The first is that a combined police force will for the first time serve both municipalities. The second is that the expanded public library will re-open.
Now we know that one can still find some people in the community who remain less than enthusiastic about one or both changes, and they may have some good points to make.
But they’re too late. It’s time to embrace the changes, folks, and try to make them work.
The main motive for the change in policing is economic. It’s going to save Saugerties taxpayers as a single entity a lot of money to have a unitary police force.
But there’s also an opportunity for a far more efficient, effective police force. Two separate agencies with 24/7 responsibility of necessity get stretched out and often come to depend on imperfectly trained part-timers and a limited supply of equipment for service. It’s just common sense to think that a larger organization (but one still the same scale) might have fewer of these problems.
Former mayor Bob Yerick, for whom we have the deepest respect, is concerned about the change. Yerick does not believe that village residents will see the savings promised, and is convinced that police service in the village will suffer.
“For the village to give up ownership of the police, I don’t think it’s the right move,” Yerick said recently. “Our village police are very, very much in tune to the needs of the people. I think when you expand to something larger, you lose something.”
Yes, we know it is being said that folks will miss the personal touch that knowing their cop on the beat on a first-name basis. But that doesn’t have to happen, though we must concede that it often does. The same village officers will be serving the whole town, including the village.
If the intimacy of the old relationship begins to erode, it’ll be the fault of police management. Like any community, Saugerties needs a police force in tune with its needs.
The expansion of its public library is another feather in the cap of Saugerties. The outmoded Carnegie facility was profoundly obsolete, and the solution the community came up with was a thoughtful one. There’s no reason to think that the library won’t benefit immensely from what is being done, and we look forward to the last touches on the project this coming month.
We don’t have to remind the residents of the community that Saugerties marches to its own drummer, taking its own sweet, fashion-be-damned time to change. When the opportunity for positive change finally comes, however, it’s a cause for celebration. It’s an opportunity for success. So let it be in this situation.