Letters: An ugly confrontation at Rhinebeck town meeting

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I, along with close to a hundred other Rhinebeck citizens, attended the Sept. 23 meeting of the Rhinebeck Town Board for the purpose of giving voice to our position that the current plan to extend parking facilities at Northern Dutchess Hospital at the expense of local aesthetics was not a good idea. Our goal was to try to convince the Town Board to bring an Article 78 action against the Zoning Board in furtherance of our position.

A couple of people spoke on behalf of our group, after which there was a presentation on behalf of the proposed expansion, given by an executive of Health Quest, (the hospital’s parent). What then followed was ugly.

Mayor Jim Reardon decided that it was his place to lecture the gathering on what constituted good citizenship. After claiming that he was pleased that so many people came out to the Town Board meeting, he then went on to lambaste those very people for doing that very thing, i.e. coming to the Town Board meeting.

He said that if we were really interested in our community, we would have come out to the Zoning Board, where jurisdiction over this matter actually lies, (ignoring the fact that the Town Board most certainly has jurisdiction to institute an Article 78). Reardon claimed that he was there to calm the waters, but then went on to inflame passions by declaring the people who had come up with the current parking plan were not “stupid,” (nobody had called them “stupid”, only “wrong”), and chastised those in attendance for having the temerity to question the wisdom of those who had already decided what was good for our community. He even had the effrontery to dismiss the petition of 440 signatures against the parking plan on a technicality.

After the mayor spoke, a number of people wanted to address their disagreements with him and with the proposed parking solution, but were effectively shut down by Supervisor Tom Traudt from doing so. It then turned out, thanks to the observation of Town Board Member Gina Fox, that Traudt is an employee of Health Quest. Instead of pointing that out himself, it took Ms. Fox to enlighten us about that. Traudt was then asked to recuse himself, but he did not—continuing to preside over the meeting and this particular very pointed issue.

This issue is far from being decided. In the meantime, perhaps Mr. Traudt will reconsider his unethical conduct, and Mr. Reardon will learn a little humility and listen to the folks that he supposedly represents.

Lynn Itzkowitz,
Rhinebeck

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