NL hits headwinds on climate change

NEW LEBANON–The monthly meeting of the Town Board last week drew a crowd of citizens and advocates of the newly proposed Climate Smart Community pledge that nearly packed the meeting room.

Two resolutions proposed at February 9 meeting dealt with concern about the environment, specifically how human activities are contributing to climate change. The first resolution, if adopted, would put the Town of New Lebanon on record as recognizing that climate change is a real problem. The companion resolution would have New Lebanon join the Climate Smart Community program sponsored by the state Department of Environment and other state agencies.

These proposals stirred some members of the public to speak out, with board members voicing concerns about what exactly adopting the measures would mean for the town. Supervisor Teal said she was both supportive of the proposals and leery of regulation.

Councilman Mark Baumli said the board did not have the right to make the decision for every individual to commit to the resolutions. Some in the audience clearly were against the idea, using words like “hoax” to describe climate change.

Advocates for the resolutions and opponents of them sparred verbally on the issue, causing Supervisor Teal to use her gavel to bring order to the room.

The resolutions were tabled for the next meeting.

New Lebanon is the latest town to consider joining the state’s Climate Smart Communities program. The Towns of Chatham, Hillsdale and Kinderhook, and the Villages of Valatie and Chatham have adopted Climate Smart Communities resolutions. Ancram is scheduled to resume its discussion of joining this week.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and five other state agencies are sponsoring the program. There are no costs levied by the state associated with participation in the program but municipalities pledge to address matters like reducing local greenhouse gas emissions and efficient waste management. Some of the agencies also have funding available for local projects.

More on the program is available online at www.dec.ny.gov/energy/50845.html

Also at the meeting Norman Rasmussen announced that an information meeting on solar energy opportunities offered to consumers by NYSEG meeting will be held at the Behold New Lebanon store Thursday, February 18 at 6 p.m. The store is at 438 state Route 20.

In other business last week:

•After holding an executive session before the regular meeting began, the board voted at during the regular session to appoint Dan Tuczinski town attorney. Supervisor Teal and Councilmen Baumli and Kevin Smith voted in favor of the appointment; Councilmen Dan Evans and Chuck Giraldi voted No

•The board heard that the abandoned graveyard on County Route 5 was been restored by volunteers last year, and question now is whether work will continue this year. The town has over 40 cemeteries, many in disrepair. Some have gravestones dating from the Revolutionary War. Supporters of the project said these are an important part of town history and should be preserved.

Concerns about land ownership and insurance coverage for cemetery restoration volunteers led the board to add the issue to the March meeting agenda so that the historical preservation work might continue unimpeded

•The preparation of a Natural Resources Conservation Plan (NRCP) for New Lebanon to be carried out by Hudsonia Ltd. was discussed. The plan will identify important natural resources in the town and will establish priorities for conservation as well as exploring ways to protect, improve and expand existing features like trails for walking, hiking and biking, and public-access lands. Funding for the project comes from the Hudson River Estuary Program of the DEC and is projected to extend well into 2017. The completed document will include background information and describe the analysis used to develop the final plan in a format available to town agencies, conservation partners, prospective funders, landowners and the general public

•Cynthia Creech, spokesperson for the Farmer’s Market, said that the market will no longer be held at Windswept Farm. The vendors are looking for a new location and considering Shatford Park as a possibility. The board determined more information was needed to avoid conflict with the Little League season before a decision could be made

•The board heard that the proposed sale of Time Warner Cable to Charter Communications might provide the town with cable access previously unavailable to some areas

•The Historical Society is offering resources for genealogy and historical information on houses, or events as part of a community outreach program.

The next Town Board meeting will be Tuesday March 8, 2016 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

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