2017-05-31 / Mailbag

What makes your heart sing?

To The Editor:

I’m responding to the Letter to the Editor “Make Memorial Day special” in the May 24 issue.

I think it’s pretty arrogant to talk about our rights and freedoms when our presence on this soil is because we slaughtered most of the previous inhabitants, occupied their land and kept the remaining indigenous people in terrible conditions, confined to bare prisons (aka reservations) and when they protest the injustices we use the police, who are supposed to protect people, to spray, freeze and chase them out of their “land,” when it’s useful to us! I actually applaud those who refuse to submit to such commands. They are answering a higher call. Human laws are flawed and need to be rectified to create an environment that is peaceful and fair to us all.

The article on the front page of this same paper, shows a group of USA (“legal”) citizens gathered and determined to protect their rights and freedoms and “speak out and demand justice” to protect their health care rights in NY. There are several injustices in this country, in this world. If we don’t protest, resist, persist, we’re all going to become second-class citizens.

I remember the picture of the Earth from space: the Blue Planet! The beauty of that picture is that it shows no political boundaries: those have been invented by humans. Those boundaries are really a figment of our imagination. So before we talk about freedom let’s take a look at whose rights and freedoms we’re trumping to protect ours. Perhaps it’s selfishness and greed we’re protecting.

As for having the priorities backwards, before being a citizen of any country, I am a human being, I am a sentient and spiritual being, and my priority is to acknowledge, respect, help and protect other sentient beings. I also include animals and plants since even scientists have now proven that they also have feelings and thoughts.

Protecting and crusading for everything is an overwhelming and daunting job for anyone, so I choose my fields of interest, at a level that is comfortable for me. I also respect and applaud those who chose different fields because I don’t see them as my enemies, but my associates, my allies. We’re all part of a team to protect democracy and the environment we live in, political as well as natural. This is what I see a democracy is for: to ameliorate the human condition for everyone. When we are united for a just cause, we succeed. If we divide and fight with each other, we lose power. And the real enemy will laugh all the way to the bank. Beware!

So, letting go of the rhetoric, and inquiring within: what makes your heart sing? What really gives you joy? What is you purpose? Where is your heart taking you? And let all else go.

Laura Battelani,

Rail trail network is welcome

To The Editor:

I grew up in the Catskills and now co-own Overlook Bicycles in the Town of Woodstock.

I’ll naturally point out that riding bikes is smile inducing, healthy-living fun that helps so many know joy and connect with community and the landscape at large. We at Overlook certainly work to encourage and share the joy of riding bikes – exploring, feeling the wind through one’s hair, the subtle thrills of it all…

I can’t tell you how many thousands of people ask us where to ride with their children, or as beginner cyclists, away from vehicle traffic but also not too steep and technical like the bulk of Catskill Mountain trails are. I suggest they do as I sometimes do with my seven-year-old daughter and head to the rail trails in the region. But many folks are discouraged by the logistics of transporting multiple bikes for a 20- or 30-minute drive to access safe and approachable riding conditions of any length. Many folks opt to do something else, often something more sedentary. I too admit that the effort is somewhat inconvenient considering the vast swaths of open space we here in the mid-Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountain region have right out our doors.

We need and deserve safe, approachable and accessible infrastructure that ensures riding bikes and walking for leisure, sport and other purposes is readily available to all. The growing shared-use rail trail network is a welcome and long overdue start!

Bryan Roberts,

We should all feel thankful

To The Editor:

I want to express my sincere thanks to Margaretville Hospital, their emergency room personnel, and their dedicated and professional EMTs, including the Margaretville Fire Department, for being there and ready for top-notch service each and every day.

I had a serious slip and fall injury on March 21 and had firsthand knowledge of their incredibly professional and caring service to our community.

I went from my home, to Margaretville Hospital and on to Westchester Medical Center with speed, care, and efficiency.

We should all feel thankful that this incredibly efficient and dedicated medical response team exists in our community.

Joseph F. Kelly,

Give credit where credit is due

To The Editor:

Re: Last week’s story on Middletown’s sewer assessment settlement; let’s give credit when and where credit is due. Kudos to the town board, as well as Middletown’s long time attorney regarding NYC/DEP assessment litigation, Bob Beebe, for reaching a beneficial agreement after several years’ negotiation and hard work. However, credit is also very much due to Burr Hubbell for taking Mr. Beebe and myself through the town’s commissioned engineering report in the fall of 2015 with insights we would otherwise have missed re: comparison figures and values from a then current infrastructure project, values on which the successful settlement was based.

During my last months in office, I worked closely with Mr. Beebe to prove that the town’s assessed values on the sewer plant and collection lines were correct, and that the case the city was making for a reduction in taxable value was dead wrong given current replacement costs. We were able to prove that thanks to data in the town’s possession on the Glen Acres sewer extension project, one of the many accomplishments of my tenure in office. As a result of that long needed infrastructure project, the town had up-to-date values for comparison purposes, which values formed the basis of the town’s assessment victory. I know this because I spoke with Bob Beebe this past week, and, to quote him directly, “the work done in 2015 was the foundation of the successful settlement in the town’s favor.” Beebe also noted that he met only once with the town board in 2016 prior to the settlement being reached. To date the News has not contacted Beebe or myself regarding this matter, although our extensive research work, including cost comparisons by linear foot, was undertaken in the final months of my second term and Beebe used those collaboratively researched values to help the engineers update a draft report first given to the town in 2015, which matched NYC/DEP figures, figures not in the town’s favor.

Our work at that time sent them back to the drawing board, resulting in a very different second report, and the beneficial outcome. Additionally, neither I, nor Beebe, nor anyone on the town board past or present has ever disputed Gary Marks’ assessed valuations; Gary served our town with immense distinction and integrity for over 20 years, retiring in December of 2012, well prior to this suit having been brought, and he was, and is still, greatly respected by all.

I am – as are all taxpayers in the town - thrilled with the outcome of this issue, which was set in motion in 2015 by the town board and myself, along with Bob Beebe. We are also extremely fortunate that Burr Hubbell attended the town board meeting when this issue was originally raised, and volunteered his time and detailed expertise to assist the town, and that Davis was able to follow through on our efforts.

Marjorie Miller,

Editor’s note: Marjorie Miller is the immediate past supervisor of the Town of Middletown. During and after Ms. Miller’s tenure, the News covered this story frequently and extensively with all reports in the last 30 months being done based on public statements made, on the record, in town board meetings. We covered the meetings in person and additionally, secured copies of the tapes of the meetings to check our reporting and be certain it was complete, accurate and fair. We were not privy to private, behind the scenes work in either her administration or that of current Supervisor Davis, and reported only on the public record, which was undisputed until now.

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