Just as Jane Jacobs saved the West Village from Robert Moses who wanted to build highways everywhere regardless of the effect on the neighborhoods, Robin Segal will save Woodstock. She deserves a medal for all the hard work she is doing to save
Woodstock from all that RUPCO’s, proposed large lower income housing project in a wetland will do as detailed in her blog
thetroublewithrupco.blogspot.com. This was the work the planning board should have done.
Woodstock’s single moms, elderly, shop workers, and civil servants were supportive of the idea of some kind of affordable housing, turned out to support the project, but when the facts became clear that this was really just a housing project that drew from a statewide lottery with locals having an infinitesimal chance of being chosen, the only people that showed up in favor of this project were associated financially with RUPCO, employees of partner agencies, potential contractors and the leader of a group called Concerned Citizens of Zena who fought vigorously to stop RUPCO from coming into his neighborhood, now on the planning board.
What Woodstock needs are accessory apartments which would house and diversify people throughout town, in need of housing, help the local contracting business and help senior home owners afford their homes but RUPCO is a real estate developer, more interested in a land grab in a high value area under the fig leaf of affordable housing for locals, as spun by their very talented professional corporate public relations department.
SLOW DOWN ON MAVERICK ROAD
The following is a letter that is accompanying a petition we are in the process of circulating among homeowners, residents and people who live or work off Maverick Road in West Hurley:
To Roy Hochberg, Charles Schaller and The UC Legislature:
We, the undersigned, would like to bring to your attention the dangerous conditions which exist on Maverick Road in the Town of West Hurley. Maverick Road is a residential road which leads to the historical Landmark, Maverick Concert Hall which was established in 1916 by Hervey White. Hundreds of concert goers attend performances at the Concert Hall on the weekends during the summer months adding to the traffic congestion. Keeping the speed limit low and reducing the volume of larger trucks could only benefit the safety of all.
The many hidden driveways on Maverick Road are poorly marked and are not immediately visible especially to aggressive drivers going well over the speed limit. This creates a definite threat to the public safety. It is not uncommon to see the bodies of dead animals, struck by vehicles, alongside the road. In fact there was a two vehicle accident close to the apartments on the corner of 375 and Maverick Road about a month or so ago. The reason? One driver swerved to avoid an animal crossing the road. Many smaller incidents go unreported. The other day, an automobile coming off the road plowed through the wall of 28 West Gym seriously injuring a person lifting weights in the side room at the gym!
One resident reports eight dead pets and two cars totaled over the years, in an attempt to exit her driveway.
Maverick Road is in no way a road meant for the use of heavy trucks carrying, flammable liquids, toxic construction materials and equipment. Because it is a short cut between Route 375 and Route 28 it is used daily by heavy vehicles, including 18-wheelers and tri- axel vehicles which are not only inappropriate for such a narrow, windy, residential road, but are dangerous since most ignore the speed limit of 40 miles per hour as they are only using Maverick Road as a short cut. These trucks routinely occupy more than half the road due to their size. They don’t fit in their lane.
Almost everyone on Maverick Road living on the south side of the road has to cross the road on foot to pick up their mail. They put their life in their hands by doing so. There are no shoulders so most people have to stand on the road surface itself to do this. People walk, bike and run on this road.
Comparable types of neighborhood roads in our area are VanDebogart and Witchtree Roads. Their speed limit is 30. Why? Because these are town roads and the residents along town roads seem to get more safety consideration for some reason than those along county roads. Route 375 has a 40 mph speed limit and that road is considerably wider than Maverick Road.
A recent complaint by residents of Maverick Road resulted in a cessation of heavy dump trucks carrying asphalt from using Maverick Road as a short cut to a construction project on Route 28. We commend Mr. Schaller and the Peckham staff for seeing the danger this added traffic posed.
We are requesting two permanent changes in the current signage on Maverick Road. These are changes that will in the long run save the county money on road repair as well as make drivers more mindful of how fast they are going which in turn should cause them to slow down.
1. That signs be posted on both ends of Maverick Road limiting trucks to three tons and local deliveries only, as Route 375, a state road, offers a more than viable alternative.
2. That the speed limit be reduced to 30 miles per hour for the length of the road.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to be part of this petition or pick up a copy at Print Express in Woodstock.
Karen Falch, Friends Of Maverick Road
LEAVE THE MIDDLE EAST
A small group meets here periodically to discuss international affairs. Some members are Republicans of the right wing stripe. Some are left wing Democrats. However both advocated a putsch into Afghanistan countryside to get rid of Taliban leaders. Both applauded the president’s vigorous approach to the problem.
Now neither group talks about it any more. The plan has fallen so flat you can push it under a rug and not feel it with bare feet. The country knows that; the president knows that; even I know that. The question is, what will he do next.
The New York Times recently revealed the new strategy will center around the assassination of Taliban leaders. I haven’t double-checked it yet. However that’s not new. CIA has been doing it all along. The plan now is to turn GI’s into assassins, albeit amateur ones. In another word soldier, sailor and marines will become hit men for a mob bossed by Uncle Sam. Will that make Camp Lejeune a mob headquarter? Hope not and Semper Fi!
Assassination is an evil business. But there is another consideration. The enemy is liable to shoot back with his AK47’s and it can kill from 458 yards away. What’s more if he doesn’t want to fight he can hide in the Hindu Kush until the mob leaves. The new strategy is going to fall flat like the old one.
Furthermore what is the soldier going to write home about? Perhaps, “Mom, I assassinated an enemy today and I missed another one. Please send me some of my favorite candies…”
America seems to have forgotten there were other unfriendlys beside Talibans like Al Quada, mujahadins, jihadists and plain America-haters. They comprise almost all of the Muslim world. Are their leaders also candidates for assassination? The guys had better check with their platoon leader before pulling the trigger.
In sum the whole Middle East affair is a witch’s brew of politics, greed, religious hatred, racial bigotry, big business, a stupid ex-president, inept congress and dumb politicians — a real horrid mixture!
Yet there is a way out of this dilemma — perhaps the only way. First, leave Afghanistan and Iraq completely. Second, dismantle those one hundred military bases scattered throughout Middle East. They are the root causes for the Muslim hatred of U.S.
Third, order home all the military and maintenance personnel. But before leaving make them do the following thing. That is — post signs everywhere bearing these words, “assalamu alykum.”
I would like to point out, for the record, that I have been working on organizing the Alf Evers archive at the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild for four years as an unpaid volunteer. I have not been subsidized by a “senior service agency” as stated by Mr. Nesbett in the July 29, 2010 of Woodstock Times.
However, a second individual working on the archive is paid through a federal training program, which in no way is limited to senior citizens.
This is a small example of Mr. Nesbett’s factual imprecision in speaking of matters concerning the Guild.
RECONSIDER FINANCIAL LAYOUTS
The town board recently approved $39,400 to purchase wood planking to rebuild a section of the walking trail on the Comeau. The planks, which are a very high density hardwood originally from the South American rainforest, are available as surplus from the Coney Island Boardwalk restoration project. And before delivery to the Comeau, the planks will be cut and prepared according to exact specifications provided by the Comeau Trails Task Force. No doubt this is a first class solution for the wet area on the Comeau walking trails.
But you have to wonder if during a time of economic problems, when people are struggling to pay their taxes and other expenses, that spending $39,400 for wood planking is a good use of the town’s money. Certainly, other, less expensive options are available.
Another project the town board is considering is the expansion the upper Comeau parking area. This expansion will provide 16 new parking spaces at a cost that could easily exceed $80,000, or about $5,000 per new parking space. Additional parking is certainly needed on upper Comeau, and this need was explicitly recognized in the conservation easement, but $5,000 per parking space seems extraordinarily expensive.
The town board appears ready to spend $120,000 this year on these two improvements to Comeau. This is a lot money at a time when people are struggling to pay their local taxes, and it doesn’t appear we’re really getting a good value on these projects. The town board should reconsider these projects in light of the current economic downturn. This might not be the right time to make these major financial commitments.
ARE WE THERE YET? Getting something done in Woodstock can be like trying to visit a friend who lives in an area you have never been to before. You know where you want to go but are not sure how to get there. More often than not, you either get lost or are misdirected by people who claim to know the area, and you rarely get to where you were trying to go.
WORKING OUR WAY BACK
The Woodstock Times editorial “The Internet is a portal to the soul’s abyss” attacks the Internet. No doubt there was a similar attack around the year 1440 when the printing revolution began. I can only hope that Brian Hollander returns soon so that we are back in 2010.
SOCIAL SECURITY…AND MORE
Are you receiving social security checks? Do you remember the day that you qualified to receive them? It was a glorious day, wasn’t it? After all, we all paid into the fund and now we are able to receive the payments in our senior years. Social Security is an entitlement which we receive. It’s one of the good things that our taxes pay for.
Well, guess what. So are food stamps. (The SNAP card) food stamps are an entitlement which we qualify to receive because we paid our taxes all these years. What is stopping you from applying? You paid for these benefits all these years when you worked. Why ignore them now? You are not ignoring your social security benefits. If you can get to a computer, go to mybenefits.ny.gov and follow the steps which will acquaint you with the process. Drop by the Good Neighbor Food Pantry on Wednesday afternoons or Thursday mornings and get an application. Then, go to Family or go to Kingston and apply. Better yet, take a friend or relative with you and both of you apply.
ISRAEL HAS THE POWER
I participated in the demonstration by Hudson Valley Boycott Divestment Sanctions (www.hudsonvalleybds.org) Saturday almost two weeks ago on the Woodstock Village Green because, though Israel has many great accomplishments to its credit, its treatment of the Palestinian people is not one of them and though Palestinians fight back occasionally they are essentially powerless (no F16s, no Blackhawk helicopters, no missiles). The power is with Israel.
In Israel’s pursuit of land and resources it has become an apartheid state with very definite separation and discriminatory treatment of Palestinians. Its attacks on fishing boats and ships off the coast of Gaza are certainly related to the fine large natural gas reserves off Gaza’s coast, which should belong to the Palestinian people. One of its tools for theft of Palestinian land and resources is its encouragement of settlements that are of course legal under Israeli law but illegal under international law. As US citizens and taxpayers we support these policies with diplomatic protection of Israel against UN resolutions and with $8 – $14 million per day. The Israeli government cloaks itself with the PR of security, peace and democracy much like the US government hides its true motives for the terrible treatment of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The non-violent resistance of the Palestinians and the good work of Israeli peace and justice groups have not been effective enough. These groups are under attack so many people who support human rights, justice and international law are supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of Israeli products. Participants hope that as this movement continues to gain strength it will focus attention on these injustices and the financial bite will help support peaceful change — as it did in South Africa.
Ahava cosmetics, which are among the products we are boycotting, are made in an illegal settlement on stolen Palestinian land with stolen Palestinian resources with cheap Palestinian labor (cheap because of the oppression and control of the Palestinian economy by Israel) and should be boycotted. We are complicit in so many ways in the injustices by our governments. This is one way to say no.
Please go to www.hudsonvalleybds.org for more information. This information is very hard for people who love Israel to consider. The discussion is frequently forced into the two extreme sides — Israel can do no wrong or you are an anti-Semitic terrorist trying to destroy Israel. There is a vast gray area between these two extremes that we must explore not only for ourselves but to protect Israel.
Some people object to political information and protest on the Village Green but people come to Woodstock not only for its good shopping but because it is interesting with its fine art and crafts, good movies, theater, music and events including political protest. If you want a pretty little tourist town go to Southampton to see if that’s what you really want. Let’s keep Woodstock — well Woodstock.
AT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE
The age old battle between the objective and the subjective view of reality is really heating up in Astrophysics. Bob Berman, 21st century American astronomer, states: “We merely assume that our sensory experiences correspond to an external independent universe. But we cannot in any way be sure about this.” He echoes 18th century Irish “Subjective Idealist” philosopher George Berkeley, who asked the question: “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it really happen?”
Bob Berman goes a step further stating: “Thanks to quantum theory, advancements in human physiology and common sense, we are now realizing that Nature and the observer are a single entity.” In other words, there is no external objective reality because every observer creates the universe in their brain.
The idea that there is not an external independent universe without an observer seems spurious to me. Many of our sensory experiences can lead to incorrect assumptions like the Earth is flat, the Sun moves around the Earth etc. These subjective observations were once considered the orthodox reality. But, the scientific method showed there was a very different objective reality beyond our limited perceptions. I am the center of my universe, you are the center of your universe, but we are not the center of The Universe.
What a surprise to see tater on the paving at Bradley Meadows just beyond the Bank America’s windows! Going over to the fence and back as far as possible one can see the cause of it. The beaver have built a dam across the stream which has created a pond with all but a trickle of water getting into the stream bed and prevented water from draining the stand of trees behind the Bank so that they now stand in water.
What a crude looking dam it is. It looks like a pile of brush but how clever it is that it can hold back a flowing stream. If there were to be one of those big rains now the water would be high above the pavement and behind the building on the eastern side of Bradley Meadows.
Do drive in and look at this phenomenal work of nature.
Another phenomenon of Nature in Woodstock is the fascinating way the trees are gradually rapidly taking over the Comeau property. Big deal…
ISRAELI FUR TRADE BAN
The Humane Society International is applauding moves by politicians in Israel who have put forward proposals to ban the fur trade throughout the country. A bill, introduced by Knesset Member Ronit Tirosh seeks to outlaw the production, processing, import, export and sale of fur from all animal species not already part of the meat industry. There is a small exemption for the use of fur in hats for certain religious purposes.
This was unanimously endorsed by the legislative branch of the Israeli government and now has to pass votes in Committee and the Knesset.
A ban on all fur throughout the country would be a world first, a major stand against the animal cruelty inherent in the worldwide fur trade. It would set an example that other countries would look to and follow. It has attracted widespread support in Israel and from the public, politicians and celebrities from around the world.
Austria, Croatia and the United Kingdom have already banned fur factory farming. In each case, the cruelty inflicted on animals bred and held in tiny wire cages for their short and miserable lives was found to offend public morality. The European Union and the United States have banned trade in seal fur products and cat and dog fur.
The steel-jawed leghold trap, one of the main methods used to catch wild animals for their fur has been banned in more than 60 countries, including Israel.
Professional polling asked the public about their attitudes toward fur. The results were revealing. When asked the question: “Do you find it moral to kill animals if they are killed only for their fur?” 86 percent were against this. 79 percent confirmed their support for the ban when asked the question: “Would you support a bill to ban the trade of fur in Israel?”
I want to thank the Humane Society International for this information. To see the full article and/or help support this effort go to: http://www.hsi.org/world/united_kingdom/news/news/2010/07/Israel_fur_ban_support_071910.html
GROUP DU JOUR
Just imagine how Woodstock Soccer would feel if the Town Board threw its support completely behind another user group and ignored their pleas for parity.
Let’s imagine a town board which only wanted to promote walking trails at Comeau and no other user groups mattered. Suppose that the Upper Parking Lot was to be expanded but only for the use of walkers and then only with a permit. The walkers might be from out of town but it wouldn’t matter. Taxpayers who voted to purchase and preserve the property could be shut out.
Suppose that soccer was told that they would have to give up a playing field or two to make room for more trails and couldn’t use areas they had always used.
Imagine how everybody would feel if informed that the beautiful Middle Meadow would have to be sacrificed for trails to cross-cross it, eliminating habitat for Monarch butterflies and their Milkweeds.
If you have succeeded in imagining these actions and their devastating effects then you can understand the anger and frustration felt by many Comeau walkers as we see our rights as a User Group ignored and superseded by another group.
Comeau is to be used — and shared equally — by diverse groups. It’s use is not meant to be favored by any one “group du jour.” I’m sure that the very capable Woodstock Land Conservancy will recognize this fact and severely limit the truly out-of-scale soccer proposals.
BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME, VOTERS
So. Another of the Onteora Board of Trustees has resigned. This one being one of the elected four who promised not to close the Phoenicia Elementary School, who voted against consolidation because of dwindling student population and who voted to let our previous superintendent go before her contract was completed, even though this superintendent was doing a superior job for the district.
In addition, this trustee supported a district policy that would keep all class sizes under 23, supported not consolidating the fifth grade in the Phoenicia school and supported Kindergarten class sizes of 10 per class.
And yet this same person, who supported the lack of diversification by keeping miniscule, private school level class sizes has now moved to Kingston, citing “better education and more diversification” with a middle school that begins with grade six (another thing this person voted against at Onteora) and has larger class sizes.
One of the elected four gave up early on in their tenure because of “conflicts within their own four” and now another vacated their elected position, each taking little notice of the responsibility and commitment owed to the people who elected them.
It makes me so sad that we let our school district slip into the hands of trustees whose self serving private agendas did not include the entire district of innocent children whose educational well-being was entrusted into their hands.
Better luck, voters in the Onteora School District, when you get to choose again in May of 2011.
REFOCUSING ON THE BOARD
While it is important to remember Carla Smith’s missteps before her forced retirement from the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild (Guild), interested Woodstockians need to know that Peter Nesbett’s resignation was a direct result of the board’s actions — not Smith’s — and its self-interest, deceipt, and irresponsibility. I believe board members allowed for, even encouraged, things to spin out of control for their own personal benefit.
At the first staff meeting, Peter asked the employees to describe the organization and one of the most popular words was chaotic. The board had nurtured, so it seems, chaos for years. Why? My theory is that it built a wonky organizational system of committees-upon-committees to fuel this chaos, so that members with their own pet projects (board members, for instance, who perform in Guild concerts, or show in Guild exhibitions) can continue to do so without interference from the executive director. As a result, all that’s left to the executive director is the opportunity to manage — not correct — the mayhem. The excuse the board uses to justify its behavior is that it is simply trying to appease locals, but it was clear to me that they are really only trying to please themselves.
Fueling the chaos keeps control in the board’s hands. For example, at one of the many meetings I attended with Peter, within minutes of arriving and without even being challenged on the issue, Nancy Azara (on the board and head of the exhibition committee) defended her group’s unusual degree of autonomy as follows: “This is the way our committee has always been and I want to leave it that way,” according to my notes. “If you [Peter] start controlling it, members will leave, including myself.” And concerning the past executive director’s involvement in her meetings, she said, “Carla was just a contributor, she did not oversee,” meaning: Smith was not in charge. Odd, since programming in any nonprofit is always under the purview of the executive director.
If the Guild wants this organization to succeed it has to let its new executive director lead, they have to stop with their pet projects, the remaining old timers should step down, and the many ad hoc committees should be abolished. But the first step, as the AA mantra goes, is the board admitting it has a problem.
New York City
RUPCO AND ULSTER SAVINGS BANK Ulster Savings Bank officials recently announced a $10,000 sponsorship for RUPCO’s NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center.
Isn’t this the same bank that Jack St. John owned at one time? And wasn’t his daughter, Vicky St. John-Gilligan, who still owns the land behind Bradley Meadows where RUPCO wants to build, connected to the bank, too?
And let’s not forget that Ulster Savings Bank will hold the mortgage for Woodstock Commons.
I’m glad I don’t have my money in that bank.
CHAOS IN THE HOOD
These thoughts are in response to the letter in last week’s Woodstock Times, in which the writer poo poos and naysays efforts to curb much of the problem behavior going on in the hamlet. The idea of a curfew and or increased patrolling did not happen in a vacuum. I am one of many neighbors who have no quality of life left due to noise, litter and general chaos brought to our hood by a large group of ne’er-do-wells. My property and the immediate area within 100 feet of my house has become a party-zone, garbage basket and public toilet. I have a right to ask our elected officials and police department to step up and address this sad situation. Curfew or no curfew, something needs to be done. I thank our town board and Chief Keefe for considering ways to curb the insanity. If you are the parent of a youngster hanging out around town, please talk to them about the basics of respect and decency. This whole situation is a real drag.
SUPPORT FOR CARLA
I would like to add my voice to those in support of Carla Smith and the Woodstock Guild. During her tenure at the Guild, Carla was never less than incredibly supportive of me and my work. When I received a Guggenheim Fellowship several years ago, she celebrated it as if she had won the grant herself, and she and the Board of Directors offered me the opportunity to present my project at the Kleinert/James Gallery, without which support it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to present my project at that time. On numerous other occasions I was given the chance to perform at the Kleinert/James — Carla was always open to my suggestions , and also helped to organize rehearsal space and times for me. I have great respect for her professional abilities and integrity, and have greatly enjoyed her sense of humor. Over the course of her time at the Guild, I came to consider her my friend. We are lucky that we had Carla for 13 years, and I will miss her very much.