Saugerties Times letters (8/24-30)

Diaz benefit thanks

On behalf of the Diaz Memorial Ambulance Service Board of Directors, managers and staff I’d like to thank everyone who supported our first fundraiser this past Friday at Bella Luna. A special acknowledgement goes to two of our board members, Ward Backhaus and Bob Siracusano, who organized this event. Donations and ticket sales enabled us to raise $20,000. This money will be used to replace aging equipment.

The generosity of the Saugerties community is much appreciated.  Thank you!

Steve Thornton
President and Chairman of the Board
Diaz Memorial Ambulance Service Inc.



Deprive Bannon, Breitbart of coverage

Steve Bannon is gone from the White House. This is a good thing. But, if the press does not now marginalize him, then Bannon’s influence will not fade, and our country will suffer.

Bannon’s presence in the White House was pernicious because it gave him an opportunity to try to normalize the extreme, destructive ideas and policies he and other leaders of the “alt right” sought to promulgate. Now that Bannon has crawled back into the dark hole of hate, lies, and conspiracy theory that is Breitbart News, the legitimate press should leave him alone and end their coverage of him. Continuing to cover his antagonistic remarks and give voice to his nationalistic, isolationist, ideologically suspect ideas will only contribute to the reality TV atmosphere that has characterized this administration since before it took office.

There is an argument to be made for the role of the press in bringing us the information we need to remain a strong democracy, free and informed, yes. And, within that argument, one could make a case that the press should continue to include Bannon and Breitbart news in coverage of the Trump narrative. But, there is equally a risk that news coverage could further fuel the disruption and chaos Bannon wants to create. The firestorm he seeks to cultivate needs oxygen to burn. Depriving Bannon and Breitbart News of the oxygen they would derive from coverage in the legitimate press would help keep the “alt right” at the fringe where they belong.

Deidre J. Byrne


Eliminate sign pollution

I am writing to tell you that I, as a Saugerties property owner, highly object to the proposed zoning change that would permit illegal “electronic moving message” billboards and other signage. It is distressing that the Town Board would even consider this. We should be eliminating sign “pollution” rather than increasing it. Our town’s appeal for tourism will be greatly diminished by this change.

Please consider that the more we emphasize our assets (beautiful landscape, charming villages and homes) the more we can build up the tourism industry that is so beneficial to local businesses.

Beth Loven


Eclipse fun at the library

Thank you to the Saugerties Public Library staff who brought our community together for a wonderful eclipse watching opportunity. The programs that was offered the day of the eclipse was for all ages and all ages apparently enjoyed themselves.

Since the library is a community magnet, a volunteer brought his fantastic telescope and offered peeks at the eclipse while others offered views through various devices.

It was such a fun atmosphere bringing a diverse group of people together.

And of course, our library staff always shines with their knowledge of so many subjects.  This was the case, once again, with the eclipse!

Jo Galante Cicale 


Cheapening Saugerties: Selling our roadsides

The Town Board is considering one of the most offensive zoning laws in our history. After passing a law in 2005 outlawing billboards, it would permit them again, only many more, brightly lit and dangerously distractive. The enormous nationally based company, the LAMAR Outdoor Advertising Company operating out of Florida would swamp our community with up to hundreds of these ugly signs, distracting the attention of drivers every six seconds over many miles of public roads. Police Chief Joe Sinagra reported that three people have been killed by drivers in the last five years.

The proposed law drafted by town attorney George Redder and Town Planning consultant Dan Shuster states unequivocally that “such signs have been shown to potentially distract drivers leading to traffic accidents and may detract from the visual character of certain residential, historic or scenic areas.” A 2009 Federal Highway Administration made available to the Town Comprehensive Planning Committee, of which I am vice-chair, states, “it is increasingly clear that distractions heighten safety risks…especially when the signs change messages every 6 to 8 seconds.”

The Planning Committee did not support the proposed law. Members found they conflicted with the comprehensive plan and would have a negative impact on the town’s character. Moreover, they would obscure on-site business signs making it more difficult for patrons to locate them.

We cannot risk one death or injury due to intentional driver distraction. LAMAR boasts on its web site that it can “capture attention to products and services for sale such as real estate agents, law firms, banks, and contractors…If you can’t make your pitch in 8 seconds, then our billboards are not for you.” Just one illuminated billboard would produce over 52,000 messages per year…forever. These are very durable heavy steel structures earning a great deal of money for LAMAR which reported that just one menswear company paid “upwards of $40,000/month.” This would provide a very generous income to LAMAR or to anyone who buys property along our five miles of State and County highways, not counting Town roads which could be impacted as well.

Why has the Town Board entertained this proposal to cheapen the town by selling our roadsides and precious unique historic landscape to the highest bidder? Why has neither candidate for supervisor not addressed this important issue?

Two public hearings have been held. Of the half dozen who attended the first hearing, five raised objections. Some 30 attended the second hearing and all who spoke objected strenuously. Many businesses and members of the Chamber of Commerce have objected. Is the Town Board listening? Who is really behind this effort?  Who are the “one percenters” who would profit while the rest of us suffer their poor judgment?

Barry Benepe


Thanks for the STOP

One of the things I’ve always appreciated about living in Saugerties is what I refer to as its Mayberry quality; an un-sarcastic nod to the fictional location of the old Andy Griffith television series, which was portrayed as an archetypal small American town. One of the best examples of this is the wonderfully available access we have to our Village and Town government, which carries with it the sense that one’s voice and concerns can not only be heard, but acted upon with relative expedience.

Recently (in the Times) the Village Board asked residents to attend one of its regular meetings to express their thoughts about traffic control measures on Washington Avenue. My wife and I attended the meeting, and even though we arrived after the public comment period had ended Mayor Murphy kindly acknowledged us and asked if we wanted to address the Board.

Because we live at the busy corner of Washington Ave. and Post Street, where the sound of screeching brakes is heard almost daily, we thanked the Board for placing pedestrian crosswalks and signage at the intersection. I also pointed out that, in our opinion, the worst traffic problem at the intersection has to do with traffic approaching Washington Ave. from the East on Post Street. For whatever reason, drivers like to just roll out into that intersection! I said that it might help the situation to paint the word “STOP” on Post Street as reinforcement to the STOP sign that is already there.

Fourteen hours later I looked out my bedroom window and there it was! — along with a painted STOP “bar” on the road. I am fairly certain that they also set back the No Parking zone on Westbound Post St. to further enhance drivers’ visibility at the intersection.


We’d like to express a big Thank You to the Board and Mayor Murphy for being so remarkably responsive to our specific concern as well as the broader considerations and actions they are taking to keep our Village roadways safe for al of us. We look forward to the “bike share” lane markings that are forthcoming!

Alex Rappoport and Katie Cokinos


Thanks for the drainage

I want to thank the Ulster County Department of Highways and Public Works for completing the project on Main Street in Malden that reconstructed the drainage ditch along the Western side of the road. Several residents had complained to me about a persistent drainage issue that caused localized flooding at the end of their driveways and surrounding lawn areas. Last autumn, that County Road (which is also Main Street) was repaved, but after the re-pavement, the drainage issue actually became more pronounced.  After inspecting the area myself along with one of the residents, I immediately realized that the job that would be required to repair the drainage ditch would be a decent-sized project. After two more recent conversations with County Personnel, I was able to elicit a response from the County Highways Department that led to a complete overhaul of the drainage ditch. The residents along Main Street and I are grateful for the repair job which took 3-4 days to complete.

Chris Allen
Ulster County Legislature, District 2