If Bob Dylan Supported the Highway Garage
Would it Then Be Built?

Woodstock Edges toward a NIMBY-free Highway Department Solution
Wherever the much-needed Highway maintenance garage and salt barn wind up being located, the Town Board fairly soon will have to focus on building up support among voters in order for a bonding referendum to pass. In a rather ludicrous form of small town/gentrification class warfare, NIMBY-gasm after NIMBY-gasm has driven contemplation of a highway garage/salt barn site here, then there, then here, at different locations in Woodstock. Hopefully those who were so smug and shrill in driving it from this location or that location will not just head back to their lives of quiet exasperation, but will help in the solution to this important local problem. Maybe now that they've driven it away from the location by the sewage treatment plant, the NIMB's will no longer call the Highway Department facility an "ogre," especially since it will be at a proper distance from their spiffy homes. I think that the same people who want their snow removed within 15 minutes of the ceasing of snowfall curl their lips at the thought of actual snow-workers mixing sand too near their Yup-NIMB domiciles. And oh those unsightly salt spreaders, that Bauhaus-esque salt barn! those squat and ugly trucks! Police cars filling their gas tanks! Is that an engine they dare to pull from a truck? My Lord, is that a culvert pipe? Is there no decency? Can't they just put them in someone else's neighborhood?
Some, or even hundreds, might not like the solution being stitched together which seems to be gathering steam, but if it is carried out with the plan the Journal has learned about, it will provide an okay, but probably still controversial location. If another NIMBY-gasm occurs, and if then the highway facility is not allowed at the NEXT proposed location, then I think the Town should purchase a property on Easton Lane, tear down a house if necessary, and build it there.
Meanwhile, I took a drive the other day to visit some local town highway garages and salt barns. I went first to the Town of Ulster, then to Saugerties, and finally to the Town of Hurley.
At the rather old-fashioned Town of Ulster salt shed (at least it's covered, unlike Woodstock's ghastly open-air salt pile next to its drinking water stream) I ran into a Town Board member who said that the DEC was frequently on the Town of Ulster's case over leaks from the salt shed, threatening hefty fines. He wondered why Woodstock were not also getting threats of DEC financial punishment. I had no answer.
Maybe if Woodstock were faced with a $1,000 a day fine from the State, it would get beyond class-based NIMBY-growling.
The Saugerties highway department, located on Churchland Road, is a combination of recent buildings and a groovy red brick structure from 1943. It covers a lot of land, and its salt barn, while fairly large, appears to spill stuff to its exterior. Clearly not a model for Woodstock.
Next, I drove to the Town of Hurley site on Dug Hill Road, in a remote part of the Town. This shoots down the assertion that a highway maintenance facility has to be located near a downtown location, because the site high on Dug Hill is far removed from the town offices in Old Hurley and the residential complexes of West Hurley.
Hurley, of course, maintains an excellent recycling center which is part of its highway department site. As I stood there taking pictures I spotted up the hill a sign above a bin, "polystyrene peanuts." No such place to place one's peanuts in Woodstock.
The salt barn in Hurley is new. It has a kind of elegance to it. It reminds me of certain Les Walker designs. I could picture it on Easton Lane, at the Rock City Road site where they were going to build the Post Office, and at a few other spots around town.
Finally, I stopped in to see Highway Superintendent Bill Harder, who loaned me the photo we used on the cover is this issue of the Journal. Bill has an underlying tone of enthusiasm to his personality, and he never gives up. And he's 100% behind his workers. I like that about him.
He likes the new tall green Hurley salt barn, but he also likes, perhaps even more, a barn with a high-arch gambrel design, along whose side run storage units for sand spreaders with an overhanging roof. He showed me a magazine with just such a gambrel-roofed barn. It would be in keeping, he pointed out, with the traditional designs of agricultural barns in the area.
As for the bonding referendum, the one passed years ago to fund a site at the old landfill was $1.345 million. He criticized those who were predicting a $3-4 million price tag for the highway department buildings now. He thinks it will come in around $2 million. "We were hoping for one-half masonry, one-half steel," he told me. "Maybe now we'll have to go to all steel."
I think the same town whose Town Hall has those groovy columns and the semicircular window above them should look to make a visually pleasing set of highway buildings. Again, there should be no distinctions between different types of Woodstock employees. They all can appreciate clean working conditions, conditions that won't lead to cancer, clean water, and visually interesting places to provide their services.

Only 45% of Eligible Voters Voted
in the Recent Woodstock Election

County Election Commissioner Harry Castiglione had a disturbed tone to his voice when he told me, "In Woodstock only 45% bothered to vote. Not only in Woodstock," he continued, "but also all over."
Disturbing indeed.
Last year's presidential election in Woodstock saw 3,337 votes cast. (2074 for Gore, 728 for Bush, and 485 for Nader.)
In this year's election for Town Board, if you add up the votes for Democrat Liz Simonson, Republican Kim Keefe, and Green Peter Koch (1022, 705 and 178) the total is: 1905, which gives an approximation of how many showed up in Woodstock's 9 election districts.
I had been interested in seeing how Green David Menzies did, for Supervisor, against the cross-endorsed Jeremy Wilber, especially after the well-done last-minute Green newsletter Menzies prepared and spread around town. Wilber picked up 1544 votes, with Menzies at 271. That's 15% for Menzies, (who conducted a mellow and low key campaign) a result which is in the ballpark for Greens in other countries, so far.
The candidate that was done a true injustice was Woodstock's 3-term County Legislator, Sam Magarelli who had a landslide victory in Woodstock, but lost in the new illegal and gerrymandered "Superdistrict." (See the editorial.)
What's the answer to lamo non-voters? Don't say it's better candidates. Say it's to become better citizens.

More Articles by Edward Sanders