KINGSTON – There were impassioned pleas
from dozens of citizens, on both sides, and the same, with some added
heat, from Ulster County legislators, who in the end approved a resolution
that appears to support a trail more than a rail along the Ashokan Reservoir.
The resolution authorizes the county executive to “execute an agreement with the City of New York to accept grant funding for and facilitate creation of a public recreational trail …”
“Read that document carefully,” cautioned Burr Hubbell, a contractor.
“DEP is not here to promote your tourism,” Hubbell said. “What DEP cares about is the quality of life for its people in New York City and primarily about the quality of the water that it delivers to them.”
Cathy Nolan said this is a work in progress for 10 years, and the DEP has made its position clear.
“Rail or trail near the reservoir; not both,” Nolan said. “Now that I’ve seen the corridor out there, I can confirm what was on the map. This corridor runs right by the water. Our environmental interests line up exactly with the interests of New York City in protecting that water.”
After an hour of public comment, the legislators had their hour.
Democrat Manna Jo Greene said there’s no rush to do something they are not ready to do.
“And will deprive Ulster County of the full and open public process which a decision as important as this is to our collective future,” Greene said
Democrat David Donaldson was harshly critical of the pending agreement.
“In fact, two of our counsels pointed out that they would advise the client not sign,” Donaldson said. “I ran through my other counsels to take a look at it. They said the MOA is poorly written and it puts us at danger.”
That drew fire from fellow Democrat Jeanette Provenzano who said she took “high offense” at Donaldson’s claim the memorandum of agreement (MOA) was “poorly written.”
Republican Minority Leader Kenneth Ronk said if the resolution is not approved, up to $2.5 million in funding from the DEP could be at risk.
A motion to refer the issue back to committee failed.
The resolution directing the county executive to execute the agreement with New York City passed, 17 to 6.
Democrats Donaldson, Greene and legislator Chairman John Parete were opposed, as were Republicans Carl Belfiglio, Mary Wawro and Craig Lopez, who slammed the DEP, saying the agency should give the $2.5 million instead to Wawarsing residents who had their wells ruined and homes damaged by a leaking New York City aqueduct.