The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

DECEMBER 2, 2011


All parties must step up to save our natural heritage

Is it really any surprise that County Executive Rob Astorino’s 2012 budget targets local parks and nature programs?

As we saw a few weeks ago in Bedford when the open space levy was cut, inanimate elements, no matter how valuable to our well-being or to our environment, are ripe for budget slicing. Same goes in White Plains, where Mr. Astorino clearly found it easier to get rid of a deer management program and nature camp at the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation than to address insurance participation by county employees, who currently pay nothing toward these benefits.

Among the agencies facing cutbacks are parks and recreation, with a proposed 5.5 percent budget reduction and the elimination of 33 positions, requiring 28 layoffs. This is in addition to the park foreman, senior curator, and park program administrator who were all laid off last year. This year’s budget includes a loss of funding for the park ranger and for the one full-time employee at the Trailside Museum at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, forcing the closing of the museum.

Mr. Astorino is currently in negotiations with several unions, including its largest, the CSEA, which has 3,274 members — about two-thirds of all county employees — whose contract expires at the end of 2011. The CSEA currently does not contribute to health care expenses. The expected 2012 budget is in response to an assumption of no change in this position. 

The reservation, the museum, the deer management program and other endangered programs cannot go on strike, participate in sick-outs or show up at meetings en masse. Their advocacy falls to loyal volunteers, contributors, park users, environmentalists, sportsmen and educators who recognize the merit of a well-managed, safe and forward-thinking parks and deer management policy. Biodiversity is not a clear line item on the budget, nor is greenspace, views, clean air, quiet or tranquility. While the reservation borders the New York City watershed, millions of New Yorkers who enjoy its protection will never appreciate this until it is compromised.

As for the deer management program, readers of this newspaper well know of the difficult and complex process necessary to provide a habitat for our wildlife, test competent bowhunters and protect a small part of what naturalists describe as the world’s richest deciduous forest.

Now is the time for county employees, via their unions, to act with enlightened self-interest by taking responsible negotiating positions that don’t hold our parks or other county agencies hostage.

This may be “Rob Astorino’s budget,” but the Democrats in White Plains aren’t off the hook. While they may override the veto, they likewise have to adhere to sound budget strategies. Like Governor Andrew Cuomo in Albany, they owe it to taxpayers to toe the line on salaries and benefits in the county workforce, saving jobs in the long run and enabling a more sustainable county government. For example, a Trailside Museum employee currently slated for elimination receives a $60,000 salary plus benefits funded at $28,800 a year, for a net total of $88,800 to the county taxpayer. Whether that salary is out of whack or not, we’re not qualified to say, but it would be worth venturing to determine if it is justified.

Legislator Peter Harckham, in your campaign you said that “everything is on the table” at budget time. We hope you show us now. Mr. Astorino at least deserves credit for playing hardball here, but he can’t make the tough decisions without the Legislature’s support.

As the budget hearings move forward, let’s support a balanced approach that preserves both jobs and our environment, including the reservation and its vital resources.


Bedford’s Will Rogers

Paul Thomson “Pete” Haskell died on Nov. 16 at age 70 surrounded by family and friends. If you didn’t know Pete Haskell, you missed out on something.

Mr. Haskell was Bedford’s Community Organizations Committee’s first president — this was the monthly gathering of leaders of local civic groups created in the late 1990s. We remember him as a welcoming figure when we first started covering the Bedford beat.

Last Saturday’s remembrance at St. Matthew’s was packed — “half of Bedford was there,” said one attendee, with a standing-room-only audience in the choir loft. All made reference to Mr. Haskell’s directness. A fellow church usher described him as “always there,” adding that Mr. Haskell was “always willing to do what needed to be done.”

Serving the community was a passion for Mr. Haskell. Bedford Village Lions Club president George Fernandez told writer Mary Legrand that Mr. Haskell “had his hands in everything. Pete was always there.”

And it is certain that Mr. Haskell’s presence will be felt at the Lions’ pancake breakfast next Sunday.




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The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

Editorial

NEWSSTAND LOCATIONS

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


Katonah

  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Perks – 197 Katonah Avenue    

  4. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  5. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  6. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road


Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

  2. Connie’s at Northern Westchester Hospital
    400 E. Main Street    


South Salem/Vista

  1. JNR Pharmacy – 222 Oakridge Commons;
    Route 123   


Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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