the job we were asked to do, work for our community. We do not have the time nor the energy to let political affiliation enter into our decision making process. We are here to get the job done, period.

In January the Rhinebeck Republican party invited me to a committee meeting, asked my opinion about the upcoming election and I clearly stated that I was in full support of Terry Gibson and Brant Neuneker for all of the aforementioned reasons. The Republican Party has exercised their right and has mounted a campaign in opposition. I fully recognize their right to do so and I applaud Knick Staley and Brenda Klaproth for their willingness to seek public office and work for their community.

However I do take issue with the way they have elected to mount their campaign. They have chosen to mount a campaign that has been critical of the job that the Village Board has done and has been based on a distortion of the truth and misinformation. The reason for this post is to provide the voters in the Village of Rhinebeck with facts and to point out inconsistencies that will allow them to make a decision based on reality.

In a letter to the editor that appears on the back of a campaign palm card dated February 25, 2012 Mr. Staley states “the purchase of the home (14 Center Street) adjacent to the Village municipal building and fire house was a wise thing to do to allow for future expansion. However, the construction of an additional building, behind Village Hall, for the sole use of the Village Police, is not a prudent decision and should be deferred. This decision should be given further study and allow for citizen input”.

“The original idea was to put an addition on the Village Building to house our police. This would save money in construction cost and no additional water and sewer hookups would be necessary. Also maintaining a second building would be more expensive than maintaining one. While housing cost has gone down, new construction has gone up. Building anything in these economic times is not a good idea. Albany is encouraging consolidation of services in our local governments and this should be considered in the Village and Town of Rhinebeck”.

“Village Hall is not a good place for our Fire Department. Getting emergency vehicles out of the Village is neither easy nor safe. Moving the fire station outside of the Village should be considered. This building might also house our police and maybe even the NYS Police who are looking for a new home in Rhinebeck. In this way the Village could share the economic expense of this project. Village Hall would be available for other municipal use, perhaps including bathrooms with access from the outside for the public”. All the above are exact quotes of Mr. Staley and are in writing. They are his opinions and he certainly is entitled to them.

In an article that appeared in the February 29, 2012 Hudson Valley News Mr. Staley then says he “would like to see the village fire department currently located on the first floor of Village Hall moved into a new emergency center which would be shared with the New York State Police. According to Staley the State Police are looking to move out of their current location on Rt 9 and sharing a building would be more cost effective because the cost to build a new emergency center could be recouped through the village’s lease agreement with the state. This move Staley says would free up the lower level of Village Hall which could be used by the village police force. He says it would also enhance safety because emergency vehicles would no longer have to pull out onto Market Street which is often heavily trafficked”. Again all exact quotes of Mr. Staley and again he is entitled to his opinion.

Sorry but I just can’t get my hands around this. I will counter with the following which are factual.

None of the current village board members held office when 14 Center Street was purchased.
The village board at that time purchased it with the intent of converting it to a police station (the original idea). Mr. Staley’s running mate Brenda Klaproth was a member of the village board when it was purchased so if he asks her she can confirm that. Mr. Staley contradicts himself by saying building anything in these times is not a good idea yet he proposes to do exactly that, build a public safety building. He also contradicts himself by saying we should not maintain a second building. Again he proposes to do exactly that.
Contradiction number three no water and sewer hookups, I do not care what you build you need water and you need sewage disposal. Village Hall in not a good place for our Fire Department? The Rhinebeck Fire Department has been housed in the current municipal building since it was constructed and dedicated in 1971. Apparently it was a good idea then. I have been on the board since 2007 and not once has anyone ever expressed to me that there is a safety issue regarding the location of the Fire Department. The fire department primarily serves the Village and is basically centrally located and that alone allows for more efficient operations from a response time perspective and a cost of operation due to mileage, fuel expense etc.
Are police cars not emergency vehicles and they are okay but fire trucks are not?
The current Village Municipal building is 11,600 square feet. The Village offices occupy approximately 3,000 square feet. If we follow Mr. Staley’s proposal and were to build a new public safety building the taxpayers would foot the bill. We would need to purchase yet another piece of property, construct the new facility, incur the expense to retro fit the downstairs of the Village Hall to a police department if after paying for a feasibility study that would show we could do so, and still have a dilapidated building at 14 Center Street to deal with.
This new facility would be much larger and significantly more expensive to construct and maintain. Mr. Staley suggests that a lease between the Village and the state could recoup the funds. We would be a landlord and the state would pay us rent. They would not absorb the cost of the land or the part of the building we would inhabit, our taxpayers would.
The village board has been working for nearly two years now on how best to provide for the needs of our community as it applies to police services.
We have been taking a very slow methodical approach and have looked at several options which include:
a. building a two story annex alongside Village Hall
b. looked at purchasing three other properties and constructing a new police station there
c. converting the existing building at 14 Center Street to a police facility
d. removing the existing building at 14 Center Street and constructing a new modest stand alone police facility of approximately 2000 square feet.

After looking at all these options we have determined that the most cost effective solution that
suits the need of our community while minimizing the impact to our taxpayers is option d.
We have taken a slow methodical approach and consulted with architects, engineers, the planning board and the village attorney to reach this conclusion.
We have discussed this at Village Board meetings, conducted workshops and it has been aired on Panda TV and is a matter of public record.
We are still in a discovery phase and have no formal proposal as to what construction costs will be. Before we request an RFP for construction we need to deal with the legal requirements for demolition of the existing structure.
We have passed a resolution that gives us the ability to reimburse up to $900,000.00 once we bond the construction. This does not mean we are spending $900,000.00 We are confident that the costs will be much less, but at the advice of counsel used a higher amount.

In the same February 29, 2012 Hudson Valley News article Brenda Klaproth states if elected one of her goals is to increase communication with village residents. She says “the village website does not contain links to recent village board meetings”. “I think the bond for the police station is another good example of people not being aware”. Klaproth states that “the building set to be demolished is on the National Register of Historic Places”. “Klaproth believes the current administration has not done a good job of engaging the community in its decision making process and hasn’t taken advantage of residents institutional memory (what is that?). She said things related to the police department proposal and newly revamped sidewalk law are things that have been studied in the past, yet the current administration is not engaging those community members who previously studied it.

I will counter with the following:
The village formerly shared a website with the town.
It was operated and maintained by a group of volunteers formed by the Town.
In 2010 due to the fact that we were unable to control our content on the shared website the Village
made the decision the launch a new website http://www.rhinebeckvillage.org
It is a very up to date user friendly website.
There is a link on the home page for minutes and agendas.
Once agendas are finalized they are posted.
Board meeting minutes are posted to the website after they are voted on and approved. They are not posted to the website until after the following months board meeting when they are approved. There is an archive of all minutes since the site was launched.
There is an opt in subscription feature so that those that desire to stay informed may receive information. The village board has not bonded money for a police station only passed a resolution that allows us to reimburse up to $900,000.00 if we do bond.
The building at 14 Center Street is not a significant structure on the National Register of Historic Places. If it was none of the Village Board would be in favor of taking it down.
It is a contributing building to the Historic District but not protected.
The current Village Board passed a Historic Preservation law in 2010 for the express purpose of protecting the historic character of our village.
As a governmental agency we had no obligation to abide by this law we enacted. None the less we made a conscious decision to follow the law and requested a demolition permit from the planning board, which was granted for the demolition of 14 Center Street.
Even if 14 Center Street was preserved it would not meet the code required by law for the police. The Village Board has engaged the people. We formed a Pedestrian Task Force comprised of a group of local individuals with diverse backgrounds and expertise to study sidewalks.

The village board approached the Town Board with the idea of forming a joint Town/Village task force to study solid waste. That remains ongoing and we are hopeful will provide ideas for how we can work together to provide better service and increase efficiencies.
Things may have been studied in the past but nothing was done.
The Village Board formed a Finance and Controls committee.
The Village Board formed an Ethics Board.
We formed a group to look at the possible consolidation of the Rhinebeck, Hillside and Rhinecliff Fire Departments and that process is ongoing.
We formed all of these groups by publicly advertising through print media and the up to date village website http://www.rhinebeckvillage.org. The response has been phenomenal and neither Mr. Staley nor Ms. Klaproth volunteered for any of these worthwhile projects.
This village board is pro active and gets things done. Doing nothing is not an option.

The Staley/Klaproth campaign literature makes reference to “strive to improve the relationship between the fairgrounds and the village so as to accommodate the needs of both. That is exactly what the Village Board has been trying to do over the last several years. The fairgrounds are and have been a non conforming use in the residential zone ever since our first zoning law was written. Due to that fact, the Fairgrounds is not allowed to increase the intensity of their use. That means no growth, no building, and no more events. The law was never enforced. Why I do not know. I am not the one to ask. However I will state that the current village board does enforce the laws of this community and does so equally and fairly across the board. Everyone is on a level playing field. To do less is irresponsible. It is obvious that the Fairgrounds are zoned improperly. It is not realistic to expect them to be successful and support the families that derive a living
from the fairgrounds, bring tourists to our Village which creates revenue for our business community while at the same time we handcuff them with an outdated zoning law. We have been trying to facilitate this and I am confident we are now moving in the right direction. This is a process that requires a willingness to keep an open mind, careful thought, a willingness to make concessions and strike a balance for the entire community. We are all partners in this and the decisions we make will impact all of us and will do so for years to come. We need to do this for our children and grandchildren and our grand children’s children. It is a negotiation that must and will take place, and I state without reservation that we will be successful as long as we abide by these principles.

The Staley/Klaproth campaign literature also makes reference to “seek a more equitable means (hidden meaning – tax all) to finance sidewalk repairs instead of burdening only the few who own the walks”. The village code is clear in that it places responsibility for upkeep and maintenance on the adjoining property owner. When you buy a piece of property you assume that responsibility. If you do not want the responsibility of maintenance of the sidewalk than you have the option of renting. The village board formed the Pedestrian Task Force to look at the issues surrounding sidewalks. Along with assistance from the Dutchess County Department of Planning they created a document called “Worth Walking” (available on the up to date village website http://www.rhinebeckvillage.org ) which has been adopted as part of our master plan. Believe me when I say, this a very complex issue and may have been studied in the past but never in such a comprehensive and thoughtful manner. The bottom line is the village board is serious about fixing sidewalks. If we do not it is only a matter of time before there is lawsuit. Grant funding has basically dried up and we need to do something. Again doing nothing is not an option.

The Staley/Klaproth campaign literature makes reference to doing a better job of notifying people and encouraging community involvement by holding work shops and notifying the public via the village email list. The Village Board holds meetings and workshops on a continuing basis. We follow all public meeting law requirements. This includes posting at Village Hall, newspaper notifications and on the website calendar feature. As needed I do press releases to all the media outlets which are also posted on the website. All our meetings are open door and quite frankly Mr. Staley and Ms. Klaproth do not attend. This is not uncommon as most of the time there are only two individuals that attend our meetings on a regular basis, they being Heinz Sauer and Jack Varricchio. Gentleman we all thank you for your support.

The most recent Staley/Klaproth campaign literature makes reference to the current Village Board, Village Clerk and Village Attorney not having the experience of their predecessors and lacking in institutional memory (there is that phrase again). I think it is campaign double speak for consult with them. I will counter with:
I am highly offended and take umbrage with the fact that Mr. Staley and Ms. Klaproth have chosen to now include our Village Clerk Gail Haskins in their campaign nonsense. I have had the pleasure of working with Gail for 5 years and over that time she has been the most conscientious, dedicated and hardworking Clerk that we could ask for. For them to include Gail in their political spin is inexcusable. Ditto for Richard Olson the Village Attorney, a man that I have the utmost respect for and who has served admirably with the highest of degree of professionalism one could expect. Neither of these individuals is in an elected position and to include them and attack them is quite frankly way out of line. Who are you running against?

As far as this institutional memory thing I am only guessing that this means consult with our predecessors. The fact is on a continuing basis the Village Board has used the expertise, memory and knowledge of former Mayor Peter Sipperly. He has wealth of information regarding the Village of Rhinebeck based on the fact that he is a life long resident, former small business owner and served the community for over 30 years. Mr. Staley and Ms. Klaproth only need to ask him and I am sure he will confirm this. Former Mayor Sipperly currently is serving on the Solid Waste Task Force as a volunteer. Also if Mr. Staley and Ms. Klaproth bothered to consult with his Mr. Staley’s sister Valerie Kilmer, our former Village Clerk she will confirm that our current Village Clerk Gail Haskins has used her as a resource as needed. Also Mr. Staley can confirm that when Valerie retired I presented her with a letter which thanked her for all her years of service and also for the help she had given me.

They suggest we should more diligently consult former officials and volunteers regarding structure demolition. We did not have a law as a Village, who were we to consult?

We should do the same for historic zoning. Same answer.

Sidewalks. As previously stated, it may have been looked at but nothing was done. We are taking action.

Center Street Parcel. Who are we to consult and for what purpose. It is unfit for Village purposes. We have had to face the issue and have done so.

Fairgrounds problems. Already addressed.

They go on to state “ We took a closer look at current and past issues confronting the Village Board and discovered that, perhaps, the Village Board worked to well together by “ rubber stamping” each other’s proposals instead of independently examining each board action with a thoughtful eye”. Are you kidding me? Work too well together? There is no such thing as working too well together. This board is made up of five individuals and we all are independent thinkers. We go through a process where by everyone gets to share their ideas, discuss options and only after thoughtful and careful consideration do we reach a conclusion. We do not always agree and if we do not, we always respectfully agree to disagree. Not once have we had a heated exchange, which is good because that would only serve increase tension and divide us. Rubber stamp each others proposals? No how, no way, no time. Not what we are made of.

Their last reference is to the proposed events law where they state “allowing it to go to public hearing without prior public input epitomizes our concern”. My answer to that once again is that this was discussed at multiple Village Board meetings. We held work shop meetings. It was advertised in the newspapers, posted at Village Hall and on the website. No one came. We did a press release to the newspaper and held a public hearing which is exactly what we are required by law to do.

Finally people showed up and voiced their opinions. We held another public hearing in order to give people more time to comment. We have now formed a steering committee to look further at the issue. We have followed process, complied with the legal requirements, most importantly listened to the people and will move forward. Mr. Staley and Ms. Klaproth do not think we need one. Again I respect their opinion. However there are many who think we do.

The current Village Board has a proven track record. We have taken on and faced all the challenges, no matter the difficulty. You name it, police station, fairgrounds, sidewalks, drainage, planning and zoning, historic preservation, fire service, solid waste we have been willing to look at and do something when it needs to be done. There is only one thing that drives us and that is to protect and improve the quality of life for our current residents, businesses and visitors and for the generations to come.

I hope that this information is helpful to people in their decision making process for the upcoming election.
I am not opposed to anyone seeking public office. If you do so you should run on your own merit. Base your campaign on what you will do for your community and back it up with facts. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and free to voice it. That is what makes this such a great country. The people of the Village of Rhinebeck deserve to know the facts, not to be misled. I am supporting Terry Gibson and Brant Neuneker, I hope you will too!

Posted by Jim Reardon, Mayor

March 7, 2012

While reading about the candidates running for the Village of Rhinebeck Board on March 20th, I noticed Brant Neuneker wants to re-negotiate the cable franchise with Time Warner. This is a very serious matter that All the people in the Villages and Towns of Rhinebeck, Red Hook and Tivoli need to be aware of.Around 1998 the Northern Dutchess Cable Franchise Board was asked to review the franchise agreements between the Towns & Villages of Rhinebeck, Red Hook, Tivoli and TCI Cable. TCI was negotiating with AT&T and Time Warner to swap franchises in America. Many municipalities including Rhinebeck refused to agree.The Village of Rhinebeck had the strongest contract, guaranteeing it remain in the top percent of technology, receive maximum franchise fees and TCI could not merge, sell or swap the franchise, without permission. Out of hundreds of municipalities, the Village of Rhinebeck was able to stand up to these three giants. Rhinebeck, with the help of a well known DC law firm, successfully negotiated high speed internet ten years before TCI planned to introduce it.The Village of Rhinebeck has one of the strongest franchise agreements in the United States. Time Warner has been trying to re-negotiate the contract for years. I urge the Village Board not to be temped to negotiate with one of the world’s largest companies. The New York Public Service Commission automatically renews cable franchise agreements every 6 months and does revenue audits free,Sincerely,Mike Collins

A word from Brant Neuneker  &  Terry Gipson Rhinebeck Village Trustees

March 1st, 2012

Dear Rhinebeck Community Forum,
We are local business owners and understand the importance of a flourishing business community. That’s why we and the entire Rhinebeck Village Board of Trustees have worked so hard over these past two years making improvements to benefit Rhinebeck merchants and business owners. These improvements have also enhanced the quality of life for our residential community. Here are some of our accomplishments:
• Improved safety and attractiveness of municipal parking lot by repaving, installing modern lighting system, and adding solar-powered trash compactors to decrease litter;
• Established the Rhinebeck Pedestrian Task Force which has developed plans for sidewalk improvement and safe routes to schools.
• Acquired $15,000 grant for two new business district crosswalks, scheduled for installation this spring;
• Improved traffic flow by working with NY DOT on improvements to Mill and Market Street intersection. Renovations to be installed this spring will include new signage and traffic signals;
• Developed plans for new Village police station to improve public safety for our residents and visitors, and to better serve our business district;
• Worked with our Tree Commission to make Rhinebeck an official Tree City USA;
• Established capital improvement plans for water and waste water, ensuring the implementation of important operational upgrades;
• Negotiated more than $1M savings for waste water ratepayers;
• Established a Finance and Controls Committee to manage spending and save taxpayers money;
• Implemented new Rhinebeck Village website with email notification component to
improve communication and access to public documents (www.RhinebeckVillage.org).
There is still much more to do. Improving road drainage and making West Market Street more attractive for business is a top priority. With your support, we can continue to address critical infrastructure improvements with responsible fiscal strategies. We look forward to working closely with the entire business and residential community in our continued effort to make Rhinebeck a great place to shop, dine, work, and live.
Please feel free to contact us anytime. Your ideas and suggestions are always welcome. And, we have an informative video airing on Panda Channel 23 beginning March 3 http://www.pandatv23.org/schedule. We are excited about continuing to serve you!
Brant Neuneker Terry Gipson
Rhinebeck Village Trustee Rhinebeck Village Trustee
BNeuneker@frontiernet.net Terry@GipsonDesignGroup.com
845-224-9058 917-834-5432