By Nathan Mayberg
WURTSBORO July 16, 2004 A number of crimes, unruly behavior and threats have turned up the blood pressure of citizens and political leaders in the Village of Wurtsboro.
Mayor Bob Whitehead was livid as he spoke at length about his unwillingness to accept the criminal and deviant acts which have arisen in the last week.
Trustee John Klein called for prison sentences.
Among the criminal acts are repeated vandalism of the village synagogue, including a recent spray painting by vandals last week.
Every month, that synagogue is hit [by vandalism], said Klein.
Skateboarders have been illegally skating on its roof, causing Klein to place speed bumps on the roof, in addition to pre-existing barbed wire. Whitehead called the need to do so an insult to the community.
The veterans park has been the site of constant vandalism to its benches, causing three of them to be replaced, said village board member Mickey Maher. Another section of benches are currently engraved with the words rest in peace to a recently deceased Monticello High School student nicknamed Blaze.
Whitehead was particularly incensed at an abandoned house on a dead-end road between Pine Street and Third Street. He claimed the house has been packed by young people ranging from teenagers to 21-year-olds from the area, who use it for drugs, drinking and other activities. Whitehead and Klein both claimed the house has an open garage, which serves as a point of access.
Whitehead said he was not satisfied with the police response to the matter. The village and Town of Mamakating have no police force and are served by the Sullivan County Sheriffs Dept. and the NY State Police.
Village Attorney Michael Davidoff advised the board to have its building inspector, Timothy Ippolito, visit the house and cite it for code violations, if necessary. The property could then be boarded up or demolished. The home is owned by a local bank.
The local church near the park was also hit by spray paint last week. A speed limit sign is also spray painted.
Whitehead charged that many local residents are fearful of stepping out of their homes at night due to the recent activity.
A special meeting was called for July 26 at 7 p.m. at the village hall to discuss ways to deal with the problems. A community watch program is one idea the board will discuss.
Village resident Bill Maher called for surveillance cameras activated by motion detectors. He suggested the cameras are less expensive than normal ones, because they only turn on after motion is detected.
At least one of his neighbors purchased one after a similar round of vandalism two years ago, in which three houses on his street were spray painted. One homeowners mail was ripped up, after complaining to the police.
Whitehead said the perpetrators of the crimes in the village were not just wrong-side-of-the-track people but those from families of wealth and stature.
Both he and Maher also took heavy shots at local residents who drive ATVs on area roads. Whitehead said that local law prohibits ATVs on village roads. Trustee Maher, her husband and Whitehead all believe the vehicles are a safety hazard.