Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring, it’s the perfect time

Note: The following post was written for a column I periodically do for my local newspaper, "The Westmore News". Hence, all the local references, which most of you won't relate to, nor should you want to. However, I thought the message was, as I always say, I'm not about to waste a perfectly good, here you go....

It’s that time of year again…finally.


Whether you observe Easter, Passover or merely the season, it’s the time of year when we celebrate life, rebirth and renewal.

Breathe in the warm spring air, smell the earth awakening and shovel snow off the crocuses and daffodil sprouts…again.

A little different from last year’s celebration…but at least it’s not winter, despite the plows rolling down the street.

And there are alot of new things to welcome, around here and everywhere, this year. There’s a new Pope in the Vatican, a new Mayor along with a couple of new Trustees in PC and RB…even a couple of new mentors on “The Voice”, which, by the way, really concerns me. I’m gonna miss that blonde woman, what’s her name, and that other guy.

Oh...and Port Chester had its second official street brining, last week, as well, thanks to the Rye Brook DPW, which apparently couldn’t resist the plea, “Brother can you spare some brine…”

Sorry, I couldn’t resist either.  

This year, the election in Rye Brook lacked the excitement of the election in Port Chester, mostly because all the RB candidates ran “unopposed”.  Not that anyone seemed to notice or care, since, according to the Westchester County Board of Elections, only 150 voters actually turned out.  But then again, if you’re running “unopposed”, you technically only need one person to show up. 

Unlike Rye Brook, the race in Port Chester was very “opposed” and hotly contested, “hotly” being the operative word.

We’re a “hot headed” people in PC—always have been and always will be—so we like our politics a little on the spicy side, as well.

There are always a lot of accusations and a lot of blame to go around. Who did or didn’t do this. Who is or isn’t gonna do that. 

And that’s just putting the lunch order in at Vinny’s.

In the end, the turnout was relatively small in PC, also.  Only 3,141 voters out of a possible 12,002 had enough interest to make their voices heard—even the 200 or so that forgot or were too confused to vote for mayor while they were pulling all those Trustee levers, hoping not to hit the light switch by mistake.  But hey, nobody ever said we were perfect when it comes to voting. In fact a federal judge made a point of saying we’re not…probably without ever stepping foot in town.

Some of the more important issues that were up for debate and now, hopefully, will be addressed, were things like how to stop the Costco parking lot from falling into the river, maybe even by getting the folks who promised that it wouldn’t, when they built it, to pay for it, and how to keep the unfortunate few who have the occasion to be detained in our local jail from walking out the hole in the back wall whenever they have an urge for an ice cream cone up the street. 

Not surprisingly, the hottest issue of all and the one that everyone in town seemed to have an opinion on was: what is to be the fate of the former United Hospital property and what do we hope to see up there on that hill, preferably, one day soon?

Which got me thinking—which some say is dangerous—just what is it exactly that makes this particular issue so important to all of us?  I mean pertinent questions relating to its value as a prime location for either retail or residential, not to mention the ongoing debate as to whether or not people in studio or one bedroom apartments procreate more or less than people in two bedrooms, aside…I believe a large part of it is that there’s an emotional component involved, as well.

If you count yourself as a lifelong PC resident, as I do, chances are this piece of property was the portal through which you took your first breath. And, more likely than not, the portal through which a lot of family and friends took their last. 

In between breaths, you went there to tend to sprains incurred playing softball in the park, soothe burns, mend gashes and even just to make someone you cared about laugh and smile while they healed or waited on the outcome of some test.
A year or two before they shuttered the doors I was making a pharmaceutical, marketing video, using the already closed maternity ward as a location.  During a break between set ups, a friend who happened to be assisting me wandered off into an empty room where I found her staring out the window, taking in a perfect view of the Sound, sparkling in the distance. I saw a small smile cross her face and when I asked what was up, she told me this was the exact
room in which she had given birth to her first daughter, some 20 years before. She said that was the happiest day of her life and she never forgot the view as she held her baby for the first time.

And I’m sure there are a lot of you who have stories and experiences of your own, stored away, waiting to be recalled by a place that soon will disappear.

However, time moves on and harsh economic realities follow right along with it. Hospitals close every day.  The sad truth is there’s nothing special, let alone hallowed, to this ground. 

In the end, we all know it’s just a piece of real estate purchased for a pretty good chunk of change by an outside developer.  But, what we also know is…that place up on the hill is a significant part of our history; of who we are and of how we came to be. 

So maybe that’s why it’s important, and maybe that’s part of why everyone cares about what happens to it.

Hopefully, going forward, our newly elected officials and those that have returned will feel that way as well.

There couldn’t be a more perfect time.

Spring…the season to celebrate life, rebirth and renewal.

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