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A few points on the current process/planning:
There are multiple values at to consider when drawing the lines. From how I see it, there are three effective competing constraints/goals, applied in the following order:
- Staying within the +/- 5% population threshold
- Respecting existing political (e.g. Town) boundaries
- Associating Communities of Interest
To these specific issues, I would urge the Commissioners to observe the following, given that while towns would like their own legislators, not every Town will have a large enough population to claim their own:
- The three villages should be kept intact and wholly contained within one (larger) district
- School district boundaries should be considered when town boundaries do not suffice
- No two legislative districts should cross the same boundary between the same two towns.
- The home addresses of current legislators should have no bearing on the process. I respect the fact that good legislators may be severed from those who they best represent, but this is a watershed year in the process. It is likely that the lines drawn this year will more or less stay intact during future decennial processes and getting it right this time is paramount.
- Understanding and associating communities of interest seems to me to be the most contentious of the competing values, and can sometimes lead to the sort of districts that are the least fairly drawn. For this reason I would urge that the use of school districts boundaries be examined before associating communities of interest. I would also ask that the concept of communities of interest be broadened from the data provided by the census bureau. For example, communities within the NYC watershed / Catskill Park have a common interest Adjacent commercial/industrial districts may have more in common than the census data may show.
- When breaking up towns, be conscious of the “minority rights” of the broken up town. For example, a few residents from one town tacked onto another town will not likely have good representation. Creating a few oddball districts with similar number size overflows from a number of towns might be better than trying to keep the number of towns per district down.
It has always been a problem in getting West Hurley and Old Hurley to get together on most things and it would be vastly worse if they were divided legislatively.
To the Redistricting Committee:
April 11, 2011
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to express our feelings regarding the imminent county redistricting. We, the New Paltz Democratic Committee, after much discussion, would like to urge the following:
- Based on the publicized population parameters for a legislator of about 7500 per district, the town of New Paltz is 14/15 or 93% of the required 15,000 for two legislators (almost a perfect fit). Therefore we are of the opinion that New Paltz is entitled 2 two legislators.
- That the district these two legislators represent be entirely composed of New Paltz with the additional voters (if necessary) coming from the 12561(New Paltz) zip code part of Gardiner. This makes sense because that part of Gardiner is in the New Paltz school district and has more in common with New Paltz then parts of any other town.
- That New Paltz not be split into a situation where the town has 1 legislator and parts of several other legislators. This would not be acceptable in that it would disenfranchise a good part of the town voters and lead to constitutionality questions.
We are reiterating the position taken by the New Paltz Town Board and residents when you met with them last month. Only since the court ordered redistricting several years ago has New Paltz had the kind of representation (2 legislators) that reflects the values of the town. Even then, several New Paltz districts were placed in other town’s districts. It was much better than the previous 30 years, when New Paltz was gerrymandered into a legislative district that made it almost impossible for any resident of New Paltz to win.
New Paltz went almost 30 years underrepresented in the legislature. We do not want this to happen again. We respectfully urge you to give us the representation we deserve based on the parameters you set.
Corinne Nyquist, Chair
Josh Honig, Vice Chair
New Paltz Democratic Committee
April 12, 2011
Ulster County Legislative Office
244 Fair Street, P.O. Box 1800
Kingston, NY 12402
Attn: Commission on Reapportionment
Dear Reapportionment Commission Member,
Thank you for your visit to the Town of Rochester on 4/7/2011. Your presentation was very informative. The Town Board had a very lengthy discussion after your presentation as to what they believe would be fair and in the best interests of the citizens of the Town of Rochester as far as how are legislative district be apportioned and requested that I write you with our thoughts and concerns.
First and foremost we believe that our Town should be kept whole as we have a population which is very close to the desired size of a legislative district. Our preference would be that we be joined with any or all of the three Wawarsing districts that are part of Kerhonkson which bound us from the southwest. We share many things such as the Rondout Valley School District including the Kerhonkson Elementary School, religious institutions, retail establishments, and even highway services with our neighbors in Wawarsing in that area. Less desirable but still acceptable would be adding Denning and/or Hardenburgh to Rochester.
I have seen one draft proposal which I understand was completed by the Ulster County Planning Department which is under the auspices of the County Executive’s Office and feel that it does a horrendous disservice to the citizens of Rochester. That draft splits Rochester and joins it with half of Marbletown. The other part of Rochester would be joined with Wawarsing and the other part of Marbletown would be joined with Hurley. Every effort should be made to keep Towns whole especially when they are close to the population parameters for district creation. We ask that this be your first priority. We appreciate the tremendous work that you are doing as an unpaid volunteer.
Dear Commission Members:
In reviewing the information presented and the discussions concerning the Reapportionment Plan I have several thoughts I would like you to consider. First I appreciate your work as it is difficult at best (if not impossible) to present a plan that will satisfy everyone. My specific concerns stem from 2 areas. The procedure, as I understand it, that has been used was to provide the Planning department with population numbers to create Districts. Included in the calculations is a maximum deviation factor of 2 1/2 % plus or minus from the desired district number of 7934. I have spoken with Bea and she indicated the number could be double that or 5% deviation either way from the 7934 number. This provides considerable room for adjusting the plans that have been created. I also am unable to determine Town lines from the charts created to identify Districts. It has been my concern from the beginning that as much as possible Towns be kept intact. I recognize that this is not always possible, but with a legal deviation tolerance of + to - 5% instead of the + to - 2 1/2 percent, it will be easier. Concerning my Town of Woodstock It appears 2 of the 3 plans (2 and 3) eliminate sections of Woodstock while adding sections of the Towns of Saugerties and Hurley. This makes no sense, particularly with the option to increase deviation factors. You have the opportunity to make significant changes to the plans and repair the problems generated, by increasing the unnecessary tight tolerances currently applied. I hope you can make this happen. I would also request that you not hire a consultant to do the job for you. This further distances the understanding of the importance of keeping the Towns whole.
Don Gregorius District 2
Thank you for the opportunity to voice my objections to the 3 tentative redistricting plans recently reported to the Legislature. It was my understanding that one of the guidelines to be used in finalizing a plan was that, to the extent possible, towns were to be kept whole. Due to the fact that there are more than 23 towns and villages in Ulster County, a certain amount of superseding of political boundaries was to be expected, however, to take a town of over 10,000 residents and completely wipe out its political voice by dividing it into 3 or even 4 minority segments of other districts, is wholly inappropriate. In the current economic climate towns are struggling to maintain their identities, and the reported plans fabricate population groupings where none currently exist, nor do these groupings even make sense. (e.g. they don’t follow boundaries for existing school districts, postal delivery, etc). In addition, by partitioning Plattekill in such a way, its representation on issues before the county with regard to taxation and other regulations would be minimized.
I feel a much more sensible approach, one that would allow Plattekill to maintain its political voice, would be to allow a majority of Plattekill to remain in its own district. Plattekill and Modena share the same school districts, which give their residents a commonality of interests. These areas should be allowed to act in tandem to represent their joint interests, not be split apart into unrelated districts wherein their specific concerns would not necessarily be addressed. Similarly, as Clintondale is located in both the Highland and Marlboro school districts, it would make sense to attach this region to the appropriate neighboring town so that all district residents will be responding to the same shared responsibilities.
I would ask that you present my e-mail to the Ulster County Redistricting Commission for their review.
Dear Reapportionment Commission Members:
I attended last week’s (4/12) Special Session of the Legislature to review and discuss your three preliminary draft plans for redistricting as required under the Ulster County Charter. First, I would like to thank all of you for your volunteer service. The task you have undertaken is no small one and your efforts are appreciated. While I am aware that a number of you have indicated that “this is not political,” the process of selecting candidates who will run in the very Legislative Districts you are charged with creating is most definitely political. I was a bit concerned by several of things I heard that night and a few others since then and I would like to make the following comments:
- Under the Charter, the point of creating an independent commission was to insure that the redistricting process was done outside of County Government. If the people of Ulster County wanted the Legislature, County Staff or the County Executive’s office to create the districts, we would have worded it that way in the Charter. While I understand that the software may be complicated, in an effort to protect the integrity of the process – an independent one – it would seem that use of an outside, independent consultant to help you draft the final redistricting plan is warranted and in keeping with the purpose of the Charter.
- While I am sure that at least half of the commission members have no idea of the process involved with selecting candidates, nominating them and getting their names on the ballot through the petition process, it is, in fact, the reason we need the districts you are creating. It is incorrect for any member of this commission to say that “election districts don’t matter” because by the time you are finished with this job, if the election districts have been divided you will have created an even greater task for the Board of Elections thus for the candidates trying to get their names on the ballot. Further complications only mean delays for candidates who want to introduce themselves to the voters and delays only make it harder for challengers (non-incumbents). To demonstrate the time constraints for candidates seeking elective office, the first date to sign/carry designating petitions is June 7th (only five weeks away by the time you present a plan that hopefully will be adopted on 4/26) and these need to be filed with the Board of Elections between July 11th and July 14th. Since we don’t even have districts yet to select candidates, the breaking of existing election districts at this late date will make fair, open elections more difficult, if not impossible.
- At last week’s meeting there were many people who spoke up about keeping Towns as whole as possible and in order to accomplish this I suggest that you take the advice of a number of those present and increase the per district residency requirement to plus or minus 5% rather than the less than 2% guideline you are trying to meet.
In closing, please consider using an outside consultant, do not break up election districts and try to keep towns as whole as possible by increasing your guideline residency requirement from 2% to 5%.
Thank you for your consideration.
Robin Vaccai Yess, CFP
Chairwoman, Ulster County Republican Committee
Dear Mr. Messina,
Thank you for your informative talk last night, 4/5/11, in Gardiner. I appreciate the volunteer work you and the other members are doing for all Ulster County residents. I hope you are able to communicate to the other commissioners the very strong feeling of Gardinerites that we want to be in one legislative district. I have talked to fellow residents of both parties and have found near unanimous support for not splitting Gardiner up into two or more districts. I know you are faced with a difficult deadline and a lot of hard work. Thank you again for your help.
Dear Commission Members;
I attended the meeting in the Legislature a couple of weeks ago and have since had a chance to try and figure out where these plans will actually be. I believe that increasing the variation to a full 5% +/- instead of 2 1/2% +/- will give the commission a much easier time of it.
I noticed that the several southern towns are divided into many districts. New Paltz is very close to 2 districts yet that is divided into 3 districts. Plattekill is another town that is divided into multiple districts. Rochester is almost a perfect fit for a Legislator, yet it too is divided up in every plan.
In the Northern part of the County, The Town of Ulster's population is less than 2 Districts yet, all of these plans have 3 districts for Ulster. The same number of districts as Saugerties and the city of Kingston. Kingston and Saugerties both have populations of approx. 8,000 people more than the Town of Ulster. This is confusing to me.
Is there a way to minimize the impact so towns are not split up so much or at least make the splits meet a similar criteria? If Ulster gets 3 Legislators, how can Saugerties and Kingston get the same number and be considered equally represented?
Please consider expanding the deviation percentages to make it easier to keep towns whole and end up with more fair and balanced representation.
Thank you for your service to our County,
Mr. Robert Cane
As a member of the Plattekill Town Board I strongly urge the Commission to follow the five percent resident rule recommended by the county charter and leave one full district in our town.
April 19, 2011
Ulster County Commission on Reapportionment
C/o Ulster County Legislative Office
244 Fair Street, P.O. Box 1800
Kingston, NY 12402
To the Honorable members of the commission:
Firstly let me offer deep gratitude for the long hours and many miles you have all traveled to be involved in this process. It is a thankless job to be sure. The only comparable situation might be as member of a school board--- no matter what you decide, someone will be angry with you.
I write to the commission to express my opinions on the draft plans presented to the legislature on Tuesday April 12th. I will attempt to be brief. I offer my apologies in advance for potentially repeating comments you may have already heard from the public, other legislators or other elected officials during your public input sessions.
I want to thank the commission for respecting the charter and protecting the integrity of the three villages in Ulster County. As a 10 year resident of the Village of New Paltz, I can attest to the different needs villages have over towns and I think that all the draft plans continue to respect village boundaries. In the case of my own community, we also happen to have a sizable minority population that must have its voice heard in county government. I hope this respect for the villages will continue moving forward.
With regards to the City of Kingston, it is my understanding that revised plans will utilize existing Ward boundaries that are currently in place. I believe there is wisdom in this as it will reduce any potential confusion and uses existing political boundaries.
With regards to the Towns, I will repeat the pleas of my community to have two legislative districts for the Town of New Paltz—reflected in “Version 3” of your maps presented on April 12th. In addition, I believe you must attempt to keep communities that are linked together. To use my old hometown of Plattekill as an example, lower Plattekill and the areas north and west of the hamlet of Plattekill have more in common with Modena than they do with the hamlet of Wallkill. While they are all in the same school district (Wallkill), the hamlet of Wallkill is not exactly linked with either the hamlet of Plattekill or Modena.
Another example could be Clintondale, NY—which is located in the Towns of Plattekill, Lloyd and Marlboro. It’s an area where one could pay municipal tax to Marlboro, go to Highland Schools and be closer to Plattekill Town Hall than any other municipal building. The former hamlet of “Tucker’s Corners” or the former hamlet of Ardonia, in certain cases has more in common with the Town of Marlboro (and they go to Marlboro schools). There numerous examples in all of our towns of these nuanced relationships. I hope the commission will attempt to preserve them. I also understand that in all practicality you will have to make hard decisions to make the most equitable decision.
Looking to the west of the county, I could not help but notice that the hamlet of Cragsmoor is attached to Ellenville in two versions but not in “Version 1”. It is my sincere hope that Cragsmoor will be included into Ellenville moving forward.
I would like to thank the commission for your attention to these comments. I would also offer my condolences for the pain and suffering you’ve endured (and I’m sure you will continue to endure) through this process.
Hector S. Rodriguez
Ulster County Legislator, District 10
I don't understand why the tiny area of Zena is not kept in the Woodstock district. We pay taxes here, not in Hurley. How could this be? When borders are set up without considering who the people are living inside and outside the lines, problems arise. Keep Woodstock whole.
Residents in Woodstock Districts 3 and 6 are part of the Town of Woodstock and share Woodstock issues. It is a disservice to Districts 3 and 6 to merge them with another town. In this scenario, the Woodstock District 3 and 6 residents will not have a proper voice. Woodstock Districts 3 and 6 should remain in the same legislative district as the remaining Woodstock districts, so that a legislator from Woodstock can represent all of the Woodstock taxpayers, including the Woodstock taxpayers in Districts 3 and 6.
I suggest that zena and west hurley be combined as a district.
Dear Reapportionment Commission Members,
As a former member of the Woodstock Planning Board, and as a current Woodstock Democratic Committee elected representative of District 6, I can confidently attest to the fact that the issues of concern to the residents of Zena are vastly different from those of Hurley. The demographics, socio-economics and character of the two districts are incontrovertibly disparate. The interests and sensibilities of Zena are congruent with those of the Woodstock community at large, while those of Hurley comparable to Olivebridge or Marbletown. I believe it would be a mistake to sever Zena from the other Woodstock districts. I am deeply skeptical about the prospect of adequate, competent and effective representation of Zena if the proposed new district is created. While I applaud the sincere efforts of the redistricting committee to form districts with more uniform population densities, I strongly urge them to reconsider this ill-advised option.
I am writing as a Zena resident to say that I do not support Zena being made a part of Hurley. Zena is an integral part of Woodstock in terms of its history, population and interests. Most of my neighbors
truly identify themselves as Woodstockers, a community in which we fully participate. Being part of Hurley makes no sense to me! And I would like to be represented by the same elected official who
represents Woodstock. Please don't implement this plan! Thank you for the chance to give my opinion.
Please do not change the districts in a way the breaks up Woodstock. We work together well in our various parties, and that makes this an important community issue.
Thanks time effort you are putting into this,
I live in Woodstock and I am writing to request that the entire town of Woodstock be included in the same district. According to the 2010 census, the population of Woodstock is 5,884, well under the ideal size for each district. There are many community activities in our town that link the people from Willow (the west) with people from Zena (the east) and it would be disruptive to split the town in to different districts. Kept together we are likely to have a representative in the County Legislature who represents our shared values and concerns.
Thank you for your work on this process and for your consideration of my opinion.
Reapportionment Commission Members
As a 40 year resident of Zena, I believe the issues and concerns of residents of this area are quite different from those of Hurley. The interests of this area are compatible with those of the Woodstock Community. I think it would be an injustice to Zena residents to sever the area from other Woodstock Districts. I am very concerned about having adequate and effective representation of Zena if the proposed new district is created. While the Commission has made sincere efforts to form uniform population densities, I urge them to reconsider this option of separating the Zena area from the rest of Woodstock.
Robert M. Houst
I want to thank all of the members of the Reapportionment Commission for their time, their travel, and their patience over the past months. It's an understatement to say learning more about the people, the laws, the County, the city, towns, and villages, and more, has been and continues to be a challenge.
In my view, the Commission has done well with that challenge and achieved the difficult task of balancing a number of different considerations in a reasonable and thoughtful way in Draft Redistricting Plan Version 5.
I have reviewed a number of other plans, including previous versions by the Commission and some from various publications. Each plan has its advantages and disadvantages, but Plan Version 5 appears to be a reasonable and fairly balanced plan in my view.
Thank you again for all of your efforts,
Ulster County Legislator
I have recently learned that the hamlet of Zena will not be included with the remainder of the Town of Woodstock under the pending redistricting changes. I am opposed to this plan as I feel that it will impact the representation of the town if 2 legislators have responsibility. To splinter Zena defeats the purpose of full knowledge of the town and all of its aspects. I appreciate the work done by the task force but do ask that this piece be reconsidered.
I'd like to compliment the commission on there hard work on Wednesday creating your plan. I know how hard the work is as I've spent many hours myself on the public computer creating my ideas of a plan. Watching the commission run into the same brick walls created by the geography and areas of population that I ran into was proof to me just how hard this task is. It is easy for critics to take shots and make comments, but until they have tried to complete the task personally their criticism carries a bit of a quieter voice in my mind. There are thousands if not millions of different ways to split up the Census blocks making up Ulster County. You arrived at some different solutions than I did, but they are just that...different. There really is no wrong or right way.
But I'd like to make the following observations and comments based on my experience with the process and my knowledge of the County which I think will help create a stronger plan. I hope you will consider them when you "tweak" the plan on Saturday.
- The commission should attempt to keep population centers (hamlets and villages) whole as much as possible. These areas have common problems and concerns and should be represented by one voice. For example, the commission split Stone Ridge in half by Route 209. I believe the numbers and percentages would allow all of that area to be put either with District 13 or 14. But to split it the way you did makes little sense. I think other population centers should be checked to see if this occurred anywhere else.
- The very tiny area of the Town of Lloyd that was added to District 2 is not logical. I know it solved population count issues, but those few small blocks in Lloyd would now become their own election District. This should be reconsidered and a better solution should be arrived at.
- The area of Gardiner that is included in District 4 includes part of the actual town center of Gardiner including Town Hall. (see my comment #1 about splitting Town centers). Perhaps more of that area should be included in District 3 and areas of District 3 to the immediate west of District 4 should be added to 4.
- Including the parts of Shawangunk (Walker Valley area) in District 7 with Denning makes little sense. There is little commonality. I would suggest a swap of area and changing more of the Napanoch/Route 209 area of District 6 to District 7 and then making the Walker Valley area be a part of District 6. My version of the map I presented to the commission shows the example of what I am suggesting.
- I disagree on the keep Hurley whole idea. The reservoir is a natural cutoff point. Again, my proposed plan addresses this area creating a Route 28 corridor and a Route 209 corridor. Transportation corridors sometimes make more sense than municipal boundaries that were laid out hundreds of years ago.
- I compliment you on your work in the City of Kingston and the Saugerties/ Town of Ulster/ Town of Kingston areas. I think you made some very logical conclusions on these areas.
Thanks for all your under appreciated efforts. I hope you will consider my suggestions in creating your final product.
I am very concerned about the redistricting of Marlboro. Part of Marlboro is proposed to go with the town of Lloyd and not Plattekill. Plattekill is part of the Marlboro School District and has been for many years. There are many concerns that a part of Plattekill be adjoining with Marlboro. My constituents and I feel very strongly that Plattekill be a part of Marlboro in this plan. Again, I must emphasize because of the school district many of these individuals associate in part of the Marlboro atmosphere.
Dear Commission Members,
Thank you for your hard work and dedication. You have an impossible task and I appreciate how hard it must be to try to create these new districts.
I represent the towns of Shawangunk, Gardiner, and New Paltz in the Ulster County Legislature in District 8. A piece of my district is the Hamlet of Walker Valley in the western portion of Shawangunk. In version number 5 of the reapportionment plan Walker Valley has been placed in the same district as the Town of Denning. Driving from Walker Valley to Denning is over 50 miles. This would place an undue burden on both the representative and the represented. People have a vested interest in knowing their representative at any level of government, and access to the representative is paramount at the local levels of government. Placing a possible 50 mile drive between representative and constituents should be avoided at all costs.
I hope you take these thoughts into consideration. I ask you on behalf of my constituents to reconsider this district and to attempt to shape the Town of Shawangunk into two districts instead of three if at all possible.
Kenneth J Ronk Jr.
Ulster County Legislator
I have had an opportunity to review the latest plan and in questioning others regarding the City of Kingston reapportionment, I have some very serious concerns. I was advised that some of the decisions were based on ethnic/socio-economic considerations. It is insulting to all who reside in the City and even more to the elected officials that represent them, that in essence, we are being told by the Committee that certain parts of our population have not and are not properly represented. Further, that the Committee will somehow rectify that alleged problem through reapportionment. I was not aware that that was a part of their charge let alone their determination. Reapportioning the City with that as a backdrop is an insult to the City and its representatives and well beyond the authority of the Committee. If allowed to stand, It is sure to have repercussions well beyond the political dilemma it creates. The Committee clearly needs to go back a give serious consideration to both the delineation of City Districts and most certainly any mention of ethnic/socio-economics as a basis for its decisions. Stick to the numbers, that is your charge.
I am a tax paying resident of Woodstock for over 30 years and live on Van Dale Road and vote in Woodstock elections. It has come to my attention that in the reapportionment planning, there is a chance I and many of my neighbors, will lose my Woodstock representation and be shunted to another district.
I strongly protest that this is unfair, and inappropriate...depriving me and my family from the representation we are entitled to, for the town we live in, which is Woodstock. Please consider our thinking and leave Woodstock residents to be represented by a Woodstock Representative. Anything less is denying us our rights.
One of your mandates is or should be: Respecting existing political (e.g. Town) boundaries
Thank you for your consideration.
Please be advised that I am 1000 % against redistricting. I see no benefit that this idea provides except to confuse voters. I want my district to remain in Woodstock, New York whee I reside, shop, pay taxes. I hope that sound thinking is employed to keep this in our town.
With all due respect this is not an idea I endorse. Now or for the future. I want to vote for my County Legislators and other officials from the my own back yard.
Woodstock, New York
This is my version of a plan created on the public computer.
It has a 4.86% deviation from lowest to highest amount of population per district
The yellow lines are current voting districts.
Thank You for your work and consideration.
April 21, 2011
It has come to my neighborhood's attention that the membership is considering version 5 of the reapportionment map. ulstercountyny.gov/reapportionment/draft-plans
Although you may be close to finalization, I respectfully request your review of the details below and urge you to restore the Zena neighborhood to the town of Woodstock.
Here are some points to discuss and consider:
According to the 2010 Census the Town of Woodstock has seen the largest decrease in population of any town in Ulster County. To divide the town for legislative redistricting would further divide the citizenship. The 2010 census Woodstock population is 5,884 down from the year 2000 by -5.5%, the highest percentage in the county along with Wawarsing. (Information from 2010 Census Population Change Map). The towns with the highest declines in population need your support so we can recover from these tough economic times.
Of the 24 geographic local areas being reapportioned, 50% are larger in population than Woodstock. In fact, some local areas have a town and a village designation. (Information from 2010 Census Population Change Map). The larger the citizen groups can weather the division better and based on your mean of 7,934, nine geographic areas are too large to meet your requirement. Have you also reviewed the voting districts within these boundary considerations? Addressing that may help unify a reapportioned geographic area.
The economy has had its effects on our county and Woodstock has approximately 30% of its housing units vacant. Both the Kingston and the Onteora School districts have shared the "pain" of this fact as student enrollments have decreased as well. Were school district boundaries considered in this version of the map?
Zena accounts for 1,031 Woodstockers, approximately one fifth of the total town.
If the law as written does not allow for enough time to do justice to this process and its' citizenry, can it legally be delayed so we can proud of the outcome?
Thanks to each of you for your consideration.
Dear Reapportionment Commission Members,
Two years ago my wife and I built a new home on Zena Road in Woodstock. We selected a lot in Woodstock because, after renting a home for six years in the town, we felt extremely strongly that it was the Woodstock community with which we identified most. For this reason we paid a substantial premium for our parcel and pay generous taxes in exchange for being part of a community which identifies with our beliefs, and has governance that generally reflects our values. I personally know other neighbors who feel the same and who reside in Zena for the same reasons we chose to. I truly believe it would be a mistake to sever Zena from the other Woodstock districts. I am skeptical about the prospect of adequate, competent and effective representation of Zena if the proposed new district is created. While I applaud the sincere efforts of the redistricting committee to form districts with more uniform population densities, I strongly urge them to reconsider this ill-advised option.
Sincerely, William C. Kerr
Zena should not be divided from Woodstock as proposed in Map 5. Having been a resident of Woodstock, living in Zena for 5 years, I know that Zena is part of Woodstock and not just because the town line says so. We chose a home in Zena to be part of the Woodstock community -- that includes representation. Residents of Woodstock, whether in Zena or Bearsville Flats, vote for the same town supervisor, town board members, clerk, highway super, etc. Zena residents are subject to Woodstock laws including building codes, assessments, taxes, zoning, environmental bylaws, and road maintenance. Zena residents expect their town as a whole to be represented at the county level as well, making each and every one of their votes count. Zena accounts for 1,031 Woodstockers, approximately one fifth of the total town.
My situation in voicing this concern is unique because in February I sold my Zena home and moved 3 miles "down the road" into West Hurley where I find my physical mailing address is still a Woodstock one. My spouse and I both work in Woodstock and continue to feel strongly that Zena should not be separated from Woodstock. I urge you to restore the Zena neighborhood to the town of Woodstock.
While the commission may have met for months and traveled around the towns to speak (at which time no reapportionment maps were available), the comparative public review of actual maps and the public comment period is short indeed, and does not seem to meet "the maximum of public participation and comment" as stated in the commission's directive. To finalize a map tomorrow on a Saturday, giving Woodstock residents only 24 hours for input is unreasonable. The public must be given a chance for real input based on talking points the proposed maps bring up. I urge you to extend the public commentary period before finalizing your decision.
"The Commission will reapportion in accordance with a process that allows timely
input from the County Legislature and its members and the maximum of public
participation and comment, and in accord with a calendar it adopts for itself after
consideration of New York State Election Law that assures that elections in newly
apportioned districts will be held in the year ending in "1" in every decade.
To the members of the Reapportionment Commission,
Several years ago the controversy that arose regarding the effect of taxes relating to "large parcel" legislation showed me how detrimental conflicting interests are to the taxpayer. It is imperative that I have representation that is undivided in it's focus on my concerns as a resident of Woodstock. Therefore I am wholly opposed to my district (Zena) being severed from the town in which I live.
Mary Ann Ahroon
To the members of the Commission on Reapportionment,
As the Chair of the Woodstock Democratic Committee I am addressing what we see as an amputation of one of our hamlets from the Town of Woodstock districts. In the spirit of brevity I am limiting the comments I have received from my committee to only two of our long-standing Committee members who have served the Zena district for many years and have sent the following to me:
"As a former member of the Woodstock Planning Board, and a current Woodstock Democratic Committee elected representative of District 6, I can confidently attest to the fact that the issues of concern to the residents of Zena are vastly different from those of West Hurley. The demographics, socio-economics and character of the two districts are incontrovertibly disparate. The interests and sensibilities of Zena are congruent with those of the Woodstock community at large, while those of West Hurley comparable to Olivebridge or Marbletown. I believe it would be a mistake to sever Zena's district from the other Woodstock districts. I am deeply skeptical about the prospect of adequate, competent or effective representation of either Zena or West Hurley if the proposed new district is created. While I applaud the sincere efforts of the redistricting committee to form districts with more uniform population densities, I strongly urge them to reconsider this ill-advised option." - David Corbett, District 6 Zena, Town of Woodstock.
"I am a member of the Woodstock Democratic Committee, one of the elected representatives of District 6, Zena and a resident of Woodstock for over 40 years. Zena is a vital and cohesive hamlet of the Woodstock community. Woodstock is a unique community and draws it character from the several hamlets that make up our town. The residents of Zena are Woodstockers, with the same interests, zeal and expectations of other Woodstockers. The effect of relegating them to a different legislator to hear their issues separate from the rest of their home town, I believe, would result in very negative outpouring of sentiment. On a town and community level it would not serve any positive purpose." - Fran Breitkopf, Zena, District 6.
In your quest to create some sort of headcount balance, don't forget that there are other more important issues such as keeping our involved town family together with all our districts sharing the same meetings, events, and all the attending common issues . Woodstock's districts are a vibrant and cohesive family that expects to be able to speak with the same county legislator so that we can continue to work together for the good of our town and our party with one familiar and continuing voice.
The Woodstock Democratic Committee works hard for the best candidates for the town of Woodstock, often endorsing candidates that are not Democrats but are the best ones for the job. Yes, we are a political body, but we are first and always Woodstockers and when you put the Zena district outside of Woodstock, you are fracturing our town, our ability to work together and our sense of being a complete and coherent entity.
The small Zena district will not make much of a difference to the rest of the large area that is currently planned to include them, but it's loss will make an enormous difference to our small town. I respectfully ask you to re-examine what you have done in the light of our anxiety and growing hostility to the break-up of our district family.
I am available to further discuss this with any or all members of the Commission. Thank you for the work you do and for considering our request to keep the town of Woodstock districts whole.
Chair, Woodstock Democratic Committee
To whom it may concern,
We are residents of Woodstock and want to remain a part of Woodstock representation in the Ulster County legislature.
James and Sandra Rosa
From the Desk of Peter M. Loughran
Legislator, District 12
City of Kingston
The reapportionment as proposed is not acceptable as is. I have reviewed the proposal and have found what appear to be flaws. Please review the information below and I have confidence you will agree that a minority district is unnecessary and the Ward lines should be used for the purpose establishing the 3 legislative districts in the city of Kingston. This method using wards to determine lines would best serve the residents of Kingston.
Let me begin and be perfectly clear on this issue. I believe it is illegal to put together a minority district when the minority of voters is comprised of less that 50% plus one of voters in the district.
It will disenfranchise those residents that comprise only 46% of the minorities in the district.
I would also like to point out that using your proposal gives the appearance of creating a containment area in the mid-town area of Kingston. Once again this will help to disenfranchise those residents living in that district.
I would like to point out not using the wards as lines to distinguish the boundaries would in effect dilute the representation that currently exists. In other words, I currently live in Ward 4 and Legislator Donaldson currently lives in Ward 5. This means that two out of three legislators represent that area of Kingston.
Your proposal will ultimately remove representation from that area and move it to another section of town.
Like I said earlier, your implying that fair representation is not being provided because of my ethnicity is like me saying you are not looking out for the best interest of minorities because you have none sitting on the commission. That statement would be untrue and unfair.
You creating a minority district is giving the impression that something is wrong. It is not fair nor is it true. Below you will find a list of minorities that have been elected to both the Kingston City Council and the Ulster County Legislature over the past years.
Minority People elected to office.
Women- Elected to Office in Kingston
Kathy Mihm-U.C. Legislator,
Susan McConeky-U.C. Legislator
Kay Quick- U.C. Legislator
Ann Mari Debella-Alderwoman
Kate Fiori- -Alderwoman
Shirley Whitlock - Alderman
Mary Ann Parker-Alderwoman
Rose Hogan-Alderwoman Legislator
Afro-American Elected to Office in Kingston
Larry Kithcart – U.C. Legislator
Clint Brown - Alderman
Lenny Walker - Alderman
I have given my reasons for not supporting your proposal and would like to reiterate my belief that ward’s boundaries should be used in determining legislative districts. These lines will remove any ambiguity that may exist. The election would be kept intact. All wards need to be reapportioned so each ward would be of equal size. The minority section of town would then have more representation. Finally, it would take 3 wards to make 1 legislative district. Nine wards just need to be divided by 3. Using the wards as a way to create Legislative disricts is fair and impartial.
I write to urge you to adjust the district lines you drew around your proposed District 18 in Saugerties. Although almost accurate, you failed to include the Bishop’s Gate Community with the rest of the district. Bishop’s Gate is a developed area sharing the same values as the Barclay Heights and Village Communities. Bishop’s Gate also shares water and sewer with those in your District 18. Bishop’s Gate, along with Barclay Heights and the Village, make up the heart of Saugerties. Please remain true to your pledge of keeping communities together and understand that it is essential to keep this area in tact.
Walter Frey, Jr.
Legislator, District No. 4
As an elected county legislator representing the Town of Marbletown, I would like to know if the Commission considered the relationship and proximity of SUNY Ulster with the Town of Marbletown? The residents of Marbletown have a vested interest in the infrastructure and development of SUNY Ulster, and under the plans that I have reviewed, Marbletown is left severely fractured, while including entire portions of neighboring towns. The neighboring towns do not have the same level of interest in SUNY Ulster, as residents of Marbletown. Moreover, since the county legislature appoints and finances a large portion of SUNY Ulster, it is logical and in the spirit of the Ulster County Charter to keep the Town of Marbletown whole in the final plan. It is entirely possible that Marbletown will not have a representative in the county legislature.
I would also like to point out that Marbletown is only 76 percent of the size of the Town of Rochester and 92 percent of Rosendale. Is the Commission aware that Marbletown is divided yet keeps the Towns of Rosendale and Rochester whole or nearly whole? As you know these towns are contiguous with Marbletown. No plan that I have received has sought to divide Rosendale.
Further, this recommendation does not seek to favor any political party or candidate, nor does it seek to seek to harm any political party or candidate. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. Please pass my comments along to the other Commissioners (I don't have any email addresses for them), and feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Ulster County Legislator
My name is Diana Cline. I haved lived in old Hurley for over 50 years. This town has spent that long or longer trying to unite Old Hurley with West Hurley as one town. If you split our town up in reapportionment, you will have set these efforts back 50 years. I also do not find it to be a coincindance that the four replublicans including our supervisor did not speak publicly opposing such a move(our lone democrate however did) since such a split would put Roy Hotchberg in Woodstock and allow the republicans not to have to run against Roy. I was under the impression that this reapportionment would not be politically motivated. I urge you to keep Hurley as one town!!!!
Thank you for your time
Versions 1 & 2 recognized Shawangunk as what it is; the fastest growing Town in Ulster County with a population of over fourteen thousand and deserving of two representatives from the Town. Every plan since has given the Town one whole district and has placed the remainder of the Town in districts where Shawangunk numbers are fewer than the adjoining Towns. For the past ten years, two of our election districts in current Legislative District 9 have been disenfranchised to Plattekill and Marlboro. It is just not fair to the people of Shawangunk to be placed in that status for the next 10 years again at the expense of the Commission's efforts to keep or protect other Towns from that status. Please take another look at this.
I have been following closely the activities of your committee's work since it's inception. I did not speak out publicly until you had an opportunity to create some districts and get input from the public. Once the initial 3 plans were presented, I spoke at the Ulster County Legislature asking that some consideration be given to presenting a plan that included a Town of Ulster district that did not link the Town of Ulster with another town. I have subsequently spoken to individual members of the commission both in person and on the telephone and reiterated my request to present at least one plan that did not link the Town of Ulster to another town in one district. So far it seems there has been no consideration to my request. There have since been 4 or 5 plans presented, none of which detaches the Town of Ulster from other towns. This is an injustice to the residents of Ulster who deserve a single Legislator to represent their views in County Government.
The current configuration leaves the possibility that the Town of Ulster, with a population of 12,327 could end up without a resident representative, but instead with a representative from another town that does not have the commitment, interests or the necessary knowledge of the town to represent it fairly.
My reasoning for this request goes to the basic components of the County Charter (C-10 Par. A) where it states to keeping towns whole is the top priority. The Town of Ulster has over 12,000 residents, yet there has never been a single plan that gave Ulster it's own district. Not one. That can not be said for any other town that has a population that can have a self contained district in the plans that have been presented. It seems that it was decided early on that Ulster would be included with other towns and there was no looking back.
With enough residents for more than 1 1/2 districts, Ulster deserves it's own voice. It should have a stand alone district that has gives a Legislator the ability to represent the unique features of the town. Ulster is the retail center of the County, it produces over 50% of the sales tax revenue and should have a representative to advocate for those unique qualities.
The only people who have advocated to keep Ulster with other towns have had ulterior motives that may or may not be apparent. The Town of Kingston and the Town of Ulster town boards have requested keeping the towns together which is no surprise to people who know the political make up of the two towns. The Town of Kingston and the Town of Ulster each have town boards that are dominated by a political party 5-0 on each board. It is no coincidence that this district as presented, gives that party a distinct advantage in party enrollment and thus the ability to keep that seat in that parties hands. The Charter deals with this as well when it states "........ fair representation of all people in Ulster County, keeping districts compact and contiguous while taking also into account existing town, city, village and election district boundaries and defining geographic features but giving no consideration to providing advantage to one or another political party." This district, in every single plan, clearly gives advantage to one political party.
I have tried everything I know to get this commission to listen to me and reconsider this district. All I have ever asked for is the ability of the public, the Legislature and the commission to review a plan that gives the Town of Ulster the voice it deserves with a stand alone district.
Please take this into consideration before you present your final plan to the Legislature.
Thank you for your time and efforts,
To the Ulster County Commission on Reapportionment:
I am writing on behalf of the Town of Marbletown with regards to the latest version of the redistricting map now under consideration for recommendation to the County Legislature. First let me say that I recognize the challenging task with which you have been charged, and I appreciate the tremendous effort that has gone into the process thus far.
I am, however, disappointed to see the way the Town of Marbletown has been split in this latest proposal. As we (members of our Town Board and residents) explained to the two commissioners at our March Town Board meeting, it has been our strong preference that Marbletown be left whole as a district. Since we are a relatively small town population-wise, this seemed like a reasonable goal. In reviewing the current proposal, it appears that Marbletown is the only small municipality that is being split (with the exception of Hurley which has an obvious natural geographic separation).
Because the Commission’s web page does not include a breakdown of population from each town in each proposed district, it is difficult to tell exactly how the residents of Marbletown are divided. But our population appears to be split roughly into two-thirds (district 18) and one-third (District 19). Under this scenario, we are at risk of being carved into two good-sized districts, with the added worry that Marbletown could end up without a representative who actually lives in the town. Furthermore, the current map configuration would result in Marbletown residents constituting a minority in each of the two proposed districts.
I would like to point out two issues that are of particular concern to us, and which I believe make Marbletown distinct: The presence of SUNY Ulster, and the relationship of our two commercial hamlets (Stone Ridge and High Falls) to the rest of the town.
SUNY Ulster is more than just a major county-owned facility in town. It is an institution with changing needs, imminent plans to connect to the High Falls Water District, and potential for growth. All of these factors are of great interest to, and may significantly affect, all of the residents of Marbletown. Surely the optimum condition for everyone under these circumstances would be one individual representing Marbletown at the county level.
Of additional concern is the proposed splitting in two of the hamlet of Stone Ridge across Route 209. Also, the map separates the bulk of residents in our two vital commercial centers (High Falls and Stone Ridge) from the rest of Marbletown. We are currently at work on an important strategic planning project for these two hamlets. As key initiatives progress over time, it would be unfortunate to see our line of communication to the County Legislature fractured by way of having different individuals representing each hamlet. Even more awkward still is the idea that the hamlet of Stone Ridge (which also may in the future be connected to the Water District) would be divided and represented by two different legislators.
I respectfully urge the Commission to reconsider the map as it is currently proposed, and to either re-examine one of the earlier versions, or create a new map in which Marbletown remains whole with the absorption of a part of one of our neighboring towns.
Again, many thanks for your efforts to create a positive solution for everyone. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Town Supervisor, Marbletown, NY