Judge Hears Opinions
About Monti Bus Service
By John Emerson
MONTICELLO - February 15, 2000 Scores of Monticello and Town of Thompson citizens urged a state Department of Transportation judge to approve local bus service at a public hearing held yesterday in Monticello.
Administrative Law Judge M. Clarke Calyer heard dozens of people testify that Tony Leach and his Catskill Transit, Inc., proposal for regular bus service in Monticello and nearby Thompson were long overdue.
The only opposition to the proposal came from Sam Jamieson, a vice-president with Shortline Bus Company, and Alan Kesten, the owner of Monticellos Yellow Cab service.
The cost of a round-trip cab ride from Sackett Lake to Wal-Mart is $22, said Thompson Town Supervisor Tony Cellini. For a person on a fixed income, thats way too expensive. For less than $22, a resident could go to their grocer and purchase four meals of eggs, bacon, English muffins and orange juice for breakfast, a cantaloupe, a few oranges, a cherry pie, chicken breasts, a half gallon of milk, some pasta and five pounds of potatoes and still have enough money to pay for Tony Leachs affordable bus service. We are in dire need of additional continuous bus service in our community.
The hearing, originally scheduled for Middletown, was moved to the county Government Center following a public outcry last week. People argued that those who needed the service most would not be able to reach the initial site at Orange County Community College.
Yesterday, Calyer heard from a wide variety of people endorsing the proposal. Those people ranged from County Manager Jonathan Drapkin to Presbyterian Minister David Van Donkelaar to Homeless Federation Chief Cesar Loarca. All supported the route.
Leach presented his idea in October to both the Town of Thompson and Village of Monticello. The route, if approved, would run from Sleepy Hollow Apartments on Route 42 south of Monticello down Broadway to the Apollo Mall, up 17 to Ames Plaza and Wal-Mart and back into the village. Two other destinations would include the Shortline bus terminal on Sturgis Road and Kinnebrook Mobile Home Park on Route 17B.
Jamieson, in his opposition to the proposal, argued that current Shortline service already provides much of the same transportation at a lower cost. He said that village officials prevented him from stopping to pick up passengers on Broadway.
Village Trustee David Rosenberg, however, said Shortline had never made a request to the village board in the eight years that he has served. He said one of the villages primary concerns about Leachs proposal was the safety of village residents and the traffic problems that might be created with the addition of continuous bus service.
Under state law, the Department of Transportation must determine whether there is a need for bus service in the area and whether Leach is the right person to provide that service. The hearing yesterday was the first step in that determination process.
One of the routes I suggested to my staff a little over a year ago was to create a Monticello loop that connects the housing areas, the village, town and county municipal buildings, Broadway and other commercial areas including Ames, Wal-Mart and the new ShopRite, said County Manager Jonathan Drapkin. As to whether Mr. Leach has the capacity to do this, thats up to you. But do not place obstacles in his path. Mainly, it will be the public that decides if his bus company will succeed or fail.