COTTEKILL – A fairly quiet meeting of the Marbletown Town Board came to life Tuesday night when the subject of banning shopping plastic bags came up.
Before then, a bid for $15,277.68 for four overhead door replacements for the town highway garage had been approved. The garage has been dealing with doors sticking due to electric motor problems... and being quite old. Town board member Tim Sweeney asked how the new doors would be paid for to which supervisor Michael Warren replied that the situation was understood by the board and that the money would be found on a line not yet used in the general fund.
A "nice draft" of a new solar law has been written, Warren said, calling it "quite robust" and will become available by the first meeting of the board in June, with a public hearing set by the end of next month. The supervisor also referred to discussion of some zoning changes that will occasion local laws and public hearings in the next couple of months.
Town lights will continue to be shifted from sodium and mercury vapor lighting to LEDs while Sweeney suggested having a home inspector do a run down on the town's community center building to develop an evaluation of what needs to be done there.
It was then that Doug Adams brought up the ongoing push to stop point of sale plastic bags throughout Marbletown. With input from Tom Konrad of the town's environmental commission, he described having had good conversations with retailers, noting that he felt they were about 85-90 percent of the way towards activating the long-discussed ban. Adams made the point that the only bags being banned would be "point of sale" bags at supermarkets and other outlets, and added that an educational campaign would be launched during the changeover period during which time reusable shopping bags would be given out free or sold for a nominal sum, while fliers and materials would be handed to shoppers explaining why the move is necessary.
Sweeney also commented that most retailers were on board with the move after which Konrad and Adams explained further that paper bags would be substituted at point of sale, but there would be a nominal charge for them. They would also be expensive for retailers.
Konrad also noted that not every kind of plastic bag would be banned, only the larger size varieties. The smaller ones used at pharmacies and other retailers for small purchases would not be affected, nor would those used by restaurants. Adams recited some grim numbers regarding plastic bags. Emmanuel's estimates they use 29,000 a month, and that probably scales up to 35,000 a month for the town as a whole.
"All of this is going into the waste stream," he said. "For a town our size it's like 80 bags a month per person."
Important side issues were brought up. The plastic bag industry has been known to sue over such bans, but usually in bigger jurisdictions than Marbletown. It was also noted that the Village of New Paltz had successfully banned plastic bags, but at the same time the supermarkets there are located just outside the actual village.
On the issue of enforcement, Adams said it would be on an honor system and that once the community was behind the matter then public pressure would apply to all retailers.
A three to six month lead in time is expected after passage of the law.
Warren wrapped up the meeting with a note about beavers on Marcotte Road who have caused some flooding again. And while on riparian matters, he added that there will be a grand opening of High Falls once the bridge on 213 is completed sometime in June.
Fireworks at Mohonk Mountain House on July 4 were approved unanimously.