June 3, 2009: Coming full circle in Hardenburgh

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To The Editor:
On April 15, 1859, 53,646 acres were taken from the towns of Shandaken and Denning to form the Town of Hardenbergh in Ulster County. This 82nd Session Laws of New York State also included the order to conduct the first town meeting by May 31. This was done on that date. Our current spelling of Hardenburgh was made official by the adoption of Resolution #23 on June 6, 1984.
Most folk would celebrate reaching 150 years of being a township! To all the descendants of our forefathers, the current uncaring populace, and town officials, I do extend birthday congratulations to you. Perhaps your shelf life is expiring? Shameful isn’t it, that elected and appointed leaders have not acknowledged this special time.
Maybe you might wish some of the 208 occupants of this place regards anyway. After all, line item #A7550.4 in the 2009 budget carries $100 for celebrations. Wow!
It’s difficult to spend that part of the total town budget of $861,660. $548,700 of that represents the town highway portion. The records indicate there are now only 59 miles of county and town roads. Minutes reflect 75 miles of highway in 1908; in 1910, 72 miles at $700 per mile; 1949, 50 miles at $47. per mile. Our current highway superintendent is salaried at $32,250, plus fully paid for health insurance. The supervisor draws $19,725; the town clerk $17,150; each also receiving fully paid health benefits.
Fifty-eight percent of our acreage is now owned by New York State. Private fishing clubs continue to possess most of the streams and lakes. Seven of the Catskills’ high peaks (over 3,500 feet) are within our boundaries. Three covered bridges are in our valleys, a fourth was from Turnwood and is now located on the Ashokan campus. Four places have been accepted on the National Register of Historic Places. Post offices, schools and fire companies that serve us are now located in nearby counties of Sullivan and Delaware. Electric service is still missing in some areas. The future availability keeps looking better. We really do have some advantages here. These lovely quiet mountains provide great drinking water, clean air, relatively unpolluted, unending recreation possibilities. We are near many churches, schools, hospitals, etc. The forests that provided life sustaining attributes to our forefathers as they cleared them for agricultural endeavors, are once again re-growing, after providing life for 150 years.
We are coming full circle! Let’s go forward folks, not backwards.

Elizabeth E. Baker,
Arkville