Meet the town of Gardiner supervisor candidates

Marybeth Majestic and Lisa Lindsley.

Incumbent Marybeth Majestic is seeking reelection to her second term as town supervisor for the Town of Gardiner. She has been endorsed by the Republican, Conservative and People 4 Gardiner parties.

This year Lisa Lindsley has tossed her hat into the ring to challenge Majestic for the post of town supervisor for the Town of Gardiner. “I have been endorsed by the Democratic Party, the Working Families Party and the Women’s Equality Party,” Lindsley tells the New Paltz Times. “I also have the endorsement of the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation.”

 

Marybeth Majestic

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the Town of Gardiner at present?

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The biggest challenge facing Gardiner presently is how to balance the aesthetic, recreational and quality-of-life concerns of residents while respecting property-owner rights. Processes to obtain this balance are critical. These are zoning laws, Master Plans and Open Space plans. Is it coincidental that last year tourism in Ulster County increased 21 million dollars? The beauty of our town and county cannot be ignored. Now that this is a widespread fact, everyone wants to experience the beauty we are fortunate to live with every day. Balance: the biggest challenge facing the wonderful Town of Gardiner.

What, in your view, is Gardiner’s most threatened resource? Most underutilized resource? 

Revenue is our most threatened resource. Ever since the federal government eliminated federal revenue-sharing in the 1970s, there has been a continual erosion of federal and state funds to municipalities. In addition to the property taxes Gardiner residents pay to the county, school districts and the town, they also pay a portion of their earnings to the state and federal government in income, sales and other taxes and fees. The least of these payments benefit the Town of Gardiner. We share only two percent of Ulster County’s sales tax receipts, despite the millions of tourists who enjoy our scenic beauty. A recent article in Towns & Topics magazine alluded to the fact that municipalities may also see the revenue from cable franchise fees erode within the next three to five years. Gardiner is largely reliant on the regressive property tax, which unfairly hurts residents who piece together their incomes as well as seniors on fixed budgets. We need to work together to find sources of revenues to help provide the services that residents require while keeping up with constant increasing expenses.

Gardiner has a wealth of social capital, caring people who value service and seek to help our community thrive. When I took office almost two years ago, committees, boards and commissions were sadly underpopulated. Today, with the exception of the Open Space Commission, the volunteer components of government are staffed and operational. One of the true pleasures has been to meet with so many Gardinerites that are willing to volunteer. I am grateful for the contributions they make at present, as well as for the contributions that have been made in the past by all those who previously volunteered by serving on boards. I also seek to create opportunities to overcome the “bubble effect” and to support the work of our volunteers to weave stronger fibers of meaningful public involvement. Gardiner’s most underutilized resource is its residents, and I would like to involve them in any way possible, from simply listening to what they have to say to supporting those who are willing to volunteer.

If reelected, what would be your top-priority action to take as supervisor in your first year of the next term?

With so much work still to do, this is a difficult question. First would be to continue the process that the Town Board is currently getting ready to undertake, which is to examine the Zoning Code, identify the gaps and amend the law in regard to recent applications. This process will be lengthy and will offer the Town Board an opportunity to engage the feedback of the Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Board and other committees and commissions in locating areas of the code that need concentration and amendments. Second would be to address infrastructure issues by continuing to work with county and state officials to come up with a solution and funding to replace the bridge on Clove Road. Third, I would work with the Parks & Recreation Committee to secure the $50,000 SAM grant earmarked for improvements at Majestic Park.

What practical measures can the supervisor take to help the Planning and Zoning Boards cope with the recent deluge of large-scale development proposals, many of which are controversial?

The Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals are empowered by New York State law to fulfill their obligations, but the Town Board must provide the necessary funding for this to occur. Expectations and funding to fulfill board members’ obligations, as well as employing essential professionals, have been nonexistent in recent years. At recent meetings the town has had legal representation to assist with applications that are complicated and controversial. The boards deserve this support, whether or not a proposal is controversial. In my continuing efforts to keep government open and transparent, I will work to improve communication between boards and to make materials available to the public on the town website.

What needs to be done on the municipal level in order to make/keep Gardiner an affordable place to live?

 

Ohioville Acres, a subdivision envisioned by its developer to provide homes in Gardiner for wage-earners and retirees, will soon be under construction. Those of us who have raised our families here strongly desire that our children and grandchildren be able, if they so desire, to live here along with us. One of our greatest assets is also a challenge to the concept of an affordable place to live. I envision a series of community dialogues on this topic, and as a means to create understanding and find common ground so that visionary developments like Ohioville Acres are not decades or more in the making. In this context, research on affordable set-asides for residential development is warranted.

What background, experience, skills or approaches do you feel make you the most qualified candidate for the elected office you seek?

I served as confidential secretary to three Gardiner supervisors, and I have served the residents of Gardiner since January 2016. I take great pride in the accomplishments that I have made as town supervisor, which is what qualifies me for the job. I have a degree in Political Science and a strong work ethic; but what makes me most qualified is my love of and dedication to the Gardiner community and its people. This is my home; I raised my family here; I have shared sorrows and joys with this community. I am committed and here to stay.

 

 Lisa Lindsley

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the Town of Gardiner at present?

Our town is at a critical point in its development. Gardiner’s elected officials must foster responsible economic development while preserving our rural character. I want to ensure that our water, wildlife, land and the natural resources that make Gardiner unique are not exploited by predatory financial interests that are not part of our community.

The institutions, policies, processes and professionals that govern land use no longer serve the long-term interests of Gardiner residents. I will work for more effective implementation of Gardiner’s Master Plan and Open Space Plan, and an update of the town laws to be consistent with these plans. I will initiate a process to review, get community input and update these two plans — each over a decade old — in light of the experience and trends of development in Gardiner.

The boards and committees that influence development in Gardiner — planning, zoning, open space, environmental — require dedicated impartial volunteers. Recruiting and training those volunteers will be a priority.

What, in your view, is Gardiner’s most threatened resource? Most underutilized resource?

Gardiner’s irreplaceable natural beauty is its most threatened resource, followed by Gardiner’s small-town charm, its water supply and its wildlife. Development projects in various phases of approval could threaten these precious resources.

Gardiner’s parks are its most underutilized resource. In a town whose children attend schools in three different school districts, parks are an important resource for building a sense of community. Gardiner is blessed with ample public parks with unfinished and decaying infrastructure. Our town’s skateboard park could be complemented by a finished pole barn and revamped pavilion, soccer fields and perhaps eventually an ice-skating pond. The town would earn revenue from renting these structures, and there could be many more recreational programs for residents of all ages.

If elected, what would be your top-priority action to take as supervisor in your first year of the next term?

I will make town government more accessible and transparent, and improve communication with Gardiner citizens by updating the website, use of e-mail and social media, communications about board meetings and publication of minutes. I will explore streaming or videotaping of meetings, and hold office hours that enable people who commute to access the supervisor.

Another top priority will be to design and launch a process to update Gardiner’s Zoning Code, Open Space Plan and Master Plan so that they take into account existing and expected land use issues and so that they are consistent with each other.

What practical measures can the supervisor/Town Board take to help the Planning and Zoning Boards cope with the recent deluge of large-scale development proposals, many of which are controversial?

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Creating a deep bench of candidates for all of the town’s volunteer boards will be one of my priorities as supervisor, as will ensuring that board members receive the training they are required to have in order to successfully perform. I will work to ensure that these boards, as well as the Environmental Conservation Commission, Open Space Commission and Ethics Commission, have the tools and staffing that they need so that the members of each board may collaborate and that the boards may easily disseminate to the public relevant documents regarding what is happening with these projects.

The professionals who advise these boards must be clear that their role is to support deliberation and decisionmaking, as opposed to steering the boards down a predetermined path. I would also encourage the boards to exercise their prerogative to hire independent professionals, at the expense of the developer, to evaluate analysis provided by the developer’s experts.

I will work to secure a sound system that will ensure all attendees at meetings and hearings are able to hear what is being said, and explore adding video of key meetings, which can be done inexpensively.

A pause in the approval of development projects may be warranted as a tool for easing the burden on Planning and Zoning Boards.

What needs to be done on the municipal level in order to make/keep Gardiner an affordable place to live?

I will work to keep Gardiner affordable, and to maintain the quality of life that Gardiner residents currently enjoy.

One component of preserving Gardiner’s rural character is to keep farmers on their land, and I will support efforts to do that through the Open Space Commission and alternative financing vehicles for farms.

The most significant proportion of the taxes paid by Gardiner residents are levied not by the town but by the school districts. While it is tempting to assume that residential land development will help our tax base, the opposite is often true when it comes to school taxes. Thorough analysis of the impact of residential development on our taxes should be a component of evaluating new projects.

I am passionate about providing affordable housing to our residents with low or fixed incomes. I believe more study is needed to evaluate the demand in our town for this type of housing, as well as the alternatives for building and financing affordable housing that are economically and environmentally sustainable and consistent with our development priorities.

What background, experience, skills or approaches do you feel make you the most qualified candidate for the elected office you seek?

I love Gardiner and have been coming here for 25 years. No, I was not born in Gardiner; I chose to live here. I am willing to listen and learn from fellow elected officials and residents alike. I’ll be a responsible steward of our town’s financial resources and tax dollars, applying my 30+ years in finance, my knowledge of municipal finance and my managerial acumen to the operations and opportunities of Gardiner.

I have a track record of leadership, from global organizations to activist groups to a local skydiving team. And I’d like your vote on November 7!