Comments by billnech
Posted on June 15 at 1:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)
Comparison of taxes between states and between localities leaves out a great deal, much of which is hard to measure. In the low tax states or areas, what do people pay for water, sewer, trash, security, etc. Are those costs part of the tax bill or are they separate or perhaps private? How about property insurance? I once compared mortgage, taxes and homeowner's insurance costs with a Florida resident. We had similarly priced homes. My taxes (city of Schenectady) were higher but his property insurance was much higher. Our total costs were comparable. Then, what are you getting for your taxes? New York by all measures has excellent public schools even with all of the recent attacks on our public education system and teachers. And schools represent a significant part of our tax bill. New York has strong code enforcement compared to many states. That leads directly to lower property insurance costs. Can we do more to lower taxes? Certainly. Our local government menagerie of numerous towns, cities, villages and counties is extremely inefficient. Larger municipalities would allow for more economies of scale and the ability to hire more professional staff. Regional local government could also help reduce costly sprawl as localities stop competing with each other as much for new development. All in all, though, as a resident of the city of Schenectady, I've been very pleased with my affordable home and neighborhood.
Posted on May 9 at 12:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)
With respect to Mr. Barney's letter about climate change: Yes I can understand not being concerned about expensive beach front property. But perhaps you should look at the larger story. Sea level rise is the most immediate result of climate change but far from the only one. And even with respect to sea level rise, this does not just affect expensive beachfront properties. In New York alone, tens of thousands of people live in the area that will be in the new floodplain as sea level increases. Storms that used to cause inconvenience will now cause wider spread destruction.
The Hudson River as far as Troy is tidal. Sea level rise will cause more flooding along the Hudson. This will affect water and wastewater infrastructure that we all pay for. It will push the salt front upstream affecting the city of Poughkeepsie's water supply and New York City's emergency water supply. It will effect harbor and port facilities. Remember the tunnels that were inundated by Sandy's storm surge? Expect to see more of that.
Do you ever take the train to New York City? Much of the tracks will be flooded more frequently and it will cost hundreds of millions to build defenses or build the tracks up higher.
But let's look beyond our back yard. It is estimated that world-wide, about 200 million people live along coastlines less than 5 meters above sea level. That figure is expected to grow to 400 million to 500 million by the end of the century. The vast majority do not live in expensive beach front mansions.
Climate change is also causing widespread perma-frost melting in arctic regions. Here in New York, it is already resulting in more or our precipitation coming in the heaviest rain or snow events. The so-called 100 year flood in inland areas is already becoming the 80 year flood. Floods can be expected to be higher and more frequent.
As for NOAA's data, yes they do look at the long term data sources and, yes, they do correct for urban heat islands.
I can understand not wanted to "believe" in climate change, since understanding it comes with an understanding that our energy intensive suburban lifestyle cannot continue for much longer. But that doesn't mean that climate change, sea level rise, increased flooding, increased droughts, and massive ecological changes aren't happening or that the change won't affect every one of us.
Posted on November 30 at 1:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)
In order to fully preserve the historic district, telephone, power lines and cable lines have to come down. Sidewalks should revert to stone. Roads should not be paved. Water and sewer lines don't belong. And one more thing: the residents should be speaking Old Dutch.
I'm in favor of historic preservation. But it also has to be functional. In other words, safe from flooding and energy efficient.
Posted on November 18 at 12:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)
I think there should be a systematic plan to raise all the homes in the floodplain that can be saved, and to demolish the rest. If this cannot be done with remaining Sandy-Irene funds, then the plan should be developed for federal dollars coming after the next flood. And there will be a next flood. wfmooney: you admitted to the basic flaw of any flood wall: it requires maintenance and constant operation and testing. And if it does not meet FEMA design standards for protecting from a so-called 100 year flood plus three feet, flood maps will still show the area as flood-prone and property owners will still have to maintain expensive flood insurance. Your comment about the Georgetown wall not being put in place when there was flooding came during a very minor flood in 2011. I also don't know the height of the flood walls in Georgetown, or the depth of flooding but any flood wall in Schenectady would have to be at least nine feet tall. Also, I guarentee that the property values in Georgetown are many times higher than in Schenectady, making protective walls more cost effective. As an example of the cost of flood protection, a levee was recently constructed to protect Wilkes-Barre, PA. It cost about $300 million. It's not a matter of just dumping dirt on the ground.
The Corps of Engineers does build levees and floodwalls, but there is a significant local cost share requirement. The cost share is probably more than Schenectady can afford and probably more than the entire value of the properties in the floodplain.
Posted on November 17 at 9:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)
People have many unworkable ideas about flood protection. A flood wall costs tens of millions, and even if the federal government found it to meet economic requirements, would require Schenectady to pay millions of the cost. The downstream dam at Vischer Ferry would cost $100 million to rebuild and would only lower flood elevations in Schenectady by a foot or so. There is no such thing as an affordable "automatic" flood wall that would protect the entire neighborhood while meeting engineering standards. And a "flood wall" that does not meet engineering standards is more dangerous than no flood wall at all, as it would collapse catastrophically. The changes to the upstream dams on the Mohawk River will help upstream areas by not capturing debris during floods, but will do nothing to lower flood elevations in Schenectady. The only workable and affordable way to protect the flood-prone areas of the Stockade is to elevate the structures. Some of the structures frankly are only historic due to being in the neighborhood and may not be worth saving. A combination of elevations and buy-outs should be pursued.
Posted on July 10 at 12:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)
RE Wallace Hoghes' comment on NASA, I also went online to verify his claim. It was nowhere to be found, even in the climate change deniers' web sites. It's nice to make things up and get them published in the newspaper. Wallace: let's see a citation next time!
Posted on January 24 at 10:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)
The big box stores on Freemans Bridge Road generate a lot more traffic along that corridor than the casino will. Where was the town when it came to getting some funding from the developers of the properties along Freemans Bridge Road (including drawing Mohawk Honda away from Schenectady) to improve the road to handle the traffic that they created?
Posted on January 5 at 3:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)
Improvements to traffic flow on Brandywine, especially between Brandywine and Eastern, should be looked at. This is already a tough intersection. I'm happy to see new development there but an already tough traffic situation could get worse. I'm very curious to find out just what will go into the site.
Posted on May 7 at 8:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)
Schenectady students are rarely given the credit they deserve. They responded well and appropriately.
Posted on April 16 at 11:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)
To "Newsworthy". I'm the writer of the letter. I want to thank you for your kind comments. I do not know the teacher, but something about the way the incident was presented on the Gazette, in the TU and on local TV struck me as not quite right. I don't know what actually took place and what the lesson plan and objectives are. But most teachers that I know are very thoughtful people, and I would be very surprised if this particular teacher was trying to turn her students into Nazis.