DRAINING THE RAMAPO SWAMP: Town board takes over infamous LDC

BY KATHY KAHN

Scant crowd attends Wednesday night’s board meeting

Rockland’s Local Development Corporation (RLDC), whose former members were found by a jury to have conspired to mishandle town funds, were officially shown the door Wednesday, July 12, by the interim Supervisor Yitzchok Ullman and the remaining Town Board members.

Ullman told the near-empty room the Town Board will take up the mantle of the RLDC, with Ullman serving as interim president. Attorney Michael Klein told those in the room the town board had the authority to merge the RLDC with it, thereby eliminating duplication of efforts and what Ullman described would be a “transparent” change for the community.

The new RLDC will eliminate two paying jobs that existed under the former LDC, saving the town about $250,000 a year and the Board will serve as LDC members gratis.  Ullman also said former LDC attorney John Phelan will be replaced by Kraven Levin, as well as appointing John Lynch as Treasurer and Christian Samson as Secretary. It will also merge the town’s and LDC’s insurance to save money.

The Town Board/RLDC will sit down with Palisades Credit Union Park to talk about merging the ballpark into the town’s Parks & Recreation Dept. “The Boulders have been a wonderful asset to the community and to Rockland,” said Councilman Patrick Withers. “We want to work with them and make it a success.”

The new RLDC will also assume the $25 million the former LDC still owes on the bonds for the ballpark. With no firm numbers on how Ramapo stands financially, it may come to pass that residents, who didn’t want the ball park to begin with, may be footing the $25 million still owed on the property.

Resident Robert Rowanowski asked the board to consider a law to protect trees, “which seem to vanishing from our landscape” and to put a halt to Planning Board approvals allegedly given to projects not complaint with the law. Many have urged the new LDC to appoint Rowanowski to it as an advisor.

Rudy Dent, who also attended St. Lawrence’s trial daily, said “Nothing has changed. This is the same board that knowingly went along with the former supervisor. Look around now,” said Dent. “There’s hardly anyone here. If the residents of Ramapo really want to do something about changing this town, where are they? They came when St. Lawrence was about to be indicted, but now there’s no one here.”

Republican Bill Weber was on hand. He will be running against either Democrat Michael Specht or rival Dem Scott Goldman for town supervisor in November. Until then, it will indeed be the same board, sans St. Lawrence, running the show.