July 2, 2008: More sensible bridge solution needed

in

To The Editor:
I am concerned about the planned construction of the bridge on Bragg Hollow in Halcottsville. My wife and I own a home on Quarry Road, off Bragg Hollow, and I am concerned for our safety during the period that the bridge will be under construction and we will be relatively isolated from the Halcottsville Fire Department. More importantly, there are many elderly people and families with children for whom that concern will be far more dire. It seems more sensible to build a new bridge adjacent to the existing structure and keep the existing bridge open during construction. After all, the chief reason for the bridge replacement is emergency vehicle access. Why eliminate the best existing access to my home and many others until the new bridge is ready?
The county and town are also making a mistake in appearing to bully the owners of Susan’s Pleasant Pheasant Farm. When my wife and I were shopping for a home in the region, we stayed at that establishment. Susan and Jim Kelly spent an hour talking to us about the history of the community, including the railroad and creamery right on their property, and convinced us to buy our home in Halcottsville. Susan and Jim have spent many years building that business and sharing the local history and culture with their guests. It would be a terrible loss to our community if the inn does not remain intact in Susan and Jim’s hands.
On a broader note, the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution is supposed to protect private property from governmental whims. It guarantees that we not be “deprived of…property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” Newspaper quotations by some of our local officials have shown unconstitutional arrogance here—initially asserting that they could destroy the inn during construction and then not compensate its owners.
There is plenty of room between the inn and the historic creamery to build the new bridge a safer distance from Jim and Susan’s establishment—and keep emergency access to the homes off Bragg Hollow intact. Please move the project 20 feet downstream, and respect our rights and safety in the process.

George Stapleton,
Halcottsville