I’m tired of divisiveness and I’d like to work toward a common goal
To the Editor:
I wrote a letter to the Enterprise editor, published on Feb. 23, and, to say the least, I got some interesting responses. What I wrote was pretty clear but some of the responses referring to “usual suspects,” “shadow governments,” and “agendas” begs the question — did Ms. [Laura] Martin and the others actually understand what I wrote? I think perhaps not and I’d like to be clear.
Ms. Martin and I are in complete agreement when she wrote of the inability of the supervisor to control the meeting, “Could a little more control have been used? Of course.” I fully agree.
When the procedure for public comment is to state your name, where you live, and make your point in three minutes or less, it’s pretty clear and it allows for an orderly, timely meeting. When people are allowed to yell, interrupt one another, make their “points” by sarcastic comments or outright lies, and publicly ridicule an elected official, it serves no purpose except for conducting what should be an orderly, calm meeting as a three-ring circus.
And, yes, I'd consider many participants rabble-rousers for no good reason other than to get their quips and jabs in.
During my time as a town councilman, the board would frequently receive letters from concerned citizens about current affairs of the town. It was never a practice to read these aloud at town board meetings. So, yes, I'd say that reading Josh VonHaugg’s letter at the meeting was, in fact, by design to discredit Councilwoman Amy Pokorny and her efforts to get the town upwards of $100,000 in grant money. As I said before, if our town doesn’t get it, another one most certainly will.
Let me also be sure to point out that there were many well-intentioned, thoughtful additions to the conversation as well. Bill Pasquini, who was sitting in front of my wife and me, made some very good points and asked questions that cleared up some issues for all of us as did Dee Woessner.
Ernie Cupernall and Amy Anderson also made excellent points and contributed to laying the groundwork for trying to build a consensus and move forward in a positive manner. My hat’s off to all of them for taking the time to attend the board meeting and trying to find resolution not division.
And yes, that was one of the reasons I formed the Unify Knox Party. I'm tired of divisiveness and I'd like to work toward a common goal that benefits everyone regardless of their party affiliation, where they come from, or how many generations of grandparents they have in the local cemetery. Maybe that was the reason I received nothing but praise for my efforts and also a fair number of votes even when I wasn't running.
As for my comments on the proposed business district near the intersection of routes 156 and 157 and the current district in the hamlet, I thought I was fairly clear but let me recap. My concern over the proposed site is one of public safety first and foremost (I note my reasons in last week’s letter) and also concern that simply putting up buildings won’t bring in business.
It’s simple economics — it has nothing to do with the town board or supervisor, past and present ones included. Simply put, we don't have the traffic density to sustain a viable business or businesses. Again, to reiterate from last week, if we did, we’d probably already have a Stewart’s Shop here on the Hill.
Would I like to see that? Absolutely, but I don’t think it will ever come to fruition. If the persuasive rhetoric of our own supervisor falls on deaf ears, then what are the rest of us to do in trying to bring business “up the Hill?”
Reference has been made to towns like Schoharie and how we could have a town center like that. Again, that would be great but Schoharie already had existing storefronts and buildings to house businesses. Is part of the hamlet business district plan to evict the residents that live there in favor of putting in buildings that could house storefronts?
Should the town then exercise eminent domain and expropriate the remaining hamlet residents’ yards to put in sidewalks? Neither of these ideas makes any sense, nor does trying to compare Knox to other towns that have completely different physical infrastructures.
Another concern is that, if buildings are put up in a new or existing business district and there are no takers or the owners fail, what then? Do we leave them vacant like the Highlands [restaurant] and allow them to fall into disrepair? Do we make them look nice on the outside and leave them vacant inside like the current storefront in the hamlet? Do we raze them at the expense of the taxpayer?
Simply put, if the business districts could be safe and viable, I’d be happy to get some amenities here on the Hill. Putting in businesses on a blind turn with a 55-miles-per hour speed limit where it’s already been proven unfeasible (a la the Highlands again) and potentially dangerous (see last week's letter) isn’t a smart idea.
As for the hamlet with the old Knox Country Store? Yes, I think it looks fantastic — the workers have done a great job on the exterior. I think it would look better still with some businesses inside its walls. If it did have some businesses in it, perhaps we could determine once and for all if Knox is a town for businesses to turn a profit.
This again circles me right back to my main point — we don't have the population to sustain businesses. I know it’s not what many of you want to hear, but it’s a simple fact. If our supervisor, who by his own description is a successful businessman, can’t get a business up and running in his storefront, I doubt anyone of a lesser caliber would be able to either.
It’s in a convenient location right in town but there are no takers for a reason. As for not being able to understand the obvious conflict of a business owner also being able to use his official capacity to influence laws and regulations that could benefit himself and his business, I don’t know how to put it in any simpler terms. It seems pretty obvious to me.
Lastly, Ms. Martin — you are correct. I don’t say much at the board meetings either when I was on the dais or from the audience. I tend to listen and think before I speak or type. The fact that you see this as me “hiding behind my computer like a coward” makes me smile.
I'm certainly no keyboard warrior. I welcome anyone to discussion at anytime but I like to reflect on what I put into print with my name attached and not just spout off unnecessarily and especially not at the behest of someone who has others write his letters for him. And, again, we’re lucky enough to live in America so we can agree to disagree.
My thanks to The Altamont Enterprise for the editor’s notes to clarify and correct the content of received letters, for allowing its readers a forum for civil discourse, and for its well-researched, informative editorials.
Editor’s note: Eric Kuck was appointed to the Knox Town Board in December 2015 but did not run last November to keep his seat.