Dangerous situation is developing
To the editor:
I am adding my voice to those who have begun to speak up about the dangerous situation developing on The Great Sacandaga Lake.
For many years I have enjoyed all types of boating on this lake. However, this is the first year I am concerned for my own safety and that of others who sail, drift, or tow a float with passengers. Boat speed and noise have become excessive. ”Rules of the Road” and courtesy are mostly ignored.
There is nothing more disconcerting than drifting along and seeing a boat coming at you at ocean-appropriate speed. This has already happened to me numerous times in the past month. The Great Sacandaga has always been a family-friendly lake. Other waterways in our area have established and enforce speed limits and monitor for reckless behavior.
The Great Sacandaga and those who enjoy it deserve the same. We should not be the place where anything goes, where any behaviors are acceptable. We need action and help to establish and enforce boat speed and noise limits and the “Rules of the Road.”
As responsible citizens , it behooves us to press our government agencies to provide the regulation and oversight needed to protect our wonderful resource and those who use it in good faith. Otherwise, disaster is sure to strike and the victims will most likely be the innocent.
Batchellerville: The update
To the editor:
Here’s the latest Batchellerville Bridge update from NYS Department of Transportation Spokesperson Carol Breen:
“We are pouring concrete for the bridge deck and, as we did with steel erection, are working from each side of the lake and will complete the middle section last. At this point, the western side of the bridge deck is complete. Crews are working on the eastern side of the bridge, and that side is expected to be completed by the end of July. Concrete will be poured for the middle section of the bridge at the end of July and through August.
“Once the concrete deck is completed, crews will build curbs and sidewalk, install bridge railing and lighting, and do other finishing treatments, such as paving and striping. Work is being done now to complete the embankment and concrete retaining walls on the east side of the bridge.
”The project is progressing smoothly, and we are still on schedule to open the new bridge to traffic this fall.”
At its June meeting, the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District’s board voted to adopt a three-year budget commencing July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2015.
Expected revenue from access permit fees over the next three years averages out at about $423,500 per year. The District is going to have to scramble to achieve that target. Although the books for the current fiscal year aren’t quite closed yet, permit revenues were running at about $399,000 as of a week ago. The final total will obviously be lower than the $408,000 collected in FY2010-11 and the $414,000 collected in FY2007-08.
“The decrease most likely represents the reduced turnover in private properties with access permits,” according to Executive Director Michael Clark. “When private properties change hands, new applications are made that generate application and stake-out fees. The permit system revenue trend suggests declining real estate sales — no surprise really.”
How the District plans to fill a possible FY2012-13 permit fee shortfall remains to be seen.
At the June meeting, the District’s board also reversed a 3 percent salary increase awarded in April to its nine management/exempt employees. Here’s the background on this strange — and somewhat embarrassing — flip-flop.
In November 2008, a Federal court ruled that the District could no longer bill downstream hydro station operators for its operating expenses. This cut off 80 percent of the District’s revenues and plunged it into a financial crisis. In April 2009, the Director of State Operations — because of the unprecedented fiscal emergency — issued a directive freezing the salaries of the District’s non-collective bargaining unit employees. This cost them an average salary increase of 3 percent in 2009, 2010, and 2011.
Why the board thought the freeze had expired — after all, the District is so broke that it has reneged on paying its latest round of school and property taxes — beats the heck out of me. But in April of this year, it went ahead and voted management/exempt employees a 3 percent raise. At the very least, you would have thought that the board would have checked with the Director of State Operations.
Anyhow, at its June meeting, the board voted to rescind the raise. Did they receive a phone call from Albany? That puts the District’s management/exempt employees back at their 2008 salary levels. For the record, the District’s five top salary earners are Executive Director Michael A. Clark ($97,500), Chief Engineer Robert Foltan ($90,913), Counsel Robert P. Leslie ($92,500), Chief Fiscal Officer Richard J. Ferrara ($87,150), and Operations Engineer Michael A. Mosher ($70,530).
The next meeting of the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District’s board will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 10, 2012, at the Mayfield Municipal Complex, 28 North School Street, Mayfield, NY. The board does not plan to meet in August. In September, it will meet in Lowville, NY.
The lake is at 766.96 feet above sea level, about 6 inches below target.
Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee
Another unfunded state mandate
To the editor:
Last month the NYS Assembly and Senate both passed versions of a bill that would mandate that school district Committees on Special Education consider the “home life and family background” of special education students when deciding whether to place their students in a public school setting or underwrite the costs of private school placements.
Superintendents of Schools and Boards of Education have consistently voiced their strong opposition to the onerous burdens already placed upon school districts by the hundreds of unfunded mandates currently in place. To add to that burden by approving this bill is to exemplify why our schools are struggling just to maintain a basic level of programs and services.
The disregard our legislators have shown for the state’s school districts, their students and taxpayers by passing this bill is astounding. It appears that the continuing public outcry against unfunded mandates was not sufficient to dissuade our legislators from bowing to the pressure of a very small minority of the public who sponsored this legislation, the basis of which is intended to deliberately segregate special education students from their mainstreamed classmates. As a long-time educator with a special needs family member who was successfully educated in a mainstreamed setting, I can attest to the importance of eligible special needs students being included in a regular education setting with all appropriate supports being provided. I have also taught in such settings as well as administered programs where this was the norm, and know that all students benefit from such programmatic design when it is well-crafted, carefully implemented and properly supervised.
The fact that our society expects its schools to raise their standards of student and staff performance while simultaneously imposing aid cuts, restrictions on tax levy increases and new mandates such as this, that are educationally and sociologically unsound and unproven, is mind-boggling to say the least.
Citizens who are concerned about this latest unfunded mandate are urged to contact Governor Cuomo, implore him to reject this poorly conceived bill and allow district Committees on Special Education to retain the right to make these decisions where and as they should be made; that is, at the CSE table, without the imposition of artificially-derived constraints that benefit no one except the private schools.
Superintendent of Schools, Northville