Councilman Jay Wenk announced to the Woodstock Town Board on August 12 that the first of six remaining underground fuel oil tanks is out of the ground. Frustrated that these 50-year-old tanks in the Bearsville Flats development could leak and contaminate the precious aquifer that supplies much of the main hamlet, Wenk launched a program called “Do you dig it?” to raise the $6,300 to remove the tanks. Wenk was able to raise $4,800 through donations from townsfolk. One homeowner agreed to remove the tank himself. The rest of the money came from RUPCO and Habitat for Humanity.
Wenk was cautious about getting the Town Board involved since the tanks are on private property, so he sought donations on his own.
Neighbors weigh in
Residents neighboring Yankeetown Pond implored the Town Board to reject recent recommendations by the Woodstock Environmental Commission to allow hunting on a majority of the 828-acre parcel and instead seek to limit the entire area to hiking only.
Though a Town Board vote isn’t slated until September, residents urged the lawmakers to be diligent about researching the matter before going along with the commission’s recommendations.
“Wear bright clothing,” said Nancy Butler-Ross during the Public Be Heard portion of the Town Board meeting August 12. Butler-Ross, who brought the matter to the attention of the town earlier this year, noted hunting begins September 1. According to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the season begins September 1 for squirrel, crow, snipe, rails and gallinules. Dear and bear season begins in October with bow hunting.
The commission cited a growing deer population as its rationale and cited examples of low forest growth that is devastated. The land is owned by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which is tasked with monitoring the Ashokan Reservoir Watershed.
The matter was considered resolved in 2002 when the town recommended hunting limited to deer. The DEP did nothing with the land until late last year, when it opened the parcel to all forms of recreation, including all hunting seasons. The DEP had sent a letter to Supervisor Jeremy Wilber, but Wilber did not reply, assuming the agency was going to act on the 2002 recommendations.
Butler-Ross also challenged the DEP’s assertion that there aren’t that many homes surrounding the area. Holding up a tax map, she said there are 42 contiguous parcels.
“Please do your homework before accepting the WEC recommendations,” she said.
Resident Orli Auslander said the DEP is relying on neighbors to patrol the area and noted she hears gunshots at 10 p.m. Town Clark Jackie Earley said residents should call Woodstock Police so there is a record.