Gardiner officials happy to wrap up the year

By Katherine Donlevy
Posted 12/23/20

The Gardiner Town Board celebrated its final meeting of the year with a swift agenda filled with a handful of unanimous votes Dec. 8.

“I for one will be happy to see this year come to an …

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Gardiner officials happy to wrap up the year


The Gardiner Town Board celebrated its final meeting of the year with a swift agenda filled with a handful of unanimous votes Dec. 8.

“I for one will be happy to see this year come to an end,” Town Supervisor Marybeth Majestic said to kick off the meeting.

Former New Paltz Central School District Superintendent Maria Rice and Climate Smart Gardiner member Steven Weir teamed up to present the current standing of the town’s Employer Emergency Management Plan, which was mandated by Gov. Cuomo on Labor Day and must be adopted by April 1, 2021. Inspired by the ongoing pandemic, the legislation requires all public employers to create contingency operations plans to protect their workers in the event of future health emergencies.
Each plan must include a list and description of positions and titles considered essential as well as a description of how work shifts may be staggered to reduce overcrowding. Additionally, the plan must include various protocols for enabling non-essential employees to work remotely; to prevent the spread of the disease if an employee is exposed or tests positive; for coordinating with government entities for temporary emergency employee housing; for documenting hours and work locations of employees for contact tracing and for the storage and distribution of personal protective equipment.

“We have a few outstanding issues that we’re going to have to run into. We anticipate numerous issues that are going to come up as we bring this plan from the stage it’s in now to the final draft,” reported Weir, who noted that one issue had already been solved: how much PPE must be stored according to the plan. The original state released draft outlined 8 week’s worth, but Weir later found out, through his own research, that the correct amount is 6 month’s worth.

Weir also said the committee drafting the plan needs to figure out which government entity would be responsible for coordinating emergency housing. The team temporarily wrote in “the Ulster County Office of Emergency Planning,” but Weir admitted more research was required.

“The most important component is when we sit down with the Planning Committee and go through it and actually make sure that the information that is in there is accurate and change it, revise it, and create a final draft to go to the Town Board,” said Rice. The committee is composed of Rice, Weir, Majestic, Councilmember David Dukler and Highway and Roads Supervisor Brian Stisca.
She also added that union representatives will be invited to join the Planning Committee to ensure the final draft aligns with their values as well as with the law.

According to the legislation, plans must be submitted to unions and labor management committees by Feb. 4.
The draft has been largely modified to fit the needs of Gardiner and Ulster County, Rice said, except for establishing protocols for preventing spread if an employee becomes sick. The team stuck closely to New York State law to outline how employers should respond, as well as how to treat a sick employee and how many sick days said employee is allowed to use. Rice said the law was “stringent” enough as it is.

“The draft is pretty much set right now. I think Supervisor Majestic can call that Planning [Committee] meeting whenever we want,” said Weir.

Also at the Tuesday meeting, the Town Board officially forged its relationship with Joule Community Power as its Community Choice Aggregation administrator. The board had chosen the company back in September, but had held off on signing a Memorandum of Understanding until a few items were clarified, one of which was ultimately changed.

“[One paragraph] talked about the CCA would go after both ‘electrical and/ or natural gas’ and since natural gas is nowhere near in our plans, we had Joule remove that,” said Councilmember and Climate Smart Gardiner member Franco Carucci before urging his colleagues to vote in favor of the updated MOU so that Gardiner “can start working down the pathway” of sustainability, which they unanimously agreed to.

The MOU wasn’t the only unanimously approved item on the last meeting of the year’s agenda — Toni Benevento was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission, dog kennel applications have been temporarily suspended until a new law is introduced and Juneteenth will not be included in town employees’ list of days off in 2021, mostly because it lands on a Saturday.


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