The 2013 Democratic Party Platform
“Working Together for a Better Gardiner”
Maintaining Fiscal Responsibility Through Smart Planning
• Limit town tax burden on Gardiner property owners.
• Encourage business development to increase revenue base.
• Actively seek public and private grants to lower the tax burden
of town programs.
• Develop responsible budgets based on the real needs of the
Preserving Open Space
• Preserve the small town nature of Gardiner and support the
goals set forth in the 2004 comprehensive plan.
• Support established policies that protect the Shawangunk
Ridge as a natural and community resource.
• Advance Gardiner’s Open Space Plan.
Improving The Town
• Invest wisely in the infrastructure of the Hamlet, including
sidewalks, parking, sewer, safety and ease of access to
• Continue to support the town library as the cultural center
• Preserve and protect our clean water resources and aquifers.
• Improve Gardiner’s recreational spaces for families including
public access to the Wallkill River and Rail Trail.
Continuing Efficient Good Government
• Continue open, inclusive government by encouraging partici-
pation by all members of the Gardiner community in town
meetings and forums on issues of public concern.
The 2013 Republican Party Platform
The Republican platform continues to be that local government should focus on the priorities of the whole town, and manage the town within its means. We plan to work on issues that will benefit the whole town and responsibly manage those activities and all the funds available to accomplish those goals.
We plan to focus budget dollars on infrastructure spending needed to protect our citizens while working with private groups to expand open space protection and other recreational goals. We also will put more effort into investment planning for future highway repair and equipment needs.
We support the current Master Plan and are committed to updating it since it was adopted almost a decade ago. Without any doubt, we are committed to protecting the rural character of our town from corporate developers who are motivated solely by profit and not the quality of daily life in Gardiner. We also believe in the need to protect small property owners looking to reasonably enjoy the use of their property.
We encourage the development of all types of businesses within the town to generate revenues and relieve the tax burden on residential taxpayers. This will require efforts to develop not only the several Hamlet zones, but also reducing restrictions on home occupations, as long as the residential nature of the community can be preserved. We see the need to recognize that the world is changing around us so we need to be responsive to the reality of distributed workforces and the importance of communication technology. To be clear, the town of Gardiner deserves better cell service. We will continue to push for a cost free and revenue-generating plan to bring better cell service to Gardiner and help us financially, however, if a private application will speed this service to the town, we will support it. Improved cell phone coverage will improve not only the safety and quality of life for current residents, but will afford us a better chance at attracting businesses that need reliable cell service to be successful. We will also work with commercial and light industrial businesses to make our CLI districts more business-friendly and inviting.
We also want to make the best possible use of the recreational areas we already have. This will draw people to Gardiner, help our businesses and spread the word that this is a nice community to visit but, more importantly, live in, and to work in. To accomplish this, we believe the town should be more discriminating on the acceptance of land in lieu of development recreation fees. Those fees, coupled with private efforts, should be invested in the public lands we currently have to improve them and open them up to new activities.
With everything that we want to do to move Gardiner forward, we need to avoid making long-term mistakes. No one doubts the future of Gardiner is positive and this town will continue to grow and prosper. We believe the sale of the Old Firehouse will be regretted. While we recognize the appeal of the revenue from a near term sale, the growth of the town will at some point in the near future require more public space in the Central Hamlet. This is the last of that space and should be protected.
Our overall message is that we want to include the entire town in the discussion about what is best for Gardiner. We will work with everyone to generate the resources needed to meet the priorities we all set. We believe planning to rely on merely raising taxes to accomplish our goals is not sustainable. Our policies, and our ticket, are centered on these ideas.
Candidates were asked to respond to the following questions in a maximum of 150 words each. Responses were not edited.
#1: What do you see as the most important issue facing Gardiner and what are your constructive ideas concerning this issue?
#2: How would you fund the development of Gardiner’s parkland?
Candidates for Town Supervisor
Carl Zatz (Dem)
Response to question #1) Before I became Supervisor, Republicans governed behind a cry of lower taxes and less spending. All the while they turned a blind eye to unacceptable neglect: Highway equipment, accounting systems, parks and town buildings and the Transfer Station had all deteriorated. I came into office demanding a full financial audit of past procedures by the NYS Comptroller’s office while initiating a clean sweep of our infrastructure. We’re a community rich in rural traditions and community values but those that point only to the past undermine the future. Children without vital services—Internet, transportation, education, quality recreation, and so on—will be left behind. These are the things I care about. You know me: you see me around town, at events, and checking into the town’s services. You know me as someone who gets things done. What’s the biggest issue? Planning for the future while enjoying every minute of today.
Response to question #2) Gardiner’s George Majestic Memorial Park is a gem. If you haven’t been there in a while, please go. Together with the library, the parks provide the sort of quality recreation and programs that enrich the community. Recently, surveys have been distributed in order to learn more of your thoughts about a master plan for the parks (if you haven’t filled one, please head over to the Town Hall and fill one out). The Summer Rec program is the envy of surrounding towns and the park regularly hosts community and private events. And, of course, there’s Gardiner Day which brings the town together with shows, events, exhibits, business expos, and great food. The pole barn is next up. Already in use, the building will become a center of recreation, sports, and events. We’ll continue to seek funding through state and federal grants while minimizing our tax burden. So enjoy Gardiner’s parks today and be part of its future. I certainly will.
Richard Koenig (Ind/Cons)
Response to question #1) Gardiner faces a lot of issues going forward, one significant one being the deteriorating condition of the towns’ highway department buildings and equipment. Steps already taken are the salt shed roof repair and new truck purchases, but more needs to be done. There are two main buildings at the town garage—the salt shed and the garage. The salt shed still needs its back wall repaired; the garage, where the trucks and other equipment are repaired and stored, started its life strictly as storage barn. It needs to be updated for insulation and lighting and heating to reduce utility costs. It also needs an addition to house a work area where the equipment can be maintained. The current low ceilings require some maintenance to be performed outdoors. A long-term infrastructure plan needs to be put in place to address the buildings and equipment.
Response to question #2) Developing a funding plan requires that you know what your needs are. A Master Plan for Gardiner’s Parks and Parkland is required to do that, something we currently do not have. We have Majestic Park, the Rail Trail, and about a dozen “orphan” parkland parcels that were acquired over the years that need to be included in a Master Plan.
Currently Gardiner’s Parks & Recreation committee gets the majority of its funds from fees paid by developers of subdivisions. The Parks & Rec committee also accepts donations, and it was a generous donation from a local family several years ago that allowed the pole barn at Majestic Park to be built. Other donations have helped outfit the interior, not only for our well- respected summer camp program, but for year round community use. But until we have a Master Plan and know the requirements, we cannot develop a funding plan.
Candidates For Town Board
David Duckler (Dem)
Response to question #1) The most important issue facing Gardiner, now and in the future, is the preservation of open space. The rural quality of Gardiner is our biggest asset. We need to promote and preserve this resource so we don’t end up becoming either Westchester or Long Island. We will need to review the Master Plan to see that it accords with the vision of a rural Gardiner. We will also work with private/public partnerships to continue our preservation efforts as with the Hess and Kiernan farms. We will continue to seek grants and available funding for rural, open space and farm preservation.
Response to question #2) We should have commercial developers assessed user fees, instead of donating unusable land, that can be applied to park development. Additional costs will determine whether we can use available funds or need to find other funding opportunities. Public input will help determine the scope and cost of any project.
James Miller (Ind/Rep/Cons)
Response to question #1) I see the dwindling number of volunteers for our town’s fire department and ambulance as a major concern. If asked about service of self, the fire and EMS would be my number one example of neighbor helping neighbor. To be an EMT requires 175 hours of training and numerous state-written tests, which must be repeated every three years; the beginner firefighter class is eighty-seven hours and includes much of the same rigorous training. We must remember this is done in the volunteers’ personal time, at all hours of the day and night in all different kinds of conditions. This type of commitment to one’s neighbors is required to maintain safety and foster the sense of community we all want to see grow in Gardiner. I would like to see a lot more of our townspeople step up to help their town, and I think that members of the town board could start by setting the example.
Response to question #2) I think it would be great to develop our parkland starting with a phased plan that all taxpayers are in favor of, then look back at a couple of ways to fund it: a reserve fund, monies from land subdivisions, fundraisers, generous donations from townspeople who support the plan and want to be a part of it, and real involvement and interaction with the park committee are all possibilities. Hopefully there are many members of the community who feel strongly enough to get involved and help create a plan to develop Gardiner’s parkland.
Candidates For Town Board
Laurie Willow (Dem)
Editor’s note: Laurie Willow is a member of the Gazette Editorial Committee and submitted her responses first to avoid giving her the advantage of reading others before writing her own.
Response to question #1) The most important issue facing Gardiner is whether or not we have the ability to continue the current direction of our town government. This direction maintains a well-organized present while planning for the future needs and desires of the community. This applies not only to the future of our town services, such as the Highway Department, but also to the future of our very special natural resources. Only by setting specific goals, and then moving toward them, can we hope to deliver Gardiner to our children in a way that improves the Town and the quality of life for Gardiner residents. These goals include developing long term plans for infrastructure such as water and future sewer in the Hamlet, continuing to identify and protect additional open space and farmland, continuing to find ways to attract new business, and continuing the ongoing protection of farmland such as the Hess Farm and Kiernan Farm to keep our town rural.
Response to question #2) Because in the past Gardiner had a policy of accepting land from developers in lieu of a development fee, Gardiner owns multiple lots scattered around town. Some of these lots could be sold in order to develop other lots into parkland, notably the 80 acres on the Wallkill River, with views of the Ridge, that are next to the transfer station.
John Hinson (Ind/Rep/Cons)
Response to question #1) The citizens that I have heard from have consistently spoken to me about the difficulty managing taxes, especially property taxes. Year after year, residents receive tax increases. The burden placed on our senior population is causing them to reevaluate living in Gardiner and is forcing them to consider relocating to lower taxed states. To add insult to injury, no one person has a solution to this. Governor Cuomo’s 2% property tax cap was a start. The school districts should be held fiscally accountable but they also need our support in demanding mandate reform. We the citizens of Gardiner need to have our voices heard at the school district level, at the school board level, at the county level and most certainly at the state level. This issue should be on the minds of all our elected officials as it is weighing heavily on our community’s minds.
Response to question #2) Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to hear the ECC committee present to the Town Board a proposed application for a grant to fund developing Gardiner-owned waterfront property along the Wallkill River. Although there was a dispute over who should drive that application, I could not help but appreciate how various committees and citizens all wanted to develop under utilized town property. I believe the answer toward such development of funding lies in grants. I also believe that town committees all look at the problem differently and look at opportunities differently. I would propose bringing the committee chairs together to develop direction for the town and ask for a team approach towards application requirements and development of grants. The grant the ECC found spoke to waterfront property, certainly a grant that most people would not have found, had they been focused solely on developing parkland.
Town Clerk Michel Mosher
Town Clerk Michelle Mosher is running unopposed for another four-year term. Michelle has been Town Clerk for the past 18 years. She enjoys serving the people of Gardiner and looks forward to continuing.
The Ulster County Legislature
The candidates were asked the following question and given 150 words in which to reply. Their responses were not editied:
What are the most pressing issues currently facing Ulster County?
Tracey Bartels (Dem)
The economy continues to be the most pressing issue facing Ulster County. Property taxes are forcing residents to make difficult choices. Many of our neighbors can no longer afford to live here. During the last two years, I have worked hard to contain costs. I have supported innovative solutions to complicated problems. As a result, last year we delivered the first County property tax cut in over a decade. That’s right, your County taxes actually decreased last year. Still there is much work ahead. More than 100% of all County property tax dollars go to pay for State-mandated programs. I will continue to work to find efficiencies in County government and to demand savings. I know how important it is to make every dollar count. Ulster County is such a special place – I am so grateful to have the opportunity to represent you and to work on your behalf.
Frank Lenny Zapka (Rep)
What is most important to the people of Gardiner may not be obvious to many. We have to get back the 1% Sales Tax extension. The loss of the tax will affect jobs throughout the county and the county budget, and could trickle down to local municipalities’s budgets. Quality of life is the reason many of us choose to live and raise our children in Gardiner. We enjoy safe and secure surroundings for our families with the NYS Police substation and the Ulster County Sherriff in Sha-wangunk. Some in the Legislature and County Executive’s office question if this police coverage is efficient and sustainable, and have suggested eliminating the road patrol and adding a surcharge for the Sheriff’s patrol. As a former Law Enforcement officer and your County Legislator, I will support the continued presence of the State Police and Sheriff’s services in our town to maintain Gardiner’s Quality of Life.
Candidates for Highway Superintendant
These candidates were not asked a question. They supplied the following details about themselves:
Brian Sticia (Dem/Cons)
I am a life long resident of Gardiner and have been employed by the Town of Gardiner Highway Department for more than 20 years. I have supplemented my knowledge of road construction, repair, maintenance, drainage and other highway department duties with classes at Cornell University on road construction, arborist training and drainage.
For over 28 years, I have served Gardiner as a volunteer firefighter and am currently the Assistant Chief. This has allowed me to impart my knowledge and train upcoming firefighters, assume management and budget responsibilities, as well as understand how the bid process works for purchasing and selling equipment.
As Highway Superintendent I will serve Gardiner residents with the same dedication and pride I have as a firefighter, working to improve communications with taxpayers; implement appropriate replacement schedule for equipment, as well as attend monthly town board meetings. I will explore such resources and grants as CHIPS, FEMA and other programs in order to meet the needs of residents while reducing the cost of repairs.
Gary Upright (Rep/Ind)
Gary Upright was born and raised in Gardiner and has continued to live in the area with his family. His qualifications for Superintendent of Highways speak for themselves.
Since graduating high school in 1987, Gary has worked in all phases of heavy construction, including but not limited to the installation of natural gas lines, blacktopping of roads, and correcting drainage issues on county and state roads. As a foreman, he managed a crew of 10 men, and worked closely with county and state inspectors and utility company supervisors. Currently, Gary owns and operates his own landscaping and snow plowing business. He is a hard worker, is passionate in his work and takes pride in the finished result.
When elected, his goal is to be an active Highway Superintendent, answer calls from the taxpayers, work closely with other departments to complete town projects, and lead a strong team of highway workers. Gary will be conscientious of the wetlands and the environment around us and be vigilant against the wasting of tax money.
Candidates for Town Justice
Robert Rich (Dem)
Bob Rich is a life-long Ulster County resident and an award-winning, AV-rated attorney with 25 years experience working first as a New York State Supreme Court law clerk and then in private practice as a trial attorney.
In 2012, Bob was rated among the top 1% of trial counsel in New York by Medical Malpractice Lawyers. This fall, he was designated as one of the top area attorneys by Hudson Valley Magazine and Super Lawyers Magazine. Bob has served on the NPCSD Board of Education and the Kingston Hospital Board of Trustees. He is currently on the NPCSD Foundation, a charitable organization he helped create, the NPHS Scholarship Committee and is also a proud member of the Poughkeepsie New Yorkers Barbershop Chorus.
Bob lives with his wife, Dawn, and their two daughters in Gardiner. He would be honored to have the opportunity to serve his community as Gardiner Town Justice.
Carmine Mele (Rep)
I have lived in the town of Gardiner for over 40 years and the first time I was in the current town hall it was my kindergarten classroom. After finishing college and law school, my wife, Janet, and I started our own family here. Our three teenage daughters attend the New Paltz Schools.
I started my town service on the Planning Board, where I was a member for 12 years, several of them as Chairman. For the last 4 years, I have been a member of Town Board. In both roles I have been instrumental in bringing divergent views together to move forward by being thoughtful, open minded and objective towards the best overall solution. Based upon my proven commitment to Gardiner and its people, my objectivity, and my focus on the issue at hand, I ask for your support to be your next Town Justice.