July 1, 2013
Dear Hon. Jeffrey C. Cohen,
I am writing in reference to case number 12-T-0248, NYSEG’s proposal to construct high voltage towers in the Ghent, NY. This letter is to express my strong opposition to this project.
My husband and I have lived at 93 Talerico Rd. Ghent, NY for 14 years, just ¼ mile from the site of one of the proposed high voltage towers. Here we have raised our two sons, established our design studio and recently, acquired a second property next door at 105 Spook Rock Rd. Our entire lives, both emotionally and financially are tied up in these two beautiful properties and the 7.5 pristine acres on which they are situated. Our intention was to build a life here and stay through our retirement. Now we find everything we have created threatened by NYSEG’s unreasonable proposal.
One of this hamlet’s most precious qualities is the role it has played in both national and local history. Our particular home, a Classical Revival eyebrow colonial farmhouse, was built in 1815 and is an example of an important period in American architectural history. If you leave my home and travel along NYSEG’s proposed route for high voltage tower construction, you will encounter no fewer than 10 additional homes of historical significance, some of which date over 50 years before the Revolutionary War. There is currently a group of local residents working to have this area officially recognized by the NYS Historical Preservation Department as a rural historical district. My home in particular was once part of the Philips family estate, an important family that along with the Livingston and Rensselaer families, helped settle the Hudson River Valley prior to the Revolutionary War. (Livingston was a signer or the Declaration of Independence!) These estates covered hundreds of acres of farmland and played a significant role in bringing cultural and economic viability to this area. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Columbia County was a huge supplier of produce, and in particular apples, using the Hudson River as a shipping artery to New York City. I have included a link to an article that offers a glimpse into this unique history:
Between 1815 and 1915, my house changed hands between some of this areas leading prominent citizen/farmers including Van Ness, Von Vosburg, Kittle and most recently the Leggett family. Our octogenarian neighbor, farmer Walt Nyfler, told us that there have always been sheep on our land. (And it is true, in Colonial times, wool was another important Columbia County product.) Today, to honor this legacy, my husband and I have reclaimed a small portion of our farmland where we raise a small flock of sheep.
So the questions begs, why are there so many historic homes in the Omi/West Ghent area? The answer is simple: many are built along or near Old Post Road, a road that for over 200 years was the main route between NYC and Albany. This road, running right though our neighborhood and NYSEG’s proposed tower construction, is the route that in the winter of 1776, Boston bookseller turned patriot, Henry Knox took when he used oxen-drawn sleds to drag cannon from Ft. Ticonderoga, NY to Boston harbor, where patriots then successful defeated the British and caused a major turning point in the Revolutionary War. When my boys were young, they spent countless hours in the back yard dragging around a homemade cannon pretending to be Revolutionary War soldiers. For a map of Knox’s route, please see this link:
If NYSEG’s proposal is approved, this history will be destroyed. Bucolic views, extraordinary, historically significant architecture and the legacy of an area that has been farmed continuously for over 200 years (how many places in this country can we say that about) will be gone forever. The towers will loom above us as a horrifying eyesore. Their presence will wreak environmental havoc on our land, invite the use of dangerous pesticides to control the weeds below and encourage unwanted ATV use near homeowner’s quiet, rural properties. Thousands of kilowatts of radiant electricity will rain down below the towers, enough so that one can actually hold a florescent light tube in one’s hand and while standing under a high voltage tower, and see the light tube illuminate without any wires connecting to the tube! The following link is to artist Richard Box’s project, of a field of fluorescent tubes planted in the ground beneath a high-voltage tower, which illustrates this:
This radiant electricity and the emitted EMF are know to cause an increase in health issues, including cancer. And yet, NYSEG plans to run this adjacent the homes of the elderly and children. In addition, if allowed to go through, this project will have a devastating economic impact. According to local real estate agents, it will make our property virtually unsalable. Like may Americans, my husband and I have our entire financial legacy tied up in our property.
Recently, I told my teenage boys that someday they may see their mother chain herself to a tree in the path of NYSEG’s bulldozers in a final effort to stop this destruction. NYSEG is part of a huge, multi-national corporation with unlimited financial resources, well able to get their way. If this is allowed to proceed, they reap even bigger profits. Our family will lose everything.
Lawre Stone and Dan Devine
93 Talerico Road
Ghent, NY 12075
and: 105 Spook Road Road