Letters (August 11-18)

mail-letter-sqSaugerties’ own historian

Woodstock has Alf Evers, who informed the world about the distinctiveness of Woodstock and the Catskills and, in his later life, Kingston.

Saugerties has Michael Sullivan Smith who with his recent publication of A Brief History of Saugerties has produced the seminal work about the significance of our town.

Michael’s sense of the uniqueness of Saugerties started when he arrived in the area in the early ’70s. He is a passionate historian. When listening to Michael speak or reading his new book, you sense the urgency of his message and his intense desire to share by communicating Saugerties’ exceptional history to his audience, so that people can become involved in practicing good stewardship of the town he loves.


On Saturday, August 6, Friends of Historic Saugerties hosted Michael, whose presentation “Creativity and Saugerties History” focused on six individuals who represent the characteristics that have caused Saugerties to be so special. It was an interesting and informative presentation and was another example of how, over the years, Michael has initiated several creative ways to present Saugerties history, including animated videos, interactive computer graphics, newspaper serials and the visitor center at the Thruway. He has also been a member of the Town’s Historic Preservation Commission since its inception.

Michael, influenced by Harvey Fite (of Opus 40 fame and one of the six people he discussed in his presentation), is the creator of his own bluestone sculpture site, The Great Knot, which all can see this coming weekend as part of the Saugerties artists’ tour.

A big thank you, Michael Sullivan Smith, for your dedication to spreading the word about Saugerties, our wonderful town.

Susan Puretz


Time to drain the swamp

The rumors of my political demise are greatly exaggerated. The quote by Mark Twain (though he wasn’t referring to politics) is rather apropos to Hugh Reynolds’ article “Snafu sinks Jack Hayes.”

What if being elected to office was not the only reason Jack Hayes decided to run for the Assembly? What if giving people a choice of the same old corruption versus ethics and integrity is by itself a reason to run for office? What if exposing the chairman of the state Assembly Insurance Committee’s financial contributions as being almost solely and generously derived from the corporate insurance industry is in itself a reason to run for office?

What if we let the people of Ulster and Dutchess counties decide whether “Jack Hayes is sunk” and not close out the candidate’s run on the basis of media commentary?

The lack of ethics and integrity is not a partisan problem. It is an institutional problem. The institution of New York State politics has an infection of corruption. It is a culture of corruption. The disease of dishonesty affects the lives of all New Yorkers. It affects all our reputations.

The watchdog organizations that decry the horrible corruption of the governor’s office and legislature always seem to find some silver (pardon the pun) lining in the incumbent to send him or her back to Camp Swampy (Albany executive and legislature).

Is it time to drain the swamp? Is it time to vote for reform rather than political criminal recidivism? Isn’t 18 years long enough to address abusive political power? Will anything change if the incumbent returns for two more years, or will he just enrich his retirement options?

I am running for office for the people. I am running because there is a great vacuum of honesty and integrity in our state government.

I ask all voters of all parties and those who are not enrolled in a political party to reject the premise that “Jack Hayes is sunk.” The decision of whether to elect Jack Hayes does not lie with a newspaper reporter. Rather, it lies with the people. The people are the deciders of who is chosen to represent them.

I choose to embrace Winston Churchill’s call to the people of Great Britain in the darkest hours of World War II — “Never, never, never give up!”

Jack Hayes
Candidate for Assembly District 103


We will call it ‘Reis Plaza’

After years of my putting benches in the Reis parking lot I’m glad to see the new benches that were installed around the parameter. Ever since I came to the village I’ve been looking for ways to transform this lot into a green.

A village needs a green, a place for the community and visitors to sit and relax — a place to meet someone — a place for the young to congregate rather than behind the convenience store. (It’s 10 o’clock; do you know where your children are?)

Perhaps Bob Siracusano could find some partners to buy the lot (even half a lot will do) and create the Village Green that I’ve dreamed of — an oasis to be enjoyed by the community and visitors alike in our sweet village of Saugerties. Cheers Bob. Go for it!

Willy Neumann


Thanks for the benches, Bob

Accolades to pubic spirited Bob Siracusano for placing the two new benches at the corner of Market and Main streets. This corner has long been a favorite spot of artist Z. Willy Neumann who has donated art and who has long advocated for a village green there. A Christmas tree and menorah are also placed there during the mid winter holiday. The farmers’ market also planted two Zelkva trees near the corner many summers ago when the weekly Saturday market took place in the parking lot. The car show also takes place there.

Reis Insurance has been generous in allowing all these public uses on their lot. It would be possible to implement Neumann’s vision, perhaps with the replacement of only one parking space, by providing a quarter circle green with additional seating and plantings to make it more inviting and attractive.

Barry Benepe


High-speed Internet a must

It was recently reported that New York State grant funding will be given to five small telecommunications companies across the Catskill Mountain region in order to make broadband and high-speed Internet available to these rural areas. These five grants which total $15.1 million are part of a more comprehensive grant project that allocates $54.2 million of grant funding for the proliferation of high-speed and broadband Internet across upstate, western and central New York. Last week Gov. Cuomo was in Hudson to announce the allocation of these grants, while Lt. Gov. Hochul made two appearances at SUNY New Paltz this year to announce the planning and implementation of this high-speed Internet stimulus program. These are positive steps towards improving the Internet-based infrastructure across upstate New York, but more infrastructural repairs and improvements need to be completed in order to make New York State technologically competitive with other areas of the United States. Many regional areas within the U.S. are more technologically advanced than the areas of New York State outside of southern New York are, as these areas do not have above-ground telephone wires and polls. These areas have broadband Internet and telephone lines installed underground, and it gives these areas a technological advantage over the regions of New York State that are north and west of New York City, Long Island and Westchester County. In most of upstate New York, the above-ground telephone lines are between 75-110 years-old, and they are cooper-based lines that are insulated by lead and paper. Strange as it may sound, squirrels have chewed holes through these paper-insulated lines over the last 75-110 years which causes major disruptions in telephone and internet service throughout New York State. Segments of copper-based phone lines generally run in three-mile segmented increments and a single hole and the associative exposed wires (when wet) can cause telephone and internet disruptions up to three miles away. The costs associated with a full replacement of these lines are astronomical, as engineers and numerous workers have to be brought in to initiate and complete such projects. In addition, the costs associated with the proper disposal of lead-insulated wires can be quite costly. The alternative would be to install telephone and broadband Internet lines underground, but in a state as large and geographically diverse as New York, this option is also very costly. Unfortunately, this problem is not being addressed by elected officials in Albany or Washington! In fact, Internet service is not considered an essential public service! The companies that maintain our landlines are looking to get out of the industry and allocate their financial resources towards the wireless-cellular industry, while leaving the phone lines in their current state of dilapidation. This leaves the leaders in Albany with a major crises-level situation which none of them have even addressed! In order for residents to have reliable telephone and Internet service, major infrastructural improvements need to be made, and in order for Upstate New York to be competitive in the globally-based economy, we need reliable high-speed Internet!

Chris Allen
Ulster County Legislature, District 2