Tusten approves Narrowsburg fire district expansion

NARROWSBURG, NY — After a brief public hearing, the three members of the Tusten council in attendance voted unanimously to dissolve the Tusten Fire Protection District and to extend the Narrowsburg Fire District into all of the Town of Tusten. Although they remain separate departments at this time, it is expected that this action will eventually lead to the merger of the Narrowsburg and Lava Fire Departments.

Speaking during the public hearing, Narrowsburg Chief David Casey stated that the action will be good for the town and also for both departments. It will lead to an evening out of the tax rate and provide the necessary budget for fire protection within the town, and the departments will be able to consolidate decisions regarding equipment purchases to better and more efficiently serve the residents of the town.

Members of both the Narrowsburg and Lava Fire Departments were present and expressed support for the action. No one spoke in opposition to the measure.

Susan Peters, a partner in the accounting firm Cooper Arias, LLP reported on the results of her firm’s 2017 financial statement audit of the town. She opined that the town is in a very strong financial position with high fund balances and reserves and no long-term debt. She said that because the fund balances exceed the norm for towns state-wide, the council should document the reasons why they are high.

Councilwoman Jane Luchsinger, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Supervisor Carol Wingert, summarized the findings by saying that although the reserves and fund balances are a high percentage of the town’s annual budget, they are not large numbers and that there is comfort in having these balances in case something goes wrong.

Peters concluded her comments with the statement “keep doing what you’re doing.”

Plans for development of the park area on the Flats were also discussed. The vision is that the park will be for multi-generational use, to include a refurbished basketball court, horseshoe pit and a quarter-mile walking trail with exercise stations. Also being planned is a youth and community organic garden with large raised beds protected from wildlife by eight-foot fences. Tusten Youth Board members and other volunteers will provide the labor and more manpower will be welcomed. The group hopes to plant fruit trees to replace the pine trees that became a problem as they dripped sap onto passers-by. They will solicit donations of trees or money with which to purchase the trees.

Naomi Holoch, a member of the Environmental Committee, prepared a report on the harmful effects of plastic drinking straws to the environment. The report was read by Councilwoman Brandi Merolla, who also commended a number of local businesses that have made efforts to “go green.”

For June, July and August, the monthly council meetings will be held on the second Monday of the month. After the summer months, the schedule will return to its regular meeting dates of the second Tuesday of the month. 


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