In early June, 2010, the Gardiner Town Board passed a resolution* that is the next critical step in Gardiner’s first farmland protection endeavor. The resolution commits the Town to a $50,000 contribution towards the 50% local match required to retain the $440,000 Farmland Protection grant awarded for preservation of the Kiernan Farm on Bruynswick Road by the US Department of Agriculture in March. Though the Open Space Institute (OSI) had generously agreed to provide the majority of the required local match, it sought the town’s participation in funding the project as the basis for seeking its own Board’s approval. Ulster County also indicated willingness to make a $20,000 contribution, but only if the town was also a funding partner.
The Town Board’s June vote represents an important step forward for preservation of open space and farmland in Gardiner, one which was taken, at least in part, in response to the support expressed by many members of the Gardiner community both in writing and at Town Board meetings. Hopefully, this step will not only ensure that the Kiernan Farm preservation project will succeed, but also begin to move forward more open space and farmland preservation projects in Gardiner.
The Board’s resolution presents two challenges for the Gardiner community. First, in deference to the difficulties that many of us are experiencing in the current economy, it expresses the clear preference for the town’s $50,000 contribution to be raised through private donations. Accordingly, a fund raising committee, lead by Warren Wiegand & Rich Koenig, has been formed to spearhead that effort (see article page 11). It is important that we all participate in whatever way we can, particularly over the next six months, since OSI’s goal is to close on the purchase of development rights by the end of this year.
The longer term challenge presented by the Board’s vote is to make certain that this initial farm preservation effort is not the only one Gardiner will undertake. Rather, our goal should be to offer opportunities and options to more willing landowners like the Kiernans, and to educate our neighbors on the benefits to all of preserving working farms and open space. Doing this will require that we actively seek out funding partners and maximize funding opportunities through the use of the bond fund, and encourage our Town Board and the Gardiner Community to fully embrace the commitment to preserving Gardiner’s open space and farmland expressed in our Open Space Plan and Town Law.