Thursday, November 30, 2017

Some Things Never Change

Once upon a time, what is now the Town of Greenport was part of the City of Hudson. In 1837, the folks in the outlying areas of Hudson seceded from the city and formed a new municipality which they called Greenport, a name inspired, it is believed, by the lush and verdant appearance of Mt. Merino beside the entrance to South Bay, the port of Hudson. Captain Franklin Ellis, writing in 1878, had this to say about the creation of Greenport:
The people in the remoter portions of the city territory had for many years been opposed to sharing the heavy financial burdens incident to the city government. The cost of paved and lighted streets--of public buildings--of city improvements generally, was being paid in proportion to their assessments by the citizens four and five miles distant equally with those in the city proper. . . . It is true that perhaps nine-tenths of the people of Greenport--weekly and many of them daily--enjoy all the city improvements, and therefore it was argued that they might justly be required to pay for them. Yet there was danger that useless and unnecessary expenses would be voted by the compactly settled portion of the city despite the protest of the "rural districts."
Things have not changed much in the past 180 years. On Election Day, the voters of Hudson and the voters of Greenport were asked to vote on increasing their municipality's support for the Hudson Area Library, which is called the Hudson Area Library because it was chartered to serve both the City of Hudson and the Town of Greenport. For Hudson, the increase was slightly more than 100 percent: from $120,000 annually to $250,000. For Greenport, the increase was 400 percent: from $7,000 (yes, that's the right number of zeroes) to $35,000.

The outcome of the referendum in Hudson was clear on Election Night: Hudson residents had voted more than 2 to 1 to approve the increased funding. In Greenport, the outcome was different. The referendum appeared to have been defeated by 19 votes, but that could change when the absentee ballots were counted.

On Wednesday, the absentee ballots from Greenport were counted at the Board of Elections, and the final results were made available. In the final count, the library referendum failed by 23 votes. Going forward, the taxpayers of Hudson will be contributing $250,000 annually to the library--50 percent of the library's $500,000 annual operating budget--and Greenport will continue to contribute $7,000--1.4 percent of the library's annual budget.


  1. Considering the Hudson Area Library's history of wasteful spending, some of it recent, the voters of Greenport should be congratulated for demonstrating fiscal responsibility.

  2. Unheimlich
    I was saddened and dismayed to read this comment and just couldn't let it go without responding. Not only is is absolutely misleading, but seems mean spirited as well. I can only assume you have a personal reason for speaking out as you have, but with all due respect and appreciation for your previous volunteer work at the library, I question your qualifications or overall knowledge to make such sweeping allegations.
    I will stake my personal reputation and ten year history as volunteer, board member, president, and co-chair of the capital campaign to assure you and everyone else that
    there is not now nor has there been a history of wasteful spending. On the contrary. If there were a prize to be awarded for squeezing two nickels together and coming up with a quarter, the dedicated and giving staff, volunteers and board members of the Hudson Area Library would win heads up. Those who voted to increase support to their library can be assured that their contribution will be fiscally and wisely managed so that they may be better served going forward.
    There. Now I feel better.
    Theresa Parsons

    1. Facts. Facts. Facts. They, not personal animus, matter. And, now there, I feel better, too.

      DeWayne A. Powell,
      Member Board of Trustees, HAL

  3. Greenport actually isn't committed to any level of support for the library; an amount is voted by the town council year-to-year. Funding has increased in recent years and many of us hope to see that continue. It is disappointing that Greenport did not commit to more reliably supporting HAL.

  4. It would be useful know the percentage of Library cardholders who live in Greenport.

    1. According to information provided to the Register-Star by the library, 20 percent of its card holders live in Greenport.