It was too nice last Friday to be cooped up in the office. So I went AWOL, on a walk around the village. There’s something about that first really nice day of the year. It might even be chemical: I wouldn’t be surprised to learn the body goes into endorphin-overload on the first 60-degree day after a prolonged deep freeze. I bet bears feel pretty good this time of year.
Any spring walk around the village this year won’t be complete without a visit to the new library. It’s a site to behold, and you only really appreciate it when you get to by way of a short walk from the village’s commercial center.
It’s nice to see people out and about, to see people doing things. The newspaper is nothing if it’s not a celebration of people leaving the comforts of the living room couch and getting up and talking to one another, joining organizations, and coming together to promote the common good – or argue about it.
So it’s great to see stories about young teachers meeting after school to hone their skills, especially in a time when so many national and local education stories focus on teacher tenure and compensation. It’s great to learn about a Saugerties woman who’s in the midst of turning a love for horror flicks and a knack for public relations into a local phenomenon. Or a public art exhibit that helps feed the needy, and a local church with a storied past. The town’s plan to team up with a non-profit to purchase and operate Opus 40 as a town park might turn out to be the most inspirational of all.
Town officials do need to allay the fears of some residents and the town’s own Recreation Committee that the Opus 40 park will be a money hole. How much would it cost to maintain the park when it’s up and running? What would the town’s responsibilities be? We need some more specific estimates on that. I realize it’s tough to come up with numbers at such an early stage, but the concern about taxpayer expense needs to be addressed before the plan moves forward. Otherwise people are going to hear things and get worried.
Because when you listen to the champions of the park, it really sounds like it could be great. If you’ve been to Opus 40, you know the main sculpture area sits at the center of a large property that contains a quarry and a network of forest paths. Imagine more concerts there, like last year’s SLAM fundraiser that featured John Medeski and Chris Wood. Imagine sculpture events with installations throughout the forest, and hidden speakers creating an ethereal atmosphere. Imagine outdoor theater. Imagine a Midsummer Night’s Dream. These aren’t new ideas, but any real estate agent would tell you, location matters. And there’s nothing anywhere like Opus 40. People from the city would certainly make the trip.
So we hope the effort is a success. And if the town can demonstrate that there will be no extra taxpayer expense, and the people at the non-profit who have the inspiration to make Opus 40 the destination it has the potential to be are allowed to pursue that vision, it will be.