Coming into his second year of office, Lloyd town supervisor Paul Hansut reflected on a snowy night on what he feels he and his board have done well and what needs to be done in 2013. He’s ready to hit the ground running come the New Year.
“Starting in January, I hope to have the final recommendations before the board from the Comprehensive Master Plan Review Committee that we can discuss, adopt and begin to update our zoning code,” said the supervisor. The major changes to the Master Plan, which was last updated in 2005, include “major rezoning of 9W,” creating more commercial and light industrial zoning. “That would piggyback on a proposal that is before us now: the Hudson Valley Winery project,” which is slated for approximately 450 acres off Route 9W near Blue Point Road.
According to Hansut, this project, if approved and implemented, could be a “real game-changer, not only for the Town of Lloyd but for southern Ulster County.” Harry Feinberg, the applicant for this project, is currently preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) along with his consultants for the Planning Board and public’s review. “They’re proposing a Tuscan Wine Village, a hotel, conference center and approximately 415,000 square feet of light development, which could bring 1,700 jobs to Highland — as well as approximately $220 million in tax ratables.”
The Master Plan review, update and recommendations are being worked on by a committee consisting of members from the Lloyd Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Environmental Committee and several interested civilians. Dovetailing these updates is another plan that includes Lloyd, the City of Poughkeepsie, the Hudson Valley Greenway, Walkway Over the Hudson, Scenic Hudson and more organizations to create a Gateway District that would create connectivity between the Walkway over the Hudson and the Hudson Valley Rail Trail into the hamlet of Lloyd, from Milton Avenue to Haviland Road.
Another major priority for Supervisor Hansut is to “continue to be fiscally responsible and come in a second year in a row underneath the two-percent tax cap.” He said that he believes that the Town Board can do this for several reasons, despite increasing costs like pensions and insurance rates that are out of their control: “We’re getting ready to sit down and negotiate with the CSEA [Civil Service Employees’ Union, which represents most Town employees]. We’ve also budgeted for our full share of the safety net [Ulster County social services], which the county has told us that we’d be receiving approximately one-third back this year, which is close to $60,000.”
In terms of public safety and increasing storm or rain events, Hansut said that he “just signed the contract today with CityNotify,” an organization that provides software and training for communities, cities, school districts, et cetera, to get out urgent messages in a variety of ways, including e-mail, text messages, phone calls and various social media. “Our school district has been in contract with them and it’s been incredibly helpful,” said Hansut. “In one click we can send out alerts on impending storms, road closures, shelters, whatever we need and reach targeted audiences. So I think that will add a new layer of public information and public safety announcements.”
The supervisor said that another priority on his agenda for the upcoming year is to create a task force to look into the structural and space constraints of the Town Hall — particularly the justice courts, which he said are “maxed out. They have no room for storage. That court is heavily used. We have to do something about it and ensure a level of safety there.”
When asked what he felt he did well to set the board up to make 2013 a productive year, he said, “The biggest thing is really the simplest thing: making sure government is open and transparent; letting the community know that they can come in, ask questions, express their concerns. Every piece of information I get is immediately forwarded to the board. I think that’s helped create a greater sense of public involvement.”
Another point of pride is the work being done by the Events Committee, supported by the Town Board, to make sure that there are events that highlight Highland, but also the various groups within Highland. “It’s important to me that we have a Senior Citizen Recognition Day, a Veterans’ Recognition Day; that we come together like we did when we had a child who became very sick and do what we can as a community to ensure her family has what they need to take care of her.”
“I think the way that Paul [Hansut] has approached government, being as open and accessible as he is, and the work the staff has done here — particularly Katie [Jonietz, confidential secretary to the supervisor], with all of the events she’s brought to our parks and downtown — has really created a stronger sense of community and public involvement,” said councilman Jeff Paladino, who stopped in during the interview.
The other big thing that Hansut said that he’s excited for “is to get that Bob Shepard Highland Landing Park open this spring and available to the public. That will be a huge boon to our town, for our residents to have that waterfront access and have cruise ships coming from New York City to dock there and explore our town and businesses.”
Onward and upward for 2013!