2017-11-29 / Mailbag

BAM businesses thankful for support

To The Editor:

Wow, what a weekend! We at the Business Association of Margaretville (BAM) have a lot of thanks to give for all of those who showed up for and participated in Holiday on Main. Thank you to all those who participated in and watched the parade, thank you to our announcers, Glen Pedersen and Nicole Bomer and thank you to WIOX for providing us with equipment. Thank you Margaretville Fire Department for traffic control. Thank you to our sponsors, the M-ARK Project, the O’Connor Foundation, the Village of Margaretville, the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce and Pine Hollow Lodging.

Thank you to the Daisy and Girl Scouts who showed up to help decorate town. Thank you to Robson’s Tree Farm for the amazing tree. Thank you to the Village crew for getting the tree, decorating town and getting lights up. Thank you to MTC for hanging lights and signs and Christmas lights. Thank you to the Catskill Mountain Christian Center for caroling at the tree lighting. Thank you to the American Legion for hosting so many activities.

Thank you to Locust Grove Advertsing and Silvertop Graphics for the promotion and advertising. Thank you to everyone who came to Margaretville and shopped in our stores. To anyone we forgot, our sincerest apologies. Wishing you all a warm, bright and peaceful holiday season.

Jessica Olenych,
President BAM
Raelene Bond,
Vice President BAM

Building in ‘dire’ condition

To the Editor:

What is a human life worth? There have been many public meetings where the emphasis has been on the protection of Delaware County highway equipment especially snow plows and the “response time” of getting this equipment on the roads to begin work.

With a building that’s “in dire condition” it becomes necessary to leave this “critical” equipment outside because it could be damaged if the roof of the building collapses.

The County DPW’s hired consultants, Wendel, stated in their report of May 30, 2017: “if the building does not undergo repairs to correct the above noted structural integrity concerns, it should be evacuated/abandoned prior to the onset of winter, any high wind event, or significant rainfall.”

It’s November and no one is addressing the fact that there are office workers in this building daily. There’s no provision to move them out to safe, warm facilities any time in the near future. But wait. Wendel is the firm that was hired by the Department of Public Works of the County. That’s the department that wants to purchase some property and to construct a totally new facility.

The brick building on Page Avenue in Delhi isn’t pretty. It’s rather a depressing place to visit, but it has not been condemned by any official or agency. That’s a fact. No building inspector, OSHA or PESH has inspected and condemned this structure. It was given a “visual inspection” by Wendel (architecture. engineering, planning, energy efficiency, construction management.)

All descriptions of the building at meetings were opinions of people who want a new facility in a new location. There has not been one failed inspection performed by a county, state or federal inspector whose sole purpose is to protect people.

Why is Delaware County so concerned about equipment? If they truly believe this building is in such dire condition, why aren’t they using some of their $9 million reserve funds to give their people a safe, secure, clean place to work?

Marie Van Valkenburgh,

Engineer weighs in on building story

To the Editor:

The article in the Catskill Mountain News covering the building at 1112 Main Street needs some corrections and additions:

First, the building was never condemned, as stated in the article. The original estimate of repair from the flood made it eligible for a FEMA buyout. That does not constitute a condemnation but is based on a purely economic assessment. The engineering reports also did not condemn the building, it is not in their purvey to do so, only a building official can do that. The reports state that it needs structural repairs but that is not unusual for many buildings that were exposed to the flood.

The new owner is planning to do just that, rehabilitate the building, and since it involves the reinforcing of some deteriorated floor beams, i.e. structural work, he obtained a building permit. No alteration, addition, or change in classification of occupancy (apartments and stores) is planned. Thus the Fleischmanns zoning laws are not applicable (§ 110-8 Applicability states that only changes to the building or its use is subject to the zoning regulations) because this is a rehabilitation and not alteration to the building or the property on which it is located. It is unfortunate that the zoning board got involved because rehabilitation is not in their jurisdiction.

The alleged “conflict of interest” statement in the article begs the question: between whom? As a long time representative for Mr. Mendlovic I am sometimes contacted to convey information to him. Thus it is perfectly normal that the CEO informs me of what documentation is required so that the project can proceed. There is no conflict of interest here.

The article however fails to inform the reader of pertinent information:

The subject building is in the historic district of Fleischmanns and contributes to the character of the town. The FEMA buyout would result in the demolition of the building that would leave an empty space in the middle of town that never again can be developed. The town ultimately would be responsible for maintaining the space. Rehabilitating the building and bringing it to good use will continue the tax revenue flow from this property and not reduce the tax base for the town of Fleischmanns.

Paul A. Gossen,

Says FEMA buyouts are the problem

To the Editor:

There is a huge misconception on FEMA buyouts, and after reading your coverage of the Village of Fleischmanns village board meeting I was forced to reconfirm my understanding of them.

The “taxes will be paid at the current rate for the next 30 years” is not entirely true. That statement is a smoke screen for what is actually happening, which is carving the eventual death of these villages and towns.

As properties and buildings are bought in these buyouts the taxes collected and therefore the budget for the villages and towns are greatly decreased and can never recover that money ever. This happens because as soon as the properties are purchased, the buildings are demolished leaving only the land to pay for. Also, they can never be built on again. And on top of that if the county obtains them they are removed 100% from the tax roll.

So for an average house and property paying $5,000 in taxes, the tax money collected goes down to a couple of hundred dollars or none at all. And as stated earlier it can never go up or be used as a tax base again. If these towns and villages keep allowing these properties to be bought, not only are they strangling themselves they will either A. try to pass the additional taxes to the residents (which is an avalanche affect since the more properties removed the less people are there!) or B. the inevitable bankruptcy of these villages, towns and or residents, C. the decimation of their own main streets to the point of not even be able to call them a main street of a village or town and will cause local economy to fail as less people are here. These buyouts are another way of land acquisitions to keep people out and to help the insurance companies (federal government mostly) from paying out claims.

I commend Mayor Don Kearney of Fleischmanns and Town of Middletown Supervisor Pat Davis for realizing this and now the local residents need to fight to keep as many as the buildings and properties as possible.

Christopher Plante,
Code Enforcement Officer
Town of Middletown

Editor’s Note:

The story in last week’s paper was not about the pros and cons of FEMA buyouts as Mr. Gossen and Mr. Plante seem to assert. No one likes FEMA buyouts. That is not the point.

The story was about building safety and what should be required of building owners in terms of re-constructing seriously damaged buildings located in the flood plain.

As the story made clear, there is a very serious discrepancy, well-documented in formal reports foiled by the News, over how much work should be required on a building that is likely to house many individuals. We agree the tax base is important and laud efforts to keep properties on the tax rolls. But that should not be done at the expense of public safety. And public safety should be the only focus of engineers and code enforcement officers.

As members of the only community to experience a loss of life in Hurricane Irene, Fleischmanns residents are justified in their concern.

Sexual harassment is not new

In “Gellhorn: A Tweneith Century Life”, 2003, a biography of foreign correspondent, Martha Gellhorn, Caroline Morehead writes, “The only female reporter on the paper, she fought off the advances of the city editor, who was always drunk…”

It was 1930. Gellhorn, 22, a vivacious blonde, worked for the Albany Times Union. She lived into her 90th year, was married to Ernest Hemingway for five years and in a BBC interview said, “I don’t want to be a footnote to someone else’s life.”

Robert Jacobson,
Mt. Tremper

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