This week’s letters (7/28-8/4)


Anti-fracking, pro Opus 40

Saugerties Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel and the Town Board are to be congratulated for their actions to protect and save two jewels in Saugerties. First, they petitioned Governor Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation to “forthrightly act to protect the water resources of the Blue Mountain Reservoir by prohibiting the use of hydrofracking (fracking) or any similar technology for the purpose of extracting natural gas resources from the shale resources underlying the town of Saugerties and the watershed of the Blue Mountain Reservoir”. If prohibition of fracking is good enough for the New York City watershed, it is good enough for Saugerties!

Secondly, at the request of the non-profit Committee to Create Opus 40 Museum, Inc., the Town Board voted unanimously to withdraw as partners with the non-profit. This request was based on the fact that potential political candidates as well as the Republican Party chose to make Opus 40 a political issue. The non-profit did not want their efforts to secure this historic landmark enmeshed in partisan politics. All town expenses will be reimbursed by the non-profit. Supervisor Helsmoortel and the Town Board remain strong advocates and supporters of the efforts to keep Opus 40 within the public domain.

Mike Harkavy


Saugerties Democratic Committee


Change is needed

I am pleased to learn that Kelly Myers is running for Saugerties town supervisor. Kelly has the background, energy and experience to be a terrific Supervisor. Serious change is needed on the Town Board. Over the last decade, town property taxes have doubled. The recent unfair property assessments have many Saugerties residents struggling to save their homes. Important decisions are made behind closed doors, out of public view. I encourage all people in Saugerties seeking change on the Town Board to vote for Kelly Myers for Supervisor this November.


Deborah Benjamin



We need Golden Hill

On Dec. 18, 2009 my mother passed away in a nursing home at the age of 94. My father died Dec. 8, 1992 leaving my mother alone in their house where she continued to pay taxes to support education, the library, ambulance service, the Glasco Fire Department, local, county, and state police and didn’t complain paying for the jail. But, that was my mother. She never complained about anything and when the time came when she couldn’t stay alone any longer it was harder on me and my brother and sister than it was for my mother when she had to move. It would be the first time in her life she would be away from family and or acquaintances. Although she suffered from dementia it was the type that left her laughing about life events while completing her time with us. What more could we ask for?

Did my mother, Susan Aiello, deserve to stay in a tax-funded place where her children would be close enough to visit? Where we would be close enough to sign release forms, visit with nursing staff and check on her care? I believe my mother and people like her deserve to have a home to fill out their lives. And, although my mother was unable to get into Golden Hill, I was able to find a home still close enough to fulfill her needs.

It is because of her that I give all my support to keeping Golden Hill under County control. We owe it to Susan Aiello, and all the people just like her.

Robert Aiello

Ulster County Legislator

District 4


Woodstockian fanaticism at the library

I was surprised to read in last week’s paper that a mid-east crisis response group was meeting at the Saugerties Public Library, for free, and that, as a tax-payer, I was financing meetings of a radical political group. It turns out that the first amendment compels the library to open its doors to any political group. As I learned that there was another meeting scheduled for Tuesday, July 19, I decided to go (also, I wanted to check out the natural ground air conditioning the new library has.)

There were about 25 people, mostly senior citizens of a “Woodstockian” ilk. The first part of the meeting was animated movies made by Palestinian high school students from Bethlehem, and a documentary about the lives of young adult students and their feelings about the separation wall. These were interesting movies, showing smart young Arabs, living, like their Jewish counterparts, comfortable, secular lives–despite an onerous, long-lasting, low-level war.

The second part of the meeting was questions and debate. I soon heard the usual anti-Israel refrains: accusations of stealing land; military brutality; racism…plus allegations that Israel was like Nazi Germany, and that it was useless for Palestinians to sit down and talk with Israel…which leaves what? Violence and terrorism. I think I annoyed them by asking what the purpose of the wall was: the little old ladies didn’t seem to know the answer; somebody in the audience finally answered, “to stop terrorists, of course.” I repeat, the movies were good, but I don’t think they were the real reason for having the meeting. I believe this group occupied the Saugerties Public Library in order to spread hatred towards Israelis, and, more generally, towards Jews. Is their next meeting going to involve throwing rocks or suicide bombing? What about self-immolation on the green in Woodstock? If so, I would like to point out that they’d be doing it on land stolen from Native Americans not so very long ago….

Alain Dousset



Dangers of hydrofracking

Protect the Plattekill Creek & Watershed applauds the Town of Saugerties’ petition to the state to ban hydrofracking in the town’s watershed . The water resources of the Plattekill Watershed, including the Blue Mountain Reservoir, will be harmed by the chemicals injected into shale formations under high pressure during the drilling process and harm our water supplies.

This important water source is for private, as well as for the town’s and village’s public water supply. Once this source is contaminated, it cannot be undone, thus depriving us of all of our pure drinking water. This lovely trout creek would also be negatively affected, along with ramification for other creatures that depend on this water.

Sandra Thorpe


Protect the Plattekill Creek & Watershed.


Bring our jobs home

American Informational technology technicians have been losing jobs to the very people they helped to train. The H-3 Visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows aliens to attend paid training in the US. It is used by companies and corporations working with trainees from a parent company or subsidiary abroad. It is a slap in the face to our very talented workforce. Our workers know that as soon as they have trained these people, and brought them up to speed, they in turn will be out of a job. How great is that? Like digging your own grave. But, has to be done in order for them to collect any benefits due to them. A salary of $60,000 a year in the U.S. is now reduced to $5,000 in another country. Greed in the corporate world is choking U.S. citizens more every day.

I did read an article in a Boston newspaper that was a little ray of sunshine. Carbonite, a company that provides data backup services, is moving their call center from India to Maine. This company did listen to the consumers. Consumers were not satisfied with the center in India. The people in India were very skilled in the technical end, but could not communicate well with the people calling them. The company said that even though it will cost them two or three times more per hour, it is going to work out better for them. We should not blame the people in other countries for this mess. I have talked to very nice people in India, and they do know what they are talking about. The problem was it took hours of phone calls for me to understand it. We are the ones paying for the services. When will the Fat Cats start to improve our economy by bringing the jobs back into the place where the buck starts?

Barbara Ambrosano



Thank you from Operation SOS

On Sunday July 10, Operation SOS had the honor of being the charity associated with the 8th Annual Sawyer Motor Car Show. I want to thank all those involved at every level for the great success of this event. First and foremost is the Siracusano family, Shelly, Bob and Larry, and the event organizers, Josephine and Theresa Todaro. They are kind, honest and sincere folks who each year work hard to put on a tremendous show with first rate entertainment which is free to the public. Over the years the generosity of the Siracusanos has helped many charities.

As being this year’s chosen charity, Operation SOS was given a role of responsibility as well. I can proudly say that from the inception of this commitment to the very completion of the event, every individual who began with SOS kept their commitment and more. As proud as we are of our military, I am also proud of these individuals. I attempted to set up work shifts to avoid any exhaustion on the day of the Car Show. In doing so many said to me that they would like to be with us all day, and in fact showed up and did whatever was needed. To name all involved would go beyond what is practical in this letter, but thank you to all who came out to help in all of the tasks. And thank you to all of the SOS members who worked on the behind the scenes jobs.

Special thanks to the members of the military and veterans who participated: The 156 Field Artillery under the command of Colonel David Gagnon gave tours of their armored vehicle; Recruiter Walker who brought their Hummer; and thanks also to our own Naval Officer BMCS EXW Raymond Teitter, who after numerous deployments arrived after a full day of training to help Operation SOS. In addition, thank you to the American Legion and the VFW members as well as the American Legion from Cairo and Catskill.

Thank you to our great community and also to the participants who came with cars and registration fees and donations. You have always provided Operation SOS with your support and generosity and continue to do so as we approach our 9th year of providing support to our deployed military.

A final thanks to Sawyer Motors. You have been a blessing to our community and have given us resources to continue our work and an experience we will look upon with joy and pride for many years to come.

Gaetana Ciarlante

Founder and Director

Operation SOS


Reform for working class overdue

As the lives of working people decline worldwide, it is important to identify just who the enemy is. For the Middle East, it seems straightforward. A few people at the very top exploit everyone else, and to maintain their position of privilege, unleash their repressive security forces. Wages are low, jobs are scarce, and there are no benefits for the average citizen.

In Greece, Ireland, and Spain, the pattern looks similar. A few at the top, the bankers, the politicians, the heads of corporations take everything, leaving nothing but debts for the rest to pay off. In the end, working people are exploited to serve the very wealthy

Americans have never been comfortable with this anti-capitalist view, in part because the system benefited us for many years. But the tide has definitely turned, as we see our Social Security and Medicare being sacrificed to give even greater tax cuts to the very rich and their corporations.

We are being squeezed by a new type of ruthless overlord. The ruling financial class is no longer worried about the fate of one country or one people. All they want in their greed is more profits. They would sacrifice millions of Americans, even the future of our planet for it.

The enemy is the billionaires, their corporate media, and politicians of both parties who serve them. It is a tiny group, far less than one percent of our population. When we the people can bear it no longer, we will sweep them away.

Fred Nagel



New vistas to explore in Saugerties

Saugerties has reached a new milestone with the opening to the public of Falling Waters, a Hudson River property with over two miles of trails on pristine land. There are places along the lower trail where one can have views of the river while resting on newly-crafted rustic benches still redolent with the smell of freshly-cut red cedar. Creation of these extraordinarily well- designed trails resulted from a three-way partnership of Scenic Hudson, the Esopus Creek Conservancy, and the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill. The trails opened yesterday, July 24, to the acclaim of over a hundred visitors, including the Town Board, State Assemblyman Pete Lopez and representatives of other state and county officials, and will remain open daily to the public year round from dawn to dusk.


The careful preparation is evident in the width, sound surface, and beauty of the trails themselves. One is exposed to a rich variety of arching trees, two waterfalls, and the ruins of century-old ice houses along the mighty Hudson. While the river’s edge is choked with the invasive water chestnut extending hundreds of feet, one can experience the views to the estates and hear passing boats and the haunting horns of the Amtrak trains leaving Rhinebeck over a mile away on the opposite shore.

This milestone follows the creation in 2003 of the 161 acre Esopus Bend Nature Preserve on the southern end of the Village of Saugerties which encompasses the former Schroeder farm roads as well as the earliest Native American and Dutch Carriage trails through the settlement and up into the Catskill Mountains. During the opening yesterday of Falling Waters, Dominican Sisters Kate and Margaret described to visitors how they used to walk into the Village of Saugerties up Spaulding Lane to Route 9W. While the formal entrance to the public approaching by car is a mile further south on 9W off Josephs Drive, neighbors are encouraged to walk in along Spaulding Lane itself, following the route used by the sisters 40 years ago.

Since the Town has adopted a conservation zoning law which encourages the development of walking trails, we may look forward to the day when we can walk everywhere, not only for pleasure and exercise, but as a useful and convenient way to get places and to eat, shop, visit, and do business in the Village. The state, county and town highway departments must include walking as an integral part of all road building and improvement in their annual budgets. The needs of cyclists and pedestrians have to be met just as well as those of drivers of motor vehicles.

Barry Benepe



Tranquility on the Hudson

This past Sunday, Falling Waters Preserve in Saugerties was opened to the public. We at Esopus Creek Conservancy (ECC) have been truly proud to collaborate with Scenic Hudson and the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill. This project is part of a larger campaign of Scenic Hudson’s “To Save the Land that Matters Most” in the Hudson Valley.

From the beginning, the administration and staff of Scenic Hudson understood the strategic importance of this property, both to Saugerties and the Hudson Valley. They have most generously devoted time, professional expertise and financial resources to create a first-class resource for all to enjoy.

And there is no doubt that the Dominican Sisters’ property, located between Spaulding Lane and Glasgo, “matters most” to the residents of Saugerties. An often-heard lament in our town is that so much of the Hudson River Shorefront is not accessible to the public. For this reason, we are most grateful to the Dominican Sisters for this wonderful gift, which now which allows us to walk the trails, experience the tranquility and enjoy expansive views of the River.

The Dominican Sisters have an enlightened land ethic that defines land as a treasure to be preserved and shared. That belief has guided their decision to open this land to the public for the amazing landscapes, trails and views to be enjoyed by all of us. Named for the two picturesque waterfalls on the property, Falling Waters Preserve will be open each day, dawn till dusk.

On behalf of the board and Friends of Esopus Creek Conservancy, I want to Thank Ned Sullivan, President of Scenic Hudson, and Steve Rosenberg, Executive Director for this Preserve and for all that they do in the Hudson Valley. I would also like to thank Sister Mary Murray, President of the Dominican Sisters, and all the Sisters who have so generously agreed to share “the land that matters most” to them with all of us.

And last but not least – thank you to the design team who carried out the project with enthusiasm and amazing attention to detail. Sister Lorraine LaRocca, Sister Catherine McKillop, Sister Mary Shea, and Scenic Hudson staff, Rita Shaheen, Dan Sorensen, Jeff Carter, as well as ECC’s own Stewardship Committee led by Chris Florsch and Steve Chorvas. And thanks go especially to Kate Kane, who brought the team together and coordinated the planning and completion from the early workdays through the final touches, as well as to the many other “behind-the-scenes” staff and volunteers who contributed to this great accomplishment.

Congratulations, and thank you to all involved.

 Susan Bolitzer


Esopus Creek Conservancy


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