Letters to the editor (11/24-11/30)

Misinformation on Opus 40 continues

We thank the Town Board for the opportunity of their informational meeting on the Historic Preservation Commission’s designation of Opus 40 to be a landmark district but we remain as uninformed as ever. No information was forthcoming about the future of the sale or plans for the use of Opus 40 by the elusive Opus 40, Inc. and the continuously reforming Committee to Create Opus 40 Museum, Inc. The only subject that could have informed the Town Board and the Commission in their decisions under the law, a rebuttal of the findings of historical significance, was drowned out by accusations coming primarily from those with the misguided belief that they would benefit most from no community oversight of this unquestionably significant cultural asset of the town of Saugerties.

Inappropriate comments, ranging from improper execution of procedures to questioning of the authority of the “un-American” historic preservation law, are to be expected from those uninformed of the purpose of the Town of Saugerties Historic Preservation Ordinance. We may have become more informed if the attorney representing the town had moderated or at least commented on accusatory misunderstandings. Commission members present did their best to inform the audience and Town Board on the limits of their role, and the Town Board’s role, under the law, which is dealing with historic significance issues only.

A questioning of the commission’s expertise, first, in interpreting significance and, second, in making decisions of “aesthetic” consequence with regard to preservation of a work of art were proper. However, these were not counterbalanced by a preservation plan of the owner and that, in a nutshell, is the reason for the designation.

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An “I know better then you” statement is neither expertise nor a preservation plan. Without designation the town has no legal standing in requiring a preservation plan and doing periodic inspections. Without a preservation plan there is no assurance that what the community, and the world, recognizes as Opus 40 will be preserved into the future.

The town has, by virtue of having a Preservation Law, access to the full range of expertise of the National Park Service and the State Historic Preservation Office. The Opus 40 sculpture has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2000 and is designated a landmark of the Town of Saugerties since 2005. At any time the town’s Historic Preservation Commission can call in the expertise of the NPS or the SHPO. That is the HPC’s expertise.

What the commission has added, in its recent designation, folds the expertise it makes available to the National Register site into the full environment that has been recognized as Opus 40 for its over 30-year history as an educational, tourist and concert venue site. This includes lands under the ownership of Opus 40, Inc. and land owned by the heirs of Harvey and Barbara Fite with the Quarryman’s Museum and the home built by Harvey Fite. The designation states that these are critical parts of the story of Opus 40 and should be preserved as an historic district honoring Harvey Fite’s life and the bluestone quarries that inspired him.

Michael Sullivan Smith,

Vice-Chair, Town of Saugerties Historic Preservation Commission

 

Slap in the face

Our new supervisor-elect of Saugerties, Kelly Myers, stood up on Nov. 16 at the public hearing on the budget, and proclaimed that most town employees are overpaid and there is much waste in our budget. Kelly Myers then said she believes the supervisor’s position is underpaid, and so is the highway superintendent position and proceeded to ask for a raise! It’s no coincidence that these are the two Republicans that were elected.

What a slap in the face! If you didn’t like the terms of this job, why did you run?

This is the first tangible example of the type of government Kelly will orchestrate. She is only out for herself, and doesn’t care about anyone but herself and the cronies who helped get her elected. Saugerties….are the alarm bells going off yet? We are in for a long ride for these next two years. I say thank God she only has one vote and the rest of the Town Board is working for the people and with common sense!

Paul Rinaldi

Saugerties

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