I’d like to preface my remarks by first saying that I believe the Blue Mountain Cemetery is a beautiful and well kept final resting place for the residents of Saugerties and surrounding communities. My mom was laid to rest there three years ago and my family and I have been there nearly every day. We have made good friends with other families who spend time there to honor their departed family members and friends. We decorate our sites for the holidays , keep them clean and assist each other in the removal of any blown debris. For three years we’ve done this and celebrated the lives of our lost ones and no one from the Blue Mountain Board who I’ve had the pleasure to deal with expressed any concerns. The first week of October we arrived at the cemetery and noticed a white, very impersonal notice attached to many of the gravestones giving us one week to remove any items not in compliance with rules and regulations by Oct. 15 . If not “the staff of the Cemetery will remove them for you.”
I witnessed family members crying as they were removing religious, personal and other items that obviously meant something to them and their lost family member. I immediately called Mr. S. Solitto , president, to set up a meeting with me and other interested plot owners to discuss this notice and to bring clarity to the issue. I also asked him to bring Teri Bach-Tucker, secretary. To Mr. Solitto’s credit he did meet with us; unfortunately Teri Bach-Tucker did not make the time to attend. Several concerns were conveyed and we asked for a follow-up meeting and maybe have a Blue Mountain Cemetery meeting to discuss the rather outdated rules and receive input from the plot owners. Let me be clear I believe in rules but I also think that when you are dealing with a the loss of loved ones and how families choose to grieve it is not necessarily a black and white issue and emotions must be considered in all matters.
I would ask that the Blue Mountain Cemetery Board schedule a meeting as soon as possible with plot owners to discuss the rules and regulations of Blue Mountain Cemetery; rules that would meet their needs and allow for the plot owners to properly honor their family members who have chosen Blue Mountain Cemetery as their final resting place.
I would ask that all interested /concerned plot owners contact Mr. Solitto and Tucker and call for a meeting.
Keep the woods safe
We are not a hunting community. There is this activity but it is fringe.
I personally work in the woods and have no use for guns, thank you, or the strangeness of those that think the woods is fair game for their shooting pleasure whenever hunting season comes around. I pay abnormally high taxes for the woodland I work in and hunters that feel free to shoot into it are not paying anything.
The fact that the Town Board even considered a vote against the sanity of the SAFE Act brings to question their understanding of land use in Saugerties. Have any of them been out for a walk in the woods? Maybe they think voters do but they should know the residents that are property owners of most of the wooded land here do walk it, prefer to be safe, and, though in some cases vote somewhere else, pay the taxes that run this town.
Michael Sullivan Smith
Debate, not hate
On Oct. 22, a letter referred to “hate mail” in this newspaper. I always read the letters, and do not consider that any of the letters I assume were referred to was in fact drumming up hate of any kind. Nor was any anti-Semitic. So far as I know, all were written by a few of our neighbors in the Hudson Valley who are concerned that much of the media show only one side of the Israeli-Palestine conflict. There are two sides to it: both have rights that need to be respected; both have done terrible things to one another. It should be possible for thoughtful and well-informed people to support Israel as a nation and, at the same time, criticize it for what it does that hurts others. To consider a nation as beyond criticism is just as dangerous and unwise as to consider any human being as such. I am a resident of Saugerties, have both Jewish and Palestinian-Arab friends, and know whereof I speak — as would anyone who takes the time and trouble to investigate the many sources of broad information on both sides of this terrible conflict.
A little more than 12 years ago, Steve Hopkins, who was then a reporter for Saugerties Times, called the newly formed Esopus Creek Conservancy, “A Ragtag Band of Local Activists.” Well, it was no “Ragtag Band” who gathered last week at Annarella’s Restaurant to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the opening of Esopus Bend Nature Preserve. Rather, it was a gathering of pleased, honorable and successful folks who are also among those who make this town such a great place to live.
A sub-plot of the celebration was also to recognize my contribution to the successful creation of Esopus Bend Nature Preserve, a first-class nature preserve with its premiere hiking trails. While I am grateful for the recognition, the phrase “I couldn’t have done it without you” was never more true. In recognition of this, Vernon Benjamin brilliantly filled the role of master of ceremonies and called on attendees to highlight moments of strategic importance in acquiring the property, designing and building trails, acquiring grants and creating educational programs for school children and the public as well.
Folks came from near and far, and we were especially happy to welcome Chris Olney who was then our link to, and advisor from the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development. That organization, along with the former CARES (Citizens Action for Residential Environments), played a key role in assisting the fledgling ECC to accomplish its goals. Our town and village leaders, Greg Helsmoortel, and former and beloved Mayor Yerick, were also instrumental in both encouraging this project and clearing away the obstacles we confronted in its purchase.
Board members through the years are too numerous to mention, however, Leeanne Thornton, our first secretary and organizer of our collaboration with the Saugerties schools, early-on developed an Environmental Education Program, was our first vice-president and continues to this day to bring school kids onto the Preserve with a recognition that they are our future conservationists. And Leeanne continues to lead the board today.
Also in attendance were Chris Florsch and Steve Chorvas, who from the very beginning designed trails, dealt with erosion, built bridges over streams and brilliantly recognized present and future constructions to enable the public to enjoy hiking, birding and observation of, and most importantly, protection of both the flora and fauna that inhabit the Preserve. But if the above is not enough, Steve has also created and leads a program to welcome the public to nature walks to introduce them to butterflies, dragonflies, trees, plants, and mushrooms led by himself and a host of other local naturalists he brings to Esopus Bend.
I also want to thank my sister, Pat Klugherz and my family, Ben, Sarah and Liza Bolitzer, my brother, John and my sister, Pat and their families for patiently sharing me with ECC through the years. But especially, thank you to my husband, Bernie, whose watchful waiting and frequent advice and support made it all possible. Also, thank you to my grandson, Jonah, who contributed the thought, “It’s good my nana fixed it.”
And a very special thanks to Virginia Luppino, who organized this event and currently supports and advises ECC’s board in ways too numerous to mention.