Remember this

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So that we remember, I think it’s important to hold up and publicly recognize two of the most important developments in this town in a long, long time.

First, the commencement of the new town of Palm Tree, and second, the unprecedented grass roots effort that made it happen.

Monroe split into two towns on January 1. The village of Kiryas Joel was set free to pursue its destiny.

We, the rest of Monroe, gained our independence from the tyranny of that village’s voting bloc, taking back our nearly forever-lost ability to make Monroe’s future.

Both communities gained peace from the never-ending war for control of Monroe’s town board.

It’s equally important to publicly recognize who did this and how.

Palm Tree was a prize that took six years to win. It was the collective work of the volunteers who inspired others throughout the county to join them. Who, by their refusal to give up after a loss, stymied their opponents in the governments of KJ and the town of Monroe.

Led by United Monroe, hundreds of volunteers worked for the cause over those six years. Dozens did so for most of that time. And a small, but very committed group, worked for all of those years. Some still do.

They were busy parents who went to poll watch at 5 a.m.

Who sacrificed their evenings and weekends to write letters to the editor, design and deliver flyers, rally on Route 17M, to ask for and obtain donations.

Local business owners and elected officials who contributed.

And, of course, the 1,000 strong who marched as one to KJ to witness the annexation vote.

They were us sitting at town board meetings past midnight, suffering the abuse of the prior town board, all to protest its misdeeds and limit its damage before we could replace them.

And finally, those volunteers were a group wise enough to see when their KJ opponent was as weary of the fighting as they were. To seize that opportunity to engage with KJ in a search for the win-win solution called Palm Tree that was later approved by more than 80 percent of Monroe’s voters.

Over the six years, not one of those volunteers was paid a dime for their time or their expertise.

So, I say to all of those volunteers: Congratulations. They said it couldn’t be done. But we did it. And for that we should be very, very proud.

And I say to all of Monroe’s residents: Remember this. Remember what can be done by a group of truly committed people the next time we face a big challenge.

Michael Egan

Resident of the Town of Monroe and member of United Monroe

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