Friday, April 29, 2011

Rachel Lagodka's Letter to the Editor - Jason West has ideas

If you still haven’t decided who to vote for for mayor I suggest you walk or ride your bike past village hall and look up at the roof of the DPW garage. You will see a large (75 feet long and 17 feet wide) shining (less than 2% shaded) array of solar panels. These were installed by the West administration in 2005. When Jason West’s opponents criticized the solar array, I did the research because I care about municipal environmental initiatives, especially those that help us gain local independence from fossil fuels. The solar panels were examined as part of a state audit in March of 2008 and the summary findings of the state comptroller indicate that the “Village of New Paltz’s solar panel electrical system could save the Village as much as $30,700, and will reduce their contribution of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and sulfur dioxide emissions of more than 392,000 pounds, over the life of the panels.”  You can access that document with this link:
Two recommendations were made by the state in this audit:  the first, that the “ Village should continue to explore alternative energy resources and expand the use of those technologies that reduce its energy costs and protect the environment,” and the second that the Village should have a written agreement with the Town to share the costs and benefits of the solar panels. The last 4 years have shown us no results. Of all the mayoral candidates, only Jason West has provided convincing evidence of the willingness to produce the results recommended by the state audit.
The other municipal environmental initiative of Jason West’s is the reed beds at the sewage treatment plant...a little more off the beaten path than the solar panels. Unlike the solar panels, which once installed run on their own, the reed beds function by means of living plants which need tending. The plants digest sludge, which is the solid part of sewage that is normally loaded on to a truck and carted to a landfill. That is how reed beds reduce our costs and our carbon footprint. The technology for engineering efficient sludge processing has vastly improved since the reed beds were installed by the West administration in 2005, and while it is my hope that whoever gets elected will apply for grants and no interest loans to continue this effort of Mr. West’s, I am convinced that he is the most likely candidate to succeed.
Regardless of what you might have heard and are likely to hear as the election approaches, Jason West is neither a monster nor a hero. It is my opinion, based on my 6 years experience as a village commissioner and volunteer, that he is the most adequate candidate running for mayor in this election for two reasons: The first because he has ideas which you can find and even submit comments about on this website:, and the second that he has experience in putting some of those ideas into practice. People accuse Jason West of being rude; it is true that during his term in office the young man had some outbursts and made mistakes. But if you were there, you would have seen how well he ran the meetings. He was fair and polite, and deftly kept speakers and fellow board members to a time limit so that the meetings did not drag on into the night. There were no complaints from the fire department, and while relations with the town weren’t perfect, they were certainly much better than they have been for the last 4 years.
I am a village resident homeowner and former student who has been volunteering for Village committees for seven years, regularly reminds the village of environmental opportunities, and has voted in three village elections. I am not friends with any of the mayoral candidates.
Thank you for reading.
Rachel Lagokda

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