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Someone should be held accountable for lousy bridge design

Thursday, September 19, 2013
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Someone should be held accountable for lousy bridge design

Like most of the people who have written on the new “improved” Western Gateway Bridge, I am very disappointed with the new design of the eastbound side, which totally blocks the beautiful view of the Mohawk River. Even the criss-cross concrete design of the original bridge was better than what we now have.

It is also a very dangerous design due to a combination of no guardrails near the sidewalk and a very low curb. When the icy weather arrives, it will just be a matter of time before a motorist jumps the curb. Hopefully no pedestrians will be on the sidewalk when this happens.

What really bothers me is how the plans for this project were apparently never seen by anyone in authority who could have altered the design before it was set in stone. How could a project of this magnitude and cost not have been reviewed by a state or local planning board? It would be like having major renovations done to your home and telling the contractor to just go ahead and do what you want, and then hope for the best.

My belief is that the design was shown to someone in authority, and that person never bothered to notice wither the view-obstructing wall or the total lack of safety features. Someone should be held accountable for this huge mistake and that person should be fired. These are not minor mistakes and they will impact travel on the bridge for many years to come.

John Angilletta

Scotia

Minority businesses hurt by scaffold law, too

I applaud the Daily Gazette for highlighting just how costly and detrimental the scaffold law is to New York businesses (Sept. 10 editorial). What many readers may not realize is how devastating this law is to minority-owned businesses.

Our business, Legacy Timber Frames, Inc., is a certified M/WBE [Minority and Women Businesses Enterprise], and we have been creating and installing timber structures since 1988. For 25 years, we have been employing workers in the Capital Region, and are proud to be a productive part of our community.

The fact is, the scaffold law is driving up insurance costs for all contractors and builders. Insurance is becoming more expensive, and the number of insurers writing construction policies has plummeted in recent years. Larger businesses may be able to afford these cost increases, but small M/WBE’s like us feel the burden much more acutely.

Because Legacy uses ladders, works on heights and is a smaller company, there are only a very few insurance companies that will even quote us for liability insurance, and the costs for those goes up substantially every year. It makes no difference that Legacy has never had a claim.

Gov. Cuomo has publicly stated he will double the number of M/WBE’s in state contracting, a goal that will be difficult to achieve while the scaffold law remains in current form.

Our elected officials need to act now and reform the scaffold law. Small businesses cannot afford to wait another day for relief.

Annemarie Mitchell

Stillwater

The writer is president and CEO of Legacy Timber Frames Inc.

Books, literacy just part of the equation at library

Re Christine Witkowski’s Sept. 13 letter “Trashy videos don’t fit in a library’s mission”: I found the premise of the letter and catchy title an unfortunate way to frame the issues our county library system faces.

The fact is, the library recently increased the availability of all its materials in response to public demand. The amount of money spent on DVDs for 2013 is about 50 percent less than for 2012.

The duty of a professional librarian is to uphold the right to free and open access to information for all individuals in a community. We are guided by the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill, and our library’s Materials Selection Policy, which has been approved by the board of trustees.

The mission of the library is actually to “meet the educational, cultural and entertainment needs” of the community. When selecting materials, we consider the needs and preferences specific to our community, continually evaluating against current budget realities with the goal of serving our patrons in the most equitable way. This is all in a day’s work for a public librarian, and we are comfortable defending purchases when necessary.

Ms. Witkowski mentions the library’s role in promoting literacy, and I couldn’t agree more. My concern is that by focusing on matters of taste and opinion, we will miss the opportunity to address some serious issues facing our community where there is an extremely wide gap between those in need of literacy skills and those seeking “literary endeavors.”

My hope is that these letters spark a serious conversation about priorities for the library system and the communities we serve. I assure you, the issues we face in the library and in our community — illiteracy and poverty rates — are much more complex than whether we purchase a few less-than-educational DVD titles.

I would encourage anyone interested in learning more about the library or promoting literacy to attend our board meetings on the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Swanker Board Room at the central library.

Mary Ann Warner

Charlton

The writer is adult services coordinator at the county library, but the opinions expressed are her own.

Don’t ask town to pay for Ballston Lake sewers

I’m reading yet another article about the insufficient septic systems around Ballston Lake (Sept. 16 Gazette).

I’m not sure what the intention is, but it sure seems like the folks lucky enough to have lake-front homes want a subsidized sewer system installed for their benefit. They are concerned some inspector will find out their systems are inadequate, and make them install proper systems at (heaven forbid) their own expense.

It seems to me that those lake homes need to do what every other low-density area of the county does, and maintain their own systems. We pay enough in taxes without subsidizing these special homes. Maybe if they allowed access to the lake to the rest of the town (ha!), it might be tolerable; but since private is how they want it, private is how they should get it.

And please don’t claim that the “no swimming allowed” canoe dock is “public access.”

Bill Denison

Burnt Hills

Motorcyclists need to look out for themselves

Lately I’ve been seeing more and more yellow placards in people’s yards with the silhouette of a motorcyclist and the words, “Look out for us. Please.”

I don’t want to be a jerk, but while I will always drive safely, legally and courteously, I will not make any special effort to look out for motorcyclists.

If you decide to drive a vehicle that is more difficult to see than an auto, and is easier to lose control of, and offers no protection should something terrible happen, then it is your responsibility — not mine — to use extra caution.

Peter Frank

Schenectady

Letters Policy

The Gazette wants your opinions on public issues.

There is no strict word limit, though letters under 200 words are preferred.

All letters are subject to editing for length, style and fairness, and we will run no more than one letter per month from the same writer.

Please include your signature, address and day phone for verification.

For information on how to send, see bottom of this page.

 
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comments

September 22, 2013
5:35 p.m.
ChuckD says...

Heh, well Mr. Frank, you sure sound like a jerk.
Every man, woman and child for them self out there, eh? Good luck with that attitude.
As a cyclist who once had to decide in a split second the best way to impact a van at 25 mph that had pulled out in front of me (and who quite quickly acknowledged his guilt), it's comforting to know you 'Kings of the Road' are out there (let me guess, you drive an SUV). But it sorta degrades the "public" in public infrastructure.

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