cannot express how impressed I was by Tom Nattell’s very brief
but very moving explanation of the last two years [“A Life
Examined,” The Simple Life, Jan. 13]. I doubt if anyone in
a similar circumstance has ever described their thoughts with
such an absence of self-pity or regret.
There is such calmness and humanity in his every sentence.
Not even a word of anger about our health-care system that
appears to have failed him to a criminally negligent degree.
I hope Tom hears from many friends and strangers alike expressing
their admiration. I am sure many “things have gotten a little
better” because of his contributions.
To the Editor:
was deeply shocked and saddened at Tom Nattell’s cancer revelation
as I have been a regular reader of his feature. Reading it
was especially freaky on the very day that my new wife and
I came home from the Adirondacks from “part one” of our honeymoon,
combined with the sore throat, fever-from-hell, and lungs-of-death
of a flu that could have been avoided if our medical establishment
didn’t simultaneously have its head up its ass and hands on
Best wishes, hopes, and maybe a miracle to Mr. Nattell and
that the tears have dried in my eyes, I would like to tell
you how much I appreciated Katharine Jones’ story on the Bavarian
Chalet [“Time Is Up,” Jan. 13]. How many memorable times I
had there I cannot begin to count. Not only did I visit there
often and enjoy the fine food managed and prepared by Erna
and her staff, and the German beer served at just the right
temperature as dictated by Franz Sr., but I also served the
family as one of their architects. In my younger days I helped
design the restaurant additions and related Bavarian decor.
What a wonderful and exciting time that was. Working and planning
with the Zwicklbauers transcended my work as just another
job. I became very attached to what that instiution was all
about. It became my kind of place, just like it became that
way for so many others. Not long after the restaurant projects,
I became very involved in the design of the home next door
for Franz and Erna, which they enjoyed for many years. It
was one [of] my most memorable projects that I can recall
in my 43 years in the profession. Other changes and additions
took place over the years, but the plan always managed to
hold on to its special charm, not unlike the colored pencil
rendering of the restaurant I did for them that hung in the
back hall for years. Your story touched on just about everything
that the Bavarian Chalet was all about. My deepest gratitude
to the Zwicklbauer family for creating something very special
and enduring, and allowing me to participate in it.
To the Editor:
you for the fine article by Katharine Jones about the closing
of the Bavarian Chalet. For many years the Chalet and the
Zwicklbauer Family have been an integral part of our family’s
life. We are appreciative of the influence that “Oma” and
her family have had on our family and will miss the beautiful
ethnic atmosphere that the Chalet afforded. Marianne Zwicklbauer
is to be complimented for her efforts to keep the restaurant
a pleasure to visit (and for her past reply to Metroland’s
and Jerry Mohr
enjoyed your article “Schenectady Outside the Box” [Jan. 6].
I can second some of the recommendations, especially Gary
Lessard’s “Get the Tax Incentives Right.”
The idea of taxing land not buildings has many advantages,
and in crumbling cities in Pennsylvania where it is used,
it has worked.
The current property tax—sky-high in Schenectady—is two different
taxes, a tax on land [and a] tax on buildings.
The current high tax on buildings discourages people from
fixing up homes and makes it harder to attract new residents
and business. The building tax is an immediate penalty for
trying to make the city a better place. How? When a person
fixes up or builds a new home on their own dime and their
own time, their assessment—and their taxes—go up.
The current low tax on land makes it easy to hold onto vacant
lots and do nothing for years, if not decades. It encourages
“demolition through neglect” and more and more cruddy properties.
How? Say you live in Clifton Park, and you own a slum property
and you only take rent out, but never reinvest in the property.
When the roof finally caves in, you go to the assessor and
say, “Look, I let the roof cave in.”
Then the assessor says, “Congratulations, I will now lower
your tax bill, by lowering the value.”
Schenectady can flip that script, at no revenue loss to the
city. If the city does adopt a tax on land values then it’s
pretty certain that this will happen:
Homeowner taxes will decrease.
Productive businesses will see a tax decrease.
Vacant lots and blighted buildings will see a tax increase.
New construction and rehabilitation of existing buildings
will take place without the usual givebacks, sweetheart deals,
abatements and the other money-tossing contests that take
the place of sane public policy these days.
How do I know this is pretty certain? Because, unlike a lot
of the other ideas going around for Schenectady, land taxation
is not an experiment, it’s everyday life for many old, postindustrial
cities such as Allentown or Harrisburg in Pennsylvania. They
are satisfied with it:
all property taxes were derived from land, there would be
no disincentive to developing the parcel except the
construction cost itself. If all taxes came from the improvements,
there would be a dis-incentive to improve.” —Benjamin
Howells, former City Council president, Allentown, Pa.
City of Harrisburg continues in the view that such a land
value taxation system, which places a much higher tax on land
than on improvements, is an important incentive for the highest
and best use of land. . . . The same two-rate system tends
to discourage real estate speculators and others who would
be inclined under normal conditions to tie up land tracts
that could otherwise be used for development purposes. . .
. With over 90 percent of the property owners in the City
of Harrisburg, the two-tiered tax system actually saves money
over what would be otherwise a single rate system that is
currently in use in nearly all municipalities in Pennsylvania.”
—Mayor Stephen Reed, Harrisburg, Pa.
Director, Center for the Study of Economics
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