Letters (2/28-3/6)

mailThe once and future Saugerties

It has been said by many that the only constant is change. This is certainly true in Saugerties.

Our residents and elected officials regardless of political party, should honor our past history but also take into account Saugerties, as it is today and how it will be in the future. With that in mind I encourage the public to participate in two upcoming events.

The Comprehensive Plan Update Committee has been working for two years to update the Comprehensive Plan, first drafted in 1999. The Comprehensive Plan sets out the objectives for Saugerties, the zoning law establishes the regulations to meet those goals. You can provide your input on the latest draft at a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Greco Senior Center, 207 Market St.


There will also be a program, Revisioning Local Economies, sponsored by Sustainable Saugerties. Among the invited panelists is March Gallagher, Ulster County deputy director of economic development. A few of the topics to be discussed include: How local independent businesses can benefit from county resources and expertise and how more money can and should be kept in the local economy. This event will be held on Thursday March 14 from 7-10 p.m. at the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory (SPAF) located at 169 Ulster Ave. There will be interactive discussion, networking and live music. Cash bar. No charge for entrance; donations accepted.

Mike Harkavy
Chair, Saugerties Democratic Committee


Lessons of the past

The recent controversy in the community over the demolition of Clovelea, the former house of William Sheffield, is distressing. In a Saugerties Times article that set forth the details of the matter, the author asked the question, “Should Saugerties save a relic of its industrial past?”

Clovelea is the quintessential example of beauty, grace and style of the Victorian period in this town’s history. It stands today as a work of art, an architectural expression of magnificence. The home’s importance rests not in its longevity, which is over 120, but rather in its splendor. Buildings such as Clovelea, crafted by earlier generations of Americans, attempted to be in harmony with the surroundings. The liberal, decorative details, flourishes and embellishments found in Clovelea, while they serve no utilitarian function, are pleasing to the eye. The story of Clovelea is even more interesting when one considers that William Sheffield took years to beautifully landscape the grounds before the house was even built. This appreciation for beauty was organic and came naturally to early generations of Americans. At some point in time during the course of the last century we seem to have lost our way.

There is an aspect of Chinese culture, known as Feng Shui that can be applied to Clovelea. Feng Shui is an ancient body of knowledge that believes the land, or building as the case may be, is imbued with energy. This knowledge is used to balance or align the energy so as to achieve harmony. From all accounts available Clovelea has always been a cheerful place. Even in its present condition the structure has more positive energy or Chi than anything that could possibly replace it — including a proposed townhouse development. From both a financial and certainly a spiritual perspective, the highest use for Clovelea would be rehabilitation. Even the present owner thought so as he began a rebuilding process several years ago but then failed to finish.

To raze Clovelea would create highly negative Feng Shui and would be an invitation to bad luck. Do you think I am joking? Those of a certain age will recall perhaps one of the worst decisions by municipal authorities when the exquisitely designed United States Post Office, located on Broadway in Kingston, was demolished and replaced by a brand new Jack-in-the-Box, a fast food restaurant. Even after over 40 years, the decision to destroy that grand edifice remains palpable and will be forever regretted — the property haunted by the spirit of what once stood there. Those in a position that can affect this matter would do well to ponder that. In an aside, it is interesting to note that one person in Saugerties who identifies as an historian had the courage to stand on principle. Good for him.

Earlier generations of Americans can teach us an appreciation of beauty, harmony, style, grace, and dignity – which are qualities that are important to any generation. The physical manifestations of these esthetic qualities so valued by previous generations are disappearing from the landscape. In the end, our community will be defined not only by what we create but also by what we refuse to destroy.

Mark H. Knaust



Gun law doesn’t include confiscation

I attended the Ulster County Legislative meeting on February 19 at UPAC. The meeting was held at UPAC because many people were known to want to comment on a resolution opposing aspects of the state’s new gun control law (SAFE). I sat toward the rear of the auditorium surrounded by people who were deeply concerned about the infringement of their right to own firearms. The comments by the persons who signed up to speak were mixed; a good number spoke passionately in favor of the SAFE Act and a good number fervently spoke about their Second Amendment right to “keep and bear” arms. While there was some heckling, overall people listened quietly and respectfully to the comments of others with whom they obviously disagreed.

From my vantage point the people opposed to the SAFE Act are primarily concerned about the confiscation of their own weapons. The SAFE Act does not provide for the confiscation of weapons. The legislation outlines a stricter definition of assault weapons and implements an immediate ban of defined assault weapons. Under the stricter definitions, semi-automatic pistols and rifles with detachable magazines and one military-style feature will be considered assault weapons. Semi-automatic shotguns with one military style feature will also be considered assault weapons. Assault weapons possessed before the effective date must be registered within a year and recertified every five years. Owners of grandfathered assault weapons may only sell out of state or through an in state federal firearms licensee.

Besides defining assault weapons, there will be enhanced regulation of ammunition sales to track large stock piles, better reporting of mental health patients deemed dangerous to minimize gun purchases, re-registration of hand guns and assault weapons every five years, universal background checks for persons wishing to purchase weapons, keeping guns out of schools and various other provisions. None of them require the confiscation of weapons from law-abiding citizens. While the SAFE Act places additional burdens on gun owners, it is an effort to reduce the volume of assault weapons in circulation and to keep such weapons out of the hands of persons whose mental status or criminal conduct makes continued possession or purchase a threat to law abiding citizens.

The majority of the audience at UPAC did not want to entertain the value of trying to control the number of assault weapons in circulation and who can acquire them. While the removal of all assault weapons from the civilian population would make sense to reduce the availability of such weapons to people like the Newtown shooter, the federal proposals and the SAFE Act do not aim at reducing the number of such weapons now in circulation by taking them away from their current owners.

I urge people who value gun ownership to recognize that the reaction to Newtown is not disguised to punish them and take away their guns, but motivated by a sincere desire to find a way to reduce the number of assault weapons entering our society so that fewer find their way into the hands of citizens who have lost control of their faculties and believe that mass killing is justified. The fear of confiscation, if it ever arises, is a battle to be fought another day hopefully through peaceful debate in which people listen to each other, as we did at UPAC.

Lanny E. Walter



Kudos to legislature for gun law opposition

The Feb. 19 Ulster County Legislature meeting was for some their first witnessing of their county lawmakers in action. For many of us who believe and hold firm to the second amendment, we recognize that the SAFE act removes from New Yorkers the right to defend themselves in a reliable and effective manner. It was passed at a time when we are at a high risk for being victims of violent crimes due to the economy and other social forces. The SAFE act makes its citizen even more dependent on the state for safety, a responsibility which no government can totally implement. We are proud of our county lawmakers who, under the leadership of Chairman Terry Bernardo, voted to oppose the SAFE act and to send a strong message to Governor Cuomo and President Obama that we will not be passive about our rights being trampled upon. Chairman Bernardo is taking an active and positive approach to addressing these issues which are indeed most troublesome.

As of the writing of this letter the number of counties officially opposing are this dangerous, overreaching, and tyrannical abuse of executive power by Gov. Cuomo is nearing 50 percent. Many other smaller municipalities are passing similar resolutions. Since the governor passed the SAFE act without public input and gave virtually no time for our lawmakers to comprehend what they were being asked to vote upon, it is vital to send this strong message to the governor. Those of us attending the meeting and whose voices were heard last night recognize this important aspect of open government and are appreciative of having a location where all could attend and participate. Our legislature’s resolution opposing the SAFE act does not convey that the SAFE act is overturned. This battle to overturn is just a beginning and this resolution and other similar resolutions across the state gives it a good start.

Gaetana Ciarlante