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Editorials

Berkman's Comments on President  Obama's speech in Cairo June 17, 2009

 

Statement to Metropolitan Transportation Authority

March 2, 2009

Two Orange lawmakers want full environmental review of new college campus

Mid Hudson News Monday, December 17, 2007


Statement by Jeffrey Berkman before the New York State Assembly Hearing of September 27,2007

Can we ease the property tax bite?

Times Herald-Record
September 27, 2007

Liberty Partnership Program letter from GORDON L. DEAN , Principal of
TWIN TOWERS MIDDLE SCHOOL



Rosa Boyd's Letter to the Editor in the Times Herald-Record of April 18, 2006 "need to reconsider"

 

 April 7, 2005

 

ORANGE COUNTY LEGISLATOR JEFFREY BERKMAN TESTIMONY TO THE NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY HEARING

REGARDING COMMUNITY IMPACTS OF CASINO LEGISLATION

 

 

   Thank you for the opportunity to participate in these Joint Public Hearings. I am pleased to represent the 20 th Legislative District of the Orange County Legislature. My district is comprised of most of the City of Middletown and a portion of the Town of Wallkill .

  Included in my testimony I submit copies of our request for a state sponsored public hearing for Orange County . Although a site was not designated for Orange , our Legislature unanimously passed a resolution for a local hearing.

  Perhaps we did a unique thing; we provided an open public forum, invited anyone to speak their mind on the casino issue and documented it for your review and consideration. Copies of these testimonies are delivered to this hearing.. Twenty individuals participated in this truly open public hearing of March 28, 2005 in Goshen .

 

  From my perspective, there are weaknesses in the casino plan that need improvement, and are highlighted below.

 

•  lack of regional perspective and planning.

•  Route 17/86 – Dedicated Impact Fund

•  Air pollution and monitoring

•  need for regional improvement for emergency responders

•  Native American Tribes offered lands that for the most part are not part of, and were not part of their ancestral homelands, with one or possibly two exceptions

•  Educational opportunities; F.E.A.S.T.

 

There are many other important impacts involved with approval of 5 casinos which others have identified and commented on, such as gambling addiction, crime, housing pressures and many social impacts. Assemblyman Jacob Gunther appointed a committee, chaired by Paula Kay to analyze many of these issues.

It is important for me to state there are also positive economic impacts accompanying casino construction. Leaders of organized labor and local business, as well as Chamber of Commerce representatives have discussed them.

 

Regional Perspective

To suggest that thousands of cars daily traveling through Orange County to casino destinations will have NO environmental impact is not credible, and not true. Both counties are impacted. It is a simple fact that 5 casinos, or even one casino, in Sullivan County will have large impacts on Orange County . Recent statements made by a Sullivan County elected official stating that he doesn't care about traffic problems on Route 17 in Orange County are shortsighted and unhelpful to regional planning. Our County Executive , County Planner , the Legislature- and just about all of us share legitimate concerns about traffic congestion and air pollution resulting from cars and stalled traffic. Casino patrons will want to remember an enjoyable experience, not waiting between Middletown and Goshen in a traffic jam; or worse, waiting for an emergency response vehicle which is responding to a crisis.. The issues are legitimate and must be squarely addressed, not denied or ignored.

 

Route 17/86 – Dedicated Impact fund

The Orange County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution I wrote back in August of last year requesting that Albany establish a Dedicated Impact Fund financed out of New York State 's share of casino profits. The purpose of this fund would be to provide revenue to upgrade Route 17 and ancillary roads, provide for improved emergency response and address air quality issues . A copy of this resolution has been provided. A third lane for Route 17 and development mass transit alternatives is an imperative.

Revenue from this Dedicated Impact Fund must be accessible to Orange County , and other counties that endure casino impacts. Fairness requires that New York State invest future casino generated profits in all counties that are negatively impacted.

The state legislature should consider needed changes in Section # 12. of current bill draft.. Specifically, the special revenue account to be known as the “Catskill-Shawangunk Environmental and Community Protection fFund” should include Orange County . To deny such protection to localities in Orange County that are in close proximity to the casinos, while providing such protection and benefits to other communities further away in Sullivan County is not good policy, nor is it fair. Please include Orange County in this fund.

  I urge the creation of a regional commission to study the Native American and European contact period. Local professors from Orange and Sullivan County Community Colleges should join together with citizens devoted to academic inquiry and the Native American community to meet periodically. I can envision an annual public gathering of interested citizens to learn about the Native Americans that lived on the banks of the Neversink River . Additionally, a journal of academic studies of early regional history would benefit scholars and students alike. We can establish a Forum for Early American Studies. (F.E.A.S.T) . It provides a forum for respect, education and cultural appreciation.

 

A well planned casino development may provide jobs, educational opportunities, economic growth, and much needed state revenues. Planning is key. Balanced casino development requires a fair distribution of resources to offset and mitigate negative impacts.

 

Please do not ignore these principles. Please do not ignore Orange County .

 

 

 

 

Jeffrey Berkman

 

In Support of Aileen Gunther
By Jeff Berkman

A Plea for Closed-Cycle Cooling:
End the last unaddressed industrial impact on the Hudson River

By Susan Cleaver


Middletown is full of history, charity and diversity
By Rosa Boyd

About this Web site, and why you can read it – no matter what machine you have.
By Elizabeth Bushey

The Plight of the Election Commissioner
Sue Bahren, Orange County Election Commissioner

Notes from Orange County Minority Leader Anthony Marino
Anthony Marino, Orange County Legislature, Democratic Minority Leader

Thanks to Berkman
Josephine Bayne, Town of Wallkill

Library Source of Pride, Built by Many
By Jeff Berkman
The Times Herald-Record
January 1995

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