Threat to Saxon Woods
Threat to Saxon Woods
An Imminent Threat to Saxon Woods!
We have become alarmed to learn of a shadowy deal organized by a small, special interest group that plans to restrict large segments of the park from free public use. More troubling, this group has been negotiating with the County quietly, with little public knowledge or comment.
The group in question , Hudson Valley Disc Golf,has staged a “whisper campaign” for 8 years to transform our glorious wooded refuge into a single use Disc Golf course. This group claims that Saxon Woods is an “underused park” and they diminish the benefits Saxon Woods Park has to the thousands of dog walkers, hikers, children,, runners, Scouts, and horse riders who use the park every day
The group claims Saxon Woods is underutilized, however, their proposal caters to an extremely narrow segment of the population, mostly from out of town. For most of us who don’t know, Disc Golf is an extremely niche hobby catering to a group of out-of-towners from NYC, the outer boroughs and New Jersey. Their Facebook page has 1200 members. It is not hard to envision vans and carloads from NYC, and NJ streaming into the parking lot, forcing us to pay parking fees on our public land, and effortlessly evicting us from the park.
Importantly, this group has leaned heavily on family contacts within the County Parks department to obtain $40k of funding, to clear hurdles and to ensure smooth passage. There are signs of improper municipal governanceparticularly given the secrecy under which this activity has been conducted. If the park is thought to be underutilized the County should have held a public comment period on how to use that $40k.
The Disc Gold group has unabashedly admitted to all of this behaviorand you can hear their smug self-satisfaction as they high-five their questionable dealing and fleecing of the County in their own podcast: Hudson Valley Disc Golg Podcast, episode 75 available free for all to listen. Listen to the podcast as you walk –
Here are some excerpts:
- “The whole project is completely selfish” “it was basically a whisper campaign” “waged for 8 years” “spectacular underused place” “greasing the wheels that had to happen prior”
- “the Gift box delivery” “wouldn’t have happened without ‘personal relationship’”
“didn’t have to put a petition” in place, alternate sites would cost “millions of dollars”,
- fixing up the tollbooth when they “see how many cars are there and start charging” staging tournaments to “draw from most of the Northeast”
The direct quotes are damning and should raise alarm as to how this project received the green light and how willingly our limited free space is carved up for the interest of a few well-heeled, well-connected individuals.
We call upon existing park users to reach out to County leaders and to the County Parks department for answers.
We want to know:
-When was the public comment period?
-Were personal relationships used to circumvent petitions and other common practices in determination of how to spend public funds? Were there proper disclosures of conflicts of interest?
-Where is the study of the best use of $40k of county taxpayer money for the specific improvement of Saxon Woods Park to facilitate more public usage?
-Where are the current Disc Golf plans? What are the restrictions on future expansion?
-Where are the erosion/environmental studies to show the lon-term impact? Where is the estimate of costs related to maintaining the existing low-lying thoroughfares in the hilly park once deforestation leads to the well-known impact of water and gravity?
-What is the plan for funding the required staffing and garbage removal? Parking fees will be raised for park users and taxpayer money will be required to fill the shortfall.
The wheels are in motion, much of this is already been signed off and this threat is very real. This is a last call for action. Stand up for our beloved park! Demand answers to these questions! Show County leadership that this park is NOT underutilized and demand our money is spent where it will give the biggest benefit to the most people.
The Parks Dept works for the residents NOT for private interests.
Please circulate this to your neighbors, the REAL park users, and together we can take a stand.
--Fellow Friends of Saxon Woods Park