Skoufis supports United Monroe participation in KJ talks (updated)

Assemblyman James Skoufis issued a statement supporting the inclusion of United Monroe’s leaders in any private discussions among representatives of the Orange County Legislature, the Town of Monroe and the Village of Kiryas Joel about separating Kiryas Joel from Monroe by forming a new town consisting of Kiryas Joel and additional land.

A petition to form a Town of North Monroe was given to the county Legislature last year but hasn’t been acted on. Legislature Chairman Steve Brescia has said he wants to meet first with local representatives to see whether they can reach “middle ground” on a proposal that would be widely supported in Monroe in a referendum, which is how the issue ultimately would be decided. He initially planned to invite government figures only, but United Monroe leaders have argued that their citizens group’s ability to mobilize voters and involvement in litigation challenging Kiryas Joel’s expansion efforts warrants their inclusion in any negotiations.

In a press release seconding that argument, Skoufis, a Woodbury Democrat, wrote: “United Monroe’s leaders have long demonstrated their commitment to the issues under discussion and are uniquely trusted in our community to represent the thousands of residents they themselves have mobilized. Disregard for United Monroe is disregard for the people they represent. United Monroe deserves a seat at the table.”

Skoufis also objected strongly to a notion that Kiryas Joel Administrator Gedalye Szegedin floated in a recent Times Herald-Record story about the potential for negotiations on a North Monroe. Szegedin had offered, as an example of possible changes in the proposal that could be made, the idea of substituting Woodbury’s ACE Farm land for some of the 382 acres of Monroe land outside of Kiryas Joel included in the pending petition.

“First and foremost,” Skoufis said, “I will oppose this idea with every fiber of my being if it is pursued. Second, any discussions that directly impact Woodbury should cease immediately until Woodbury representatives, including myself, are invited to participate.”

Update: Kiryas Joel Administrator Gedalye Szegedin emailed county officials and legislators and others the following comments on this blog post: “For the record, KJ officials are perfectly fine to include the Woodbury Board and Assemblyman Skoufis in this discussion giving all a seat at the negotiations table. we believe that ALL local government and elected leaders should have a seat at the table working on the formation of North Monroe. North Monroe should be designed as a global settlement of all land and block-vote disputes in this area of the County, all block-voting communities should be melted into one Town of North Monroe, and be forever eliminated from having any political impact on Monroe or Woodbury and MWSD.”

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