Letters to the editor (Aug.11 – Aug. 18)

Misconceptions about Arab/Israeli conflict

What the letter of July 28 protesting the Middle East Crisis Response’s program at the Saugerties Public Library tells me is that it’s high time the community had such a program to correct the all-too-prevalent misconceptions about the Israel/Palestine conflict.

There is a Palestinian side — especially the nonviolent activity currently going on among the Palestinians — that the general public needs to know. Unfamiliar facts and ideas do not necessarily make a group “radical,” as the letter assumed; nor should criticism of Israel necessarily be seen as spreading hatred of Jews and Israelis. It is not healthy for people in a society to dismiss legitimate criticism as prejudice. Israel and the Palestinians have been locked in a terrible conflict for too long. It is up to us, who are not directly involved in it, to learn as much as we can about both sides and raise our voices where possible to bring about a just resolution. I applaud the Saugerties Library for playing host to such a program; indeed, I was one of the “little old ladies” at the first program in June.

It is partly because I have cherished Jewish friends, as well as an Arab-Palestinian one, that I’ve paid attention to this conflict and tried to learn about both sides. I also am familiar with them through my work in a Peace & Justice Task Force at my church. I am not a full-time resident of Saugerties, but visit my daughter regularly, use the library, and look forward to such benefits as the Middle East Crisis Response programs when I move here permanently early next year.


Phoebe Hoss



Article misrepresented local  historic designation

After having read the August 4, 2011 article regarding Opus 40, I found that all the persons contacted for comment regarding the Town of Saugerties Historic Preservation Commission do not have an understanding of what the Town’s Historic Preservation Ordinance is about. Our duties are to educate the public, and to advise the Town Board on the acquisition and preservation of historic properties.

Our job is not to put roadblocks in the way of property owners of property which is a locally designated landmark. The Preservation Commission has been asked to approve certificates of appropriateness on six occasions, and all have been issued, most with no changes to the request. Those where changes were requested ended up costing the property owner less money than what he had originally proposed. Standing in the way of progress? I don’t think so.

We, the commission, do not want to see an inappropriate addition to a designated property which would detract from the original design of the property. We are given this authority by federal, state and local laws.

The Historic Preservation Commission’s main objective and goal is to inform the general public of the historic significance of a property, properties or personages. To that end, the commission is producing a joint town/village set of guidelines for historic preservation. These guidelines are the result of a state grant, and we will be published on the joint town/village website in the very near future.

Before comments are made regarding the duties and objectives of the Historic Preservation Commission, persons should first look at the law, understand the law, attend commission meetings, and understand that local historic designation is not a taking of property, but rather a means of preserving it so our children and grandchildren can understand our heritage.

Become educated on the topic before attempting to comment on it.

Josh Randall
Chairman, Historic Preservation Commission