Letters: Barge anchorages; high-speed Internet

ktx hudsonfultonstampThe public’s right to know

The U.S. Coast Guard is moving forward, full steam ahead, with plans to build multiple anchorage sites along the Hudson River. I am deeply concerned that there has been such a short, and poorly publicized open comment period and that there are zero plans to hold public hearings to inform the public about these anchorage sites.

The simple reality is, our communities are going to be impacted by these proposed plans and yet our residents are being given nearly no time or information to understand what is happening. Government has a responsibility to keep citizens informed about plans that will impact on our lives, and we should all be deeply concerned that currently this responsibility is being ignored. That is simply unacceptable, and the U.S. Coast Guard must halt these plans and truly inform us about what these anchorages will mean for our drinking water, our quality of life, and our property values.

Sara Niccoli, Town of Palatine supervisor

(Editor’s note: The writer is the Democratic candidate in the 46th State Senate District, which includes the City of Kingston.)


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, Saugerties