County Legislator Kevin Roberts told the Plattekill Town Board at its May 4 meeting that the legislative district he currently represents will undergo drastic changes if a reapportionment committee has its way.
Roberts, a Republican who has been serving Plattekill as a county legislator since 2008, said a hearing on the proposed changes will be held Monday, May 16 at 7 p.m. at the Modena Fire House, 1953 U.S. Route 44/55, Modena.
The biggest change being proposed is that the current District 12 that Roberts serves will no longer include just the Town of Plattekill. The district lines are being shifted so about half of Modena will be part of District 13 in the Town of Shawangunk, currently being represented by Republican Ken Ronk.
Roberts’ new district would also include part of the Town of Marlborough along Huckleberry Turnpike.
“Both (proposed) Plattekill districts don’t seem to make a lot of sense to me,” Roberts told the Southern Ulster Times after the board meeting. “When you’re splitting up Modena and Plattekill into different districts where half of Plattekill is in one district and half of it is in another and half of Modena is in another district just doesn’t make sense. And to take a piece of Marlborough for the Plattekill district doesn’t make sense either.”
If the redistricting is approved, Roberts would have to run in District 13 since his residence would be in that district.
Roberts wouldn’t commit to running in the realigned district. All 23 legislators are up for re-election in 2023. Ronk has indicated he will not seek re-election.
“I want to let the dust settle and see what happens,” Roberts said. “I’m just starting my new (two-year) term so running for re-election is the furthest thing from my mind right now.”
The Ulster County Commission on Reapportionment is charged with using 2020 U.S. Census data to redraw the county’s legislative district lines to reflect population shifts within the county.
Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the 23 new legislative districts will have an average of 7,815 residents, down from the 7,934 residents included in legislative districts during the 2011 census. Each district is allowed to vary from that number by five percent, however, meaning that districts can have populations of no more than 8,207 and no less than 7,815.
The seven-member Commission on Reapportionment is holding one other public hearing on the draft reapportionment plan on May 19 in Saugerties, with the draft plan made available to the public at least 10 days prior to the hearings. It must adopt a final plan no later than July 20, 2022.
Roberts said he saw no need to change the current alignment of his district.
“I don’t think the commission had a lot of knowledge about local communities,” Roberts said. “I think they made changes just to make changes. The proposed changes certainly aren’t beneficial. The current districts have worked well for years.”
In other news, the board voted 4-0 to replace former Town Assessor Matthew Sabia with Tricia Masterson.
The board also voted 4-0 to approve two new part-time police officers recommended by Police Chief Joseph Ryan. The two new officers are Nicole Brooks and John Mulrooney, who were sworn in by Town Clerk Donna Hedrick.
The board also voted 4-0 to apply to the Hudson River Valley Greenway for a grant for phase two of the town’s Comprehensive Plan.
Councilman Darryl Matthews said the first phase of the Comprehensive Plan was completed in 2019. He said plans to apply for the grant for the second phase were postponed due to the pandemic.
He said Planning Board Chair Cindy Hilbert was the chair of the committee that completed phase one of the Comprehensive Plan. Former Supervisor Joseph Croce was also a member of the panel, Matthews said.
“Hopefully we can finish it off now,” Matthews said. “This way once we finish that we can actually attack the code book and get some things done that need to be done. This sets the foundation to line up everything else that we need to fix.”