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  • Writer's pictureTommy Zurhellen

Won’t Get Fooled Again

Tuesday, May 30th

Dear Friends:

I hope you had a good Memorial Day weekend. On Saturday, I met with Pleasant Valley residents, including several town officials, both Republicans and Democrats. We had a productive conversation covering a lot of issues, but when someone mentioned Camp Nooteeming, which is located in the town of Pleasant Valley, everyone at the meeting just shook their heads in disbelief.

Then they proceeded to tell me a story I almost couldn’t believe, myself.

Since the county purchased Camp Nooteeming last April, these residents told me, the outside corporation that now operates the 272-acre property has put up signs and military-style roadblocks to keep residents out. Even worse, these Pleasant Valley residents told me horror stories about the constant noise now coming from the property, and the vehicles now whizzing through their once-quiet country lanes which surround the property. “I could stand outside my house with a checkered flag, they go by so fast,” one resident told me. Another town resident contacted the current county executive’s office to address these concerns, but she was simply told to stop being a “whiny neighbor.”

I was so appalled by the whole story that I decided to do a little detective work and drive out to Camp Nooteeming to see for myself. As you can see from the photo above, the property is definitely off-limits. Remember, this is a Dutchess County property purchased with our taxpayer dollars, and yet county residents are not allowed to see it, much less use it. Instead, an outside corporation called Pathfinder FC uses the property, and they obviously don’t want anyone from the community there. That’s very different from what Marc Molinaro said last April when the county purchased the property for $5 million and he announced, “Camp Nooteeming will give so many opportunities for the youth and families of Dutchess County to explore nature, play sports, and build memories that will last a lifetime.”

I understand why Pleasant Valley residents are so upset. They were promised a space for residents to enjoy, and instead, they got another noisy corporation as a neighbor. They were promised opportunities for their kids, and instead, they got dangerous traffic on their roads which ironically, now makes it impossible for their kids to play on those same roads.

Yes, we paid five million dollars for that. I don’t think these are the memories Marc Molinaro was talking about.

Does this lack of transparency sound familiar? It should. You only have to look at the county’s purchase of the Oakley Street property in Poughkeepsie last year to find a troubling pattern: the county purchases a property without listening to the folks who actually live there, and then they make decisions on that property behind closed doors, without understanding how Dutchess County residents could best utilize that property.

Listen, you shouldn’t have to be a detective to get answers from your own county government. If Republicans win this election, we can expect more of the same. We can’t let that happen. The Who said it best in that old song “Won’t Get Fooled Again”: Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss. We deserve better than county leaders who call our residents “whiny neighbors” when they come forward with concerns. We deserve a county government that will stop serving outside corporations, and start serving the people who live here.

If you live in Pleasant Valley, I know Camp Nooteeming is an important issue for you, and I hope you will keep communicating these concerns to your town board as they try to get answers from county leadership. And if you live anywhere in Dutchess County, I hope you will join us in our fight to bring transparency and fairness back to our county government. We can’t do it without your help. Please consider a donation in any amount to our campaign using the secure Act Blue link below. And please join us at any of the Team Tommy events listed on our monthly tour calendar, which you can find on our social media. I look forward to meeting you in your hometown and discussing the issues you care most about.

Thanks for listening. See you next time!

Respectfully, Tommy


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