Present: Ric Coombe, Greg Vurckio, Bud Gladstone, Bill Federice, Larry Reilly, Scott Grey, Steve Walker,
Others: Jeff Baker, Tim Cox, Bruce Dolph, Nick Carbone, Jason Merwin, Cher Woehl
1. Call to Order: Ric Coombe called the meeting to order at 6:16 pm.
2. January 17, 2022, Meeting Minutes Approval: Motion to approve minutes made by Bud Gladstone, seconded by Greg Vurckio. Motion carried.
3. Ric provided an update on membership dues, sharing that we received 2021 dues from Greene County, Town of Middletown, and the Village of Hunter. Halcott is the only outstanding membership dues for 2021.
4. Elections: Jeff provided an update on the elections. Jeff shared that nominations were received from Sullivan (Neversink) and Scholarie counties so far. Deadline for submitting nominations was Friday, February 18, 2022. Several members indicated their towns/villages and other towns/villages in their county had not received their nomination forms. Cher indicated all nomination forms were mailed on January 31, 2022. Discussion occurred on emailing the nomination forms to the county towns/villages that had not received them and to extend the deadline for submitting nominations by 10 days. Bill Federice made a motion to extend the deadline for submitting nominations by 10 days, Steve Walker seconded the motion. Motion was carried. All agreed that the election forms would be resent via email with a March 2, 2022, deadline for submitting nominations. Jeff will draft the letter for Cher to include in the email submission.
5. Delaware County Alternative to Streamside Acquisition Program (SAP): The alternative proposal to the Streamside Acquisition Program (SAP) in Delaware County, as provided by Nick at the January 17, 2022, meeting, was discussed by the members. In summary, Delaware County is proposing to adopt a program similar to the CREP/CSBI model, which provides for the property owners to retain ownership of their land. The proposal also looks to expand the program to include owners of existing forested buffers which are currently not included in CSBI/CREP as they are not considered to be active agricultural lands. The program would include financial incentives in the form of rental agreements. An in-depth dialogue amongst the members on the proposal transpired, addressing its benefits and areas that need to be further developed. Input from members and guests included:
- Bud had positive comments on CREP, stating that he felt it was a good, solid program which serves the purpose of keeping the land in private ownership. He felt this was a less complicated process than SAP. Bud also voiced concerns regarding his position of chair on the Watershed Council and would he need to abstain from any discussions or votes on this matter. Per Jeff, there are no ethics issues at this point as this is still a conceptual proposal being discussed by CWT. Therefore, Bud can participate in any discussion.
- Nick pointed out that CREP is for agricultural land only, and the Delaware County proposal will allow for non-farming land to enter the program. Nick also shared that with this proposal Towns will have input on whether they will participate in the program, however if SAP is expanded the Towns will have no say on participation.
- Jeff commented on the concept of annual payments under this proposal, stating that it was economically better.
- He agrees with the overall goal of the proposal and felt CWT should continue to go forward with further discussions.
- Ric commented that the concept of renting the land is better than the current SAP and would be a benefit to the participating communities. Ric also pointed out that administration of this proposal could be challenging, specifically if it allows for minimal acreage to be leased.
- Bruce felt that this proposal, which is a CREP like program, would be a benefit as it would increase the water quality by allowing the forested buffers to participate.
- Steve commented that the proposal allowed for the ability to maintain and improve the infrastructure by expanding the amount of included land.
Members agreed that while this may not be the total solution to the SAP issues, it is a better alternative to SAP. Ric stated that CWT supports the Delaware County proposal, as it does address the “holes” in the current acquisition program. He emphasized the CWT needs to be consistent in its message and recommended that issues continued to be addressed as CWT moves forward on this matter.
a. FAD Deliverables – nothing to report
b. Streamside Acquisition – nothing to report, in addition to the discussion
c. Flood Commissions Reports – nothing to report
d. CWC Report – Jason reported on the following:
- CWC and NYC reached agreement on the septic program and $7.5 million has been received for the program.
- An issue currently faced by Septic Program is the need for engineers to design the systems. There is a staffing issue within the watershed. He asked members to share within their towns to help find qualified candidates.
- There may be an issue surfacing regarding NYC and its obligations with the septic program. NYC is looking to drastically reduce the amount of septic they will accept from 70,000 gallons a week to 26,000 gallons a week. Jeff asked that Jason prepare a letter reminding NYC of their requirement to assist the septic program on this. If they reduce the amounts accepted, there will be a significant impact to the program funding available for upgrading and maintaining the septic systems as this would require utilizing sources outside of the watershed for this function. Jeff suggested that Ric bring this issue up at the principals meeting.
- There could be a gap in the Flood Hazard Program funding (like what occurred in the septic program) as to date there is not an agreement in place for renewing this program.
- Bids have been received for the Halcottsville Project. Bids are being advertised for the New Kingston Project.
7. Ric addressed the changes in the administration, once again raising the question of whether CWT wants to be part of the changes, providing education on the watershed programs and issues, or does CWT want to be in the background as change happens. Members agreed that CWT needs to be part of the process and should look to schedule a meeting with the appropriate attendees to begin the communications and education on the watershed and CWT. Considering the issues raised by Jason, the members suggested the new Commissioner be invited here sooner than later so that the education process can begin before significant impacts to the programs in the watershed occur.
8. Warrant(s) and Treasurer’s Report: Bud reported that as of January 31, 2022 , the checking account has $2,318.35 and the savings account has $137,006.60. Motion was made by Larry Reilly to accept the Treasurer’s report, seconded by Steve Walker. Report accepted.
Bud presented warrant #90 in the amount of $2,916.70 for payment of legal fees from August 2021 thru January 2022. Steve Walker made a motion to pay this warrant, seconded by Greg Vurckio. Motion carried.
9. Other: Ric asked Tim Cox and Jason Merwin if our March meeting can be held at CWC headquarters. Tim and Jason had no issues and agreed to have the CWT meetings at the
Margaretville Arkville office.
10. Adjourn: Meeting was adjourned by Ric Coombe at 7:07 pm.