Letters: Community Congress

It is inspiring and energizing to experience the engagement of Cold Spring, Nelsonville, North Highlands, Continental Village and Garrison neighbors in the Philipstown Community Congress (PCC). As one of the organizers, I had no idea what to expect when a small group of volunteers provided a nonpartisan platform for folks to speak out and offer concrete proposals to strengthen our wonderful community.

People seem to like the fact that the PCC is autonomous. People also seem to like the opportunity to meet folks with whom they might not otherwise cross paths and to share ideas and interests. Some are already working collaboratively to achieve their goals.

Over the course of three PCC-sponsored community forums, 40 proposals were put forward that individuals feel strongly about and are willing to work to make a reality. You can read a summary of each at ecologicalcitizens.org/pccproposals.

By now, each postal customer in Philipstown should have received a ballot that offers an opportunity for residents to vote for their top three priorities. Since proposals will only become a reality by virtue of citizen engagement, each ballot has an optional space to put your email address so you can volunteer to work on the proposal(s) you favor.

Ballots can be returned by mail or dropped in marked boxes at either Butterfield Library in Cold Spring or the Desmond-Fish Library. Or you can vote online at ecologicalcitizens.org/pcc2017ballot.

The deadline is Oct. 31. PCC volunteers will tabulate the results and share the number of voters and the priorities expressed with the public and community leaders. It will then be up to folks to come together and work to make their priorities a reality. What’s next? PCC volunteers will work with community volunteers to promote continued civic engagement.

Thanks to all who are working for the benefit of our Philipstown community.

Priscilla Stevens Goldfarb, Garrison

Over the summer, a bunch of Philipstown residents gathered together and presented ideas to preserve and promote a strong community. We had three gatherings, and 40 ideas were presented.

I presented the idea to create a teen center in Cold Spring. The center would be student-driven, organized and run with adult supervision and an adult advisory group on hand to help with planning and logistics. It could be on Main Street or elsewhere in easy walking distance from Haldane High School.

I strongly believe that opening a teen center is particularly critical at this time. The nationwide epidemic of drug addiction among teens particularly afflicts youth in small towns like Philipstown where there isn’t much to do after school if you don’t do sports or theater.

At present, there aren’t many opportunities for teenagers in Philipstown to hang out and socialize in a safe, unstructured environment. The teen center could be a relaxed place with comfy couches and coffee tables to hang out and socialize with friends, do homework in a social setting, or just listen to music and play games on devices in a safe, no-pressure environment. There could also be special events like open mic, karaoke, student art exhibits, etc. Members of the community could donate furnishings, a pool table or ping-pong table. There could be a screen for films, video games, etc.

The goal is to hear from as many of our neighbors as possible to see what things we all care about and get things done as a community. Please vote and help us spread the word by telling your neighbors to vote as well.

Sandy McKelvey, Cold Spring

Philipstown residents recently received a Philipstown Community Congress brochure in the mail, which asked residents to vote on their top three priorities for our town. Many of these priorities are issues that dedicated Philipstown residents have been working on for years.

The last item on the ballot is to create a harm-reduction coalition. Such a coalition already exists and has held community meetings and recovery vigils, facilitated addiction awareness workshops and hosted Narcan trainings for the past four years.

The Philipstown Communities That Care Coalition has a website and Facebook page with real-time bed availability for those in crisis and a current list of addiction resources. We meet monthly with representatives from various sectors of the Philipstown community working with the youth and recovering population in our area. These different sectors work to prevent youth substance use and abuse through innovative programming with limited financial resources. These include our local libraries, which host monthly youth events, the Haldane and Garrison school districts and Philipstown Recreation Department’s youth programs. Coalition members also include local recovery coaches and organizations like St. Christopher’s and the Walter Hoving Home.

Rather than risk duplicating services and stretch our small town’s already limited energy and resources, interested people of the Philipstown Congress should look to become involved with the organizations and people already out there doing this work. We would all agree on many of the ideas presented — the best way to implement them is to build on resources that already exist in Philipstown.

Danielle Pack McCarthy, Cold Spring
Pack McCarthy is co-chair of Philipstown Communities That Care Coalition. 

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