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Some On Beacon City Council Intend To Give Up University Settlement Camp

FYI... from a Beaconite post I read tonight.
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Dear friends,

The future of the University Settlement Camp is in serious jeopardy. Regressive forces have convinced Council persons Eleanor Thompson, Randy Casale and Deanna Leake that we should turn the camp over to the state. Council person Marlene Fredericks is undecided. Council person Thompson said at a recent workshop meeting to the Director of the Clearwater…..you don’t have to try to explain your plan to us for youth activities at the Settlement Camp because I have four votes (a majority) to turn it over to the state. Council person Casale said that we should turn it over to the State because we can’t afford it.

Council persons Sara Pasti, Charlie Kelly and I are firmly opposed to this short sighted measure and want to keep the Settlement Camp in the hands of the City for our future generations.

Please review the message below which I will be running in the Free Press and take action to flood letters to the Free Press (newsplace@aol.com), send emails TODAY if you can in time for Monday’s workshop meeting to (Steve Gold) Mayor@cityofbeacon.org, (Charlie Kelly (ckellybeacon@yahoo.com); Marlene Fredericks; Randy Casale (rjc52@optonline.net); Sara Pasti (Sarapasti@aol.com) (my Admin Assistant will forward them on to the Council persons who don’t use email), write traditional letters and attend our meetings. The City Council Meeting is on Monday December 15th or the special Budget Adoption Meeting on Wednesday December 17th both at 7:00PM. Please broadcast this message out to your distribution lists.

Thank you,
Steve Gold

Cell: 249.5571

Letter to the Editor…..

I am deeply concerned that a few vocal residents want to reverse the progress of this city by returning the management of the University Settlement Camp over to the NYS Parks Department. Worse, they have persuaded a majority of council members to agree to this terribly short sited measure. As is often the case, the arguments that the USC costs too much either stems from not knowing the facts or not wanting the camp at any cost. Judge for your self…in 2008 maintenance cost after revenue was $3,200. In 2009 the maintenance amount is expected to be $18,000 before deducting revenue’s from renting the property. (These figures do not include the cost of the pool which is an independent issue).

The University Settlement Camp property is a 60 acre park located at the southern portion of Beacon on Route 9D. It contains a splendid theater in excellent condition, a dugout amphitheater, a gymnasium and full basketball court, a 12 bunk infirmary building in good condition, office space in good condition, many bungalows, two outdoor pavilions, a four season caretaker’s house, a pool in excellent condition, and a historic two story building referred to as the White House. All this is set with the backdrop of Mt. Beacon while the property itself is both wooded and contains a large field the approximate size of the field at Riverfront Park.

The USC White House can be used in the future as the headquarters of the Hudson River Clearwater, numerous youth programs, sports activities, nature walks and any of the uses we can imagine for a park. It can also be a revenue source since all of the buildings can be rented as in 2008 when we received approximately $15,000 for doing just that. It is my hope to board the cottages and open the camp up to the public for the 2009 season.

The Parks Department of NY State informed us that if the camp is given to them they will demolish the buildings and the pool. They will not post a ranger to protect the property. The State of NY will most likely not fund any Beacon projects in the future for the following reasons. When the 2006-07 City Council was on the verge of purchasing the USC for over $500,000, the State acquired it for Beacon and turned its management over to us. It cost us $0. Furthermore, the deal included that the state take over the city owned Mt. Beacon Reservoir which was costing us more than $40,000 every year in school taxes. Lastly, [Clearwater] will not move to Beacon and our city will loose all of the potential revenue, youth programs and prestige we might have gained by them being located here. (note: the Clearwater cannot afford to manage the property on their own)

The idea to give the camp over to the NYS Parks Department to save a minimal maintenance cost is selling out the future recreation of our children and nature enthusiasts. The gains of owning this camp far out weigh the cost of maintaining it. Giving it back to the State is tantamount to the most regressive, backwards, small minded, miserly action I have known. It runs counter to the Comprehensive Plan which is a document that was written to guide the future of the city. It will send a signal to the entire county, developers and potential home owners that Beacon is a city that has no long term vision for children and the environment.

Please send letters addressed to the Mayor and City Council, 1 Municipal Plaza, stating your support to continue operating the USC and by all means attend the City Council Meeting on Monday December 15th or the special Budget Adoption Meeting on Wednesday December 17th both at 7:00PM.

Thank you,
Steve Gold, Mayor

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Comment by susan Battersby on December 10, 2008 at 12:59am
Dear Mayor Gold,
While I do not live in Beacon, my son and his family do live there, and I own property there.
Here in California , there are many cities which have Family camps in the mountains. People make reservations for a week, and during this time, there are activities for the whole family. Meals are eaten in a large more or less open air common area. The camps are filled all summer with families returning year after year. Oakland Family Camp http://www.featherrivercamp.com http://oaklandnet.com/parks/programs/Featherriver.asp
Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us
Perhaps Beacon could market the property to other cities in New York to use for something like this.
In the town where I live, Alameda Ca. there is the Alameda Swimming Pool Assn. It is completely run by volunteers. There are free swimming lessons for adults and children during the summer. There is a swimming team. Families pay an initiation fee and monthly dues. Adults who are interested, can train to be lifeguards. With this training, the person has to volunteer to lifeguard for two hours two times a year.
The city does not pay any money toward these pools. http://teamunify.com/Membership.jsp?team-alga
Please look into all possibilities for this property.

Susan Battersby
1342 Versailles Ave.
Alameda, Ca. 94501
Comment by john fasulo on December 9, 2008 at 10:34pm
Dear Mayor Gold:
Without going into great detail, I first want to say that anyone who grew up in Beacon will know what an asset the camp has been over the years. The land alone has a value to the city far beyond its development into townhouses or condos. With the intent of Clearwater to occupy the "white House" as it is known, Beacon will have two major Green organizations calling Beacon home, Clearwater and Rivers & Estuaries. With renovations to the main building, the camp property could be utilized as an environmental conference center. With Beacon's rich history and excellent rail and road transportation, the camp could become a hub for environmental and historical activity and should be seen by the city council and local residents as the asset it clearly is.

Having learned that some representatives on the council want to return the camp property to the state is unsettling and short sighted. To simply say, "we can't afford it" is like saying, "I have no ideas and don't want to take the time to brainstorm and come up with sound ideas".Ideas that will give the city's residents what could be a multi use green facility for hiking, cross country skiing, swimming, the arts, painting, dance, photography and other uses yet to be realized. The pool at the camp is an asset that, while a little worn for wear, could be renovated with volunteer help. The theatre building already renovated with funding from the Dyson Foundation and the Paul Newman foundation could be used for a summer dance program.

With Dia's stature in the art world its presence in Beacon should constitute a willing and active roll in molding the future look of the city. The historical society, Incline Railway restoration group and the Mt Beacon Firetower Restoration folks would all benefit from the Settlement Camps
continued existence. Dia could work with city children widening their horizons regarding all forms of art. The historical society should think about doing a visual interpretation of the camp and its history; something that could be mounted as a permanent exhibit. Those utilizing the camp would ld likely support the firetower and incline railway restoration.

Finally, the engine that will drive Beacon's economy in the future lies in the cities embracing all of the above. The city is changing and the change that is happening will continue. New residents are bringing new ideas. The generations that have been Beacon, myself included, will fade away. These past generations must have done something right; Beacon has become a city that is desirable. Its classic Main Street bordered in the west by the Hudson and in the east by Mt Beacon affords its residence a city that is alive. Sure, the economy is in the tank; and there are real challenges ahead. But instead of taking the easy way out and regressing, we need to say yes to the future; the glass is half full, not half empty. The city council needs to lead. As individual council members, my hope is that those of you that are thinking of abandoning the Settlement project rethink that decision. The University Settlement Camp for generations has served young people from many walks of life, mostly disadvantaged youth from the city. In the early 1950's, my mother was the camp nurse, I was 2 or 3 and tagged along. I learned to swim in the camp pool, quite by accident after falling in and being "saved" by the camp lifeguard, Ziggy. I was pushed around in "Papa Ohtas wheel barrow. Papa Ohta was Toshi Seegers father and the camp Gardiner. I remember him picking the beetles out of the rose bushes with long tweezers one by one and putting them in a can of diesel fuel as he wouldn't use pesticides. I'm relating this story because it is one of thousands that could be told. They are stories that put a human face on a small piece of land nestled between the river and the mountain. Land that belongs to the people of Beacon. It has a living history and deserves our stewardship.

John Fasulo
8 Exeter Circle
Beacon, NY

December 7, 2008

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