Fred Costello, a member of the Independence Party, manages several family businesses, including a rental building and a restaurant. He is a lifelong resident of Saugerties and a graduate of Saugerties High School. He studied business administration at Ulster County Community College and economics and international relations at the State University of New York at New Paltz. He was appointed by Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel to serve as deputy supervisor in 2004, and continues to hold that position. He is endorsed by the Independence and Working Families parties, as well as the Democratic Party. He and his wife, Kimberly, have a nine-year-old daughter.
If elected what would be your top priority?
To continue the work we have been doing with the police department. Work with the police department to become accredited. That would enhance credibility and be a morale boost for the men. We’ve made some progress toward that, and a lot of the changes we’ve implemented lead us in that direction.
How does your experience make you a good candidate?
Having served for almost eight years, I’ve built strong relationships with the people we work with that has allowed us to do things we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. I think the police merger is a good example of this. I like to think that there was enough trust that we would seek their interests as much as the town’s interests, and they trusted us to go down that road and work with us to achieve that.
Describe the role of town government, what it should do and what it shouldn’t.
The obvious ones, we provide the local roads, local security. Parks are a big part of it, on a daily basis, thousands of families benefit from the recreational facilities we have available, whether soccer, baseball, the water parks, contributing to the trail system – and we have a great partner there with Scenic Hudson and the Esopus Creek Conservancy . Those fundamentally improve our quality of life at very little cost, so they are win-wins. In some ways we’re uniquely positioned to improve people’s quality of life. For instance, this year I worked on a couple of cases where we put in “no parking” signs. That seems like not a big deal, but there was a line of sight issue. Now when people pull out, it’s safe. We were able to secure bus stop signs on 9W, and for families that use the buses, safety is a concern. The Town Board is uniquely qualified to deal with quality of life issues.
How can the board encourage economic growth?
We have to designate the land that’s going to support businesses and we have to do the planning in advance for that. The Kings Highway project is a perfect example; we brought in the infrastructure – the water, the sewer, the Internet. We also did the environmental impact statement, which drastically streamlines the planning process. In today’s economy that is one of the most important attributes. A business planning to open a new facility or expand doesn’t have a year and a half to go through the planning process, so doing the advance planning and identifying the parcels that are suitable for economic development is the best thing we can do. For instance, Craig Thomas (a pest-control company) is moving to Saugerties, and he just went through the planning process. It only took a couple of months. He is just one of a number of businesses that have moved here recently. I’m optimistic about the Kings Highway area developing rather quickly because the planning has been done, the infrastructure is in place and as Hudson Valley businesses grow, that’s just the place for them to be. By going through the planning process in advance, we’re making those properties available for the industries the community is generally accepting of. The zoning book describes that we’re not going to host some type of industry like a chemical company that could pollute our water or pollute our air.
What do you see as the Town Board’s top priorities?
The top priority right now is to prepare a budget for next year. Beyond that, economic development. I think Winston Farm has great possibilities. I’m hoping we can get something off the ground in cooperation with the owners. The benefit from that (Winston Farm) would go beyond Saugerties; it would be more regional.
What would be the negative consequences if the other side is elected?
When we ran, we ran on openness and change. I think we managed to bring that change. The number of businesses coming to Saugerties is higher than it has been in the past. We’ve done our job financially; our tax rates are as good as or better than any of our peers. I think we’ve given great value – we’ve managed to consolidate the police. That was a huge undertaking, and I think there are more opportunities for those types of things to take place. Especially in this financial climate, it’s important that we look objectively at the services government is providing and find out who can do it the best and who can deliver the best quality. I think there are opportunities for that kind of a conversation with other areas. I don’t know the other party well enough to predict what would happen if they were elected.