I listened remotely to our county legislative meeting on Dec. 3. I was stunned by their limited awareness in discussing the sale of the property adjacent to the Dutchess Quarry Caves at Mt. Lookout.
Let me state that I applaud those legislators who voted not to sell. Thank you for understanding the importance of protecting the prehistoric caves at Mt. Lookout.
But to those who voted to sell, let me say your meeting was conducted under the veil of censorship. The public was not allowed to speak nor asked for opinion, only listen.
For the concerned public, this was made more frustrating since your arguments to sell lacked any sound reasoning or willingness to think outside the box:
1. Your arguments for voting to sell the land consisted of relaying how two of you once got stung by a bee hiking there over twenty years ago and the liability concern for people swimming in a lake.
Solution: give this property over to a non-profit trust who can manage and reclaim it as parkland.
2. On tourism, no one mentioned the word Ecotourism. Definition: Ecotourism is tourism directed toward exotic, often threatened, natural environments. As a business Ecotourism generates over $77 billion in revenue and is one of the fastest growing sectors in the travel industry.
The prehistoric caves here qualify as a unique natural environment that could be utilized as such.
3. Your lack of foresight. Sell the property and the mining company owns it. What happens in the future when they stop mining or when they exhaust their profit margins? They own the land and will want to do whatever they want with it, fill it with who knows what, burn toxic waste there or worse.
You demonstrate a lack of vision and awareness of our future.
4. Some of you called out, saying, “let the DEC regulate this, they have more power then we do.”
You have the power as our elected officials to control our environment. Those of you who voted to sell just lack the ability to understand that power and to use it wisely.
I have spent the last few months working with the public and leaders in preservation. We have lobbied hard, presenting you with the facts and the concern of the vulnerability of the caves from additional mining.
These caves are rare and extremely unique. With your vote to sell the property and your responsibility toward actively preserving them, you are throwing away a piece of the earth’s history.
Something more valuable than the price tag you are selling it for.
Organizer and activist