August 13, 2008: Claims bridge topic has inaccuracies

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To The Editor:
We are writing this letter to address the current discussion concerning the bridge replacement project in Halcottsville. Week after week letters have appeared in this newspaper by people whose names we do not recognize or who are not residents of the Halcottsville community.
For the most part these letters sound like they were adapted from a common template; one that is filled with factual inaccuracies. It astounds us that people are willing to compromise their integrity by not fact checking before they sign their names.
We will attempt to clear up some of these inaccuracies.
1) The “historic” millhouse is being seized by eminent domain. Actually, it is a small strip of land, in the highway’s right-of-way that the Kelly’s are refusing to provide an easement to.
2) The project will destroy the “historic” millhouse. Actually, because the county, at the taxpayers’ expense, is taking every precaution to minimize the project’s impact there is a good chance that the project will not damage the millhouse. For 10 years the Kellys have been advised to repair the rotted, shifted and deteriorated foundation but have failed to do so.
3) The bridge can be built a little bit downstream and everybody will be happy. Actually, in order to do that an unsuspecting neighbor’s land would have to be unfairly taken, it would cost substantially more (at the taxpayers’ expense) and it would interfere with the Kellys’ septic system which was one of their original points of contention that began this protracted delay.
4) The millhouse is a historic inn. Actually the millhouse, which I agree is charming, was originally built as a utility building (a mill) and never intended for human habitation. It has had many incarnations including as a bar and as a chicken coop.
5) This is a case of principles; the government bullying an innocent citizen. Yes! This is a case of principles, the principle “For the greater good,” which preserves the rights of the entire community over the self-serving whims of a single individual.
There is no need to defend the bridge replacement. It is absolutely at the end of its serviceable life. For over 10 years the community has waited for a safe bridge to be built. In those 10 years the Kellys have road-blocked the county’s ongoing attempt to fulfill their lawful obligation to the community. Grant money and a great deal of taxpayers’ money have been lost because of the protracted wrangling that the community has been subjected to. The bridge was there long before the Kellys purchased the property and they knew that eventually it would need to be replaced.
Of course it is to the Kellys’ advantage to stop the project. Their property value might increase and that “pesky” bridge that passes by their building would become someone else’s problem.
In the meantime, the rest of the community suffers as our rightful access is taken away. The diverted truck traffic is now the sole burden of neighbors on Old River Road. Increased fuel and time costs to residents, the highway department, school system, delivery vehicles, emergency vehicles and farm vehicles are being born by all, while hundreds of residents, both full and part-time on the west side of the river are facing the loss of access to our own hamlet.

Richard and Jenny Liddle,
Bragg Hollow, Halcottsville