||Court Hears SPARC Appeal
Injunction Continued by Court Order
On a sunny Tuesday morning, this past April 29, 2003, John Caffry, attorney for SPARC and co-plaintiffs Sierra Club and O.C. Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, presented his arguments via a video teleconference linking the Northern District Federal Courthouse in Albany and the Federal Appellate Court in Foley Square, Manhattan.
With him in a small conference room in Albany were attorneys for the defendants: James Woods of the U.S. Attorney's Office representing the Federal Highway Administration and Lisa Burianek of the NYS Attorney General's office defending the NYS DOT and the Thruway Authority. The three judges in Manhattan, viewed on a large TV screen, questioned the lawyers as they made their points.
Also squeezed into the room were several agency staffers, reporters, and co-plaintiffs' representatives Sandra Kissam, Rudy Vallet, and John Stouffer.
Goshen attorney Richard Golden represented the Stewart Regional Alliance, a business group which filed a 'friend of the court' brief supporting the government agencies. He argued the traffic issues in front of the judges in New York City.
Regarding the agencies' assertions that the project would remove a large percentage of traffic from local roads, SPARC pointed to Orange County's transportation council, which found that only 40% of Stewart traffic would use the new road.
During attorney Golden's remarks, presiding Judge Rosemary Pooler commented that it appeared that the new road would lead to an overall increase in traffic.
Pooler asked, "if it's all moving up, will there in fact be less traffic on local roads after the project is completed?"
Golden agreed there would be more overall. "The question is will we have a great deal more or will we have a little more?" he said. But a two-lane road "just doesn't work."
Most of the arguments and questioning centered around SPARC's point that the agencies did not consider a federal transportation law, section 4 (f), that requires that all possible alternatives have been studied before parklands could be disturbed by a highway. The agencies have argued that the lands were held for transportation purposes and the recreation was just an interim use. The Coalition's position is that the statute does not require that the lands have been dedicated as parkland, and meanwhile the de facto recreation and wildlife uses of the Stewart Buffer have existed for almost thirty years.
As the hearing ended Judge Pooler informed that the stay and injunction would remain in effect until the court issued an order, "which we trust will be shortly". She continued, saying first a "short order" would be issued, followed by a full decision.
Since the hearing, the court has issued an order, which essentially repeats Judge Pooler's announcement that the injunction remain in place pending the decision. And indeed, all is quiet, except, of course, for the birds and other wildlife stirring all over the lands. Spring is bursting forth on the Buffer.
Goshen Student Wins Kissam Award
Presentation at SPARC's 'Youth Day'
At SPARC;s Youth Day this past April 27, 2003, the Ben Kissam Environmental/Conservation Scholarship Award of $300 was given to Mark O'Hern, an outstanding Goshen High School senior graduating this June.
An informal ceremony was held in view of beautiful Wilkens Pond on the Stewart Buffer Lands, inaugurating this annual event "Youth Day/Earth Day", organized by SPARC Board member Linda Meyer.
After receiving his award from SPARC Vice President Rudy Vallet, Mark spoke briefly about his interest in the environment and his plans for the future. Recognized twice in "Who's Who Among High School Students", he told of his work on the Goshen landfill issue, his acceptance by Connecticut College and his plans for a career in law.
This award, now in its tenth year, has been funded entirely by Dr. Eric Singman, sportsman and ophthalmologist. It was established as a tribute to Ben Kissam, who founded SPARC. The recipient is chosen by a five-member committee which includes Dr.Singman, Katherine Assante, Rudy Vallet, Robt Ewald, and Liana Hoodes. The goal is to foster environmental activism and awareness in young people, the future of our society.
For the Record
Last September 30, 2002, Judge Treece of the Northern District Federal Court ruled against SPARC and Co-plaintiffs.
Last October 24th, 2002, SPARC and co-plaintiffs filed notice of appeal and put in a motion to Judge Treece asking for a temporary injunction barring construction pending our appeal. On October 25th a press conference was held announcing the appeal.
On November 21st, 2002, the court granted the motion by SPARC et al, and placed an injunction on the project pending the appeal.
On December 20, 2002, the NYS DOT, et al, returned to the Northern District Federal Court to challenge the injunction. They failed and the injunction was reaffirmed by Judge Treece.
On February 25, 2003, the agencies again went to court, this time the Federal Appellate Court in Manhattan, in a second bid to remove the injunction. SPARC et al successfully defended the injunction, as a bus load of supporters packed available seats in the Federal Courtroom. However, the Court did order an expedited hearing on the appeal itself. Subsequently, the date of the hearing on the appeal was set for April 29, 2003.
On April 29, 2003, hearing was held.
CRESTVIEW LAKE CRISIS
Group Organizes in Response
In recent weeks a crisis has developed around Crestview Lake. It has been summarily closed, with many confusing reasons quoted in the newspapers. A new sign at the entrance declares it is an NEG 'Maintenance' area.
Responding to this emergency, 'Citizens for Crestview Lake' a New Windsor group that had hosted a meeting about Crestview in March of 2002, quickly organized a meeting held last Thursday, May 8th. A second meeting followed on May 15th.
At the 2002 meeting, they persuaded New Windsor Supervisor George Myers to open the lake for that summer, even though the lease had expired in April of 2002.
However at the meeting on May 8th, invited public officials, including Myers, did not show, making it impossible to get information about why the lake had been suddenly closed. Instead, organizers Louisa Flaningam and Jean Antonelli of New Windsor solicited advice and suggestions from town residents who came to the meeting.
A petition campaign has begun, and plans made to lobby officials. It was decided that an immediate goal was to get the lake open for swimming this season, while exploring how and by whom it could be managed in the future.
Many people with families and children are very upset at the lake's closing. It is one of the few natural swim facilities open to the public in all of Orange County. Supposedly Supervisor Myers had arranged for Orange County government to take over its management. At the meeting all agreed it would be a terrible loss to the public if permanently closed down.
To be part of this effort, call Louisa Flaningam at 569-9366 or Jean Antonelli at 562-0421.
Sun Sparkled at 3rd Annual Stewart Buffer Trail Ride
After a wet and cold season that wouldn't abate, we had a mega turnout of riders and two wagons full of supporters. On May 4th, 106 people rode the trails on this 7,000 acre reserve set in the midst of surrounding development. That's why it's more important than ever to be vigilant in protecting the land.
Heavily marked trails brought everyone back to the staging area where carrots were noshed on by the horses, ponies, and several mules that participated. This is now the largest trail ride in the Hudson Valley on the first Sunday in May, and riders from as far away as Binghamton and Albany enjoyed the diverse terrain and beautiful landscape.
Much thanks to volunteers Marge Brush, Tedi Vail, Ursula and Tori Zorika, George Ziegler, Ann Gayler (Gayler Graphics), and Linda and Dave Denman of Pine Bush, hitching the trio of beautiful Belgians for their annual wagon trip through the forest.
'Goodie Bags' were given to all entries, with thanks to Farnam, Equine World Insurance Co., Blue Seal Feeds, Natural Horse Vet Products, Valley Vet Supply and Exclusively Equine Realty for their generous gifts. A big thank you for the generous support of State Line Tack for the door prizes, and to Exclusively Equine and Deb Corr who donated a cooler that was won by Mariann Denton of Poughauge.
This wonderful event netted over $2,000 for SPARC's ongoing legal costs, as everyone works very hard to preserve all the lands west of Drury Lane. Inquiries about the lands and its resources can be directed to Linda Meyer, the chairperson of this great annual event, at 845 895-3409.
SPARC's 4th Annual 'Bike the Buffer'
Great exercise and great fun!
This 'not to be missed' event is scheduled on Sunday, June 8th. This will be a day when mountain bike enthusiasts from beginner to advanced can join together for fun in Stewart's great outdoors, while knowing they are supporting the fight to save all the 7,000 acres from Drury Lane to Maybrook for open space and recreation. A part of the proceeds will also go to 'Habitat for Humanity'.
This is the ideal family event, with three levels of difficulty, free lunch, free tee shirts for pre-registrants, and trail maps provided. The pre-registration fee is $20---$25 the day of the tour, children under 14 pay $10 and there is a $50 family rate. Registration starts at 8:00 AM and food and water stops will be placed along the courses.
Application forms are available at many area bike shops and may also be downloaded from SPARC's website: www.frontiernet.net/~sparc. Can't get on line? Call Ralph, event Chair, at 845 496-9487, for information. The email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to join this great annual event. Experience the land!
SPARC's June meeting will be a Potluck Picnic. This is mostly for fun, with a short business meeting thrown in. There is no charge, but please bring a covered dish, beverage, or some other food item.
The date for this most relaxed event is Tuesday, June 24, 2003, from 5:30 to 9:00PM. Activities could include a stroll around Chadwick Lake, perhaps croquet and/or other spontaneous ideas.
Please contact Board member Lynn Barber, who is joyfully coordinating the food, so as to prevent an overabundance of pickles. Call her at 845 744-6047. And feel free to bring a friend.
Shawangunk Ridge Struggle
Many SPARC members are aware and deeply concerned with the current threat to the integrity of the Shawangunk Ridge, posed by the Awosting Reserve Development proposal.
Accordingly, we have added SPARC's voice and support to efforts to stop this destructive project. On April 10, 2003, a letter was sent to 'Friends of the Shawangunks, Inc., joining in with the many groups and voices opposing the project.
We are proud to be a part of this effort to prevent degradation to one of the Hudson Valley's most precious places, our own Shawangunk Ridge.
SPARC's website is constantly updated and is your source for all kinds of information about SPARC's efforts.
For example, by the time you receive this newsletter it will be on our website.
Visit it often and recommend it to your friends: www.frontiernet.net/~sparc.
Funds Raised for Appeal
This past March 2003 SPARC and co-plaintiffs faced a funding crisis. We had to immediately provide $17,000 for our legal costs. In the weeks that followed we met our goal, and it was inspiring to see the response.
Listed below are the many organizations that responded to our immediate need and contributed to our legal fund. We cannot thank these organizations enough. Without their donations our appeal would have been impossible. The response was inspiring. Our deepest thanks to the following:
Balmville Citizens Association
Beacon Sloop Club
Bethlehem Rod & Gun Club
Citizens for Montgomery
County Seat Conservation Club
Edgar Mearns Bird Club
Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs of Sullivan Co.
Friends of Sport Cycling
Knickerbocker Chapt., ADK
Maybrook Sportsmen's Club
Modena Rod & Gun Club
New Windsor Democratic Committee
NY/NJ Trail Conference
O.C. Audubon Society
O.C. Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs
O.C. Land Trust
Orange Lake Fish & Game Club
Orange County Trappers
Putnam County Federation of Sportsmen
Rock Tavern Rod & Gun Club
Shawangunk Fish & Game Assoc., Inc
Sierra Club, Atlantic Chapter
Silver Fox Sportsmen's Assoc.
Ulster County Trappers
U. U. Congregation at Rock Tavern
Westchester Retriever Club, Inc.
Walden Sportsmen's Club
Windy Hollow Hunt
Woodbury Field & Stream
Just as important were all the many personal donations received these past weeks. To all of these caring people who have renewed their memberships, joined for the first time, and sent extra contributions, we express our deepest gratitude.
If there are those who receive this newsletter who have not yet contributed to our efforts, we urge you to send your donation and membership. Legal costs continue to mount, as the cost of this effort is much higher than we had expected.
We dedicate the Stewart Buffer to all of you. When it is protected it will truly belong to us all. We hope and pray for the best possible outcome.
Sunday, June 1st, 2003: Bird Walk, Stewart Buffer Lands, meet at Weed Road parking lot off Rt. 207, 8:00 AM, sponsored by O.C. Audubon Soc., leader, Ralph at 845 496-9487.
Sunday, June 8th, 2003, Buffer Bike Tour, Stewart Buffer Lands, registration 8:00 AM, $25.00 day of event, free tee shirts, lunch. Contact Ralph for info, 845 496-9487.
Tuesday, June 24th, 2003, SPARC Potluck Picnic, Chadwick Lake Pavilion, 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM, Chadwick Lake Park, Rt. 300, Town of Newburgh.