Letters (Dec. 8 – Dec. 15)

Failure to designate Opus 40 historic shows board’s ignorance

These are the times that try men’s souls. When we can’t even agree that the symbols that make us better than our base nature are worthy of recognition, are there any values that we can say we must preserve? As a community, can we even say we have a common heritage if our elected officials have not the political will to support the very law they’ve passed to protect it and the expert bodies they’ve appointed to carry out that law?

The Town of Saugerties Historic Preservation Commission sought to honor 40 years of Harvey Fite’s life by landmarking the entire site where he lived, worked and created, and what he saw around him which provided motivation and stimulation. The Town Board voted in favor of stating that this entirety was not historically significant. In doing so they stated that it is not the function of our community to appreciate the spirit of a great citizen, just the value of a material object others have already recognized. What kind of message does that send – that as far as they’re concerned you can duplicate Opus 40 with faux bluestone panels like at the village’s Diamond Mills conference center and put it in Las Vegas or Disney World – that the Town’s purpose is not to recognize the work; the blood, sweat and tears; of Harvey Fite’s life-work creating Opus 40 right here in Saugerties?

What we have now is an Opus 40 haunted by the specter of a Harvey Fite rolling in his grave at the dismissal of his life as a citizen of Saugerties. Opus 40, as a sculpture garden, is and has been protected, but that protection leaves the impression that his life’s work is only significant relative to the simple-minded human preference to bask in the glory and grandiosity of someone else’s achievement as a photo-op background.


This designation of the entire Fite oeuvre , under the law, was a no-brainer. The documentation provided by the Historic Preservation Commission called for its designation. Its disapproval by the Town Board indicates a need to rethink the purpose and agenda of the Historic Preservation Commission. When the Town Board does not understand its own ordinance, it indicates that information and education about the Historic Preservation Ordinance needs to happen. It’s plain that the community has to know more about how the law affects them before their elected officials can act in accordance with their interests.

Michael Sullivan Smith

Vice chair

Town of Saugerties Historic Preservation Commission


Take the pledge

Supervisor-Elect Kelly Myers should “take the pledge” and promise not to budget any raises for any elected officials during her term of office. To do otherwise would be a slap in the face to our residents and businesses who are struggling through hard economic times.

Mike Harkavy



Myers is a political opportunist

“Please vote for me. My first priority will be to ask for a raise which I will expect you, the town of Saugerties taxpayers, to pay for once I’m elected as town supervisor. Yes, I’m a fiscal conservative, but this raise is really important to me.”

Kelly Meyers didn’t have the integrity to include that statement in her campaign platform. She knew she would want a raise and knew the job meant long hours and hard work. Apparently, she’s now unhappy with all that since she’s won the election and is facing the reality of the difficult job required of Saugerties’ town supervisor.

But Kelly already showed her lack of character and integrity when she didn’t stand-up for “those people” – the working class who need affordable housing and people with disabilities who were spoken about disparagingly during the meetings about the proposed Dickinson’s Keep development.

While some members of the meetings on this proposed housing development made inappropriately biased comments, Kelly never once challenged their viewpoints. Instead, she continued to capitalize on the misinformation about Dickinson’s keep while repeatedly reminding us that she was the candidate of “values and character.” Even her husband jumped in with a poignant letter about how much character and compassion Kelly has for those in need.

Kelly has proven herself, in a very short time, to lack integrity and character. She’s shown her stripes as a political opportunist willing to be shaped – at all costs – by her Republican party handler’s whose bidding she will do.

Her voters should feel used, cheated and misled. And Kelly should check her religious education curriculum to refresh her memory about truthfulness, ethical behavior and character.

Jo Galante Cicale



Thanks from Riggins

I sincerely would like to thank the Republican and Conservative parties for their endorsements and for supporting me as a candidate for Saugerties Town Council during this election. I would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to my running mate Mr. Joseph Roberti Sr., my family members, friends and all the voters in Saugerties for their support and believing in me as a candidate.

I do not consider this election as a loss for me as I met a lot of wonderful residents, made some new friends, attended special events and dinners and learned a vast amount of knowledge about the Saugerties community. I truly believe that the campaigning process has allowed me to become insightful about the needs of our community.

Personally, I feel I have won in many ways. I am still committed to staying involved in our town government and working hard to foster the positive changes that all of us are striving for in Saugerties. I would like to congratulate all of the candidates that won the election. I would especially like to commend Mrs. Kelly Myers and Mr. Douglas Myer for their successes during this election. I can state with great confidence that both of these individuals will be an asset as leaders in our community. I wish all of the elected candidates good luck and wish them well in their future endeavors.

Pamela Riggins



GOP chair running amok

Despite the election being over the Republican chairman has continued his parade of untruths and misrepresentations. Last week he wrongfully accused me of refusing to sign a letter which asks Albany not to support the affordable housing project proposed for Glasco. This statement is not true. To date I have not even been provided a copy of the letter and closest I have come to even seeing the letter was on a resident’s cell phone. Unfortunately, Mr. Roberti has no regard for the truth and continues to just say anything.

Perhaps Mr. Roberti should stop writing letters which misrepresent other people and write a letter to the Boy Scouts apologizing to them for stuffing Republican campaign material into their food drive bags. The inappropriate use of the Boy Scouts by the Republicans is one of the many new political lows brought to our community by the current Republican leadership.

Fred Costello Jr.

Deputy supervisor

Town of Saugerties


Congress must ratify nuclear test-ban treaty

According to a statement on Nov. 29, 2011 by Linton Brooks, former Chief of the NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration) , the United States is ‘almost certain’ never to conduct another detonation of a nuclear device. In the nearly 20 years since the nation’s last nuclear trial, technological alternatives to such detonations have advanced substantially, Brooks asserted, while political obstacles to testing have grown close to insurmountable.

This is important in the context of U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a global pact to prohibit explosive nuclear testing, ratification of which was rejected by the Senate in 1999. U.S. ratification of the CTBT is not inconsistent, in fact it is consonant with continuance of the U.S. Stockpile Stewardship Program , which ensures the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. “There is no plausible situation in which current stockpile stewardship and the deep scientific understanding … will not be enough to ensure the safety, security and reliability of our nuclear weapons for the indefinite future, ” Brooks continued, adding that he was unaware of any proposal for a new nuclear weapon that would require testing, including a deep earth penetrator. “It’s not just against our current policy, it’s solving a problem that we don’t appear to have.”


The U.S. already assumes most of the responsibilities of a test ban but cannot obtain the benefits — including the right to conduct short-notice inspections — until the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is ratified. In addition to local and regional issues such as environmental concerns about high-volume hydrofracture is this issue of national significance with international security implications. Please write to senators Gillibrand and Schumer and urge them to vote promptly for U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Elizabeth Shafer



The benefits of easements

Your recent article about conservation easements featured some community benefits from conserving lands. Here are some additional ways people gain when land is conserved. Increasing the acreage of protected forests and wetlands offers myriad health benefits. Trees release oxygen while sequestering pollutants that contribute to asthma, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. Woodlands collect and purify water that filters into the ground to recharge local aquifers. Trees also intercept rainfall, preventing it from flowing into streams where it could cause flooding. Wetlands help prevent flooding by trapping run-off and releasing it slowly. Safeguarding wildlife habitats helps maintain biodiversity, which plays an important role in preventing diseases such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease.

Land preservation contributes to the economy and helps keep a lid on taxes. Preserving land provides the cornerstone of a sustainable economy. In Ulster County alone, the tourism industry is responsible for $431 million in spending each year, contributing $26 million annually to the local tax base and employing nearly 8,000 people. A study by the Trust for Public Land notes that executives looking to relocate or start up firms rank quality of life—including an abundance of parks and open space—higher than housing, cost of living and good schools.

Saugerties offers a prime example of the power of a conservation easement. Scenic Hudson, the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill and the Esopus Creek Conservancy this past summer partnered to create Falling Waters Preserve. The 168-acre preserve protects ecologically important land along the Hudson River and provides exciting opportunities for people to connect with nature. Residents and visitors are eagerly enjoying the preserve, which boasts over one mile of spectacular Hudson Riverfront, a stream, meadows, wetlands and hardwood forest, as well as breathtaking vistas of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains.

Lastly, it’s important to note that easements always are voluntary, come in all shapes and sizes and are not always “no-build” restrictions – they can allow for responsible development if open space is conserved.

Seth McKee

Land conservation director

Scenic Hudson


Gov’t too compromised to rule on fracking

I attended two of the four DEC public hearings on HydroFracking, along with an overwhelming majority who opposed this insane technology. Scientists, doctors and a lot of very smart folks made Swiss cheese of the DEC’s latest environmental impact study.

Representatives of the gas corporations didn’t show up. Why bother — when the DEC’s bi-polar mission is (1) to protect the environment and (2) to maximize the withdrawal of oil and gas. Actually, #2 is their first order of business.

Meanwhile, the gas corporations seduce and entice the most vulnerable segments of our population with their endless, mindless and oh-so-green advertising propaganda. Their “jobs” blackmail. Their patriotic claptrap about energy independence.

Does anyone believe that Exxon Mobil, Chesapeake or Cabot care one iota about New Yorkers, the land we live on or the other species that live with us? That’s not what corporations do; they make money any way they can. There’s no moral dimension to their work.

There are no corporate good citizens — that’s just more public relations propaganda. They use our money, tax deductible dollars, and give it to whatever charities or organizations burnish their image while they frack our communities and undermine our state and federal representatives with their bribes and threats. They treat our air and our water as their private property. When they’re finished, we, the survivors, can pay to clean it up a bit.

It has become crystal clear that the only way to stop the fracking of NYS is by taking this struggle out of regulatory control, out of the hands of our governor, and putting our efforts as sovereign people where they belong. What is currently being done in Western New York and what is coming our way is criminal.

SPAN of Ulster and Greene counties has written New York Public Law #1, which criminalizes fracking, corporate frackers and all fracking related activities. We will be having a Teach In on the law and the history of corporate power at the Canal Town Alley Art Center in Rosendale on December 13 at 7 p.m.

Linda Leeds