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Road use law takes care of taxpayer dollars

October 18, 2012

I was surprised to see, in an article in the October 11 issue, that Ned Lang, who normally yields to none in his solicitude for taxpayer dollars, is criticizing Tusten’s proposed road use agreement law.

Lang should perhaps consult with officials in the neighboring town of Cochecton, which suffered immense damage to its roads from the heavy industrial traffic associated with the construction of the Millennium Pipeline—over $1 million, according to a River Reporter article dated December 11, 2008—of which it recovered only a fraction, and only after a struggle. Cochecton taxpayers would have saved a mint if they had had a road protection law in place before Millennium construction started.

As those who have been following this law for some time know, one of its guiding principles is specifically to screen out traffic associated with traditional activities like agriculture, lumbering, residential and small-scale commercial construction activity, and septic trucks. (See “Taking care of the roads,” www.riverreporter.com/editorial/16/2011/05/17/taking-care-roads.) True, in order to be screened out, existing businesses that plan to embark on new usage levels may have to fill out a form. I don’t like filling out forms and I sympathize with anybody else who would prefer to avoid doing so. But for anyone who truly cares about taxpayer dollars, the choice between asking a few businessmen to fill out a form, and putting an entire town full of taxpayers at risk for seven-figure hits imposed by heavy industrial users, is clear. Any town that takes its fiduciary responsibilities seriously will make sure its residents are protected against this kind of catastrophic loss, and adopt the road use agreement laws that will be coming before a number of Sullivan County towns over the next couple of months.

I only wish my Town of Fremont, which unfortunately opted out of the Multi-Municipal Task Force that developed the law, would do so.

Anne Willard
Hankins, NY