Letters: Kingston Greenline, DSS warrant checks, Ferguson, Mo.

ktx sq lomo 1923 Abraham Lincoln 3-cent stampA generational opportunity

As a lifelong resident of Kingston, I feel it is my responsibility to voice my support for the removal of the rail ties and creation of the interconnected system of rail trails also known as the Kingston Greenline. This is my community and that is why I will not stand by and let us pass up a great opportunity to help make an active change for the future that will encourage physical activity and exercise in order to combat the ever-growing national and regional issue of obesity and the negative health and economic impacts it will have on our community.

According to the 2014 Ulster County Department of Health and Mental Health’s Community Health Assessment, published in 2014, “In Ulster County, the obesity rate among children in 2009 was 18.8 percent.” And the rate of adult obesity is almost 25 percent. For critics who say this number is not big enough to matter, we must look at what effects obesity can have on our children and our economy.

According to Healthy People 2020, obesity and being overweight are the second leading causes of preventable death in the United States. Decades from now it is predicted that obesity will shorten life expectancy in the U.S. by two to five years. This will be the first generation of children that will not live as long as their parents did. Obesity leads to many preventable diseases including Type 2 diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “researchers have estimated that by 2030, if obesity trends continue unchecked, obesity-related medical costs alone could rise by $48 to $66 billion a year in the U.S.” The consequences of obesity-related illness are something we can’t ignore.


Physical activity is such a major tool for us to use in order to combat this epidemic. The rail trail connections that the Kingston Greenline would create would give free access to physical activity to all residents of Kingston, taking away financial barriers that may exclude some from membership to gyms or sports clubs. Even small increases in exercise can bring measurable health benefits by curbing the rates of preventable illness and improving overall quality of life. By connecting Kingston through these series of rail trails, we will be giving the gift of a readily available, easily accessible way for residents of our community and generations to come to take a stand against obesity.

Amanda Ruschak, Ulster Park

VanBlarcum is right

While I understand the concerns of Legislator Bartels and others regarding security checks at social services, I contend that the practice is legal and necessary. The sheriff has a duty to protect the good men and women who were once subjected to assaults and dangerous working conditions. What Sheriff VanBlarcum did was add another level of security in his quest to keep the peace. By Bartels’ actions and veiled threats she had managed to coerce the good intentions of the sheriff into discontinuing the practice.

What legislators should be doing is support the sheriff, but they didn’t. Which places a level of danger to the workplace and if a social services examiner is injured as a result, I would guess that he or she would have a costly civil suit against those who created this reversal. Further, this procedure in no way is an affront to the needy, and I would guess that they too would want to insure that the sheriff keep a tranquil atmosphere at that location.

Michael LaPaglia, Greenville

Editor’s note: The writer is a former Ulster County sheriff.

A solution to the Ferguson crisis

As predicted, the Ferguson, Mo. grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. And as expected, chaos erupted and violence swept through the streets. The nation is watching fearfully, wondering how this will unfold. Michael Brown’s family is devastated and wants Wilson to be held accountable.

While all of this is understandable, this moment offers an opportunity to find a better way, one that will honor the memory of Michael Brown and bring peace to Ferguson.

South African novelist Alan Paton writes that if a crime has been done to you, there is only one way to recover, and that is to forgive. It is my experience working in public schools that forgiveness is the only thing that can break the cycle of violence. If this is true between children, how much more applicable is it for adults?

Darren Wilson should reach out to the family of Michael Brown and ask for forgiveness. The same needs to happen between the police department and the black community, to start rebuilding the trust that has been broken. Imagine if Officer Wilson would reach out, and the family would accept his expression of remorse. Such an encounter would become a model for the entire world, wherever there are racial and ethnic tensions. It would show that violence need not always be countered with violence, but can be overcome with love, compassion and forgiveness.

Johann Christoph Arnold, senior pastor, The Bruderhof, Rifton

There are 10 comments

  1. CP

    To Amanda Ruschak: while I respect and encourage your desire for better health and activity among all citizens, there are already myriad trails and other opportunities for exercise in Kingston and Ulster County. The Ulster & Delaware right-of-way, no matter who the operator is, is a valuable resource financially and recreationally as a railroad, as the Catskill Mountain Railroad’s major events this fall have proven. Just ask any of the local merchants who have benefitted.

    If you are so eager to have an additional rail trail in Kingston, why not bring the O&W trail into the city? Its right-of way has been abandoned for years; cut back the overgrowth and bring it across Route 209, under the Thruway (a bridge exists already) and into Kingston next to the CMRR near Kingston Plaza, its original route. It is already graded and banked, the rails have been gone for decades, and completing that trail returns the land to fruitful use. See how the demand for that trail’s extension evolves before campaigning to tear up a viable, working and money-making railroad on which (I’ll bet) many of your friends have ridden.

    Your health motives are admirable, Ms. Ruschak, but the desire for better health has to come from within; replacing the CMRR with a trail isn’t going to provide that motivation or the results you seek.

    1. SSCrowe

      I agree CP with your analysis. There is no reason to tear up the rails and there are plenty of trails in and around Kingston. There are also sidewalks too!

  2. endrun

    Mr. LaPaglia, I appreciate your assertion that Sheriff Van Blarcum was sincere in his endeavors to run warrants exclusively at DSS.
    However, suggesting that lawsuits will be filed if a DSS worker is injured as a result of a reversal of this policy there is ludicrous and only adds fuel to the fire:if such a legal principle applied to DSS, it would also apply to DMV, MH, the courthouse, the whole of the county office building, the health department, the county bus terminal, Family Court, etc. Getting more calls from DSS is not the same as finding actual incidents worthy of the reputation, as is the case everywhere as well. However, it is worthy of note that the thinking here is the same, and according to the general idea that trouble exists at DSS moreso than anywhere else–and therefore a militarized zone is really the best way to deal with it. This tends to shatter the original impression and assertion that really all this was only made of good intentions, and we never paved that road with bigotry, bias, or blacklisting–and none of those entered into the decionsmaking there. Thanks for reversing that impression, Mr. LaPaglia. A bit of revealing truth never hurt anyone.

  3. AnotherTakeOnIt

    RE Amanda Ruschak’s comments, the health benefits of the Greenline are a very important aspect of the interconnected trail network. As is rebuilding the personal connections between people in neighborhoods within Kingston and between the other communities linked by the trial network. Within Kingston the Greenline also gives those lacking personal motorized transportation a safe route to move from one area of the City of Kingston to another, this includes the children who are too young to drive. The Greenline will bring a new energy to Kingston!

  4. John Anzevino

    Amanda, your letter was thoughtful and absolutely correct in your assessment. As for the assertion that “there are plenty of other trails,” I would remind people that there are not plenty of other trails in Kingston where the Green Line is planned to provide residents access to active recreation and transportation without the use of a car. Many Midtown residents are low income and this provides benefit to them. It’s an environmental justice issue to replace the belching train with a healthful rail trail. I like the CMRR and would like to see it continue under the recently proposed compromise. But I believe that CMRR officials, as tenants to a County asset, must be willing to cooperate if they expect to continue their operations. Upon the expiration of the lease in 2016 the CMRR is not entitled to anything

    1. CP

      I see the pro-trail folks have discovered this discussion. I repeat: before you rip up the U&D corridor rails (no matter who is operating it), bring the O&W Trail into town first and see how that goes.

      While I do think that the revitalized and refocused CMRR is the best choice for operator of the entire line to Phoenicia, it seems the trail advocates are using their enmity toward the CMRR against rail use in that corridor. So to the anti-rail forces, is it the trains that bother you, or the operator?

      1. AnotherTakeOnIt

        A study is being commissioned to determine which corridor, U&D or O&W is most viable to connect Kingston to Hurley. Keep in mind that the land through which the O&W runs between Kingston and Hurley is owned by Central Hudson and Ulster Savings Bank whereas the U&D corridor is owned by Ulster County. The U&D also already has a bridge over the Esopus that would make for a very nice destination pocket park much as the bridge over the Wallkill does near New Paltz. There is also the 100 year floodplain issue to contend with as well as a very expensive retaining wall and fill project to cross the Esopus next to the Rte 209 bridge. Are you starting to get the idea that CMRR, or another vendor, will have little chance of paying for all the extra expenses of using the O&W over the U&D?

        1. CP

          What I’m starting to think is that a new deck is being stacked against the railroad (and the CMRR in specific, although any new operator would be caught in the crossfire). Has anyone asked the bank what they think?

  5. John Garesche

    A tourist train operator does not need the section of the old U&D Corridor from mid-town to the Plaza. The corridor has not connected to the CSX mainline for over 20 years – and passenger service will never be financially viable. So it’s time to put the corridor to it’s highest and best use.

    Converting the corridor to a trail is not only good for the health of the local residents, but it will connect the Kingston Point Rail Trail currently under construction, the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail that currently ends at the edge of Kingston, the Hurley Rail Trail, and the future Ashokan Rail Trail. This will bring far greater economic benefits to Kingston than a tourist rail operation ever will.

    I applaud the recent success of CMRR, but I also question their long-term sustainability. Before any significant money is wasted on routing the rail trail around the U&D, we need to see more than 3 months of success. They had over thirty years, and only now they are showing any sign of viability. The railroad has been declining for 100 years, Is this a sign of true long term potential, or simply an agonal breath?

    1. CP

      Quotations from your comment:

      “Before any significant money is wasted…, we need to see more than 3 months of success.” Exactly – give the CMRR a chance to prove their “long term sustainability.” Pulling the plug on it now or in a year and a half while trying to drain its coffers with legal action and other threats is (1) definitely wasting significant money on the part of the county and (2) not giving it the best opportunity to perform – and yet, still it’s succeeding.

      “They had over thirty years, and only now they are showing any sign of viability.” Times have changed and the leadership of the railroad has changed. (Haven’t you changed, too?) Honestly, no rail operator – or trail use – can show you 30 years of success overnight; it takes 30 years. But the revivified railroad is off to a great start. The local merchants sure seem happy and the railroad is in place and improving its operation and ROW. Let’s give it the proper chance and support it deserves.

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