The views and opinions expressed in our letters section are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Hudson Valley One. You can submit a letter to the editor here.
Fighting to protect Winston Farm
For decades, the citizens of Saugerties have fought to protect the pristine pastures of the Winston Farm from ill-considered development, ranging from a garbage dump to a casino to the current development plan of a scattershot conglomeration of retail space, workforce housing, single-family and estate lots, amphitheater and events center, boutique hotel, tech and business park – all with accompanying parking lots.
Our community has long recognized the intrinsic value of this unique, historic property comprising hundreds of acres of fertile land, open green spaces, forests and the meandering Beaverkill. This stream, a significant Hudson River tributary, flows north into the Kaaterskill, which flows into the Catskill Creek and then into the Hudson at Catskill. The walnut-tree-lined stream was immortalized in a 19th-century poem written by Rev. Sanford Cobb: “Soft-flowing Beaver, by thy winding side I wander with the hours of passing day. Through thy pellucid depths and shallows glide the phantom forms of finny tribes at play…”
Along the banks of the Beaverkill on the Winston Farm, rare native orchids of the Orchidaceae family, known as yellow ladyslippers, have been observed. In the fields along the Beaverkill, farmers who have worked these lands have unearthed artifacts of the Lenape and Munsee Esopus tribes who lived there, farmed it and who fished and trapped beaver in the stream. Points, potsherds, scrapers, hammerstones and pestles are all that remain of their prehistoric occupation of this land.
Southwest of the Winston Farm is the Snyder Homestead, an important stone house built in 1820, with its surrounding fields that have been farmed for generations. Just east of the Winston Farm is the Wynkoop House, a significant early stone home built in 1740 and used as a tavern serving those who traveled the King’s Road. The imminent demolition of the imposing Wynkoop House was the seminal point in the creation of this Town’s Historic Preservation Commission. The house was saved.
In the early 20th century, James O. Winston, architect of the Ashokan Reservoir, built his summer home on what was then known as the Saugerties Farm. Today it is known as the Winston Farm. The home was built of locally quarried bluestone and was considered a local showplace. He raised prize Guernseys and racehorses on the farm. As part of the war effort during World War I, he planted wheat on 15 acres to demonstrate the possibilities of this area for wheat-raising and harvested 706 bushels, “an average of forty-seven and one-half bushels to the acre.”
About a mile north of the Winston Farm is the home and studio of Augusta Savage, the preeminent Harlem Renaissance artist, teacher and civil rights activist. The property was listed on the New York State and National Register of Historic Places in 2001 and is considered to be “the most significant surviving site associated with the productive life of this renowned sculptor.” The Beaverkill flows nearby the home, and it is here where Augusta Savage fished, using poles she fashioned from saplings. Repasts of bullheads, eels and panfish were prepared on open fires.
In the spring of 2000, the Town of Saugerties renamed the road running through the Winston Farm from Niger Road (and originally a more pejorative word) to Augusta Savage Road to honor her legacy. H. Carl McCall, the New York State comptroller, was the keynote speaker at the road dedication. In his address he stated: “By rededicating this road in Augusta Savage’s name…by replacing a hateful message with the name of a woman who epitomized beauty and strength, we send a powerful, hopeful, progressive signal to every child who passes this road. In the months and years to come, children passing this spot will ask the question, ‘Who is Augusta Savage?’ And the answer will be, ‘Augusta Savage was a great and talented African American artist who called Saugerties home years ago. A woman who overcame tremendous racism to become one of the most respected artists in the world, a woman who defied racial boundaries…a woman who loved children…a gifted teacher… a woman who was a fierce opponent of racism…a woman of tremendous talent and courage’…From this day forward that will be the answer we give our children.”
The Winston Farm is a magnificent gateway property. Its importance has been memorialized in a large, colorful mural painted on the side of a building on the corner of Market and Main Streets in the Village of Saugerties. Its message, “Let Saugerties Grow Gracefully,” reminds us of how important the Winston Farm is to the future of Saugerties and how this community views itself. Is this latest plan considered graceful growth, or excessive development? “In the end, our community will be defined not only by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy.”
Karlyn Knaust Elia
“Pro-Life” or pro-death?
Regarding the retorts against my previous letter, I have never said that any woman should have an abortion. Moreover, since I do not claim to be a health care provider, I am certainly not an abortionist. In fact, I am sympathetic to the views of people who oppose abortion due to a sincere and consistent regard for life, which also includes opposition to poverty, systemic racism, unjust war, capital punishment, gun violence and environmental destruction.
However, most anti-abortion crusaders are right-wingers, from would-be dictator Donald Trump to local letter-writers such as John Butz and George Civile, whose motivation is not concern for life but hatred of women and condemnation of sexuality. Their own bumper stickers proclaim they are both “pro-life” and “pro-gun.” These ideological descendants of medieval witch-burners expose their own hypocrisy by defending war, capital punishment, unrestricted gun rights, fossil fuel extraction and cutbacks to anti-poverty programs, whenever they stop ranting about the “murder” of fertilized eggs, zygotes and embryos while dismissing the reality of rape and life-threatening pregnancy complications.
Since most rapes are unreported due to women’s justified reluctance to put their own lives on trial, as well as the extreme unlikelihood of a conviction in most cases, there are no reliable statistics regarding pregnancies resulting from rape. As for the alleged statistical insignificance of life-threatening pregnancy complications, I wonder how Butz would feel if he was denied life-saving medical care because his illness was statistically uncommon.
Furthermore, the medications and procedures used for abortion are also used for treatment of miscarriages and stillbirths, as in the case of African American congresswoman Lucy McBath, who suffered two miscarriages and a stillbirth before carrying a much-wanted pregnancy to term, only to have her son murdered at age 17 by a white racist. Women have already suffered permanent injury and death due to denial of medical care as a result of laws which prioritize unborn lives over women’s lives.
I would love to live in a world where rape and incest never occur, birth control is 100 percent effective, all pregnancy complications and serious fetal deformities are prevented, top-quality health care is freely available and all women and families can provide for as many children as they want. Instead, I live in the real world, where some women unfortunately must sacrifice unborn lives to survive.
I never stated that opponents of abortion absolutely love the smell of blood or totally evade paying taxes. I merely intended to indicate that right-wingers enjoy causing women’s death and object to assisting low-income families. The “God, guts and guns” crowd obviously has no problem with funding nuclear weapons buildup and foreign military intervention. However, I do not apologize for hurting right-wingers’ feelings. If they hate their reflection, they should not blame the mirror.
Rebecca B. Wilk
Keeping madness to a boil
“Give us your tired, your poor”: now empty, meaningless words. Instead, in America, the hallmark of the elected far right everywhere is stoking fear of the Other and treating them as “less than” human beings.
There are two disgusting people, Abbot and DeSantis, posing as governors, who are doing disgusting things to fellow human beings that are seeking political asylum. Shameless, immoral, cruel and dehumanizing exploitation of human beings as pawns. Sick and shocking also come to mind.
The self-involved governor goons of Florida and Texas are trafficking humans simply for political gain, and many Republicans are clapping like wind-up monkeys. Not a good look for the US or any of the states. No matter how low the GOP sinks, it seems they’re always willing to go lower.
Wasting our tax monies for this state-government-sponsored kidnapping with childish political theatrics is nothing more than a cheap gimmick by people who have no concern for facts. They want it as a political rallying cry for the far-right. It’s just another example of the endless performative, empty politics practiced by the GOP to attract the votes of the worst people in our society, rather than do their jobs. I can’t believe people are stupid enough to vote for these charlatans, but sadly there are.
Yes, all of this is to bolster support of the MAGAts who applaud this kind of cruelty. “Owning the libs” with government money is a thumbs-up for them. These politicians lost the abortion issue to fundraise on and have angered many of their GOP and/or independent base, so now they have to pivot for the fools that don’t realize elected congressional Republicans have blocked every effort for immigration reform for almost two decades. Idiocracy at its finest.
But will this cruel buffoonery go down with the non-MAGAts, a/k/a the majority of Americans, including actual conservatives who don’t support it?
Blue states aren’t complaining about taking care of these people, nor are they “illegals” or they’d be deported. Many of the supporters of this “internal relocation of migrants to blue states” are residents of red states that are net gainers of federal tax revenues and other financial support from blue states. The portions of funds set aside for disaster relief for Florida and Texas should be used to support the local costs of dealing with this migrant resettlement, rather than sent to Florida and Texas. The two governors of these states support lower taxes and less federal involvement. Maybe they need to be rewarded for their stances and actions.
To call Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott, leaders of pro-life and family values, as well as other “Christians” who approve of this treatment of the most vulnerable, “dirty sewer rats” is to offend rodents everywhere. Obviously, DeSantis, Abbott and Trump are all in a contest to determine who is the most despicable. I’d say they’re all a POS, but manure makes things grow, so they don’t even rise to the same level as excrement.
There no longer is any doubt that the United States is cleaved in two: modern progressives, ready to take on the challenges of today, and fascistic regressive Republicans, yearning for the good old days of white privilege and who emphasize the hating of “Others.” Wake up, people. Is this what we want for our nation? The cruelty of Republicans towards their fellow man is on full display with this exploitative stunt. Those who defend and promote this psychotic behavior show the world their lack of humanity.
If you are so degraded in your humanity to applaud this theater of cruelty, I pity you. You have negated the humanity of others as objects to be thrown against your political enemies in order to mitigate your resentment.
The question future generations will ask of their elders: “What did you do in the culture war, Mommy and Daddy?”
Colin Schmitt for Congress
Crime and safety are top issues of mine when heading to vote in a few weeks. I am voting for Colin Schmitt for Congress because he backs the blue. He supports law enforcement and wants to ensure they have the tools needed to keep our communities safe. He was recently endorsed by the New York State Troopers PBA. Schmitt also has a track record of standing against the disastrous cashless bail reform at the state level.
It’s the thought that counts
It is rare, but not impossible, to be paid in flowers.
In her letter “Pro-life hypocrisy,” Rebecca B. Wilk wrote, “I am disgusted by the buttheaded rants, uncivil parodies and Trump-cultist tirades from right-wingers whose ‘pro-life’ stance extends only to the unborn.” (Obviously, the words buttheaded and uncivil are a play on the names Butz and Civile.) Ms. Wilk then presented to readers for their consideration a parody tribute to the “MAGA misogynists’ ghoulish hypocrisy” to the tune of a Merle Haggard song.
With this in view, the following “pro-life tirade” is an example of my uncivil, misogynist, ghoulish hypocrisy previously printed in Hudson Valley One. It was inspired by conversations I’ve had with women that had an abortion and regretted it. The song is titled “Desolation Roe.”
I knew a woman young and pregnant
Who felt afraid and so all alone
I really would have tried to help her
If of her fears I would have known
She kept her fears from those who loved her
And she made a choice she can’t forget
Her friends encouraged her to make it
They said, “It’s a choice you won’t regret”
And though her friends have all moved away
Her regret remains and just seems to grow
And she prays for those who have the same regret
And prays there’ll be an end to Desolation Roe
There was a woman who chose abortion
Because she found herself in dire straits
She lived in a place called quiet desperation
But the choice she made is a choice she hates
Her heart alone knows its depth of sorrow
And she has given up all hopes of peace
‘Cos her broken heart condemns her
And she feels its ache will never cease
But there is one greater than her heart
One born of a woman so very long ago
He came to heal those brokenhearted by sin
And save the victims of Desolation Roe
Readers are now asked to consider the following sample lyrics from Rebecca’s parody “Right Wing Right-to-Lifer.”
I’m proud to be a right-wing right-to-lifer
I’ll gladly kill your sister, daughter, wife
I love the smell of women bleeding out, but
I proudly claim the mantle of “pro-life”
…When young folks get sent off to kill or be killed,
I’m for it, don’t care what we’re fighting for
I cheer when our side bombs civilian babies
They’re just collateral damage in our war
In light of all that is written above, if my version of “Dear Abby” was commenting on our parodies, I suspect she would challenge all Feedback readers who write buttheaded rants and uncivil parodies with the words of the following proverb she learned in her youth: “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)
Shame on them
I am a lifelong Republican and I live in the Town of Wappinger. I am on the Executive Board of a group called Defense of Democracy. I am also a father. Of these three things, fatherhood is in first place by a mile.
Moms for Liberty is a national organization that has a chapter in Dutchess County. They are anti-LGTBQ rights, they are cruel and they attempt to normalize hate through the guise of being a “joyful warrior.” What they are in the end is Christian Nationalists, nothing more and nothing less.
I have adult children who are members of the queer community, and I will never stop fighting for them and all of the young children in our local school system. When Moms for Liberty wants to ban a book, or bully a teacher, or otherwise delegitimize the experience or life of any child or parent, then I am ready to take action.
This past week, over 400 signatures were garnered in a petition asking the Town of East Fishkill not to allow a racist and homophobic group to attend their Community Day. We sent messages to Town supervisor Nicholas D’Alessandro and Board members A. J. Beephan, Emanuele Marinaro, Tom Franco and even Dutchess County executive Marcus Molinaro. The only response we received was from East Fishkill Recreation, who acknowledged receipt of our message and said that they were in discussions with Town officials. Other than that, nothing.
I would like to point out to our community that the above officials refused to respond to a petition signed by hundreds of individuals or to direct messages sent to them by our volunteers. My assumption that silence was the only answer that they could give. They know that Moms for Liberty are a hate group, and turning around and rescinding their invitation to their event would have been detrimental to their political futures. Shame on them. Mr. Molinaro, Mr. Beephan, Mr. D’Alessandro, Mr. Marinaro and Mr. Franco should be ashamed; responding to their constituents is their job and they are not doing it.
Town of Wappinger
Part of my journey in life includes researching and publishing my family history in 1992. Being a fifth-generation family member, I was fortunate to interview third- and fourth-generation family, well into their 80s and early 90s. One member was 101: a second-generation family member! Wow. The inside, off-the-record gossip was very interesting; however, none of this “nasty” info was published in the initial publication!
There were branches of the family throughout Sullivan County, Ulster County and Potter County, Pennsylvania. I had contacts in all counties, allowing me to put together an historical chronology of the family from the first generation through the sixth and the location in Germany where the original ancestor emigrated from.
Unfortunately, the contacts I had down in Pennsylvania passed away right after the publication of the family history in 1992. Years have gone by, and just by accident, I came across some of the old addresses and telephone numbers. To make a long story short, I received inquiries from my letters, with one lady filling me in on that particular side of the family. This led to a telephone conversation. During the course of our conversation, I bought her up to date with the revised edition of the history; three items were added. She wanted to purchase a copy if I had extra ones. I replied, “Yes, I have four left of the revised edition.” She would send me the cost of one.
I also mentioned to her I have a new book out, entitled My Journey. This is my journey, seeking to understand the situations unfolding today economically, politically and militarily in our government and why we are overtreaded into other areas of the world.
She replied, “It sounds political.” “Yes, it is,” I replied. “Not all of it, though, as the first six chapters address secret organizations in the country and the effect of these on the political situation. This is where the political sphere enters my book. These secret organizations impact dramatically, one in particular, on my benefits.” She replied, “Biden’s an idiot and Trump is trying to straighten the mess out that he, Biden, created.” I replied, “Where do you get your information from?” “I watch the news, particularly Fox News. This and my friends in our get-togethers.”
I replied, “Is this the only news program you watch?” She replied, “I read the newspaper, but this is the news program that I watch.” I informed her I don’t listen to any news program over television, except local, and even then, the political slant is always toward one party or the other. I informed her that the two organizations I belong to and support are the AARP and the NCPSSM. The AARP is the American Association of Retired Persons and the NCPSSM is the National Committee for the Preservation of Social Security and Medicare. Both of these sent me bulletins or updates on the shenanigans going on in Washington. She informed me, “I don’t belong to either one, although I am aware of the AARP, but not the other one.”
She asked me, “Why don’t you listen to the news program on television? There are enough of them and, surely, you can receive information that is updated and current.” “At one time I would agree with you, but ever since the Supreme Court decision of 2010, Citizens United, allowing unlimited amounts of money into the political process, our representatives are influenced with money by PACs [Political Action Committees] and wealthy organizations These PACs and organizations are representing special interests in industry, labor and ideological causes. Because of this Citizens United decision of 2010, our representatives are being influenced by money thrown at them to support and affirm their interests, and not ours.”
She replied, “I am not aware of this Supreme Court decision. All I know Donald Trump has done some good and Biden’s an idiot.” I replied, “According to our family history, you were born in the year 1951, making you 71 years of age.” She replied, “That’s correct.” I stated, “You are drawing Social Security, aren’t you?” She replied, “Yes, it is great.” I then asked her, “Do you know that Donald Trump tried to pass a Payroll Executive Tax Bill? That this bill would effectively stop and defer the FICA tax, which is what funds Social Security?” “You mean my Social Security benefits would stop?” “Your contributions would be deferred to a later date, but there is enough money in the Social Security Reserve Fund for you, me and others drawing benefits at the present rate until the year 2034, at which time our monthly benefits will be reduced by 20 percent. I will be 95 and you will be 83 at this time.”
I stated, “For myself, I probably won’t be around at 95, but you will be at a point in your life where a 20 percent reduction in your benefits will hurt.” I also stated, “Your children and your nieces and nephews will not have it as good as we have it now, unless the younger generation becomes involved. The seniors, though, are the largest group in the country that votes: over 70 percent.”
The bill mentioned above was for a specific period of time. “Deferred” means it would have to be paid back. But it does reflect the constant tinkering the GOP does to get rid/reduce our benefits that we have paid into for years. She asked me, “Where do you get this information from?” I replied, “The books I read, mainly, the two organizations listed above and newspapers. We are at a time in our lives where we cannot afford tampering with our benefits.” She replied, “I will send you money for the revised family history, not the other one. I have to think about this.”
“Fine, tell your brothers. One book is $20 and includes packaging and shipping. Two, three or four books are $15 each and includes packaging and shipping. This is a family discount.”
I will keep you readers apprised of this ongoing saga.
The fact is
According to HV1, at a Town Board meeting, Supervisor McKenna “requested Town historian Richard Heppner to apply for the building’s [Comeau addition project] historic designation” with the State Historic Preservation Office, giving one the impression that the idea for the historic designation was his. The fact of the matter is, until the idea was foisted upon him through the efforts of Michael Veitch, chair of Woodstock’s Tree Committee, and David Ekroth, chair of the Commission for Civic Design, McKenna did not think it was viable. As he stated on Facebook, “Historic designation is based on a famous person living here, a famous event taking place or an incredible example of architecture. The first two cannot be used. While it is a beautiful building, there are a number of incredible examples of this style of architecture up and down the Hudson Valley.” Such enthusiasm for a designation that would preserve a historical building and at the same time save us taxpayers over a half of a million dollars in renovation costs.
Governor Hochul hocus
There is an extreme shortage of home-care workers in New York State. These are the amazing people who help the elderly, the sick and the disabled in our communities. On average, they make $13.30 an hour for bathing, shopping, cleaning, dressing and wiping tooshies of their clients. Not long ago, the New York State Legislature and Assembly passed a bipartisan bill to raise the income of these angels to a “living wage.” Governor Hochul vetoed the bill and instead offered a tiny incremental increase in pay; however, 80 percent of that increase is destined for the private insurance companies and not the workers or the agencies. Is it a coincidence that Governor Hochul has taken significant campaign contributions from the insurance industry?
A few weeks ago, I witnessed The Caring Majority (a non-profit organization that champions higher wages and benefits for home-care workers) tabling at the New Paltz craft fair where they discussed the situation with attendees at the fair. They also requested people to sign a petition asking Governor Hochul to designate more state money for home-care workers. Most of the folks who stopped by the table were incensed at what Hochul has done and gladly signed the petitions. So many people signed in fact, that The Caring Majority ran out of petitions within two hours.
The governor’s phone number is (518) 474-8390. Please call and let the governor know that you support Fair Pay for Home Care Workers.
All the hysteria, all the time
I’m reading the article on page 15 of your September 21 issue by “Staff,” I can understand why no one wanted to take credit for that one. Let me recommend similar headlines next time you need to fill space and put a pointless fright into your readers at the same time. Try these: “Bubonic plague in Ulster County…no sign but officials remain vigilant,” “Cholera in Ulster County…no sign but officials remain vigilant.” “Fill-in-the- blank-of-exaggerated-public-health-scare” and add “officials remain vigilant.” Sounds like someone’s nostalgic for the good old days when triple-masked Pat Ryan was in front of news cameras every day talking about COVID “cases” but never mentioned the numbers that mattered: deaths and who actually was dying.
Speaking of Pat Ryan, good post-election timing on your September 14 headline story that shared the news with the public that Ulster County’s Emergency Medical Services system is in an active state of collapse, with one of out ten emergency calls not being responded to at all. Yes, you read that right. Third World level. On Pat Ryan’s watch. You know, Pat Ryan, the guy posing in body armor in TV ads bragging about his combat experience. Note: Major combat operations ended in Iraq on May 1, 2003. After that, for the next eight years, we were an army of occupation, kicking in family’s doors in the middle of the night looking for insurgents’ weapons. Doesn’t have quite the same ring as “fighting for our freedoms,” does it?
Pat Ryan is the absolutely the right candidate to carry the banner for the addled nonsense that passes for progressive politics these days. He’s the perfect man to fight to protect a woman’s right to choose…just like the other Democrats in Congress who for the last 50 years have done literally nothing to shore up Roe v. Wade, even when they controlled both houses of Congress –but boy, they sure did raise some money and get the rubes out to vote for their CNN/NBC-friendly candidates, didn’t they?
Grateful for River-to-Ridge Trail
The River-to-Ridge Trail (R2R) has really been a tremendous improvement to life here in the New Paltz area. Personally, I benefit from it because I am now able to ride my bike from my house in Gardiner to Mohonk Preserve without having to try to survive riding on Route 299. Before the R2R I would either drive to town to ride my bike (nonsensically) or fear for my life on the short section of 299 from the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail (WVRT) to Gatehouse Road, which was terrifying and continues to be even after the widening of the shoulders.
R2R has allowed us access to some rare habitat for our area: undeveloped open grasslands. This habitat hosts a number of interesting bird species such as bobolinks, Eastern meadowlarks and Savannah sparrows in the summer and wintering raptors like Northern harriers and short-eared owls in the colder months. The land managers have also thoughtfully provided milkweed plantings for monarch butterflies.
The rich farmland is still being utilized for hay, and I believe it was recently tilled for next year’s corn crop. It is really a tremendous multi-use parcel and I have only rarely had the place to myself. It is used all the time, by locals and visitors to our beautiful area alike. It gives visitors a nice place to enjoy the shops and restaurants in town and still get out for some fresh air and a chance to take in the iconic view of Smiley Tower at Skytop without having to get back in their cars to drive up to Mohonk or Minnewaska. It spreads the visitor load, which hopefully alleviates some of the pressure those areas experienced during COVID when they were loved nearly to death. It allows for so many recreation activities and has the space for everyone to do their thing without infringing on others. I wish it had become a reality sooner, but now that it’s here, I am just so grateful.
Be safer, be seen
Our state senators and Assembly folk just failed us miserably by changing the legal hunting time from sunrise to sunset, where it has been forever, to a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. Less light equals poorer visibility.
Hunters are going to have a harder time identifying whether you are a deer, a bear or a hiker. Last year, late in the day, a New York State woman was killed walking her dog in a field late in the afternoon.
Your eyes will see what your mind wants to see. Harry Houdini made an artform of tricking the eye; hunters are like Houdini’s audience, and too often will see what they want to see. What to do?
Get and wear these nearly fluorescent orange and greenish yellow caps, and wear them in the woods from now until Christmas. Do not wear white; deer show a lot of white when they are moving in the woods. Brown is just plain stupid.
Bright red, bright yellow, bright green are smart for shirts, vests or jackets. Your backpack should not be black. A bright fabric should also be on your pet, and in the woods during hunting season, keep your loved one leashed.
I love to hunt deer. I have been shot by a bow-and-arrow hunter. It is very rare, but it happens. I think sunrise-to-sunset is the right law, but then I think politicians are mostly in it for the money and the power. Hate me if you want for my being a hunter, but love yourself and your friends and wear bright clothing, so that nobody has to live with the tragedy of being mistaken for just a second too long for being a deer.
You folks who walk along the side the road in front of my house, please consider two more things: First, just don’t. Second, in addition to wearing easy-to-see clothes, walk facing traffic so you can dive out of the way of a distracted driver who is fighting with his bookie on the phone while driving. Bookie? Sadly, New York is so broke it is now actively promoting gambling! Governor Hochul’s husband is a big shot in the casino business, too. (I was actually surprised, which is really embarrassing.)
Let’s change those laws, too. Gambling is another source of family ruination. Oh, yeah, I do bet on horses on my phone sometimes. I mention this because who listens to saints, anyway?
A way out of a mess
Along with nearly 200 others, I attended the September 21 Town Board hearing on the scoping document that will guide the SEQR process on the proposed Winston Farm development.
Although comments opposing the project (mine among them) outnumbered comments in support, I was struck by the deep sincerity on both sides. But it is the pro-development thoughts and feelings expressed by Saugerties residents, mostly or maybe all longtime residents, that gave me real food for thought.
Although I admit to being a newcomer (although not pandemic-recent or from “downstate”), I’ve lived in northern Ulster County for 20 years, in Saugerties for 12, as a homeowner (meaning permanent) for ten. In other words, I chose Saugerties for the character of its community as much as for the natural beauty it shares with the rest of the region. And I experienced new appreciation for the longtime residents as they spoke at the hearing.
The main points they made were: 1) The new owners of the property, also longtime residents of Saugerties, have been benefactors to the community for decades and are much admired; 2) development of the property will go a long way towards bringing jobs and housing to Saugerties residents. What they said at the hearing was moving and aroused my sympathy for the depth of their devotion to their Town and my understanding of their perception that their way of life is under threat.
No one can or would argue with the loyalty to and appreciation of the three new owners expressed by other native sons and daughters of Saugerties. In my mind, they must be admirable men in many ways, and I don’t dispute that their intention to develop Winston Farm for the benefit of their community, as they see it. I don’t believe that what they propose will accomplish that goal, though.
First, any housing would be market housing, unless the three developers and the Zoning Board go through the mountains of red tape and forego the profits required to provide actual “affordable” housing – housing whose price is determined by public policy, not the market; needless to say, this is certainly not part of the development plan. So, it would not benefit Saugerties residents who are feeling the real estate sticker shock, which is all too real (and happening all over the country, not just here). Those houses would be just as unaffordable as any others.
Second, any “good” jobs would be short-term construction jobs. Permanent jobs connected with the hospitality or entertainment industries are notoriously badly paid; the only people who would benefit from more houses in Saugerties are plumbers, electricians and others in housing maintenance and repair. In my experience, people in those trades are already as busy as they can get (in large part thanks to all the recent newcomers who are upgrading their homes).
In any case, there is and can be no guarantee that either housing or employment would be restricted to longtime residents of Saugerties. That would be prosecutable under federal law. Folks here would have to compete with others within commute distance for both, or even worse, people who might move here attracted by the illusion of good pay and affordable living.
But we’re still left with the perception that the lack of good jobs and affordable housing is negatively impacting a large percentage of Saugerties residents. This is dogma for most of us, adequately employed and housed or not, and I for one would like to hear some solid data to support this. Although it looked to me like all the speakers in support of development were housed, and all the old-timers I know in Saugerties are housed, the testimony of the last person to speak told a different story.
How many long-term residents who want to stay in Saugerties are unable to afford housing? And what can the community do about this problem? It’s being addressed with vigor in Kingston, and I hear that a commission has just started working on it in Woodstock. Why doesn’t Saugerties have a task force to address it here? Do private citizens have to get something started on their own, or could our Town government get involved? We shouldn’t rely on private investors to solve these problems, and I don’t see why we think we have to.
The same goes for employment. How many Saugerties residents who want jobs can’t find them? Let’s find out, so we know what we’re talking about and what can be done. Here our Town government has taken a leading role, developing industrial corridors along King’s Highway and Malden Turnpike. But can we do more? Maybe as a community we can find out. To continue with full disclosure, I’m a retired public school teacher living on a barely adequate pension in the midst of rising prices. I don’t want a job, but I’d sure like to feel a lot more secure about living in Saugerties going forward, myself.
Let’s stop assuming we have all the answers. Let’s stop playing the blame game. Let’s look at these very real problems with some fresh thinking. Business as usual (including the way both political parties and all corporate interests operate) isn’t working for most of us anymore. Can we gather together to find a new way out of the mess the residents of Saugerties so eloquently expressed the other night?
How much sugar do you need to take your medicine?
How much sugar do you need to take your medicine? I heard this song as a kid. I hated taking any medicine. Coercion with sweet bribes from my parents and doctors is how they got medication into me. My natural instinct was to avoid what they wanted to put in my mouth or shoot into my body.
Science had tackled polio, mumps, measles, and penicillin and pushed back on infections. But unfortunately, these new medications and vaccinations created a mindset in society that there is nothing that biochemistry cannot heal.
I believe medicine saved my life many times in my seventy-four years. I am sure this truth lives in American families with health care. However, I see and feel the shift in how patients are cared for due to the pharmaceutical business placing price tags on our keeping patients alive. Capital, bucks, and money have infected hospital administrators’ and care facilities managers’ souls and hearts. Insurance companies now decide if people will stay alive or if their lives will cost too much. Insurance has routed out primary components of the healing process, such as compassion, concern, and kindness, all seminal elements in treatment since ancient times. Insurance companies, hand in hand with politics, have commoditized medicine.
I worked in a psych hospital for twenty-five years as a psychotherapist and watched time become a commodity. As a result, healthcare workers often end up sacrificing their own time to fulfill their innate instincts to attend to the humanitarian needs of their patients. Clinicians would often stay late and offer words of concern when there was no time in the treatment day; they were following their human healing instincts to help. Unfortunately, science has found no test tube to determine if healing and recovery come from the backs and hearts of caring front-line healthcare workers who attempt to ignore insurance timelines. I watched managed care insurance reduce face-to-face contact limiting the opportunities to understand why the patient came to the hospital beyond the symptoms seen. The primary treatment for mental health became medication. Yet, I saw daily that most folks who came for help wanted to be listened to and heard more than anything.
COVID infected the planet’s human animals, and insurance companies and politicians acquired more extraordinary god-like powers. The more crucial unseen virus is a cash injection from politicians funding COVID care by paying pharmaceutical companies; they have received campaign financing. This conflict is that drug companies’ primary goal is to make vast amounts of capital for their shareholders. Therefore drug companies fund elections. When the drug company’s pills work, the possibility that income sources end comes into view. This lack of motivation is evident because drug companies will need new illnesses to support their cash flow.
Morality was once taught in our religious institutions, schools, and colleges, and in our families today, we all need help with the medication of human kindness. Unfortunately, these teachings consistently get overridden by lawmakers and the few making billions. Using a business model to fight nature is doomed to failure because greed is more potent than any virus.
Thank you Family of Woodstock
I have written before about the proposed changes to Woodstock’s zoning code as it pertains to housing. I reiterate that the proposed changes do not guarantee affordable housing to the residents of Woodstock. Additionally, the residents of Woodstock have not been sufficiently informed and updated about these proposed changes.
One program that could help with affordable housing is the Family of Woodstock House Share Program. This program helps to keep housing affordable for homeowners as well as provide inexpensive lodging for those seeking to rent a room in the homeowner’s residence.
Thank you Family of Woodstock for this effort.
Voting for environmental protection
Voters in New York state will have the opportunity on November 8 to vote on a $4.2 billion environmental bond act that — among other priorities — would raise $650 million directed towards preserving open space and farmland. At the local level in Gardiner, we can vote to establish a Community Preservation Fund that can attract some of those New York State dollars. Most people would agree that we need to protect our access to clean water, agricultural lands, forest cover, and habitat — these are foundations for our quality of life here.
Local funding would come from a 1.25% Real Estate Transfer Tax that buyers would pay into the fund on the amount of the sale price that exceeds last year’s County median price, which I’m told was $320,000. This exemption will help keep lower-priced homes affordable, while creating a sustainable source of revenue for preservation. Again, these local funds can be leveraged with State and Federal monies to preserve our most environmentally valuable lands. Please Vote Yes!
Commentary on life
When 2022 started I was mildly wrinkled yet mucho hopeful. Gee, we peeps could really use a nice second Roaring Twenties!
When I awoke from my reverie, I noticed that elusive positivity slowly slipping away. I tried to remain in unperturbed post-modern positivity. I started to move as though everything was in rapid hyper-focus. Hey, you guys, you are forcing us peeps to unmindfulness.
All the news sound bites and weather reports bites became more chilling, fancifully fastened in pure fear, Here’s my point of view: to be tuned in to daily bombardment is self-defeating. You’d find yourself yearning for the old you, who paid close attention to what was important in your life and to those in your clan. Just be kind. Look for the miracles surrounding you. Tap in.
Ta-ta I am off to a floatation tank on one of the moons of Jupiter, or East Kingston, whichever comes first.