In the Thursday, Feb. 19’s edition of Saugerties Times, Gaetana Ciarlante submitted yet another one of her venomous letters to the editor, filled with misinformation, that might have led too many residents without knowledge of the actual facts to question the integrity of Saugerties Town Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel and the entire Town Board.
Accusation #1: Why did Helsmoortel with hold public notice of the resolution authorizing the stac [Saugerties Transportation Advisory Committee] committee?
Response: Mrs. Ciarlante had been told that the resolution was requested to be added to the agenda by one of the Town Board members. Although Mr. Helsmoortel was not happy with the late addition of this proposed resolution, he agreed to accommodate his board members’ request. The sole purpose of this resolution was to establish a committee so that Saugerties town residents would have an opportunity to provide input to the stac. Nothing shady or devious, just your supervisor and his Town Board members trying to make sure that Saugerties residents have a safe environment in which they live along with having input into the direction that the stac will take us in.
On a side note it should be noted that Supervisor Helsmoortel and the Town Board, in an effort to be more transparent and give the public an opportunity to provide their input, have changed the way that late additions of resolutions to the Town Board meeting agendas will be added.
Accusation #2. Why is Helsmoortel advocating stac’s assistance in helping Country Meadows meet the criteria for funding? (Sidewalks are a criteria for funding.)
Response: Neither Mr Helsmoortel nor the Town Board is advocating stac’s assistance in helping Country Meadows meet the criteria for funding. The fact is Country Meadows had previously requested that the town let them put a sidewalk on Cantine Field property so that they could connect to the Senior Center. The developer was told no but that if he got permission/easements to run his sidewalk in front of the private resident’s homes, we could do nothing to stop them. Two things to remember Mrs. Ciarlante: We don’t live in a communist country where property owners don’t have the choice of saying yes or no to requests such as the one being proposed by the developer of Country Meadows and most importantly the property that the sidewalk would be built on is located in the village and the town has absolutely no say as to whether or not they allow it to be built.
Accusation #3. Why is Helsmoortel involved with Country Meadows when he says the town has no input into the project?
Response: Greg was just responding to a request to see if their proposed sidewalk would fit into the sidewalk plan that is being proposed for Washington Ave. This makes good sense. Why would we not want the ability to provide input into a sidewalk that we would otherwise have no say in, at all?
Accusation #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?
Response: Here again Mrs. Ciarlante you should do your homework and know what you’re talking about before making accusations. The fact is, the village is its own separate entity and they have their own Planning Board. It was never an option for the town to decide as to whether or not the village would be the lead agency.
Accusation #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?
Response: Once again Mrs. Ciarlante, your venomous and vindictive accusations are made to disparage and demean not only Supervisor Helsmoortel but also the capacity of town supervisor in which he serves. We don’t see how you or anyone else could possibly see where Supervisor Helsmoortel or anyone on the Town Board could possibly use the referenced correspondence for personal gain.
We would suggest that instead of constantly looking for negatives to use against the Supervisor and his Town Board, that perhaps you should spend a little time saying “thank you” for the countless hours that each of us put in, trying to do our best to make Saugerties a great place to raise our families.
Perhaps you should be thankful for a Town Board that puts politics on the back burner and continuously work together as a team for the common good of all Saugerties residents.
Again, let us reiterate that there is no hidden agenda, the pieces do fit together and no one on the Saugerties Town Board including Supervisor Helsmoortel has anything but the good of Saugerties as our common goal.
Oh and by the way, we see that you signed your letter to the editor as vice chairman of the Saugerties Conservative Party. Well we will say this Gaetana, perhaps you should take more direction from George Heidcamp, who is currently the chairman of the Saugerties Conservative Party. As tough as George can be, he listens to both sides and always does his homework before firing shots. Now that’s an attribute of a leader and something that you sorely lack.
As always, we along with the supervisor are available 7×24 and look forward to being contacted should you or any Saugerties residents have any questions or concerns.
Leeanne Thornton, Town councilwoman
William Schirmer, Town councilman
Fred Costello, Deputy supervisor
James Bruno, Town councilman
The failure of affordable housing
Regarding Gaetana Ciarlante’s letter to the editor, apparently town leaders are trying to sneak in a low-income housing project of the same type that is a failure of high crime around the country. I remember reading an old but good book called “The Cross and the Switchblade” that identified the “projects” as a flawed system because there are no homeowners or blue-collar shopowner-types living there as stewards of the neighborhood, therefore it degenerates into a hellhole of crime and neglect. It also concentrates all the bad actors into one place, overwhelming the resources of the host community. If I know this, why don’t our elected officials?
By the way, hats off to Gaetana for once again being the watchdog our officials fail to be!
Thoughts on village-town merger
First, villages are a higher form of government than towns, so the town would become part of the village. The reverse would be a step backwards because the village structure, by state law, is better-suited to serving larger populations.
Second, the town tax rate for village residents is lower than that of town residents. The area of the village will always have a higher tax rate, no matter what it is part of, because of its population density which requires different services.
Third, the consolidation of the police departments did not reduce the taxes paid by village residents.
Fourth, the village, with the former town, could become a city and receive increased state aid for the school district and a share of the county sales tax revenue.
Peter A. Lawrence