“Where Is Our Missing Trustee?”

By Eugenia Moskowitz

For almost three months, Village of Washingtonville Trustee Tom Murray has not come to village meetings. At the Nov. 15 meeting, trustee Joe Bucco said: “The village is coming to a halt because someone the village elected is not here to vote on decisions.” Murray’s absence often brings the now four-member voting board to a two-to-two stalemate on resolutions.

Resident Sean Haggerty said: “We the public have to state our address whenever we speak. Does Murray even live in the village?” Other residents stated it’s “preposterous” that nobody can locate Murray. “Is this one of Washingtonville’s famous no-show positions?” one resident asked. Mayor Heintz said, “We can’t discuss it at this time as it’s a personnel matter. Proper legal procedure must be followed and that is currently being done.” To which Bucco said, “If he’s not present, we should hold back his stipend.”

Trustee Ed Figueroa said: “We need to hold off until we speak to an attorney.” Haggerty said: “Murray did this years ago the last time he was on the village board. He was asked to leave, and he left. Now he’s back as a no-show. Has he done anything regarding the committees that he’s on?” To which Heintz replied, “No.”

Annexation Oversight Bill Sent To Cuomo, Again

ppp
Gerald Benjamin, state government academic, is seen here speaking in favor of the Annexation Oversight Bill once again sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo by Assemblyman James Skoufis. He was backed by elected officials from around Orange County, such as Blooming Grove Supervisor Bob Fromaget, South Blooming Grove Mayor Rob Jeroloman and Preserve Hudson Valley and United Monroe Spokesperson Emily Convers. See story inside. (photo by Eugenia Moskowitz)

By Eugenia Moskowitz

Assemblyman James Skoufis was joined by state government academic Gerald Benjamin, noted attorneys, local officials, and environmental group representatives in front of his Chester office on Sept. 23 to call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the re-introduced annexation oversight bill.

The bill was vetoed last year despite nearly 10,000 signatures of approval from the community. The bill seeks to allow counties to have a role in annexation processes, according to Skoufis. “I implore the Governor to reconsider last year’s veto and sign this important and common sense legislation into law,” he said.

The bill was sent to Cuomo on Sept. 20. He has until the end of the day on Oct. 1 to make his decision. If signed, it would take effect immediately, requiring county planning review and giving a wider group of municipalities a say in acts of regional significance, such as annexing hundreds of acres. It wouldn’t undo the prior Monroe Town Board decision in favor of the Kiryas Joel annexation proposal, but if the environmental review for the annexation is seen as inadequate and sent back to the Monroe Town Board, the bill would have an effect.

Last year, he vetoed it, late in the evening just before a weekend, on the grounds that it was “unconstitutional.” A few weeks later, $250,000 appeared in his coffers from special interest groups affiliated with Kiryas Joel, who benefited from the veto.

To read the full article see the Friday, Sept. 30 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

Local Fire Departments March in Annual Parade

fire-news-parade-4
(photo provided)

Many local fire departments took part in the 2016 Orange County Volunteer Firemen’s Association parade on Sept. 24 in Monroe. The Vails Gate Fire Department, seen here, was represented at the parade. The Vails Gate Fire Department won best overall.

For more photos and coverage see the Friday, Sept. 30 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

Metro Sound Pros Breaks Ground in South Blooming Grove

ppp
At the Metro Sound Pros Sept. 14 groundbreaking was Leo Garrison (center) with his wife Jennifer and their two young daughters, Patricia and Frank Becker (at left), and Garrison’s nephew. Garrison said: “I couldn’t do this by myself. We’re a team.”

By Eugenia Moskowitz

It’s fair to say few people in Washingtonville have heard of Metro Sound Pros, located in a small warehouse on Hallock Drive. And unless you’re into audiovisual installations, you wouldn’t, as MSP does complex work for some of the largest medical centers and cultural institutions in the tri-state area. All out of a warehouse you would miss if you blinked while driving by.

Now, MSP is breaking ground in South Blooming Grove with a 5,000-square-foot office/warehouse space to be completed next year. And if anybody had asked Leo Garrison if he would ever have imagined this happening, he would say no. Because this is not how it all started.

Garrison, a Warwick High School graduate, had always been into music. So he and his friend Joe Becker started selling music and sound system equipment in 2000 in Rockland County. Then MP3s came along, and the business went bust. So they shifted to installing audiovisual equipment in nightclubs and discos. “One day Joe, who lived in Washingtonville, needed an oil change and noticed a vacant space on Hallock Drive,” Garrison said. “So we moved our business to Washingtonville.” The pair then began doing audiovisual work in area restaurants and gyms, which led to residential work as word of mouth spread among their customers.

As their business steadily grew, the partners began to research how they could help hearing-impaired individuals, which led to reimagining the existing but underused “loop” technology into state of the art assistive-listening installations involving copper wire surrounding an interior space which transmits signals to the copper inside hearing-aid devices. As they were looping various theaters in Manhattan, Garrison got a call one day from the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. “I was like, wrong number buddy,” he said. “But it was real, and turned out to be the most complicated install, I’d say, in the world. Then the phone started ringing off the hook as calls came in from the Bronx Zoo, the NYC mayor’s office, the MTA, the Taxi Commission, the Central Park Zoo, Rockefeller University, and theaters in the Nederlander group.” Locally, MSP completed work at the Bounce Trampoline center in Poughkeepsie and large sound-masking projects at Orange Regional Medical Center and Vassar Brothers Medical Center. “Some of our clientele is… it’s just insane,” Garrison said, shaking his head. “Joe and I never thought this could ever happen.”

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

Vern Allen Park Debate Continues

By Eugenia Moskowitz

“Vern Allen Park is one of our few spaces that’s not sports-specific,” Washingtonville Mayor David Heintz said about the area at the corner of Ahern Blvd. and Route 94, which houses a weather-worn roller-hockey rink and which the village board is trying to decide what to do with. “We’d like it to remain a park for people of all ages to use in a wholesome way.”

Debate over the future of the park comes at the same time the future of Mays Field, home of Washingtonville Little League (WLL), is unclear. Since being flooded with six feet of water during Hurricane Irene five years ago, NY Rising has studied how the Moodna Creek flows and may reincorporate the creek back into two baseball diamonds, actually landfill, thereby reducing Mays Field by half. WLL has wanted to find a less flood-prone home that won’t be reduced in size. While that search continues, one place to have its youngest members learn tee-ball, which doesn’t require a baseball diamond, would be Vern Allen Park, president of WLL Rick Budakowski said. He also said girls’ softball is growing out of its current Woodfield lot.

Single-use recreation facilities such as roller skating, handball, and racquetball courts are examples of huge concrete slabs that often become derelict and attract hanging-out when they wane in popularity, Heintz said. “We want something in the village that the whole community can use. Basketball courts are not favored as they are a noise problem for local residents, and there are already courts near Mays Field. Portable shuffleboard courts are a cost-effective idea for seniors, and a dog run is an idea that’s been tossed around for the past five years.”

To read the full article see the Friday, Sept. 9 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

Primary Day Around The Corner on Sept. 13

Primary elections will be held on Sept. 13. For those outside of the county that day, absentee ballots can be obtained by calling the Board of Elections at 845-360-6500, visiting their website (orangecountygov.com/elections), or in person at their office at 75 Webster Ave. in Goshen between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The board’s office will be open for extended absentee balloting on Thursday, Sept. 8 from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 10 from 9 a.m. until noon.

Here’s what to expect on the ballot:

State Senate challenger Christopher Eachus is solo on the Working Families Party line in Blooming Grove, Chester, Cornwall, New Windsor, City of Newburgh, and the Town of Newburgh, among other locations. Eachus is taking on incumbent Republican state Sen. William Larkin in the general election in November. There will be a write-in space for the Women’s Equality Party for the state senator seat in the same locations.

Robert Freehill and Steven Brockett will be on the ballot for county judge on the Green Party ticket in Blooming Grove, Chester, Cornwall, Hamptonburgh, New Windsor, both the city and town of Newburgh, and elsewhere.

Blooming Grove:

Philip Canterino and James O’Donnell will be on the ballot for the Conservative, Independence (District 2), and Republican (District 2) line for an Orange County Legislator seat.

Cornwall:

Michael O’Connor and Lynn A. Beesecker will vie for the Conservative and Independence lines for town justice.

City of Newburgh: Dorcas Brown, Joseph Fogarty, Yvonne Garriques, and Jason Alfred will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s First Ward, District One. Voters can pick two candidates.

Hilary Rayford, Roxie Royal, Daniella Jones, and Benilda Armstead-Jones will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s First Ward, District Two. Voters can pick two candidates.

Charline Boyle, Mark Carnes, and Zina Woody will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s First Ward, District Three. Voters can pick two candidates.

Jerry Maldonado, Luis Fonseca, and Gay Lee will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s First Ward, District Four. Voters can pick two candidates.

Nancy Colas, Kevindaryan Lujan, Ramona Monteverde, and Nadene Speer will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee in the city’s Second Ward, District Two. Voters can pick two candidates.

Lillian Burgarelli, Jason Muller, Jonathan Jacobson, and William Hernandez will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee in the city’s Third Ward, District One. Voters can pick two candidates.

Judith Kennedy, Mary Phillips, Mary Keller, and William Keller will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s Third Ward, District Two. Voters can pick two candidates.

Owen Fraser, Deborah Danzy, and Tamle Hollins will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s Third Ward, District Three. Voters can pick two candidates.

Regina Angelo, Lori Angelo, Robert Sklarz, and Roberto Orduna will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s Third Ward, District Four. Voters can pick two candidates.

Karen McCarthy, Mary Korchinsky, Jeffrey Gardiner will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s Fourth Ward, District One. Voters can pick two candidates.

Patricia Sofokles, Candace Nicholas, and Lisa Dally will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s Fourth Ward, District Two. Voters can pick two candidates.

Cindy Holmes, Anissa Williams, Gabrielle Hill, and Yvondra Sims-Bruce will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee in the city’s Fourth Ward, District Four. Voters can pick two candidates.

Vern Allen Park’s Future Remains Unclear

Vern Allen Park
Vern Allen Park, at the corner of Route 94 and Ahern Boulevard in Washingtonville, contains an old roller hockey rink in disrepair. How the village can bring it back to life is in discussion by the board. (photo by Eugenia Moskowitz)

By Eugenia Moskowitz

Located at the corner of Route 94 and Ahern Boulevard, Vern Allen Park has been the grassy site of Washingtonville’s yearly summertime carnival with a playground and, once upon a time, a popular roller-hockey/rollerblading rink. Now, with the rink wall and fence removed, but the surface badly weather-damaged, and with a lull in the popularity of roller skating, the park is falling into disuse and village officials are wondering how to bring it back to life.

Ideas have been tossed around, such as creating a baseball diamond or tennis courts, both with little support as baseball fields already exist in both the villages of Washingtonville and South Blooming Grove, and the tennis courts at Washingtonville High School are currently being renovated.

More popular is the relatively low-cost idea of a water-sprinkler style playground for Washingtonville’s children. The park abuts a large residential area of the village, and while community pools are costly and arguably unnecessary in an area where many people have their own backyard pools, and succeed more in denser urban areas or as indoor aquatic centers with a big price tag, residents have suggested that sprinkler parks are an inexpensive way to bring the community together for wholesome summertime fun without much cost. Sprinkler parks use little water, and the area around it would have benches, walking paths, and landscaping for all ages to enjoy.

To read the full article see the Friday, Sept. 2 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

Legoland Poses Ramifications, Worries Residents

legoland 1
The view of Echo Ridge from Arcadia Road showing the area Legoland proposed to build its theme park on. (photo provided)

By Eugenia Moskowitz

A growing number of Goshen residents are concerned that the Goshen Town Board denied a 380-unit high-density housing project on the proposed Legoland site on April 25, but appears to be fast tracking the much larger Legoland proposal, which came to the fore just after the housing development was disapproved.

Goshen Supervisor Doug Bloomfield, according to town meeting minutes from that April meeting, said: “Goshen is a town with historic charm and beauty, bringing in more traffic is a deterrent to the quality of life. And water has always been an issue. We don’t have an overabundance of water.”

At the time, the town board also denied the site’s zoning be switched from RU (rural) to HR (hamlet residential), which the developer required in order to build high-density residential houses and commercial strips. Hamlets are defined not as political entities with governing boards, but as areas of population density governed by the village or town boards in which they are located.

“Hamlets are not a good idea for the Town of Goshen,” Councilman Kenneth Newbold said at the meeting.

To read the full article see the Friday, Aug. 19 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.

Hamptonburgh Man Allegedly Caused Tussle With Police

Eric Wist, a 20-year-old Hamptonburgh man, was charged with two felonies and other charges after he allegedly took a swing at a police officer.

Two Washingtonville police officers in plain clothes were conducting surveillance for criminal activity on July 22 at about 1 a.m. and observed two men trespassing in the area of Mays Field. The officers requested a uniformed police officer to assist them when approaching the suspects.

One suspect remained. Wist ran, and was chased by police. He resisted arrest and swung at one of the officers, police said.

Three officers sustained minor injuries in the scuffle. Two of the officers were treated at St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital and released. One officer hadn’t returned to work as of Wednesday due to the injuries.

An off-duty NYPD officer driving in the area assisted by trying to detain Wist after witnessing the altercation. A marked police vehicle was at the scene.

Wist was sent to Orange County Jail on $3,000 bail, or $5,000 bond. He was charged with felony assault in the second degree and criminal mischief in the second degree, misdemeanor obstructing governmental administration, and trespassing, a violation. He’s schedule to appear in village court on Aug. 10.

Construction Zone!

By Eugenia Moskowitz

Blooming Grove/Washingtonville Chamber of Commerce president Rick Lewis referred to the renovation going on in the center of the village as “the summer of Washingtonville.”

A huge construction site is located in the village at the intersection of routes 208 and 94, filled with heavy machinery and rubble. The Route 208/Moodna Bridge is gone and the towering crane, jokingly known among Washingtonville residents as “the skyscraper,” will soon shift new bridge pieces into place. The bridge is scheduled to reopen on Aug. 17.

Between work on the bridge and the renovation of the Moffat Library, one resident walking by, who declined to give his name, said: “It’s hard to imagine how Washingtonville will look when the bridge is done, or when the library is finished. But it’s a start.”

By Sept. 2017 the Moffat Library will be expanded and landscaped with walking paths and shade trees. However, right now, the original building’s footprint is currently visible with the removal of the east wing addition, a statement from the library said. The three additions to the original 1887 building were the areas most affected by water damage from Hurricane Irene in 2011.

The former Town of Blooming Grove recreation office addition on the east side of the building was the hardest hit. That addition has now been removed and the original brick structure is visible from Route 208. The other two additions on the west side of the building, which were badly damaged from roof leaks, are mostly gone, as well.

The non-original asbestos roofing tiles have been removed and remediated, and the roof is ready to receive its new long-lasting slate tiles, which was the roofing material used when it was originally built. The carriage house has been moved to the far west side of the property. The new parking lot will also be on that side.

To read the full article see the Friday, July 29 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.