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#58235 - 06/27/11 03:36 AM Joppenbergh Mountain
Advocacy group Offline
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Can't afford it
Rosendale rethinking Joppenbergh buy after checking its balance

by Carrie Jones Ross
June 23, 2011 11:55 AM | 0 | 0 | |

Joppenbergh Mountain. Photo by Lauren Thomas.
A breakdown in communication between Rosendale Town Supervisor Pat McDonough and the rest of the Town Board might cost the town a mountain. The crossed wires resulted in the town's erroneous belief that enough funds were available in a surplus account to contribute their share — $85,000 — to the planned purchase of the 495-foot-tall, 117-acre Joppenbergh Mountain parcel, which would be granted a conservation easement and be used for passive recreation. The Open Space Institute was to kick in $100,000, making the sum to be paid $185,000.

"According to minutes from the Town Board meeting on June 1, $100,000 [in town surplus money] went into revenue shortfalls to cover expenses at end of 2010, and the Town Board used another $150,000 [in surplus money] to offset taxes this year," explained Deputy Supervisor Jen Metzger of the quandary. The shortfalls Metzger is referring to are mortgage tax revenues and sales tax revenues which must be projected when concocting the town budget for the upcoming year, but did not meet expectations, Metzger said, due to the poor economy. McDonough did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story.

The original surplus monies McDonough earmarked for the mountain purchase this past spring came from a sale of property from the town's water district to OSI, which wanted to make it available for the sport of bouldering. The sale netted the town a surplus of $338,000, that the Town Board had voted to put into a capital reserve account for a much-needed new town hall, said former supervisor and town board member Bob Gallagher. Had the money actually made its way to the capital reserve account, a referendum would have been required before dipping into the money. However since it was only placed in an investment fund, it was available for any use. The town dipped into the money repeatedly, using over $100,000 of it to pay its bills, though no one asked about it could even specify which bills were paid nor exactly how much money was spent on the bills. The Town Board agreed to use an additional $150,000 from the land sale to make up the gap, leaving them with maybe enough money to make up the Joppenbergh nut, but maybe not.

Recognizing that the town is not in a position to cough it up, Metzger is implementing the power of positive thinking for other means of bringing that mountain to Rosendale. "The concern raised at the meeting was that Rosendale cannot commit the remainder of the surplus for the Joppenbergh purchase because of the continuing recession. Alternative avenues of funding would need to be found, and supporters within the community that attended the meeting expressed their commitment to doing this."

The efforts referred to by Metzger are those by Rosendale resident and business owner Fre Atlast and others who created a Facebook page to raise awareness and funds about the Joppenbergh Mountain purchase.

"We are planning to approach all of the Main Street businesses to help in the effort to raise the money, as the parking lot [which would be included in the purchase] is our most valuable resource," explained Atlast. "The Rosendale Theatre stands firmly in support of the purchase. We will be soliciting help from the local bicycle clubs and other supportive organizations. We have only had one meeting so we are just getting started."

Second thoughts

Board members Ken Hassett and Gallagher expressed dour doubts as to whether or not the purchase could or should even go through with raised funds. Both questioned the yet-unknown costs of creating trails, maintaining and patrolling them.

Gallagher and Hassett both worried about liability. Gallagher said that the town's insurance company was sued several years ago for $500,000 when a boy wandered off the rail trail and fell into a mine shaft. He said that he is aware of teenagers circulating plans on the web for a paintball game on town property as well. "We have kids advertising paintball," he said. "I could care less if we buy this mountain or not, but there is a dollar amount far more than $85,000."

Hassett said that residents confronted the board with two separate petitions demanding the purchase go to referendum, which he insisted should not be ignored. "The first petition had 298 signatures, and was presented at the April town board meeting," said Hassett. "The second petition with 129 signatures was presented last week. This represents quite a bit of the Rosendale [population]. The majority on the board disregarded the petitions, citing that the Comptroller's Office said that since monies were from surplus that they didn't legally have to have a referendum." Rosendale's last referendum vote was held in 2003.

"What I have been saying from the very beginning is I believe that we have to put it on a ballot," said Hassett. "Even if they authorize it with a vote, we will be tight. We still don't have any facts or figures about developing trails, maintaining them. There is work to be done; there are old mine shafts which need to be covered up ... Maybe we will have the money for a new town hall someday if we stop buying mountains."

Gallagher also concurred about creating a referendum, though pointed out it would be costly to do so unless it coincided with November's election, and added that the unknown costs concern him as well. "The notion of spending any money on it is dead," he said. "We don't have the money and people are not going to raise the money. I have heard rumors that there is someone else interested in the mountain. My main concern was the parking lot and the pocket lot of the park."

Joppenbergh Mountain Corporation's lawyer Joseph O'Connor of the Mainetti, Mainetti & O'Connor law firm said that his client would not consider parsing off the parking lot and park to separately sell the to town, and remained confident that a sale was going to happen. "Our sale is with OSI, not Rosendale," said O'Connor. And though O'Connor has heard rumors of an alternate offer, he said that he has seen no binder to back that rumor up.

Bob Anderberg, vice president and lead counsel for OSI, was unable to answer whether or not OSI would purchase the mountain with or without Rosendale, and how much time remains before OSI withdraws its offer. "Our goal is to put that mountain in the hands of Rosendale," he said. "I think what OSI wants to do is sit down with the town, and figure out how to move forward. We still think Joppenbergh is an important property and would make an outstanding town park and natural area, but obviously OSI has to sit down with [McDonough] and the town and move forward. We expect to do that in the relatively near future," he stated. Anderberg said that the corporation which owns the mountain has been very cooperative and patient with OSI during the process.

The Town Board is on a summer schedule, meeting only once a month; the next is set for July 13.


Thanks MPNA
_________________________
The MPNA is an advocacy group for adjacent neighbors of the Mohonk Preserve. In the event of a dispute with the Mohonk Preserve, we can offer assistance in obtaining experts in the following areas; Surveying, Lawyers, Title, expert witnesses, ancient document research, and Maps.

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#58236 - 06/27/11 03:39 AM Re: Joppenbergh Mountain [Re: Advocacy group]
Advocacy group Offline
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Registered: 08/03/10
Posts: 653
Loc: New Paltz,Marbletown,Gardiner,...
By WILLIAM J. KEMBLE
Correspondent

ROSENDALE — The Town Board is reconsidering the purchase of Joppenbergh Mountain after being told that the town does not have the budget surplus that was anticipated when the purchase was approved.

Supervisor Patrick Mc-Donough said an anticipated year-end fund balance of $340,000 dwindled to about $79,000 after a review of 2010 expenses.

"Basically where it went is our revenue shortfalls in 2010 were tremendous from things like sales tax and mortgage taxes," McDonough said. "And this Town Board, when we passed the budget, decided that we would use $150,000 of that money to offset taxes in 2011."

The Town Board in April voted 3-2 to pay the Open Space Institute $85,000 for the 117-acre Joppenbergh Mountain property. The institute previously agreed to pay $185,000 to a trust that owns the property, but the sale has not been closed.

The town currently leases a section of the property, which is otherwise undeveloped, for parking in the business hamlet. The 10-year lease costs the town $3,500 per year.

Officials have said the town receives $1,475 in annual tax revenue on the property, but that is offset by a requirement that the town finance increases in all property taxes. The additional payments totaled $10,000 in 2009 and 2010.

Concern over the loss of parking led business owner Fre Atlast to suggest that fundraising efforts be undertaken to buy Joppenbergh Mountain and turn it over to the town as a donation.

"They (the property owners) could shut that parking lot and if they did, our businesses are done for," Atlast said. "The theater doesn't have parking, the restaurants don't have parking. ... I just expanded my business and I'm really concerned that we're going to lose that lot."

Councilman Ken Hassett said the town should honor a second petition for a referendum on the purchase. He also wants more information about the cost associated with improvements needed to reduce the town's liability, including training for emergency crews that may be needed to rescue people from treacherous terrain.

"We just have to tighten our belt, admit that we do not have the money to purchase it, to develop it and maintain it," he said. "I've said that from the beginning, but my position is that it should be up to the people to decide."


Thanks MPNA
_________________________
The MPNA is an advocacy group for adjacent neighbors of the Mohonk Preserve. In the event of a dispute with the Mohonk Preserve, we can offer assistance in obtaining experts in the following areas; Surveying, Lawyers, Title, expert witnesses, ancient document research, and Maps.

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#58237 - 06/27/11 10:29 AM Re: Joppenbergh Mountain [Re: Advocacy group]
oenophore Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/24/01
Posts: 5969
Loc: 212 land
Where is the photo by Lauren Thomas?
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#58240 - 06/27/11 01:38 PM Re: Joppenbergh Mountain [Re: oenophore]
Doug Offline
member

Registered: 12/29/06
Posts: 176
Have you cleared the rights for posting entire articles from the Kingston Times and other sources? The normal routine is to provide a key excerpt and then link to the full source to comply with fair use and the rights/wishes of the author/editor/publisher.

I didn't see a policy posted on their website and you've probably secured permission, but it would be a little funny to see you step on someone else's toes while complaining about yours being stepped on.

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#58241 - 06/27/11 02:33 PM Re: Joppenbergh Mountain [Re: Doug]
cog Offline
stranger

Registered: 05/05/11
Posts: 8
posting an entire article is copyright infringement. the daily freeman tos says
"You may not, for example, republish any portion of the Content on any Internet, Intranet or extranet site or incorporate the Content in any database, compilation, archive or cache. You may not distribute any Content to others, whether or not for payment or other consideration, and you may not modify, copy, frame, cache, reproduce, sell, publish, transmit, display or otherwise use any portion of the Content. You may not scrape or otherwise copy our Content without written permission."

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#58245 - 06/27/11 03:26 PM Re: Joppenbergh Mountain [Re: cog]
TerrieM Offline
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Registered: 05/14/09
Posts: 425
Loc: Gunks in Summer, Southwest in ...
Interesting stuff - but it has nothing to do with General Climbing.

I KNOW people want their threads to be seen/commented on but enough is enough already. We DO see the ones in Local Issues - might I suggest you repost the thread in that forum, and do a final "redirect to" post here?

If not - you're being rather inconsiderate. Why would you want to do that?(and it is a rhetorial question which need not be answered here, but feel free in the redirected thread).

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#58249 - 06/27/11 04:33 PM Re: Joppenbergh Mountain [Re: TerrieM]
tallgirlnyc Offline
member

Registered: 05/12/08
Posts: 194
Loc: Cold Spring NY
I have to agree with Terrie. This shouldn't be posted under general climbing and
personally, I find it a little tedious. Why don't you start a blog and then people (if they were interested) can come to you.

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#58258 - 06/27/11 05:38 PM Re: Joppenbergh Mountain [Re: Doug]
oenophore Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/24/01
Posts: 5969
Loc: 212 land
Originally Posted By: Doug
Have you cleared the rights for posting entire articles from the Kingston Times and other sources? The normal routine is to provide a key excerpt and then link to the full source to comply with fair use and the rights/wishes of the author/editor/publisher.

I didn't see a policy posted on their website and you've probably secured permission, but it would be a little funny to see you step on someone else's toes while complaining about yours being stepped on.


At the risk of being branded outlaw, I'll say that one may well be more likely to be struck by lightning than prosecuted for such an infraction and I think the "victims' know it.

Interesting stuff - but it has nothing to do with General Climbing.

Agreed. Yet look at the "856 acres of Mohonk to be sold" and "Taxes VS preservation...have at it!" threads. The former was posted under the General Climbing banner and RangerRob, rightly sensing that this belonged in Local Issues, started a new thread of the latter name under Local Issues to continue the former. This bifurcation is confusing, since one must access two threads to scan the whole issue. This is one case where bad enough had better be left alone. Only the webmaster, it seems, can properly remedy this.
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#58272 - 06/28/11 02:56 AM Re: Joppenbergh Mountain [Re: oenophore]
Advocacy group Offline
addict

Registered: 08/03/10
Posts: 653
Loc: New Paltz,Marbletown,Gardiner,...
Looks like Doug and Cog get the 2011 Title 17 police award. Great job guys!

Thanks, MPNA
_________________________
The MPNA is an advocacy group for adjacent neighbors of the Mohonk Preserve. In the event of a dispute with the Mohonk Preserve, we can offer assistance in obtaining experts in the following areas; Surveying, Lawyers, Title, expert witnesses, ancient document research, and Maps.

Top
#58275 - 06/28/11 03:07 AM Re: Joppenbergh Mountain [Re: Advocacy group]
Advocacy group Offline
addict

Registered: 08/03/10
Posts: 653
Loc: New Paltz,Marbletown,Gardiner,...
Joppenbergh dilemma
Town of Rosendale weighs deal for 117-acre parcel, hears talk for and against

by Carrie Jones Ross
April 14, 2011 02:45 PM | 0 | 10 | |

Joppenbergh Mountain. Photo courtesy of the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection at Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz.
Hey, wanna buy a mountain? That was the question posed to Rosendale residents last Wednesday evening in a public hearing at the Rosendale Community Center cram-packed with nearly 100 opinion-seeking or opinionated residents. The Town of Rosendale has been approached by the Open Space Institute to buy the 495-foot-tall, 117-acre Joppenbergh Mountain (also spelled Joppenberg and also known as Jacob's Nose and Jacob's Mount). The institute has offered to purchase the mountain, which virtually surrounds the Williams Lake site, at its asking price of $186,000, restrict the deed with a conservation easement to specify allowable uses, such as "passive recreation," that would be agreed upon by the OSI and Rosendale and then sell it to the town for only $86,000. Hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hunting and picnicking would be some of the uses likely to be agreed upon by the town and the institute. According to Town Supervisor Pat McDonough, no bond would be necessary because the money is actually is the town's coffers from a former land sale made to OSI.

But there's an unexpected cliff sure to make your jaw drop. Despite the diminutive annual $1,012.40 property taxes that the town's general and highway funds garners from the former ski slope bordering Route 213 — the town's library, fire and lighting districts get an additional $463.46 — the town has been paying Joppenbergh Mountain Corp. $3,500 annually to rent the ski slope's parking lot, which is typically used for overflow and event parking. In addition, Rosendale bound its hands in what many called an "absurd" 10-year lease signed in March 2006 in which the Town of Rosendale also agreed pay all real property tax increases — taxes which have exponentially increased since the lease was signed. Deputy Supervisor Jen Metzger laid out facts in a well-organized presentation: "Thus, under the rental agreement the town is obligated to pay to Joppenbergh Mountain Corporation much more than it receives from this property in tax revenues. [We are paying] $17,092.13 in [combined] rent for the years 2010-2011, compared with [receiving] $2,951.72 [over two years] in tax revenues — an annual cost that would no longer be incurred if the property were owned by the town."

The current assessment for the Joppenbergh property is $230,000, netting $5,968.04 in real property taxes. (Rondout Valley schools get $3,589.97 and the county gets $902.21.)

"The purchase of Joppenbergh Mountain as protected open space would help fulfill an objective of the 2007 Comprehensive Plan to protect areas of significance in the town," Metzger said, citing the plan's goals of protection and preservation of important ecological, cultural, historic, geologic, economic development and scenic resources.

Metzger warned of the work and costs that could be associated with the purchase. There would be no charge in additional insurance if the Joppenbergh property was used for passive recreation, provided that there is no new building or structures on it. (The town already pays $1,140 in insurance costs for the parking lot.) Signage would be necessary, Metzger said, for public safety, and posed the option of interpretative signage for public education which could possibly be funded by grants. Metzger reminded the group that though there are trails, the town might want to create more at some point. She pointed out that there are no lawns which require mowing and passive recreational use means labor costs for the site would be minimal, such as debris removal and could possibly be mitigated by forming volunteer groups. Metzger also suggested fencing around dangerous slopes or open mine shafts as well.

"The potential costs to the town of owning the property will depend upon the uses the town decides to permit," she said.

Nearly a score of residents lined the wall, awaiting their turn to ask questions or voice opinions on the purchase — many in favor, some with reservations. Though comments ranged from reasonable to the fringe, the board heard everyone out.

Representatives from various town, county, environmental and recreational agencies and entities spoke emphatically in support of the purchase, including Christine DeBoer, the executive director of Wallkill Valley Land Trust and Stephanie Ellis from the Town Recreation Commission. A letter was read from the Rosendale Economic Development Commission expressing support; the Rosendale Environmental Commission displayed geologic and hydrogeologic maps; and Peter Firento from the Sierra Club and Marc Har from GUMBA Mountain Bike Patrol offered to create bike trails and keep up volunteer mountain bike patrol services.

Another plan

Resident Brett Hansen and wife Janette live at the bottom of Joppenbergh and explained that they have also been interested in buying the parcel to build an amphitheater for music, but were unable to secure approvals to proceed. "Once [OSI] got involved, they tied it up for six months." Hansen said that he wanted to build an amphitheater which could draw more than 1,000 visitors to an event filled with local vendors. He also tried to dissuade the board on several counts from the purchase. "I don't think [buying Joppenbergh] is a good move for Rosendale. Once the town owns it, it's a liability," Brett Hansen said. "There are ventilation shafts, sinkholes." Hansen said that if OSI would sell it to him, then he would donate the kiln mines to the park, offer extra parking to the community as overflow during events, and establish a second access to the property. "That lot is landlocked. It's a flag lot. If a private person was trying to do this, the town wouldn't let them because of access."

Hansen argued that he would have radio ads, blasting out Rosendale's names on the airwaves. "I don't think our businesses are going to thrive off a couple people coming off the mountain to buy a Coke." Hansen later explained that his offers were contingency-based on approvals, which no one could guarantee.

Janette Hansen spoke later, and argued her husband's points and then some. She said that she has long been concerned about people riding four-wheelers jeopardizing the safety of her children and pets. And were the town to implement bike paths, she would feel the same dangers. "Biking past my house can be a real hazard to my family." Hansen also agreed that her husband's business would draw more visitors to help Rosendale, and keep kids off the street. "I don't see how hiking and biking will do a whole lot for the economy of this town."

Joppenbergh's other neighbor, Joe Walsh, whose property abuts the slope, questioned whether the town could split the property and easement with Hansen and still have open space. A few others questioned whether the town could simply buy the parking lot.

Hensley Evans, who chairs the trestle bridge fundraising committee, said that over 30,000 use the rail trail annually, and that Joppenbergh offers a valuable non-road based connection into Main Street. Evans said that thousands of hikers, bikers and pedestrians look down at Rosendale from the trestle and admire the "cute town," but they don't come to Rosendale because there's no connection for them to do so.

Tim Morrison of Tillson said that though he is favor of the town buying the mountain, he has concerns over safety and steep lands. "How will the town regulate and mitigate these issues?" he questioned. Morrison, as did several others, suggested a referendum.

Can we afford this?

There were several residents skeptical about spending money on a purchase during financial straits. Resident Patrick Jordon was one such individual, "I don't want to hear anything about bonds — you're all going to be gone by the time we have to pay those bonds. … I haven't heard anything but open space. Open space. Where are you going to get the money?"

Victoria Coyne, owner of Victoria's Gardens on Binnewater Road and a member of the town Economic Development Commission, pointed out that the land surrounding Joppenbergh would become more valuable and likened it to the real estate surrounding Central Park.

The impact on economic development was argued two ways, with some saying that developing the land would bring in more taxes and revenue and others saying that more revenue would be gained through its conservation. Some asked the town to hurry up and make a decision so as not to lose the time-sensitive offer, whereas others asked the town to slow down and hear out more development proposals. Some residents complained that they are struggling to pay their taxes, whereas others said that they would like to leave the mountain to the next generation as a legacy.

Joppenbergh Mountain Corp. attorney Joe O'Connor took the mic and first referred to himself as, "not an open space person, per se." He explained that Rosendale already has $17,000 bill waiting for payment to his client and added that his clients have never suffered a lawsuit nor a claim in 15 years that he has represented them. O'Connor beseeched the town board and community by renewing the dollars and cents aspect. He also said that though his clients do want just to retire and see it go to open space, they don't have to, and that the offer is not exclusive to Rosendale. "If they could come up with a no-contingent sale, we would have sold it."

Councilman Ken Hasset said that he wasn't at all comfortable making such a large decision for the town without the entire town's input, and was in favor of a referendum. He questioned Bob Anderburgh from OSI as to whether or not the offer would remain open if the town were to take the time to have a referendum. Anderburgh replied in the negative; he was not pinned down as to precisely how much time was left before the offer expired.

Councilman Bob Gallagher was also in favor of a referendum. "Nobody is going to buy the property in the next few months," he said. Councilwoman and environmental enthusiast Manna-Jo Greene surprised everyone with her response. "In trespassing on Joppenbergh Mountain, I nearly lost my life. I personally experienced how dangerous it could be." She said she was in favor of the mountain being used for passive recreation, rather than flooding it with 1000 cars at a time. "I have no objections to a referendum, but I also heard people in this room offer to raise the money as well."

Councilman Rich "F-Stop Fitzgerald" Minissali was also not opposed to the referendum, however he questioned the sensitive time frame.

The board closed public comment session, and will continue to accept written comments until Wednesday, April 13. After the meeting, McDonough said, "We are either going to buy it or not," he said. "There is not going to be a referendum." McDonough emphasized that the state imparted town boards to make decisions on behalf of their constituents, and that's what he plans to do. "If the whole town board looks at it carefully and honestly, they will see the benefits far outweigh the costs."
_________________________
The MPNA is an advocacy group for adjacent neighbors of the Mohonk Preserve. In the event of a dispute with the Mohonk Preserve, we can offer assistance in obtaining experts in the following areas; Surveying, Lawyers, Title, expert witnesses, ancient document research, and Maps.

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