Letters to the Editor - The Lakeville Journal - 7-16-20
Affordable housing response
I would like to respond to the letter from Virginia Bush Suttman regarding affordable housing in Falls Village (FV) and add a few ideas.
1. The Falls Village Housing Trust (FVHT) has not earned the community’s trust for timely and required filings. They have instead powered past the concerns of the townsfolk. Rancor is not the point. Responsible citizens pay attention and speak up when their town proposes BIG PROJECTS.
2. Statistics matter. Both of you, Virginia and Colter Rule, got figures from published sources. Using your list, Virginia, affordable housing units as a percentage of all housing is:
1.2% in FV,
1.6% in Salisbury, and
1.9% in Sharon.
FV doesn’t look so shabby, since FV hasn’t taken $3 million in tax funded grants for construction... yet. Kent requested another grant (not to exceed $1.2 million) in January 2020 to invest in needed rehabilitation of the affordable housing complex, known as South Common. Enough said. Revenue and expense projections over 20 years are indeed important and FVHT has yet to submit this. Only then can the community assess the economic appropriateness of the proposal. FVHT has had over one year to report these figures since the community first challenged their proposal.
3. “Hammering down” is not the metaphor I would choose for the good citizens of FV who question this proposal. We do not brush aside as “doubtful” the impact of development on the closely adjacent Mohawk Trail. FVHT should at the very least represent the Mohawk Trail on the site plans. Neither of your insults, NIMBY nor BANANA, shows respect for the issues before the town: a proposal that has the wrong density (too high) in the wrong location (rural riverfront) at the wrong time (when the town has no weekday Main Street economy). It solves no existing problem for FV when we have many challenges to address.
4. Kent is to be congratulated on developing the commercial heart of your town, which supports job opportunities to the housing tenants who live within walking distance of your business district. Your greater tax revenue can soften the economic impact of downturns, such as both Kent and FV are experiencing now. At the very least, FVHT is way out ahead of our town’s plan to return weekday commerce to Main Street.
5. Thank you for your invitation to visit Kent. One frustration with the Lime Rock Station proposal is that from the very beginning, FVHT has blocked an open dialogue with members of the community. Instead the plan has been hatched outside of public input and discussion. And most importantly, this proposal is in complete opposition to the town’s existing Plan for Conservation and Development. This must end now.
I look forward to future collaboration.
Don’t carp... contribute
One of the many reasons we love our small towns in the Northwest Corner is the involvement of our neighbors in their community activities and organizations. Many people donate their time and money to support the many social service organizations, recreational activities and beautification efforts.
One of those valuable assets is the Salisbury Community Dog Park on Long Pond Road. Organized by Wendy Hamilton six years ago on unused town land it took thousands of dollars and a lot of hard volunteer work to turn it into a first class park. There are two sections separated by fencing for big and small dogs. It is all grass with picnic tables and chairs for owners to relax while their dogs socialize. Poop bag dispensers are available to make sure the park stays clean.
A board of directors was elected to oversee maintenance of the park, to empty the poop bag receptacles, make sure the grass is cut each week in summer and the snow cleared in winter. Over 140 people have contributed to the dog park last season and many use it every day.
One problem we have had is ponding due to heavy spring rains and snow melt. The soil is hard clay. Where the topography prevents good storm water runoff we have had some very muddy areas each spring. Last year the members voted at their annual meeting to correct this problem with storm drains and a raised terrace over the worst mud hole area. Improved grading should also help alleviate the annual mud problem. Board president Nancy Van Deusen mentioned the project in her annual fund raising letter this spring.
It is discouraging for people who contribute their time and money to keep our volunteer organizations like the dog park going to read critical letters to the editor from people who contribute neither time nor money. Good suggestions are always valuable, but not carping from the sidelines.
A way out of this political storm
It is without a doubt
He just loves to shout
Any lie of his choosing
Frightened that he’s losing
He will in November
And then we can remember
What a plague he brought about
Time for a big clean out
All those who supported him
Their chance for reelection will be slim
Then we can return to a norm
Out of this political storm.
Michael C. Kahler
Thanks from Kent library
We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the many lovers of the Kent Memorial Library who stepped forward and contributed to our recent Matching Gift Campaign. We initiated the campaign because, due to the risks of COVID-19, the library had to cancel its summer fundraising events — the annual benefit party, book sale and car raffle. These events not only engage with the residents of the Kent community and surrounding areas, but also raise $120,000 annually — more than one third of the Library’s total budget. Donations of $60,000, together with our matching funds, enabled us to replace that lost income and keep the library’s virtual and now actual doors open. As the library approaches its 100th anniversary in 2022, we are so gratified that the many friends of this institution want to see it continue for another long while.
To celebrate the community’s generosity, the library is offering a Masters of Kent series for free; information about the series can be found at www.kentmemoriallibrary.org. We hope everyone will join us this summer for these online programs that offer a wide range of speakers on various topics and showcase the depth of talent we have in this area.
Betty Ruddy, Board Member
Ned Babbitt, Chair,
Kent Memorial Library
Disagrees on cartoon
I did see the cartoon and I had a chance to read the article entitled, “Cartoon was funny and accurate,” written by Andrew Stayman. I found his remarks, however, damaging to your community and a place I like to visit.
In a time when people are so divisive, making insulting remarks, as to an entire group of American citizens runs counter to seeing the country come together. Hillary Clinton did this when she called all the Trump supporters “deplorable.” Did it help her campaign or did it drive people away?
As do many liberal Democrats, Mr. Stayman would like for people to come together, but sadly on his terms alone. During the last three and half years, the Democrats holding office found no compromise worthwhile if it was going advance the president’s agenda. The border wall is a good example. Clinton, Bush and Obama all saw the need for it, and called for it to be done, but never did it. Trump built it despite the hypocritical resistance. Same thing with the Dreamers and again the Democrats resisted what they claim they wanted. Why? To stop the wall that Trump promised.
Given the cartoon called an entire group of Americans — Trump supporters — stupid, Mr. Valentine was correct to write, “[you] would think that the local papers would be smart enough not to label American citizens as stupid.” Then to compound it by printing Andrew’s vitriol and ad hominem attack of President Trump that lacked any meaningful substance but only advanced division. This was not good.
Contrary to Andrew’s thoughtless and misguided claims, the Trump administration has done more smart things than the last three administrations. Trump supporters get it. They understand Mr. Trump’s nationalistic (not isolationistic) view of putting America first is a good thing. They recognize that fighting globalism and the abuse that our prior leaders allowed China to get away with is smart. That using tariffs to achieve fair trade deals is smart. Bringing businesses back to America is smart. Making our Asian and European allies pay their fair share of the defense costs that America has been expending to defend their interests since 1945 is smart. Building the wall to prevent drug and slave traders from coming into the country is smart. Insisting immigrants come into the country legally is smart. Being for law and order, not defunding police forces and not allowing people to destroy our monuments that reflect our history is smart.
Then, as to Andrew’s misguided claim about masks, the Trump administration protected Americans when the COVID-19 thing started by stopping the flood of infected Chinese from coming into the country. Mr. Trump brought hospital ships to NYC and elsewhere, built hospitals and ventilators to save Americans. This list of things goes on and the Trump supporters get it — because they are smart.
Defense for Falls Village Housing Trust
The letter of July 9 from Virginia Bush Suttman is appreciated for its succinct corrections regarding misunderstandings of the work of the Falls Village Housing Trust (FVHT.) We are grateful. At this point it may be useful to expand upon her phrase “the long and arduous process,” which the opposition feels they need to “hammer down.”
When the opposition casts doubt upon the work of the FVHT, they are essentially questioning the ethics and integrity of the following regulatory or community bodies: 1) the elected and appointed leadership of the Town of Falls Village (Canaan) in determining the Incentive Housing Zone (IHZ) particular to River Road (2013); 2) the State of CT Department of Housing (DOH) for accepting the IHZ documentation; 3) the IRS and State of CT confirmation of FVHT as a 501(c)3 nonprofit (2017); 4) Habitat for Humanity of NWCT’s granting of our option to purchase the River Road property; 5) the Connecticut Department of Housing’s regulatory process in granting pre-development funding (2018); 6) the DOH’s oversight of the bank account that holds those monies; 7) the environmental specialists who declared the appropriateness of the River Road site for human habitation (1997 & 2017); 8) the Falls Village Inland Wetlands Commission’s approvals (2019 & 2020); 9) the Housatonic River Commission’s approvals (2019 and 2020); and 10) the Falls Village Planning and Zoning Commissioners, their Zoning Officer and their choice of Allied Engineering Associates to review the project mapping and engineering.
The opposition, by implication, also questions the expertise of our consultants. Housing Enterprises, Inc., has been providing guidance for affordable housing projects for over 26 years, comprising more than 75 projects, with over 15 of them completed in towns in Litchfield County. For over 25 years, our engineers, Civil 1, Inc., have provided storm drainage, erosion/sediment control, and utility plans in the building of schools, power plants, hospitals, restaurants, fire departments and residences. They are known for their appropriate environmental compliance in conformance with the National Environmental Policy Act and the CT Department of Environmental Protection regulations. The award-winning (37 times) Paul B. Bailey Architect, LLC has designed more than 100 affordable housing projects for nonprofit organizations in the past 29 years, one of them being South Common, in Kent, which Virginia Bush Suttman has kindly invited folks to visit.
Attempts to discredit or disrespect the representatives of the regulatory bodies, the work of FVHT, or to manipulate public opinion actually make no sense. After all, it is the regulatory bodies, not a public referendum, that have the power to approve or disapprove the plans submitted, based on the careful alignment of the plans with mandated regulations.
Sharon Hospital is a gem in the Northwest Corner
I ran a Family Medicine practice in Sharon from 1994 until 2011, then moved to the Savannah, Ga., area to practice as a civilian physician in an Army Medical Home, providing care to Army families and retirees. I retired in 2019 before the onset of COVID-19. Over the years, I have provided and witnessed health care delivery in the Tri-State area and the South.
I was admitted to Sharon Hospital in June, 2020 for bleeding and anemia, status post prostatectomy, while visiting to conduct personal business and visit friends locally. Sharon Hospital is now locally owned by Nuvance Health, with patient care provided by Health Quest, since April, 2019. During my stay at Sharon Hospital, I received high quality care from all providers and care givers, including ER physician Dr. Oberoi, the Hospitalist service, especially Dr. Marshall, the Urology service Dr. Yu, and all Medical/Surgical Registered Nurses and Nursing Assistants. Kudos to Social Services Donna Schmidt, Medical Records Helen Carberry, Public Relations Jim Hutchison, as well as dietary and cleaning staff who all worked to help me during my stay. I wish to thank them all for their dedication to excellence.
Sharon Hospital is a well-oiled machine and highly functioning organization in the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic, a gem in the Northwest corner which all area residents can be proud of and rely on for high quality care.
Richard Hanwacker, MD
Richmond Hill, Ga.