NAME THAT BUILDING — TWICE: Saugerties in quandary over Town Hall designation
SAUGERTIES — What’s in a name?
A lot, apparently, especially when it comes to deciding what to call the Saugerties Town Hall.
The Town Board last week had its recent decision to name the High Street building after former town Supervisor Gregory Helsmoortel called into question by residents who said the municipal building already had been named for a Vietnam War veteran from the town.
In 2001, they said, the Town Board voted to rename the Town Hall the “Town of Saugerties Colonel Roger H.C. Donlon Town Hall” by a 3-2 vote. Helsmoortel, as supervisor, was a member of that board and cast one of the “no” votes.
Current Supervisor Kelly Myers said the current board had no idea the previous resolution existed when it voted last month to name the building for Helsmoortel. She said the town never followed through on the 2001 resolution, so there was no plaque installed or note made on the town’s letterhead to reflect the change.
“So people forgot,” Myers said Friday. “It creates a quandary.”
Myers said the Town Board was notified of the previous resolution following the adoption of its own. She said the issue also was raised at a Town Board meeting on Wednesday, when residents Joe Roberti Sr., Gaetana Ciarlante and Thomas Macarille spoke in favor of keeping the Donlon name in place.
The 2001 resolution was “to dedicate the new Town Hall for the town of Saugerties as the ‘Town of Saugerties Colonel Roger H.C. Donlon Town Hall’ in honor of our hero who was the first recipient of the Medal of Honor for Valor in Vietnam.”
At the Town Board’s pre-board meeting Wednesday, Myers said she proposed a compromise to keep the Donlon name on the Town Hall and to honor Helsmoortel by naming the building newly expanded police wing for him. A majority of board members, however, did not want the compromise, so the issue never was moved to the regular meeting’s agenda, she said.
Myers said only she and Councilman James Bruno, the deputy supervisor, favored the compromise. Continued...
According to Myers, Councilman Bruce Leighton checked with an attorney who said the 2001 resolution was invalid because the Town Hall at the time was owned by the Festival Development Corp., a town panel that grew out of the Woodstock ’94 concert at the Winston Farm in Saugerties. Myers, however, said she does not agree with that assessment because the members of the Town Board also were the members of the Festival Development Corp.
Leighton could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Myers added that Bruno received an opinion on Friday from the legal counsel of the New York State Association of Towns that said the previous resolution was valid, therefore nullifying the more recent one. She said the town will have to investigate the issue further because it has received conflicting legal opinions.
“I think it’s unfortunate,” Councilman Fred Costello Jr. said of the name issue, adding that the people who brought it up this past week are trying to keep Helsmoortel from getting credit for what he did in getting the new Town Hall built.
Costello also said Helsmoortel has helped honor Donlon in the past and that no one was trying to diminish Donlon’s importance to the town.
Costello said he had not yet spoken to Bruno about the legal opinion from the Association of Towns.
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