Local Politics & Mother Theresa

The Partition Street Project, Village Politics, and Mother Theresa “The Partition Street Project” has inspired me to consider Mother Theresa and the words that she lived her life by … “We can do no great things; we can only do small things with great love.” The owners of this project are land developers, savvy business men, and a United States Congressman who have garnered the support of our Mayor, our Economic Development Team, as well as our Business community (business owners have been “highly encouraged” by the Chamber of Commerce to support this development). (This “local support” does not take into account the project’s lawyers, tax consultants, and investors, who no doubt have their affiliations as well). With the “support” this project has gathered, rest assured, the investors will be able to create what they consider “a great thing”. A group of concerned citizens have come up against the development plans, as well as the influence of our elected officials, in the attempts of “doing small things with great love.” I only wish that I still believed in this Village, and its leaders, to believe that they will enforce the law to get the best results for the Village. Unfortunately I don’t. I hope that I am proven wrong. From what I have read, observed, and listened to, I don’t believe “The Partition Street Project” has the ability, nor the concern, to “do small things with great love.” Small things with great love ensure that our neighbor’s house won’t be rocked off its foundation from blasting; their view of a pristine environment won’t be blocked by a parking lot or brick wall; that a community which is identified by its landscape won’t be alienated from its source; that the “bottom line” is not what we have gained, but what we have given. The catch phrase that I hear most often regarding this development is “economic development” and how “this project is good for business.” This publicity, generated by the developers and their support team, is backed by its previous development, HITS. (I’m still unclear on what HITS has actually done for our community, and whose economic development was ensured)? Perhaps I’m the only one who observes how many stores and business in Saugerties have failed and closed? How many properties remain vacant? How many people can’t pay their taxes? Remind me again of “the economic development” and how much these developments have helped our community? I have personally come to know that our richness here in Saugerties is in our natural resources. It is not the Town or Village or our development projects that makes us great, it is the abundance of the natural world, that we have been blessed to live within, that make us rich. Without question, these lands and our resources are rapidly diminishing as “development projects” take over. And so I ask, “Do you honestly believe that someone from New York City, or a tourist from afar, is actually going to come to Saugerties to view a parking lot”? No, they will come because of our waterfalls, our creeks and river, birds migrating, our bike paths and walking paths, our accessibility to the natural world. They will come because our Village and Town wrap itself around our natural resources, resources that no people, no town, and no development can own. We can only be the stewards of our natural resources; how we steward a land will become our legacy. Long after we have passed, our “developments” will remain. Will your children and grandchildren be proud of what you have developed, what you have valued, how you have treated your neighbors, and what you have left behind? This remains to be seen. I have witnessed that most people in our community do not care about their neighbors, or our shared natural resources; they choose not to be involved when our resources are violated, and behave as though “it’s not their problem”. Their choice is to be complacent, and become involved in what personally benefits them. I can assure those people, by the time you have moved from your complacency, it will be too late. With all due respect, most citizens of Saugerties have become “the cow following the cow who wears the bell.” As we are a rural farming community, or once were, our “developers” and “Town officials” now have the privilege, and the power, of being “the cow who wears the bell.” Where will you lead your people and how will you protect our shared resources? Will it be to your perception of “great things” or will it be to “small things done with great love”? Your legacy, and ours, remains to be seen; it will be the ultimate mark of what we stood for, the values we admire and represent, and the values we teach our children. I believe Daphne Rose Kingman states this perspective best: “In the end, nothing we do or say in this life time will matter as much as the way we have loved one another.” Elise Muller / Saugerties www.mountain-spirit-botanicals.com

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