Letters to the Editor - The Millerton News - October 14, 2021
Support Councilman Ralph Fedele as he seeks re-election in North East
Vote Ralph Fedele, Democrat, for the North East Town Board.
I have known Ralph for a good number of years. He has proven to be an honest and honorable man of integrity.
During his tenure on the Town Board, Ralph has demonstrated rare leadership, organizational and logistical skills, shown through his many years volunteering with the one-room 1858 Irondale Schoolhouse project.
Ralph sincerely cares for this town and its future.
Join me in voting for Ralph Fedele and the future welfare of the town of North East on Tuesday, Nov. 2.
Editor’s Note: Mr. Conklin writes a monthly opinion column for The Millerton News entitled Veteran’s Corner.
A neophyte’s observation of the Amenia Meet the Candidates forum at Webutuck High School
Wednesday, Oct. 8, proved to be a rough and tumble evening at the Candidates Night at Webutuck High School. As a Millbrook resident who does lots of shopping in Amenia and has been a substitute teacher in their schools, I decided to attend knowing it would be an interesting event; it didn’t disappoint.
First up were the five Town Board candidates in attendance; Stacy Mantel (WFP) was absent for personal reasons.
The format for this section was written questions submitted to the Dutchess County League of Women Voters moderators; each candidate had an opportunity to respond.
Most questions were on water and sewer in the business district and the Silo Ridge lawsuits regarding property taxes and real estate assessments.
Noteworthy among the responses was Leo Blackman confirming a reported quote he made at a past meeting where, when asked about crime in Amenia, he responded “the most prevalent crime in Amenia is probably incest.” Sadly for Mr. Blackman, he chose not to apologize for his utterance but rather to call it “unfortunate.”
Another gaffe was Brad Rebillard answering a question that included his replying, “I don’t care if I get elected or not.”
A pleasant surprise that evening was Democrat Katherine Lee, a Wassaic resident. Ms. Lee was well-informed and knew her topics. As a conservative Republican, I found her refreshing in that she took a firm position on all the issues discussed. She has the characteristics of someone seeking to build consensus to move forward and find solutions on issues such as water, sewer, maintaining working farms and improving town support in creating a more vibrant business district.
Incumbent Councilmember James Morris, an attorney, was rock-steady throughout the evening. Like Ms. Lee he is well-versed on the issues and seeks to find solutions rather than send barbs across the aisle for political points.
Jamie Vitiello, a resident of Silo Ridge running on the Conservative and Amenia Strong party lines, stressed he was not a part of ongoing lawsuits against the town. I question why he would not just run on the Conservative line, and forego Amenia Strong so as not to be associated with the lawsuits.That rationale must be above my pay grade!
Finally, there was a 30-minute Q&A for town supervisor candidates, incumbent Victoria Perotti (Republican, Conservative) and Julie Doran (Amenia Strong). Of particular note was Ms. Doran sharing she is either employed directly or works contractually for Silo Ridge. After being interrupted twice by Ms. Doran, Supervisor Perotti stayed on topic and has a firm grasp of how to guide the town down the road to infrastructure improvements.
Angry attacks by upstarts to the political process during the evening certainly caused a lapse in the level of civility expected Wednesday night.
Town residents would do well to consider the motives of each candidate running this year. Remember, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to getting real results on issues important to Amenia’s residents.
Elect Leo Blackman to the Amenia Town Board
Amenia needs more energetic, creative and forward-looking town governance. Fortunately there is a candidate who would be a great asset to our Town Board. He is Leo Blackman, an architect who repeatedly has donated his services to the community and who also is serving us as chair of the Amenia Housing Board and as a member of the Planning Board.
What is most important about Leo is that he is committed to working to solve some of the most critical issues we face. He is determined that we should build a wastewater system, and he has some good ideas as to how it can be funded. He would work to develop workforce housing, so that seniors, laborers, young families and high school graduates can stay in Amenia. He would improve downtown Amenia, making it more attractive, livelier and more supportive of jobs and businesses. And he would try to ensure that all property owners in Amenia, Silo Ridge residents as well as the rest of us, pay their fair share of taxes, so that none of us are overtaxed to pay for the undertaxation of others.
We must elect Leo Blackman on Nov. 2. (Early voting and absentee voting also are permitted.)
Cavin P. Leeman, M.D.
Amenia voters: Beware of what’s being offered by the Amenia-Wassaic Community Organization
In last week’s Millerton News, Wayne Euvrard lambastes the incumbent Town Board and non-Silo Ridge candidates for not attending the big “fundraiser” put on the Amenia-Wassaic Community Organization. What is the Amenia-Wassaic Community Organization (AWCO)? I’d never heard of it, so I Googled it.
Turns out the CEO of the AWCO is the general manager of the Silo Ridge Field Club. The executive director of the AWCO and all four board members are Silo Ridge people, including James Vitiello, an Amenia Strong candidate. Wayne didn’t reveal these details.
Instead, he shilled for them and urged voters to support the Amenia Strong candidates, also all Silo Ridge people. Did Wayne really expect the Town Board and non-Silo Ridge candidates to support a public relations event created by their political opponents?
The Amenia-Wassaic Community Organization, created in 2020, is just a front organization for Silo Ridge management. They put on an apparently very successful “fundraiser” to buy votes just ahead of the Nov. 2 election.
Be very careful, Amenia voters. Election of the Amenia Strong slate will assure Silo Ridge of majority control of the Town Board (3 of 5 votes), its appointments (for town assessor, for example), for town counsel (the lawyer who defends the town against the many current and future lawsuits over property assessments), the town’s budget for legal defense and the supervisor’s agenda.
Election of the Amenia Strong slate would result in Amenia becoming a “company” town.
Amenia must work together, despite differences
Kudos to The Millerton News for sponsoring the recent Amenia Meet the Candidates night. High points were the excellent voter turnout and the opportunity for the candidates to face the electorate and answer voter questions publicly. A drawback was the format, which only allowed candidates one minute to address each question, far too short to permit the candidates to state their positions clearly.
It is refreshing to see so many candidates willing to serve in town government, after many years in which this has not been the case. Among other things, I was pleased that James Morris took such a strong, principled stand against allowing cannabis lounges in the town.
While the candidates all seemed sincerely committed to serving the public interest, I found Brad Rebillard’s obvious willingness to work hand-in-hand with persons of all viewpoints to address town issues particularly admirable.
One disturbing aspect, however, was a lack of civility from some members of the audience (catcalls, etc.), which seems related to an unfortunate tendency of some in our Amenia community to engage in class warfare, figuratively throwing bricks at others simply because they seem to be better off economically.
I was reminded of the reception that some of us got over a decade ago while trying to promote the town’s purchase of the Allen property for mixed purposes like recreation, a town garage and a wastewater facility. While perhaps not always apparent, diversity is one of Amenia’s strengths.
When the Silo Ridge project was first proposed, I was a naysayer, in large part because I doubted that it would be successful. Now that it is well into its build-out, I have a better sense of its advantages for the town.
While I would still prefer that it be somewhat less “exclusive,” I welcome its inhabitants into Amenia. Their presence will enrich our community, even if there are some speed bumps along the way, like the current dispute regarding property assessment. What a shame if a permanent rift develops between those who live in Silo Ridge and those who live in other parts of town.
What I have come to appreciate is that what is good for Amenia is good for Silo Ridge, and what is bad for Amenia is bad for Silo Ridge. No doubt, Silo Ridge has always realized this. Where in the Silo Ridge business model would they want to be part of a failed town? Key to their business model is that Amenia is vibrant and prosperous.
I am a Republican, and not a member of Amenia Strong, but I welcome the willingness of candidates with some connection to Silo Ridge to offer their time and talents to participate directly in town government. We should be seeking to lower the barriers between Silo Ridge and the rest of the town, not to raise them. Rather, each needs to work together for their, and our, mutual benefit.
Please vote on (or before) Nov. 2.
For $1.21 per month, Amenia Free Library can better serve community; Vote for Proposition No. 7
I would like to thank the many residents of Amenia who have recently signed petitions supporting the placement on the municipal ballot vote of a proposition requesting additional annual funding for the Amenia Free Library.
The funding increase requested under Proposition #7 will allow the library, in its new and expanded space, to meet the community’s needs for programs for all patrons, an increase in our operating hours, and additional print and digital materials that the public has been asking for and which our patrons deserve.
We have recently added an assistant to our staff, who is working diligently developing our future programs and events.
Voters should be aware that NO taxpayer dollars were used for land purchase or construction of the newly expanded and renovated library. Our expansion is the result of 25-plus years of fundraising as well as a significant grant from the New York State Education Department. We have been blessed with the support of many generous donors, to whom I offer our sincerest thanks and appreciation.
The funding we are requesting is only used for operating expenses — salaries, materials and supplies, maintenance and utilities. The increase requested in Proposition #7, the first increase in three years, would result in a tax increase of $14.48 for an average residence assessed for $250,000 in Amenia… that’s just $1.21 per month for expanded library services, which our community deserves.
We invite the public to preview our newly expanded library on Saturday, Oct. 23rd, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Members of the Board of Trustees and our director will be happy to provide a tour and answer any questions you may have.
We have faith that you, as well as the voters, have seen the Board of Trustees as good stewards of the public trust, and that voters will provide support for our funding request.
President, Board of Trustees, Amenia Free Library Association
Support Amenia Library
This year, voters in Amenia have the opportunity to give their approval to an initiative to increase the town’s share of financial support to the Amenia Free Library for additional programs and hours of service.
The public library is a major center of the community serving all ages, from nursery school through adulthood with a variety of informational resources to make the connections necessary to function in the 21st century.
I ask that the voters go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 2, to make their choices of candidates for elective office, and to be sure to go to the second page of the paper ballot containing Proposition 7 and give their consideration to supporting additional funding for the Amenia Free Library.