By a four-to-one vote at its February 13 monthly meeting, the Town of Cochecton board passed a resolution opposing new gun control legislation enacted by the New York State Assembly and Senate. Larry Richardson cast the dissenting vote, stating that as a longtime gun owner and hunter himself, he did not find the new legislation unduly restrictive to sportsmen; his statement was the only discussion by board members prior to the resolution vote. However, during the public comment portion of the meeting immediately following adoption of the resolution, a Sullivan West school board member read aloud a statement that expressed concern for the safety and welfare of students, faculty and staff in the wake of a spate of recent school shootings, and urged support for new state and federal gun control legislation.
The board resolution reads in part: “Legislation passed by the New York Assembly and Senate infringes on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and would ban the possession and use of firearms now employed by individual citizens of the Town of Cochecton, for defense of Life, Liberty, and Property and would ban the possession and use of firearms now employed for safe forms of firearm recreation, hunting and shooting conducted with the Town of Cochecton, Sullivan County, NY, and… the Town of Cochecton Board believes there are many other less intrusive means available, other than rash, confusing, and inarticulately drafted firearm laws that would effectively control, manage and reduce violence in our society, such as, mental health reforms, anti-bullying programs for schools, enforcement of existing laws to the fullest extent possible, and proper psychological counseling for those in need or who request it… ”
The language was nearly identical to resolutions passed in the towns of Deerpark, Thompson and Callicoon. Full text of the resolution, as well as minutes of the meeting, can be found under the public notices tab on the town’s website at www.townofcochectonny.org .
In other business, the meeting opened with a moment of silence in memory of the late Ralph Virgil Calkins Jr., who died on January 23. A lifelong resident of Cochecton and a member of its planning board for more than 21 years, Calkins served as planning board chairman from 1988 to 1989. A memorial tribute to Calkins was read by supervisor Gary Maas, and then presented to Calkins’ widow, Edna Calkins, of Lake Huntington.
Code enforcement officer Greg Semenetz anticipates an increase in building permit requests with the arrival of warmer weather. In the meantime, several structures deemed unsafe have been scheduled for demolition.
Highway superintendent Kevin Esselman petitioned the board for purchase of a heavy-duty wood chipper, necessitated by extensive tree damage resulting from severe storms. To date, the town has been renting wood chippers, as necessary, on a daily basis. Esselman said that this procedure is both costly and inefficient. Board members acknowledged that this purchase would be a big-ticket item, costing as much as $50,000. They agreed to consider the request while conducting further research on the gauge of chipper best suited to town needs.
Before adjourning, the board heard comment from two members of the public: one urged the board to permit horizontal gas drilling immediately, and the other urged the board to prohibit it indefinitely. Maas reiterated that the board plans to refrain from voting on this matter until New York State has issued a statement regarding the safety of horizontal drilling practices.