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Letter to the Editor: Disproportionate Share of the Roxbury School Tax

Dear Editor:

Last year when Halcottsville residents received their Roxbury School
tax bill, jaws dropped. In some cases, it nearly doubled. Several
families remarked that they were considering leaving the area because
school taxes were killing them. Something needed to be done. So we
gathered together to discuss the situation.

Halcottsville is part of Middletown but our children go to school in
Roxbury. Accordingly, the taxable value of our properties are
determined by Middletown but we pay school tax based on those values
to Roxbury. Middletown recently revalued all properties to current
market value while Roxbury has not. We understand that there is an
equalization calculation to make up for the difference in how taxable
values are determined. However, the formula for determining the
equalization rate is itself based on knowing the current market value
of all properties. Without a revaluation of all Roxbury properties the
formula cannot possibly work. As a result, we in Halcottsville are
bearing a disproportionate share of the Roxbury School Tax.

Further, Roxbury residents who purchased their properties more  Read more

Congressional candidates Schreibman and Tyner face off in debate

See video

Above: Video footage of the debate between Joel Tyner and Julian Schreibman, vying for the chance to run on the Democratic ticket for New York's new 19th Congressional District. Tyner and Schreibman will face each other in a Democratic primary on Tuesday, June 26.

Congressional candidates Julian Schreibman and Joel Tyner, both seeking to run on the Democratic ticket in this November's election for the new 19th Congressional District, held a debate yesterday at the Woodland Pond nursing home in New Paltz.

The Daily Freeman livestreamed the event via video and liveblogging -- though, alas, most of the the blogging consisted of reader gripes about the quality of the video stream. (An argument for better rural broadband, wrote a blogger from local radio station WGXC.)  Read more

Congressman Chris Gibson seeks to keep his seat in a new district

Above: Republican Congressman Chris Gibson. Photo courtesy of the Gibson campaign.

While Democratic candidates Joel Tyner and Julian Schreibman will face a June primary before one of them moves on to the November election, Republican Congressman Chris Gibson is already campaigning for New York’s new 19th Congressional District. Gibson currently represents New York's 20th district, about half of which will be in the new NY-19 next year.

He may be facing a tough race in November. The district Gibson is hoping to represent is much more evenly split between Republicans and Democrats than the one he won in 2010: The new NY-19 has a 3 percent Republican advantage, as compared to 13 percent in the old NY-20.  Read more

Cuomo's new plan for hydrofracking: Taking a page from the NRDC?

In today's New York Times, reporter Danny Hakim writes that Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration is quietly pursuing an entirely new plan to regulate hydraulic fracturing.

Anonymous sources, including a senior Department of Environmental Conservation official, told the New York Times that Cuomo is seeking to limit the practice to areas where the Marcellus Shale formation is deepest, along the New York/Pennsylvania border.

Towns would also have to agree to permit hydraulic fracturing within their borders:

Even within that southwest New York region — primarily Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben and Tioga Counties — drilling would be permitted only in towns that agree to it, and would be banned in Catskill Park, aquifers and nationally designated historic districts.  Read more

Letter to the Editor: Help Margaretville's American Legion Post rebuild from Irene

We've received a bunch of letters this month. Read them all in our letters section. To support the Margaretville American Legion Post's rebuilding efforts, send a check to  American Legion Post 216, PO Box 41, Margaretville, NY 12455. -- Julia Reischel

Dear Editor,

As many of you know, the American Legion Post building at 903 Main Street in Margaretville was seriously damaged by flooding in August 2011. The Post members and volunteers have been working steadily to rehabilitate the building so that the Post can continue to operate and serve the community as it has for almost a century.  Read more

Ski VIPs: Cops skied free at Belleayre

For years, the state-owned Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in New York's Catskill mountains was a playground for police officers and other “VIP” skiers who were allowed to ski for free at the discretion of Belleayre management.

Two years ago, Belleayre came under fire for giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in free ski passes. At the time, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which manages the ski mountain, explained the ticket giveaways as a promotion to attract more skiers.

But the DEC is going to have a hard time explaining this one: Belleayre management routinely allowed and encouraged local, state and New York City Department of Environmental Protection police officers to ski for free.

Documents obtained by the Watershed Post show that Belleayre management received memos from local police departments that contained lists of their officers. (Click on the links to see the actual memos.)  Read more

Wall Street Journal weighs in on Belleayre resort

For a story in today's paper, Wall Street Journal reporter Joseph Avila made the trek from Manhattan to Middletown to spend some quality time with one of the Catskills' most notorious movers and shakers: Dean Gitter, the developer who's been pushing for over a decade to build a resort complex near Belleayre Mountain.

Avila interviews plenty of locals for the piece: Fleischmanns business owner (and village trustee) Ben Fenton, staunch resort opponents Scott Gould and Julie McQuain of Hardenburgh, and Middletown supervisor Marge Miller.

Since Gitter first began laying plans for the Belleayre project, it has been a hugely divisive issue in the surrounding towns of Hardenburgh, Shandaken and Middletown. Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that there's some hyperbole being tossed around:

"It would basically cannibalize the existing villages that we have right now and would wipe out existing retail in our villages," Mr. Gould said.  Read more

You've got hail

The dreaded tornadoes we were warned about never materialized, thankfully, but New York State was pelted with epic thunderstorms on Tuesday. And in a few places, hailstones.

A couple of Watershed Post readers sent us photos of hailstones from the deluge. Below, evidence of "toenail-sized" hail in Walton, from reader Lillian Browne:

Fleischmanns had even bigger hailstones, documented by reader Elizabeth Morell:

North of the Catskills, the Capital Region and the Adirondacks got truly pummelled. The Albany Times-Union reports that in Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties, 2.5 to 3-inch hail was seen on Tuesday, and about 4,800 people in the region are still without power.  Read more

Thunderstorms and tornado warnings this afternoon

Via NY-Alert: There is a tornado watch on across northeastern New York and the Capital Region, including Greene and Schoharie counties, until 9pm.

The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Central New York that includes Delaware and Sullivan counties.

Severe thunderstorms are also in the forecast for Greene, Ulster and Schoharie counties, possibly with large hail and high winds:  Read more

A watershed moment

Above: Paul Rush, the Deputy Commissioner of the DEP, helps Jim Eisel, the Chair of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors, into a life preserver at the boat launch on the Pepacton Reservoir on May 24, 2012. Photo by Julia Reischel. 

It's finally happened: Recreational boats are allowed on the Pepacton, the Schoharie, and the Neversink reservoirs.

Those three Catskills reservoirs, which supply the bulk of New York City's drinking water, have been off-limits for generations. Before this week, only metal rowboats were allowed on them, and then only for those with proper fishing permits. Now, canoes, kayaks, sculls and small sailboats are free to roam the waterways. (For specifics on navigating the rules and regulations, see our boating guide.)

This week, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which runs the reservoirs, threw three separate opening ceremonies at the three city-owned lakes in three different Catskill counties. (A fourth NYC resevoir, the Cannonsville in Delaware County, has been open to boating in a pilot program for three years.)  Read more