Skip to content

Master Plan Review Committee Meets in Mamakating

The new master plan review committee met Wednesday night (Nov. 12, 2008) in Mamakating town hall. It consists of the original members from 2005, plus several more new additions, making a total of fifteen members.

Tonight’s agenda was a “meet & greet.” Each member introduced himself, and provided a little bit of personal background. Town supervisor Bob Fiore and councilman Teddy Brebbia were on hand to offer their assistance to the committee. Fiore expressed optimism with the new committee.

Members requested materials from the town, such as copies of the existing zoning law, maps, and similar materials. The next meeting will take place on Thursday, Nov. 20th at 7pm, in the town hall senior meeting room. These sessions are open to the public, but actual participation is limited to the committee members.

List of Members, appointed at Oct. 7th town board meeting (asterix denotes 2005 participants):

William Trimble (chairman), Alan Sorensen ( * ), Andy Weil ( * ), Richard Pavlica, Lyman Holmes ( * ), Harold Baird, Fred Harding, Alex Goodman ( * ), Regina Saunders, Sean Moriarty Jr., John Salin, John Malmgreen, Scott Buckholts, Mark Schulman ( * ).

Update: At the Nov. 20th meeting, Alan Sorensen, the planning consultant was there, but Mark Schulman was absent. Coundilman Teddy Brebbia sat in, with Carol & Ron Weathers of Mountain Road watching from the peanut gallery, along with councilman Bob Justus. Supervisor Bob Fiore was not present.

Justus provided the committee with a list of issues the town board wished them to consider. “Priorities due to possible time constraints: seasonal home conversions (180 day moratorium may be imposed); park land swap (the Duane Roe proposal for Wurtsboro, pros & cons); purchase of Wurtsboro Hills lake and adjacent land as possible future park, pros & cons; 199.36c housing densities / soil calculations; Other Issues: steep slopes law; increased ratables / commercial development; overlay zones for commercial development; local law #3 - storm water drainage; impact fees; I-86 exit development; sight distance requirements on roadways; coordination & integration of “Good Growth Practices” with village gov’ts to promote Main Street health & vitality, creating “win-win” situation for town & village residents.

Heather Jacksy from Sullivan Co. Planning will be giving a training seminar on Thursday, Dec. 18 @ 7pm on “Best Practices for Main Street Development & Coordination of Service Between Village & Town Gov’ts.

Most of the committee’s discussion on Nov. 20th centered around Wurtsboro Hills. Regarding separation distances of wells & septic, current town code allows a waiver by the building inspector. Brebbia noted this loophole violates state law, and needs to be stricken from the local zoning. General consensus is that the ‘Hills need their water district restored, town still owns the old wells and land with storage tanks. There are around 800 homes in Wurtsboro Hills, mostly converted bungalows. Also discussed were Local Law #3 (drainage) and the steep slope law of 2000. New zoning needs to strike a balance between environment and developers. Next meeting of the committee will be held Thursday, Dec. 4th, at 7pm.

Update: Dec. 4, 2008 meeting. Committee met to primarily discuss seasonal dwellings. The moratorium was passed by the town board two days earlier at the Dec. 2 business meeting, preventing upgrades to year-round dwellings for six months. The master plan review committee is expected to draft recommendations for the town board to use in revising the town zoning.

The only observers from the peanut gallery on Dec. 4th were Dr. Bob Justus and the Mamakating Messenger. One other person from the Ellenville Journal showed up — inappropriately recording, talking out of turn, and blocking the view of others. The room reeked from rancid bleach used to mop the floor. A half hour into the meeting, all three observers departed to watch a public hearing at the Wurtsboro planning board.

Read the 2005 “Discussion Paper” of the Master Plan Review Committee [Acrobat PDF, 8.5MB]: http://www.midhudson.info/documents/masterplanreview2005.pdf

Where they left off in 2005:

In June, 2005, Andrew Weil requested that the following letter that he submitted be
admitted into the minutes.

http://www.mamakating.org/tgov/towngov/agendasminutes/06212005tbminutes.htm

June 14, 2005

Hon. Charles Penna, Supervisor
Town Council Members

Town of Mamakating
2948 Route 209
Wurtsboro, New York 12790

Re: Recommendation from Master Plan Review Committee

Dear Supervisor Penna and Council Members:

The Master Plan Review Committee has met regularly over the past several
months to review the Town’s 2001 Comprehensive Master Plan, and to develop
recommendations for revisions for the Town Board to consider. Part of our
mission, as we understand it, is to identify areas where the Town can
accommodate commercial/industrial businesses, in a manner that does not
harm our natural environment. We began this analysis by looking at
existing zoning districts for commercial and industrial uses to assess the
appropriateness of these areas for such development. We also took the
additional step of identifying areas – that while not currently zoned for
such activities – might be compatible with commercial/industrial uses. We
have already identified such sites.

We have also identified several areas where the existing land uses are
incompatible with new zoning districts adopted in 2001, for example, the
TC – Town Center District north of Wurtsboro on 209 in which almost all
existing land uses are residential. The TC District allows gas stations,
auto repair shops, retail, banks, etc. In Phillipsport, the Homowack
Resort is zoned Hamlet Center. Our feeling is that it should be zoned
Planned Resort Office. In Phillipsport, Dick’s Sand & Gravel and Metro
Gravel are now non-conforming uses in the Hamlet Center District. Perhaps
they should be zoned Industrial Office along with the new Tetz mine on
Route 209.

Our conclusion to date, is that there should be changes in the zoning
district boundaries in order to create real opportunities for economic
growth in areas where such uses will have the least impact on the
environment. The Hamlet Center district is far too expansive and should be
reduced in geographic area to around the hamlets of Summitville and
Phillipsport. We also feel that the Town should move forward to adopt
design review guidelines consistent with the Comprehensive Master Plan
recommendations to ensure that new development compliments the character
of the Town. Assessing how all these revisions should be made will take
additional time.

The pending development of the Yukiguni Maitake facility and various plans
announced to convert the airport to warehousing or a fly-in community
could have long-lasting adverse impacts on the character of our community.
These are major issues that must be considered in the context of the
existing Comprehensive Master Plan and the process we are undertaking to
update that Plan. The 2001 Comprehensive Master Plan noted that residents
rated large-scale residential and nonresidential uses as Highly
Inappropriate.

The Plan goes on to note that the Town should develop design guidelines
that “describe the physical environment that the community is trying to
preserve.” These guidelines have yet to be established and the proposed
developments noted above are examples of development that the community
noted were highly inappropriate. If developed, the character of our
community will change forever.

With all of the issues we have outlined above, we respectfully ask that
the Town Board implement a building moratorium for a period of no less
than six months to give us sufficient time to make revisions to the
Comprehensive Master Plan and to adopt the necessary land use regulations
necessary to protect our community’s character. If we allow large-scale
development that is inconsistent with the goals of the Comprehensive
Master Plan to move forward we will have lost an opportunity to enhance
our quality of life and to preserve it for future generations. A
short-term delay in development today could lead to long-term and
sustainable development in our Town that fits the character of our
community. Your support of our request would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Andy Weil, Master Plan Review Committee Chair;
On behalf of Master Plan Committee Members:
Lyman Holmes,
Alex Goodman,
Mark Schulman, 

Note: Sean Moriarty, Jr. did not concur with the recommendation

cc: Alan Sorensen, Town Planner/Advisor to Master Plan Review Committee;
George Schuler, Master Plan Review Committee Consultant;
Dr. William Pammer, Sullivan County Planning Commissioner

Village of Bloomingburg minutes 10/16/08

REGULAR VILLAGE OF BLOOMINGBURG MEETING

October 16, 2008

Present: Mayor Mark Berentsen, Trustees: Peggy Wood and Clifford Teich

Mayor Berentsen opened the meeting with the pledge of allegiance.

Minutes- accepted by P. Wood and seconded by C. Teich

Treasurer’s Report was read by S. Berentsen

Building Dept. Report was read

Sewer Report by R. Wood, Jr.-everything is fine- no problem with DEC SPEDES permit renewal application was applied for in a timely fashion and is pending an inspection. DEC was happy it was submitted in a timely fashion.

Old Business:

Main St. Project: M. Berentsen — I have totally lost faith in Government- We sat with Delta Engineering and DOT at a meeting, we had $750,000. to spend, available in 2 weeks. I threatened to let Delta Engineering go. The DOT said no, they had done all of the preliminary work, we should keep them. Delta Engineering received their pay for work. I haven’t heard anything since. Called today to speak with DOT Engineer, she was not available, left a message. We were supposed to hear from the engineer in 2 weeks. Next move will be to contact Bonacic’s office.

Dr. Teich — we just have to keep on it.

M. Berentsen — It just aggravates me that we pay Town and County taxes and what do we get?

C. Teich — they sent down four state engineers and still nothing has happened. Just keep on them.

M. Berentsen — I also asked for the surveys to be used for the $50,000. grant -

E. Saunders — Mayor, that $50,000 cannot be used on Main St.

M. Berentsen —No the $50,000 will be used on High Street. But Delta Engineering did a survey of the Village, I would like to get that to use for the $50,000 grant. I want to get the most bang for the buck.

B. Cassidy — High St. is forgotten. Wintertime we can’t get up either side. It is just an accident waiting to happen.

M. Berentsen— High St. was repaved about 15 years ago. Methodist Church end of High St. is the T/Mamakating.

M. Berentsen — Thanks to D. B. Roe for the repaving- $750,000 would not have gone as far as it will now. We are looking at new sidewalks and storm sewers from the bridge to the old firehouse. We can’t afford to much. Do you realize that we are facing a 28% tax increase from the T/Mamakating? The town was looking to charge us for snow plowing, I told them that we already pay $45,000a year and what do we get? People are up against it and we will do with what we have.

Request of penalty to be waived by McKinney Estate: Board voted not to waive penalty as it was a penalty for late payments only $36.06. All were in agreement.

Request to change office hours- the Board wishes to keep hours the same and maintain an evening when the village office is open for residents who work.

Dr. Teich presented a list of questions from an anonymous resident:

  1. How can Susan get 3 jobs, there are only 2 allowed? Dr. Teich asked if S. Berentsen should only have 2 hats- S. Berentsen replied that J. Rouis had agreed with the recommendation for the positions and didn’t have a problem with it. S. Berentsen then explained that she had taken the position of tax collector to keep Mary Newhall in the office when she was not able to be bonded. If someone is interested in the position-please step up to the plate as it is a lot of work.

  2. Does she take all of the money from all of the jobs? Rouis and Company does the payroll I write out the checks that they direct me to pay.

  3. Are we getting any pot holes patched? M. Berentsen- what potholes? If they are speaking of the post office no- they are the post office’s responsibility. C. Teich- I went into the pothole at the entrance of the post office- I Asked the employee about the holes she said that she hasn’t had a response from the Village. M. Berentsen- the pot holes are not the responsibility of the Village taxpayers- the pavement is continuous. My family owns the building that houses the post office and the post office is not in compliance with their lease. The parking lot is to be sealed every 2 years, it has not been sealed in over 4 years. I believe the landlord has contacted the post office regarding the situation. C. Teich- if something was to happen, would the Village be sued. M. Berentsen- everyone would be sued but it is not our responsibility. R. Saunders- I also hit the potholes with my car and I walked down to the post office and if there was a sidewalk they would be in the sidewalk. M. Berentsen- I believe the other day I saw an employee of Bloomingburg Hardware out by the store repairing the sidewalk. R. Saunders- yes because we wanted it fixed because if someone fell we would be liable. M. Berentsen- I think that the Federal government has a much larger budget than Bloomingburg hardware. Why should Village taxpayers repair their parking lot. If we were to repair those potholes then we would be liable for other parking lots in the village. The post office sent me a letter back in April, 2008. I responded that we were not liable. They then sent me another letter saying that someone told them that the Village is responsible for 25ft. from the center of the road. I did not respond as the original response still stands, the Village is not responsible. C. Teich- what can we do, I don’t want to see someone hurt. M. Berentsen- I guess we can send the code enforcement officer as the markings are not on the blacktop for handicap or parking lines. J. Kelly agreed that the code enforcement office should make a visit.

  4. How do you get the money from the checkbook to pay the Mexicans to weed the filter beds @ sewer? R. Wood- The Mexicans helped me - there was no charge to the Village. M. Berentsen- the man should be commended for taking care of the sewer plant- no cost to the village

  5. Who gets the money- the Mexicans only work for cash- no bills submitted for sewer plant maintenance.

  6. Our flags are distressed one on ground, one all torn up, one flying upside down- (Real American)-M. Berentsen- the flags will come down- the work is done by volunteers- the anonymous citizen could help- maybe they would like to buy a new flag. We have a good group of volunteers many of them are here at the meeting tonight- Charlie, Harold, Russ, Woody and my brothers Todd and Randy all have volunteered to help out the village.

B. Cassidy — if a person can’t come to the meeting and voice his opinion then it really doesn’t mean too much. M. Berentsen: An anonymous letter- a concerned citizen- It doesn’t mean anything to me. An American, you will not find a person more American than I am. This letter doesn’t mean a thing to me. If you have an issue, present it to the Board in person.

B. Cassidy — Main St. seems to be turning into run down - people hanging out on street and not working.

M. Berentsen — I don’t believe we have a problem with Main St. residents- I believe there is one individual that is bringing a bad element into the Village. While walking on the street with Delta Engineering the other day I noticed the plastic bags tossed on the street, possibly crack bags. I had a call from the Village greeters sister- she wanted him out of her house- he was bringing bad element into her home. However, the sheriff came and told her that she should not put him out on the street, if she did she would be arrested. I confronted a deputy sheriff on this issue and he told me that the social worker contacted him and said that she can’t put him on the street. It turned into a heated argument with the sheriff and again I say, tax dollars at work. Dr. Teich- I was teaching my son to drive and we approached the red light and the village greeter approached the car in front of us- I had my son blow the horn- I then called 911 and reported the incident to the police. I don’t know if they came to investigate but we all need to do this -enough calls and they will get tired of hearing from us.B. Cassidy- can’t he be arrested for harassment? J. Kelly- no he can be arrested for disorderly conduct or blocking traffic. C. Teich- if he is disrupting traffic or soliciting- call the state police.

H. Baird- I just wanted to say how nice the garbage system works- I called for a bulk pickup for the parsonage- Mary said to put the items out on Wed. -Thurs. the items were picked up. Could we get a few of the residents to clean-up- M. Berentsen- we just sent out letters to some of the problem homes.

M. Newhall- voiced a concern on some homes being missed for garbage pick-up- she then called Thompson Sanitation and they picked up items on the opposite side of the street.

C. Griswald- voiced a concern again about the mix up of High Streets. There is another High Street in the T/Crawford. He believes now that they have changed it to South High Street. It has been quiet for some time but the other day people were looking for residence of the High St. in the T/Crawford.

Resident voiced a concern with regards to the number of cats that are in the village- is there an ordinance about feeding stray animals. J. Kelly- we could look into an ordinance with regards to stray animals. M. Berentsen- however, we need someone to enforce it.

Approved the following claims and transfers-

$875.00 from 1330.1 tax collector to 1330.41 deputy tax collector

$425.00 from 9900.1 contigency to 1330.4 tax collector contractual

Abstract 5 totaling $14,793.31

Abstract #S5 totaling $9,823.63

Meeting was adjourned motioned by C. Teich seconded by P. Wood

Residents Want Barber to Cut the Noise

Tonight’s Wurtsboro village board meeting had a packed house with standing room only. Residents brought their complaints of a local barber shop, which has several arcade games and a pool table. The proprietor was accused of allowing local youth to make noise and litter in the residential neighborhood near Pine & Sullivan Street.

Later, after the crowd cleared out, developer Duane Roe made a recommendation to the village trustees for a land swap. The proposal involves town park land on the Bloomingburg side of the mountain, in exchange for a new park to be built in Wurtsboro. An act of the state legislature would be required.

Listen to Duane Roe discuss his proposal here: http://www.midhudson.info/special/R081110_duaneroe.mp3 [MP3, 18.9 MB] [Can’t play it? Get Quicktime]

Long time resident Sarah Avery finally got her wish, when the village board approved the official narrowing of Canal Street to fifty feet. On paper, the avenue has always been 85 feet, to accommodate canal barges in dry dock during the early part of the 19th century.

“Praise the Lord!” exclaimed Avery, who has struggled over three years with bureaucracy. Clouds on her title caused by the loose ends prevented Avery from subdividing her land.

More to follow…

Holiday Extravaganza Display Returning to Wurtsboro

Outdoor Christmas displays often become popular local tourist attractions. A sign outside the Canal Towne Emporium promotes Wurtsboro’s evening holiday light show.

A popular holiday lighting display, synchronized to music, will be making a comeback on Sullivan Street in Wurtsboro this coming holiday season. Lyman Holmes of the Canal Towne Emporium announced the plans last Spring, during the April 14, 2008 Wurtsboro village board meeting.

“Two Christmases ago, Michael Roosa lit up his house and trees, and set it all to music,” Holmes told the board. “It was wonderful, people came from all over to see the show,” recalled mayor Micky Maher.

“Of course,” replied Holmes, “that’s what he’s afraid of. Michael didn’t do it last year,” he explained, “because having a baby, it’s just too much work.” Roosa is a former chief of the Wurtsboro Fire Department, and operates Wurtsboro Electric Service.

But the publicity developed a life of its own, Holmes went on. “So he got calls from all kinds of people, and Steve Israel from the [Times Herald-] Record says, ‘when is your [2007] light show on?’” And, related Holmes, Roosa answered “I didn’t do it.” According to the story, Israel replied, “That’s really too bad, because I was making a top ten list of things to see, and you were going to be number one.”

Holmes explained, “When he got that call, it was a snowy day in December, that first snow storm, he walked in the store, and says ‘I’ve got a proposal I hope you can’t refuse.’ He would like to do the same thing, to my building, light the whole thing, have the sound, the computer, the whole thing happen.”

Holmes related concerns to the village, on behalf of his brother, that the attraction might cause traffic problems along Wurtsboro’s thoroughfares. Officials assured him that Holmes had every right to display holiday decorations on his property, welcoming extra publicity (and business) to the sleepy small-town commercial district.

Beginning the day after Thanksgiving (Fri., Nov. 28, 2008), through till Xmas Eve (Dec. 24th), the elaborate light and sound show — named “Dance of the Lights” — will commence at 7pm, outside the Canal Towne Emporium, 107 Sullivan Street, about a block west of Wurtsboro Village Hall. A special web page has been launched at http://www.danceofthelights.com .

Holiday shoppers are encouraged to check out the inside of Canal Towne, which is a marvelous treasure trove in the heart of Wurtsboro — the perfect place to find a special or unique gift for loved ones. The Emporium boasts a distinguished history, going back four generations to the mid 19th Century.

H.R. Morris established the store in 1838 to supply workers along the Delaware & Hudson Canal. “Filled with dry goods, hardware, food and clothing, it soon became the local post office and a trading center for the region’s leather trade,” reads the website. “The store was purchased in 1870 by Joseph Holmes, the son of a local canal boat builder, and James Fulton, a druggist.”

“The Fulton and Holmes Store became a fixture of village life and operated continuously until 1958 when Lyman O. Holmes, Joseph’s son, retired. The building remained in the Holmes family, but stood empty until 1976 when Canal Towne Emporium, the brainchild of Doris Holmes, opened.

“With the help of designer Gary Eckhart, past attempts to modernize the store were removed and a turn of the century atmosphere once again filled the store. In fact, virtually all the equipment and furnishings used in Canal Towne are from the original store.

“In 1984, the Holmes Family opened The Repast, a popular and beautiful Victorian restaurant, which won numerous culinary awards along with a large following. It was closed in 1994 to make way for Canal Towne’s newest expansion, the new Great Room, a showcase for fine gifts and furniture, and a year round Christmas Shoppe, with award winning displays unsurpassed by any other in the region.

“And with the Holmes family’s fourth generation involved in the business, there are plans for the future with a continual eye on maintaining the quality and atmosphere of the past.

Inside the Bloomingburg Restoration Foundation Church

Here’s an inside peek of the Bloomingburg Restoration Foundation, just before it closes for the winter season. According to the Mamakating town website, “this neoclassical style church was built in 1821 by Peter Weller and George Miller. It was a functional Reformed church until September 1962, when it was forced to close its doors to a dwindling congregation and lack of funds. In 1977, The Bloomingburg Restoration Foundation, Inc. was formed by a group of concerned citizens to save the building and make it into a Museum and Cultural Center. The Bloomingburg Reformed Dutch Church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.”

The restoration is currently the subject of renewed interest as a possible centerpiece for the upcoming 2009 bicentennial of Sullivan County. During the past several seasons, the Restoration was under-utilized. Most of the pews are missing, and someone has made off with the organ. Recently, a thief siphoned away a tankful of heating fuel oil. A handful of senior citizens have kept the center open for several hours each Monday afternoon.

The building, which houses over 700 artifacts, was owned by Sullivan County until January 1999; at that date the deed was conveyed to the Town of Mamakating. The 2003 edition of Catskills Alive quotes former foundation president Elsie Hultslander, recalling that the original pews faced the door, “so everybody saw you coming in late.” The alter and pews were rearranged to face the rear of the building in 1860, just prior to the Civil War. The front of the building still features a choir balcony above the main entrance, while the rear area now has a stage.

Our visit this week found two volunteers vacuuming the rug. The accommodated our unannounced visit by showing off the numerous exhibits, up and down both sides of the main floor, and the second story. These artifacts and materials were extensivley photographed, in anticipation of the bicentennial historical program project.

More from the Oct. 21st Mamakating town board meeting

During the Oct. 21st town board workshop meeting, Dick Reisling gave a presentation on solar power. Reisling is a member of the Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development in Hurleyville, and the Apple Pond Farm in Callicoon Center, NY, but appeared this evening on his own behalf. His proposal was for the town to erect a photovoltaic power array on the roof of Town Hall, capable of generating more than half (55%) the building’s electrical needs. The town building uses approx. 100,000 kilowatt-hours per year, at about 15 cents per unit. The net installation cost — after state & federal subsidies — would be $125,000.

Mary Allison Farley of the Bashakill Area Association (BKAA) gave a Nature Watch presentation, detailing visitor logs and statistics based on surveys conducted by the environmental group. The BKAA held its 35th annual meeting on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2008.

Town attorney Richard Stoloff conferred with councilman Teddy Brebbia, about details of the Mamakating noise ordinance. Resident Monique Lipton, of Vernon Road in Summitville, was complaining of noisy neighbors, and her inability to get officials to quiet down the disturbances. Shotgun and assault rifle incidents in Ellenville the night before had originated at the Summitville rowdy house, Lipton disclosed.

Mamakating passes 2009 fiscal budget

Robert Fiore, Mamakating town supervisor, at his desk before the Oct. 21st town board meeting. Officials worked on finalizing the 2009 budget prior to commencing regular business.

Mamakating town board passed the 2009 fiscal budget at the Oct. 21st board meeting. Council members held a last-minute conference in the supervisor’s office with concerned members of the public, hammering out the final details.

Officials were in a hurry to finalize the numbers, so they could float a revenue anticipation bond, to cover a lack of operating funds for the month of December. The short-term borrowing note — guaranteed by NY State — is expected to be paid off completely within the first dozen weeks of 2009.

“We have spent an inordinate amount of hours going over this budget,” remarked councilwoman Judy Young. “We are well aware of what everyone is sacrificing now, just in order to keep gas in their car and put the heat on. Unfortunately, certain departments, when they submitted prior budgets, did not submit realistic budgets. Also the town never really liked to have increases.”

“It wasn’t an inordinate amount of time,” corrected town supervisor Bob Fiore, “It was the required amount of time — that this budget and the citizens deserved. We worked very hard, I’m not complaining, I’m not moaning about it. We did it, and that’s all I have to say.”

Councilman Teddy Brebbia said, “I wanted to acknowledge there were a lot of people involved in this process. There are increases, I’ve spoken with a lot of people concerned with the increases. The lines the increases show up in, aren’t even brought up to where they were three years ago.” Brebbia added, “I must say I enjoyed some of the spirited debates that went on, and I feel that they were very productive, and they worked very well to draw concensus and make the compromises that needed to be made.”

Objecting a possibly overestimated mortgage tax revenue line, Brebbia voted against the budget on principle. He had proposed covering potential shortfalls with different budget lines, available in case additional funds are needed, to be remunerated later if proven unnecessary. As lone dissenter, he was outvoted by the rest of the board.

“I’ve been on the board, on and off, more than twenty years,” agreed councilman Nicholas Salamone, Jr. “We have never spent more time, going through each item, 3 to 5 days a week. It was great to debate, nothing personal.” Salamone indicated this year’s mortgage tax revenue is estimated $400K, down from $650K-$700K. Court revenues are down $100K as well, due to changes in NYS rules for penalties.

In addition, fuel costs are up, and there is a past deficit to absorb. “Two years from now, our town won’t even owe a penny,” Salamone promised. “Most towns owe three, four, five million dollars.” Fiore noted that state aid funding has gone down at least twenty percent, “we’ll probably take another hit on that.”

A Lively Board Meeting in Bloomingburg

Bloomingburg held its monthly village board meeting one week, on Thursday, Oct. 16th. Mayor Mark Berentsen held a lively discussion covering numerous topics, and at moments he was decidedly outspoken.

The long-awaited repaving of Main Street remains bogged down with bureaucratic red tape from the state level. Berentsen pulled no punches in describing how he felt about the situation.

During public comment, Bloomingburg’s public loitering problem took on a surreal tone, when it was disclosed that a deputy from the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office threatened to arrest the sister of notorious panhandler “Bullville Bob” Hines, if she tried to kick him out of her house.

Berensten was outraged because he learned that Bobby has allegedly been collecting benefits from Orange County, while making an ongoing eyesore and nuisance of himself on the streets of Bloomingburg (Sullivan County). If this is true, Bob’s case worker must have known when contacting the Sullivan County Sheriff.

Trustee Clifford Teich read a series of accusations from an anonymous letter dropped off at his North Road medical office, signed by “Real American.” Some of the material accused village clerk Sue Berentsen of impropriety; while others questioned the “Mexicans” who work outside the sewer plant in the summertime. The anonymity is precedented. Last Spring, during the first 2008 organizational meeting, the board read an unsigned letter praising the new administration.

In yet another controversy, the local post office remains at an impasse with the village about several large potholes in the parking lot. Berentsen’s family owns the land, claiming the village is not responsible because the lease stipulates the post office must maintain their parking area.

This article is a work in progress, will be polished up and finished at a later time.

Ira Cohen Pitches Intermunicipal Tax Service

Sullivan County attorney Ira Cohen spoke at the Wurtsboro village board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 14, about his proposal to offer county tax collection services as part of an inter municipal arrangement.

Wurtsboro has a number of taxable parcels in the village with arrears. One property hasn’t paid any taxes since the mid-1970s, officials said. Under the new deal, software in Wurtsboro links village records up to Cohen’s operation in Monticello, giving real-time data.

The convenient arrangement would allow Sullivan County to foreclose directly on behalf of the village, thereby bringing unpaid tax money back into local coffers much sooner.

O&W Hist. Soc. 45th Annual Convention & Dinner, Nov. 8th

Ontario & Western Railway Historical Society, Inc.

45th Annual Convention & Dinner http://www.nyow.org/2008_convention.html

Saturday, November 8th, 2008 at Orange County Community College Dining Hall South Street & East Conkling Avenue, Middletown, NY 10940

O&W collectibles, models, dioramas and photo displays. Models, collectibles and prototype clinics. Door prize, raffle, cocktail hour and dinner.

Tickets are $32 with dinner, $27 without dinner.

Registration Form: http://www.nyow.org/2008_Banquet_Registration_Form.htm

AV Trip Guide: http://www.nyow.org/AV%20Trip%20Guide.pdf

The New York, Ontario and Western Railway, more commonly known as the O&W or NYO&W, was a regional railroad with origins in 1868, lasting until March 29, 1957 when it was ordered liquidated by a US bankruptcy judge. The railroad began life as the New York and Oswego Midland Railroad, organized by Dewitt C. Littlejohn in 1868.

Improved highways put an end to the O&W’s pioneering passenger access to the lower Catskill Mountains and lightly-populated portions of upstate New York, and it operated as a virtual 19th-century “time warp” (then known to locals as the “Old & Weary” or “Old Woman”) until final liquidation in 1957.

The end of coal as a heating fuel for other than major power plants removed its primary freight business, as did the end of rail transport of high-priority dairy products from upstate New York to the Metro New York City area.

By virtue of its superb online scenery and anachronistic operations, the O&W retains “cult status” among railroad and history buffs more than 50 years after its abandonment, with periodic bus tours of remaining railroad artifacts.

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NYSW

Conference Room #202

Conference Room #202 just got smaller in Mamakating Town Hall. The area was subdivided to make room for Planning & Zoning, which ran short of space occupying the Building Dept. across the hall.

A DMV courtesy counter visits Mamakating monthly every first Thursday (10am - 2:30pm), will now also operate from the new office.

An ergonomic crunch was discussed at the Sept. 2nd town board workshop meeting, as reported in the Mamakating Messenger on Sept. 10th of this year. According to councilman Nicholas Salamone Jr., our current Town Hall was designed in 1985 to meet the needs of Mamakating for twenty years.

Poochie of the Month

Meet “Butch,” a Rottweiler who likes to lift weights, guard meat, and chase mailmen. Ha! Just kidding. It’s only “Fluffy,” same dog profiled last month, only this time he has a snappy new haircut.

Mamakating Library Begins Move Today

Prison labor today began moving books out of the old Mamakating Public Library at Town Hall in Bloomingburg, to the new location at 158 Sullivan Street in Wurtsboro. A brief announcement was made by Barbara Semonite, president of the library district, at last night’s Wurtsboro village board meeting (Tues., Oct. 14th, 2008). Semonite also serves as village trustee.

The renovated library space, formerly a restaurant, is being donated by developer Shalom Lamm, owner of the Wurtsboro Airport. This building was most recently known as “A&B Diner.” An area behind the library, closer to Pine Street, was a bar called the “Ant Hill,” which will now become the new home for Kathy’s Tea Cozy, a popular brunch spot.

Across the thoroughfare, increased traffic is expected to benefit FNB Toiz, a small storefront business operated by Brenda Giraldi, specializing in children’s educational toys and games. The 150-sq. foot establishment overlooks the library’s main entrance from its vantage point at 153 Sullivan St.

While a big story for Mamakating locals, the new library has been ignored by local media (save for Mamakating Messenger, who first reported this development on July 16th last summer).

Colonial Settlers Beg for Militia Protection

Petition from Mamakating for a Force to Protect the Frontier.

This was found researching for material to use in next year’s Sullivan County Bicentennial event. From Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777-1795, 1801.

[No. 2094, Feb 13th 1779. ]

To his Excellency George Clinton Esqr. Governor of the State of New York, General of all the Militia, and admiral of the Navy of the Same.

The Humble Petition of a number of the Inhabitants of the western frontiers of Ulster County, at and near Mamakating. Sheweth, that your Petitioners Conceive themselves in a danger- our Situation; Partly from the Repeated threatnings of our Disaffected Neighbours, who have heretofore taken part with and joined our Savage Enemies, and Partly by the wide Extention of near Thirty Miles (between Peenpeck and Nipennaugh) having no Guard, also the Season fast advancing when (if Providence Prevent not) plundering Parties may be expected, for fear of which, great Numbers are Preparing to remove their Families and Effects, which Removal if once begun (we Conceive) will be of Fatal Consequences. We therefore make no Doubt, but your Excellency upon Consideration of our Situation (If it appears Consistant with the Public good) will grant us some Speedy Relief, and your Petitioners as in Duty Bound, will ever Pray.

John Crage, James Huey, Manuel Gunsales, Jun’r, Jacobus Devins, Isaac Roosa, Joseph Crawford, Johannes Masten, John McCreery, Thos. Oliver, David Oliver, James Gillespy, Robert Milliken, John Gillespy, David Gillespy, Adam Ritenbergb, Abraham Calwall, Thomas Shaw, William Bell, James Tucker, Robert McCreery, Abraham Swart, John Swart, Hendricus Rosa- crans, William Cross, John Coulter, Donald Ross. Peter Simpson, Tomkins Odell, William Harlow, Daniel Woodworth, William Stephens, Solomon Wheat, Samuel Patterson. Archibald Mc- Bride, Jeremiah Fitzgerald, John Newkirk, Jacob Roosa, Philip Vankuren, Stephen Hoakham, Solomon Terwilliger.

Rotary Craft Fair & Barbeque: Wurtsboro Airport, Sat. Oct. 11

Throngs of visitors came out to Wurtsboro Airport on Saturday, Oct. 11, to shop at an outdoor flea market, and support to the local Rotary Club’s late season barbeque. Mild weather encouraged the crowd to linger around most of the afternoon, as biplanes and gliders buzzed overhead.

Vendors from Baker Plumbing of Bloomingburg demonstrate a passive solar water heating system, which utilizes tinted glass tubes containing copper rods, conducting heat directly onto water pipes to produce near-scaling water. The package retails for about $6,000 — half of which gets reimbursed through state and federal grants.

Mimi Jacobs of Candalyse Publishing, from Smallwood, poses with granddaughter Candace Chantel Battiste, age 9. The company is raising $277,839 to pay for medical expenses correcting a rare skin disorder. So far, $41,275 has been accumulated. Books published center around themes of kindness, patience, love, tolerance and compassion.

Dr. Bob Justus, Mamakating town councilman, enjoys a Saturday afternoon, sporting a navy polo shirt by Ralph Lauren. Other public officials spotted at the event include town supervisor Bob Fiore. At the Rotary Club tent were found former councilwoman Regina Saunders, with her husband Everett Saunders (the former Bloomingburg mayor).

A few hundred feet down the runway, south of the main entrance, lies a small historic graveyard with the remains of Sullivan County’s “first settler,” the late Manuel Gonsalus.

Historical Society Honors “Old Glory”

The American Legion and VFW color guard participated in a patriotic event hosted by the Mamakating Historical Society. “Honor Our Flag Day” was held at the society’s museum at the old Summitville Schoolhouse on the afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 10th. Other participants included the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Sons & Daughters of the American Revolution.

Several elected officials were on hand to enjoy the festivities, including Mamakating town supervisor Bob Fiore, town councilperson Judy Young, and state assemblywoman Aileen Gunther. Revolutionary War re-enactors from the Navasing Longrifles appeared in full bygone regalia.

You can watch the color guard in formation on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENlfPiT2XLw

And also watch the flag folding ceremony here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSIFB7aJ6mM — The symbolic meaning of each fold is explained in this video clip.

A Peek Inside the Mamakating Historical Museum

The Mamakating Historical Society’s Museum is located at the old Summitville Schoolhouse on Old Rt. 209 (Summitville Road). Membership in the society is $10 per year. Here’s a look at some of the numerous interesting displays to be found inside…

Free Family Fun at Kelder’s Kerhonkson Farm

A great weekend outing can be had for pocket change at Kelder’s Farm in Kerhonkson, right off Rt. 209, about ten miles north of Ellenville. Wayfarers can’t miss the landmark “World’s Largest Garden Gnome,” right by the main entrance.

Lazy hayrides to the “You-Pick” pumpkin patch down in the valley cost $3., and each jack-o-lantern you bring back costs the same $5 — regardless of weight. Other harvests available for the pickin’ include raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, squash, flowers and vegetables.

Kelder’s also has miniature golf, a fun-packed playground, cornfield maze, and petting zoo. Milk your own cow, feed the animals, cluck with the chickens and crow with the roosters. Young’uns will love the inflatable fun house, full of goblins and ghosts.

Pompey’s Cave Hidden Entrance Revealed

Above is a photograph showing the hidden entrance to Ulster County’s elusive “Pompey’s Cave,” known locally for hundreds of years as the mysterious “river beneath a river.” The access point near the ladder is relatively safe, however experienced spelunkers warn against venturing down the passage, which carries an underground stream several miles westward.

The geological curiosity can be found off Lucas Turnpike (County Route #1), heading north about halfway between between US Rt. 209 and NY Rt. 213. There is a pull-off not far past Camp Epworth, just south of a small bridge crossing a dried-up creek, located directly across from Benton-Bar Cemetery in Kyserike. Park on the southbound side of Lucas, and follow the trail along the creek bed, about a thousand feet west a hole with ladder beckons below.

The subterranean tunnel was described in Native New Yorkers, By Evan T. Pritchard (2002):

Walking along the old rocky trail to the town of High Falls we find a dry stream bed along the trail. In the old days, it was only dried up in summer, revealing a hole in the ground that leads downward to a secret underground cave. A river runs through the cave, directly under the streambed, and the rock shelf only allows a short walk for those without hip waders. Locals have called it Pompey’s Cave for over four hundred years; some say it was the name of the slave who found it. In Munseee, “pom’pey leew” means “it is a stream,” with similar words referring to traveling along a streambed.
An old Munsee story says the original people lived in the earth under a lake. One man emerged from a hole and saw a deer that had just been killed by a wolf. He brought the deer back and shared the meat with his people. They enjoyed the meat so much that they emerged as a group, and began spreading throughout the land. Those were the first “sketambowg,” or “surface beings,” as we call them in Algonquin.
The Great Captain Pipe of Sandusky said that the Delaware are descendants of the Wyandot (Huron) who sprang from the hole, which can still be seen near lake Huron. One of the women who emerged, a virgin, gave birth to twins who spoke a different language than Wyandot, presumably Munsee and Unami. In a different version, she is not a virgin, but a headstrong Wyandot girl who disobeys her father and runs away with a lover of her own choosing and is exiled.

Native American legends concerning the underworld abound throughout the Hudson Valley. Closer to Mamakating, there exists an underground lake beneath the Bashakill swamp, south of Wurtsboro, NY. The entrance is through a cave hole halfway up a waterfall along the northern slope of South Road. Sometimes called “Surprise Cave,” few locals know of its existence.

Bloomingburg Village Board Meeting – Sept. 11, 2008 Minutes

Village of Bloomingburg

Regular Board Meeting

September 11, 2008

Present: Mayor Mark Berentsen, Trustee Clifford Teich and Peggy Wood, Village Attorney John Kelly

M. Berentsen - Pledge of Allegiance

Public Hearing on Local Law 2-08-09

M. Berentsen opened public hearing by asking the Village Clerk to read the Public Notice published in the Times Herald Record on September 6, 2008. M. Berentsen read the clarification from the 2-2008 Local Law proposed and explained that the original Local Law 3-2006 was not filed in its entirety. The clerk filed the complete law on July 31, 2008 to try and correct the problem but the attorneys for both parties were not comfortable with it. So we simply filed the same law in its entirety with the clarification of the zoning that was missing from the original.

NO PUBLIC COMMENT-

C. Teich motioned to close public hearing- seconded by P. Wood all were in favor.

Open Village meeting-

C. Teich motioned to accept the minutes from the August 14, 2008 meeting and P. Wood seconded, all were in favor

Treasurer’s report was read by S. Berentsen- no questions

Building report submitted by J. Mike Grass

Waste water report- R. Wood absent- M. Berentsen explained that SPEDES renewal was submitted in a timely fashion so our renewal permit is approved pending an inspection by the DEC. P. Wood said there was a problem again with the pump station but it was taken care of. C. Teich stressed the fact that a waste water report should be submitted each month.

Library- M. Berentsen- should be moving by Oct. 1, 2008- new building is coming along. S. Berentsen reported that reimbursements and $100.00 rent has been paid through July 2008. I will be sending another bill as soon as I receive the electric bill.

Sullivan County Centennial Celebration- P. Wood has contacted Lyman Holmes and asked for Memorial Day weekend for our Centennial celebration. P. Wood has concern with regards to Wurtsboro having a Memorial Day Parade, she has contacted John Lacy from American Legion with regards to having the parade in Bloomingburg. The Board suggested that a committee be formed to plan for this event. C. Teich motioned to have H. Baird chair a committee for this event- P. Wood seconded and all were in favor.

M. Berentsen- we want to make this nice, I will arrange for antique cars. P. Wood will invite Little League. M. Berentsen - a Drum and Bugle - Walker Valley Drum and Bugle . The Village Board thanked H. Baird for heading this up.

Main Street Project- C. Teich - we finally made headway a few hours ago with the main street project. Mark and myself met with a representative from Senator Bonacic’s office. P.Wood was tied up at work. We met with the representative and several DOT engineers. It shows that I wasn’t giving up, I stayed on their backs. I was upset and wanted answers. We had promises with nothing happening. We will be getting ? of a million dollars for reconstruction on Main St. I don’t think that we need any repaving, since D. Roe repaved. But we can use towards sidewalks and storm sewer upgrades. I believe we will have to submit within 2 weeks. What is the most that we can get for our dollar. A new street light will cost $170,000. So we will meet with the engineer and see what we can get. I believe the Historical and Ecological evaluations were done by the engineering firm that was working on the project Delta Engineering. M. Berentsen- basically we just have to apply for it I have called Delta Engineering, Chris Mabey twice today- I will try again in the morning if I do not get a response I will drive to Binghamton. We have $750,000 and we are going to spend it. Delta Engineering has all of the technical information. I wanted to use our own Engineer T. Depuy but the DOT recommended staying with Delta because they have started the project. We will meet with our engineer so that we have a head start on what we want to do. The Federal Government’s fiscal year starts Oct. 1 so the money will be available in 2 weeks. We have until Sept. 2009 to spend it. The bottom line is Delta Engineering got paid for there work, so they don’t care now. This is grant money so we have to spend it and then we are reimbursed. I have spoken to J. Rouis, Sullivan County Legislature will front the money and when we receive the funds, the Village can pay the County back. We don’t have $750,000 to spend. The County will guarantee the funds. H. Baird- wasn’t the County doing that?

Village Board thanked C. Teich for all of his hard work- 8 years he has worked on this project. M. Berentsen- C. Teich presented himself very well- what is the problem- Mr. Withome from T. Depuy’s office finally said- the men want to know when they can put a shovel in the ground. C. Teich- $750,000 is still a lot of money.

Local Law #2-2008

M. Berentsen read the clarifications- motioned by C. Teich to accept and seconded by P.Wood all in favor.

Resolution 4-08-09- appoint deputy tax collector-

M. Berentsen explained that he didn’t think we needed to have an on line system for our tax collecting. It was costing the tax payers $700 just for the maintenance of the program. I wanted to have a Village resident as the tax collector and everything kept here locally. We can hold our own tax sales like we use to do. The company that was collecting was only charging an enormous rate of interest to our residents. However, the tax collector that was chosen cannot be bonded. We are also using her for the Village office secretary to cut back on salaries. So, at this time we are proposing to make S. Berentsen the tax collector and Mary Newhall the deputy tax collector. This will allow Mary to still be in the office and put the responsibility of the tax collecting with S. Berentsen who is bondable. The office will basically be run the same and saving money. S. Berentsen- This was also suggested by J. Rouis.

Motioned by C. Teich and Seconded by P. Wood all in favor

Resolution 5-08-09-appoint S. Berentsen as Tax Collector

Motioned by C. Teich and Seconded by P. Wood all in favor

Resolution 6-08-09- change Oct. Board meeting

Need to change the Oct. meeting as M. Berentsen and S. Berentsen will be out of town.

Motioned by P. Wood and Seconded by C. Teich

Board Comment:

C. Teich submitted some questions from a constituent that could not be present at meeting.

  1. Flags are torn and discolored what are you going to do? C. Teich added that years ago there was a letter to the editor in the Times Heralds record with regards to the flags in the Village of Bloomingburg- I just wished that the person would have contacted us rather than the record. P. Wood- get new flags- a resident added that some of the flags are faded but it is a small town, the patriotic spirit is nice in a small town. M. Berentsen said that it is about time for them to come down anyway so we will take them down Sunday morning. Board agreed we will replace flags that are needed for Memorial Day parade.

  2. Sewer plant and the DEC? that was already addressed-

  3. Potholes- M. Berentsen what potholes? The one pothole on Winterton Road will be filled not the Post Office that is the responsibility of the Post Office.

  4. Crosswalks- Board and residents discussed- never any crosswalks in Village just stop lines and they were relined when street was done.

  5. Handicap access at Village office- M. Berentsen said that we had received a call from Mr. Popp from Rural Development with regards to the door threshold- can’t be more than ? of an inch. R. Wood, jr. was kind enough to fix that for us. We called Mr. Popp and advised him that it was corrected. We haven’t heard anything since.

  6. What about the $50,000 grant? M. Berentsen- I don’t know anything about who to call or what it was for- Board members didn’t have any information either. C. Teich- I will find out.

P. Wood- no comment

Public Comment:

Village resident- what about our local greeter- I came home one evening and he was soliciting from my property. From the cigarette butts he had been there a while- what can be done? J. Kelly suggested that she call the police. I will be speaking with J. Tidoro from Social Services this week. They have started a new pilot program in Sullivan County with regards to the mental health issue. Resident said that it takes so long for the police to arrive that they leave before the police arrive. J. Kelly- I have heard that this is a problem but I encourage you to take the time wait for the police or document everything and go to the barracks and file a complaint, be accurate. Call 911. M. Berentsen - call the inside line at the Trooper Barracks 888-2488.

Village resident complained about people congregating in the Dutch Reform Church parking lot (restoration). He called police and it was 3 hrs. before they came They didn’t harm anything- just loud and leaving there beer cans behind- so he cleaned up there mess the next day. M. Berentsen- call police we are trying to get a deal with the Town of Mamakating so we can have a sheriff in the Town- The Town will pay the salary and the Village will supply the office. Without our own police Dept. it is hard. C. Teich- everyone should call and complain. M. Berentsen- Sheriff’s office says they don’t have the man power - they are probably riding around in Cochecton where nothing is happening. J. Kelly suggested making a request as to where the money is allocated for the sheriff’s Dept. M. Berentsen- Wurtsboro barracks is a training center, they come here for 6 months and then transfer elsewhere. We use to have troopers that were born and raised here, but no more. R. Wood- Town of Montgomery- there is always a police presence. C. Teich- I have sympathy with you. I had a patient that told her child to wait at the pizza place for her- if a man approached you just ignore him and keep walking- Terrible problem for village. C. Teich can’t we pass a loitering law. J. Kelly- the problem is- is that they have already been challenged so we can’t pass a law that has been overthrown. M. Berentsen- we need to call the State Police-

H Baird- A local boy scout is working on an Eagle project in the Town of Mamakating park- he is grooming the hiking trail and adding a park bench. The Rotary has donated $50. towards this project. I was wondering if the Village would be interested in donating- part of the park is now in the Village of Bloomingburg and the Town is also donating. M. Berentsen- what is the scout’s name- Brian Lake his father is Ken Lake he belongs to troop 273. C. Teich motioned that we give $50 to Boy Scout troop 273 for Eagle Scout Brian Lake’s project. Seconded by P. Wood, all in favor.

H. Baird will have first meeting for the Centennial celebration planning following next months board meeting 10/16/08.

Approved the following bills- Abst. 4 -$5490.14

Abst. S4-$4295.95

Motioned to adjourn by P. Wood and seconded by C. Teich all in favor Respectfully submitted, Susan M. Berentsen

New BKAA Guardian Newsletter for Autumn 2008

The latest edition of BKAA’s Guardian newsletter was mailed out to members last week. As usual, the publication is chock-full of interesting news about the Mamakating area, which rivals coverage offered by mainstream media. The Bashakill Area Association is the town’s largest environmental advocacy group, with over 500 members.

Volume 21, Number 4 kicks off with a Yukiguni update by BKAA president Paula Medley, discussing the recent public hearings before the Mamakating Planning Board on August 27th and September 23rd. BKAA has been fighting Yukiguni Maitaki’s proposed mushroom factory for many years — both in court and the public arena.

Comments from the organization’s engineer, hydrogeologist, and ecologist — which were presented at the Aug. 27th hearing — are now available online at the group’s website, http://www.thebashakill.org . Details of the second Sept. 23rd hearing did not make the Guardian’s Autumn deadline. Union members packed the second meeting with comments favoring job growth for the local economy — countering the BKAA’s environmental stance.

The factory still has some hurdles to surmount before construction begins. The latest stormwater management plan includes a berm located on neighboring property, owned by D&H Canal / Sullivan County. Also the Delaware River Basin Commission will probably require a permit, Medley said. Yukiguni’s factory was approved by the planning board in 2006, and has survived several court challenges. However, overtures by the developer to scale down the project have invigorated opponents in demanding an entirely new planning process.

Elsewhere in the newsletter are articles providing updates on the Wawarsing cell phone tower; the New York Regional Interconnect power line project; and the proposed Hasidic Village “Kiryas Square” to be located at the site of the old Spring Mountain Resort (Homowack Hotel). Other features include articles on butterflies, flowers, ducks, otters, and eagles. The issue caps off with a few poems.

BKAA’s 36th annual board meeting will take place Sunday, Oct. 19th, at Bernie’s Holiday Restaurant, 277 Rock Hill Drive (off Quickway Exit 109). Doors open at half past noon; lunch buffet ($28) starts at 1:30 (RSVP Oct. 11th @ 845-754-0743); business commences at 2:30 pm. At 3:15 pm will be a demonstration with live birds from the animal rescue group “Ravensbeard.”

Grand Jury Hearings for Pine Bush Pizza Prank

Patty Brown (left) and Connie Squillace (right), above, received unsolicited pizza delivered to them at a school board meeting last winter, in the Pine Bush High School cafeteria. The sauce was adulterated with an unknown substance, which caused Brown’s inner mouth to instantly blister.

Witnesses will testify in late September before the Orange County Grand Jury, for an anticipated indictment against former Pine Bush Central School District trustee Joseph Zankl. The Brimstone Road resident is accused of masterminding a bizarre prank involving anonymous delivery of tainted pizza on Dec 11, 2007 to a school board meeting.

The targeted victims were community volunteers Connie Squillace and Patty Brown — two ladies who videotape school board meetings for public access television. Zankl, who lost his re-election to the school board in May 2007, blamed his defeat on Squillace and Brown.

Squillace & Brown will testify on Wed., Sept. 24th. Employees from Villa Gaudio Pizzeria  testified on Monday, Sept. 22nd. The prolonged case is almost a year old. It took six months after the incident, before arrests were made by State Police in June 2008.

The case has some interesting twists which have gone unreported in local media. Foremost, a cryptic note was attached to the pizza boxes, which helped lead authorities to the culprit — reminiscent of a wacky villain plot — straight out of the old Batman television series.

“The note said ‘Have a Happy Holiday… don’t eat both pizzas at once,’” recalled Connie Squillace. When challenged, the mystery delivery boy (later identified as Stephen Goodwine of Burlingham), refused to disclose the food’s origin. Squillace did not partake in the malicious munchies. Nonplussed, the food was set aside on a nearby table, where tempted colleague Patty Brown took a bite. The Dec. 11, 2007 school board meeting featured a farewell reception — with refreshments — for outgoing superintendent Rosemarie Stark.

Investigators allegedly obtained DNA evidence against Zankl, from the envelope taped to the pizza box, containing the anonymous letter. Saliva residue was matched with a Christmas card Zankl sent several years ago, sources reveal. Some might say, the detectives got this caper licked.