Accent on New Paltz: Happy Thankukah

paul brown SQFor the first time in 125 years and for the last time until 2070, two popular faith-based holidays will coincide. This year, Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 28 and will be celebrated by many American families as they gather together to enjoy the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. On the same day, people of the Jewish faith will also be celebrating Chanukah with the lighting of the second candle of the menorah.

Both holidays are happy, celebratory occasions marked by feelings of gratitude and, well … thanksgiving. Chanukah was declared a Jewish national holiday over 2000 years ago to commemorate the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the successful Maccabean Revolt against their oppressors. In the United States, the Pilgrims and Puritans emigrating from England in the 1620s carried with them their tradition of Days of Thanksgiving, and in 1621 gave thanks for a good harvest, which became the basis for the annual holiday that draws family members home. President George Washington proclaimed the first nation-wide thanksgiving celebration in 1789, and in 1863 Thanksgiving was celebrated for the first time on the same date by all the states, thanks to a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln. On Dec. 26, 1941 Congress established the national Thanksgiving Day as the fourth Thursday in November. On June 15 of this year some enterprising person or persons registered the domain name www.thankukah.com. It appears that nothing has happened on the website yet, and the name may be for sale, but it may become a valuable website in 2070.

Regardless of the reasons for celebrating, it is certainly appropriate to be grateful for all we have in our community and country. Gratitude is a health-related emotion so, whether it be Chanukah, Thanksgiving or simply a day set aside to appreciate one another and the place where we live, I wish you a very happy holiday.

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Accepted but unacceptable

As a routine part of the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process, the Town of New Paltz has ‘accepted’ the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) submitted in support of the application of Wilmorite, Inc. to construct 13 buildings housing over 700 people as part of a for-profit venture they have named “Park Point.” Having accepted the submission, the Planning Board now moves into the role of a teacher who, having accepted a submitted paper, must decide whether to give it a passing or a failing grade.

In a previous column, readers learned of the “Wilmorite Whoppers” contained in the FEIS, brought to light by a Planning Board-commissioned independent review of Wilmorite’s claims regarding the financial impact of the project on our community. The outside consultant’s report, which the Planning Board required be made part of the Appendices to the FEIS, clearly shows that Wilmorite overstated the financial benefits of the venture to the New Paltz economy and understated the cost of the community services it would require, to the tune of millions of dollars. Couple this with Wilmorite’s attempts to pay no real estate taxes for the next 25 years and you have a recipe for disaster for our town.

Basically, the independent review negated the facts contained in the FEIS, as well as the basic methodologies used, and this should clearly lead to the Planning Board’s assignment of a failing grade in their ‘Findings Statement’. A public hearing is scheduled for this project for Dec. 9 and now is the time for all concerned residents to show up and make their voices heard. The entire unacceptable FEIS can be viewed and downloaded from the Town of New Paltz website and is available in hard copy from the Planning Board secretary at the Town Hall.

 

New Paltz Musicales

Garvan at Shea O’Brien’s would like everyone in our community to know that Irish harpist Lynn Saoirse and folk musician Tobias Anderson will be joining Betty and the Baby Boomers on Dec. 7 for a wonderful evening of holiday music at the Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church, to be followed by a reception. All proceeds from this Christmas time benefit concert will be donated to help the needy in our community. Details can be found at RedeemerNewPaltz.org. Hope to see you there!

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