On the eve of her departure from the Town Board, councilwoman Terrie Rosenblum deemed her four-year term a “wonderful” experience that afforded her an opportunity to help individual Woodstockers in times of need while fulfilling a general sense of duty to the town.
“Public service is a gift. The idea of enabling people to get things done is very exciting,” said Rosenblum, whose single term on the board expires on December 31. The councilwoman, who remains the chair of the Woodstock Democratic Committee, opted to run for town supervisor in the Democratic primary in September, thus relinquishing her seat on the board, but was defeated by supervisor-elect Jeremy Wilber.
When asked in a December 19 interview to cite high and low points of her term, Rosenblum singled out instances of private, one-on-one assistance to constituents as the most gratifying aspect of her tenure. “The things that I’ll always carry with me involve helping people, which should be a personal thing, not a public thing. It’s not about me; it’s about them,” said the councilwoman, who served for most of the past two years as supervisor Jeff Moran’s deputy.
Low points? “Nastiness and misunderstandings over the Comeau easement were a little painful because they were unnecessary,” said Rosenblum, who weathered criticism over her authorship of a draft stewardship plan for the Comeau property. “That’s probably the only thing that nibbled at my psyche. I try to just get things done, but some letters to the editor spew venom. Some people have such anger in their hearts, which comes out of their mouths. It’s sad. Nothing is important enough to hurt others in order to feel better.”
Storm response key
The town’s response to Tropical Storm Irene, in which Rosenblum was centrally involved — with Moran out of town, she assumed the supervisor’s responsibilities — marked both a high and a low point of her time in office. On the one hand, the ravaging August tempest brought out the best in town officials and residents. On the other, it demonstrated Woodstock’s lack of preparation for such an emergency.
For days Rosenblum worked with fellow officials — notably highway superintendent Mike Reynolds and mechanic Ralph Van Kleeck, town clerk Jackie Earley, councilman Bill McKenna, firefighter Sharon Wilber, and the entire Police and Emergency Dispatch Departments, among others — to help residents cope with the storm’s devastating aftermath. Eventually, Reynolds dispatched Rosenblum and Van Kleeck to pick up a truckload of dry ice in Kingston, while Earley preserved citizens’ medications in a generator-powered refrigerator outside her office.
“Lives were in danger. Everyone who cares was there, pulling together,” recalled Rosenblum. “It became clear, however, that we don’t have what we need — not only an emergency communications system, but protocols to follow, including specific phone numbers. We were all dancing as fast as we could, but it was frustrating not to be able to do it right.” For example, Rosenblum added, she was the only Town Board member who had received Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) training, but that background came nearly to naught because the town had neither printed guidelines nor emergency contact information on file when the storm hit.
Woodstock may fare better the next time disaster strikes. An Emergency Response Task Force is in formation and a second local FM radio station is in the works. Meanwhile, Rosenblum supports the organization of neighborhood groups in which each area of the community designates a resident to coordinate the response to an emergency. “Residents could at least walk to their neighborhood contact if they are unable to call,” said Rosenblum. “Our plan needs to be something other than a centralized response. We need community-based plans in all of our hamlets.”
The councilwoman’s plans for post-council life are vague at the moment. “I will be catching up on everything I haven’t had time for,” said Rosenblum, who neither foresees nor rules out a future run for elective office. “I don’t know what the future holds. I’m leaving office because my term is up. I will see how I feel and what my life is like. If running again is something I want to go after, I will. I wish there was a way to thank everybody who has supported me. There are a lot of caring people out there.”++