Letters (4/18-4/25)


Seems like there is no end to when it comes to defining arrogance by some Town Board Members. According to what I read recently in Woodstock Times, it appears that “our supervisor” and “I was on the ZBA for 8 years McKenna” believe there are only four people on the Town Board. Although I do not always agree with Councilman Ken Panza, he is an asset to this town. He often questions proposed actions that would just flow through, without these town board members and  “zoning law in hand, Magarelli” understanding the ramifications of just doing it. Take for instance Panza’s analysis of the proposed solar panel system that was going to be installed at the town’s waste treatment plant that now, because of his analysis, is being held in abeyance until more information is gathered. Yet  McKenna, as usual, doing what he always does, in the April 4 article praises Magarelli and Wenk for their hard work on the solar-energy project since “their attempt gained the board a lot of knowledge.” It is the same with “our supervisor “who in the same article makes no mention of Ken Panza. Is it because he can’t manipulate Ken?

On another note, I truly appreciated the letter to the editor by Joan Elliott. Too bad there are not more people like her who are willing to take the time to show that they understand what is happening to this town.

Howard Harris


Economic Benefits Of Rail Trail

Good data from across the country show the economic, health and transportation benefits of trails. This is why I support the creation of a rail trail along the under-utilized Ulster & Delaware rail line from Kingston to Bellayre.


Rail Trails can provide many different economic returns-on-investment, both direct and indirect. The U&D corridor is already broken up, both by compromised or absent bridges, and by the Catskill Mountain Railroad’s (CMRR) acknowledgment that they no longer intend to restore to rail service on the badly deteriorated Phoenicia to Highmount stretch.

The County paid $1.5 million to purchase the U&D in 1979. I understand its intent back then was first and foremost to preserve intact the entire length of the corridor as a valuable asset for the County. I think the intent was to use the right-of-way for the benefit of residents and taxpayers. I support the County Executive and the Legislature’s efforts to reassess the most valuable use of the U&D corridor for the future based on the rapidly increasing evidence indicating that residents, business owners, taxpayers and visitors stand to realize far greater benefits from The Catskill Mountain Rail Trail. I am 74 years old and I greatly enjoy riding my bicycle. However the roads here have narrow shoulders and I long for more safe bike trails off the roads.

Until the railroad fulfills its current obligations and shows a business plan for keeping more than six miles of track in operation going forward, it makes no sense for Ulster County to plan for rail operations in the other 32 miles of this corridor. This is not something that anyone has “done to” the railroad. It is simply that the economics of rail operations are extremely difficult, especially since the condition of the tracks and the corridor can no longer sustain freight or passenger transportation.

Let’s use this county-owned resource for the benefit of the citizens of Ulster County.

Stuart Auchincloss


Rail Trail Makes The Most Sense

In considering the County’s proposal to create a rail trail on the unused (by Catskill Mountain Railroad/CMRR) part of the 40-mile Ulster & Delaware corridor, and the recent advocacy by CMRR of “Rail With Trail,” I’d like to share my view.

As a mountaineer and equestrian, I know these mountains and valleys well. Now, at 68, with two new knee replacements, I will begin my cycling career in addition.

The railroad corridor, established in the mid 1800s, respected as a valuable public transportation mode of that time, however, is extremely difficult and expensive to maintain today. Although, I have once enjoyed the restored CMRR rail experience in the mid-section of the corridor, I do not see how CMRR will ever meet it’s obligation to provide a functioning railroad in the remaining sections of the corridor. While well intended enthusiasts would dream for that railroad to further develop, we know of many, many more citizens who will be served with the healthy and esthetically stimulating benefits of walking, cycling, wheelchair, and equestrian opportunities on the currently un-used rail bed when it is transformed to a trail. This will be multiple, separate, yet connected use that will serve millions of people and generate millions of dollars.

Providing a train experience in Phoenicia and a trail experience in the remainder of the corridor gives the most opportunity for everyone to use the corridor. Trail users include those who are elderly and have handicapping conditions, and they certainly include small children and families, who need and respond to opportunities to enjoy safe, healthy outdoor activity. Though many trail users, especially cyclists, love steep inclines, and will choose their routes to encounter them, this trail will contain only flat to mild (2-2.5 percent) gradients, well within planning path/trail guidelines for maximum accessibility. Our outdoor attractions in the Catskills draw millions of visitors each year, and we will likely draw millions more with a world-class trail network to serve as an introduction and connecting link to our more rugged and remote areas.

This is the plan that makes the most sense on every level: prudent use of resources, the most benefits to the most people, recognizing future economic development, and allowing the CMRR to continue to operate where they currently do but not where it is a nuisance or where it would require huge investment for negligible benefits.

Calvin Grimm


A Day Ruined

Next time you see an ad from the military on how they make boys into men, change the channel. They turn boys into robots, desensitized, killing machines. We train them in climate that is nowhere as hot as it was in Iraq, and no one speaks the languages. They are trained to shoot first and questions later.

I remember talking to a vet at the VA hospital in Albany. He told me that an old woman rushed up to him with a bag, and he killed her. If he could have spoken the language, he would have heard here saying “you must be hungry here are some groceries.”

I don’t know how many of you remember the Marines who massacred a home of 20, which included an old man in a wheel chair, old women, children and toddlers. Not only did they shoot them, they raped them, and slit the throats of many. Well, all charges against the Marines have been dismissed, the only problem: classified, top-secret document that should have been destroyed were thrown in a dumpster, where they were found by a cook, who was starting to heat up his oven.

Iraqi civilians were being killed all the time. Maj. Gen. Steve Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar, in his own testimony, described it as “a cost of doing business.” Does anyone remember the My Lai massacre? Only Lt. Calley was thrown to the dogs, but he was “just following orders.” This is why no country wants us. We are the greedy industrial complex that is responsible for more deaths and displacements of civilians than Adolf Hitler.

I tried to back away when this happened because no one cared, but this brought back all the insanity of George Bush, and the military. Sorry, if I ruined your day.

Alan Marker