Ulster’s Open Space Plan is ready for prime time
Kingston – “Ensuring quality of life for future generations” is what it is all about, according to Ulster County Planning Board Director Dennis Doyle, after wrapping up a series of six information sessions on the county’s comprehensive “Open Space Plan”. The sessions were held throughout the county over the past couple of weeks. The final one was Wednesday night, primarily for county legislators.
There were many questions about the 90-page plan, which is a result of a long effort by key stakeholder groups in the county, including the Planning Board and Environmental Management Council.
The plan examines seven “Open Space Resources”
- Protected open space
- Water resources
- Working landscapes
- Landforms and natural features
- Ecological communities
- Cultural and historic resources
- Recreation resources
Doyle says ‘quality of life’ comes into play in one simple concept. “Directing growth where it needs to go and preserving places that need to be preserved.”
County Legislature Hector Rodriguez, who chairs the Economic Development, Housing, Planning and Transit Committee, says ‘now is the time’.
“When the resolution was passed back in 2004, it was a bit of ‘Rome is burning’. That’s still the case. I think that right now, we have a real opportunity to partner up with the towns. We’ve already seen leadership at the local level, particularly in New Paltz, Marbletown and Gardiner, and I think it’s time that the Ulster County Legislature join in that effort.”
There were some concerns among a few legislators. Republican Minority Leader Glenn Noonan worried about preempting the ability of municipalities to control their own destinies.
That won’t happen, said Doyle, adding the plan should act as a guide for what municipalities should do.
“Government officials and decision makers are being asked to deal with increasing amounts of information and to make decisions. There is increasing, competing attention for their decisions. I like to call it ‘noise’. We need a way to cut through the noise.”
Doyle said during the info meeting tour, the response was “enormously positive”. Among the suggestions to come during the process that could be included in the plan are to look at “small open spaces”, including highways, as green areas.
The legislature may vote next month. A formal public hearing on the Open Space Plan is November 7.