Shandaken shakeup brings new officials

By Jay Braman Jr.
In a bold move, and one that did not happen without a fight, the Shandaken Town Board has dismissed the leaders of two critical elements of local government.
At the town’s reorganization meeting Monday longtime Zoning Board of Appeals chairman Keith Johnson was replaced by Rolf Reiss, who has been a rank and file member of the zoning board for several years. The town board also dethroned planning board chair Gerry Setchko in favor of former Chair Beth Waterman. Setchko was not only removed from the chair, he was not reappointed to the board at all.
At reorganization session that was ill attended and downright civil compared to those of previous years, it was councilman Robert Stanley, a Republican, that stirred things up with a complaint about the choice of Waterman. Stanley noted that the planning board had recommended that Setchko be reappointed, and Stanley wondered why the town board’s Democratic majority was even considering going against such a recommendation.
“The supervisor thinks that change on the planning board wouldn’t be a bad thing,” was the response from Supervisor Peter DiSclafani.
Councilman Vincent Bern-stein urged the town board to follow the planning board’s recommendation. Chichester resident Judy Wyman noted that it is not unusual in Shandaken for the town board to ignore such recommendations and in fact, when the Republicans took control of the board a few years ago, they removed Waterman from the chair even though the planners unanimously recommended that she remain.
Ultimately Waterman was appointed by a majority town board vote, which included a yes vote by Stanley. Bernstein voted no.
Meanwhile, Setchko’s empty seat remains unfilled. The board tabled a resolution to appoint Barbara Redfield, a Winnisook resident and member of The Catskill Center for Conservation and Develop-ment’s Board of Directors, because Bernstein and other board members said they were not familiar with her.
Last month, when word had reached Setchko that he was going to be replaced, he said it was ironic that DiSclafani was removing a senior member of the planning board while simultaneously saying he was concerned that the planning board lacked the experience to review the upcoming Supplemental Draft Environ-mental Impact Statement for the proposed Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park.