It appears to me that when some people look into a mirror, they see what they want to see and do not see what is actually there.
LEARNING FROM PENNSYLVANIA
The New York DEC’s fact sheet “What We Learned from Pennsylvania” implies that the new regulations on hydro-fracking will eliminate the problems that have plagued the industry in Pennsylvania. I live in the heart of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, and I can assure you that the DEC has not learned enough from our mistakes.
Even if one assumes that the DEC’s proposed correctives to the nightmares we’ve experienced — methane migration, fracturing fluid releases, and uncontrolled wellbore releases — are adequate, the DEC completely ignores the biggest problems with hydro-fracturing: human error and industry-wide contempt for environmental regulation. I would love to know how the DEC’s regulations would have prevented the following incidents:
On November 22, 2010, an XTO Energy worker left a valve open and spilled approximately 4,275 gallons of fracking fluid into a nearby stream.
On January 7, 2011, Chief Oil & Gas illegally discharging 25,200 gallons of hydrostatic testing water that was mixed with “an unknown industrial waste.”
On February 18, 2011, a truck serving an Anadarko site crashed and spilled 3,400 gallons of flowback water into a residential yard.
These incidents have become commonplace in Pennsylvania, and DEC is delusional if they think that their regulations will prevent the people and environment of your state from serious harm. Addressing the few problems listed on the fact sheet is equivalent to the Yankees boasting that they’ve got the World Series wrapped up because they’ve figured out how to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Professor of English, Director of Environmental Studies
Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania
Lock Haven, PA
WHY CASEY STENGEL WOULD HAVE VOTED FOR ME
During his Little League and Babe Ruth baseball years, my son was constantly reminded by his coaches of the game’s crucial mantra: “keep your eye on the ball”. Good advice for a baseball player and good advice for a Town Board member. It is why if elected, I would never be a rubber stamp for any resolution that came before the board. No proposal should be entertained by any board member without first fully reviewing it, discussing it, soliciting public feedback, and understanding the impacts, the downsides and benefits. As much as I respect the current board members, it’s clear to me that none of them did this to any acceptable degree with regard to this year’s budget as presented by the supervisor. The town can’t afford to have the Town Board gloss over the budget.
When the old perfessor managed the Mets, he always asked “Can’t anyone play this here game?” I can play this here game, and that’s what I will do every year — with the budget and everything else that comes before us.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MUSIC
For many students, music in the middle and high school is their most important subject
When I was in 8th grade, I had a general music/choir teacher who influenced my life in a most positive way. She “saved’ me from emotional and physical turmoil in my home and gave me a positive direction. I majored in Music Education in college and taught choral and general music in the public schools for 10 years. I couldn’t believe that I got a pay check for enjoying my work so much.
I married a man who gave me two step children and then I had my son. My step daughter played the flute and piano, starting in elementary school, as well as singing in the chorus. She became a music major, on scholarship, at Ithaca College and is now a vocal coach for many Broadway singers.
My son, who listened to music all day as I taught throughout my pregnancy, became a music genius. He is presently a middle school chorus teacher. He teaches three grades of only chorus, all day. He is also a director and coach at the Helen Hayes Youth Theatre and owns his own 100 voice chorus. They just sang the National Anthem at Harlem Globe Trotters, Knicks and Mets games, as well as opening for the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall for their Christmas Show.
Music adds so much to this world. I-pods are a staple in most teens lives.
To think that the five “major subjects” are more important, to me, is ignorant. Few people know that you can have music be one of your major subjects in high school by taking the correct sequence and number of courses, including chorus, band, orchestra, music theory and “in school” instrument lessons. Who needs study hall? Without extensive background in public school, you could not pass the auditions and entrance exams to become a music major in college.
When was the last time you used calculus or your old foreign language? When was the last time you heard music? Music is a part of our daily lives.
To make music any less important than the other major subjects, for those students choosing it to be part of their education, would greatly affect us in a negative way. Music teaches students discipline, to work hard independently and as a group. It instills responsibility, poise and pride in group and individual work.
For some, it is the most important subject of all. Keep music in our schools as a class, not a club. The country will benefit.
TERRIE FOR SUPERVISOR
It has been our good fortune for more than fifteen years to have Terrie Rosenblum as our closest neighbor. I have appreciated her clarity of thought, her availability to listen, her dedication to issues and her complete honesty. Her forthrightness is truly refreshing in our small world of Woodstock politics. She will make a grand town supervisor.
THE WHEEL GOES ROUND
All forms of profitable energy production must be outlawed!
The only form of energy production that should remain legal is hamsters running around in those little cages. We could probably breed super sized hamsters up to four feet high. Then, we could build really big cages and produce clean green electricity efficiently.
Of course, we would have to carefully recycle the hamster poop. I grow an organic garden. I could easily process half a dump truck load of hamster poop every year. I’m sure civic minded Woodstockers would chip in.
Hamster flatulence would be an environmental problem, too. We would have to call on our Woodstock hipster geniuses to build a vacuum system that would draw off the methane gas, which could also be used for electric generation. No problem!
I realize that we could run into some trouble with the animal rights people over the hamsters. But, if we restricted the hamsters to a four hour day, with adequate breaks and gave them lifetime job security and full benefits, I think we could resolve that issue, too.
Alternatively, we could build hamster wheels big enough to employ the able bodied among our street people in energy production. This would provide them with the dignity of real work, job security and full benefits.
The beauty of this is that the entire energy production needs of Woodstock could be managed by government bureaucrats and hipster idealists. These people, of course, are best suited to the task. Evil businessmen, engineers and entrepreneurs would be driven from the field.
It’s a win-win! Hamster power for Woodstock!
LIBRARY’S CHILDREN’S PROGRAMS
“By providing a wide range of materials and activities, public libraries provide an opportunity for children to experience the enjoyment of reading and the excitement of discovering knowledge and world of the imagination. Children and their parents should be taught how to make the best use of a library and how to develop skills in the use of printed and electronic media.
Public libraries have a special responsibility to support the process of learning to read and to promote books and other media for children. The library must provide special events for children, such as storytelling and activities related to the library’s services and resources.” — From the Mission Statement of the International Federation of Library Associations, 2002.
If you don’t know a child who attends the Woodstock Public Library programs for children, you may not be aware of all that has been going on there. In early Spring, the Children’s Room was “reconfigured,” moved into a corner of the building, no longer in the direct path to the bathroom. Bright new signage and decorations were put up and curtains provided for safety and sound control. The new setting was designed for the children to find quality books to read and to enjoy the many exciting programs offered this summer. The Children’s Library Program Director, Lesley Sawhill, has planned workshops, events, reading adventures, Reader’s Theatre productions, a community talent show, and a closing party with Uncle Rock. Tim Sutton worked with a group of teens to make stop-motion films with paper. Those films have been entered in the Woodstock Film Festival this year. Jill Olesker will explore “The Nature of Fairies” through stories, fairy houses, and whimsical crafts, in a four-day series starting August 2. Grian MacGregor will lead children in creating shadow puppet plays on August 11 which will be presented that evening as part of The Ivy Vine Players performance. Lesley Sawhill will read stories from the popular “Magic Tree House” series with 5-8 year olds and then have them create their own play in the Lilliput and Young Reader’s Theatre. All of these activities, and many more, are fun but they also have an educational component. The kids are learning skills that promote literacy and encourage self-expression and community spirit. Would that we had more room, especially for the older teens. Please encourage your children, friends, and neighbors to stop by and get more information about what’s going on. The Library phone number is 679-2213 and the website can be accessed at www.woodstock.org.
Esther Ratner, Library Trustee
GOOD HEARTED WFAS
I was gratified to see that your article on the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary noted the laudable, altruistic nature of the Sanctuary and its founders, although I felt the title (“Animal Sanctuary Sparks Friction in Willow”) unintentionally pointed blame in the wrong direction.
We humans inflict so much suffering upon our fellow animals, from the enslavement of elephants in India for hauling timber to the state-sanctioned dove hunting (doves!) in Iowa, among innumerable other horrors. That’s why it is so heartening that there are people like Jenny and Doug and such good-hearted places as the WFAS. In my opinion it is an honor that they chose to come to Woodstock. Doug and Jenny clearly believed in Woodstock’s reputation as a place of peace and love, and they hoped that the citizenry would extend those noble ideals to all animals; and, indeed, most townspeople have welcomed them.
Sadly, a few neighbors have been irritated by some of the WFAS activities. Although one can understand that noise and dust could be a nuisance in a residential neighborhood, the events that may cause these irritations are very limited in number and duration, and they are in support of such a worthy cause that one would hope the neighbors could tolerate these few bursts of activity for the sake of animals’ welfare. It would be unfortunate if the Sanctuary’s founders might have to throw roughly twice as many fund-raisers off-site to make up the deficit from the much-more-successful on-site events.
The inhabitants of WFAS were only recently spared from lives of great suffering. Everyone who visits says it is delightful to see how happy they are in their loving, permanent home in Willow.
As for being a residential area, there are already four real businesses (a non-profit is not a ‘business,’ no matter what some claim) in Willow: a stone yard, automotive repair, an art gallery, and post office. These also produce noise and dust, but are not being curtailed. A number of contractors reside locally, too, who drive tri-axle trucks past regularly. For that matter, anyone having a barbecue, a party, or mowing lawns with stink-producing gas mowers, as many Americans do, could be called a nuisance to neighbors. Not to mention the clamorous discharge of guns every hunting season. Can neighbors stop that? I think not.
Last summer’s musical events, which brought prestigious, world-class acts here, were very brief affairs, ending well before even a child’s bedtime. They did not keep neighbors up all night with fireworks or heavy metal-type music. The performers were low-key compared to much louder acts who are welcomed regularly in Woodstock.
The WFAS brings a much-needed tourist attraction to Woodstock. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, anyone can appreciate the charm of seeing happy animals in a beautiful setting such as the WFAS. It is so well designed and maintained that, if anything, the WFAS raises property values! And there is no arguing that they bring tourism dollars and a positive atmosphere to Woodstock. (The Colony of the Arts has lately been a Colony of Realty Offices, as locals can attest.)
Let’s hope this disagreement will end with neighborly cooperation and kindness for all the creatures involved.
AND SO BEGINS THE TASK
I will be rounding up signatures starting Tuesday July 12. If you would like to see a little fresh water in the well, then please sign my petition and help me get on the ballot for supervisor in November. I will be around the Bearsville Garage weekday mornings, and at the north east corner of the flea market weekend mornings. That’s the corner of Maple Lane and Deanie’s Alley, if you prefer urban directions. I hope to see you there, or call 845-802-6472.
Keep your eyes on the trail and keep moving on.
No need to look back, our bread crumbs are gone.
JOIN IN AND SUPPORT THE TOWN PICNIC
In the spirit of including everyone in supporting the Town Picnic, a “Treat a Volunteer to Lunch” letter has been sent to everyone in the community. The 7th Annual Volunteers Day on August 20 will be a great day with all of Woodstock coming out to honor our kind and generous neighbors. We would like to thank all those in the community who have already been so supportive. At this time, there are many in the business community, arts and community organizations that have been wonderfully helpful and deserve to be acknowledged. Please let them know that our community appreciates their support and contributions: H. Houst & Son, Rondout Savings Bank, Markertek, Innovative Products of America, Bank of America, Photosensualis, Sunflower Natural Foods Market, Woodstock School of Art, Woodstock Rotary, Kenbenco Benson Steel Fabricators, Ametek, American Legion Post 1026, Pegasus, TD Bank, Norman Bacon Website Design and SEO, Ken Schneidman, Woodstock Apothecary, Golden Notebook, Jarita’s Garden, Win Morrison, FreeStyle, Metes & Bounds and Coldwell Banker-Village Green Realty, Gallo’s, Print Express, WDST Radio Woodstock, Rondout Woodworking, Bread Alone, Cy & Nancy Adler, Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, Woodstock Music Shop, Neil Schaffer Excavating, Studio Gallery, Catskill Art & Office Supply, Garden Café on the Green, Woodstock Times/Ulster Publishing, Kingston Daily Freeman and many more. There is always the danger of leaving someone out of a list like this. If that has happened, please let us know. All of the restaurants in our area have donated platters of food for the Volunteers Day festivities. There will be another four hours of musical entertainment donated by many local musicians. The restaurants and the musicians will be listed, announced and thanked at a later date.
To all those wonderful individuals who have responded with kind words and donations, thank you. There will be a complete list of all those who have supported this community celebration in the program at the 7th Annual Volunteers’ Day on August 20. Send donations to WHAiV, P.O. Box 1291, Woodstock, NY 12498.
Please remember to support this event. Your donations will help to make this year’s Town Picnic better than ever for the volunteers and our community.
Bd of Directors, WHAiV
SECRET ARTIST SOCIETY
The summer brings us to Willow, and our relatives begin their migration north to stay with us. We always take our grandkids to Woodstock for their annual flea market/drumming on the Green/Tinker Toys tour. This year the Green has been sprouting things other than the gorgeous gardens.
I’d walked by on last Tuesday morning and saw a funny little contraption claiming to be a “Tourist Trap” chained to one of the stone benches. I brought my “grands” back on Wednesday to show them and to talk about Guerilla Art...it was gone. Stolen? Removed by authorities? We still had a great discussion about public art...and I wish I’d taken a picture of it.
Another opportunity to marvel at someone’s anonymous creativity came on Sunday. This time we saw a lovely patchwork of post-its on one of the Green’s benches. Post-its with conflicting messages — To Sit Or Not To Sit...that is the question. This time, I had a camera.
Is there a secret society of Artists at work in Woodstock...our own Banksy or Guerilla Girls? I’ll be keeping my eyes open and hoping for more fun.
The past year has been a growing experience for me working for the Town of Woodstock. I have come to understand the complexities of running a town and the importance of balancing the many decisions that must be made. I have experienced all the time and energy that it takes to research the issues and proceed forward in order to make informed decisions.
Terrie Rosenblum and I have worked together on many important aspects of town business. I have seen first hand how thorough and careful she is with all that she does. How concerned she is about the people of this town. Starting with the taxpayers and also the employees let me touch upon a few of the issues that Terrie has addressed. (1) Her foresight to renovate the Town Hall from the start has resulted with our town finally moving forward in that direction. (2) Undertaking the changes in our zoning laws to help clarify and simplify the law, a massive job that will help to prevent many legal issues due to ambiguities and contradictions in the law. (3) The Stewardship Plan for the Comeau Property is now completed because of her perseverance and her ability to join in with a group of concerned Woodstockers. The plan is moving through the process and is now being reviewed by the Woodstock Land Conservancy. Finally, (4) her work on the employee Compensation and Benefits Handbook helped to resolve a long term incomplete process.
Being Supervisor is a big job. It requires a person who is concerned, loyal to the town, hard working and willing to face the daily problems that arise. Terrie has those qualities. She is my choice for supervisor.
We fought against unfair taxation and lack of representation once before. We won then and we must win again! The current GOP is touting grossly unfair taxation and they most certainly are not representing the majority of their constituents! The only difference today seems to be that they are wearing Armani suits instead of powdered wigs! Furthermore they are attempting to regulate our religious beliefs as well as planning to wipe their feet on the already downtrodden! Unseat as many as possible via recall petition and then vote out as many more as possible in November, with your eye on really lowering the boom on these self-serving, materialistic, personal portfolio-building, heartless creeps in November of 2012!
Mary Phillips Burke
MILLIONS TO DESTROY WOODLANDS
“What is it like to be a bat?” is an unanswerable question posed by Thomas Nagel as he pondered the nature of consciousness. We can attempt to answer the simpler question “What do bats like?” It’s hard to say whether they like swooping after mosquitoes on a warm moonlit August night, but I bet they do. They also probably like snuggling up with a bunch of friends and family in a nice cave in Rosendale for the winter. In warm weather, the local, endangered Indiana bats like hickory trees.
They don’t like having their lungs hemorrhage from a wind turbine vortex or becoming extinct from white nose syndrome, as may well happen. They also don’t like having their habitat destroyed. While it is true that in 2007 RUPCO did hire Michael Fisher, a state certified ecologist with the consulting firm Stearns and Wheeler, to verify that the hickory trees behind Bradley Meadows won’t be visited by bats from Rosendale, I still wonder. This is important because if they do show up, Woodstock Commons could not be built because of the Endangered Species Act. Not likely now, since the trees have been preemptively cut down.
The flying fox is a large Asian bat that spreads the fatal virus, Nipah, by sharing date palm juice with Indonesian children. Locally bats carry such a high risk of rabies that the Health Department recommends rabies vaccine if you have a bat in the house — whether you’ve been bitten or not. As their habitat shrinks, they move into attics and chimneys instead of hickory trees or jungle haunts. Crowding in less suitable space promotes increased transmission of diseases. Bats are representative of other fragile species around us. They are not alone in their peril. Many believe that we are in the midst of a mass extinction that will rival the one that the dinosaurs suffered. Habitat loss is one of the more important insults to life on our planet.
So why are we destroying the habitat behind Bradley Meadows? To construct a housing project that may, or may not, have been reasonable six years ago when it was conceived. The political/economic/social reality of that time has disappeared, never to return. Foreclosure rates are increasing and housing prices continue to fall with no end in sight. One can’t avoid the For Sale signs as you drive around the county. The financial tools and analysis used to formulate the project represent policies that have since been shown to be unsustainable and ineffective. There is a good reason that funding for the project will expire if not utilized soon: it will no longer be valid. Why should we spend millions of dollars destroying woodlands when this same money could be used to put, or keep, people in homes and buildings that may otherwise become vacant, attract vermin, rot, and degrade the community? Part of the reason is that it is not the same money. Obtaining funding for alternative mortgages and other tools of 2011, instead of concrete and construction, would take time and energy. Although RUPCO has proved it has expertise at doing so (with very commendable results), years of planning and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been invested in Woodstock Commons. If a bureaucracy makes investments in expensive projects that don’t pan out, they lose. With the anticipated difficulty in future funding from state, local and federal governments, they may lose big. Unfortunately, it appears they may not lose in this case, but we will.
If I were a bat, I would probably not have room in my small brain to be angry with humans. But I might instinctively know that more than a potential roosting spot in a hickory tree is being lost.
Arthur DiNapoli MD PhD
PREVAILING WINDS, TITANIC URGES
I find a civics review quite useful this time of year. Unless we are lying when we say, collectively, that we want a bright future for Woodstock, we must remember that democracy is not a spectator sport. Voting is only one of your civic duties, and in any effective democracy is actually of far less value than your voice. And by “value” I refer not only to the lofty goals of our Founding Fathers, but those greenish bills where you find their pictures. Your dollars and mine, and the ones the kids may need for their education and recreation when the next snow starts falling.
Voters are never well served when candidates are allowed to duck all-things-substantive and blather on pleasantly about everything but the pressing issues at hand.
Think of Woodstock as a giant ocean liner. She’s not new, of course, but more priceless and complex because of it. She can be an awful thing to navigate even when the waters are calm. But we are sailing in some of the stormiest seas ever seen. Silently watching “nice” officers handing out towels and encouraging words is preposterously inappropriate. Right now we need the most able-bodied and skillful team we’ve got. We cannot afford another “asleep at the wheel” crew that doesn’t even know what it doesn’t know, and would refuse to ask for help even if it did.
Don’t assume “someone else” will ask questions, or that somehow “loyalty” to this-or-that friend or party or cause is more important than a thought-out set of recognizably real plans to pilot us through these troubled times. We need all hands on deck, and all brains fully functioning. Ask the questions you deem the most urgent. Pose facts you deem the least hypothetical. Reject the banal as the dangerous excess bilge it so often is, and truly resist the “flight to the familiar” that threatens to keep us forever crawling toward that gigantic iceberg we know is out there.
COMP PLAN NEEDED
How can we keep Woodstock a fun and enjoyable and healthy place to live for the future? I believe that what we need is more open spaces, fun places to go, healthy and enjoyable outdoor recreational facilities, beautiful parks and places of interest. That is why I am running for a seat on the Woodstock Town Board.
I believe that we need a comprehensive plan that will incorporate a map of the town’s resources so that town planners can develop a long term goal of procuring lands for parks and recreational areas to serve the present and future residents of the town. We should try do create linear parks that connect to places. This would also benefit the health of Woodstock’s residents by enabling them to walk or bike to places of interest or necessity and use the recreational areas for outdoor sports and healthy activities.
Now is a good time to take a comprehensive look at all of the land resources in the town — areas that are scenic, areas with a diversity of flower and fauna, streams, cultural, historical and usable land — so that we can create parks and recreational areas for our enjoyment and for future generations. We have some areas now but they are already overused and inadequate for the future. We need to do this now, while there are still options available. This would be my priority as a member of the town board.
There are many citizens who have voiced their concern over the beautiful but dangerous triangular garden on Route 375 going to Route 212. Thos who have SUVs and pickups have no problem seeing vehicles coming down from the village, but those who have standard cars cannot. We have to inch our way out to Route 212. No one wants to be injured, but this obstacle is an accident waiting to happen.
We appreciate those who care for the garden and I’m sure they also can understand what a peril it is. Cutting it back is the only answer.
DEFENDING OUR WORK AND RIGHTS
“Animal sanctuary sparks friction in Willow”? This article failed to mention a few important points. It is a small group of neighbors (not the silent majority) who have come out against the non-profit sanctuary and made efforts to greatly limit our activities. Most Willow neighbors support our work and are appalled by the mean-spiritedness of the complaints. Also not reported is that the town’s tax assessor has already evaluated and rejected neighbor’s requests to have property values lowered because of their proximity to the sanctuary.
Also missing was an explanation that the immediate area is mixed use and not just residential. Contiguous to our property is the busy Shultis Stone yard with tractor trailers, fork lifts, customers and employees driving in and out throughout the day, the bustling Willow Automotive, James Cox Art Gallery, and two doors down is the Willow Post Office. Did we mention the giant logging and dump trucks going up and down Van Wagner/Silver Hollow five days a week? This “quiet residential neighborhood,” at least in the immediate area, is not exactly that. These commercial neighbors are good to us — we have no complaints against them — but it’s odd how all the “activity” in the area is blamed on us.
There is so much more to say on this matter but given that we’re very close to settling matters, it’s not worth getting into here. We don’t mean to disregard these neighbors concerns but it would help if they came directly to us to talk about them in the first place. Yes, I am a passionate activist and will continue to staunchly defend our work and rights as property owners. I just hope that the petty complaints and gross exaggerations about our operation cease and that these neighbors might consider supporting our work for animals instead of attacking it. They’ve already ruined all hope of ever holding a concert here again — and who else in Woodstock is bringing in talent such as Chrissie Hynde, Sean Lennon and Moby? Oh right, this is the same town that reaps all the benefits of the concert that never happened here!
Jenny Brown, Co-Founder/Director
Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary