Speak out against village’s historic law change
The zoning change issue highlights how much government responsibility is now relinquished by elected officials to the attorney’s authority. To avoid the demands of preservation they simply turned to this surrogate to rewrite the law. Now this dearly paid for pretense, ripe with intrigue, innuendo and untruths, has made the whole community look tawdry and a joke to a more informed public than they are.
Changing the law to remove the certified oversight requirements in a Historic District Review Board will absolutely remove Saugerties from Certified Local Government status. That’s what the “certified” means! It has nothing to do with an attorney, mayor, village board or employee’s authority. A recognized, experienced board of independent preservation professionals must be constituted by law to make decisions that relate to the historic identity of our village. Removing them means removing certification.
Our village was the first in New York to meet the standards and be certified. Typical of this administration’s ambivalence to history, these officials dismiss that. Instead they deliver a slap in the face to that period of good governance and the scores of preservation professionals that have volunteered their time to serve as members of the Review Board over the past 30 years.
Preservation and tradition is what has made our present blessings possible. Think of that during your Thanksgiving holiday and come out on Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. at your Village Offices/Fire Hall, to make sure this misguided change gets thrown in the garbage with your other turkey carcass.
Michael Sullivan Smith
I am a town resident and really do not know the dynamics of village politics, but there is no doubt in my mind that something is “rotten in the state of Denmark” — oops the village of Saugerties.
Some things are obvious. The village of Saugerties has a concentration of significant historic houses representing 200 years of architectural heritage. They established a Historic Review Board to oversee this extraordinary conglomeration of history and architecture — years before any of the surrounding mid-Hudson communities, like New Paltz or Stone Ridge or Hurley (also blessed with historic houses), even considered protection for these structures. This Review Board has been operating since 1985 and doing the job it was asked to do — protecting the village’s historical legacy.
And now it seems that short-sighted parochial business interests are working to undermine the Village Historic Review Board. In an article published in the Nov. 20 edition of Saugerties Times, Mayor Murphy admits it. He says: “I’m friendly to our businesses and friendly to our business owners.” And then goes further to say, “I’ve had more than a dozen business owners complain about the Historic Review Board. We need to value our business owners because people come here for our businesses.”
It seems perfectly clear that the mayor does not like that the village Historic Review Board, in the process of carrying out its mandate to protect the village’s historic assets, does not act as an easy rubber stamp to each business owner’s request.
So, if you were in politics, how do you get around a Historic Review Board that does not take its marching orders from you? Easy, you dissolve it.
And that is what will be under discussion at the Village Board meeting on Dec. 1 at 5 p.m.
So, where does all this back and forth get us? If, we citizens are content to have the current Historic Review Board (currently composed of people with professional credentials and a known interest in historic preservation and architectural development) who act in accordance with the ordinance, replaced with an expanded but politically handpicked group of individuals (with only some having some interest and knowledge of historic preservation) who are appointed annually, then this “massacre” will happen. If however, historic preservation means something to you, then contact the village officials and let them know your concern. Better yet, show up at the public hearing and voice your opinion.
Inaccuracies and half-truths about town park finances
Reference is made in Mr. Joe Roberti Jr.’s letters-to-the editor over the past two weeks (editions of 11/13 and 11/20) to the Glasco Mini Park along with the 2015 town of Saugerties budget.
Mr. Roberti’s statements that “Taxpayers had to pay $200,000 in overages for the Glasco Mini Park” along with funds not being budgeted is inaccurate.
When the Glasco Mini Park Capital Project was completed, a total of $163,006.98 remained outstanding that was not covered by the many grants received or monetary funds budgeted and, yes, there were funds included in the 2004 and 2006 budgets.
If Mr. Roberti had taken the time to get his facts straight he would have known that $120,000 was transferred from the Recreation Trust Fund, a non-taxpayer derived fund, by the Town Board on 10/17/12. Included in that figure was $50,000 which was previously dedicated and approved by the Saugerties Recreation Committee on 8/31/05. On 10/10/12, the Recreation Committee recommended and approved the additional $70,000— again, from the non-taxpayer derived fund.
At the same time there remained a balance of $25,315.94 from the first phase of the Glasco Mini Park Project, established in 2001, from grant funds received from Hudson River Estuary, Greenway Water Trail and state office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. That $25,315.94 was transferred to the Glasco Mini Park Capital Fund, which brought the balance remaining down to $17,691.98. Further, I anticipated budgeted revenue appropriations for the Ice Arena, along with my other revenue lines, would have a surplus of $35,000 by year’s end (actual surplus was $38,528.34) and it was my recommendation to then-Supervisor Myers to transfer a portion of those surplus revenues to cover the remaining balance.
As far as next year’s 2015 budget, Mr. Roberti goes on referencing “Many town departments will see big spending increases.” He specifically references Buildings with an 8.2 percent increase and Parks with a 6 percent increase, as did an article in the local paper, shortly after the proposed budget was released. Yes, that is indeed the case, however, only one side of the story (picture) was projected by Mr. Roberti and the paper. What was not is the revenue side of the picture (story), where my 2015 budgeted revenue allocations have been increased by $105,000 or 28 percent over my 2014 budget revenues.
Further, year to date, we have received $61,000 in expense reimbursements, along with an additional $90,000 into the Recreation Trust Fund and we are awaiting another $66,300 from the state office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
One of the primary reasons my department’s revenues have increased steadily over the past several years is increased facility use and hours of operations, along with new and innovative measures to create additional revenue streams. As an example, premium on-site parking, which I instituted in 2013, has brought us in additional new revenues of nearly $24,000 in just two years. This year’s monetary amount more than doubled 2013 totals.
Additionally, I project Ice Arena revenues will exceed 2014 budgeted appropriations by $25,000 or more by the end of this year. With that comes the need for additional staff and services expenses. You can’t have it just one-way, however, when you are able to increase revenues more than expenses, it’s a win-win. Besides the additional job hours, there is a very positive economic domino effect back into our community, along with quality of life enhancements derived. Every available “tournament” weekend from May to October in 2015 is already booked, there are no openings. The operating hours at the Ice Arena are just about full to capacity and facility use fees are being increased, department-wide, for 2015.
One other important factor is utility costs. Last year, heating and electric costs in our buildings took a beating. For 2015, I have budgeted an additional $38,500 should we experience another similar winter scenario. That monetary amount alone accounts for more than half of the percentage increase.
Hopefully, I have been able to project what is fact and correct the inaccuracies, along with projecting the whole picture, not just one side of. Thank you!
Superintendent, Parks & Buildings Department