The year 2014 saw the Town of Gardiner resolve its tax disputes over a famous actor’s property and its former library building sold by the town in an online auction. Several of the newer events in town became annual events with their second outing, like the Gardiner Open Studio Tour over Columbus Day weekend marking its second year, as did the Gardiner Senior Expo in September. And the library offered its third version of the fundraising Gardiner’s Bounty, which brought a pig roast to town in October. Venerable favorites were back; Gardiner got a farmers’ market again, with plans for it to return next year to its new location by the entrance to the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, and the annual Gardiner Day tradition marked a quarter century. Even the Cupcake Festival was back for a sixth time. And Gardiner was in the news for its pro-recycling stance, with a successful Earth Day in April featuring a huge shredder truck for residents to dispose of their documents and the town Transfer Station and Recycling Center getting kudos for operating in the black and utilizing creative recycling measures that save the environment and save the town taxpayers money.
Recently, New Paltz Times asked Gardiner town supervisor Carl Zatz to weigh in on 2014 and tell us what he thinks 2015 may bring to residents of the town.
What are the major issues currently facing Gardiner?
Gardiner is a thriving community with a lively way of life. With that comes a need for ongoing and long-term infrastructure planning and the foresight to create new and efficient systems to support our growing town.
What are your top three priorities for 2015?
The three priorities are: a) an effective Town Board, b) a sound efficient infrastructure, and c) keeping taxes down while providing services that touch an entire community. Town business begins with the Town Board. A Town Board, by its very nature, is a majority driven body. So it takes courage to vote your conscience. Often consensus represents a free ride without a real statement. Board members who do show courage benefit the entire town.
Next, a keen eye on our important lifelines: water and the environment; public transportation and quality recreation for kids, seniors, vets and commuters; innovative Internet and educational support for our children; a strong library that is the cultural center of the town; and a highway department that keeps us moving. Finally, a budget and financial system that continues to be the most transparent in the county with ongoing, always accessible, relative information.
What challenges would you like to take on in 2015?
My goal is to preside over a Town Board that takes initiative, has a bird’s eye view over what is effective and efficient, and one whose members provide tangible results and excellence that is measurable. Next, I will reintroduce to the town the entire cast of workers, volunteers and employees who labor for this town, from the relentless 24/7 efforts of dog control to the volunteers, directors and counselors who make our summer program in the region, to an office staff that provides service to the satisfied and dissatisfied day in and day out and groundskeepers and highway workers mowing and plowing our way around. Finally, to find innovative ways to keep taxes down while still providing the essential infrastructure and communications channels to keep our citizens thriving.
Looking back at 2014, what do you see as your major accomplishments?
An effective water monitoring program that promises to bring business into our hamlet while saving business owners, moms and pops up and service providers thousands of dollars that can be better spent on growing a small business. Next, negotiating settlements with Riverside Trust to ensure the town receives its fair share of taxes and that our processes and procedures are equitably maintained. Next, keeping an open line of communications between the town government and citizens by way of web and social media providing full access to all financial and business information, 24/7. Next, forging relationships with county agencies, neighboring towns and fellow supervisors to find efficiencies that will support our respective towns. An example is working with UCAT to bring public transportation to downtown Gardiner, a first step being early morning and evening runs from Gardiner to New Paltz and Wallkill.
What are you personally looking forward to?
I love my family, my job and my town. I’d like to keep those who think like me to feel empowered to participate, enjoy their lives and save a little for the environment and those less fortunate.
Do you plan to run for office again in 2015?
My plan for 2015 is to go where I’m invited and wherever I could be most effective.
Is that a yes?
Of course, it could be a yes.