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April 20, 2014
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Cochecton adopts green initiatives plan


By unanimous vote, the Town of Cochecton Board adopted a Climate Smart Communities Pledge Resolution at its March 13 monthly meeting. The towns of Tusten, Lumberland, and Delaware have ratified similar resolutions, all of which were based on a draft resolution provided by the county. Following review by councilman Larry Richardson and supervisor Gary Maas, the draft agreement was edited to outline goals that the board considers realistic for Cochecton at this time.

The resolution focuses on six key initiatives: (1) decrease energy demand for local government operations; (2) encourage renewable energy for local government operations; (3) realize benefits of recycling and other solid waste management practices; (4) promote climate protection through community land use planning; (5) inform and inspire the public; (6) commit to an evolving process. The full text of the resolution can be found on the town’s website at tinyurl.com/c88u7mg.

In response to questions during the public comment segment of the meeting, Richardson, who is also a member of Sullivan County’s Climate Action Plan Advisory Board, which is encouraging all county towns to adopt a similar pledge, supplied background information regarding the origin of the pledge and the impetus behind it. He said that federal grant money is available to regions wherein a majority of local communities have demonstrated proactive commitment to green initiatives. Any grant money obtained can then be used to implement a larger and more sophisticated sustainability program.

Although the resolution marked Cochecton’s first official move toward greening itself, the town has been thinking green for several years. When former Cochecton Supervisor Sal Indelicato and then-councilman Gary Maas began brainstorming a new town hall building, they knew that they wanted a state-of-the-art facility made with energy-efficient building materials, equipped with energy-efficient appliances and capable of incorporating sustainable energy systems. Three years later, that dream has been realized. The new town hall building site was selected, in part because it is conducive to a solar energy installation, and the building itself is set at odd angles with the road for the same reason—the longest portion of its roof has a south-facing exposure. The new town hall is also green in a very literal sense—all who enter by the main door are greeted by a mini-botanical garden of tropical and subtropical foliage and blooms.

And there were other green items on the agenda. Maas announced that the town’s Spring Cleanup Days will be Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19. Litter pickup supplies will be dispensed at the old town hall on County Road 116 from 9 a.m. through 3 p.m. each day.

Richardson, the board’s Upper Delaware Council (UDC) representative, reported that the UDC is currently operating within new budgetary constraints imposed by reduced funding. The UDC is operating at 1988 budget levels, and has been forced to reduce its staff of four to three. The original plan envisioned a staff of five. A resolution in support of the “Lordville Thermal Stress Relief Protocol” was approved. This resolution supports water releases from New York City’s Catskills’ reservoirs to cool the waters in the main stem of the Delaware River as far south as Lordville, to relieve the stress trout experience at water temperatures above 75 degrees. This action would serve to extend downriver the excellent trout fishing in the Delaware’s northern reaches.

Councilman Richard Schulman, the board’s liaison with Sullivan County Office of the Aging, read an Alliance for Retired Americans fact sheet that examines the current inadequate Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) and the prospect of reduced Social Security benefits if Congress ties COLA to a smaller measure of inflation. According to the fact sheet, any COLA must take into account seniors increased spending on healthcare. Consumers are urged to support Senator Tom Harkin’s Rebuild America Act, S. 2252. The same bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives DeLauro and Braley, H.R. 5727. More information can be obtained at www.retiredamericans.org.

Two other resolutions were approved by the board. One makes all town employees eligible for health insurance by the carrier providing the highway department employees with health insurance. The other was acceptance of the Time Warner Cable agreement. Finally, Maas announced that, while cleaning out the old town hall, a stash of records and other documents dating back to the 19th century was discovered. The find has been temporarily placed in the new town hall records vault for safekeeping, and will be turned over to town historian K.C. Garn for inclusion in the new Cochecton Town Museum to be located at the old town hall.