Parks investment a small price for benefit
We were disappointed to read the March 4 editorial (“State has higher priorities for taxpayer money than parks”) which pit investment in state parks against investment in other worthy programs. On the contrary, parks — like our schools and libraries — are essential community resources and an integral part of the state’s infrastructure.
Our iconic park system is the oldest in the nation, and one of the most heavily visited, generating $2 billion annually to the economy — a 5-to-1 return on investment — and supporting 20,000 jobs, exclusive of park employees. The tourism dollars generated by parks are critical, especially to struggling upstate economies.
Most New Yorkers don’t have the resources to belong to private recreation clubs or take expensive vacations. Parks provide affordable, close-to-home recreational and physical fitness opportunities for all New Yorkers. In addition, parks are often the first line of defense against severe weather events and play an important role in storm and flood protection.
The economic, health, and resiliency benefits parks provide don’t sound like extras to us.
Decades of underfunding combined with the age and heavy use of our park system have put tremendous stress on park infrastructure. In 2006, Parks & Trails New York released a report highlighting the many challenges facing state parks, in particular the enormous capital backlog. A 2010 agency assessment documented $1.1 billion in health, safety and infrastructure needs in every region of the state — outdated sewer, water, and electrical systems, deteriorating bathrooms, crumbling roads, bridges and dams, historic buildings falling into disrepair.
NY Parks 2020 lays out a multi-year investment goal, including funds already invested over the past three years, and includes private philanthropy and other public monies leveraged by the state’s investment. The $110 million proposed for this year is a fraction of the state’s overall budget — less than one-tenth of 1 percent — and a small investment, especially when you consider all the benefits parks provide.
Continuing to invest in the restoration and revitalization of New York’s 215 state parks and historic sites will enable these treasured places to more fully realize their potential as economic engines for local communities and as destinations for healthy outdoor recreation for all New Yorkers.
The writer is executive director of Parks & Trails New York.
Obama criticism fails to recognize the facts
Graham Higgins’ March 10 letter criticizing President Obama’s foreign policy, especially his current attempt to negotiate an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, cannot stand without counterpoint.
Mr. Higgins blames the president for the instability in Iraq, the rise of ISIS, the civil war in Libya, the failure to punish Syriam President Assad, and the Russian encroachment on Ukraine.
Detailing the flaws in these criticisms would take space equivalent to an opinion column, but can be summarized as follows: 1) Mr. Higgins for some reason omitted blaming the president for the drought in California and the disappearance of Malaysian flight 370, and 2) Mr. Higgins' implicit fix for all these missteps would involve the use of military force. I will leave it to readers to decide whether they would prefer that our sons and daughters in the military be involved in all the aforesaid conflicts.
But Mr. Higgins’ most astonishing point is his defense of the Israeli prime minister’s efforts to scuttle the president’s nuclear negotiations with Iran. Forty-seven Republican senators even joined this effort by writing a letter directly to the Ayatollah — an action so irresponsible that if it had been done by Democratic senators to a Republican president, there would be cries of “treason” trumpeted by Fox News.
If the president’s negotiations fail, Iran will revert to enriching uranium for the purpose of building a nuclear bomb. Economic sanctions against Iran would probably be increased. But the likelihood that this would convince the mullahs to halt construction of a bomb is not only doubtful, it is highly unlikely. Israel would then be forced to take military action and the United States would be forced to support or join that action.
Again, I leave it to readers to decide whether war now with Iran makes sense when there is a possibility of peacefully keeping Iran from building a nuclear weapon for at least the next 10 years.
We can always go to war if Iran tries to cheat during the term of any such agreement. But choosing confrontation now in the hopes that the mullahs will blink first makes no sense, except perhaps to those arm-chair generals whose knee-jerk reaction is always to place our country’s finest in harm’s way.
Cuomo should visit Mohanasen schools
I am writing this letter to The Daily Gazette because I’m not sure if Gov. Andrew Cuomo reads letters sent to his office. As our governor, I hope he reads the letter and understands my thoughts.
I mean no disrespect because I have a high regard for anyone who runs for office in our country. I feel Gov. Cuomo is being unfair to teachers, as most are dedicated. I would like him to visit the Mohonasen School district where I have worked as a teacher aide and now a teacher assistant for over 20 years. I’m proud of our district, as we have grown every year and have never been stagnant.
At this time, I am a teacher assistant at H.L. Bradt Elementary School. I’ve been here over 12 years, and our school goes from kindergarten to second grade. This is where the foundation of education starts. Bradt is a school with a creative and inspiring faculty. Their goal is to try to motivate every student, no matter where they are academically.
The purpose is to change the world for the better by educating students to the best of their ability. Their hope is this will have a part in aiding them to a better life after they graduate, as education empowers them. I don’t want to forget the teacher aides and assistants, who are also very dedicated to our students.
At Bradt, we have a computer lab for each child to do research, language arts, math, reading and a host of other things. Computer classes motivate every child and do not discriminate. I invite our governor to come and see the other tools we have, such as the interactive boards that are in the classrooms and in the computer lab as well.
Our science lab for grades 1 and 2 is outstanding, as students learn about habitats, our solar system, rock formations, volcanoes and butterflies. The second-grade class receives a kit in which students will each have their own butterfly to release into the outdoor environment when their butterfly emerges from its chrysalis. These are only a few of the many things happening in the science department at our school.
Bradt has a super guidance counselor who goes to the classes and talks about bullying, respect, kindness, giving and thankfulness. The list goes on. She also sees students in small groups who have specials needs. Mohonasen parents can be proud their children are in a school system that is progressive and nurturing.
Again, Gov.Cuomo, please visit and you will be impressed. My four grown children graduated from Mohonasen and each has a career. Today, they lead productive lives thanks to a school district and its teachers.
We must all stand up against indecency
I am not sure if my strong reaction to something I felt was indecent came from the fact that March is National Women’s History Month and women have had a history of being used indecently, or was it because the story of Christ overturning the tables of sellers and money-lenders in the temple had just been read in church as a call for action against indecency.
Not sure which prompted my actions, but when I went into CVS recently, my eyes drifted over to the nearby magazine rack. On the cover of Swimwear magazine, there was a model who was not half-naked — she was nine-tenths naked. I am not a prude. Heck, I do theater shows where there is one dressing room for everyone in the show, including dogs. I have to say, I found the magazine cover very offensive. There it was near the carts for everyone — every age — to see.
After a moment, I went over and turned the magazine around to the back cover. I also spoke to the manager, nicely, that I found that cover and placement very offensive. She mentioned that I wasn’t the only one. But apparently, I was the only one in that line, as the gentleman — no, male — behind me turned the offensive cover back to public viewing.
I was questioning myself as to why this bothered me so much. We see indecent, titillating covers on magazines all the time. Perhaps it was because of a recent read by Joyce Carol Oats called, “The Sacrifice,” which addressed how we all “put up” with indecent behaviors by children, adults and people in authority. How do we expect young girls to respect themselves when women are disrespected so often in our society? How do our young men learn to honor women when the magazine covers treat them mostly as whores? Maybe that is why I was offended.
A male friend of mine told me I mishandled the situation. I should have grabbed all the magazines and thrown them on the floor screaming, “I will not shop at a store that exposes me to such indecency.” Maybe next time.
A post-script. Today [March 11] when I went into the CVS, the same magazine cover was not facing the public. A small victory? Who knows — let’s hope.
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