100 Ideas for New Paltz

1. form a public power utility

You don’t need to have a power plant to create a public power utility. According to the American Public Power Association’s Q&A For Communities Considering the Public Power Option, “Many public power utilities purchase wholesale electricity at prices that are beneficial to their customers without owning power plants.”

New York State requires that the New York State Power Authority charge local power authorities wholesale rates for the electricity they use.  The Town would negotiate a wholesale bulk purchase of electricity from either the NYPA or from Central Hudson.  Running a non-profit, locally-controlled power authority will save New Paltz ratepayers a significant amount of money – the national average being 30-40% savings.


3. require curbside compost collection

Posted in agriculture, environment, garbage, increasing revenue/lowering taxes by Jason West on June 12, 2009

Require local waste hauling companies to collect compost as well as garbage and recycling.

From the San Francisco Department of the Environment:

“San Francisco has created the first large scale urban collection of food scraps for composting in the country. Today, hundreds of thousands of residents and over 3,000 restaurants and other businesses send over 400 tons of food scraps and other compostable material each day to Recology’s Jepson-Prairie composting facility, shown above. Food scraps, plant trimmings, soiled paper, and other compostables are turned into a nutrient-rich soil amendment, or compost, that is used to produce the organic food and wine that San Francisco is famous for serving.”

15. replace the village hall lot with downtown-type development

Re-zone and subdivide the Village Hall lot and the pit behind Village Hall to high density, mixed use downtown-like zoning.

Hire an architect to design the buildings to be built on the former Village Hall property, (keeping a small fire station on-site), and make the projects shovel-ready by having the Village Board work with the Planning Board to get all necessary approvals. That way, a builder has simply to buy the right to build this pre-approved building.

village hall

19. develop a northern gateway into the village along route 32 north

Re-zone Route 32 North between the Salvation Army and Agway as high-density, mixed use development like downtown. This work was started several years ago; including having a well attended community visioning session and an initial report from Behan Planning, the firm hired by the Village to manage the project.


20. grow the downtown uptown

Re-zone Route 299 between the Teen Seen and the Thruway to require mixed use, walkable, high-density development. This should include retrofitting the Ames Plaza, Cherry Hill Plaza and Eckerd’s Plaza into mixed-use buildings by adding two-three stories of apartments on top of the strip malls.


21. grow the downtown up towards the college

Re-zone Plattekill Avenue from downtown to the college as mixed use, traditional neighborhood development.

plattekill ave

22. make ohioville a hamlet again

Re-zone the area around the intersection of Route 299, North Ohioville, Plutarch and South Ohioville into a mixed-use, high density neighborhood development


23. make the gateway district mixed use

Make the village Gateway District around Water Street Market and the Gilded Otter into walkable, mixed use, traditional neighborhood development, rather than a commercial-only district.

24. outlaw subsidized sprawl

Since suburban developments cost $1.25 in services for every $1.00 generated in tax revenue, outlaw any private subdivision or development project that would cost more in taxes than it generates in revenue.

  • From the Ohio State University Fact Sheet on Cost of Community Services, “Many of the early studies providing estimates of [Cost Of Community Services] ratios were either sponsored or conducted by the American Farmland Trust. But in recent years a great number of other researchers from a variety of backgrounds have undertaken such studies. The results seem to corroborate each other. Virtually all of the studies show that for residential land, the COCS ratio is substantially above 1. That is, residential land is a net drain on local government budgets. The average estimate ranges from about 1.15 to 1.50, which means that for every dollar collected in taxes and non-tax revenue, between $1.15 and $1.50 gets returned in the form of services by the local government and school district.
  • From SmartGrowth America, “…sprawling development rarely brings about the economic benefits anticipated. While it is true that an acre of land with a new house generates more total revenue than an acre of hay or corn, the cost of providing infrastructure and services to that property is greater for residential development than for commercial, farm, or forest land. Cost of Community Services (COCS) studies conducted in more than 83 communities show that owners of farm, forest and open lands pay more in local tax revenues than it costs local government to provide services to their properties. Residential land uses, in contrast, are a net drain on municipal coffers: It costs local governments more to provide services to homeowners than residential landowners pay in property taxes.”

25. create the tools necessary to outlaw subsidized sprawl

Create a matrix of all of the costs of maintaining roads, water, sewer and administration so that the Town and Village Planning Boards can calculate how much it would cost to maintain prospective building projects (i.e., how many dollars per foot does it cost to repair and plow roads, how much does it cost to repair and replace water lines, and compare that to how many buildings would be built along that road, etc.)