EDITORIAL: Petition forces action in G’town

MOST ATTENTION on the First Amendment these days has something to do with one of the Big 3 freedoms: religion, speech and the press. Occasionally somebody gets worked up about number four, the freedom to assemble. So quick, name Freedom Number 5.

Stumped? It’s the freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievance. It’s not one of the glamour freedoms. But people do use it with surprising results. Consider what happened in Germantown last week.

Seven Germantown residents filed a petition in state Supreme Court claiming that the town Planning Board improperly approved the site plan for a proposed Dollar General store on Route 9G near the center of the hamlet. The residents brought their action under Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Laws and Rules. They weren’t asking for money. What they wanted and what they got was a judge–in this case, Acting State Supreme Court Justice Henry F. Zwack–to order the town Planning Board to obey the law. Read more…

EDITORIAL: What’s so funny about it?

YOU DON’T HEAR so many tired jokes about the polar vortex and climate change this year, although the president tweeted about that. So there’s still an audience for misleading reassurances that we’re not making the world get warmer. It’s just that fewer people are laughing.

What can you do about it, right? It’s a big planet and plenty of other countries are big polluters and aren’t doing their part, either. Why should we change our ways? We have a nice place to live and we take pretty good care of it.

Good questions. But let’s start with that last thought. It turns out that, as a county, we aren’t quite as neat and tidy as we’d like to think. Do you know which types of plastic packaging can be easily recycled and which can’t? Now and then do you slip a food container with some food on it into your recycling? Read more…

EDITORIAL: Fencing plan foiled

AMTRAK BLINKED. The national passenger railroad was all set to build fences and locked gates that would keep pedestrians and emergency responders from reaching the shoreline of the Hudson River in Germantown and other riverside communities. Now, poof! The urgent need for fences is suddenly not urgent at all.

Instead, Amtrak has decided its fence can wait for a five-year “corridor plan” that it will coordinate with state agencies to improve safety up and down the tracks Amtrak uses on the east bank of the Hudson. To read Amtrak’s brief statement about its change of plans and its willingness to work with local and state officials you might think this was the whole idea to begin with.

It wasn’t. It took a community effort that started with an ad hoc local group now called the Waterfront Advisory Committee of the Town of Germantown along with first responders; then Scenic Hudson, the largest regional environmental organization; and then the town supervisor of Germantown and other municipal leaders including the chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, the local member of the state Assembly, the state Department of Transportation and the state Department of State and the county’s Congressman. Read more…

EDITORIAL: You’re going how fast?

POP-UP SPEEDER SHAMING. What a cool game. So you’re doing 50 in a 35 mph zone, who cares? But just around the next curve: Click! You’re busted.

But wait. There are no flashing red and blue lights in your mirror. No officer waving you over. It’s just you and your conscience. For now, anyway.

Most drivers have encountered roadside digital displays that show you and anyone nearby how fast you’re traveling in real time. Associate Editor Diane Valden reported last week on two such signs recently purchased by the Town of Ancram. They not only display the speed of oncoming cars. When the driver is obeying the speed limit, the signs flashes a green “Thank You” message. When the driver is exceeding the posted limit, the sign commands “Slow Down” in red letters. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Mow money for trails

THINGS WILL CHANGE IN 2020. The big decisions have already been made. It’s too late to derail it. The fringe elements will fight back but they can’t win. The power of the idea is strong and supporters have big money behind them.

Politics? Nope. It’s the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail (www.ahettrail.org), which doesn’t actually run through either Hudson or Albany. But it will be a walking and bicycling trail with its northern end near the Amtrak station in the City of Rensselaer and its southern terminus in the Town of Greenport, within walking distance of Hudson. The schedule calls for the trail to open in late 2020.

Our regular readers may already know that this 35-mile pathway is a project of the Hudson River Valley Greenway. For decades, opponents of public trails have branded Greenway projects threats to our cherished right to live shorter, less healthy lives. The opposition tends to wither, though, when trail neighbors concede that it’s a pleasure to take a walk without dodging 18-wheelers and texting motorists. Read more…