A Rare Opportunity...
We welcome and applaud the recent decision from the state’s
appellate court granting final word on recreation requirements
– and opportunities – for the New York City reservoir
system to the state Department of Health.
While we’ve long supported, and more often than not
approved of the stewardship the City performs for this region,
whose role as one of the nation’s oldest and most cherished
state parks might be overlooked by many were it not for such
oversight, we’ve also had issues… even though
many who take umbrage with our views have failed to see so.
We have never been fans of the nitpicking aspects of the City’s
legal and accounting departments and the ways in which they
go after local assessments and traffic tickets and other matters
with a gusto unbecoming of such Goliaths. Just as we’ve
never liked the ways in which larger governments of any sort,
or major corporations for that matter, tend to pick on those
smaller than them, all in the name of profitability, efficiency,
“fairness,” or a host of other excuses.
We also haven’t liked the ways in which so many of the
battles between our folks and the City have been fought. Sure,
we can be blamed somewhat for having a knack for lumping those
we oppose into “Us vs. Them” configurations, blaming
old scores on newer immigrants to our hills and valleys, even
though there’s really little we can do to change the
basics of our lives… that we live in a state park, that
we inhabit one of the world’s most important watersheds;
that New York City dominates our region and will continue
to do so as long as the place matters as one of the world’s
And yet we’ve also taken flack for backing the city
on certain issues, such as the recent move to extend to ten
years the EPA’s Filtration Avoidance Determination that’s
been renewable at five year intervals for a decade now. Why?
Because we feel it’s in OUR best interest not to be
faced with regulatory changes on such a schedule. Or the fact
that a majority of the limits imposed by watershed regs have
actually been good for our real estate values, just as the
payment for those regs have helped our economies in ways we
often can’t see unless we go elsewhere.
Hey, we’re doing pretty well up here in the Catskills
compared to much of this country, and especially as far as
“rural” areas go.
But we’re getting beyond our point here… which
has to do with the opportunities now presented us by the new
court-ordered shift in oversight regarding recreational uses
for the City’s reservoir lands.
We know a lot of people are crowing about the right to hunt
more on city lands. Fine, we say… the seasons are short
and timed for seasons when people don’t really want
to do other things outdoors. We’re against anything
having to do with small arms on such lands, because we’re
against small arms (but that’s another story).
More importantly, we think it’s high time people be
allowed to boat on the reservoirs, and not just while fishing.
We think kayaks and canoes should be allowed on them. We think
new trails should be opened up. We think we should be able
to swim in those pristine waters.
Hey, we won’t relieve ourselves in the water…
and the dangers of poisonous contamination posed by a few
swimmers and boaters is far less than that posed by other
uses up our creeks or proposed for some of our mountaintops.
There’s a lot of water in these places.
Furthermore, we feel the need for better patrolling, for lifeguards
and ranger-sorts that would be opened up by greater recreational
use of this jewel of our region, would be a boon to our economy.
It would give our kids jobs each summer. It would really make
our area an equal to similar reservoir systems opened up for
public use throughout the nation and world.
It’s been a difficult week for justice, overall, with
our nation’s Supreme Court having bogged itself down
into close split-decisions on important matters that many
feel are pushing some of our key attributes as a contemporary
society backwards in relation to our key national problems
involving race, gender, age, and class.
Yet on a state level, the appellate court seems to be on we,
the people’s side… at least in regards to this
case involving our rights to recreate on our region’s
greatest lands and waters.
Have a great holiday weekend… and get out to our reservoirs
to see what fun we might be missing, and what further opportunities
we should all be seeking, now that the chance seems to be