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Then Mamakating Zoning Board Chairman James Barnett gestures angrily toward a resident during an emotionally charged board meeting last December concerning the Tukiguni Maitake mushroom plant. On August 24 the Town of Mamakating approved the new plant after years of controversy.

Mamakating Greenlights
Mushroom Factory

By Nathan Mayberg
WURTSBORO – August 25, 2006 – After more than three years of pitched battles involving the proposed mushroom plant by the Yukiguni Maitake Manufacturing Corporation of America, the town planning board stamped its sign of approval on the site plan and special use permit sought by the company for their 900,000 square foot main building and several smaller buildings on MacDonald Road.
The vote was 4-2 with board members Todd Berentsen, Edna Fedun, Jonathan Malmgreen and Gary Tetz voting in favor while Robert Fiore and Robert Louis-Jacques were opposed. Board Chairman John Piazza, who has remained a controversial figure in the town for allegedly living in Middletown, did not vote.
The decision on Tuesday gives the company much of what they needed from the town. They have already obtained variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals for the project. They will have to apply for building permits and plan to do so in phases, beginning with a pilot plant about one-tenth the size of the main plant.
Next up for Yukiguni will be the challenge of obtaining a stormwater discharge permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the consent of the Delaware River Basin Commission for a water conservation plan and approval from the New York State Department of Health.
The Basha Kill Area Association announced its decision to file a lawsuit against the planning board for its decision. The organization’s last lawsuit against the board was unsuccessful.
Plant opponents reacted by charging the board with acting too quickly. Eileen Weil noted that the elevation drawings and floor plans of the plant have still not been submitted to the board. YMCA CEO Kazunori Kame-yama admitted the drawings have not been submitted to scale because a drawing of the plant has not yet been made. Town planner Alan Sorensen had requested the drawings at the board’s last meeting as a condition for approval.
Weil said board’s own findings statement required the submission of the drawings as well as the securement of permits from the DOH, DEC and DRBC as preconditions for site plan and special use permit approval.
Weil noted that three of the planning board members voting to approve the project (Berentsen, Fedun and Tetz) were appointed by the present Town of Mamakating Board. Fedun would not comment on the decision.
She also attacked the ZBA for granting the company to use up to 600,000 gallons a day, when they had only requested a maximum of 425,000. Yesterday, Kameyama would not specify the amount of water he intends to use, but pledged to minimize usage.
The company initially proposed using 621,000 gallons of water a day and then lowered the number to 425,000 gallons a day. But for some unknown reason, the ZBA ended up granting them 600,000 gallons of water a day. New board chairman William Fedun said he was not aware of why that number of gallons was allowed. Kameyama said less water may be needed as the technology of the company’s cooling towers progresses.
He said the company wants to protect the natural resources of the town. “We don’t want to waste the water,” he said. “We are confident that we have presented enough evidence that we will not adversely impact the water system.”

Attacking Town Engineer

Weil also went after the town’s appointed engineer, John O’Rourke, who is not a certified engineer.The town board is ignoring municipal law in her view, by allowing individuals such as O’Rourke and Piazza to serve the town.
“This project has had a green light from day one and has been vigorously lobbied for,” she stated.”
Paula Medley, President of the Basha Kill Association, said her group will be filing a lawsuit within the next thirty days. Although she did not want to discuss the strategy of the lawsuit publicly, Medley criticized the planning board and ZBA for failing to heed the comments brought by her group and other members of the public.
“These boards have truly not listened to us,” she said.
Medley said the boards placed too much responsibility on the shoulders of the consultants, rather than reviewing the material submitted by the public. Among those submissions were by Rich Morris, who warned about an increase in the deadly Legionnaires' Disease, as a result of the water evaporation, which could be more than 300,000 gallons a day.
“This is not a done deal until there is no further recourse legally,” stated Medley. “I believe that if this factory is constructed in its location at the foot of the Shawangunk Ridge, near the waters of the Basha Kill and at the D & H Canal towpath, it will significantly impact the quality of life in the Town of Mamakating. Combined with Kohl’s, you are going (in the opposite direction) of a nice, rural area to one that emphasizes big business and industry.”
As for Kameyama, He was naturally elated with the decision this week. “I feel like I was finally allowed to stand up at the start line,” he said. “.This is a beginning. More than three years have passed since we submitted an environmental impact form… There is no time for us to rest.”
He addressed the grievances of Weil by stating that drawings were submitted to Sorensen before this week’s meeting and they were accepted. However, he acknowledged that they were not drawn to scale. He called the drawings a rough sketch that included the key points, shape and color of the plant and its entrance. He said more details have not been provided because the specific designs of the plant have not been drawn.
Planning board member Edna Fedun refused to comment on the board’s decision.
Two weeks earlier at a ZBA meeting, the William Fedun called the State Police to remove residents after they asked the board and an applicant to speak up. The State Troopers asked the residents to leave, but Supervisor Charles Penna showed up to allow the residents back in.
The residents included Rich Morris, Andrew and Eileen Weil, and Bill and Carol Lucas, who have clashed with Fedun in the past over the proposed mushroom plant in the town. Fedun has been known in the past to threaten them with police action on several occasions.
The ability to hear the respective boards during their meetings has been a longstanding issue in the town. Several residents have petitioned the town board to require the use of microphones at all board meetings.
Fedun was appointed as chairman by the town board in order to replace former chairman Jim Barnett, who is still on the board. Barnett engaged in a loud confrontation with opponents at the board’s last meeting on the subject last year.
The only board member to opposed the project, Fern Laks, was not reappointed by the town board this year. Fedun could not be reached for comment.

Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell

TOWN OF NEVERSINK historian Carol Smythe, center, and former Town Clerk Loretta Ackerly, right, look over photos as Pat Giannotti of Sundown, back to camera, looks on during Saturday’s presentation of the The Time and the Valleys Museum at the Little World’s Fair in Grahamsville.

Volunteers Help
Preserve Neversink Past

By Ted Waddell
GRAHAMSVILLE — Augsut 22, 2006 — There’s a lot of history in hills and valleys of the Town of Neversink.
Local historian Carol Smythe and President Thomas Jefferson have one thing in common, and that’s a passion for preserving a sense of history for future generations.
“It is the duty of every good citizen to use all opportunities, which occur to him, for preserving documents relating to the history of our country,” said Jefferson (1743-1826) who served as the third elected leader of the United States.
A bit closer to home in both place and time, Smythe and a cadre of dedicated volunteers are on a mission to preserve local history and eventually display it in the Time & the Valleys Museum, which is temporarily situated at the town hall, but plans to relocate to a permanent site adjacent to the Daniel Pierce Library sometime in 2007.
“The preservation of our historical resources is essential not only to illustrate the diverse cultural, education, economic and traditional values, but also to promote health, prosperity and welfare to all citizens living within a community,” said Smythe.
“What else do we have, as members of our community actually own but our history,” she added. “preservation of our towns has long been a project of dedicated individuals in our community. The time has come for our history to have a home, a place where it can be archived and kept safe.”
The Time & the Valleys Museum will showcase the rich history of the Rondout and Neversink watersheds and the geographical area encompassing the Tri-Valley Central School District.
It will collect and display historical objects and artifacts, create exhibits and displays, and add to the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the value of the watersheds.
In addition, the museum will promote and support historical research and scholarship.
Several historical displays will highlight artifacts of local interest: “Living Exhibits”, will enhance the understanding of historical, social, political and ecological features of the Delaware River watershed and the NYC water supply system; “Under the Waters of the Reservoir,” a permanent exhibit model created by Barbara Purcell, will show the original towns and landscapes that are now covered for all time by the waters of the Neversink and Rondout reservoirs; and a photography exhibit and registry of vintage barns (50 years and older) in the tri-valley region.
During the 127th Annual Little World’s Fair at the Grahamsville Fairgrounds, the Time & the Valleys Museum displayed numerous artifacts.
The current board of directors: Carol Smythe (president), Barbara Purcell (vice president), Jack Denman (secretary) and Georgianna Lepke (treasurer).
For more information about the fledgling museum, contact Carol Smythe, Town of Neversink Historian at P.O. Box 307, Grahamsville, NY 12740; call 985-2262 ext. 313; email; or visit their website:

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