Story by Lourice Angie
The Warwick Town Board held a public hearing on Thurs., Apr. 26 prior to the start of their regular monthly meeting. The purpose of the public hearing was to discuss a proposed carryout plastic bag fee in the Town. The proposition has gained the interest of many residents, local business owners and various organizations over the past few months.
Sustainable Warwick, an environmental community-based organization that has been working on a proposed bag fee for the last four years, had presented the Board with a petition signed by 1,550 Warwick residents. The petition got the attention of the Board and discussion has followed.
Last February, Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton introduced a proposed five cent bag fee law that created quite the buzz around Town. After extensive research was conducted by the Town Board, including reviewing legislation, speaking to supermarket representatives and visiting local senior clubs, it was discovered that more than half of the senior citizens in the Town were already using reusable bags.
The Board held a second public hearing in March to continue discussions on the proposed bag fee and allow residents, business owners and environmentalists the opportunity to voice their concerns. In addition to the public hearings, the Board also welcomed written correspondence for almost two weeks thereafter.
Masker Orchards Requests an Exemption
At this latest public hearing on the proposed local law #2 of 2018 entitled, “Carry Out Bags,” business owners George Vurno and Victor Ludmerer, of Masker Orchards, requested an exemption from the Board. Their claim is that it would be impossible to stop and charge every car a nickel for every bag at the Masker Orchards because of high traffic volume occurring only once a year during the busy apple picking season. The purpose of the bags at the orchard is to hold the produce and determine the amount.
“It just doesn’t fit us and it would only make things much more difficult for us and the Town of Warwick,” said Vurno.
Ludmerer explained that he understood the concern for the bag fee proposal in supermarkets but not on the farm.
“The supermarket scenario is different than the situation at Masker or any of the other pick it yourself orchards in the Town. You visit Masker Orchards and you go home with one or two bags per family a year. It’s not the 15 or 16 bag twice a week scenario like when you’re visiting a supermarket. I ask that we be exempted from the bag legislation because we don’t fall into the supermarket category that caused the need for this legislation. Our bags are made to measure and hold up to 20 pounds of apples,” said Ludmerer.
‘Proposed Law is Not a Tax’
Geoff Howard, of Sustainable Warwick, tried to clear up the misconceptions and arguments that were brought up over the last few months. The first item he discussed was that the proposed local law was not a tax.
“It’s a choice the consumer has whether to bring their own bags or not bring their own bags, but pay a nickel if they chose not to. You can’t choose to pay a tax, this is not a tax,” said Howard.
He also clarified the misconception that supermarkets would benefit from the charge.
“This is not true. The whole purpose of this initiative is to drive plastic bags out of the system so there will be virtually no nickels collected, except for those that choose to pay. Both supermarkets have agreed that they will have promotional low cost or no cost giveaways at their own expense,” said Howard.
Other residents spoke about the dangers of microplastic organisms and explained that studies show the Hudson River is filled with these organisms which mostly come from plastic bags, bottle caps, etc.
‘Go Back to Glass’
Councilman Mickey Shuback made a comment during the discussion saying that 60 years ago when he got married he used to get two quarts of milk in a glass jug with a deposit.
“You’ve got even more waste in a plastic gallon of milk than you do in those plastic bags and more harmful too. You should be told no plastic at all. Go back to glass,” said Shuback.
Comments Will be Accepted
Supervisor Michael Sweeton announced that the Board would continue work on the proposed bag fee law and he thanked everyone for their participation and input before closing the public hearing. The Board will accept written comment for the next 10 days. Supervisor Sweeton advised the Board to be prepared to move forward with their decisions in the next two weeks.
Next Hearing Set for May 8
The next public hearing on this issue will be held on Tues., May 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Warwick Town Hall, located at 132 Kings Hwy. in Warwick. The proposed local law can be viewed at www.townofwarwick.org.
In Memory of Robert A. Morse
Before the start of the regular Town of Warwick Board Meeting, Supervisor Sweeton asked that everyone join in a moment of silence in memory of Robert A. Morse, who passed away on Thurs., Apr. 26 at 75 years of age. Morse was a retired operator who worked for the Town of Warwick Department of Public Works (DPW) for many years. He was an avid outdoorsman and hunter. He was a kind and compassionate person and a great husband, father and grandfather.
“He was a good man. My thoughts go out to his family,” said Sweeton.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s former executive deputy secretary, Joseph Percoco, was convicted in March for soliciting and accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from executives working for two companies doing business with New York State. After a trial by jury in the Federal District Court, it was discovered that the bulk of the money in bribes came from Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) for its power generation plant in Orange County, NY.
Since the public deserves both transparent government and full disclosure of how the permitting process was compromised, the Warwick Town Board supports the convening of oversight hearings to uncover the full depth of the permitting process at every level.
The Board also finds that projects which have been directly tied to criminal conduct by public officials should not be allowed to benefit from their actions, therefore all permits issued by the state agencies should be revoked, and in the case of CPV, such permits should be revoked retroactively.
The Town Board urges the NYS Senate, Assembly and the Governor to enact legislation that would create a presumption of the invalidity of permits for any project in which criminal conduct by public officials has been established. Such a state legislation must be retroactive and the Town Clerk will forward a certified copy of this resolution to Gov. Cuomo, the speaker of the NYS Assembly, the Majority Leader of the NYS Senate, and all Senators and Assembly members whose legislative Districts are in Orange County including: U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kristen E. Gillibrand, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, and the Commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Town Board adopted the resolution.
Humane Society Hosts Golf Outing & Drive for Your Community Event
Councilman Floyd DeAngelo reported that the Warwick Valley Humane Society (WVHS) will host their 3rd Annual “Fore the Animals Golf Outing” on Mon., May 7 at the Mansion Ridge Golf Course, located at 1292 Orange Tpke. in Monroe. Sponsors and golfers are needed for the event. For more information call Jo Ann Daly at the Foot Spa and Tea Bar at 986-7174.
The “Drive for Your Community” event to benefit the WVHS will be held on Sat., May 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Leo Kaytes Ford, located at 145 Rte. 94 S. in Warwick. Leo Kaytes will donate $20 to the WVHS for every person who test drives a vehicle on that day. The event is free to the public but donations will be accepted. Don’t forget to bring a valid driver’s license. Volunteers and drivers are still needed.
‘Sunset at Winslow’ Fundraiser
Sunset at Winslow, a fundraiser for the Winslow Therapeutic Riding Center and the Humane Society, will be held on Sat., Jun. 16. For tickets and additional information call Sandy at 544-3628.
Congratulates Little League
Councilman James Gerstner congratulated all of the Town Little League associations that participated in the Warwick and Greenwood Lake parades last week.
“Hope you all have a great season. The weather is finally good for coming out,” said Gerstner.
Department of Public Works Report
Councilman Mickey Shuback announced that the DPW has been busy patching roads and potholes and anticipates work to continue throughout the summer. Deputy DPW Commissioner Ben Astorino said that he has not received bids for work on the waste cans yet, but they should be coming shortly.
Shuback also announced that during the months of Feb. and Mar., DPW Commissioner Jeffrey Feagles and Astorino worked 18 hour days during the bad ice storms.
“They worked 70 hours a week instead of 40,” said Shuback.
Town Supervisor Sweeton responded saying, “We certainly are appreciative of their service.”
Town Clerk Eileen Astorino reported that there were three bid proposals for the spackling of the bathrooms at the Thomas P. Morahan Waterfront Park in Greenwood Lake. The first was from Mark Giza Construction in the amount of $3,000. The second was from Ed Aldrich for $1,350 and a third from Chris Van Vooren had no submittal. The board accepted the bid from Ed Aldrich not to exceed the amount of $1,350.
G.L. Lions Support Winstanley Park
The G.L. Lions Club recently presented a check in the amount of 30,000 to the Town of Warwick at the construction site of what will be a new concession stand and bathroom at the Ben Winstanley Park in Greenwood Lake. The project was originally dreamed up by Lions late past president Sharon Gehler and continued by the current Lions president Arnett Jones and club secretary Monica Conway. The Lions club will partner with the Town to see that the structure is built.
“That will be a great addition and we appreciate the Greenwood Lake Lions kindly for this and for everything they do to improve the community,” said Supervisor Sweeton.
Bathroom Renovations at Thomas P. Morahan Waterfront Park
Supervisor Sweeton announced that renovations at the Thomas P. Waterfront Park bathrooms are underway and will be completely renovated by Memorial Day weekend when the beach officially opens for swimming.
There will be lifeguard-controlled swimming and a great picnic area for families. Single day, season and resident passes are available at the Warwick Town Hall. For more information call 986-1124.
Emergency Medical Services Week
The Warwick Town Board declared the week of May 20 through May 26 as Emergency Medical Services Week. Emergency medical services are a vital public service and the members of emergency medical services are ready to provide lifesaving care to those in need of 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provide access to quality emergency care. The emergency medical services system consists of emergency physicians, nurses, medical technicians, paramedics, firefighters, educators, administrators, and others.
The Town of Warwick recognizes that they are very fortunate to have strong emergency service organizations such as the Warwick Ambulance Corp, the Greenwood Lake Ambulance Corp and the Pine Island Volunteer Ambulance Corp providing emergency care to residents. The Town of Warwick will celebrate these vital organizations with the theme “EMS Strong.”
Next Town Board Meeting
The next Town of Warwick Board Meeting will be held on Tues., May 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Warwick Town Hall, located at 132 Kings Hwy. in Warwick.