Two Democrat and two Republican candidates have stepped up to the plate and are vying for two open seats on the Rosendale Town Board. Here are their responses to questions from the New Paltz Times.
Jen Metzger (D, WF)
Why did you decide to run for office?
It was not a difficult decision for me. I am hugely devoted to our town and community, attend every Town Council meeting as a citizen and have been actively involved as a community volunteer and public servant. I am also a mother of three boys and want to make sure Rosendale remains a place where our children want to live and can afford to live when they grow up. There is so much that is unique and special about Rosendale.
What positions/experiences/skills do you believe will make you a competent Town Board member?
I have advanced degrees in government and public policy and on-the-ground experience as former deputy town supervisor, chair of the Environmental Commission for six years, commission liaison to the Planning Board for three years and a member of the Zoning Code Review Committee for five years. I have experience working on the town budget, a good working relationship with town departments and commissions and I work well across party lines to do what’s best for our town. I have the positive and can-do attitude needed to address challenging issues and the strong analytical skills needed to understand and make difficult decisions. And I am a very hard worker.
Do/did you support the creation of a special category of zoning for the Williams Lake Project? Would you support a PILOT agreement for Hudson River Valley Resorts, if they request it?
The Williams Lake zoning amendment is intended to create a special zone for that project, which is perfectly legal as long as it is aligned with the town’s Comprehensive Plan and serves the public interest. For me, the more important question is: How well does the amendment protect and promote the public good, which is the purpose of zoning? I had submitted to the Town Council a number of recommended revisions to improve the amendment and better secure the promised public benefits. The council chose not to include them in the revised draft, but I will continue to work to make sure the project brings the hoped-for benefits while minimizing unintended costs.
Regarding a PILOT agreement, I would have to be convinced that this would be best for the town, because at present I do not see the merits of providing a tax break for the developers. According to information provided by Hudson River Valley Resorts, a PILOT would reduce property taxes for the commercial portion of the project by an estimated 62 percent over 15 years: a huge reduction.
What’s your vision of how Rosendale should be developed in the future?
Rosendale is blessed with incredible scenic beauty and natural wealth, a talented community of people and rich historical, recreational and cultural resources. These are assets that we need to protect and nurture, because they are the key to Rosendale’s economic success and community well-being. Take the Farmers’ Market, for example: It serves so many goals simultaneously, supporting the local economy, building community and contributing to the good health of our residents. We need to support community initiatives like this.
We also need to follow a Smart Growth development strategy and I would press for moving the review process forward on the Zoning Code Review Committee’s zoning code updates and for creating an incentive zone for the redevelopment of Route 32. We should also use zoning tools to encourage housing development at prices Rosendale residents can afford, especially given the proposed increase in luxury homes for the Williams Lake area. And we need to encourage energy-smart development to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, which makes sense both for our wallets and for the future welfare of our community.
How do you plan to address long-term infrastructure needs like water system repairs and upgrades?
The prospects are very good that the water district will get the funds it needs to upgrade the water system, thanks to the good work of Supervisor Walsh and the town consultant, Barton & Loguidice. And I look forward to the chance to work with this team on identifying funding for sewer upgrades. I would also pursue grant funding for a solar array for the sewage treatment plant with battery backup to improve resilience to major storms and to substantially reduce operational costs. Keep in mind though, that the vast majority of the town depends on well-water and private septics, and protecting the town’s water quality and supply — its natural infrastructure — is critical to the health and welfare of our residents.
What would be your strategy for funding replacement of the town pool?
The town has an estimate to fix the pool at a cost of about $1.5 million. I believe this estimate is high and pursuing multiple bids will likely result in a lower pricetag. I also think we can mobilize community volunteer resources for some aspects of the renovation to bring the costs down further. Part of the rail trail trestle renovation was done with skilled volunteer labor at great savings to that project. Even at a lower pricetag, the pool renovation will still be costly to a small town like ours and coming up with the needed funds is a challenge. If the town succeeds in getting a grant from the state to cover a third to a half the costs of the renovation, the town still has to fund the balance and we’re not going to get there with bake sales (though every dollar helps!). I will work with the supervisor to seek out larger private grants and donor funding to meet the financing requirements.
What do you see as the top three greatest challenges facing the Town of Rosendale right now?
1) Making sure Rosendale is an affordable place for our residents to live and our businesses to thrive.
2) Developing in a way that enhances local economic opportunities while protecting our resources and increasing our energy independence.
3) Ensuring that both our built and natural infrastructure is safe and well-maintained.
If elected, what would be your top three priorities?
1) Keep taxpayer costs down by prudently managing town finances, opposing unnecessary tax breaks to developers and reducing costly fossil fuel dependence in municipal facilities and operations.
2) Update the town zoning code to better meet the needs of our community and economy for smart growth.
3) Secure external funding and volunteer resources to improve infrastructure and recreational and pedestrian assets, including expanding pedestrian pathways in the hamlets, fixing the town pool and increasing road safety.