Anger and resentment could mean an end to Woodstock’s Memorial Day parade and picnic unless the town can repair its relationship with the American Legion.
Woodstock Post 1026 Trustee Terry Breitenstein told the Town Board the Legion never asked for the annual $2,000 contribution toward the Memorial Day program, but accepted it as part of cost sharing. That arrangement went on for dozens of years with no strings attached until recently, when the town started asking for an accounting of the money spent. That’s when feelings of resentment began to build.
“The insinuation. It angered some members,” Breitenstein said. “They feel insulted. Old wounds don’t heal that early.” Breitenstein said it is better that he bring the issue to the board instead of some of the members, who may not have been so diplomatic. “We have one mission for Memorial Day. That’s the commemoration of the fallen veterans. We don’t believe in bringing politics into it.”
The Legion will no longer be involved in the parade and will not host the traditional picnic afterward at its Hillside Avenue Post. It will perform the solemn ceremony and rifle salute in the cemetery, but nothing else. “You want to have the parade, you do it,” Breitenstein said.
So, for the first time in about 60 years, the town won’t have a Memorial Day parade unless Supervisor Jeremy Wilber and the Town Board can heal wounds at the Legion or come up with alternate plans.
Wilber said he wants the opportunity to come speak to the Legion members and let them air their concerns in hopes issues can be resolved. Wilber said any visit to the Legion would come with the goal of trying to save the parade.
“I had no idea it had come to this,” said Councilman Bill McKenna, who noted the town is “under the gun a bit” from Albany about accounting from organizations receiving money. McKenna said the requirement was not out of mistrust, but necessary because of state requirements.
The town contribution always came without formal accounting of the money, Wilber said. At some point an auditor said the town should be getting signed agreements from everyone who receives town money. The Legion agreement stated the money would be used for flags and grave markers. That agreement seemed to be fine.
“Years went by. Then in 2011 we had our last audit. The state Comptroller’s Office said you should be getting receipts,” Wilber said.
The town realized the Legion wasn’t spending all $2,000 on flags and grave markers, so both parties agreed the remainder would be donated to the VA hospital in Albany and the Samaritan Village drug rehabilitation center in Ellenville in the Legion’s name. The town formalized the agreement in a resolution last year.
McKenna said he voted for the resolution with the understanding the Legion was on board and was not aware of the underlying anger and resentment. He urged Breitenstein and the Legion to come to the board sooner and not let things come to this point.
Whose sidewalk is it anyway?
Frequent pedestrians have no-doubt noticed the plastic orange construction fencing blocking the south sidewalk on the Tinker Street bridge over the Tannery Brook near Joshua’s restaurant. That fence is keeping people from falling through a gaping hole where one can see the water flowing beneath.
Engineers from the state Department of Transportation examined it, given the bridge carries a state highway over the brook. But now there’s another problem.
“They tell me the sidewalk is not theirs,” Wilber said.
Wilber sifted through meeting minutes and old documents to prove it was in fact theirs, but the answer isn’t clear.
How about going back to 1929 when the bridge was built? Nothing. What about 1949 when the water district brought water across the bridge? Again, nothing.
Things may have gotten clearer in 1976, when New York Telephone proposed to bring communication lines across the bridge to its switching station. Since there was no reference to getting permission to use a town-owned sidewalk, perhaps that is the answer.
“There’s a little dispute as to whose sidewalk it is,” Wilber said.
A more permanent solution may come when the state finally decides to replace the nearly 80-year-old bridge. Until then, the town will build a wooden structure to keep people safe, tapping Councilman Jay Wenk’s carpentry prowess for ideas.
No competitive hunting
The board unanimously passed a resolution against competitive hunting, supporting similar state legislation. The resolution, sponsored by Wenk, notes there are contests and competitions throughout the state offering prizes for killing the greatest number of wildlife.
Bills in the state Senate and Assembly would make it “unlawful for any person to organize, conduct, promote or participate in any contest or competition where the objective of such contest or competition is to take the greatest number of wildlife.”
Electric rate update
Councilman Ken Panza gave an update on Central Hudson rate increases and the new capacity zone
Last summer Central Hudson applied for $40.1 million in rate increases, 40 percent of which was attributed to property tax increases at its facilities, Panza said. Another 20 percent of the increases come from energy efficiency and lack of customer growth. As people use less electricity, cost increases are spread over fewer customers.
Panza also said commercial increases for the new capacity zone won’t be as steep as originally thought. The capacity zone, with a projected 10 percent increase in rates, was thought of as a way to encourage power companies to increase capacity. With the Danskammer plant near Newburgh converted to natural gas and coming on line soon, along with other repurposed coal plants, capacity is increased and the rate hike will be closer to 5 percent, Panza said.