Letters to the Editor - February 3, 2011
February 03, 2011 11:46 AM | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Who authorized town spending on Opus 40?

I was surprised to read in the Saugerties Times last week that the town of Saugerties has spent $25,000 to facilitate its purchase of Opus 40.

I knew that town spent $5,000 to hire an attorney to assist with the purchase. But the 11/24/10 edition of the Saugerties Times contained the following statements: “No further expenditures of town money are planned. More funds are needed to make the purchase, but that will have to come from donations and grants, Helsmoortel said.”

It appears the supervisor has gone back on his word.

Worse yet, I spoke to a town official who told me no Town Board vote was ever taken to spend $20,000 more on Opus 40 (sound familiar?). This begs the question - who authorized this additional expenditure?

The responsibility falls on Supervisor Helsmoortel - the person responsible for overseeing town finances. This is the latest example of the sloppiness, inattention to detail and disregard for the rules that has been the hallmark of Helmsoortel’s administration.

I understand the town hopes to be reimbursed for Opus 40 expenditures from grant proceeds and private donations. But, this seems like a risky proposition. I echo the sentiments of most Saugerties residents who believe this is not something the town needs to be involved in given these tough economic times.

Joe Roberti


Why town should not be involved with Opus 40 purchaseM

Open letter to our Town Board:

I would like to express my opinion on the Opus 40 Project. I am opposed to the plan for a number of reasons. First, we do not need it. Tourism does very well with the various festivals. The only enhancement Saugerties needs to encourage tourism is more hotel/motel rooms and these will be addressed as soon as the economic climate improves.

Secondly, our economic recession. This project presents a poor example of government getting bigger even as taxes rise (projected school tax to be a single digit increase on top of last year’s 12 percent). We are having serious difficulty funding our schools. These figures, coupled with a declining tax base and real estate values at a 10-year low should be a red flag to a responsible government.

I know that the $400,000 grant will be used for the acquisition of property. But that is just a drop in the bucket to the real cost of maintaining a park, staffing, security, and for actual maintenance. Who is qualified to repair a bluestone sculpture park?

The access road is poor. Does anyone believe Glasco Turnpike can handle more traffic? The bottom line…the appeal of the park is negligible.

The governor is planning to lay off 15,000 state employees, imagine the economic impact of that layoff. Saugerties is planning to open a park while New York State is contemplating the closure of a number of state parks.

Please reconsider your position.

John Dooley


Arts boost local economy

I am concerned that in the dialog about the future of Opus 40 we are forgetting that the arts play an important role in economic development. New York State has 53,085 arts related businesses employing 335,683 people (myself among them). Arts-centric businesses play an important role in building sustainable economic vibrancy. In this time of major economic uncertainty, many people are still going to hear music, are still visiting museums and in general engaging in the creative economy of our state. We need creative solutions to our long term economic problems, some of those solutions just might be found within the beauty of Opus 40.

Beth Humphrey


Library a great accomplishment

Our hats are off to those who persisted through many years of effort to bring us our extraordinarily beautiful new library. In doing so, this devoted Library Board of Trustees and their talented architect accomplished several worthy goals.

They raised the necessary funds. They brought the community together behind their effort. They rescued an important cultural and architectural landmark. They kept the library in the village where it belongs, not on the outskirts where it would be virtually automobile dependent. It remains within walking distance of the village business center, allowing residents to combine a visit to the library with those to churches, the Cahill School, shops, restaurants, bookstores as well as to the historic Kiersted House and the farmers market without having to get back into their cars. Thus we get more healthful exercise, encounter friends and neighbors, and enjoy store window displays and beautiful architecture and streetscapes along the way.

The library itself is a place of great beauty, flooded with light into spacious rooms with walls painted in delightful hues of greens, blues and pale yellows. The new wing is affirmatively modern while sensitively incorporating the original Carnegie library into the plan. It represents one of the greatest accomplishments in Saugerties in recent memory. Bravo and good reading!

Barry Benepe and Judith Spektor


In memory

Our community has lost a dear and wonderful friend with the passing of Mary Kent, a saint who walked among us. I first had the honor of meeting Mary when she was on the board of an agency that served people with disabilities in Sullivan County. The agency had been infiltrated by mobsters from Long Island and had implanted an executive with forged credentials. Mary and her friend Antoinette Willis went up against these thugs at great risk to themselves. They were threatened, harassed, and shunned by other board members, some who were placed on the board by the questionable executive. To highlight the seriousness of what they faced, an administration building which housed all the financial records was torched and burned to the ground just as officials were en route with subpoenas in hand. Mary stayed on the board until the agency was cleaned-up. Mary, Antoinette and I renewed our friendship when I joined the staff of Ulster-Greene ARC. Mary was among the founding members and served as a volunteer until most recently.

My condolences to her wonderful family and a thank you for sharing Mary with so many of us in the community. My deepest sympathy is extended to her beloved husband Don who I know will be very lost without his Mary. I rarely saw one without the other. Mary and Don, in his own right, prove that adage that the actions of individuals can indeed change the world. They did just that internationally as well as locally. I will miss Mary immensely as I know many others will too.

Jo Galante Cicale


Obama’s message

This goes out to Mr. and Mrs. America, wherever you are. Just got a new press secretary in the white house. Maybe this will help Obama let the people know all the good he has done, and is doing. Lots of things just starting to be brought out to the public eye.

With all the crap left to him from last group of maniacs, I do not see how this poor guy has time to take a wee. Trying to control our food supply, so it is safe, is a major plan just starting to surface. No one else has tried to stop corporations from killing people with greed. Many steps have been taken, but this is such a huge problem, only a few are starting to take shape.

The thing I notice is, lots of recalls on food. Every day FDA is sending out notices. Before Obama got in, most recalls were not shared with public until it leaked out from a source other than the FDA.

Barbara Terwilliger Ambrosano


Senseless corporate tax breaks

In view of gaping federal and state deficits, every corporate tax dollar lost only adds to relentless pressure for higher taxes on individuals. What we don’t hear from our friends in Congress is that already profitable American corporations have been receiving tax credits for creating jobs. However, those credits don’t necessarily come from creating those jobs in America.

For example, a study done a few years ago (about the time NAFTA went into effect) showed that 250 of the nation’s largest and most profitable companies with pre-tax profits of 688 billion dollars during a three-year span revealed that that 130 of these companies paid zero or less in taxes in at least one of the years. In fact, total refunds were in the billions.

Part of the NAFTA agreement allowed this to happen with the premise that the agreement would create millions of jobs in the United States. However a loophole in the tax code allowed the tax credit for jobs created in any country in the world. American corporations additionally received credits for doing research and development in the United States. Manufacturing overseas, for example, provided cheap labor with very little regulations. A provision in the law exempted U.S. companies with manufacturing operations overseas from paying taxes in the U.S.

A recent proposal to boost the research tax credit for businesses is widely seen as necessary to bolster American competitiveness in the global economy. But, even with this, it won’t begin to address the fundamental question of how to turn that research and new technology into jobs and renewed prosperity for Americans. But, “if you just do breakthrough R&D and in the end, you don’t make the stuff, that’s a losing argument,” according to Ralph Gomary, research professor at New York University and former head of research at IBM. He calls this “the innovation delusion.” We can design things and others will build them. Throwing money into a business environment like this will only result in higher deficits and higher unemployment. With this mentality, we will never see manufacturing jobs in America again.

America; what went wrong?

Robert Aiello

Ulster County Legislator District 4

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