Photo by Patricia Heal

Community garden questions still unanswered

NARROWSBURG, NY — A rose is a rose is a rose. But when is a community garden a community garden? That question was brought up to the Tusten Town Board on October 11, as the board again discussed the issue of insurance for the Tusten Heritage Community Garden (THCG).


THCG co-chair Juliette Hermant was present to ask the board how to proceed in getting insurance coverage from the town. A few months ago, the town board voted to take away insurance from the THCG. Prior to that, they had insured the garden since its inception four years ago at no cost to the town. However, the Tusten Local Development Corporation (TLDC) learned that it was improper to provide the insurance. Thus, the vote to take away the insurance.


Hermant and co-chair Anie Stanley said they had not been aware the board was going to make that decision. Afterward, they looked into options as to how to keep running. They said that they could not get their own insurance because it is a municipal corporation (the garden was formed under the TLDC as a sub-committee and as a town project). After listening to their case, the board agreed to extend their insurance to the end of the year.


Now, Hermant has asked in a letter, “We are writing to follow up with the Board regarding what requirements, if any, the THCG would have to meet to carry on being insured by the Town. As per the August Town Board meeting, the Town decided to maintain the insurance until the end of the year as the Board needed to do necessary research and have a conversation with the accountant regarding TLDC subcommittee insurance or the option of becoming a Town item, and what that would entail.”


At the October 11 meeting, Supervisor Carol Wingert said she had not gotten a chance to speak with the attorney. She asked the board if they would like to move forward with seeing if insuring the garden would be possible. Councilman Tony Ritter said, “It’s a question of the board to decide if the garden is a line item. That’s what it comes down to. We have not had that conversation yet.” He said that decision would be made at the budget meeting next week.


Some people questioned whether the town should fund the community garden as, in their eyes, it is not actually a community garden. Councilman Ned Lang said the plots cost money and it is not open to the whole community. “The problem that I see is not everybody in the town has access to the garden. There aren’t enough plots. With the Youth Commission, it’s open to everyone in Tusten,” he said.


Hermant responded, “It’s more than just the plots.” There are workshops and events that are open to everyone, and it is a designation on the official Narrowsburg Walking Trail Map. She also said the plot fee is a suggested donation and the money goes toward maintenance of the garden.


Wingert posed the question, do the town’s taxpayers want to give money to this? “Absolutely not,” Lang said. However, the garden’s insurance was at no cost to the town.


Lang suggested that Hermant talk to the Tusten-Cochecton Library, on whose property the garden sits, about getting co-insured with them.


The town did not reach a decision, and Wingert said, “We have to move on.”


Millennium Pipeline donation


At the beginning of the meeting Supervisor Wingert read a statement about accepting a $500 donation from Millennium Pipeline on behalf of the town for defibrilators for the town hall. A photo of Wingert accepting the check from Millennium representative Michelle Hook had circulated on social media, leading people to question it. However, Wingert said the donation in no way affects the town’s position on the proposed compressor station in Eldred. Wingert read, “I made it clear to Millennium that we are not in favor of the compressor station going in in Highland due to the health and safety issues.” She continued, “Apparently there are some people who are looking at this like I accepted blood money from Millennium and that I am now in their pocket so to speak. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am offended that someone could question my integrity like this.”


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