August 23, 2014

Sold sign at Saunders Greenhouse

This could be great, fine, or terrible for our immediate neighborhood. I guess we'll see.

Sold sign at Saunders.

Sign and a bit of the former store.

(And yes, we have property adjacent to that parcel. I keep hearing about damage done to other people's properties by trespassing development folks, not to mention previous concerns from neighbors about past issues with drainage coming from that property, so I'm feeling cautious. Hopefully I don't need to be.)

Posted by simon at 10:59 AM in

August 16, 2014

Bandfest (and crepes) in Varna 8/23


WHAT: A showcase of talented musicians from the hamlet of Varna:

  • Gabe Tavares (indie/alternative rock)
  • See Horse Run (Americana/folk)
  • Symphony of the End (melodic metal)

Each band will play a 45 minute set.

WHEN: Saturday August 23 starting at 8pm

WHERE: Varna Community Center, 943 Dryden Rd. (NY Rte. 366)

DETAILS: Admission is $5 per teen and adult. Children are welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult. The "Collegetown Crepes" food truck will be onsite during the evening. This new business plans to sell tasty crepes after-hours in Collegetown starting in September, but they are launching their business at the Varna Band Fest. You can be one of their first customers!

The Varna Band Fest is hosted by the Varna Community Association & supported by a grant from the Town of Dryden.

Posted by simon at 4:22 AM in

June 18, 2014

Why I support the IDC (and not Cuomo)

I've been a vocal supporter of the Independent Democratic Caucus since their initial formation. I don't always agree with them, and I frequently don't love the results of a Republican-controlled State Senate. Nonetheless, I think they're pretty much the only glimmer of hope in Albany. Why?

Because the last thing New York State needs right now is party discipline.

On the one hand, the state is absolutely trending Democratic. On the other hand, party discipline is what has kept the Senate Republicans in power. Both parties took the 2010 redistricting of legislative districts to mean "grab everything we possibly can for our party", and Governor Cuomo let it sail through.

Promises of change? Discarded.

I gag when I hear "The Assembly works by consensus" when the people claiming that it's a good thing leave out "of the majority party, behind closed doors." I regularly despair over systems that are meant to reward loyalty to party and party leaders rather than listening to voters. I try not to pay attention to the wanderings of the party leadership - in any party - because their rhetoric about the will of the people never turns up when it's time to structure the government.

Perhaps worst, lately, are the ever-clearer outlines of "Cuomonian" New York. Jimmy Vielkind listed them brilliantly:

  1. Chaos is NOT Cuomonian

  2. Always take the deal

  3. Cuomo only respects force

Rule 2 is the bright spot, occasionally making it possible for things to happen that Cuomo and his donors don't love. Rule 1 is the catastrophe, and rule 3 is the sign of how difficult change may be.

The IDC violates rule 1 just enough to create possibilities for rule 2. The IDC seems to go out of its way to present itself as orderly if different. However, its very existence has become the friction point that opens new possibilities, perhaps even possibilities that will let us out of the current logjam. I want to see a lot of IDCs, in both parties and in both houses.

I dream - right now I don't dare hope - of a New York where elections are contested, and where no party leader or governor hopes to control the government by fiat or favors. I dream of a legislature where members are free to vote as they want on every vote, not just the ones where their votes don't matter. I dream of a governor who listens rather than tells.

Negotiation will never disappear. I understand politics involves pragmatism. We do, however, need to abolish the structures of control that keep New York bound in the chains of money and institutional intertia.

Posted by simon at 6:52 AM in

June 6, 2014

Dryden Solar Tour Saturday, June 7th

The first Dryden Solar Tour of 2014 will be held THIS SATURDAY, June 7th, at 1:00pm at 8 Genung Rd.

This is the home of Craig Higgins and Jacque Lopez, who have 4 ground mounted arrays that were installed in March of 2007. Each array consists of 10 Sharp model 170 panels. The total system production is 6800 watts. This event is being held in conjunction with the 2014 program of Solar Tompkins.

Please visit for the full schedule of Solar Tour dates in all the towns in the county. That web site will also show you the dates for our Community education meetings. There will be two in each town. You are welcome to come to one or several meetings to get the information you need to make the switch to solar this year. The dates for Dryden Community meetings are June 18 (Varna Community Center, 7:00) and July 1 (Dryden Fire Hall, 7:00).

Posted by simon at 7:35 AM in

April 22, 2014

Former Mount Varna stirs, take two

Poster about 16-unit development planned for 5 Freese Road.

It's not nearly as nice as the last proposal, but this may be as much as is possible on that awful fill site.

Site Plan review is at 7:00pm, Dryden Town Hall, this Thursday, April 24th. (It was rescheduled because the plans weren't in for March 27th.)

Posted by simon at 8:18 PM in

March 30, 2014

History Under Foot

Wednesday - April 9th - 7PM - Dryden Village Hall (corner of George and South streets)

It all began when David Waterman's dog started digging up patent medicine bottles in the yard. Suddenly, he noticed there were artifacts all over and realized, with the help of the Dryden Town Historical Society, he could discover their origins. But Waterman didn't stop there. He traced the time line of his property - within the area designated as Lot 59 on the New Military Tract - back to the Revolutionary War soldier who was originally granted ownership of the property and the grandson who inherited it.

Join the Dryden Town Historical Society on Wednesday, April 9th, beginning at 7 PM in the Dryden Village Hall (at the corner of George and South Streets) to watch a PowerPoint presentation on Waterman's research and learn how to go about digging up the history of your own property .

The doors will open at 6:30 PM to view dispiays and, as always, this event is free and open to all with donations gratefully accepted.

Posted by simon at 8:43 AM in

March 24, 2014

Former Mount Varna stirs

Poster about 16-unit development planned for 5 Freese Road.

It's not nearly as nice as the last proposal, but this may be as much as is possible on that awful fill site.

Site Plan review is at 7:00pm, Dryden Town Hall, this Thursday, March 27th. (I can't make it because it's Sungiva's sixth birthday.)

Posted by simon at 8:21 AM in

February 8, 2014

14850, 13068, and 13053: Colors Don't Quite Tell the Story

I was surprised a couple of months ago by a story on "Super Zips" in the Washington Post. The story was mostly about the concentration of wealthy well-educated people in neighborhoods around Washington, DC, but the map showed some interesting data for around here.

As I expected, we have no "Super Zips", places in the top 5% of wealth and education (calculated in some strange way to produce a spread across a range). Tompkins County does stand out from its neighbors, as do many collegetowns:

Tompkins County-ish.
Zip code data on wealth and education for the Tompkins County area.

The part that's most interesting to me, though, is that the Freeville and Dryden zip codes are in the same band as the Ithaca zip code. The local standouts are Lansing, which is just wealthier to reach the next color band, and Newfield, which isn't.

Zip CodeMedian Household Income% College graduatesPosition
Dryden (13053)$63,32639%73
Freeville (13068)$61,75030%65
Ithaca (14850)$45,31162%65
Groton (13073)$53,57822%49
Brooktondale (14817)$49,56739%61
Lansing (14882)$67,60947%80
Newfield (14867)$44,66320%36
Trumansburg (14886)$55,54337%66
Cortland (13045)$44,40328%46

Looking at the data, though, it's pretty clear that the Dryden and Freeville zip codes are similar, but even though the Ithaca zip code is in the same color band, it's more about what the Post chose to value than deep similarity. Lansing changes color - but its rank of exactly 80 was the bottom score needed to do that.

Maps don't always tell stories as neatly as they promise.

Posted by simon at 5:28 PM in

February 7, 2014

Father-Daughter Dance Saturday, Ice skating trip 18th

More happening in Dryden:

6th Annual Father-Daughter Dance



When: Saturday, February 08, 2014
Where: Varna Community Center
Time: 6:30-8:00 pm
Cost: Advanced tickets are $10.00/couple or $12.00/couple at the door. $5 per additional child
Ages: 4-12 (daughters age) Fathers, Grandfathers, Step Fathers, Uncles, and Legal Guardians Welcome!
Attire: Fun and Formal

Please pre-register with The Town of Dryden Recreation Department by printing a program registration form from: or register online


Keep the kids out and about over February Break!

Who: Boys and Girls Grades 4-5 Fee: $20.00 per child, includes transportation, admission to Cass Park Ice Rink and Skate rental, and admission to the movie
Date: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 Time: 11:00 AM-*5:15 PM
Registration minimum: 4
Registration Maximum: 10

Skating at Cass Park begins at 11:45 AM and ends at *1:45 PM. Regal Cinema for movie, rated G or PG

Fee DOES NOT include lunch or movie concessions. Please bring a bagged lunch or money for lunch at Cass Park. Concession stand offers pizza, fries, bagels and snacks.

The van will leave the Dryden Town Hall at 11:00 AM and returns at *5:15 (Times are approximate until movie listings become available)

*Register at the Town of Dryden Rec. Department, 93 East Main St. or online at*

*Does this trip sound great but you have a 6th or 7th grader? No problem! We are doing it all again for 6th and 7th graders on February 20th! The only difference is we will view a PG or PG-13 movie.

Posted by simon at 2:11 PM in

February 6, 2014

Etna Chocolate Festival Saturday, Varna Pancakes Sunday

My favorite annual Dryden event is Saturday: the Etna Chocolate Festival, Saturday from 10:00am to noon at Houtz Hall (the Etna Post Office). Memories.

On Sunday, the Varna Community Association will have a Pancakes / waffles / french toast / bacon / sausage / biscuits / hashbrowns / eggs / fruit / more breakfast from 8:00am to noon.

Neither of these is free, but both are wonderful.

Posted by simon at 5:31 PM in

January 3, 2014

Lane elected Chair of County Legislature

Mike Lane became Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature last night. Lane, who represents the eastern side of the Town of Dryden, succeeds Martha Robertson, who (still) represents the west side. (A corner in the northeast is represented by Brian Robison, who also represents Groton and the eastern edge of Lansing.)

The storm didn't stop the organization meeting, though it halted much else.

Posted by simon at 10:38 AM in

December 30, 2013

Highway Superintendent salary stays the same

It was a short meeting, less than half an hour, and the minutes will likely show more of the discussion. Two 4-1 votes, both with the Supervisor in the minority, kept the Highway Superintendent salary as it had been budgeted, around $68,000.

First, Town Supervisor Mary Ann Sumner moved a $52,000 salary. No one seconded that.

Next, Linda Lavine moved a compromise $60,000. Sumner seconded.

Resident Joanne Cipolla-Dennis asked why the town was doing this and got a mix of answers from Sumner about experience and inflation. New Highway Superintendent Rick Young spoke, and was pretty restrained, though he described the pay cut proposals (especially an earlier $37K one) as "a kick". He made it clear he would be sticking around whatever the salary.

The vote on Lavine's compromise was 4-1 against, with only Sumner in favor. (Lavine voted against her own compromise.)

Lavine then offered a motion to keep the salary as listed in the 2014 budget (around $68K). I think Steve Stelick seconded it. The vote was 4-1 in favor, with only Sumner against.

Stelick suggested that the Town needs to figure out some standard way to have this work, and said that the lack of such a plan was why he voted to keep the salary the same.

Posted by simon at 5:51 PM in

"determining the salary of the Highway Superintendent"

My understanding is that the outcome is likely to be a leaving alone or a lowering of the salary, so this isn't a strange post-election payoff, but it is a strange post-election tinkering.

December 30, 2013 - Special Town Board Meeting - for the purpose of determining the salary of the Highway Superintendent

Changing the salary of an elected official during their term apparently requires a referendum, but doing it before the term starts apparently doesn't.

I've heard arguments that a less-experienced Highway Superintendent deserves a lower salary, but this seems like a very strange coda to an upset election. It's not even the newly elected Town Board considering the action. After past conversations about how making this a civil service position would create turmoil, I'm suddenly wishing the job had civil service protections.

Update: The Board voted 4-1 to keep the salary the same.

Posted by simon at 11:46 AM in

November 14, 2013

After a decade...

It's a little over ten years since I started this site. The Dryden Republicans had just won an election that gave them complete control of the Town Board. The major issue that year was the Democratic Supervisor's insisting on audits for the fire companies, which didn't go over well.

In 2005 and then in 2006, Democrats were elected to the Town Board. By 2007, four of five Town Board members, including the Supervisor, were elected on the Democratic line. After this year's sweep, the only two Republican elected officials remaining are Judge Chris Clauson and Town Clerk Bambi Avery, both of whom won in 2011 with more votes on the Democratic line than on the Republican line.

Living in Dryden didn't have that much to do with this. I was extremely lucky to take up writing it at a time when the balance of voters was shifting rapidly and the issues (most notably fracking) ran severely against Republican talking points.

I've slowly reduced my involvement in Dryden politics, something made much easier thanks to great people joining the conversation and making me feel like I could step away. I'm no longer on the Democratic Committee, for example, and I plan to stay off for a while at least to watch my kids grow up.

As for Living in Dryden, I'll still be posting, but it's going to be occasional. When I first started, I set a goal of posting every day. That wasn't sustainable for just one writer, much less one writer who's doing too many other things.

Right now, I'm also pouring energy into (yet another) book. This one, on hand tool woodworking, might appeal to more people than my usual programming books. I'm writing it in the open, so take a look. It's only a small bit so far, but you can see what's to come. I also blog about that occasionally.

There will be more here - probably a lot more. Dryden remains a fascinating place. I'm just trying to feel less obligated to write about it!

Thanks for keeping Dryden interesting.

Posted by simon at 12:18 PM in