Letters to the Editor - The Lakeville Journal - 8-12-21
Wants civil engagement, fair deal
Public interest in the discretionary regulations proposed by the Salisbury Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission is high and rising. But it is far from the “hysteria” that Michael Klemens asserted during the Wetlands Commission meeting on July 20. Hundreds of property owners simply want to understand what new restrictions (and fees) they may face for routine homeowner activities. That strikes me as more akin to measured reason than hysterics.
Mr. Klemens is a valued expert in sustainability. But his position as chair of the Salisbury Planning and Zoning Commission gives him an outsized voice in matters that relate to the local environment — even if they are not P&Z business. He should weigh his words carefully and not quickly dismiss the concerns of taxpayers who would be most directly affected by proposed regulations.
Mr. Klemens went public with his thoughts on the proposal only 24 hours before the July 20 public work session. This timing left even Wetlands commissioners saying they had not had time to read his material, in which he calls for expanding the upland review area to 300 feet — beyond the already contested proposal of 200 feet.
This thinly veiled threat was lost on no one: You dare question a setback enlarged to 200 feet? Fine, we’ll go to 300 feet. This is behavior that has no place in a civil discussion. It invites precisely the kind of hysteria that Mr. Klemens purports to lament.
Teed up as the first public speaker, Mr. Klemens was allowed to set the tone and direction of the entire discussion. Speakers in favor of the proposal were granted an overwhelming amount of time. Town leaders set a time-limit and then allowed obvious allies to filibuster away precious minutes with nostalgic drivel and presentation of irrelevant data, leaving those opposed with severely constricted time at the end of the evening.
I ask for genuine engagement. I want to understand the implications of the proposed changes. I want to know why the changes are being sought and what demonstrable problems they are meant to solve. I want to see science specific to our lakes and waterways that supports these conclusions. So far, the only visible response to such requests has been an apparent backroom deal with the P&Z to lend heft to a position the Town cannot or will not justify under the law and with hard data.
At the July 20 meeting, we heard plenty about our natural assets: frogs, turtles, rare plants. We must protect them. But no one offered data specific to our lakes showing that the proposed changes would make any difference. We appear to be managing theses spaces quite well already.
I don’t pretend to understand government process. But I know what fair dealing looks like, and I do not see it here. Let’s get all the information out so that we can empower individuals to reach an informed conclusion and feel confident their view is being considered before a decision gets set in stone.
It’s time to unify Falls Village
Summer Greetings. If you are not from Falls Village, don’t read this. I want to inform you about the machinations of your current first selectman. I don’t use names as that’s not my style, although a number of writers have freely used my name on these pages to attack me. S’okay. I’m a big boy and have been called lots’a names. I was recently called a racist. That’s okay too, cuz I ain’t one. I lived in Manhattan for 60 years, schooling, working and partying happily shoulder to shoulder with all manner of people, sharing our common humanity.
I was describing how the housing development we’ve been protesting for two years in Lime Rock Station would “ghetto-ize” our little neighborhood. The circumstance was a public hearing about the first selectman’s application for a federal grant for $700,000-plus for wells, septic and stormwater systems for the “River Road” development: 16 units of affordable housing that would double our population down here, concentrating 58 people in the woods two miles from town. We’ve been trying to get the town to start small and build a few units in town where new citizens would be included, not marginalised far away. I meant my remark in the classic sense: “A ghetto is part of a city that has been established for a minority group of people with particular economic, ethnic, or religious backgrounds.”
“Greenwich, Conn., is a ghetto, in a way,” I said. Not good enough. The first selectman called me at home at 9:30 one morning and suggested I should resign from the new Falls Village Affordable Housing Task Team that I am a cooperative constructive member of. We are working to build a consensus plan about moving forward on affordable housing in town. “No, thank you,” I said and asked he stop his attacks on me. He then tried to have a selectmen’s meeting to kick me off the team. Some really smart allies heard about it and contacted the Connecticut Freedom of Information officer to ask if he could do that. “No” was the answer. Gotta have two weeks notice and it’s gotta be a public hearing.
This is a classic “shoot the messenger” scenario. Me. I merely “described” what he and the Falls Village Housing Trust are actually “doing.” The first selectman stated time and again that the town would have no fiduciary/fiscal relationship with the development, yet the town would be responsible to repay the funds if the development doesn’t get built. And they’ve used COVID, and their authority, to try to muzzle dissent. Seventy-one people signed a petition for a referendum last summer asking for a vote yay or nay on the development: denied by the first selectman. If the first selectman has succeeded at anything, it is to divide this town as never before, denying the public a voice and intimidating opponents.
I am a member of the Falls Village Affordable Housing Task Team and my views here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of that group.
This family history is one of inclusion, not division
I would like to share an experience and how it relates to critical race theory. I grew up in a small city called Yonkers, N.Y. In the early 1960s, the neighborhood was predominantly Italian. As the years went on the neighborhood had changed, people started selling their homes and African American people started to move in. Suddenly people started to move out. However, my dad did not budge, he was adamant. He said to us as a family it should not make a differencewho our neighbors are!
And he was right, we got along great. As time went on family members were pressuring us to move; however, my dad paid no attention. We loved our new neighbors and we became great friends. My mother was concerned about my association with my new friends. She said to my brother, will they be a bad influence on me? My brother exclaimed that, “Mom, Angelo is a bad influence on them!”
Racial extremeness was not an issue at Dad’s house. I would ask myself, why? Dad was never prejudiced. Dad grew up in a very poor family, his father came to this country from Naples, Italy, in 1919 he worked hard and ran a little shop selling Italian olive oil. He hired African Americans to help him. He loved and respected his workers.
In fact, when they went back south to visit, they brought back a possum. My grandmother cooked it Italian style with onions and garlic, tomato sauce and invited them over for a Sunday meal.
One of theAfrican Americans was a man named Sonny, he was a strong man and a very good boxer. He would let nothing happen to Granddad. My granddad had a good relationship with all of the African American people in his day. The secret was he treated them with dignity and respect.
Sadly it was not something popular in his day. My granddad died a very young man. He was 40 years old. Getting back to this controversy, critical race theory. This is something I will not believe in because not all white people are racist, there are millions of people that find this theory offensive. It will only cause harm to all Americans, including African Americans. And will cause a great division between good men like my grandpa who tried to conquer racial division!
Angelo J. Prunella
To a supportive community of people, from NECC
My original hope was to reach out to you post-COVID with a huge thank you for your support of the North East Community Center (NECC), but the pandemic has not ended as we had all hoped. However, I believe it is important to reach out now, even though the path ahead is still uncertain. If there is one thing I have learned over the past year, it is that this community has unwavering strength in the face of difficulty, profound compassion in the presence of suffering and boundless generosity in a time of shared struggle. We can and will get through this final phase. Looking back over the last year gives me all the evidence I need of our collective resilience.
When we learned that we would have to shut our doors, it took only three hours for our staff to move to “remote” operations. I can assure you — our staff has impressed me every day in their ability to keep working, and to work harder than ever, to ensure that we serve those who need help… all while suffering the same pandemic challenges we all experienced.
Despite our fellow organizations and businesses having to distance, never have I seen more effort to aid the community we serve than I have during this pandemic. This support came as: The Watershed Center, LaBonne’s and Hillsdale IGA helping us order food supplies; Businesses and media in the area offering free/discounted support to spread the word about our helpful services, crisis fund and ways to donate/volunteer; Local farms and gardeners such as Rock Steady providing local produce for our food pantry; Farmers Market vendors that stuck with us through the pandemic including Breezy Hill Orchard, Broadfork Farm, Coco’s Crumbs, Herondale Farm, Jacuterie, Miracle Springs Farm. There are more, too numerous to mention here; Staff/leaders of the towns, villages and county we serve for aid throughout the pandemic to better serve our region; Our local foundations who contributed incredible support; State and other entities for keeping our grant-funded programs going.
We witnessed extraordinary dedication from 50-plus volunteers who helped, even during the worst days, to deliver meals, maintain gardens and transport produce from farms to tables.
I also must thank individuals and businesses who supported our 2020 and 2021 Chef & Farmer Brunch fundraisers. We reached our 2020 fundraising goal, despite the pandemic, and continue to invite donations to the 2021 campaign.
As we all look ahead at an uncertain path, our board of directors and I express our full-hearted gratitude to this wonderful community of people, working hard to help each other. We’ll continue to be here for you and thank you for being here with us.
NECC Executive Director
Legalized marijuana not an issue for NW Corner
Look, the legalized marijuana was going to come to us sooner or later. It’s really no different than Prohibition in the 1920s. People still had access, and still drank. We can’t stop progress.
I believe if they hadn’t legalized it people would still grow it, or buy it, elsewhere to smoke it. I am no angel, I’ve smoked it in my younger years, I won’t deny it. As Bill Clinton said when asked, he tried it but didn’t inhale. Mr. Craig Whiting, you quoted how North Canaan was the poorest town in Region One, when this may be an answer.
Look to the pros and cons and the towns in Massachusetts are getting money to put in the town coffers. It is just not federally taxed.