Up, Be Brave, & Gamble Accordingly...
A recent decision reached by a state supreme court judge in
neighboring Delaware County is something we should all be
keeping a close eye to. Although dealing with a New York City
Department of Environmental Protection order involving a private
sewer system serving a local business, the judge’s finding
— that the city pay for all costs associated with its
filtration avoidance measures – now has the potential
to set an important precedent, both locally and nationally.
For one, it pushes into a corner the arguments that have been
used against the building of city-financed sewer systems in
our local communities, eventually overlooked in Boiceville
but turned into the debacle of a hamlet turning down nearly
$15 million in infrastructure funds in Phoenicia .
With legal opinions shifting in their favor, why should Phoenicians
keep holding out against a sewer system that would allow the
now-vacant hotel property in its center to be properly rebuilt,
set the stage for the creation of a new creek-accessible park,
and a last burst of growth? To assuage the fears of several
successful businesses whose costs would go up a bit, based
on their assertions that there’s a slim chance costs
could go up for others as well?
We think the new decision, while as yet unchallenged in higher
courts, opens a new door for rethinking the Phoenicia sewer
system, which we’ve long felt would be a boon to the
community’s progress. Furthermore, we think that discussion
should be reopened, on an ad hoc basis if not through the
avenues allowed by town government, on getting this offer
back in gear.
Gamble on the future, we say. Especially with the odds shifting
in our favor.
Speaking of gambles, we’ve also been watching the gradual
locking in of plans for the Onteora School District to shift
to a 5 through 8 middle school with two elementary schools…
an expensive proposition we worry will not pass in the current
voting climate. This time, the precedents that have been spurring
on our thought process have not been legal but related to
other budget matters in view, from the Woodstock community’s
rejection of a library expansion to other school bonding issues
going down elsewhere in the county. Furthermore, we wonder
just how far the Olive community will go towards indebting
itself just years after changing the course of the distrct
because of other tax matters.
Our sense here is that the OCS board should move forward towards
their new goal very carefully, making sure it has an internal
sense of consensus before it begins the hard work of building
district-wide consensus for what’s being planned. Furthermore,
we echo our esteemed colleague’s opinion at the Woodstock
Times that some second opinions be looked into before proceeding.
There’s something inherently wrong about consultants
designing plans that could end up serving for their own benefit
Lastly, on the subject of budgets and taxes… we have
again noticed a reluctance on the part of our local town boards
in Olive and Shandaken, and downright aversion in the latter,
towards the opening up of the annual budget process, which
requires that some sort of proposed spending plan for the
coming year be set by October 21. This process, we feel, is
the most important element in our town boards’ jobs,
and we much prefer the greatest amount of openness in it,
friction and troubled debate be damned, than any attempts
to leave out public input. After all, it’s the people’s
money that’s being planned for spending.
So… catch what reports we have on matters this issue,
and be sure and attend every session having to do with the
budget to ensure it proceeds appropriately. We’ll, meanwhile,
keep you informed about how things proceed in the coming weeks
before the election, when the majority of these matters must
be decided for decisions to be finalized just after voting
halts the first week in November.
In other words, folks… the trick on all these counts
is to stay informed and stand up to be counted. The glory
of local government, after all, is that it’s yours to