Executive Board Meeting – Aug 19, 2013

Present: Carl Stuendel, Bruce LaMonda, Bruce Dolph, Linda Burkhardt, Tony Coiro, Mike McCrary, Stephen Walker, Ric Coombe, Tony Van Glad, Bill Layton, and counsel  Jeff Baker

Dean Frazier, Al Rosa, Tim Cox, Aaron Bennett, Clayton and Charlotte Brooks.

  1. Call to order 6:17 PM
  2. Minutes – Motion to accept with minor changes, Tony Van Glad; seconded by Bill Layton.  Passed Unanimously.
  3. Privilege of the Floor- Clayton and Charlotte Brooks were recognized.  Clayton served as one of the original CWT Members.  It was a pleasure to see Clayton again.
  4. Congressman Gibson – WAG Update
    Chairman Carl Stuendel and Counsel, Jeff Baker, briefed the CWT board regarding the Congressman’s Watershed Advisory Group –“attorney subgroup” meeting in Kingston earlier in the day.   Also present at the early meeting were, Congressman Gibson, Dan Ruzzo, Mike Sterthous, Alan Rosa, Clayton Brooks, Tim Cox, Peter Lopez, WAG Co-chairs Steve Bulger  and Robert Illjes.  About WAG Carl said the following: for the first time in recent history there exists a US congressional district (the redrawn 19th) that is co-extensive with all the watershed communities east of the Hudson.  Chris Gibson currently represents this district and is attempting to familiarize himself with the efforts that have been made over the last two decades to address the issues vital to the communities in the watershed, especially to their often times difficult relations with NYC.  He recognizes the leadership role CWT and CWC have taken and is well aware of the importance of the unified voice with which the coalition has spoken and advocated.  He is not looking to reinvent the wheel, but does feel the opportunity exists to expand the scope of issues to be addressed (e.g., the effect of water releases on below the dam communities) and to use the his office in the newly drawn 19th district to engender that positive spirit regarding the future that existed among the communities when the coalition was first formed.

    Though not discussed explicitly as separate and distinct issue at this WAG subgroup meeting (and certainly not the focus of the meeting), Jeff reported on the merits/opportunities of inclusion of below the dam communities, in some manner, with the Coalition of Watershed Towns.  There was also some dialogue about the possibilities of a relationship with the CWC.  Possibilities of inclusion in some manner with the CWC is much more complicated and challenging, both politically and legally and hence not given much weight during their discussion.  This would raise large questions and challenges with the MOA. The idea of inclusion with the CWT is that it may give the CWT a broader voice and influence, to have in watershed municipalities and below dam municipalities speaking as one voice.

    The primary concerns of below dam communities are reservoir releases and flooding events.  Warwarsing has large concerns regarding the leaking NYC tunnel in that town, but the largest issue overall is flooding and turbid releases.

    All who attended from the watershed expressed a strong conviction that the Congressman will be making the final decisions on what comes from the WAG and will focus on issues that provide a positive outcome for all, not one singular interest of a small number of parties.

    CWT board members agreed speaking with one voice would be the ideal, but posed a number of concerns with regard to developing some form of a relationship.  All CWT board members are empathetic with the concerns of below dam communities.  Some board members reminded the full CWT executive committee, that these towns below the dams that were partially in the watershed along with some of the counties supported the CWT from the beginning.  The fact that they did so, should not be forgotten, since portions of their municipalities were not directly or indirectly influenced by the proposed watershed rules and regulations, and the land acquisition program.  Not all below dam, interested municipalities, are within a municipality that is partially in the watershed.

    It was suggested a number of times that the CWT should review its mission to determine if a merger of sorts was consistent with the CWT mission.  The question of commonality of interest, (the common ground) was raised a number of times and resonated with the board in general.  Is it, just the City is the bad guy?  What do the releases have to do with the FAD?

    Regarding the pending FAD — Jeff Baker strongly suggested at the early meeting and reiterated it at the CWT meeting that trying to make a difference at this stage in this review is not realistic and that this is a longer term initiative.  He further stated that the Congressman suggested that this be the starting point of below dam issues for the next FAD revision in 2017.

    Would the CWT be overwhelmed by the singular interest of flood releases?  Most board members voiced that below dam municipalities are not subject to the watershed rules and regulations and direct town impacts of the land acquisition program.  The funding at CWC was put in place to offset those impacts.  In light of that, board members were wary of below dam communities having access to CWC funds, etc.

    The CWT has a multitude of issues it addresses and not the single issue that the below dam municipalities are focused on.  The board felt that for a relationship to work, that below dam municipalities would have to accept and recognize the breadth of issues the current CWT has or else a merger would not work.

    Counsel commented that he would have to evaluate the legal considerations a formal relationship with the other group.  He said that the CWT has no authority to enter into binding agreements.

    A number of members pointed out that the flood mitigation efforts in the watershed would have a positive impact on flooding and turbidity below the dams, in the long run.

    Also raised, a number of times, were the time, energy and resources it would take to not only figure out a way to partner, but how to operate if combined and what would happen if a lawsuit evolved?   What would the new municipalities bring to the coalition?  Would this initiative detract from the core mission and ongoing issues given limited resources?

    There was discussion at the CWT meeting regarding the closing of the tunnel for repair and how that might affect the releases from the Delaware System.  No conclusions were drawn, but points to the fact more education is needed.

    There was general consensus that the below dam municipalities need to come to the CWT to explain what they are looking for and what are their expectations from the CWT were the two to merge?

    A great deal of discussion ensued regarding how the CWT might be organized, who would be on the CWT and how would this group vote or influence any CWT actions?  Who would report to whom and how?   Suggestions were made that a secondary coalition be formed of below the dam communities, that these communities would be represented at the CWT by a liaison position, etc.  This discussion pointed to the need for a great deal more discussion.

    Chairman Stuendel requested feedback on supporting a press release the WAG wants to put out that would potentially have language such as “Watershed Interests Converge”.   No decision was made, but several board members suggested that it was premature to make such a statement as it would misrepresent the reality of the current status of where things are.

    The board granted Carl and Jeff permission to continue a dialogue regarding this issue.

  5. FAD status – Still anticipating imminent release.
  6. Flood Mitigation Program Status – It was suggested that some SWCD’s/ Ulster CCE , may be near to or have completed negotiations for flood mitigation contracts.
  7. EWP projects – Tony Van Glad reported 6 Schoharie projects are pending construction.(??). Delaware County reported that, as of August 9th  the SWCD had completed 13 projects, 7 projects were under construction, 9 are under contract with construction pending and 3 projects were left to go to bid.  Two of which are larger and complex.  The total includes 9 projects outside the watershed.   Ulster, Greene and Sullivan no reports, at this time.
  8. Warrants and financials –
    Bruce LaMonda moved;  Ric Coombe seconded that warrants from Young and Sommer for $1,907.50 and Greene Count Soil and Water Conservation District for $385.48 for a total of $2292.98 be paid.  Passed Unanimously.
    Treasurer Tony Van Glad reported the checking account balance is $1,000.11 and the savings account balance is $94,003.22.
  9. Correspondence –
    Notice of Preliminary decisions of the CWC was provided.
  10. Adjourned 7:57 PM.  Motion to adjourn Bill Layton; Seconded Bruce Dolph.  Unanimous.
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