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Our town, your town, whose town?

By Edward M. Kraus
October 30, 2013

Once again this election season, I received campaign literature with a bold headline: “This is OUR Town!” This time the candidates are Lang and Pierce for town council. I have tried to figure out just who belongs to “Our Town.” I wondered if I owned our town, seeing as how I was born and raised here. Then I thought maybe seniority had something to do with it. I would hope that these are not requirements in either case.

I would prefer that the headline said: “YOUR Town!” Then I would know that I and everyone else in the town were included. To divide the town into separate groups is bad policy. Folks who moved here yesterday have as big a stake as the person who has spent their whole life here. No more, no less. We need policy that is all inclusive, not the tactics that I have seen displayed in the recent past, i.e. bullying tactics at town board meetings and board member lawsuits against the town.

It’s OK and healthy to disagree, but in a civil manner. That’s why there are public hearings and public comment, so we can listen and hear the other side. We can see that maybe our thoughts are not always the best and that compromise may be good.

I have seen many cases of this kind of “Our-Town” thinking in the past. They thought it was their town when they hauled in and buried toxic wastes to benefit a few. (It is still costing millions to clean up.) They thought it was their town when they changed the rules so that roads in developments could become town roads, then paved them and passed the bill on to taxpayers. I am fearful of the campaign slogan, “This Is OUR” Town” for many reasons. We do not need that.

I believe that Narrowsburg’s River Walk Project is a worthwhile endeavor and would benefit the whole town, providing it was done right and maintained in a professional fashion. The River Walk would increase tourism and would be enjoyed by local residents as well. It would provide much needed restroom facilities for the many folks who visit and recreate here. To be able to walk or use handicap facilities along the river and listen to concerts and other activities in the summer would be a wonderful thing. No one has a riverfront as beautiful as ours. The River Walk project would perpetuate itself, providing we could all get along.

There has been more money spent on cleaning up our toxic waste dump, drilling the new town well a mile out of town because of the dump, spending taxpayers’ money to pave roads that should have been paved before they were taken over by the town, than would ever be spent on River Walk.