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A private ‘public’ workshop

May 19, 2011

As residents of the Town of Callicoon, we are concerned that our Comprehensive Plan Committee recently held a “public workshop” without giving adequate notice to the public.

The meeting was not announced at the preceding regular town meeting, and residents who made specific inquiries about when it would be scheduled were not told when it would be held. Moreover, the town failed to advertise the meeting and didn’t even alert the local media that the meeting would take place. This is unusual behavior for any town, and a violation of New York State law.

When the town board was questioned about what sort of notice had been given to the public, David Kuebler, the town council representative on the Comprehensive Plan Committee, initially said, “We put it on the website,” and nothing more. Even when pressed, no one on the board or in the town government could say with any certainty when the meeting had been posted; first we were told that it was “two days” in advance, and then we were told it was “10 days.” In fact, the draft of the plan was only completed six days before the meeting was held. Similarly, no one could say when the meeting had been scheduled, or when it might have been posted on a bulletin board in town hall.

But there are a few things we know for certain: one, the town failed to notify the media of a public meeting as required by law; and two, a great many concerned residents did not attend simply because the town did a very poor job letting people know that it had been scheduled.

Fortunately, there is a very easy remedy. The town can, and should, schedule a second public workshop with the Comprehensive Plan Committee—this time with adequate public notice. [See story on page 3].

Linda Babicz, John Bachman, William Bakker, Ouida Eddington, Bill Engle, Laurie Fendrich, Bruce Ferguson, Joe Giamarese, Nancy Greene, Sonja Hedlund, Richard Horridge, Vivian Hung, Victoria Lesser, Mimi McGurl, Adrianne Picciano, Peter Plagens, Ellen Rieder, Dick Riseling, Alvin Shoop, Raizi Shoop, Don Simkin, Michael Thomas, Jill Wiener

Town of Callicoon, NY