Community

Positive News Briefs

Sep 07, 2017 CWN

Research shows that we start to become what we focus on in life. Check out the wonderful things our neighbors are up to.

 

Mid-Hudson Hunger Fight Wins New Grants 

$1.7 million has been awarded to four emergency food relief organizations in the Mid-Hudson region through the state’s Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program, administered by the Department of Health. Overall, $36.5 million in statewide funding will benefit eight regional food banks and more than 2,600 food pantries and soup kitchens, which together provide more than 216 million meals a year to low income New Yorkers. To ensure better nutrition, agencies receiving these awards are required to devote a portion of the funding to food identified as helpful in the prevention of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, including low-fat milk and fresh vegetables and fruits. Local organizations receiving funding include Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County and Grace Episcopal Church, also of Orange County, although more are expected to be awarded with future grants.

The Catskills Start To Get Their Own       

Finally it’s starting to happen. Last month, Governor Cuomo announced more than $1.35 million in Smart Growth grants awarded to six communities and organizations in the Catskills (and 18 in the Adirondacks). Funding has been awarded to municipalities and not-for-profit organizations that responded to a request for applications announced earlier this year, made possible by the expansion of the Environmental Protection Fund with Smart Growth grants aimed at helping identify locally-led priorities for community development, leveraging of surrounding natural areas for public enjoyment, and collaborating on initiatives throughout the Catskill and Adirondack Parks. To date, the Catskills grants include funding for an arboretum, the Shandaken Theatrical Society in Phoenicia, several Greene County towns’ parks, the Catskill Park Scenic Byways Implementation Project on state route 28, and a new comprehensive plan.

Slight Shifts Ahead For The Watershed Region

The state Department of Health has released the draft 2017 New York City Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD) for public comment, which sets forth the requirements that New York City must follow to continue to avoid filtering its Catskill/Delaware water supply and to ensure safe drinking water for more than 9.5 million New Yorkers. The new FAD, shaped by input from many stakeholders including the Catskill Watershed Corporation and the Coalition of Watershed Towns, is the fourth issued since the NYC Watershed Memorandum of Agreement was signed in 1997. The 2017 FAD contains several new watershed protection elements, including an expansion of the CWC’s Small Business Septic Rehabilitation and Replacement Program to cover funding for not-for-profit- and municipally-owned systems; expediting the design and construction of a new community wastewater treatment facility for the hamlet of Shokan, a project that will be coordinated by CWC; co-locating CWC and NYC DEP watershed protection staff in a new office; replenishment of the CWC’s Future Stormwater Fund and streamlines reimbursement of applicants through CWC coordination; and a requirement that New York City fund, through its Stream Management Program or through CWC, implementation of flood mitigation projects recommended by local flood analyses. These programs will become available when the FAD is finalized and funding is in place.

Butterfly Woman Honored with a Pollinator Garden 

The Town of Marbletown has dedicated a pollinator garden created at their town hall in the shared Rondout Municipal Center in Cottekill to celebrated author, lecturer and environmental activist Maraleen Manos-Jones, a.k.a. “The Butterfly Woman.” The Marbletown Environmental Conservation Commission’s Maraleen Manos-Jones Pollinator Garden put down roots in 2016, and the volunteers of the ECC are currently expanding it. Manos-Jones was the first American woman to find the monarch’s overwintering grounds in the mountains of central Mexico in 1977 following a two-month search, and has since become recognized as an internationally recognized expert on the topic. The garden started with four 8 by 8 foot raised beds to which volunteers are adding another two. It features a host of native plants, annuals, perennials and herbs designed to offer food and shelter to our threatened pollinators, including European honeybees, native bees, butterflies, birds and, of course, monarchs. The garden was designed by local garden designer and ECC commissioner Eric Stewart with help from other members of the committee and donations from local businesses.  It’s located at the Rondout Municipal Complex, 1925 Lucas Avenue, in the former Rosendale Elementary School.

Battling Our Communities’ Zombie House Scourge

The state has set aside $7.6 million for a new Community Restoration Fund to purchase the mortgages for 398 homes in a strategic effort to bring owners in targeted communities out of foreclosure and keep the homes from abandonment through renovation and resale where necessary. This approach is part of an overall strategy to support homeowners, stabilize neighborhoods and prevent Zombie properties across New York State.It is the state’s first foray into targeted mortgage note purchases to address foreclosure. Run by NYS Homes and Community Renewal’s State of New York Mortgage Agency subsidiary, CRF offers a second chance to homeowners with non-performing mortgages whom private servicers have been unable to assist; the anti-foreclosure efforts are focused primarily on hard-hit areas north of New York City, including the Hudson Valley where 78 homes will be affected. Funding for the initiative came from settlement funds paid to New York State by Morgan Stanley for their role in the national mortgage crisis. The state effort is being accompanied by a new state-sponsored Communities Initiative launching on September 15 top provide local governments with $80 million in financial assistance to support economic development and revitalize neighborhoods and urban centers. Cities, towns and villages are eligible and encouraged to apply for funding to support projects that include demolition, deconstruction, rehabilitation or reconstruction of vacant, abandoned, condemned and surplus properties. Grants can be used for site development needs including water, sewer and parking. The program places a strong emphasis on projects in economically distressed communities. On September 15, application and related materials will become available online at https://esd.ny.gov/restore-new-york. The intent to apply deadline is Friday, October 13, and applications are due by Friday, December 15. A live webinar on the program will take place at 10 a.m. on Monday, September 25 To register, contact ESD at RestoreNY@esd.ny.gov.

Winnakee Hosts Its First BioBlitz

The Winnakee Land Trust recently hosted its first-ever BioBlitz at its 105-acre nature preserve on Rt. 9 in Hyde Park as “a focused period of biological surveying to record living species within a designated area during a concentrated amount of time,” according to the outfit’s land stewardship manager John Mickelson. Participants were asked to download the iNaturalist app to their smart phones, allowing them to locate, capture and share field information within the preserve and upload immediately to a cloud server for data collecting purposes. AT&T and the Open Space Institute helped sponsor the event for the accredited land trust which not only protects farmland and natural habitats from development, but provides public recreational opportunities through its Drayton Grant Park at Burger Hill in Rhinebeck and Winnakee Nature Preserve in Hyde Park. Visit Winnakee.org for more information.

An Age of Giant Ship Classrooms

Ships make the best classrooms, as Clearwater’s been teaching us for decades now, and the Hudson River Maritime Museum and the Gomez Mill House reminded us in August when El Galeón Andalucía, a replica Spanish galleon owned by the Fundación Nao Victoria with over 3,400 square feet of deck space filled with exhibits for visitors, visited the Rondout Creek in Kingston. With similar visits from replicas of Hendrick Hudson’s Halfe Moon, Columbus’ three ships, and Robert Fulton’s Clermont in recent years, it’s become another great regional draw.