Washingtonville Residents Pack Village Hall, Protest Tax Hike

Washingtonville’s village hall was packed to standing room only, with mothers setting up an impromptu children’s area in back for their kids, while the proposed budget, currently with a tentative 5.7 percent tax hike (down from 12 percent), was discussed. (photo by Eugenia Moskowitz)

By Eugenia Moskowitz

Washingtonville’s village hall was packed to standing room only on Jan. 25 as more than 80 residents came, many with children, at 4:30 p.m. to protest the possible 12 percent village tax hike proposed by Washingtonville’s Mayor David Heintz and trustee Joe Galante, who was recently reappointed by the mayor after having been voted out last election cycle.

The mayor had unveiled his initial proposed budget at a public hearing on Jan. 17, at which time residents said the budget, prepared by Heintz and Galante (trustees Joe Bucco and Tom DeVinko said they were not permitted to have a hand in it), was riddled with inconsistencies and questionable line item details, such as, resident Laurisa Sampson said, a jump from $7,000 to $11,000 (Mayor’s Personal Services), $200 to $2,000 (Postage) and $750 to $3,000 (Election Supplies), among many other items.

Heintz said multiple revisions had been gone through to bring the 12 percent figure down to 5.7 percent, which he stressed was still tentative. “We listened to the people on Jan. 17 and took that into consideration,” he said. “The village doesn’t have a strong tax base. It’s happening all over the state. I knew this budget was going to be a tough one.”

While the meeting was technically a board work session to revise the budget and try to get the tax hike lower, and was not open to public comment, Heintz said he would allow people to speak, at which point longtime resident Paul Lang and Nailed It Hardware owner Corinne Courtney brought up a line item of $3 million, with a difference of almost $350,000, which they said was extremely questionable due to a discrepancy between increasing and decreasing tax revenues. They said Heintz and Galante did not give a clear answer that they could understand, and the audience’s comments, which had already been vocal, grew in intensity, at which point Galante mumbled audibly, “I paid my dues.” While residents were not sure exactly what that referred to, nobody was happy about the comment, and people then shouted, “Nobody wants you,” and, “We voted you out.”

To read the full article see the Jan., 27 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.

Town of Newburgh Man Dies After Hit by Vehicle

By Mark Gerlach

A 69-year-old Town of Newburgh man blowing leaves outside of his Pressler Road home died after he was hit by a vehicle on Sept. 24.

Michael Jordan Sr. was blowing leaves onto the street, standing in front of his home, when a vehicle traveling southbound struck him. The vehicle was driven by a man in his mid-80s. The driver, who lives nearby, thought he hit a deer. He turned around, but eventually went back to his own home, Lt. James Nenni of the Town of Newburgh Police Department said.

Jordan was reportedly taken to the hospital, but succumbed to his injuries.

The driver said he didn’t see Jordan, and no charges were filed. He seemed confused about the incident, police said. A routine toxicology report is being conducted, but there is no indication that the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to police. (Because no charges were filed in the incident, the driver’s name was withheld from this article.)

Jordan was a longtime Newburgh resident, and graduated Newburgh Free Academy in 1965, his obituary said. He served in the Air Force from 1966 to 1970.

Good-Will Says Goodbye to Old Firehouse

Demolition of the old Good-Will firehouse on South Plank Road in Newburgh began this week. (photo by Bob Root)

By Mark Gerlach

The wheels are in motion for a new firehouse to be built on South Plank Road in the Town of Newburgh for the Good-Will Fire Department.

The process of tearing down the old firehouse started earlier this week. Total demolition and cleanup is slated to be completed by the end of next week, John Conner, deputy chairman of the Good Will Fire District Board of Commissioners, said.

The new firehouse comes with an approximately $3.99 million price tag. It was approved at a vote late last year.

The new firehouse will be at the same location, but further back off the road. It will include four truck bays, instead of three. The bays, or garages, will be larger. Firefighters can conduct training sessions with the additional space, Conner said.

The new facility includes “proper offices, an up-to-date kitchen and a meeting hall,” he said. “It’s going to be a modern facility. The old facility wasn’t built as a firehouse.”

The former firehouse was built by combining an A&P warehouse, small residential overhead door company and inserting a floor into an alley to form the fire department’s third bay, according to Conner. It was built in the 1940s, needed a lot of repairs and had asbestos in its roofing and in stucco outside the building.

To read the full article see the Friday, Sept. 23 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

Motorcyclist Dies In Crash While Fleeing Police

A 22-year-old man is dead after fleeing Town of Newburgh police on a motorcycle.

Ryan DiNonno, of Pine Bush, was observed by town police to be traveling at a high rate of speed on Route 32 on July 5 at about 9:22 p.m. DiNonno slowed down, but didn’t pull over, and the 1997 Kawasaki motorcycle he was riding did not have plates, police said. The motorcycle isn’t believed to have been stolen.

DiNonno continued west onto Route 300, and then north onto Orchard Drive and into the Town of Plattekill in Ulster County. He eventually stopped. However, when the pursuing officer exited his vehicle, the suspect took off at a high rate of speed, according to Town of Newburgh Police Chief Donald Bruce Campbell. He was riding without a helmet, according to state police.

The officer lost sight of the motorcycle. DiNonno is believed to have misjudged a sharp turn in the road, and may have hit either a telephone pole or a tree.

For the complete story see the Friday, July 8 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.

Proposed Apartment Project Sparks Legal Action

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William Stillman, a Town of Newburgh resident concerned about an apartment complex planned near his home, put up signs informing others in the area about his thoughts on the project. (photo by Bob Root)

By Mark Gerlach 

A petition was filed with the state Supreme Court in Orange County on June 20 pertaining to a project called Gardnertown Commons, located in the Town of Newburgh’s Pine Brook neighborhood.

Area resident William Stillman, 58, of the Town of Newburgh is behind the petition, which was filed on the last day of the statute of limitations following a negative declaration re-approved by the town’s planning board at a May 19 meeting. The decision green lights a negative declaration originally approved in 2006. A negative declaration is a document that states a proposed project wouldn’t significantly impact the surrounding land.

The project has changed over the past decade, the petition states. It has transformed from a plan of 104 condominiums to 164 apartment units at the corner of Gardnertown and Creek Run roads on approximately 19.77 acres.

The petition was served to the town’s planning board, property owners Three Kidds Newburgh LLC and construction company Farrell Building Company, both based in Long Island.

Concerns include traffic congestion, quality of life issues, wildlife and wetlands dangers, and changing the area’s identity, which is largely single-family homes.

Stillman is represented by New Paltz attorney James Bacon.


Overdevelopment Fears In Rural Neighborhood

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William Stillman, a Town of Newburgh resident concerned about an apartment complex planned near his home, put up signs informing others in the area about his thoughts on the project. (photo by Bob Root)

By Mark Gerlach

Overdeveloping rural areas causes congestion, traffic, infrastructure wear and other problems, according to some residents in the Town of Newburgh’s Pine Brook neighborhood.

A public hearing on Gardnertown Commons, a project that includes building about 164 apartment units at the corner of Gardnertown and Creek Run roads on an about 19.77-acre site, was held on June 16. A number of residents are concerned about the project, and a large crowd attended the meeting.

“Developers are trying to develop every square inch of land around here,” William Stillman, 58, of the Town of Newburgh said.

The plans for the apartment complex also include a clubhouse, pool area, tennis courts, and open space for recreation, according to the minutes of a May 19 planning board meeting. About 20 of the apartments are slated to be designated as senior housing.

A proposal was originally submitted about a decade ago for approximately 104 condominium units to be built on the site. The project later resurfaced in its new form, Stillman said. An amended site plan is currently before the town’s planning board.

A retention pond and fence appears to be slated for construction less than 30 feet from Stillman’s property line, he said. Stillman’s property is currently surrounded by woods and one neighbor.

It was unclear as of Thursday afternoon if Gardnertown Commons will be discussed at the next planning board meeting on July 7. Calls to the Town of Newburgh Planning Board weren’t returned.

For the complete story see the Friday, June 24 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.

New Fitness Equipment Unveiled At Chadwick Lake Park

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Councilwoman Betty Greene, Supervisor Gil Piaquadio, Lt. Jim Nenni, Town Clerk Andrew Zarutskie, councilmen James Presutti and Scott Manley and Recreation Department Commissioner Robert Petrillo. (photo by Jimmy Maxson)

By Jimmy Maxson

A new outdoor fitness center at Chadwick Lake Park, a project that has been in the works for about three years, was revealed on June 15.

Dubbed the “Chadwick Lake Fitness Zone,” the outdoor gym is comprised of a stretching area and 10 different pieces of exercise equipment including a pull-up bar and elliptical. The equipment is designed to target a range of muscle groups using a person’s own bodyweight as the main form of resistance. Three of the 10 fitness machines were designed to be handicap accessible. Users must be 14 years or older to use the fitness zone, as per park rules.

The area can accommodate up to 24 people exercising on the machines with space for others to stretch or do other forms of exercise, such as pushups, on the side.

The entire project cost about $62,000, with $21,000 allocated for the rubber surface, similar to that of the adjacent playground. A $10,000 grant was provided by Greenfields Outdoor Fitness, the company that supplied the equipment. The remainder of the project was funded under the town’s Parkland Trust, an account where contractors pay per-unit to make recreation capital improvements. No taxpayer money was used.

For the complete story see the Friday, June 17 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.

Former Town Of Newburgh Police Officer Kills Kids, Self

By Mark Gerlach

John Casullo, 48, a former patrolman in the Town of Newburgh Police Department, killed his two kids on May 26 before turning the gun on himself, a state police bulletin said.

Casullo, a resident of the Town of Wallkill, was found dead at about 5:25 p.m. with a single gunshot wound to the head, police said. Also found deceased were Casullo’s children: 8-year-old James Casullo and 12-year-old Kathleen Casullo. Each child suffered a single gunshot wound to the head.

Casullo, who retired from the Town of Newburgh Police Department around 2008, used a .45 caliber pistol to murder his children while they slept in their bedrooms before firing the gun on himself, police said. The bodies were discovered after Town of Wallkill police responded to a 911 call for an unresponsive male.

No one else was in the home, located at 559 Fifth Ave. in the Town of Wallkill, at the time of the shootings, according to police.

State police are investigating the murder/suicide with the assistance of the Town of Wallkill Police Department.


Mickle Named Memorial Day Parade Grand Marshal

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Marvin “Duane” Mickle, grand marshal of the Town of Newburgh Memorial Day Parade, is seen here in front of Newburgh Town Hall. Councilwoman Betty Greene is on his left. To his right are Newburgh Town Supervisor Gil Piaquadio and Town Clerk Andrew Zarutskie. (photo by Mark Gerlach)

Marvin “Duane” Mickle, a Vietnam wartime veteran, has been named the grand marshal for the Town of Newburgh Memorial Day Parade, which will be held on Sunday, May 29. Step off is at 1 p.m. starting at American Legion Post 1420 on Union Avenue.

A ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. at town hall with Orange County Sheriff Carl Dubois as the guest speaker.

Mickle served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1968, when he was honorably discharged. He and his family moved to the Town of Newburgh in 1984. Mickle is currently a member of American Legion Post 1420 and holds the rank of first vice commander.

Traffic Ahead

Newburgh Bracing For Partial Route 52 Closure

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Vince Mazzone, project manager of A. Servidone Inc./B. Anthony Construction Corp., giving a presentation regarding a bridge replacement over the Quassaick Creek on Route 52. An informational meeting was held about the project at Newburgh Town Hall Tuesday evening. (photo by Mark Gerlach)

By Mark Gerlach

Expect delays.

Part of Route 52 in the Town of Newburgh will shut down in the coming months for a bridge replacement. The closure is expected to impact numerous residents, as slightly more than 11,000 vehicles travel the stretch of road daily.

Winona Avenue to Edgewood Drive is set to close around May 9, so a temporary bridge can be installed. Winona Avenue will only be open to local traffic during the construction. Part of Route 52 will shut down in either late May, or early June. Work is expected to wrap up at the end of October. During the Route 52 closure, traffic will be detoured to a temporary bridge.

The temporary bridge is primarily for cars. There will be a separate detour for trucks via Interstate 84 and Route 300. Schools busses and emergency vehicles, including fire trucks, can navigate through the construction site. Flyers and postcards will be sent to area residents alerting them of the construction. Work will be conducted during the day.

The Route 52 bridge, which crosses over the Quassaick Creek, was built in the 1930s, Paul Tirums, a state Department of Transportation project manager, said. The area under the bridge is prone to “scour,” or the removal of sediment around the bridge’s abutments during flood conditions making it unstable, Tirums said at an informational meeting at Newburgh Town Hall Tuesday night.

“The bridge has a lot of wear and tear on it,” Tirums said.

For the complete story see the Friday, April 29 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.