Broadband finally coming for some western Shandaken residents

Rob Stanley

Some residents of western Shandaken who have been unable to obtain cable TV or Internet service, unless they spring for an expensive satellite dish will soon be able to go online. New York State is moving forward on its promise to contract with cable providers who can bring service to underserved parts of the state. The cable department of Margaretville Telephone Company (MTC) is preparing to lay fiber optic cable from Delaware County into Pine Hill, Upper and Lower Birch Creek Road, Rose Mountain Road, and parts of Route 42 up to the cell tower site.

At its September 10 meeting, the Shandaken town board voted unanimously to hold a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Monday, October 1, before the town board meeting, regarding plans to sign a non-exclusive franchise agreement with MTC. The Ulster County town of Hardenbergh, southwest of Shandaken, will also receive broadband and cable service for the first time.

Clash over ORDA representative

Sparks flew at the town board meeting when supervisor Rob Stanley clashed with Ulster County legislator Kathy Nolan over a recent proposal to the legislature’s economic development committee. Nolan was supporting a recommendation to the governor that realtor and former environmental planner Hilary Smith replace John Parete on the board of the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), which took over the running of Belleayre Ski Center six years ago. The town supervisor expressed anger over Nolan’s consulting with town board member Peter DiSclafani regarding the appointment and not with himself. Because of Stanley’s long involvement with Belleayre and its importance as an economic driver of the town of which he is supervisor, he felt he should have been informed that the recommendation was being put before the committee.

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Nolan replied that she had never received any report from Stanley about the activities he’s involved in at Belleayre. She eventually apologized for not consulting him, but asked that he also communicate with her about the relevant issues.

There are two positions on the ORDA board reserved for local members. Joe Kelly of Delaware County is about to retire from the board, but Stanley said there’s no need to replace Parete, the Ulster County member, who recently lost his position as county legislator to Nolan. ORDA board members are appointed by the governor, according to ORDA by-laws, for a five-year term, but they may be reappointed, and “shall continue to hold office until their successors have been appointed and qualified.” Parete has served six years on the board, similar to other board members.

The resolution to recommend Smith was sponsored by legislator Hector Rodriguez of New Paltz and was defeated in committee, 3-4.

Updating Flood Mitigation Plan

After floods caused severe damage in Shandaken in 2010 and 2011, the town embarked on the creation of a Flood Mitigation Plan and emergency response plan, adopted in 2013. In order to keep FEMA funding and other grant sources available, the town has to review the plan annually and update it every five years. The town board voted unanimously to approve the composition of a 15-member committee to work on the updating process, including representatives of the town board, planning board, zoning board, Ulster County, New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and other relevant agencies.

The Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program (AWSMP) has provided funding to hire TetraTech, the company that guided the creation of the original plan, to help with updating it and filing it with FEMA to meet all necessary protocols. Meetings of the committee are open to the public and will be held every second Tuesday of the month at 10 a.m. in the AWSMP office at 3130 Route 28 in Shokan. Over the next few months, the committee will send out surveys to residents, said Stanley, “to try and address everyone’s concerns about future flooding and ways to help make our communities more resilient.”

More funding for Morton Library requested

Morton Library in Pine Hill has been operating under a budget of about $24,000 for over 15 years and is requesting more funding to maintain and expand services. The library has collected the required number of signatures on a petition asking for an increase to $44,750 annually. As funding for both Shandaken libraries comes out of town taxes, the hike has to be approved by voters. The town board voted unanimously to place the request on the ballot for November’s general election.

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