During a public hearing on the ‘Ulster Tomorrow” economic development plan this past Wednesday, August 6th, the Republican County Executive Candidate Len Bernardo showed a complete disconnect when claiming he had his own plan and was against the Ulster Tomorrow plan as a guide line for economic development. That disconnect was clear when he said, “The should have found out what the towns wanted.” It is too bad that he didn’t pay attention, listen or participate in the process that took place over the past 18 months because that was one of the main thrusts to the many things the UCDC did during their intensive fact finding mission in creating the Ulster Tomorrow Plan. So for the sake of information he should be made aware of the following:
- Approximately 200 citizens from around the County participated in formulating the goals, strategies, and actions in the plan. It is the most intensive study of this kind ever done in with citizens that represent a very diverse cross section of the community, with almost every conceivable viewpoint and interest group included, from environmentalists to manufacturers, from artist to car dealers, from the most liberal to the arch conservative.
- Thousands of person-hours have been expended reaching consensus on the elements of the plan.
- Town supervisors were specifically asked for their views and priorities, along with the priorities of their specific neighborhoods which resulted in the Steering Committee thoroughly discussing the varying needs of individual communities.
- The process involved a systematic investigation of obstacles to development, and the strategies were designed to tackle as many of these as possible – while still continuing to welcome any constructive ideas on how to better address them.
- Solid supportive research by professional economic experts was done on the County’s economy, trends in our community and in the larger global marketplace, along with how environmental changes will have an effect.
- Dozens of open meetings, probably scores, have been held over the last 18 plus months – with abundant opportunity for anyone to give input and get involved
The Ulster Tomorrow’s consensus goals and alignment of purpose have already produced “wins” such as the bipartisan support for The and the Shovel Ready infrastructure jobs projects in Saugerties and Lloyd which will bring 100s of bread winning jobs. The formal adoption of the plan in a bipartisan manner by the legislature would bolster several current major projects involving hundreds of jobs – both retention and creation, while increasing significant state and federal grant opportunities.
Len Bernardo was awarded many opportunities to get involved and participate, or at least get an understanding of what was being done, why and how it would effect our county. He chose not to. I respect that not all people have the time or desire to volunteer. I only ask him not to insult all those that did volunteer their time and all the work that went into this comprehensive plan. It would be foolish to lose this once in a lifetime opportunity for Ulster County to create a united front in our because a candidate didn’t know the facts.
As someone that was once a strong critic of the UCDC, I applaud them and all the volunteers for their work and will ask for the formal adoption of this plan to be done immediately to show that Ulster County is not content in discussing and arguing the plan details and approaches indefinitely, but is ready for action to create good jobs now.
David B. Donaldson, Chairman of the and Chief Executive Officer