Letters to the Editor

Our candidates, and the real approach to issues they support, are in the news. Check out these letters to the editor published in The Greenwich Journal & Press and Post Star

October 30, 2019

Editor:

A letter in this section on Oct. 19 took a shot at Supervisor Sara Idleman about economic development and loss of business in Greenwich. The writer ties together two of her comments from meeting minutes that are a full decade apart where she called for action on this and offers them as evidence that nothing has happened in Greenwich in all that time.

If there has been no action, it’s Republicans who are to be held accountable. One of the writer’s observations about our situation is that Aubuchon Hardware relocated to Easton due to zoning technicalities in Greenwich. The writer ignores the fact they moved before Sara Idleman was supervisor. In fact, they moved while a Republican was supervisor and their party held total control of our Town Council, control they have held for as long as I can remember. The zoning restriction the writer complained about was put in place in 2007, long before Sara Idleman became supervisor.

The facts make it unarguable that Republicans bear full responsibility for any negative consequences of the town’s policies, including Aubuchon taking their assessment value to another town. To falsely lay this upon the current supervisor, who is currently outnumbered 4 to 1 on the Town Council, is specious to say the least. Republican control of the Greenwich Town Council got us here, and trying to shift responsibility away from themselves at election time is playing partisan politics and simply does not hold water.

If there’s a solution to Greenwich’s economic circumstances, it most certainly is not to elect more Republicans. It’s time to go in a new direction. I will vote for the Democratic ticket and urge my neighbors to do the same.

Mary MacKrell, Greenwich

October 3, 2019

Dear Editor,

This Sunday, Oct 6, marks the beginning of Fire Prevention Week, the longest running public health and safety observance on record.   As Chief of the Cossayuna Fire Department, I know what every firefighter and first responder knows – the most effective way to deal with a calamity is to prevent it from happening in the first place.  Not every fire can be prevented of course, so the next best thing is to be prepared.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has announced “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” as the theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week.  The campaign recognizes the everyday people who motivate their households to develop and practice a home fire escape plan; these seemingly basic behaviors can have life-saving impact.

The NFPA is celebrating people of all ages who learn about home fire escape planning.  They encourage parents to help everyone in their families learn about fire safety practices and prepare them for action with a home escape plan.  “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!”focuses on what a home escape plan entails and the importance of practicing it. These messages are more important than ever, particularly because today’s homes burn faster than ever as they tend to be built with more open spaces and lightweight construction. The synthetic fibers used in modern home furnishings also contribute to the increased burn rate and dangerous fumes.

It is clear that advance planning makes a life-saving difference.  A home escape plan also includes having a working smoke alarm on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas.  Two exits out of every room, usually a door and a window, should be planned with a clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home. Home escape plans should be practiced twice a year by all members of the household.

I strongly encourage Greenwich residents to visit www.firepreventionweek.org for more safety information and to support your local fire department whose first responders are standing by to come to your aid if you need them.

Pat Donahue, Cossayuna

September 26, 2019

Dear Editor,

I was distressed to read a letter last week that called for partisan division for the upcoming Town Council elections. I’m not sure that this is constructive for our community.

First, I would like to thank our retiring council members, George Perkins and Bob Jeffords. They have both given considerable time and energy to making our town a better place to live. I didn’t always agree with them, but I never doubted their commitment.

Secondly, I’d like to thank all of the candidates for stepping up to run for the council, especially Sara Idleman, who is running for another term as Town Supervisor. Running for local office among your friends and neighbors is not an easy thing to do. We should be grateful we have folks who are willing to put themselves out there for us all to get to know, to answer tough questions, and to take stands that may not always be popular. And then, if they win, to serve on the council working together to make this a vibrant place to live.

Greenwich is lucky to have a diverse group of candidates. We live in a town with about 40% registered Republicans, 31% registered Democrats, 6% registered Independents, and 23% registered Blank (NLP). It would be great to have a council that reflects the diversity of the voters. On a council that has not in its history had many women (maybe not more than one woman) serve, it is exciting to have three women out of the six candidates running. Additionally, all of the candidates have backgrounds that would serve the community well – past teachers, volunteer firemen, organizer of community events, community and municipal board members – many having relevant management experience. And all, I assume, will be willing to listen to town residents and fellow council members, regardless of political affiliation or opinions, to solve community problems and address new challenges.

We are a community that demands this!

Just look at this past weekend – a fundraiser to raise money for a family in need, a grand opening and free pig roast for our new Food Center, a comedy night, and a screening of Greenwich the Musical. What other community wrote a musical about their town? All working together to make this a caring, problem solving, vibrant community. Can’t we have a Town Council that reflects us?  So, let us leave the partisan name calling and division for some other election.

I encourage everyone to honor the candidates who are willing to stand for election. I also encourage everyone to get to know the candidates. They will attend community events, they will knock on doors endlessly in the next few weeks, and they will work hard to earn your vote. And then, I encourage everyone to get out and vote on TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 5!

Sue Sanderson, Greenwich

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Dear Editor:

I was sorry to see such a maligning and misinformed letter in the Journal (Sept 19).  For openers, it’s the Democrats who are trying to keep people insured,  As for guns, there is not one Democrat candidate proposing abolishing all guns, just the assault weapons which are being used in the mass shootings.

Regarding our local scene, I think we are darn fortunate to have qualified and caring people from both parties step forward to take on the challenges of a campaign and the responsibilities of the offices being sought.

Sincerely, Wallace Paprocki

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August 27, 2019

Dear Editor,

Every year, in late August, the Washington County Fairgrounds is filled to capacity with the annual County Fair.  It’s the culmination of hours of planning and work by the Fair Board. In September, an end of the year picnic, an evaluation of the year’s event, then several months of routine events at the fairgrounds and the work for the next year begins anew.

As a kid and teenager, I was active in 4H and my family participated in the dairy show for as long as I can remember. Late August and the fair was in full swing. Our projects were completed, the calves were fitted and ready to be shown and our whites were spotless. We loved the fair. It involved a lot of hard work before and during the fair, but it was an opportunity to spend time with our farm friends and, once the showing was done and our projects judged, we could roam the fair independently of our parents. It was the grand finale of our summer vacation.

By virtue of my position as Greenwich Supervisor, I sit on the Washington County Fair Board. Given that opportunity, I have seen firsthand the work that goes into the annual event. Occasionally, the Board must make an emergency decision. Such was the case on Wednesday when a series of dangerous storms threatened the public safety of those on the fairgrounds. After conferring with the National Weather Service and Washington County Public Safety, Board members determined that for the safety of all involved it was best to close the fairgrounds to visitors. 

However, Junior exhibitors had been up since 5 am preparing their animals and themselves for the show. By 9 am there was a lull between storms and the judging was in full swing. In spite of the rain, the mud and the puddles, the show went on as scheduled. Fully prepared, no amount of rain would interfere with all their hard work and preparation.

The Washington County Fair is considered to be the best agricultural fair in New York State. The Board and the exhibitors can be credited with this distinction. We are fortunate indeed to host this event in the Easton-Greenwich community.

Sara Idleman

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August 19, 2019

Dear Editor:

With pride in my service as Chief of the Cossayuna Fire Department, I encourage members of our Greenwich Community to support our brave volunteers and to contribute to what they do for you in whatever ways you can.

Your volunteers today descend from a tradition that extends back to Benjamin Franklin.  Two-thirds of communities in America are protected by volunteer companies and, of course, every home and every resident in the Town of Greenwich is protected by ours and our colleague companies in the Village and surrounding area.  Our volunteers offer one of the only public services that directly impact the community. They fight fires. And they do so much more. They respond to medical emergencies, accidents and other life-threatening incidents as well as natural disasters and emergencies.  In times of quiet, they continue to respond to community needs through safety programs such as distributing smoke detectors and working with organizations such as the Comfort Food Community to serve our neighbors.

Your Fire Department can help link students to the Firemen’s Association of New York (FASNY) Higher Education Learning Plan, a scholarship program that provides tuition assistance to student volunteers in exchange for maintaining defined grades and fulfilling established service requirements.  Younger students can also get involved through FASNY’s outstanding training programs.  

When you enter the fire service, you join a family like no other.  The experiences you have shape your entire life and prepare you, in turn, to impact your community.  I can speak from my 45 years of experience that the pride, privilege and satisfaction that come from being a firefighter is unmatched.

If fighting fires on the front line is not something you can do, we will welcome your skills to meet some of the other, ongoing needs of the Department.  We need people to keep books, be a liaison to the community and media, help maintain the Fire House and equipment and to help out with community events.

To lend your support, contact the volunteer fire department that serves your community:

Cossayuna Fire Department – (518) 692-7155

Greenwich Fire Department – (518) 692-9002

Middle Falls Fire Department – (518) 692-2830

Chief Patrick Donahue

1494 North Rd

Greenwich

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July 17, 2019

Dear Editor:

I just experienced déjà vu.  All over again. At the July 9 Greenwich Town Council meeting.

The September, 2017, Town Council meeting flashed before my eyes.  At that meeting a representative from the Capital District Regional Planning Commission made a presentation to the Council describing two state initiatives.  These programs make grant money available to communities once they have completed projects chosen by and suitable for their communities. The projects are aimed at reducing an area’s carbon footprint while also preparing for an increasingly different climate.  Neither initiative was brought up for a vote at the meeting, and, while it was suggested that any community group could raise concerns and recommendations, the Council members made it clear those concerns and recommendations would not necessarily be acted on.

And so I listened with increasing alarm and dismay at the July 9 Council meeting when, as reported in the Journal, our current Council members told a recent high school graduate not to waste her time revising a resolution that she had submitted last month for their consideration.  When told that the three members present at a special meeting on June 27 had let the resolution die for “lack of interest in pursuing it’” she offered to revise it to change its focus from a general support of larger climate issues to town-oriented specific actions. In our current Council members’ response, using almost the same words they used to reject the Capital Region Planning Commission’s offer to work with Greenwich in 2017, she was told they were uninterested and most likely would not sign it.

So much for:

  • Promoting public participation in our local government
  • Encouraging our younger voters to become involved in matters that are important to them 
  • Making decisions to act or not act based on gathering facts and good research

It’s time for a more balanced Town Council in Greenwich.  

Thank you,

Mary Lou Stern

Greenwich

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July 12, 2019

Dear Editor: 

As a resident of Greenwich, I’ve been disheartened to watch businesses leave our town and see any number of houses throughout our neighborhoods stand vacant and fall into disrepair and decay because the absentee owners or the banks pay them no attention. It disturbs me that, with all our beautiful natural resources, I have to travel elsewhere to enjoy hiking, biking, or cross-country skiing.  If we had more opportunities here, I would spend my money on meals or gas or sundries right at home instead of in those other places. Others seeking those recreation opportunities would be doing the same instead of passing Greenwich by.

We have the opportunity to elect Audrey Fischer to our Town Council this coming November.  I’ve heard Audrey talk about these very things, so close to my own heart. She offers a vision for community development that includes finding grant money and tapping into our town’s volunteerism to revitalize our community and proactively grow our town.  She is forward looking in her approach to bringing young families to Greenwich, which will go a long way to addressing my concern about empty properties and will raise property values. She knows that the way to do that is to assure a safe and thriving community that offers economic and recreational opportunities as well as good education and youth services.

Audrey’s experience on the boards of Lions, Comfort Food, Library, and Hudson Crossing shows that she is dedicated to making communities stronger and more vibrant.  She will bring that experience and dedication to our Town Council and we are lucky to have her standing up to serve.

Thank you,

Emily Aierstok

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June 20, 2019

Dear Editor:

June is Dairy Month, a good time to note that we live among the great farms that make this area such an important producer of dairy products. 

Having grown up on a farm I appreciate the impact food production and land use have on the economy in Washington County. The USDA Census of Agriculture, taken only once every five years, looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures. The 2017 Census was recently released and wading through the abundance of information, I was most interested in the number of acres in production and the total value of agriculture products sold by businesses directly and indirectly related to agriculture. In 2017, Washington County had 185,291 acres in production and the total value of products sold was $135,813,000.  

Compare that to our neighboring counties.  Saratoga had 71,604 acres in production with a market value of $78,810,000 in ag products and Warren had 10,086 acres in production with a market value of $1,916,000. The numbers support what we already know. Washington County is known for its agricultural products and farming is a major component of our economy.  

The preservation of farmland and support for our ag community have always been a major priority for me. I have supported changes in our Zoning Laws to protect prime soils, promoted events that highlight our farm community and I continue to advocate for the preservation of our precious farmland. Our countryside, our rural culture and the rich quality of life draws people to our community. The land has been good to us and in return, it is my hope that we will continue to be stewards of the land and can preserve our dairy farming culture for years to come. 

Sara Idleman, Supervisor

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June 13, 2019

Dear Editor,

The Albany Symphony Sing Out New York concert at Hudson Crossing Park shone a spotlight on our area and was another demonstration of the value our community receives from forward thinking leadership.  Greenwich Supervisor Sara Idleman was among the leaders acknowledged by MC Joe Donahue for bringing the Park to fruition.

The Park’s story is interesting.  The untended and overgrown island that is now the Park began to be reclaimed and developed in the late 1990’s with a vision for a bi-county recreational attraction.  The Greenwich officials at that time who were invited to represent the Washington County side of the effort were not interested.

When Sara Idleman became Greenwich Supervisor, she saw the potential that connecting Washington and Saratoga Counties’ recreation opportunities would have for our quality of life and economic vitality.  She participated in the Historic Hudson Hoosic Rivers Partnership and worked to secure Greenwich’s contribution to revamping the Dix Bridge as a pedestrian, snowmobile and bicycle Hudson River Crossing.

At Senator Betty Little’s and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner’s urging, Sara pursued funds from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.  Greenwich received a $250,000 grant with support from Woerner’s office to purchase and begin renovations at the property of the Adirondack School for the new Hudson Riverside Park.  Additionally, a $100,000 grant is in process through Little’s office to build a trail to the river, walkways and an overlook on the Hudson.

Hudson Crossing Park, with the support of Sara Idleman’s work on behalf of the Town of Greenwich, has realized its vision of creating a bi-county park. The Park and the new Hudson Riverside Park are partners in the mission to “tie environmental responsibility to economic revitalization, and to engage people of all ages in making informed choices for a sustainable future.”

I believe parks add to the vitality of a community.  Enjoying a concert, walking, biking or snowmobiling the trails, launching a kayak or canoe, hosting a family gathering or picnic on a warm summer night, enjoying a play area for children of all ages are activities that bring friends, families and neighbors together. Parks are inclusive, they benefit us all and bring visitors from outside the community.

Without Sara’s leadership, we on the Greenwich side of the Hudson would have been watching from across the river instead of participating in this amazing transformation.

Victoria Hitchcock

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June 6, 2019

Vote Yes for Library Budget

The Greenwich Free Library has been serving the Greater Greenwich community since 1902. Over 4000 people come through the library every month. In a typical month, between 3,000 and 4,000 books, ebooks, audiobooks, Large Type books and music CD’s are checked out.

Our library houses the IVH Gill Local History Archive and presents local history and genealogy lectures and workshops. Daily early literacy programming for children and caregivers, after school, school vacation, summer arts, science and reading programs are all offered by our library.

Additionally, our library provides adult literacy, K-12 tutoring space, and services for personal and business needs: copy, scan, fax, high-speed secure internet, 24 hour Wifi, notary services, tax forms, tax prep assistance, health insurance sign-up assistance, and basic computer assistance


Hundreds of local residents use our community room every month.

As you can see, the Greenwich Free Library is a vital institution in our community. I urge you to vote “Yes” on the Library budget.

James Nolan