An impassioned and chaotic debate over the Upper Delaware Council’s (UDC) draft five-year plan consumed the bulk of the organization’s monthly meeting on September 6.
Despite a series of hard-to-follow motions and amendments, final language was agreed on that changed “protect and respect private property rights and land use,” as the UDC’s primary goal identified at an earlier workshop criticized for poor attendance and a disorganized voting process, to “Protect the unique scenic, cultural and natural resource values of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River and its immediate environs while protecting private property rights.” (See editorial on page 6 for more).
In a letter to the council, National Park Service Superintendent Sean McGuinness specified that “The key is understanding that the council must protect the river and its immediate environs as priority; and then through adequate zoning private property rights will be protected.” During the meeting, McGuinness read a list of actions that could be considered to protect private property rights, including substantial conformance reviews for all towns, zoning that agrees with the land and water use guidelines of the River Management Plan, mapping of the river corridor boundary and more.
Following approval of the final language of its primary goal, the UDC voted to adopt the plan as a whole.
Council members also learned that the UDC has been “politely uninvited” from joining the steering committee of the recently formed Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed (CDRW), which is composed of regional, state, local and national non-governmental organizations seeking improved Delaware River watershed policy and protection.
Following debate about the opportunity at its monthly meeting in August, the council had authorized UDC executive director Laurie Ramie to participate in conference calls as an observer for a trial period of six months.
Ramie updated the UDC on the outcome of CDRW’s August call. “The determination was made that CDRW is comprised of 501(c)3 non-profit organizations, which we are, but we also have the quasi-governmental membership in which the municipalities are the members,” said Ramie. “They specifically do not want the influence of government or industry on this coalition.
Since the UDC essentially derives its policies and procedures from its municipal authorities and has state and federal representation, we are not eligible for steering committee membership.”
In other matters, a resolution of appreciation was presented to senior resource specialist David B. Soete, who began employment at UDC on October 1, 1989, and completed 23 years of service. Soete will retire on September 30.
In addition to providing primary technical support on land and resource management issues, coordinating technical reviews, serving as in-house webmaster and more, Soete was recognized for “his multiple award-winning talents as a photographer who specializes in capturing and generously sharing beautiful images of the Upper Delaware River Valley and beyond.” The resolution concludes with appreciation for Soete’s
professional contributions and personal dedication to the mission of conserving the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River for the benefit of present and future generations.
The UDC meets at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month at 211 Bridge St. in Narrowsburg, NY. The public is welcome. For more information visit www.upperdelawarecouncil.org  or call 845/252-3022.