Letter: Welcome to Beacon

Beacon prides itself on being open. A recent example is this post from City Council Member Jodi McCredo:

“I stand with the people of New Zealand and with Muslims around the world. Words lead to actions. Hate needs to be called out and silenced. Compassion and understanding need room to grow.”

Most of us would agree with Jodi about hate. And yet when we use the word anti-development, aren’t we just finding a way to justify our fear of, and potentially our hatred for, new people? Development is about more than buildings: it is about who will want to live in those buildings.

Outside the council meetings, in quiet conversations in person and online, people talk about whether new people “will fit in.” What is that about, except fear of the unknown?

In my experience, the new people moving here are terrific. I have had a chance, as an example, to meet quite a few tenants new to Beacon. They are artists, state troopers, ministers, accountants. They are young couples. Baby boomers. Roommates. Most of them are people who Beaconites who rail against development would like to meet.

When we think about it, in our better selves, we know that our children benefit from meeting kids who have grown up elsewhere. We get that Main Street needs people with ideas to thrive. And all of us know that Beacon, with its 100-year-old infrastructure, is going to need a lot of us to shoulder the burden of fixing what we can and replacing what we can’t.

The sign that read “no hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here” is not true. The strongest anti-development positions are held by people who welcome others as tourists but not as residents. There are those who despise the idea of a wall at the Mexican border, and yet would gladly have a virtual wall around Beacon that keeps people out by restricting their opportunities to find a place to live and a place where all of us can grow.

Will Hough, Beacon

8 Responses to "Letter: Welcome to Beacon"

  1. Diane Green   March 29, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    Such an inspiring letter of Will’s to open people’s hearts to all that is good, real and possible!

  2. Amy Campbell   March 29, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Lovely thoughts and agreed. The right kind of development by the right kind of developers is healthy for the community. We should be careful about how the community grows, but not stifle all efforts toward progress.

  3. Caroline Jensen   March 30, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    This is an emotional argument that shows absolutely no knowledge or understanding of the issues and concerns local residents are expressing about variances. Many of the new medium- to high-density residential developments lack sufficient parking. Where will tenants park their cars when it snows? Beacon had to declare a state of emergency two years ago because of an inability to clear roads and municipal parking lots. The city is adding more than 1,000 new units. One project has more than 30 apartments and only seven parking spaces! This is poor planning.

    This letter compares sociopaths who slaughtered innocent people in their place of worship to local folks who are justifiably concerned about their overburdened and dated infrastructure, the possibility of overcrowded classrooms in a district that has a 3 percent tax cap and is losing federal funding because the demographics have changed and newcomers earn more money, which is skewing the data. Poorer people are genuinely falling through the cracks. Condos that are less than 2,000 square feet (in buildings that were generated by engineering software and not designed by architects) are selling for half a million dollars. That’s bizarre and unsustainable. There is a process behind approving these projects (SEQRA, school impact data, etc.).

  4. Kristan Flynn   March 30, 2019 at 9:25 pm

    It seems incredibly irresponsible to conflate anti-immigration and white-supremacist sentiments with “anti-development” concerns.

    When it is not being “anti” anything — but rather being in favor of a rigorous process. Those who wish to do things quickly and maximize profit will never be in favor of regulation. However, it is for the protection of citizens for whom there is not a profit motive but rather a reasonable concern about impacts on infrastructure and tax increases resulting from potential mistakes that these systems are in place and should be followed rather than circumvented.

    No one is objecting to the people themselves. The objection is to the process being used and misused to evaluate structures that will be in place for the foreseeable future and have a significant impact on the community where they are being built. There is so much division — turning people against each other is certainly a strategy that has shown to be effective in creating short-term gains as well as lasting damage to society.

    I believe we can do more than one thing at one time. We can stand with Muslim neighbors who may feel a heightened sense of vulnerability due to events in New Zealand — just as our Jewish neighbors felt incredibly vulnerable this past fall with events closer to home. We can renounce those sentiments. We can embrace new people who move here and welcome them. We can also expect a high standard of scrutiny applied to projects that are being built here with a profit motive, because the people who have moved and invested here, along with those who have lived here their entire lives — have created a desirable location for growth to occur. Being a good neighbor and an effective steward of the land/place and its resources are not mutually exclusive. However, I get why fomenting distrust and painting those who expect those standards as “haters” is the right move for some. I am hopeful people are smart enough not to fall for it.

  5. Elaine Ciaccio   March 30, 2019 at 10:11 pm

    The assumption in the letter is that anyone questioning the size, scope and impact of new development is anti-development. Many are for sustainable development that preserves quality of life. The developers’ first priority is to make their venture as profitable as possible. And equating the questioning of an development with racism is quite a jump. Considering most of the new developments are more expensive, the only new people to meet are wealthy. I have also overheard people at city meetings saying we needed “better people” and Beacon was suffering from an “intellectual deficit.” They were all people there to support an outsized project. Developers may say they they don’t want a wall around Beacon but they are certainly willing to charge a high toll.

  6. Ali T. Muhammad   April 1, 2019 at 8:02 am

    Great thoughts. The one group of people missing are the folks that were raised and grew up in Beacon, and happen to still be living there. The forgotten folks who understand that this development can be utilized for themselves and their families, if there were more opportunities for revitalization, from the ground up. Beacon families living in subsidized housing, affordable housing, Beacon families that built their homes 30 years ago and may have to sell now, the new housing stock is for them. For folks that are graduating and now can come back from college or the military, or wherever and can afford to live in these units, they will be able to still live in their hometown. Regardless of tourists, new folks and families that have made Beacon home, developers, and everyone in between.

    Whoever this writer is, thank you for speaking your truth. You’ve struck a chord with some folks because your points rang true. The same folks that say love your neighbor or speak out against what happened in New Zealand, do not practice what they preach. There are forgotten and unseen members of this community that does not have a voice and continue to be unseen and unheard. Some are okay with it, they don’t care about the white noise. Some want to be a part of it, and they’re treated like anomalies, or worse. Implicit bias, racism, prejudice, and false narratives run rampant in Beacon, New York… and it’s not as easy to determine who they are. These folks hide behind the progressive banner and Democratic Party, and their “neighborly nature,” as opposed to the folks who wear their hatred and bigotry on their sleeves. There’s no room for tolerance for any of this.

    Speaking from a former council member, a former Beacon resident, and someone who was caught on the wrong side of expensive apartments in Beacon, development in Beacon has and will only further help the forgotten and unseen people that live here still. The anti-development conversation is so faux, without it, the majority of folks who moved here within the last 7 years wouldn’t be here. Prices and the stock will balance out within the next couple of years. The anti-development conversation is divisive and a dog whistle for those Democrats who claim to care about the entire community.They actually care more about controlling who is their neighbor and patron on our Main Street. They used the same argument against the Hassidic Jews a few years ago… although they claimed all are welcome here. These ugly divisive tactics are what these progressive anti-development folks will continue to use, as they profiteer off of Beacon, New York. Continue to speak your truth.

  7. Caroline Jensen   April 2, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    The average starting salary for a new college graduate is $45,094 in the greater New York City area. The average student loan debt for a graduate (according to 2017 data) is $34,144. The cost of a new rental unit in Beacon (with one bedroom) is $1,800/month or more. These are simply not affordable units. All of these are facts backed by studies and data.

    Dog-whistle politics is political messaging that uses coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different, or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup. I would say that comparing people to mass shooters and relying on the old versus new line is the real dog-whistle in this debate.

    Nobody advocating for development in the name of affordability can provide hard data or numbers that indicate a $1,800/month rental (plus the cost of a commute because Beacon lacks major employers) is affordable. It will not help people who lack a voice and are economically disenfranchised.

    As far as whether these new units costing over $1,800/month will benefit young people returning from military service, someone in the pay grade of E-1—with less than two years of service, makes a base pay of $1,681 per month. So, again, the numbers indicate that this argument in favor of more development is a fallacy.

  8. Jodi McCredo   April 2, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    I don’t know the author of this letter so I will say first that I am disheartened by the publication of a private post from my personal Facebook page without my consent.

    That disappointment is greatly overshadowed, however, by the author’s attempt to equate members of a community concerned about their schools, infrastructure, and their ability to remain in their homes with a gunman who murdered innocent people in their place of worship.

    I am a member of the Beacon City Council, but more importantly I am a member of this community and a mom raising two children here. Letters like this one, sent to the newspaper and posted on community Facebook pages, only serve to further divide this community, and anyone who claims otherwise is out for their own financial or political gain.

    I talk to members of this community all the time at events, at meetings, at the playground, and knocking on doors. People are worried about our schools being overcrowded, they are worried about not having enough water, they are worried about the age and condition of our infrastructure, and most of all they are worried about not being able to afford to stay in their homes — which is something that two-bedroom condos going for half a million dollars is not going to fix.

    To dismiss those concerns as “a way to justify our fear of, and potentially our hatred for, new people” is minimizing and insulting.

    I don’t know how long the author of this letter has lived in Beacon but he writes about the new people moving here and says nothing of the people he is making these assumptions about other than his accusations. There is no justification for his comments, no specific conversation that he points to, just unsubstantiated statements that this is a community filled with unwelcoming, judgmental hypocrites. If that is truly what he believes, it makes me wonder why he or anyone else would want to live here in the first place. I assure you that this is a far cry from the Beacon that I know and love.