Saugerties BOE should act on plan for emergency access for Riccardi Elementary School

Riccardi Elementary School

Approximately three plus years ago, I was approached by George Heidcamp regarding a concern that he had pertaining to the fact that there was only one entrance to the Riccardi School in Glasco. If an individual or individuals wanted to do something such as what transpired at Sandy Hook or most recently the shootings in a Florida school, they could potentially block off the main road leading to the school, leaving it inaccessible to emergency services, i.e.; police and fire departments, ambulances, etc.

When Mr. Heidcamp originally spoke with me about his concern, my response was that Timbest, the corporation of which I am president, would be more than happy to once again assist in ensuring the safety of our children.

Please note that several years ago, the partners of Timbest and I had given the Town of Saugerties permission to hook into the main water line that we had installed in Bishops Gate, and run it through the piece of property that we are currently willing to donate, because we had been told that there was not enough water pressure at the Riccardi School and that there was a concern about the ability to fight any potential fire that may occur. I approached my partners, and without hesitation we all agreed that for the safety of the Riccardi School children and also the homeowners on the back street, we would give them the okay to hook into our line and run it across our property at no cost to the town or school district.


To this day, I would venture to say that most residents are not even aware that Timbest did this for the safety of our students and residents and the fact that we did it for zero dollars and no political motivation in mind.

Let’s fast-forward to the current issue at hand.  George Heidcamp had approached me regarding his concern for an additional access route to the Riccardi School.  He asked if I would be willing to meet with members of the school district facilities committee, members of the administration staff and [superintendent] Seth Turner.

George, Tom Ham, Raymond Mayone and I met to discuss options. While I’m unsure whether Seth Turner and his financial assistant, Lisa, attended this initial meeting, Ray Mayone and I met with Seth and various school board members and individuals from Seth’s financial team on several other occasions. Each time I made it very clear that Timbest did not want any monetary compensation for the land; it was being donated strictly for the safety of our children. The only stipulations that Timbest required from the school district are as follows:

Timbest would convey the land over to the Saugerties school district with the restriction that it be used for emergency purposes only, and not as a thoroughfare for vehicular traffic.

The entrance way would be gated, with keys being provided to the Glasco Fire Department, the Town Police, Diaz Ambulance, the school district and any other emergency services that were deemed necessary.

The children of Bishops Gate residents would continue to have bus service to the Riccardi School.

The conveyance would also be subject to homeowners on each side of the property to be donated agreeing to our plan. As a note, I personally met with each homeowner. They have preliminarily given their approval, as long as (1) there would not be any drainage issues onto their respective property due to the road being put in, and (2) that screening (some type of trees or shrubs) be provided along their property lines abutting the proposed road.

My question to each Saugerties school board member is why has this not been acted on, when in fact it involves the safety of our children?

I had been asked by George Heidcamp not to go public with our concerns that the school board was dragging their feet on this issue. He did not want to give anyone any ideas as to what they could possibly do at the Riccardi School. He was right. There are a lot of unstable individuals in this world. Why provide information that will give them food for thought?
George feels that we have been waiting long enough. With the lack of any action by the current school board, and especially in view of those recent national events, we need to shine some public light on this issue as an impetus to get things moving. I concur. People have a right to know why the board president has failed to act for so long on this serious issue, and it’s our responsibility to point it out.

Mr. Heidcamp has informed me that when he was still on the school board, the current school board president, Bob Thomann, said to him, “You and Jimmy Bruno are friends, right”. George responded, “Yes, we are.”
Mr. Thomann’s response was something like “Isn’t this political?”

I can assure Mr. Thomann and each school board member that there is absolutely no recognition being sought or any political agenda being pushed but that this donation of land from Timbest to the Saugerties school district is being done solely for the purpose of the safety of our children.
Aresolution passed on 6/14/16 by the school Bboard requesting a recommendation from their attorney as to how to proceed with the proposed donation of land from Timbest.
In closing I am formally requesting the following:

What was the recommendation of the attorney?

If there was a recommendation, why has it never been acted on?

An explanation from the School Board president as to why he has not made any attempt to date, to contact me and let me know of any questions or concerns that he, the School Board’s attorney or other School Board members may have.

A resolution had been passed by the School Board authorizing up to $10,000.00 being spent for attorney fees to make sure that the donation of land along with everything involved was legal. So, since the $10K is taxpayers’ dollars, I am requesting a copy of any recommendation that the School Board’s attorney made to the Board regarding this issue.

Thank you very much for your time, consideration and anticipated cooperation in the above matter.  I would be more than happy to discuss this in more detail or provide any information that you may reasonably need.  Please free to call me at 399-8577 or e-mail me at

James J. Bruno

There are 11 comments

  1. JP

    My kids don’t go there, but if they did, I would be very unhappy with the school board knowing this. No reason not to get this going! Come on school board, get your act together,

  2. Deb

    I think this is a good idea, but I think one side should be for the buses and the other side for the cars. Sometimes the cars are parked from the school up Plenty St. up a round the corner onto Delawere St. Making Plenty St a one car passage. This makes it very difficult for the people who lives on the on Union and Plenty Steets to get home. Bishop Gate is worried about their kids with the traffic well what about Glasco side. We get all the traffic, don’t these kids matter

  3. George D Heidcamp, Sr

    February 22, 2018

    To: BoE President Robert Thomann
    Copy to: Superintendent Seth Turner, School Board and staff

    Mr. Thomann,

    With the recent shooting at the Florida school, the latest in a series of far too many, I am compelled to repeat and reiterate my grave concern regarding the dangers associated with the Riccardi Elementary School being located on a dead-end street.
    As you should know, this is an issue that I had raised several times while on the school board. As you are undoubtedly aware, during my last year on the Board, while you were board president, I expressed those concerns to the entire Board time after time. The fact that the situation is extremely dangerous, a disaster waiting to happen, and desperately needs to be addressed and resolved to avoid such an outcome was pointed out repeatedly.
    You, along with the rest of the Board members, agreed that having a school located on a dead-end street presents potentially dangerous circumstances as ingress and egress is so limited. If the intersection were to be blocked off, with such inadequate access no emergency vehicles would be able to enter. That means no police vehicles, no fire engines and no ambulances! Beside the students and school personnel, there are also fifteen residential homes located on the same dead-end roadway. In addition to the aforementioned disasters, if there were to be a shooting incident at this school, police vehicles, horribly, would be unable to approach the building.

    This issue has been on the table for a long time now. While I was Board president, affirmative action was taken to resolve the problem:
    • The BoE approved funds for attorney fees to research this issue;
    • Jim Bruno met with the administration and other members of the school board to
    discuss his willingness to turn over the service road between the school and
    Bishop’s Gate as an emergency road in case of such emergency;
    • Mr. Bruno also met with and spoke with two residents at the entrance of Bishop’s
    Gate and facilitated an agreement to allow that road to be used as an entry route in the event of an urgent situation, thus allowing emergency vehicles access to Riccardi; and
    • The Highway Superintendent agreed to offer his assistance in paving the road, etc.
    All that was needed to “seal the deal,” was a contract and yet, the issue sits, unresolved and apparently not being acted upon at all. Why?
    It is very frustrating to me that you, as board president, have been sitting idly by on this issue while knowing very well of its potential dangers.

    I have avoided making public comments with respect to this failure on your part so as not to attract or tempt any prospective evildoers, terrorist groups or latent nuts just waiting for an opportunity. However, you show no inclination to act and I can no longer sit silent on this serious matter. If anything happens to any of the Riccardi students, staff or any local residents living on that dead-end street as result of your failure to act, you, as president of the school board, will be held personally responsible because of your neglect to take the proper action to protect those individuals.

    We all have an obligation and responsibility to protect our children and residents. I urge you as board president to immediately follow through on Mr. Bruno’s offer to open up the service road for emergencies in order to protect the children.
    With that said, I submit the following FOIL request. Please provide me with the following for inspection and/or review:
    1 All itemized attorney bills, submitted and approved by BoE, for the years 2014, 2015 2016 and 2017;
    2 All and any e-mails between the BoE president, school board members and superintendent regarding this issue; and
    3 All and any minutes regarding this issue during 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

    George D. Heidcamp

  4. George D Heidcamp, Sr

    Follow up—Below are excerpts from the minutes taken for the school board meetings of March 8, 2016, May 10, 2016 and June 14, 2016 relating to alternate emergency access to Riccardi School. The aforementioned meetings were the last meetings held while I was a member of the board. Once I was no longer a board member, the issue was inexplicably dropped from Board discussion and resolution by its president (Thomann). While any explanation for his failure to bring the matter to resolution remains lacking, his motivation, at least to me, remains suspicious.*
    This is a BoE issue that needs to be finalized now, and in place before a tragedy occurs.

    March 8, 2016 School Board Meeting Superintendent Report
    legal access ongoing in connection with the gifting of a small portion of land between Bishopsgate in Riccardi elementary school to be used for pedestrian traffic or a emergency vehicles

    A MOTION (Hyatt/Schirmer) to APPROVE the following resolutions (agenda item N.5)
    VOTE: Unanimous 9-0

    5. Bishop’s Gate Property -State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) Type II Action – Resolution
    WHEREAS, the Board of Education of the Saugerties Central School District (hereinafter “Board” or “District”) is considering the proposed acquisition by gift of certain real property, which consists of an approximately 50’ by 200’ strip of land (hereinafter the “Property”) located between Lots 9 and 10 in the Bishops Gate Subdivision in the Town of Saugerties as shown on Map Number 9428A-1 filed in the Ulster County Clerk’s Office (the “Proposed Action”); and WHEREAS, the Property is located adjacent to real property owned by the Board upon which lies the Riccardi Elementary School; and
    WHEREAS, the Proposed Action is subject to the conduct of due diligence activities including but not limited to a title search, survey and Phase I environmental site assessment of the Property; and
    Board of Education – Reg Mtg Minutes Page 9 of 15 March 8, 2016
    WHEREAS, the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) and its implementing regulations require the Board to undertake a review of the potential environmental impacts, if any, associated with the Proposed Action before approving it, including classifying the action and declaring lead agency; and
    WHEREAS, the Board, under the applicable standards of SEQRA 6 NYCRR Part 617, believes that the scope of the Proposed Action will constitute an Unlisted Action and, therefore, require the Board to declare itself Lead Agency and to prepare an Environmental Assessment Form; and
    WHEREAS, it is the intent of the Board to assume lead agency for the SEQRA review of the Proposed Action; and
    WHEREAS, interested agencies have been identified with regard to the Proposed Action, as set forth in Exhibit “A” annexed hereto:
    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board declares that:
    a. Based upon the record before it under the applicable standards of SEQRA 6 NYCRR Part 617, the Proposed Action is classified as an Unlisted Action;
    b. Under the applicable standards of SEQRA 6 NYCRR Part 617.6, and having completed a Short Environmental Assessment Form (SEAF), the Board shall be lead agency for the SEQRA uncoordinated review of the Proposed Action;
    c. The Board shall circulate the SEAF to the interested agencies identified in Exhibit “A” annexed hereto;
    d. The Board authorizes all action necessary to conduct due diligence activities related to the proposed acquisition of the Property, including the conduct of a title search, survey and Phase I environmental site assessment of
    the Property, with total expenditures for such activities not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00); and
    e. The Board authorizes the Board President to execute all documents in furtherance of this Resolution.
    May 10, 2016 school board meeting
    update on Bishop’s Gate property acquisition (title search completed, environmental site assessment completed, lot line change map completed, all of which is to be reviewed by the district attorney)
    June 14, 2016 school board meeting
    4. Bishop’s Gate Property Acquisition – State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) – Resolution
    Board of Education – Regular Meeting MINUTES Page 10 of 13 June 14, 2016
    WHEREAS, the Board of Education of the Saugerties Central School District (hereinafter “Board” or “District”) is considering the proposed acquisition by gift of certain real property, which consists of an approximately 50’ by 200’ strip of land (hereinafter the “Property”) located between Lots 9 and 10 in the Bishops Gate Subdivision in the Town of Saugerties as shown on Map Number 9428A-1 filed in the Ulster County Clerk’s Office (the “Proposed Action”); and WHEREAS, the Board under the applicable standards of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”), 6 NYCRR § 617.6, declared the action to be Unlisted and designated itself as Lead Agency for the environmental review of the Proposed Action; and
    WHEREAS, the Board has completed a Short Environmental Assessment Form (“SEAF”), and has reviewed all of the information and documentation developed for the Proposed Action:
    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Education of the Saugerties Central School District acting as Lead Agency, in accordance with the applicable standards of SEQRA, 6 NYCRR Part 617, and based upon the record before it, including the general, specific and detailed knowledge regarding the Proposed Action, hereby determines that the Proposed Action will not result in any significant adverse environmental impacts.

    George D Heidcamp, Sr

  5. George D Heidcamp, sr

    I would like to see the BoE vote to release the attorneys letter on their recommendations to the BoE so the public can see it. After all, taxpayers paid for the attorneys to do the research. Im sure there is nothing in that letter that is confidential. Release the letter BoE, we have a right to know…

    PS: I understand that some of the residents in Bishopsgate have bus service. I get that, but whats more important here the safety of these kids, staff and home owners? BoE Please take action before its too late..

  6. Apprehensive_Piglet

    this is way more information than we need. how about instead of writing long public articles/letters specifying why you couldn’t get anything done and who’s to blame, you spend that same time communicating with one another or those currently in power to try to get this done? we don’t have time to read all this and don’t really care why it hasn’t happened; we only care that it needs to happen, and if you can’t do it, you should step aside and let more solution-oriented people (if they exist) take over on the boe.

  7. JP

    Hey piglet, I did read Mr Heidacamps comments, not because I didn’t have time, but because I thought I would take the time to do so. It’s important. Apparently, he is no longer a school board member., but stated that he informed them when he was. He is saying that he wishes them to go forward with this offer by Jimmy Bruno, and also wants to know why our town paid $10,000 for a lawyer to review something that has never gone forward. I also am interested to know why our town paid a lawyer $10,000 and did nothing, meanwhile, Mr Bruno’s generous offer is still on the table. Wake up Superintendent!

  8. Concerned dad

    maybe ask the town supervisor, Fred Costello, why this isn’t happening…..he shouldn’t be sitting back doing nothing

  9. George D Heidcamp, Sr

    In response to Mr Pigle

    I’m sorry if my articles/letters are to long but I feel that it was necessary to lay out all the details so the public will understand what has taken place over the past few years while I was on the school board. If my term hadn’t expired at the end of June 2016, this would have been resolved…I would have made that a priority.

    Since my departure from the board in June 2016 I have heard nothing from the BoE as to what action, if any, had been taken to remedy this situation. What I do know, is that neither Mr. Bruno nor Mr. Mayone has been contacted by the BoE to keep them abreast of progress status. I inquired about what had happen between June 2016 (when I left the board) through March 2018. This problem NEEDS to be remedied and it has to be done sooner rather than later.

    If you read the minutes that I posted above from the June 14, 2016 school board meeting, it states: “NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Education of the Saugerties Central School District, acting as Lead Agency [emphasis added]…

    What happen between June 14, 2016 to March 1, 2018? Why wasn’t this followed up after I left the board? And if it had been, then why wasn’t Mr. Bruno contacted to keep him informed? What were the recommendations of the school’s attorney? I call upon the BoE to release the lawyer’s letter so the taxpayers, who pay for this advise, can see just what those recommendations are. We have a right to know.


    Too much information. You guys can’t seem to do anything other than blame others for your inability to get simple things done. Maybe you would be more successful if you would just keep your negative opinions to yourselves… and out of the paper! Bishop’s gate has been given many breaks over the years, so it would seem only fair to give back. Jeeze can you get more petty? No wonder it’s so hard to get things done in Saugerties.

  11. Hammertime

    George Heidcamp couldn’t get the job finished. His failure to follow through is epic…and George now seeks to make us think that its someone else’s fault. FAKE NEWS GEORGE!

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