Eve Walter continues to stand out among county legislators by attending local village meetings to update officials and members of the public about what’s being discussed in Kingston. At the March 22 New Paltz Village Board meeting, Walter spent about half an hour going over issues of local concern.
Weeding the windows
The owners of “Puff Puff Pass,” a business wedged between Starbucks and McGillicuddy’s in New Paltz, are “receptive” to ending the display cannabis paraphernalia in the window due to the close proximity of the Mountain Laurel School. The nearby private school was not raised during Planning Board meetings about the project, and a constituent who raised concerns with county regulators hadn’t felt like the issue was being taken seriously. Walter determined that while county law only references tobacco products, there are state regulations that apply here and should have been considered. “I don’t know why it didn’t occur to [the health inspector] to check state law. . . . I googled it in five seconds.”
Cemetery lights and costs
Plains Road residents are satisfied with changes to the flag-lighting scheme at the expanded veterans area of the New Paltz Rural Cemetery. After town and village officials agreed to absolve this project from complying with local zoning, the concept of “dark skies” was never raised at the county level, as Dennis Doyle — who oversees this and other county projects — has admitted. Rather than raising and lowering American flags as a sign of respect to deceased veterans, the design called for bright floodlights to illuminate those flags instead. Under the new arrangement, only a single flagpole will be illuminated, and that with a small spotlight trained on the flag from above.
Walter is also concerned about how the cost of this project has skyrocketed, ballooning from an estimate of $270,000 to the $2.8 million that’s been approved.
Legislators have approved a measure to block local elected officials from simultaneously being appointed to a county job, out of concern that this creates a conflict of interest when that individual is responsible for dispersing county money for local initiatives. Walter noted that a similar idea that was advanced in the recent past hadn’t gotten traction: “It was called the ‘Dan Torres law’ when it was first proposed,” because Torres, who was serving both as deputy supervisor in New Paltz and assistant deputy county executive, was the only person who would have been affected at that time. “It was less about the reasoning than about targeting,” Walter explained.
Under this version, fire commissioners and school board trustees would be exempt, as would anyone currently serving in two such positions such as town council member Esi Lewis, who is the chief diversity officer of the county. Walter isn’t clear if someone serving in an elected capacity in another county would run afoul of the new rules. It covers appointed positions only, not civil service jobs.