Letter: An Independent Nelsonville

In your March 3 issue, former Nelsonville Trustee Anthony (Ande) Merante charged in a letter to the editor that reservations about consolidation with Philipstown are a “sham” and “disservice” to the citizens of Nelsonville.

Perhaps the fact that Ande no longer lives in Nelsonville and is chairman of the Philipstown Planning Board has colored his views. Call me a skeptic, but I doubt whether the important contributions he made as a Nelsonville trustee would have occurred were the village an appendage of Philipstown. The Spanish have a saying: “It’s better to be the head of a mouse than the tail of a lion.”

Independence, tradition and self-rule are not vices. Nelsonville citizens, whether their families arrived two or 200 years ago, know their voices are heard by the two trustees and mayor. Were Nelsonville to become a province of the larger entity, I suspect our residents may need to purchase megaphones. This is not a criticism of the Town Board. It is an acknowledgement of Joseph Schumpeter’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy: The larger an entity becomes, the more bureaucratic it becomes.

Nelsonville residents can take comfort that village affairs, including its court and building department, are efficiently managed. If I am privileged to be elected mayor, I will always seek to work cooperatively with Philipstown and Cold Spring. After all, Nelsonville citizens are also Philipstown citizens and any foolish turf disputes I am certain will be roundly punished by voters.

If I have one fault to find with the Town Board, it is that lately I have observed its members seem to be flirting with national political issues as relevant to local governance. Such a drift threatens to convert the board into a political party and undermine its ability to represent all the citizens of Philipstown.

Bill O’Neill, Nelsonville

O’Neill is running unopposed in the March 21 election to succeed Nelsonville Mayor Tom Corless.

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