Letters (Feb. 19-26)

mailOver-aggressive policing

Although I strongly favor law and order and support our military, police forces and other public servants, as a resident and taxpayer in Saugerties, I am concerned about the increasing prevalence of over-aggressive policing nationwide.

Every day, it seems, there is another example of police officers betraying their sworn duty to serve and protect the public. The latest example is perhaps the worst, where in Madison, Alabama, municipal cops detained an elderly Indian man and because he didn’t speak English and could not follow their commands, he was brutally body slammed to the ground and paralyzed.

If you have not seen the video, I think you should search it out on the Internet, but I warn you ahead of time that it will make your blood boil. After the brutal and unsolicited assault by the police, the officers attempt to stand him up and make him walk, not realizing that his legs are now useless.


Not only is the kind of policing that is shown in the video a crime and a tragedy. It is also a financial liability to the taxpayer.

I would like to see my local police force be strictly vetted for the kind of personality that would behave in this overly-aggressive way, so that persons capable of this kind of act cannot be given police authorities. I would like my local police to be trained properly so that this kind of event doesn’t happen in our community.

I would like my local police to be fitted for body cameras, for their own protection against accusations as well as the protection of the community against unlawful over-policing.

Cesar Baptista


Oy vey and the Lone Ranger: a different take . . .

Hugh Reynolds enjoys playing the bad boy, and works fairly energetically (if not always that successfully) at being provocative. But here, with regard to the plight of former Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver he (or whoever wrote that head for his column) was actually funny. I’m Jewish and I laughed aloud. And so, I imagine, would Mel Brooks, Jon Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, Carl Reiner, Larry David, Woody Allen, plus a long, long list of others, including the ghosts of Berle, Benny, Brice, not to mention every Marx Brother.

Michele Slung


Surprise agenda items tied to affordable housing proposal

On Jan. 21 the Saugerties Town Board passed several resolutions without notifying the public. One of the hidden resolutions passed was the authorization of STAC (Saugerties Transportation Advisory Committee), a multifaceted program whose purview includes streets, sidewalks, bike paths and more.

For several years a low income rental housing project known as Country Meadows has been planned in the village on North St. This project would be built and owned by private developers but funded by taxpayers. The owner collects higher than customary rents because their rents also are taxpayer subsidized. Additionally, tax breaks (PILOTS Payment in Lieu of Taxes) are negotiated with the town and village and other taxing authorities. Generally low-income projects negatively affect the character of a community, with increased crime and associated activity. Soon afterwards, higher property and school taxes are levied on single-family home owners to make up the difference not being paid by the project owner.

Country Meadows has been met with tax-payer opposition and to date the funding has not been approved but is reviewed quarterly. Since the village government was made the lead agency for this development during Helsmoortel’s previous term, according to former Town Supervisor Kelly Myers, town residents have no formal mechanism for input. All hearings and meetings have been done by Saugerties village officials, and all town officials to date have responded that they have no say in the project at this point.

On Feb. 5, I attended the first official meeting of STAC where I learned that Town Board Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel had recently sent the following message to STAC: “The developers of the proposed affordable/ senior housing on North St. would still like to install a sidewalk in front of the attached homes along Market St. that would help connect their project to our recreation area and the senior citizen center. I know we are working on a sidewalk on Washington Ave. that would parallel this sidewalk. If your committee feels this would be a fit for our ‘Complete Streets’ initiative please contact Pat Simmons, 845-594-4286. Mr. Simmons group is working with Kevin O’Connor and RUPCO. Thank you, Greg H.” (Pat Simmons is the Country Meadows’ developer.)

  1. Why did Helsmoortel withhold public notice of the resolution authorizing the STAC committee?
  2. Why is Helsmoortel advocating STAC’s assistance in helping Country Meadows meet the criteria for funding? (Sidewalks are a criteria for funding.)
  3. Why is Helsmoortel involved with Country Meadows when he says the town has no input into the project?
  4. Why did Helsmoortel make the village the lead agency for Country Meadows when all of the town taxpayers will have to foot the bill?
  5. Was Helsmoortel’s correspondence to the STAC committee done as town supervisor or did he use privileged information for his personal gain as the owner of a real estate company?

Either way, his actions suggest a conflict of interest and appear increasingly improper.

Gaetana Ciarlante
Vice chairman, Saugerties Conservative Party