I want to thank Mr. Gordon for calling and asking me for my statement for the article in Saugerties Times dated Dec. 10. He stated correctly the reason I declined. I was expecting Thomas (Sonny) Solitto to be presidential. In my opinion he wasn’t.
My name is Teresa (Teri) Bach-Tucker. I’m secretary treasurer and one of nine trustees for the Blue Mountain Cemetery. I held these positions from 1978-1992 and was asked to take the positions again in August 2014, which I did.
When hired in August, one of the jobs I was asked to do was to enforce the rules and regulations of the cemetery, as they hadn’t been enforced in a long time. To do this I met along with Sonny with two different attorneys to get advice.
The board was updated after the first meeting with our attorney on Sept. 23, 2014. After that meeting it was realized our rules and regulations needed to be updated due to some contradictions and also some new issues. Some examples are, people were now placing large metal shepherd hooks in the ground and when they fall over, the grass covers them up, which can do a lot of damage to the lawn mower. Some people were extending their items more than the allowable 12 inches in front of their headstone and the mower can’t get through the aisles easily. Shrubs were allowed to overgrow causing issues with covering headstone and large root systems that were uprooting other headstones. Some people were doing their own snow blowing and blowing snow onto other headstones. Large pebbles around headstones that when mowing and weed-whacking has the potential to chip headstones. Some of the decorations were perceived by the board as too much and they wanted it toned down some. I used my best judgment to obtain this objective. This is where we get into some gray areas and I think a meeting to discuss it is in the best interest of everyone. A meeting is planned for Jan. 14, at 6:30 p.m. at the Blue Mountain Dutch Reformed Church in Blue Mountain, all are welcomed.
New rules and regulations were approved by the board on May 14, 2015 after being reviewed by our second attorney. A vote of 7-0 to approve was taken, trustees Bill Bolde and Mike Zollo were absent. At that very meeting more discussion was done on enforcing the rules and regulations.
On the suggestions of many I felt I was prepared to enforce the rules and regulations. We decided to put notification in the paper and post the new rules and regulations on the shed. We also agreed to put the notice on the graves that weren’t in compliance, which was done by me. If I had to take an educational guess 70 percent of plot owners were in compliance and 30 percent had some issues of noncompliance. In my opinion, this shows the majority of people support the rules and regulations.
The thought process behind not doing a second mailing was lack of having everyone’s addresses (we aren’t computerized) — it could take years to get everyone’s address and the board wanted the rules enforced now. Also we wanted to be financially conservative. I didn’t feel the board wanted to pay me for the time it would take to do that research on addresses. I get a $3,000 stipend to keep the books for the cemetery. So much of what we do is voluntary. Every deed owner gets rules and regulations with the purchase of their plot. I know this to be a fact for the last 40 years of my involvement. The noncompliance of most plot holders was based off the old rules and regulations that didn’t change in the updated version.
On Oct. 15, prior to the removal of any items, Sonny Solitto, Steve Bogert, James Banks, my husband and I walked the cemetery to discuss what was incompliance and out of compliance. What needed to be removed and to make sure we were all on the same page. I thought we were. So for Sonny to state he was not aware that I intended to remove items from the graves or he wouldn’t have done it the way it was done is not true. Sonny’s words were it has to be done; everyone has to follow the rules. It was also stated to me by Steve Bogert that I should have someone with me when I started the removal because today’s day and age one doesn’t know how people will react. Sonny agreed. So I did just that and had my husband with me. I’m hurt to see what has been written in the paper and what people are telling me Sonny has said about me. I hope a sit-down meeting with the full board clears these issues up. I expect a public apology from Sonny.
I only met Mr. Puma once at the cemetery. He was upset I was doing my job. He said I mustn’t have family buried at the cemetery because of my actions and that I was heartless. He wanted to know if I knew who he was and I didn’t. He promised I would know him when this was done. I tried to explain the board did set a meeting up to hear his concerns on Oct. 22 and he didn’t show. Five board members can verify that. He stated he met with Sonny and Sonny said I couldn’t attend that meeting I was working. I explained I never knew of any such meeting.
I’m sorry to say I have a great deal of family buried at the cemetery. my mom, my dad, my mother and father-in-law, brother and sister-in-laws, my nephew, aunt and my biggest heart break, my son.
I can only speak for myself as a trustee. To me the cemetery should remain in its most natural, respectful, peaceful, serene and tranquil setting. For me this means no solar lights to light up the cemetery like Broadway. God’s natural light, the sun, moon and stars is enough for me. If you want an eternal light, then light one at our local church or in the privacy of your own home.
When you purchase a plot at the cemetery, you purchase the right to bury. You don’t own the land. The cemetery owns the land I think a lot of people don’t realize this. As a cemetery body I believe the board tries to protect everyone’s right to rest in peace. The discussion has to be about, what is everyone’s vision of what rest in peace means to them. I hope we can have that discussion without personal attacks.
Scaling back transfer station is a mistake
I have recently read in this newspaper that the town of Saugerties is not going to re-sign their contract with the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency. The town is now going to contract with a private firm and reduce the time the Saugerties transfer station is going to be open from five days to two days. The open days will be Tuesday and Saturday. I don’t think the public was properly informed about this important decision. I’m concerned about the public being inconvenienced. I’m also concerned about getting less service for the same $ 30 permit price which I thought was high to begin with. I’m also not happy with a town employee losing her job. Anyone running a scale house with no scales and having to estimate the bulk loads and try to keep everyone happy is probably doing a good job and I don’t think she is being treated fairly. I’m also worried about traffic problems at the intersection of the access road and Rt. 212 on Saturdays especially. It’s a tricky place to begin with and if it gets really busy I think it could be a problem . I also hope that this doesn’t result in more trash being left alongside some of our back roads. Saugerties has become a tourist attraction and our local politicians have done a great job with the transitions we have gone through but I think they are making a mistake on this one.