Hello all. I am writing to tell you about my small town.
From breathtaking farming community to armpit suburban sprawl in one short generation. That's what we're dealing with in East Fishkill, and in many other rural communities nationwide.
Here's a very short, rough and broad history for perspective.
B R I E F H I S T O R Y
We were once a beautiful rural community. Farmers grew prize-winning crops. Summer Camps were plentiful. The Appalachian Trail proudly marched in our outskirts. We even had an colony of internationally famous artists who came here on retreat.
Many things contributed to the current situation in E.F: Route i84 and the Taconic Parkway allow easy access. Improved train service at Beacon for commuters. The urbanization of Westchester (ie White Plains, once a suburb of NYC, now itself a city. And as towns in Westchester become more crowded, people want to live outside of the city center, hence the spread of suburbia.)
But let's talk a moment about IBM.
IBM bought local farmland. IBM employed many local people. IBM then proceeded to dump locally. We can thank IBM for the Super-Fund site that poisoned local wells. There is ample proof of IBM's dumping, even though the DEC has denied this. We know of a further IBM contamination site that contains an abhorrent cocktail of aquifer pollutants, too numerous to list here.
In the 70s, after seeing the results of welcoming IBM to East Fishkill, local boards were very skeptical of large development. They were conservative, almost to a fault. Very little development was permitted. Two master plans were drafted, one in the 70s, one in the 80s. These master plans provided for areas to remain zoned agriculture. These master plan were never adopted.
Our "current" master plan, adopted in 1968, has allowed developers to rape our town. It has done permanent damage to the town's quality of life. Once we had an agrarian way of life, where many worked family farms dating back to the 1700s. Thanks to this master plan, we now have suburban sprawl and industrial waste sites. Funny to think that up until recently we rivaled places like Millbrook and Rhinebeck for beauty.
To paraphrase one old time resident at a planning board meeting: "the end was evident when signs went up saying "East Fishkill: A Great Place to Live." If it's such a great place to live, you shouldn't have to convince the citizens."
P R E S E N T
If you haven't visited E. F. recently, brace for a shock. Homes are being crammed into every available acre of open space. Town boards now do little but wave as development proposals sail by.
The 2000 census report of Dutchess County reports that East Fishkill population has increased 15.78% in the last decade. That’s A LOT. Our population density per square mile (450) is well over the county1s average of 349 -- and remember, that includes real cities like Beacon and Poughkeepsie. And the amount of lots permitted in the current housing development means our town is poised to grow exponentially.
D E V E L O P M E N T S
I picked out three selections for you:
Meadow Creek Industrial Park
You've probably heard about this from the list. This developer is treating us to a 3,333+ space parking lot, a 1.2 MILLION square foot industrial facility, an unsightly 14 story water tower, 121,000 gallons of sewage being discharged into adjacent wetlands and stream per day. Gee, thanks developers and East Fishkill Board Members! This will be put on land that is currently farmed, has the site of a historic home, and has virgin land with the remains of an indian settlement. There are serious
questions of water pollution, parking lot run-off and road congestion. Town Supervisor Pete Idema said in a board meeting that we don't need the money or jobs from it. So who will benefit from this other than the developers? One must wonder why boards seem so committed to a project with such obvious negative environmental impacts if not for some personal gain. Let us hope they come around, and deny this proposal.
The Moore Property is 500 acres of beautiful, unmolested farm and wetland, the kind so many of us are proud to say is part of our area. It was bought up by a developer with the intentions of putting 249 lots there, including a quasi-quaint general store. The roads around the property are unsafe at best, now imagine 249 more cars driving there. There are issues of waste water going into Fishkill Creek and endangered species. These homes will be priced between $300-$400,000.
Lake Walton Park
Developers are evicting longtime residents. To make room for their greedy plans, developers are about to evict 40 families from the mobile home park they lived in for years. The town is working with other mobile home parks to see if they can move their homes. Moving the homes is problematic and for some prohibitively expensive. The N.Y.State Housing Finance Agency is working with the residents to try to figure out options, which may include buying other land so they control their future. Meanwhile, the helpful developer gave them till March 31st to get out. They want a head start cramming 92 homes around the tiny lake.
This list doesn't mention the larger developments of Hopewell Glenn, Red Wing, Sagamoor, Taconic Oaks (I'm sure I forgot some. There is currently 500 applications before the planning board.). Smaller developers are doing their part, slipping below boards' radar, subdividing and throwing up unsightly homes everywhere imaginable. Developers small and large are carving up every available plot permitted in our 30 year old outdated master plan. Which brings me to the next subject.
M A S T E R P L A N : A P R I L 1 1 [Postponed – Date not available as of 3/21/02]
We in East Fishkill have ONE LAST CHANCE TO COMMENT ON THE MASTERPLAN. There were supposedly four prior meetings that we missed out on. Now we have one final chance at the April 11th Town Board Meeting.
We must demand a master plan that reflects the values of the people of East Fishkill. And of the entire region.
We do not want a master plan designed for out-of-state developers; carpet-baggers who are filling our town with unsightly and expensive suburban boxes, leaving us with the tax burden.
Nor a master plan for industries who want a new dumping ground with less restrictions and more tax breaks.
Nor a master plan for present and past board members who stand to gain immensely from real estate ventures and developer deals, trading the soul of our community for a money in their bank accounts.
Please support our efforts to shape and ratify a sensible and sane smart-or zero-growth master plan for E.F.
Thanks everyone for listening. If you have any suggestions on how you worked on master plans in your community, I'd love to hear.
Thanks for your efforts locally, regionally, and globally.
Quick! Before they pave it! [www.planputnam.org]