Departing Words from and About Clark and Bassin
In the Columbia Paper – By Diane Valden
ANCRAM—The December 21 Ancram Town Board meeting was the last regular board meeting for both Supervisor Art Bassin, who served as supervisor for the past 14 years and Councilmember Hugh Clark who has served on the board for the past 11 years. Neither man ran for re-election last November
In his final comments as a councilmember, Mr. Clark, who served on the Comprehensive Plan Committee and was the longtime chair of the town’s Zoning Revision Committee (ZRC), recounted and praised the work of the ZRC which has worked to revise the town’s 1972 Zoning Law and bring it into compliance with the updated Comp Plan. He recited the list of names of those who served over the years, characterizing them as a “varied and balanced” group, who made decisions by operating under the ground rule of reaching consensus. It is a “slow” and “inefficient” process, he said, but one that gathers input from all and “brings people together.”
Shifting to his decision not to run again, Mr. Clark, who speaks deliberately and with authority, said his decision hinged on “time and balance.”
“I’ve lost balance in my life. I believe that I’ve paid my dues to live in this special corner of the world, so it’s time to restore balance.”
In closing, Mr. Clark turned his attention to Mr. Bassin, who posted election signs some years back pledging, Leadership You Can Trust. “That’s what Art Bassin promised. That’s what Art Bassin delivered. For who he is, for what he is, for the standards he has set, for what he has taught, for what he has created—I thank Art, I respect Art…I salute Art.”
Highway Superintendent Jim Miller acknowledged both Mr. Clark and Mr. Bassin for “getting a decent highway garage built and upgrading the highway equipment without breaking the bank.” In particular he thanked Mr. Clark for his long hours and dedication to the ZRC. And on behalf of all of Ancram’s lost dogs, cats, cows, horses, sheep, emus and even a peacock, Mr. Miller expressed deep gratitude to Mr. Bassin for facilitating their return home. Mr. Miller did admit he will not miss the thousands of emails routinely sent by Mr. Bassin plugging up his inbox.
Town Clerk Monica Cleveland said she has appreciated Mr. Clark’s availability for questions and his “never-ending knowledge” on many subjects including protocol and the Open Meetings Law.
She recounted how she and Supervisor Bassin worked together to keep the town functioning throughout Covid—wearing “hazmat suits and masks” while handing out supplies to residents through the side door. She noted they sometimes disagreed and she had to remind him that the supervisor is not the town clerk’s boss. She also told the supervisor he had become like family—playing cars and trains with her young son when she brought him to work with her at Town Hall. She implored the supervisor to find a hobby in his retirement, “preferably one that doesn’t involve email.”
For his part, Mr. Bassin said he is not sure what he will be doing after this.
He praised the town’s powerful volunteer spirit noting the number of volunteers, the energy, the passion, the commitment, the knowledge is remarkable. “We could not afford the talent that we have working for this town.”
He said being supervisor “has been a great honor and privilege and a lot of fun. And for all the hassle, it’s been a wonderful experience.”