Previous Letters to Editor Page
Letters To The Editor must include a name and contact (phone/email) and may be Emailed to
Editor or addressed to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072
Only in New York - December 2018We had two interesting and disconcerting events take place this past couple of weeks in the political arena in NY.
The first is the effort by the State legislators to hike their pay by 63%! They justify it by saying they haven’t received a raise in decades. I don’t notice any of them declining to run and getting a real full-time job because of that. They are well paid for what is supposed to be a part-time position. In order to make it appear palatable to the taxpayer they are including a requirement that limits their outside earnings. I don’t understand why this is supposed to make us feel better. Their rationale seems to be that they won’t be making any more money in total. However, the taxpayer is on the hook for most of it.
The legislature will evolve to a full-time operation. You can be sure that salaries will rise on a regular basis. They will appoint blue-ribbon committees to justify the biennial increases to deflect responsibility from themselves. Assemblyman Sean Ryan was interviewed about it and said that the assemblyman job takes up most of his time so he can’t earn outside income. The reason it takes up so much time is that the politicians have intruded into every corner of our lives. Too bad we can’t get NY State to have a government shutdown. People would bask in the fresh air of freedom.
By limiting the income a person can earn only two types of people will consider running for office: 1) those who are independently wealthy and don’t have to work; and 2) folks for whom the pay of an elected official is equivalent to winning the lottery: this will be far and away the best job they could dream of getting. Do we really want people living off of trust funds or too incompetent to get a decent paying job elsewhere to be running our lives? Further, the turnover in this political class will be even lower than it is now. We will have created a permanent ruling class.
Mr. Ryan justifies the limit on outside salaries by accusing those who earned them of basically earning bribes. He thinks that eliminating the outside earnings will stop corruption in Albany. I guess they have already legalized marijuana for the pols. Of course, it won’t reduce corruption. It will make it less visible. The way to reduce special interests and other cronyism is to reduce the scope of government. If the pols had less (of other people’s) money to shovel out the door I can assure you the lobbyists would disappear. However, the pols don’t want to stop giving out other people’s money. Nor do they want to stop being bribed!
The other event has to do with New Era Cap Company’s decision to close its facility in Derby. There was a rally with the County Executive, Mark Polancarz, and Assemblyman Sean Ryan addressing anyone who would listen why New Era should keep the facility open. Brian Higgins vows to get them tariff relief, blaming tariffs for the closure. Ahem, Brian, New Era isn’t importing the caps, they make them in the US! I have no idea what the reason for closing the facility is. I do recall a similar event there in the early 2000s. A county legislator from Cheektowaga got the legislature to pass a statement of support for the union at the facility. The president of New Era fired back that the pols didn’t know what they were talking about.
The main point is that why would any prospective producer locate in NY? The only way to get a firm to locate here is to bribe them big time as Cuomo did with Amazon, majority owned by the richest man in the country. The sight of politicians picking sides has to give firms pause about coming here. NY ranks either 49th or 50th among the states, depending on the study, in business climate in the country. Actions such as this do nothing to enhance our reputation. We need to reduce the influence of government in our lives.
Remembering Carlo - December 2018This Christmas I'm reminded once again of the loss of a dear friend, Carlo Lamancuso. He was my hairdresser, but he was also the best when it came to Italian Christmas cookies. Every year, for more than 30, around this time there's be a wonderful variety, wrapped in a napkin, to take home and share with Sid. I lost Sid in 2016 and Carlo died earlier this year, the same age as Sid, with the same medical conditions.
Carlo was much more than a hairdresser. He was an artist, both oils and watercolors, he was a fine gardener; he was a chef. (He had won a reputation as the best cook in his army regiment when he served in Korea.) And he was a bit of a raconteur, always with a story to tell, whether it was his meeting with Barbara Bush in Maine, or his encounters with his two idols, Frank Sinatra and Perry Como, here in Buffalo many years ago. I miss his gardening advice, I miss his cooking comments, and most of all, I miss him, but I know he's at peace with his dear Jacquie, his sisters and his brother.
Say No to Changing Town Hall Location! - December 2018On Grand Island, the Cannon family established the Cannon Corporation in 1945. In 1990 Cannon Corporation built a 20,000 square foot addition to its headquarters on Grand Island. Then in 2000 Cannon Corporation changed its name to Cannon Design. As Mike Madigan pointed out, we should be encouraging this company to stay on Grand Island instead of looking at buying the building.
The current Town Hall is centered between Grand Island’s two major roads (Grand Island Blvd. and Baseline Rd). This is a better location than the Cannon Design building. The cost of purchasing the Cannon Design building makes no sense for several reasons. The existing building would still have to be maintained and repaired. The cost of moving will add to cost of purchasing. Maintaining and operating costs will be higher because of the size of the building. The interior would have to be remodeled to accommodate different department uses. The current Town Hall seems to have adequate room to function efficiently. Why increase taxes for a building not needed?
On a different topic, I agree with Jennifer Banney that the deputy supervisor is not an elected official or an employee. The deputy supervisor has been running the daily duties of the supervisor because Nathan McMurray has been putting his own interests first by not showing up in my opinion. An elected council person should fill the position of deputy supervisor. I believe the Town Council members could institute a policy to make it mandatory that the deputy supervisor position be filled by a Town Council official.
Thank You for Support - December 2018On behalf of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, we would like to thank the community for all their support at the 7th annual Light Up The Boulevard Electric Parade and Festival on December 1st.
Special thank you to Beverly Kinney volunteering her time as a committee member, Pete Marston for opening his business and trailer for the Rudolph Run, and Jim Sharpe for his guidance and help at town hall. Jim Linenfelser and his team for all the beautiful decorations in and around town hall. Their hard work is noticed by everyone who drives through the center of town during the holidays!
The Parks Department under Tom Dworak for decorating our Christmas Tree. Congratulations to Jack Caldwell that was our official tree lighter this year! Thank you to the Grand Island Fire Department for your connections to Santa Claus and bringing out the big ladder truck. Chris Soluri and GIPD for keeping everyone safe on the parade route and redirecting traffic. We are most grateful to Joe Mentor and the Recreation Department that helps to make everything run smoothly year after year.
This year we were joined by the senior students of Mrs. Chamberlin’s Travel and Tourism class. Having approximately 20 students allowed for many hands to make for a fun night and easy work! St Timothy’s Choir added such a festive atmosphere under the heated tent after the parade while warming everyone up. Thank you for sharing your voices with us! Thank you to all our vendors that joined the event! The Thompson Farm, civic groups, church groups, businesses and the restaurants gave us all a chance to shop and or pick up something to eat and drink!
Not only did we have many volunteers helping out at Grand Island Town Hall this year we also had many outside events that started earlier on Grand Island. Thank you to the Grand Island Memorial Library for having story hour and festive crafts for all our little ones to enjoy, Thank you to Momma Dee’s Mixing Bowl for hosting cookie decorating and donating a portion of the proceeds to the GI Neighbors Foundation. Mallwitz's Island Lanes offered a buy one get one on games for the afternoon. A family business that always comes though for our community! Thank you to Clay Cafe for holding specials and giving all our artists a place to gather to decorate their own pottery and ornaments! I am sure some holiday gifts were created that day!
Under the emceeing of Eric Volk this year, the parade was judged by Ms. Beverly Kinney, Mr. Paul Leuchner, and Dr. Brian Graham. An excellent job was done by everyone! Thank you to all that participated in the parade. Watching the children's faces and seeing families together makes the slight chill in the air all worth it! The award for Best Marching Group of 2018 went to Step in Time Dance Studio and the award for Best Float of 2018 went to Re/Max North.
None of the above would be financially possible without the sponsorships from our local business community!! Our new garbage and recycling company Pinto Sanitation was a Platinum Sponsor along with LDC Construction, currently working on Scenic Woods. LDC Construction has generously sponsored this event year after year! ThermoFisher Scientific was a Gold Sponsor! Thank you to all of our Silver and Bronze Sponsors too! The Family Fun Zone was added this year due to the generous Diamond Sponsorship from Fuccillo! With Fuccillo’s financial support we we able to provide the bounce house, maze, and arctic golf! We at the chamber can not thank Fuccillo enough for their generosity and support that they have given us this year! It made this year a HUGE success!
Next year we hope to grow even bigger! Our goals are to light up the boulevard even more and encourage all to join us in next year’s Light Up the Boulevard Electric Parade and Festival. Stay tuned and if you are interested in joining us next year or for more information please contact the chamber at www.gichamber.org. With the support of the community on Grand Island anything is possible! Announcements on winners for the residential and business Holiday Lights contest will be announced soon by the Grand Island Recreation Department.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year, Jenn Pusatier and the Light Up Committee
Political Sound Bite - December 2018In his weekly address last Friday, the Supervisor somehow tries connecting the turf fields at Grand Island High School to gender inequality, all in a twisted effort to garner support for his new Town Hall deal. McMurray states, "The new turf field is a worthy project - the young women who will use it deserve facilities matching their male counterparts." Does he really want us to believe that the existing turf field is for Boys Only? That the girls have been relegated to the dirt, mud and grass fields while the football team enjoys sole use of this multisport turf complex? The suggestion is irresponsible. Fact is between soccer, lacrosse and track, our girls have had more events on the turf than anyone else. The very first athletic contest held at the H. David Myers complex was a girls soccer game.
Does the Supervisor really think our GI female athletes are not equal in opportunity and access? I suspect not. I suspect McMurray is just reaching for a political sound bite that he thinks will help his current agenda. Islanders are smarter than that Nate. We are an educated hard working group that appreciates factual dialogue, not campaign style rhetoric.
The Supervisor doesn’t know us Islanders. He’s disconnected from who we really are. We don’t need, nor want, a hulking palace for our Town Hall. We don’t want a prime piece of commercial property stripped from the tax rolls and converted to a financial liability. His "plan" is flawed. If we can’t afford to maintain our right sized town hall today, how will we be able to afford larger repairs on a much larger building in the future? We Islanders teach our children fiscal responsibility and the principles of living within our means. Our GM jobs and Chevy family budgets simply can’t finance Nate’s Mercedes dreams.
Noel Blair Jr.
Keep Cannon on GI - December 2018Why doesn't our supervisor take a lesson from what is going on in Derby with New Era and put some effort in trying to keep Cannon on Grand Island instead of trying to get rid of them so the town can acquire a building that it certainly does not need? This building should be kept on the tax rolls. This is what the town needs paying taxes instead of more houses or apartments. They pay taxes, but don't use all the services that residential properties do.
There is nothing radically wrong with our present town hall. It requires maintenance like all buildings do. It may need a new HVAC system or a new roof, but so will the Cannon building at some point. It will be many years, if ever that the town needs a building of that size. And the utility and maintenance costs will a lot be a lot higher than our present town hall. What about the amount of remodeling it would need to be made suitable for town use? Who pays for that? What happened to the concept of the "town center"? Who would buy the old town hall?
Seems to me that there are a lot more negatives than positives to this whole idea.
Here We Go, Again - December 2018The School Board wants to spend - $24 million of your hard-earned money on a number of projects; some good, some very questionable. The good are the increased security measures at the various schools on the Island. That said, "increased security" shouldn’t be used as an excuse to ram through projects that couldn’t stand scrutiny in isolation. Also, there are diminishing returns to spending more on security; in the extreme, we could have an armed guard assigned to each student and staff member. This still wouldn’t guarantee perfect security; remember 9/11. All that our complete security would ensure is that in addition to student and staff dying, so would the security folks. In essence, we can’t guarantee perfect security.
The most troubling aspect of this upcoming vote is the whole process and timing. The Board has held some informational meetings with two more scheduled. They are at 6:00pm in the evening. Right at dinner time. One doesn’t have to be a cynic to recognize what is going on here. They don’t want anyone to come and voice opposition. The next two are scheduled for Thursday, December 20th, and Thursday, January 3rd. The vote is scheduled for Tuesday, January 8th. The first two are right smack in the middle of the holidays. The vote is set so, hopefully, a) the snowbirds will have left for warmer climes and b) the working stiffs still in town will have overlooked it. Someone should demand that the Board president explain the logic for holding the information meetings when they are and having the vote on January 8th. The short answer is that there is no good reason for doing things the way they’re doing them. It is expedience so any opposition can be stifled. There is nothing wrong with including the measure with the normal voting in May.
Not only should the vote be held in May when the budget and trustees are voted on but it should be split into, at least, two parts: 1) the athletic fields, $9 million; and 2) the security and other items. The argument for the athletic fields is that the girls’ teams have to use Veterans Park. Ok, let the boys use Veterans and the girls’ teams can use the high school facilities. The boys can suck it up. This type of expenditure is what occurs when one is spending other people’s money for their own amusement. Also, will the community at large be able to use these fields when they aren’t in use for school purposes? Or is this another facility for only the privileged few? The reason that we will be given an all-or-nothing vote on the whole package is that the athletic fields component would never pass on its own. We are supposedly running an academic institution, not a health spa.
The cost estimates reduce one to tears. We are told that it will cost a home assessed at $180,000 $15-$16/year. The first thing to note is that this is on top of any increases in the taxes due to the ongoing operation of the school system. It beats saying, of course, that the taxes on that $180,000 home will rise from $3,485 to $3,500. The latter numbers would be more likely to catch the taxpayer’s eye. It gets even better; the Board doesn’t know how much it is going to cost! They don’t have any detailed specifications at this point. For those of you who remember the 1999 capital project, this has the same stench. At that time the taxpayers approved an $18.4 million project. Everything was wrong about it: the architect was in over his head; he partnered with shady characters; the budget was out of whack; and we were told we would be getting one thing and wound up with another. Other than that, it was a success. Because they didn’t have sound plans and specs the budget estimates were a joke. The first set of bids came in 10% over the allotted funds. As such, they had to pare back what were told we were going to get. Of course, the third gym which wasn’t in the original set of plans survived but the science labs went. Things were so bad one contractor worked up a bid and added 30%! to it. Even with that buffer he decided to pass because of the uncertainties due to the poor plans. They wound up spending $21 million not the $18.4 million, a better world through bookkeeping, even though it took two more capital projects to finally get the science labs.
So, without detailed specs, we have no, as in zero, idea of how much this will cost. If the bids come in above the $24 million budget does the Board have a pecking order of what stays on the cutting room floor? If so, will we get to approve it? My guess is that the athletic fields will take priority because they are visible, even if unneeded.
If the Board doesn’t have the decency to reschedule the vote as part of the normal May voting with the proposal separated into its component parts then we need to vote it down. Round up all of your neighbors and friends and send a clear message that nonsense like this will not be tolerated. As a final observation, this $15-$16/year add-on to your tax bill is just for the folks on Ransom Rd. The Sabres, the Bills, and the Convention Center all want to ding you for $xx/year. It will never end unless we say stop. To do that, we must vote.
Deputy Running Town - December 2018A Letter to My Fellow Islanders and the Town Board of Grand Island,
On April 11, 2018, I wrote a letter asking if our town supervisor should resign while he campaigned for a congressional district that did not include Grand Island. On Monday night, I watched the town board meeting on social media. I was astonished to learn from both Councilwomen Baney and Deputy Supervisor Sharpe just how much of a role Mr. Sharpe has in the day to day operation of town government.
As I start my letter to you, let me start by saying I am not questioning Mr. Sharpe’s integrity or ethics!! This letter to you all questions whether the town is correctly following the law. As I referenced in my first letter, Mr. Sharpe is an unelected official with no accountability to the electorate. Mr. Sharpe confirmed the other night that he is in fact deeply involved in the day to day operation of the town. Summarizing Mr. Sharpe’s response to Councilwomen Baney’s concerns that he is acting outside of his purview, Mr. Sharpe stated that he is authorized by law, (for those of you who want to reference it, NYS Town Law, Article 3 Sub 42) to act on behalf of the Town Supervisor. Also, with today’s technology the supervisor really doesn’t need to be in the office daily. Additionally, Mr. Sharpe stated that he was an elected member of the town board in the 1990’s and based on that extensive experience of running town government, it uniquely qualifies him in his current role as deputy supervisor.
I first want to thank Councilwoman Baney publicly for having the courage to address this issue of whether Mr. Sharpe is exceeding his deputy supervisor authority. In my humble opinion, it is long overdue. Councilwoman Baney stated that she spoke privately with some town board members as well as Mr. Sharpe and has now decided to go public with her concerns.
So, my first question to the other town board members is, have you or have you not supported Councilwoman Baney both publicly and privately? Again in my opinion, the whole idea of a non-elected official acting on the Towns behalf usurps the authority of elected town board members.
My second question for the town board is why has no town board member ever asked the town attorney, in a public meeting, for his legal opinion as to whether the duties Mr. Sharpe are performing as deputy supervisor, fall outside of how NYS Town Law Article 3, sub 42 was written and intended. Further, do Mr. Sharpe’s duties violate recent or existing case law decisions effecting NYS Town Law Article 3, sub 42.
Islanders, I have a question or two for you...Do you believe the current deputy supervisor duties fall within the law? Why haven’t our town officials asked for a legal opinion on this? If the deputy supervisor duties do fall within the law, is this the new norm we can expect from future town supervisors? IE: Appointing an unelected civilian as their deputy supervisor, who then are assigned to run day to day operations of the town? How could and would this effect town government both in the short and long term? Do we deserve better from our elected town officials?
My Best, Thomas Franz
You can see the Town Board meeting and Councilwoman Baney's statement on the Grand Island News Facebook page at the 35 minute mark.
Top's Supermarket Gas Price - December 2018I am a life long resident on GrandI Island. All you hear from people is support your local businesses. I say it's time the local business step up to the plate. The other day I was on Young Road in Tonawanda when I noticed the price at Top's gas station. The price was 5 cents cheaper then on Grand Island. The reason I am picking on Top's is why should my rewards points be less then the person who lives off the Island?
Serving Those Who Serve Us - November 2018Grand Island is a pretty special place. As a community, we consider those who serve in our military worthy of high esteem, and honor the sacrifices many have made on our behalf. I see it in Sidway's patriotic show, the military branch flags at our high school, and the way my mom's group honors military families. I could mention more ways, and likely some come swiftly to your mind as well.
Another way you may not know about, a way that moves me deeply and makes me so proud to call Grand Island home, is Support a Soldier. See the flyer, which highlights the ambitious but attainable goal of ALL active duty military from Grand Island celebrating this holiday season with a gift package. Aren't you so proud our community finds value in this?
As we prepare to usher in the Christmas season with Light Up the Boulevard this weekend, can you take a few minutes to be mildly inconvenienced, in the best way possible, to drop off an item or two at Island Ship Center on Saturday between 10am-3pm? No time to shop? A modest donation will surely be used well. Is Saturday busy? I can help transport anything you may wish to donate.
It is moments like these that make me so full of gratitude to be living and raising our family here. I am thankful for the Mojawalla family and their seemingly endless generosity and kindness. Grand Island is already known for so many things--our beautiful location, our quality schools, our unique stores....I could go on. Let us also to continue to be a community of kindness, abundant generosity, and service to those who serve our country so faithfully. I hope to see you Saturday, Grand Island.
Councilwoman Jennifer Baney
Now What? - November 2018In a recent Buffalo News article Nate McMurray said he may move back to the orient, which he loves. Now is his golden opportunity. And to those who voted for him as Supervisor, the Karma bus is delivering.
Good Humor vs. Offensive Mischaracterization - November 2018During this thanksgiving season, we should all thank the likes of Lisa Benson of the Washington Post Writers Group for her welcome ability to poke fun at everyone within the political arena without using vicious mischaracterizations typical of many lessor colleagues.
Once again, such clever observations are greatly appreciated when good humor seems to be in such short supply. Keep up the good work!
And The Real Loser Is?. - November 2018Our Town Supervisor recently ran in an election to represent the 27th District of the United States Congress and came up short. A great deal of media attention has been devoted to that race including two articles in last week's Island Dispatch and one on the front page of the Sunday edition of last week's Buffalo News. One of the Dispatch articles was from Nate himself and could almost be interpreted as a message to residents of the 27th Congressional District versus his constituents in Grand Island where he is our illustrious Town Supervisor. It was with a heavy heart reading his tale of woe.
The article in the Buffalo News was rather interesting in depicting the two sides of Nathan McMurray during his campaign process - "Inside the McMurray campaign, charisma and chaos ruled the day". There is one word in that headline that yours truly and other Islanders take exception with and that is charisma. If anything, there are those of us who view him of having had a charisma bypass.
If you paid any attention to his antics on election day and the following day his true colors came out. On Tuesday he went to court in hopes of impounding all ballots and the judge rejected his appeal. That evening during live news coverage he stood before some of his supporters and said "We’re going to come up a little short tonight." At one point he said he would contact his opponent but did not know how he could get in touch with him.
The viewers and media took his remarks as his consent to losing. A few hours later he issued a statement saying "After examining the numbers, the margin is 1 percent and the will of the voters must be heard. We are demanding a recount." Later that day he said he may have misspoken in using the word "recount". He also pointed his finger at their consulting firm Red Horse Strategies for using some "crazy formula" that had him behind by 8 percentage points and led him to the live news coverage of his coming up short message.
One more of his classic statements from the Buffalo News article, "I have zero regrets". "I did everything in my power to win-although I do have a regret that I did not have more of a support system." That statement is typical Nate.
It is difficult to understand how someone per their own biography portrays himself to be so intelligent, can make so many blunders over a two-day period. Now the dilemma, as a result of this election, the Town of Grand Island stands to be the biggest loser by far. For one more year we will be saddled with an empty suit/no show Town Supervisor.
Sending Money to Washington, D.C. - November 2018Nate "I'm out of here as soon as I can" McMurray stated, during a debate at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute, that NY taxpayers send more to Washington, D.C. than the state gets back. He made the claim, which is true, while denouncing Chris Collins' yes vote on last year's tax bill. You know, the tax bill that is one of the key drivers in the recent expansion: high employment, low unemployment rates, high real growth rates; of the US economy.
He acts if there is something wrong with NY not getting all of the money it sends back. There isn’t. If we should get all of it back, why send it in the first place. If we get all of the money back who is going to pay for all of the bureaucrats in D.C. The tooth fairy?
Statements such as McMurray's exhibit real ignorance of the fiscal process and flow of funds in the government. (Keep in mind that he oversees our Town budget and wants to meddle in our nation's finances. Will Halloween never end?) The Federal government spends money domestically in four basic ways: wages and benefits for government employees; purchases of goods and services; social security and medicare payments; and a variety of welfare payments.
Most federal employees live and work in and around D.C. so a large part of the funds go to Maryland and Virginia. Another large part of the wages go to the various military bases around the country. While NY has some it is not a major center for military operations like VA, FL, TX, CO, and CA. Federal govt. purchases of goods and services primarily involve military equipment and rental of office space. We have very little in the way of the production of military equipment; actually, we have very little in the way of manufacturing because of the anti-business bias in this state. The gun manufacturers like Remington are leaving the State. NYS doesn’t make stealth bombers, submarines, etc. These add up to a lot of money going to the states that do make them. Office space costs will be higher where the bulk of the Federal workers are. As noted, they aren’t here.
Social Security funding come out of NYers paychecks while working but many flee the state for less costly environs to spend their retirement years. Their payments when retired aren’t sent to NY but to where the recipients currently live. Using McMurray’s logic, retirees should be forced to remain in NYS so an inane measure can be balanced.
McMurray isn’t the first to utter this nonsense (he isn’t that clever) but repeating it doesn’t make it any truer. It is a canard that should have a stake driven through it. Until then, it should be countered and shown for its silliness every time some politician says it.
Thank You Villani's - November 2018The Parks Department would like to thank Mia & the Villani Family from Ace Hardware/Guis Lumber for DONATING their lift so we could put up the winter banners along the Town and Firehall triangle, in time for Saturday, December 1st’s "Light up the Boulevard".
Community Thank You - October 2018Thank you to everyone who has gone out of their way to offer condolences & sympathy during our darkest of hours. Thank you for the hugs and the handshakes. Thank you for texts, the calls, and the cards. Thank you for the #NevilleStrong messages and the donations to the boys' fund. Most of all, thank you for being part of this community that has rallied around me and my family when I needed you most.
Thank you all. Julie would be so proud of all of you.
No, No, A Thousand Times, No! - October 2018Our supervisor, Nate "I'm out of here as soon as I can" McMurray, wants the taxpayers to buy the Cannon Design property for Town purposes. There is an exploratory effort to examine it. Everything is wrong with this.
The Cannon property, about 14 acres, is one of the most valuable, if not the most valuable, pieces of commercial property on the Island. It is at the Whitehaven Rd. exit to the 190. It would make an excellent office park. What line of reasoning wants to take this property off of the tax rolls? We continually hear that we want to attract commercial, non-polluting businesses to Grand Island. Having the Town acquire this property flies in the face of that goal.
The Cannon building is much larger than Town Hall. I can assure you, as the sun rises in the East, all of the space there will be filled as government inexorably grows. It is amazing the "needs" that appear when there is space available.
The town already owns plenty of real estate if it needs to expand. Every department doesn't have to be located at the same place. If need be the town can add a building at the Golden Age Center or next to the library. If this was a private firm that is what they would be doing. The only (private sector) exceptions are those that manage to extort a subsidy out of the taxpayers: think of any and all of the projects subsidized by the ECIDA.
A bigger building will increase operating costs. It will reduce tax revenue. The taxpayer will get a larger bill for no increased services, all so a brass plaque can be put up with the mucky-mucks names on it. The only thing a brass plaque should ever say is: "Paid for by the long-suffering Taxpayers." Since we disproportionately tax commercial properties this will reduce the incentive of firms to locate here on the remaining sites. Such a deal!
If the Town wants to spend money on exploratory efforts, the one that would be most valuable to Island residents is ascertaining if it is feasible to become part of Niagara County. Erie County is lusting after a new football stadium as soon as the Bills have a winning season. Stadia are money pits that lose money, big time, while redistributing money from the poorer to the richest people in town. Grand Island would account for about 12.5% of Niagara County's population versus 2% of Erie County's. We would have more say in how funds are spent. We should 'get out of Dodge' while the getting is good. Regardless of whether or not we consider the latter, acquiring the Cannon property is absolutely the wrong thing to do.
Due Process Guarantees Require Scrutiny of All Involved Parties - October 2018Performing duties as a probable cause hearing officer demanded my reliance on corroborative testimony as well as relevant documentary evidence. However, basic due process guarantees seem to have been left by the wayside by too many of those involved in the Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearings. Notably, the primary accusatory witness appears to have convenient selective memory recall which leaves her story as full of holes as a slice of swiss cheese.
In order for the FBI to pursue a fair and balanced inquiry, investigators are bound to delve into the background of the accusor as well as the accused. Only then will such allegations be exposed as intentionally contrived or essentially credible. The sooner we get honest answers the better!
Letter to Residents - September 2018Island Residents,
It is truly my pleasure to be serving you on town council. Not a day passes that I do not recognize the importance of this role and the consequences, positive or negative, of our board's decisions. I wanted to take a brief moment to expand upon a decision I recently made at a board meeting that relates to the topic of hiring practices. It is a decision I made with confidence, and I can also say, with 100% certainty, one I would make again.
Within the realm of hiring, I am glad to be a part of increased collaborative efforts this year. For long term, permanent positions, we have made it a board goal to have two council members partner with the associated department head throughout all elements of candidate interviews. Late this spring, 4 of our 5 board members worked together to interview, as a team, with the associated chairmen, for any openings on our town advisory boards. In both paid and volunteer capacities, we are attracting terrific talent and vetting them well.
At our more recent board meeting, our town supervisor brought forward a resolution, a stop gap so to speak, to stop all hiring over the next two weeks while we craft a hiring policy with increased advertising, which was noted could be created in time for the next meeting. As this was not on our town board agenda, was not discussed at all during our workshop, had not been brought to department heads for their feedback and discussion, and, quite importantly, was redundant, as the next time we would be able to hire would be at the next meeting, when the policy would be approved, I could not show support for this impulsive action, even if on paper, it certainly could look favorable.
I do hope our town board, moving forward, can make it a priority to discuss key issues in our workshop and with our employees. Sometimes a rush to an impulsive decision can result in taking actions that are unnecessary and redundant, and can communicate an incompetency.
Again, it is my great pleasure to serve you in this capacity. I will strive for unity, collaboration, and efficiency as a town leader, but I will also not be afraid to question decisions and actions, if I don't believe them to be wise or right.
Councilwoman Jennifer Baney
Ps: Please consider attending our workshops and board meetings on the 1st and 3rd Mondays each month. The Grand Island News Facebook page also has all meetings aired live and archived for later viewing.
Icing on the Cake - September 2018There has been a great deal of publicity including from "Islander's" pertaining to Tonawanda Coke and the perceived health/environmental issues generated from that company. The purpose of this letter is not to debate whether or not these claims are true or false but an awareness that there are some individuals from Grand island who are waiting in the weeds with their hands out. The following information is factual and in the writers opinion the "Icing on the Cake".
Recently we received a letter from a Law Firm in Corning, NY and the subject is RE: Tonawanda Coke Plant Odors (Attorney Advertising) signed by one of their Attorneys who states she is a former Grand Island resident graduating from Grand Island High School in 2001. She further goes on to say that her parents are still Island residents and we probably live the same distance if not closer to Tonawanda Coke than they do. Her letter focuses on "These odors that interfere with the use and enjoyment of your home may eventually be held to constitute a "nuisance" under the law". In essence the letter pertains to pursuing air pollution claims. Her letter further goes on to say that the firm she is with is affiliating with an Attorney from Detroit, Michigan. "You can learn more about the case by completing the enclosed survey". "If you already are represented by an attoney with respect to this odor issue, please disregard this letter."
Our son is an Attorney who failed to go to his first job interview. When asked the reason why he explained that on the way to the interview he happened to see a advertisement for that law firm on a bill board and turned around. In closing and for what it is worth, "The predominant average hourly wind direction in Grand island is from the west throughout the year."
Redistribution of Wealth - Water and Sewer Levies - August 2018I am currently the chairman of the Grand Island Republican Committee. The committee neither agrees nor disagrees with the opinion below. They don't even know that I am writing this. Last month, I attended a presentation at town hall about the water and sewer hookups by the new visitor's center, owned by the state, on 190 and Whitehaven Rd. They said that they expect the visitor's center to use an average of 10,000 gallons/day of water and sewer with a peak of 50,000 gallons/day. We (as a town) can not charge the state a water and sewer levy as the town does to all of us property owners. It is rumored that we will charge them 4x the rates per 1000 gallons that the property owners pay.
This prompted me to look at my water bills and tax bills. Over the past 10 years, I used an average of 20 cons (a con is a 1000 gallon unit) per year, as much as the visitor's center will use in 2 days. My water and sewer levy are almost twice my yearly water and sewer bill, therefore we are now at 3x the cost of our annual usage. So now the state is being charged only 25% more than what we pay. That doesn't include the increases in the sewer levy over the next few years which are rumored to make last year's increase of 17% and the prior year's increase of 9.9% seem minuscule. We have the same situation with Beaver Island, whereby when the rates were negotiated years ago, it was a "good deal" for the town. However, now it is not. I am tired of the town making bad deals with my money.
The solution is very simple; build the cost of the levy into the price of the product, just like every other utility (gas, electric, phone, cable). Those utilities don't tax us when there is an October storm and they have to replace their infrastructure. Those costs are built into the cost of the product. I mentioned this to one of our council people and they said that water and sewer were a service not a utility. Since when?! When I say bring the private sector to town hall this is a perfect example. Only the government can provide a good or service for less than what it costs, because they make up the difference by taxing us. A private company would not exist for very long if it sold its products or services for less than they cost.
We process about 1.1 billion gallons of sewage/year = 1.1 million cons. The current sewer levy is currently $1.24 million. If we increase the cost of sewer by $1.13/con then the sewer levy goes away, and everyone pays for what they use. We should also do this for water. The result (for me) is that my water and sewer bills would increase by $30-$40/year and I would save over $400/year in taxes. Looking at your tax bill, you will see that the amount that you are taxed for water and sewer is based on the value of your land. What does the value of your land have to do with how much water and sewer we use? Nothing!
After I realized my savings, the question that I had was "who am I (we) subsidizing?" I started to research properties using the OARS system on the town website. What I found can be summarized by the next statement. "Every single family home is subsidizing the apartments and the state!" The property at 1955 GRAND ISLAND BLVD has 32 units and the value of their land is $8000 less than mine. So even though they use at least 32x the water and sewer that I do (assuming 2 people /unit and I have 2 people in my house) their taxes are less. How is this fair? List of apartment complexes. As a matter of fact, every single apartment complexes' value/acre is much less than mine and I'm sure most of the homeowners on the island. The duplexes on Love Rd. have a land value of about $23,000 which is 1/3 my land value. They probably use 2x the water and sewer that I do.
Another question that I have is why is the minimum quantity that we are charged quarterly 7 cons? Unless I am watering my garden, I never reach that. I have water saving everything (faucets, toilets etc.) in my house. What about all of the snowbirds that go south for 4 or 5 months every year and use no water or sewer while they’'e gone? I am sick and tired of paying for things that I do not use, and I am sure that many of you feel the same way. I know how to read a water meter and I can figure out when the town reads it. I plan to build a rainwater system of at least 1000 gallons and right before the town reads my meter I will fill it up with tap water, and with the remainder that I am paying for, I will let the faucet run until I get to what I pay for. Who cares if I add water that doesn't need to be treated to the sewer? I'm paying for it anyway and I won't have to go over the 7 cons to water my garden. Neither National Grid nor National fuel charge that much for meters that aren't being used. I know because I have a vacant piece of property in the southern tier with both of their meters.
When I mentioned this to another councilperson, they said that they had the same idea. They went to the town law firm and they said that it was illegal to include bond issues in the cost of water and sewer. I called Erie county water, Buffalo water and sewer, many of my friends that are customers of the aforementioned and 2 friends of mine that are intimately knowledgeable about the operations of the aforementioned. None of my friends are being taxed for water and sewer and the 2 knowledgeable friends said that those 3 suppliers of water and sewer include the cost of bonds in the price of their product. So if Erie county, and the city of Buffalo can do it, so can we. The only thing that can block us is a local law and I know 5 people that can change that.
During my research, I was directed to another website from either the Buffalo water or sewer site. Part of this site dealt with privatizing water and sewer. They said that by privatizing these, municipalities saved on the average 24% on their costs, preserving union jobs and contracts. This is accomplished because a private company has an incentive to save money where the government does not. I challenge anyone to tell me one time in the history of all governments, when the government did anything more efficiently than the private sector. The reason that we have a private company collecting our trash and recycling, instead of the town doing it, is because it is less expensive.
I believe that one of the goals of government is to provide the fair and equal treatment of all. This was the basis for the re-assessment of our properties every 4 years. I also believe that all 5 of our legislators believe in the equal and fair treatment of all. And I am sure that at least 3 of them do not believe in redistribution of wealth. None of this is fair to the single family homeowners. Why should we subsidize the state, and why should we subsidize some of the wealthiest property owners on this Island ? Many of them don't even live here.
Above and Beyond.... - August 2018In our day and age of constant criticism and complaints, I wanted to give a big shout out of praise along with a big thank you to a job well done to Don and the awesome staff at Subway!
In short, they went above and beyond for a rather large order which we placed to help feed the mases for a mini-reception after the Parish Players Summer Showcase. In the end, the order was a last minute one (as it was placed the day before we needed it). The food was ready on time, the order was perfect, and everything was delicious. We were treated with the utmost kindness and professionalism, and smiles greeted us when the order was placed as well as at the pickup.
Thank you all for tremendous help! I/We will definitely be back!!
With sincere gratitude,
Melissa Hartwick and the Moms of the Parish Players kids
Tonawanda Coke Toxic Exposure Risk - July 2018Dear Residents of Grand Island,
I am writing today to spread the word on the Tonawanda Coke toxic exposure risk. Tonawanda Coke Corporation (TCC) has already had a long- standing track record of damaging the environment, and now they appear to be at it again. Tonawanda Coke is a coal-firing plant located in Tonawanda right across the Niagara River from Grand Island's East River Road.
I am looking to educate the residents of Grand Island, Tonawanda and surrounding areas as to what is going on in our own neighborhood. Your help is needed to spread the word. First off if you don't know how to identify where TCC is I will tell you what to look for. When going over the South Grand Island bridge, look to the right and you will see the 3 smokestacks, that is TCC, the other 2 freestanding smoke stacks are the old Huntley Plant which has shut down. TCC is running 24/7 and has not been shut down as many people thought.
In 2013 court found them guilty in violating the Clean Air Act by toxic emissions they were pouring, and continue to pour, into the air we breathe. I don't want to use this as a scare tactic but we need to be proactive and we need more voices to let the DEC ( Dept of Environmental Conservation) know that we have had enough!!
I have been told not to worry by the DEC and that they are "doing the best they can" because "the levels are lower" than they were in 2013. However, they also confirm the current levels are still higher than what they are supposed to be.This is completely unacceptable! I will be attaching an article from the Clean Air Connection that I received in the mail. This article confirms the basis of my recent complaints to the DEC and Clean Air Coalition.
I have been reporting to the DEC an increase in black smoke over the last 6-8 weeks and I have been noticing an increase in foul odors in the air that are new. In fact, I have witnessed smoke coming from the stacks every time I go over the south Grand Island Bridge. There should be zero black smoke emissions. Zero! The article will explain about the collapse of waste heat tunnel ( news reports of this collapse, May 2018, are available online if you search 'TCC tunnel Collapse'). This is most likely the cause of the dark smoke emissions, which are, in turn causing higher than normal levels of toxins in our air once again.
As many of you know my son Jacob was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia back in 2013: the very week after TCC was cited for their higher than normal levels of Benzene in the air which is one of the main causes of Leukemia ( as stated by the Leukemia Foundation and shown in the research). This is just one of the many toxins that they have been putting into our air. Of course I am more than suspicious that TCC's Benzene emissions were largely the cause of my son's illness. In addition to Leukemia, Benzene exposure along with the other toxic emissions are linked to many other health issues and other forms of cancers that people in the area have suffered from and continue to suffer from.
I am aware that there are also other environmental toxins like the lawn sprays ( ex: Chemlawn which we used to use prior to Jacob getting sick because we didn't know how toxic it was and now we only use organic fertilizer) ,Round-Up ( which is a carcinogen) etc., but this plant is an urgent priority because it is polluting the air we breathe everyday.
The DEC and Clean Air Coalition told me that they need more complaints to help force them into compliance because as it stands now, TCC cannot be shut down,as they are supposedly "trying to make things right". This is NOT good enough because I have been seeing black smoke daily, and smelling odors far more often once again. Maybe you have seen and smelled these same dangerous signs of toxic non-compliance. Please help me spread the word. Call the DEC at 851-7000 with your complaints if you see black smoke coming out of the stacks ( lately I have been seeing it every time I go over the bridge which is NOT normal) or you can write Abby Snyder at : NYS DEC, 270 Michigan Ave, Buffalo, NY 14203. With you complaints. We all know someone suffering from, or lost their battle with, cancer or other health issues. We need to fight for them and for our families to make our environment safe again. Thanks for listening and helping to make a difference!!!!!
***If you have any questions that I may be able to answer please feel free to call me,send me an email or text. You can also download a complaint form here
Tonawanda Coke Information.
Golden Age Center - June 2018We, the spoken majority of seniors, that currently use G. A. C., do not want to move! We feel there is no need. Let me tell you what is so nice about the G. A. C. The center is in a park like setting on the Nike campus. We are surrounded by nature, walking distance to the river and away from busy traffic. We have full kitchen and stellar staff. Seniors enjoy ($4) lunches and can have guests. The G.A.C. has a covered entry, a roundabout drop off other entry. It has a skylight lit hallway, billiards room, stage, a craft/computer room with windows on two sides. The campus also has a three hole golf course, nature trail, tennis court, baseball diamond and small toddler play set.
The buildings at the campus are well built. The Community building is on the campus. We seniors use it for Tai Chi classes, Total Body Workout, Dementia Social Group and Chair Yoga, plus other groups. The Recreation Department uses it some in the summer. Others use it also. This all said, the building is under used. The community building needs a few updates. The seniors and others, worked with those needed, to secure funding for the building. That funding came through in November 2016.
The town has neglected this campus for a long time. Nothing has been done to the Community building since the grant was given. The money is here, the need is there, let's get 'er done! There could be discussions and planning going on. These should have been shared with those who currently use the Community building.
I tried to express all of this on a community Facebook page in the past. That page had posts concerning a desire for a new Community Complex. They want to make a Community Center that would house all demographics, yet pander to those who want it to be in walking distance for their children. They feel the center of the island (old Ames plaza) or Vets Park is best. I don't know how you could please everyone. That's not my concern. I just don't see why the G.A.C. needs to be involved? The campus is all bought and paid for. Doesn't the town already own enough land? If you don't want to be on the campus where we are than don't. Just don't wrap our funds up in your "cart before the horse" plans.
You know the old adage: "You can't fight city hall". I feel those town official that are pushing for all of this, have it all figured out. That is why these "consultants" are working for "free". Are the businesses these folks are for, going to prosper by making us purchase these stadium like new builds? Perhaps they have their own plans. I've been told they can't sell the campus right out, but who know what they want it for. Or maybe is just the small amount of funding the seniors get. They want to take that away and mix it with their needs. The campus is open to all islanders.
I am rather new to the G.A.C. and perhaps one of the youngest members. We have one of the few centers serving seniors a full cooked meal. For $4 each member (guest too) can get a real good cooked lunch. Chef Barry has just signed on and folks love his cooking. My friend and I signed up last November/December. I was worried as some groups I've joined in the past, have seemed clickish and judgmental. No worries there. This is the largest group I've ever joined, that has been so kind and welcoming. These seniors are kind and friendly to all. I guess this type of friendly kindness comes with age. Lol
Just a word to those nasty people on Grand Ideas for Grand Island or GI2. I pray to God those kids you are raising, learn more than sarcasm & bullying. I'm hoping that it's just a case of being on Facebook and people speak and act differently than they do in person. When you have something nice, you try to protect it. I love Grand Island. We have always intended to retire here. Can the new Supervisor say the same? Are we being used as a stepping stone for his political career or does he love the island enough to stay? If we keep building and adding, by the time he's old enough to retire, we'll be wall to wall buildings and roads.
Nike Base Community Center Renovation Project- June 2018Nike Base Community Center Renovation Project - A Need not a Want The "Community Center", located across the Parking Lot from the Golden Age Center (GAC), is used almost daily by the Golden Agers for different programs and commonly it is being used multiple times per day by different groups from our community.
If this facility was closed, as has been suggested by at least one person, and converted into storage space, the impact on the Golden Age Center programs would be significant. GAC programs would have to be cancelled or downsized. This building is needed. A Grant for $210,000 was received to renovate this facility to address issues with asbestos and other concerns. The prior Town Board approved a bond for $225,000 as part of the approval to proceed with this project. Since that approval indecision has set in and this needed project has been delayed.
The Town has received cost an estimate of $262,000 to perform a complete renovation of this building including encapsulating/enclosing all the asbestos, new walls, ceiling and boiler/furnace. It is estimated these repairs would be good for 15-20 years and that the only remaining pending repair is the roof in the next 5-10 years. The cost to the town would be $52,000 after subtracting the $210,000 grant funds.
Note: To demolish this building it would cost $400,000 and no grant money could be used for this action. Numbers have been thrown out for these renovations by at least one individual that were many fold higher as the case against this renovation have been attempted to be made that have resulted in these delays. The $262,000 is the first real professional estimate we have received and the Engineering firm believes the actual cost will come in below this estimate for this project.
Once this renovation is completed this building will be the largest meeting area that the town owns and it will be safe for all age groups. In fact the renovation significantly enlarges the available meeting and program space by removing 12 closets within the room creating what will be a very large open room that can be used for many purposes by the community for years to come. This project can be completed at minimal cost to the town and will create a real enhanced asset at the Nike Base that will benefit the entire community. We must spend the grant funds before they expire in 2019 – it is past time to decide and take action and the most fiscally responsible action is to proceed with this project.
Mike Madigan - Town Councilman
Thank You Flag Sponsors - May 2018Thank you to Island businesses and individuals for their support of the Memorial Day Flags at the Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial Park. See letter and list of sponsors.
Dan McMahon - VFW Commander
The Tragedy of Hamlets - May 2018The introduction of hamlets, as assigned divisions, written into the Master Plan is contrary to the character and nature of Grand Island.
What is a hamlet ? The term hamlet is not defined under New York State law, however there are a few of us which would like to identify a community separate within our town and call it a hamlet. For those of us that are confused about the name hamlet, this name is usually given to a former village usually defined by settlement, which then became surrounded by other inhabitants and buildings. This hamlet had its own identity in history but did not have the size or funding for its own government, so it became dependent upon the surrounding town for municipal services and government. Its history remained, separating it from the surrounding area, giving it a unique character, hence a "hamlet".
One can make an argument that Ferry Village is a hamlet, in Wikipedia they consider Fairview court and Falconwood hamlets, however that is wrong unless you believe everything that you read, those are subdivisions. Just as Sandy Beach is a subdivision, with a privately owned park/beach.
It seems our politicians would like to designate hamlets for development in the future. There is no history separating these lands from the rest of Grand Island. There is no special character separating these areas, other than this is a piece of land they would like to develop outside the normal rules on Grand Island.
Let's go to that, once you designate something a hamlet it no longer falls under the normal rules, or jurisdiction, or residential zoning designation. Not that I don't have full faith in our towns political structure and its management, but you must ask the question why change the zoning designation? The answer would be so that these areas no longer are bound by the zoning designation. Developments that only you can imagine would be permitted, under no jurisdiction or necessary input by its neighbors.
This is the very reason I say this is contrary to Grand Island. This flies in the face of our current checks and balances. Currently you are not permitted to go outside the rules of residential zoning or you must ask permission for special use permits or variances if you want to do something outside of the zoning.
Did the Town or Advisory Board designate and clearly outline the limits of what can and can't be done in a hamlet? The designation alone would disregard the requirement of the neighbors input, and subjugate their control. If you own a home, do you want to lose your right and privilege and protection, to have some say, in what is developed next to you?
We are one together on this island, I believe our History and our Culture on Grand Island is not in favor of separating us into contrived Hamlets!
Dr. Robert Lutnick
RESIGN-TO-RUN LAW - May 2018Question: Are we paying Nate McMurray to run for congress? And also paying Jim Sharpe, who is now doing Nate's job? We need our Town Council to vote on the Resign-to-run law. If the Town Council can vote this in, we can replace Nate McMurray and have someone who cares about Grand Island and not use us to further their political career. This is what some states and cities have done in the past.
Except during the final year of the term being served, no incumbent of a salaried elective office, whether holding by election or appointment, may offer himself or herself for nomination or election to any salaried local, state or federal office. "Any elected public officer shall resign from that office before being eligible as a candidate for another public office, if the term of the office sought begins before the end of the term of the office held."
The "resign-to-run law" essentially prohibits an elected or appointed "officer" from qualifying as a candidate for another state, district, county or municipal public office if the terms or any part of the terms overlap with each other if the person did not resign from the office the person presently holds.
Grand Island Schools Thanks Law Enforcement Agencies for their Role in Active Shooter Practice Drill - May 2018The active shooter training and lock down drill at Grand Island Central School District on Tuesday, May 22 provided the school district and emergency personnel with valuable information to reinforce the district's building emergency preparedness plans. The training session, which occurred during the morning school hours at the Grand Island High School and Middle School campus, involved a scenario where an intruder had entered the campus with the intent to do harm.
The district wishes to thank the Erie County Deputy Commissioner for Emergency Management Civil Defense and Homeland Security for assisting the district in the further development of its safety protocols. Appreciation is given to the district's safety team of key officials from the Erie County Sheriff's Department, the New York State Police, the Grand Island Police, the Border Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The district also wishes to thank other designated police and first responders who were available to the community in the event there was a real emergency.
"The drill today (May 22) allowed us, in cooperation with numerous law enforcement agencies, to practice many aspects of emergency procedures for our building including moving a large number of students safely off our campus as well as emergency safety protocols within the buildings," said Dr. Brian Graham, superintendent of Grand Island Central School District. "The safety and security of our students and staff is our priority. I am proud of the dedication our district staff showed to this training session. Our close working relationship with numerous law enforcement agencies has been strengthened after cooperatively planning and delivering the training event."
Grand Island Schools
Thanks, Grand Islanders, for Super Support of Letter Carriers Food Drive - May 2018For years, the Neighbors Foundation of Grand Island has received food collected by Postal Workers in their 'Stamp Out Hunger Drive' (last weekend, May 12, 2018). The Foundation thanks both the Islanders who contributed and the Letter Carriers who collected a great amount of food this year, so that we could restock our pantry and also help two off-Island food pantries. The Neighbors Foundation does not stand alone in its work of helping Grand Island families in temporary need. It is the support of so many on Grand Island: Postal Workers, all Grand Island residents, youth and other groups, help the Foundation be a leader in making the Island a Grand Place to Live! Thanks!
David Conboy, President
Henry G Kammerer, Past President
Neighbors Foundation of Grand Island, Inc.
Eliminate Parties, Vote People? - May 2018In reply to Nathan McMurray's proposal in the Island Dispatch dated May 4, 2018, to eliminate parties and vote people, I wish everyone would have known his values prior to his election to Town Supervisor. The fact is he would not have gotten elected if it was not for the Democratic Party because no one knew him. I wish people could get to know candidates' agendas prior to voting, but often we do not know what the candidates truly stand for until elected.
Nathan McMurray wanted to have transient population infiltrate our residential community by promoting Tourist Homes in our residential zoning. Not one person in residential zoning I talked to wanted strangers constantly changing next to them, unless they had rental property themselves. Would you have voted for Nathan McMurray if you knew he was promoting strangers in Tourist Homes next to your home and children?
Nathan McMurray put on the May 7, 2018 agenda meeting, the issue of Tourist Homes again. At this meeting he stated that Bed and Breakfast and Tourist homes are operating illegally and he noted they are still advertising on the internet as proof. Nathan's proposal was to legalize these businesses to regulate them, which would open the door for promoting more Tourist Homes. Peter Marston and Mike Madigan pointed out the obvious simple solution is to enforce the existing law. Thanks to Nathan's observation, maybe the Town Board should establish significant fines for the Tourist Home and Bed and Breakfasts owners that are breaking the law, like other communities have done to get rid of the problem.
In attending this Town Board meeting, I was impressed with the board members and their hard work. Jennifer Banney and Bev Kinney had a good presentation on issues and solar panels. They both showed they will work to find the proper solutions. I like Mike Madigan because he is a detailed person who expressed different opinions and pointed out possible problems. I would describe him as a measure twice before you cut type person. Pete Marston seems to be a quiet man that shows true wisdom and common sense when he speaks. I believe these board members working together will be a benefit to Grand Island and represent us properly by listening to us.
As for Nathan McMurray, I do not think he can or will listen to the people because of his personality. You can see it on his face when he disagrees with other board members and he closes his mind to their proposals. In my opinion, he is a person that believes his ideas are best no matter what.
Where's Nate? - May 2018Where's Waldo is a children's game in which the players try to find the hidden Waldo in a crowded scene. Island residents may ask where's Nate? He isn't here, that is for sure. Fr. Theodore Hesburgh was president of the University of Notre Dame from 1952 - 1987. He was on numerous national committees, panels, etc. So much so that he was away from the Notre Dame campus a lot. In fact, a joke amongst the students and alumni was: "What is the difference between God and Fr. Hesburgh?" The Answer: God is everywhere, while Fr. Hesburgh is everywhere but Notre Dame.
Our supervisor seems to be emulating Fr. Hesburgh: he is everywhere but Grand Island where he ran for an elected, not mandatory, office to serve the citizenry of Grand Island. Worse, he now wants to reorganize of frame of government. See the Town Board workshop agenda for Monday May 7. He wants to create a position of Town manager while reducing the Board and supervisor's salaries.
Such chutzpah! He is never around and is hoping to flee the area come next January 1. The Town manager appears to be a backup plan: if he doesn't win in November he really doesn't want to have to spend any time here so he will offload his responsibilities. McMurray should be asked why he continues in a position which he clearly wants out of; that is in a community where he no longer lives; and in which he does nothing productive. What he does do, Jean Clabeaux notwithstanding, runs counter to the expressed wishes of the majority of the Island voters.
If he thinks Grand Island should have a Town manager, then don't do it half way. Make the supervisor position purely ceremonial: no vote and no pay. He can kiss babies at the July 4th parade and mug it up for his friends at the Buffalo News. Beyond that, get lost.
Unfortunately, NY State does not allow for the recall of elected officials. (Gee, what a surprise. All ballot initiatives have to be initiated by the legislature who would never give the voters the opportunity to kick their sorry butts out.) That said, why doesn't the Town Board neuter him? Eliminate any budget or expense account authority he may have. Hold sessions when he is elsewhere. Give him the Amish silent treatment. Make it clear that he is the lamest of lame ducks.
He is the most egregious carpetbagger. If he had any character he would resign. Unfortunately, he is narcissistic in the extreme. Nonetheless, Grand Island is our home. We have the right and obligation to protect it from the likes of the truth-challenged McMurray. Flood the Town Board meetings with residents. Speak up and don't allow him to suppress you voicing your opinions. Remember, he is just a hired hand. You pay the bill.
Memories of the West River Parkway - May 2018When I was young I remember sunny Sunday afternoons after my father finished working in the yard, my mother, father, elderly aunt and I would get in the car and take a ride down the West River Parkway. It was such a joy and relaxing. Having the beautiful Niagara river to admire. My in-laws also enjoyed this drive in their twilight years and driving through Beaver Island State Park.
Being an Island native and traveling to many places, I have come to realize the parkway was the most beautiful ride in all Western New York and beyond. Unfortunately, times have changed, not necessarily for the better.
Almost two years ago I attended the meeting at Grand Island High School where three options were presented. With auditorium at least half full, 90% + were in favor of a bike path between the parkway and river with the parkway remaining open as is.
Later, our supervisor wrote to the editor saying only five were against closing the parkway (fake news) contrary to all the "Keep the Parkway Open" signs scattered throughout the Island. This was intended to take the wind out of our sails.
Let us now try to connect the dots. Our supervisor, Nathan McMurray has been VP of Delaware North since 2014, which has close ties to the Parks Department across the United States. Obviously, above all they wanted the parkway closed.
Now with our parkway closed this excludes the enjoyment of the elderly and handicapped, which should be illegal. Now that McMurray has completed what he came to do, he now has his sights on the US Congress, not even a third of his term completed as supervisor. Do you think his priorities are on you, the Grand Island resident?
Fortunately, we live 100 feet from the parkway. Sunday, April 15 when the weather was gorgeous, my wife and I took a bike ride down the parkway. We went about four miles round trip. I can't necessarily see going the full length of the parkway and back unless I were training for a marathon. Also, I don't envision many people buying bike racks so that they can drive to the parkway to use the path.
This new bike path reminds me of the toy or item the kids just had to have and after using it two or three times lost interest and now it found it's new home in the closet. I would like to thank the many West River residents for all their time and effort invested to keep the parkway beautiful, including myself, 8-10 times a year. We took it upon ourselves when those in charge neglected to maintain it properly. When they did mow, the grass was about 3 feet tall and would look like a hayfield when the cut grass dried out from the sun. We will see how it all shakes out, I doubt it will be maintained anywhere near as well as it had been by the homeowners. So, it really isn't a win for all, only those who are healthy enough to use the bike path will enjoy it until the novelty wears off. In example, our neighbors to the north with the closing of the Robert Moses parkway for bike path use. If we don't learn from history we are doomed to repeat.
This is a tremendous loss for Grand Island residents and visitors alike.
Donate to Postal Workers Food Drive - May 2018To the fine people of Grand Island:
Donate to Postal Workers Food Drive, Saturday, May 12, but please no out-of-date food!
You have helped the Neighbors Foundation greatly for over 40 years with donations of non-perishable food thru the Postal Workers food drive in May, donations at the Holiday Season and thru churches, other organizations. We, in turn, have effectively used that food to aid your temporarily distressed neighbors over their difficult times. We know you have meant well in those donations, but we must tell you that occasionally: out-of-date, clearly old, or opened containers of food have given us trouble. Most of us believe that 'sell-by' or 'best used by' dates are unnecessarily conservative, but please: if cans or boxes are out of date or old and you feel they are still usable, please use them yourselves!
We welcome, encourage, donations during the upcoming Postal Workers Stamp out Hunger drive on Saturday, May 12, and other more local donations thru the year. We do request that you not put out-of-date food in these drives - those out-of-date items cause us to hesitate to give the food out; neither we, nor you, want us to give out questionable food. Please help us maintain the high quality of excellent, personal, service we have been known for over the years.
David Conboy, President
Henry Kammerer, Past President
Neighbors Foundation of Grand Island, Inc.
West River Parkway Closed To All - April 2018On April 16, 2018 West River Parkway was closed by NYS Parks Dept. They posted an update on the website and referred the residents to that site. The website contains a document specifically addressing the Parkway closure and construction. Bullet #6 states that they will be "maintaining pedestrian traffic-only access to the water's edge throughout the life of the project". (Original RiverView Connector Project Page) I was recently walking on the "closed" Parkway. I was stopped by a construction worker who told me I was in fact NOT permitted to walk on the Parkway. I explained to him that the NYS Parks Department had informed us in writing that we could utilize the Parkway THOROUGHOUT THE LIFE OF THE PROJECT. He explained that throughout the entire construction project the ENTIRE Parkway is to remain closed (from one end to the other) to all traffic, including bike and pedestrian traffic.
Once again NYS Parks Department has lied to us. They purposely gave us misleading information and when caught in the lie, they quickly changed their story. The lie lasted but a week and now the Parkway will be closed to EVERYONE until the Fall or when they complete the project. I tried to attach the website link to the NYS Parks where the above referenced document was posted. But now the document has been deleted/altered and replaced with a new document eliminating the statement that allowed us access to the Parkway and the water.
So the question remains how will the kayakers, scuba divers, hunters, and residents access the water if they can not access/cross the Parkway. How are residents supposed to visit the overlooks if the Parkway is closed to pedestrians? Contrary to our Town Supervisor's belief, there is increased vehicular traffic along West River Road. There are trash cans, parked cars and other obstacles blocking the shoulder of the road along the Service Road. It has become very difficult to walk on West River Road. Traffic that can no longer travel along the Parkway at 55, are now speeding on the Service Road. They are not happy about the slower speed nor are they happy that pedestrians and bikers are NOT using the closed Parkway (because after all, the State said we could use it, right!!)
The situation is becoming volatile. It does not matter if the traffic is commuter traffic on local residence living on and near West River Road- it has become dangerous!!!! There has been increased police patrols, but they can not be there 24/7. Although I believe they are giving out tickets, it is not deterring the behavior of the speeders.
West River Parkway - April 2018If it is true New York State plans to cut down the trees along the river, the DEC should be contacted to determine the negative effect on the wild life and the shore line. This review should be requested by the board prior to any damage to the environment.
I want to know why anyone would say the West River Parkway path is a win for all. The elderly and the families with young children are losing one of the most scenic drives in New York State. The fact is everyone will lose this beautiful drive. The original proposal, prior to Nathan McMurray, was to have the path closer to the river and keep the parkway open. That would have been a win for all.
The serious bicyclers say they would prefer riding on the service road. As I was on the service road yesterday, 13 bicycles were grouped together traveling 20 miles an hour. They will not be able to do that on the West River Bicycle Path. Some Bicyclist I talked to said they will not use the bicycle path. Why would people from Tonawanda cross the bridge to use the West River Parkway when their bicycle path is 10 feet from the river? Why would anyone from Niagara Falls cross the bridge when they could walk near the falls?
People who work don't have time to drive to the West River bicycle path and many prefer to walk in their own neighborhoods. I often see people walking and talking to their neighbors. Serious runners do not want to waste time driving when they could be running. I have to ask the few people claiming the West River Parkway is a good think why is it, how often they plan to use it and in what capacity? I cannot believe that a usage study was not performed to justify spending 1.6 million dollars.
I attended the meeting at the high school on the West River Parkway, approximately 300 people were against closing the park way and one person stated he was for closing it. I was at the work shop when the board voted 3 to 2 to keep the parkway open and suggested an alternate bicycle path. This is the problem with Nathan McMurray; he does not care to follow the rule of order. He did not show up at the high school for the meeting on closing the parkway, he did not follow the board's recommendations and collaborated with New York State Park to close the parkway.
Another example of Nathan McMurray's incompetence was his desire to establish a monopoly for some people by his actions to change the law regarding Tourist Homes. Many people were against Tourist Homes but he would not listen. Just what we need is another congressman who will not represent the people. I think Nathan McMurray is now taking advantage of Grand Island residents by collecting a wage when he is never there. I believe that the board should elect a supervisor to replace him now instead of waiting.
Clear Cutting on the West River Trail - April 2018UPDATE (April 25, 2018) - With regards to my recent letter to the editor on clear-cutting along the new West River Trail, I had also previously written to the DEC. Yesterday, I received an email back from them, referring me on to the Project Manager with the State Parks Department. The Project Manager assured me that what had been reported at the Town Board meeting of 4/16 was incorrect. The State had no plans to clear-cut and strip the land, but would only be removing invasive vegetation that is not native to this area. The only tree that they have removed so far was one that had fallen over in the last windstorm. The large amount of vegetation that had been cut and was stacked along the Parkway last week, was not cut down by the State. So I am really not sure what the comment made publicly at the Town Board meeting of 4/16 was in reference to.
Elaine Taylor Cassel
In Supervisor McMurray's letter in the Island Dispatch of 4/20, he mentioned that the new West River trail will have "wildlife to observe". I fear that this may not entirely be true, since at the town board meeting of 4/16, it was reported that the State plans to clear-cut all of the trees and strip all of the vegetation from the Parkway down to the River. If this is done; it will remove all cover, roosting, and nesting sites for the birds and animals that prefer to be right next to the water.
The West Branch of the Niagara River is recognized as an important migratory bird route. It is also the wintering grounds for a healthy population of bald eagles. Those very same trees that will be cut down are where I have observed bald eagles perched, on four occasions this winter. On summer evenings, turkey vultures pick one of those trees to roost in, until daylight appears. Other birds have nests in the trees, as well as in the low-lying shrubs by the River. Great Blue herons fish along the cover of the shoreline. Minks and river otters have also been observed. These birds and animals will not want to stay in an open area, but will move elsewhere. The only birds that will actually like all of the remaining grass will be the geese. I am sure that we have all seen the results from too many geese, such as along the open areas of the Erie Canal, and in Niawanda Park.
In addition, the construction of this trail and the destruction of the trees and vegetation, is taking place over the prime nesting season. How many nests will be destroyed and birds killed as a result of this? Another point is that without the wind-break of the trees and shrubbery, people biking and walking on this pathway will frequently have to contend with very strong winds. Residents with homes along West River are very familiar with these winds. Also, who will be doing the maintenance of all this grass? Right now, the State only mows the grass twice all season. West River residents are the ones who have been mowing the median, and in some cases the entire area down to the River, at the cost of their own expense and time. I do not think people will want to continue to do this.
In conclusion, stripping the land is not really the answer for wildlife or for people. You can still see the River from the Parkway, through the trees and vegetation that is there now. It seems rather ironic, that the construction of this pathway through nature will actually be destroying so much of what people would be coming to see. Please voice your concerns with clear-cutting and stripping the vegetation along the River to the State and to other authorities, to save the natural beauty and wildlife of this pristine area for all to truly see and enjoy.
Elaine Taylor Cassel
Parole vs. Legal Entitlements - April 2018News flash to Gov. Cuomo - parolees are not legally free and clear and have not paid their debt to society. They may have been released from a New York State Correctional Facility, but will remain under supervision for the balance of their court imposed sentence.
Yes, convicted felons deserve a "second chance" but please don't jump the gun by prematurely restoring voting and/or other entitlements. such privileges must be earned on an individual basis, not handed out indiscriminatley like candy bars. Let common sense prevail.
Town of G.I. April 16 Meeting - April 2018At the last Grand Island Town Board meeting, there was a lengthy comment period on the West River Trail. I was not at the meeting. I viewed it on line. I only attend these meetings when I have something to share. I didn't feel a need to speak because this project is a done deal. Contrary to what was said by about 20 some people (at the meeting) there are many Islanders, including West River residents, that support the closure of the parkway.
The SEQR completed by the State, met the approval NYSDEC, NYSDOT, NYS Coastal Consistency Unit and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The state did its due diligence on this project. The town had many opportunities to express their concerns with the state. And, a traffic study was completed by a certified engineer. Yes, a traffic study was done. The study is included in the state’s final decision letter of November 2016. Mark Thomas is to be commended, not only for the work he has done on this project but the patience he displayed in dealing with certain town officials.
Mr. Mc Murray has been accused of not listening to his constituents. How do we measure this? Do we simply take the number of forms that were generated from the July 2016 meeting and shortly thereafter relevant to the bike path? Do we look at the Ipetitions on the Internet again pertaining to the bike path? The opinion of some 20 people in opposition of the path that have consistently showed up at town meetings? I say that we look at McMurray's overall accomplishments.
This is a STATE project. Supervisor McMurray, like all Grand Island residents had a right to voice his opinion. And, like every other Grand Island resident, Supervisor McMurray did not have the authority to put a final stamp on this project. Mr. McMurray did nothing illegal. And, the accusations of inappropriate or unethical behavior are simply a matter of opinion that I do not share.
Concerns Regarding Comprehensive Master Plan Trail Plans - April 2018It has come to my attention that there are many concerns raised regarding the recently released comprehensive master trail plan that I would like to address, and present the facts. During the master plan process there was an overwhelming desire to look towards enhancing Grand Island's bike paths and pedestrian paths. To start the conversation, we identified existing easements throughout the town as areas of interest, to potentially expand on these amenities.
The map that was presented is little more than a conversation starter. There is no solidified plan to create any actions shown there. There has been no action to secure funding, there has been no action to seek permission from easement owners, and there have been no studies to support any such actions. There have been no discussions with neighbors, land owners, and people who privately own easements. All of these components would need to be addressed before any action could be even considered. And again, I say, there is nothing being considered.
The map was not created to spark controversy, or to demonstrate the towns unwavering direction, again it is only a conversation starter. Anyone that thinks, or that has told you that this is a "done deal" is mistaken. I sincerely apologize to anyone who took this as an approved plan that would inevitably happen. Initiatives like this would require support from the entire town! Quality of life for residents of this town is the number one concern!
It is my hope these facts help to eliminate any concerns raised by residents. Anyone that has un-addressed concerns, or ideas on this topic, I look forward to hearing from you. Please email me at pmarston@grand-Island.ny.us.
Pete Marston - Town Councilman
Open Letter to Fellow Grand Islanders - April 2018Is it time for us to ask our Town Supervisor to step down?
I have been told by numerous town employees that our Supervisor is for the most part a no show.
I have been told by town employees that our Deputy Supervisor is and has been running the day to day operations of our Town since practically the start of our Supervisors term. (In my humble opinion, in violation of NYS Town Law (Article 3 Sub 42), or at the very least stretching the interpretation of the law.)
We pay our Town Supervisor over 70k a year to represent us and to be the leader of our town! We don't pay him to run for congress, in a congressional district that does not even include Grand Island.
From the research I have done our (unelected) Deputy Supervisor has not been approved a salary by the Town Board. Which begs the question....has he been working for us for free since the start of our Supervisors term?
Grand Islander's....just food for thought.....our Deputy Supervisor is an unelected town official not accountable to us, the electorate. He is however, the elected leader of one of our town political parties, allegedly running the day to day operations of the Town.
Grand Islanders....is this what we want from our elected Supervisor? Is this what we deserve as a Town?
The Continuing Saga of McMurray - April 2018The Buffalo News had two articles recently about our supervisor, Nate McMurray, and his quest to become a Congressman. The first was about his paltry fund raising which, I guess, doesn't matter since the other potential candidates have dropped out. The second was about how he rebuffed efforts to get him to step aside in favor of Kathleen Hochul.
You may ask, "So what?" I appreciate the sentiment that the less heard from or about McMurray is of the highest order. However, we are still saddled with him as our supervisor. It is to that point that I want to address my remarks.
He should resign, immediately. He has made clear that he wants out as quickly as possible. He will have to make it official that he doesn't live on Grand Island (it isn't clear that he lives here, now) when he becomes the candidate of record. Why should someone who has made the emotional break with his current occupation be allowed to make decisions that will impact those of us who really live on the Island?
When he first inflicted himself on us in early 2016 I wrote that he was only here because the folks at Democratic headquarters told him go win something before he ran for statewide office. His reaction was, as usual, over the top. 'How could I accuse him, he of the purest of pure hearts, of something so crass?' Well, I did because I heard it from a very good source and it was consistent with everything about his narcissistic personality. Events have proved me correct: he is a 21st century carpetbagger.
He should be made to recuse himself on all votes that affect our lives. If he wants to slipstream and vote in favor of honoring a new Eagle Scout, say, fine. On everything else, he should stay home. The day he becomes the official Democratic candidate, he has to be living in that district. His term in office should end at that time whether he likes it or not. If he has any class he will resign now. Given his desire to hog the limelight I know that Halley's comet will reappear before that happens. Nonetheless, we should keep up the mantra that he should go.
For the Record: Supervisor's Violation Denied Town Opportunity to Stop Parkway Closure Plan - April 2018The Town Supervisor and Mark Thomas/NYS Parks violation of the agreed communication process requiring copying Mike Madigan (Councilman) and or the entire Town Board on all requests for actions related to the Parkway in December 2016 did prevent the formal participation of the Town of Grand Island in the SEQR Lead Agency Designation process that was mailed only to the Supervisor on December 9, 2016 and the process was concluded on January 9, 2017.
The Lead Agency Designation process, by law, provides the opportunity for the involved agencies (The Town/Town Board of Grand Island in this case) to submit observations of significance within 30 days of receipt of request - after 30 days the opportunity expires irretrievably. The Supervisor unilaterally and without Town Board input decided to take no action and allowed this opportunity to expire - he had no authority to make this decision without Town Board (a vote).
The SEQR process must formally and comprehensively address any concerns submitted by the "Involved Agency" regarding Community Plan Consistency, Health, Safety, Habitat/rare and endangered species impact, environmental impact and impact on the surrounding community as part of the process. Both Mark Thomas and the Supervisor formally received from the Town, prior to this process, serious concerns about the Parkway Closure Plans inconsistency with the Community plan for this land and road use and concerns related to habitat, health, safety and the environment. The Town, based on these concerns, formally voted against (rejected) the Parkway Closure Plan. The Town voted for a plan that mitigated a majority of these concerns leaving the Parkway open.
Thomas ignored these prior and formal submissions that included requests that he review and address these concerns - he refused to address them. The SEQR was completed as if no such concerns were ever submitted and inappropriately ignored these concerns. Mark Thomas and the Supervisor benefitted by their violations by avoiding the requirement to comprehensively address significant Town concerns. Thomas and the Supervisor have been forcing this project upon the community and, undeniably, submission by the Town of significant concerns as part of this designation process would result in a serious threat to the Closure plan - it may have changed the closure decision. Mark Thomas and the Town Supervisor had no right or authority to deny the Town residents their full representation by the Town Board in their decision to not allow the town to participate in this process.
Details: NYS Parks mailed this Designation request to the Supervisor December 9, 2016 (Madigan was not copied as required). On December 15, 2016 NYS Parks e-mailed this document to the "Planning Board" e-mail address and again copied the Town Supervisor but not Madigan as required. The "Planning Board" e-mail at that time was setup to go only to its chairman, who at that time was in process of being removed by the Supervisor - prior to the e-mail receipt. Note: After January 30, 2017 it was confirmed by Lynx that the Town Board was added to the "Planning Board" e-mail distribution. The first e-mail received from this mailbox by the Town Board was in March 2017 - long after the lead designation process was concluded.
Note: On September 6, 2016 a motion was voted on and passed and communicated to Mark Thomas in a registered letter requesting all future communication be copied to Madigan and McMurray - an action that was taken to prevent continued violations by Thomas and McMurray that had already severely impacted this project. The Supervisor, Mark Thomas and Angela Berti acknowledged the required process and agreed to comply with it.
Letter to Jacobs Re: West River Parkway Closure - April 2018Senator Jacob,
By now you have many requests not to close the West River Parkway and time is running out. It is unfortunate that young children, their parents, the elderly and basically all residents and non-residents are going to lose the mobile access to a beautiful view of the Niagara River and its wildlife. Maybe you have never driven the West River Parkway, especially in the winter when it is most beautiful, with thousands of various ducks, geese, swans, occasionally eagles and other birds. To see this view Americans will now have to go to Canada. It is criminal to close the West River Parkway, giving up this opportunity for all, for a limited use bicycle path that is unwanted by most.
To add to this, it is a crime because New York State had a real opportunity to locate the bicycle path for duel use like City of Tonawanda New York. It is clear that the New York Parks department only reason for this closing is to continue to not take care of the area as they have for years. Here is your opportunity to show that you have all residents best interests by stopping this project and recommending the project meet the standards of City of Tonawanda.
Grand Island Resident
Welcome Center Sewer Access - April 2018Nathen McMurray stated in his weekly report in the April 6, 2018 Island Dispatch that he favors the Information Center accessing our sewer system possibly providing a sewer system to Alvin Road and Whitehaven. He claims that collecting usage tax from the Tourist Center would be a benefit to Grand Island, however he did not mention the cost of expanding the sewer on Alvin Road and Whitehaven would be paid by tax payers. Also, the residents would be forced to tie into the sewer system. I imagine the cost to a resident would range from $12,000.00 and up. I base this price on what it cost me in 1996 for an 80 feet tie in of $6,500.00 and prices have at least doubled. Many homes on Whitehaven are set back 200 feet or more and the cost would be substantially higher.
Based on fact, the past Information Center by New York State at Burger King failed, it seems that there is a chance that the Information Center on Alvin Road could fail. I know property owned by New York State is exempt from property tax and sales tax but I am not sure if they would have to pay a sewer tax or be exempt. I believe that Nathen McMurray has favored New York State over what the majority of Grand Island residents wanted on this issue and also the closing of the West River Road Parkway. His actions may benefit him in his future but for a large population of Grand Island residents he has not protected our way of life and history. Nathan McMurray's action to allow New York State to tie in to the Grand Island sewer system would not be beneficial to the residents in my opinion.
Unethical & Inappropriate Actions - April 2018In addition:
Dear Senator Jacobs:
Thank you for contacting me by phone on 10-April and committing to investigating and following up with me regarding the violations associated with the SEQR Leader Agency Designation request that as a result of the violations in process resulted in denial of Grand Island from having input and taking action related to that request.
Please find attached (below) an agenda item that will be reviewed at Monday's Grand Island Town Board meeting at 8:00 PM. If possible please provide an update in advance of this meeting regarding how this situation can be appropriately remedied.
Again - Thank you for your continued engagement regarding these matters.
Public Notifications of Violations by NYS Parks (Mark Thomas) and Town Supervisor - April 11, 2018
A letter from Councilman Mike Madigan to Senator Chris Jacobs detailing the "unethical and inappropriate actions taken by Mark Thomas" dated April 11, 2018, linked here.
There are communications referred to in the letter that can be found below:
SEQR Lead Agency Determination - December 15, 2016
Email rejecting bike path option #3 - August 1, 2016
Resolution rejecting West River Bike Path Option - August 1, 2016
Letter informing Mark Thomas the Town Board voted in favor of Option #4 - August 18, 2016
Resolution designating Nathan McMurray and Mike Madigan as primary contacts. - September 6, 2016
Email regarding Mike Madigan meeting with Mark Thomas. - November 9, 2016
Meeting between Mike Madigan, Mark Thomas & Angela Berti. - August 5, 2016
Mike Madigan - Town Councilman
In Favor of Parkway Closure - April 2018Dear Sen. Jacobs:
As a West River homeowner, please be advised that I am very much in favor of converting the parkway into a bike path, and am very disappointed in your action to delay it. I think you will find that if the plan to implement the bike path is implemented, even those homeowners on West River Road (a minority, I believe), who oppose it will not miss the parkway, but will in fact see that replacing a mostly unused parkway with a bike path is a plus for the neighborhood. If, on the other hand, it is not implemented, you will be considered by those of us who favor this improvement to be acting in a manner contrary to the interests of your constituents.
Senator Jacobs Intervenes on Behalf of Concerned Residents Regarding Parkway Plan - March 2018Following receipt of a flood of complaints regarding the Parkway Closure Plan Senator Chris Jacobs has intervened on behalf of area residents. Since February 9, 2018 he has written two letters to the NYS Parks - c/o the Parkway Closure Project Manager seeking more information and making requests for action that he ordered must be provided and or completed "before this project proceeds". In one of the letters he went as far as saying he required a response addressing the serious resident safety concerns and asked "what actions will be taken to mitigate the potential increase of car accidents and dangerous car related incidents for drivers and residents on West River Road, "if" and when the Parkway is closed".
These requests and statements by him appropriately open the question of whether the Parkway should be closed, or at the very least require the NYS Parks to appropriately address the concerns prior to closing the Parkway. In his February 9th letter Jacobs noted the confusion and anger that exists on both sides of the issue. Jacobs requested that a "more concerted effort be made to truly reach out to stakeholders as important decisions will be made to the final plans and operation of this new trail, with particular sensitivity to the West River homeowners."
In the 49 days since the NYS Parks manager received this letter from Senator Jacobs there has been no contact from NYS Parks with the West River residents. Confusion has grown worse and anger is boiling over as the chronic project information blackout continues. There has been no notice of whether the Parkway may close in the next couple days, as rumored. Road closures throughout NY are almost always communicated at least one or more months in advance with signs indicating scheduled closure date and public notices posted with detour and well thought out and planned safety risk mitigation measures put in place to address any potential concerns - none of this has been started and seems to not have been considered.
Senator Jacobs can be contacted by phone at 716-854-8705 or by e-mail at Jacobs@nysenate.gov. Please consider contacting him and voicing your opinion regarding how this project has been managed and communicate whether you support or do not support the Parkway Closure project.
Mike Madigan - GI Councilman
Veterans Park Pavilion Facts - March 2018*Original thought was made by the whole Town Board in a 5-0 vote to proceed with a plan to construct the pavilion in a phased fashion to reduce costs.
*If all phases could be kept below the bidding threshold, considerable money could be saved. Of course, Town procurement policy would be followed.
*Original plan included an offer to erect the "shell" at no cost from the Carpenters union (which eventually fell through).
*Original Miracle League plan used for materials list was for a 36'x100' pavilion.
*Miracle League ended up using a 44' truss which resulted in a 40'x100' pavilion, but new plans were not needed to be filed with the Code Enforcement office.
*All material including metal roof was ordered and delivered for original plan size pavilion (36'x100') and is useable for construction (scissors trusses were ordered as there was a plan to install radiant heating at a later date and more ceiling height was needed.)
*Plywood was eliminated as it was not necessary for a metal roof.
*Suggestions of adding plywood in case people climb on the roof should be taken under consideration.
*2x4's purchased for purlins could still be used, or used for another purpose.
*Original foundation plan is still acceptable. Building code might have changed but only to the extent that the "footer" in the bottom of the hole would be different and/or the attachment to the supporting post might be different.
*Continuous foundation is a better way to ensure that if garage doors are used to enclose some ot the building, they will close and seal weathertight, along with other advantages.
*Use of in house employees with their respective expertise and equipment, could result in the site work and construction of the pavilion. Concrete work would probably need to be contracted out.
*If a continuous foundation is decided on, that could be contracted separately from the concrete floor, especially if for the first year the area was graded correctly with stone added purchased by the Town and trucked by the Highway Department, substantial savings should result.
*Original plan submitted by Jim Churchill just needs to be altered to show a decrease of 4' in width and the use of scissor trusses.
Road Safety Concerns - March 2018Senator Jacobs, I have read the correspondence regarding traffic safety concerns and it appears many are missing the point. Mark Thomas dismissed any and all concerns from the start suggesting the roads affected are "far under capacity" which is blatantly false. The real issue is how the displaced traffic will affect all the different town roads and how that traffic causes real problems.
Mr. Madigan collected the raw data and has presented it many times, I am sure you have it. I understand how Mr. Thomas doesn't want it to be the States problem, BUT closing the parkway has serious consequences. The accident rates for the town roads will increase exponentially. If you take 500 additional cars and add them to the already congested Staley Road numbers during peak hours, it becomes very serious. A comprehensive Environmental Impact Study is critical and it needs to be done immediately.
Please take a serious approach to solving this problem. Keep in mind two things...the State took the land for a Parkway and it has functioned well for 68 years. Second, the idea of the bike path along the river was unanimously agreed to and it is still a good idea.
Let's push for compliance to the agreed to plan, it is what the people of Grand Island wanted and it is what the Greenway Commission proposed. Insist on compliance to the original plan. The whole process has been a travesty.
Thank you for your time.
Negative Declaration at Welcome Center - March 2018Recently, Town Councilman Mike Madigan sent a letter to Senator Chris Jacobs, outlining the problems with the New York State sponsored Welcome Center at Whitehaven and Alvin Roads, concerning wastewater. Here is a link to the letter.
Something that might be very confusing in the letter is the use of the term, "negative declaration". In a nutshell it means that it has been declared that there is no negative implact to the enviroment. Here is a page on the NYS Department of Enviromental Conservation web page "Negative Delarations"
Welcome Center Discrepancy - March 2018Dear Senator Jacobs,
I was informed Monday, March 12th at a meeting with StanTec, the Environmental Services company contracted by NYS for the "Welcome" Center, that the Engineering drawings provided to the Town of Grand Island are outdated and were outdated prior to Grand Island receiving them in January - outdated by approximately three months. I was informed that the plan that has been in place since well before 2018 is to hook into the Town of Grand Island Sewer system.
We were informed that the drawings provided to the town, which shows three sanitary holding tanks, is not what was sent out to bid and that in fact what was sent out showed no holding tanks and the plan at that time was to connect into the Grand Island Sewer system - a plan that is well known to be opposed by many, if not a strong majority of the public. Such a plan expands our sewer West of the 190 in a non-Sewer district in an area where many/most do not want sewer expansion.
This is a continued and repeated pattern of dishonest project management by NYS similar to the West River Parkway Bike Path project negatively impacting the Town of Grand Island and it's residents. I am writing to request the following:
1). A full and complete investigation on who and why drawings that have been reported to be as much as 3 months outdated were provided to the town instead of the drawings sent out for bid.
2). Request immediate receipt of the correct drawings so the misinformation that has occurred can be corrected and the public be notified regarding this incident and accurately informed of the actual State plan.
3). Request that, for both projects, a full investigation be performed to identify individuals responsible for these actions and that if confirmed, those individuals responsible be immediately removed from both projects.
This pattern of misinformation by the NYS project managers has severely impacted trust and leads to the question of what other misinformation exists for both projects. The residents of Grand Island need to be able to trust NYS. Your immediate attention and response to investigate this matter on behalf of the constituents you represent will be greatly appreciated.
I look forward to your appropriate and immediate response regarding both matters and hope we can hit reset and restore trust.
Mike Madigan - Grand Island Town Councilman
Representative Government is the Issue - March 2018[This is a letter I sent to Sen. Jacobs about the closing of the West River Parkway and turning it into a bike path. As can be seen, I believe the issue is much broader than just the West River Parkway.]
Dear Senator Jacobs,
I am writing about the imminent conversion of the West River Parkway on Grand Island from a thoroughfare to a bike path. It is my understanding that I am not the only one contacting you regarding this debacle.
I expect that most of the communications are focused solely on the ill-thought out conversion of the Parkway to a bike path. I will make some observations about why I think this is wrong at the end. However, I want to couch this action by the State Parks Department in a larger context; specifically, the dismissiveness of concept of representative government by unelected bureaucrats in State agencies.
A most-telling example of this is the comment by Mark Thomas, the Western District Director of the Parks Department, in a Buffalo News article, 2/25/2018: "But Thomas has noted in correspondence from August 2017 that their "public process is complete."" The translation of this brush-off is, "We checked the box; we are done here." The arrogance of this civil servant who has ignored all evidence, to say nothing of the views and interests of the citizenry affected, is most troubling.
Where does he get the right to cram his views down the taxpayers' throats? No one elected him to anything. The will of the people appears to mean zero in Albany. If this is the new normal for NY State, then the citizens should be so advised so they can evaluate if continuing to live here is justified, given the disenfranchisement we are experiencing. This isn't hyperbole. Two hundred and forty-three years ago the Colonists revolted against a distant, arbitrary, and unresponsive government which also had a rapacious hunger for taxes. Have we come full circle?
Mr. Thomas has been allowed to run roughshod over the wishes of the community. Contrary to our Supervisor, many Islanders, including many who do not live on the West River are opposed to the closing of the Parkway. Mr. Thomas seems only to want to listen to opinions he agrees with. This is no way to run a representative government. Worse, given the strictures in the NY Constitution (e.g., no options for citizen-initiated recall elections or propositions), there are no real avenues for redress. As such, the citizenry are reduced to depending on the goodwill of its elected officials. This is rule of men rather than the rule of law. This is the path to Venezuela.
Please get your fellow elected legislators to exert their lawful prerogative (and goodwill) and put a stop to actions such as this. If not, I can assure you, this brazenness will continue and get worse. No one will be able to assume that his/her property is safe.
Turning to the specifics of the West River issue. The Parks Department's preferred proposal is to shut down the parkway and turn it into a full-time bike path. This is, basically, the Pontius Pilate option. However, reality intrudes. The road can't be used as a bike path from November to May. In May and early June it isn't enjoyable because of the coldness from the river. In the summer months it isn't enjoyable in the late afternoons on because of the bugs. So, we are going to shut down the Parkway so it can be used with enjoyment for only a relatively few hours for a relatively few months. Does this make sense to anyone?
The Parks Department has totally botched the maintenance of the Parkways (Beaver Island Parkway, also) over the past forty years. I am willing to bet that within two years if this goes through they will have pulled their version of a Cheshire Cat and the only thing left of them in the vicinity will be a (sneering) grin, leaving the maintenance and upkeep to whomever. (When I was in college in the late 1960s, three college guys cut all of the parkways every week. Once a month a bunch of us trimmed around trees and signs. It isn't rocket science. It could be done today with even mediocre management.) Why does everyone have to suffer to cover up for their failures and, at the same time, trash the rule of law?
Thanks to Jacobs - March 2018Senator Jacobs has taken action to the extent of contacting officials involved in this Parkway action. In a detailed letter to me he stated contact with officials involved with acting to close the Parkway. I'd like to thank the Senator for his action. Having had unfavorable past experience with Morinello, I saw little to be gained by contacting him about issues that did not directly affect Niagara Falls. But in talking with others who have tried to get him involved with keeping the Parkway open, it appears his involvement has been minimal.
Opposition to Travel Stop - March 2018The Sierra Club Niagara Group is opposed to the proposed plan to build a Love's Travel Stop on Grand Island and is respectfully requesting that the Grand Island Town Board reject any such development that will have profoundly negative effects on health and environment.
Grand Island is an ecosystem that has unique natural ecological communities and specific habitats. Its land and surrounding shores and water are home to various wildlife, with some species defined in New York State as threatened or of special concern. Any changes to the air, land and water will have an impact on the birds and other wildlife on the Island, as well as the waterways and health of people all around the Island.
The pollution and environmental degradation that comes with the operations and activities of a truck stop is inconsistent with the responsibility of municipal governments to preserve, protect and enhance the natural environment for the people and the wildlife.
The Sierra Club Niagara Group works throughout Western New York to protect the natural environments that comprise our region and we recognize the unique ecosystem qualities of Grand Island. We thank the town of Grand Island for working to protect and preserve its green spaces and environmental health, and we thank the Town Board in anticipation of your stand against the truck stop proposal.
On behalf of our Executive Committee,
Sara Schultz, Sierra Club Niagara Chair
Letter to Sen. Jacobs - March 2018Senator Jacobs,
Having just reviewed the Feb.26,2018 letter. from Mark Thomas to Senator Jacobs, I find it absolutely disgusting that Thomas would not only distort facts relating to his handling of the West River Parkway bike path dispute with Grand island Government but that he would just outright LIE to a NYS Senator about his actions. I would caution you to not be fooled by Thomas and his attempts to bully the people of Grand Island by promoting the ill-conceived project of closing such a Scenic Parkway instead of building a bike path as agreed upon with the Town in accordance with the project design that was the basis for Greenway Commission approval and government funding.
As you know, closing the Parkway flies in the face of our Governor's expressed desire to promote tourism attractions in WNY. This Scenic Parkway draws thousands of tourists in cars on their way to Niagara Falls. A new bike path parallel to the road would be an added attraction and should not be used as an excuse by NYS Parks to close the Parkway.
You already know about the serious safety issues of re-routing daily heavy commuter traffic onto 3 separate residential streets if the Parkway were to be closed. It is insane to do that.
It is very disappointing that Mr. Thomas has compromised his integrity by providing false information to a NYS Senator and the general public. We deserve better than that from people on our NYS payroll. I urge you to hear your Grand Island voters and understand the true facts of this important issue so that you can use your influence in Albany to help stop a very foolish road-closing project. Trusting you will go to bat for us , it is the right thing to do.
Thank you for your interest, understanding and prompt action.
Richard M. Garlapow
Letter to Sen. Jacobs - March 2018Senator Jacobs,
I am trusting that you are a reasonable person and that you really care about the people of Grand Island, trust me they are watching. I have just read Mark Thomas's response to your request for review of the Flawed process. Thomas Letter. Mr. Thomas is trying to establish that he is in charge and that he has done everything the project required, we all know that just isn't true. He has one goal, close the parkway and save the state money in the future. He has NEVER seriously addressed maintenance, moving forward, he continues to avoid that subject talking about stewardship.
When you read... "Regarding the maintenance plan, we have had multiple discussions with Town of Grand Island Elected officials, budgets, staffing and equipment to inform a sustainable parks operation and maintenance We are considering input from aforementioned operational considerations...to meet their stated desires of a manicured lawn would place an unfair fiscal burden on all taxpayers..."Many of those in opposition expressed a strong desire to have nothing change, regardless of the plan offered. As an agency responsible for the stewardship and protecton of valuable parkland on behalf of all New York state residents, we believe that the restoration and naturalization of a grossly underused roadway is in the best interest of all New Yorkers."
This is a total distortion, talk about spin... how do we get past Fake News? The only true stewards of the land are the West River Homeowners, for 33+ years, and they have always been FOR THE PATH! It sounds very much like this letter...I was forwarded by a concerned citizen, originally sent to you by Paul Leuchner?
Mark Thomas NEVER addressed the possible safety concerns that come from closing the Parkway, in his mind he doesn't have to, it is our problem. An "underused roadway" with 1500 cars a day, more than many other Grand Island roads. Staley Road, probably will be most affected, has serious safety concerns now and the statistics prove it, add 1000+ cars at peak times. Sadly it just isn't that simple, I understand why Mr. Thomas wants us to think so. An Environmental impact study was required and NOT done.
Sure State saves money, but in reality more people can't access the river, who are they kidding? His timeline doesn't mention the fact that Closing the Parkway was never really vetted. He distorts the numbers to his advantage, 70% are clearly against including the Town Board. His response is arrogant to say the least. How does that sit with you?
You are tasked with representing the people of Grand Island and I realize it isn't easy, how could you ever make everyone happy. Keep in mind that the State has NOT bargained in good faith which should concern you. They did not meet with us to review the changes in the plan, from a path along the river to Closing the Road, it was never discussed as required in the M.O.U..
The people of Grand Island and the West River Homeowners have always been FOR THE PATH and opening up the land to more people. That was the fundamental principal behind the project, we all agreed. Closing the Parkway causes serious safety issues, it is a functioning road and it needs to be maintained year round. The accident rates on the alternate path roads are significantly affected when the Parkway isn't plowed, it will be a problem moving forward. The cost of maintain the roads from the diverted traffic has never been addressed. Please see past the spin, you have to realize the big picture.
Reg Schopp - A Grand Island Concerned Citizen for Responsible Government
All the facts ...www.giccfrg.com
Anger at Parkway Closure - March 2018As a resident of Grand Island and yes of West River, I am extremely bothered and angry by the events leading up to and culminating with what now appears to be the closing of the Parkway. It's hard to fathom this beautiful road closing. I suspect in a few years it will end up looking like the Robert Moses Parkway that the State also tried to turn into a trail and bike path. Look at it now. Nice job NY. I know it's hard to imagine but, there are actually residents of Grand Island that have no idea they are closing the Parkway. Sad, but true.
I still wonder how we actually got to this point. If you attended any of the meetings, you would have to agree that the majority of everyone that spoke or showed up, was against the Parkway closing. Yes we had some folks in favor, but they were always the minority. In my opinion, 3 to 1 against closing at every meeting. We also had some visitors from out of the Grand Island area come giving their support to keeping the road open. With all the opposition to its closing, how can this still be happening? To the many of you that have spoken out, posted signs and written against the Parkway closing, I support and applaud you. If only our voices were heard.
WAIT .....they were heard. The Town Board that we citizens elect and pay their salaries, heard us. They went to the meetings, spoke to us, stop to chat in the parking lot of Tops and other places around town. THEY Heard US. They did what they were supposed to do. They VOTED and rejected the Closing of the Parkway, not once, but twice, as well as notifying the State in writing that the Town declined the closing of the Parkway!!!
Yet one man, was able to override a Town Board Decision and collude with the NY State Parks Department to get what they wanted. How is this possible? Why do we have Council persons then, if one man can dictate to all, what is being done. Why don't we just save the Town some money and just get rid of them? Why have all the public hearings and meetings, wasting more tax dollars, if in the end it doesn't matter what the Board wants to do. Apparently only one voice matters. How is this legally possible? Aren't there checks and balances or laws that stop one person's objective to override the majority vote? I feel like I should be living in a foreign country that doesn't care what it’s residents want. If the State and Town Supervisor are so confident that closing the Parkway is what the residents want, then put it to a vote in November and prove it. Let Grand Island speak for Grand Island!!!
One Man is NOT the voice of Grand Island. I am praying that somewhere, somehow, something happens to stop this travesty. This is no longer about a road and whether it is open or closed but about the injustice of the way the system was manipulated to suit the needs and the desires of specific individuals. If the Parkway does close, be angry that it's closing, be Furious how that was ever allowed to happen!
Gun Control - March 2018I am going to make a comment here, many will agree, or not agree. I have 41 years of experience in public safety, 25 as a police officer. The gun issue is out of control. This is my opinion:
1. Arming teachers IS NOT the answer. Teachers have enough to do . One example is dealing with large class sizes, which does not allow them to know their students, and possibly recognize a problem. State mandated tests take time away from teaching and getting to know their students. Just because a teacher who did have a gun stopped an incident doesn't mean it will work in every situation.
2. Putting a School Resource Police Officer is necessary in all schools, from Pre-K to 12th grade. These officers are on the front lines and can handle many issues before they get out of control. The officers should receive all the necessary training to do the job properly, and have the proper dedication to work on the job, and not think of it as a "cushy" detail. They can be a positive influence on students, someone they can trust.
3. Teachers, and especially administrators have to speak up when there may be a problem. Get involved with the student and see what type of help they many need. Investigate when you think there may be issues. Kids should not shuffled down to a Guidance Counselor for a talk and a donut. People have to get involved.
4. Schools needs access to more psychologists, social workers, and mental health workers that can come in and immediately help out when a student, or staff member needs help.
5. Schools and School Resource Police Officers need outlets to refer troubled students or staff members. Outside professional help, and especially following up is most important.
6. Schools have fire drills, they should have ACTIVE SHOOTER DRILLS. People have to know what to do, or what there options are if the situation arises.
7. Schools need better communication systems. E-mailing or texting staff there is a problem is NOT how people should be alerted. There has to be a system in place that can notify everyone immediately.
8. Parents need to get involved. Stop blaming the teachers and the schools and start being a responsible individual. Your are their parents, not their best friends. Discipline and rules are necessary.
9. Video games ARE a problem. They make children and teens insensitive to violence, pain, and death. There has to be better controls on these games. Parents should pay attention to what their kids are doing.
10. Parents needs to pay attention to what their kids are watching online and their cell phones. There are ways to block what they see. And parents should pay attention where their kids are and who there friends are. The crowd they go with should be appropriate.
11. Kids should be taught that everyone in Hollywood and in the movies are actors, and in many cases are poor influences on people. They are not to be treated as heroes and leaders but as actors, who perform, not to be worshiped.
12. Automatic weapons such as an AR-15, M-1, M-16, guns with bump stocks should be BANNED to everyone except the military or police depts. Why do you need such a weapon? They were designed as a weapon to kill multiple individuals. If you claim you need one to protect yourself, you need evaluation. Why can't you defend your property and family with a handgun? And hunters can possess shotguns for hunting. Don't compare the deaths of people using cell phones while driving and deaths caused by individuals with automatic weapons. There is no comparison.
13. Stop screaming about the 2nd Amendment! You dont need automatic weapons. The handguns and shotguns for target shooting and hunting are sufficient. Your not being denied possession of a weapon.
14. Over the years people have been extremely critical of how Erie County issues Pistol Permits. Some people have waited 2 yrs. or more to obtain it. Maybe now, that makes sense, so guns are not handed out to everyone, but to individuals we have investigated and found fit to own a weapon.
15. The politicians in Albany and Washington dont care about your opinion. Whatever the special interest groups "stuff in their pockets" is more important than you. Hopefully the right interest group with bring them to their senses.
Dave Dombrowski - Town of Tonawanda
Keep Parkway Open - March 2018I was just reading the January article in the IsledeGrande on the chronology and evolution of the West River Bike Path. I live at 1250 East River Rd and have been here since 1999. I wanted to go on record that I too strongly oppose closing the Parkway and can't believe how this project went down the path it did and how it got so twisted from the original plan. For what it is worth, this is my strong opinion on the matter...
Keep Parkway Open - March 2018If all goes on schedule we will soon on Grand Island be subjected to one of the most wrong headed schemes I've ever known. I'm referring to the destruction of the West River Parkway to be replaced by a bike path. This scheme has been spearheaded by Supervisor McMurray who seemed to have come out of nowhere to be elected supervisor. Key to this is that McMurray claims a study showed that the Parkway was underused. This claim is blatantly false and there is good evidence for this. One can easily see this falsehood just by keeping track of the numerous vehicles that daily make use of the Overlook between Whitehaven and Staley even during the winter months. Today is March 1, 2018 and just yesterday three cars were parked there as I was passing through, which is pretty much typical.
There are many other good points one can make in favor of keeping the Parkway open as well. It is clear to me, that for whatever corrupt reason, McMurray has some clandestine reason for promoting this closure action. I won't even dignify the bike path proposal by discussing it. It has to be one of the most stupid proposals I've ever come across particularly since we have an excellent bike path in the West River Service Road. As wrong as this is, I don't see enough activity on the part of residents to get this closure proposal overturned.
I feel I should also be seeing outcry from the numerous WRHOA board members. It could well be that I am just missing it but if enough was going on I should have spotted it. I got a nice letter back from Sen. Jacobs who says he is looking for more accountability from the politicians that pushed thru the Parkway closure. But since he pointed out that he is getting complaints both for and against its not surprising that he's not going so far as to joining us in trying to keep the Parkway open. As I've stated before, the opposing residents on the Island are usually those not affected by closure of the Parkway in any significant way. I continue to be outraged that they would stick their nose into this issue which will reduce quality of life for WRHOA members.
Letter to Sen. Jacobs Re: West River Parkway - February 2018Attention: Sen. Jacobs
Grand Island residents and the Town Board voted against closing the West River Parkway and changing it to a bicycle/walking path. Will you support the residents of Grand Island in keeping the West River Parkway open?
First reason you should support keeping the West River Parkway open is, to spend eight million dollars for a bicycle path, which has limited use, is financially irresponsible. I say this because the Federal Government plans to shift much of their financial expenses to the state and this money should be used for more critical projects.
Second reason is Grand Island traffic is increasing and the West River Parkway provides an alternative high-speed route for travel from Niagara Falls to many Grand Island roads.
Third reason is the parkway is the quickest route to Grand Island's largest employer from Niagara Falls, where many employees live.
Fourth reason is the bicyclists will not use the path if people are walking because they can use the service road at higher speeds. Also, walkers tend to let their dogs run free and it is natural for a dog to chase bicyclists.
Fifth reason is the design has many flaws such as limited parking and no bathrooms.
Sixth reason is this money should be used to provide better access to Grand Island residents to leave the island by adding more entrance ramps at different locations.
Seventh reason is most Grand Island walkers can walk much closer to their home rather than driving several miles. Surrounding towns also have paths close to their homes. So why would they drive to Grand Island which often has traffic problems getting on and off the island?
Here is an opportunity for you to support your voters, who will support you, by voting to keep West River Parkway open.
We Really Do Exist! - February 2018Thank you for listening,
They won't admit to this but it is clear to me that a great deal of thought went into the name Love's. It's simple, it's warm and creates an impression that is exactly the opposite of who they are.
This company came to Grand Island, driving past many industrial areas ideal for a truck stop. Passing them, they stopped at Whitehaven Road directly in front of my house. They couldn't have possibly missed it, their proposal surrounds it. They saw my son's hammock in the tree, they saw my wife's garden, they saw the hard work I put in up-keeping a hundred year old farm house. They looked at my family's life and they decided to try and plant a heavy industrial complex all around it. A non-stop twenty four hour cacophony of trucks, diesel fumes, and stadium lights. Every truck will rumble past three sides of our home in order to use this site.
Then they went to the town hall - where we couldn't comment - and they brazenly told Grand Island that nobody lives in that area, it's already industrial even though our house is pictured in their own graphic! To these people, my family doesn't exist. We don't matter. If they are successful, they will be Grand Island's new neighbors.
What kind of neighbors will they be? There will be guaranteed problems with Loves and a myriad of potential problems. There will be ground water pollution, air pollution, noise and light pollution, safety concerns, industrial creep, crime, pressure on infrastructure, pressure on local businesses, and an exodus of residences and farms in the center of town, among other issues.
Grand Island residents will rightfully demand Loves respond to the neighbors of Grand Island in a reasonable and responsible way. They will not. Love's neighbors don't matter. They don't even exist. They have made that clear. Please help us, Sign the petition: no to loves: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/no-to-loves-truck-stop. Please attend town meetings, write letters and feel free to stop by and meet us, we really do exist!
Thank you so much! Your Neighbors,
Oliver, Keri, Ben and Jake Gross
Generous Gesture Appreciated - February 2018My 91 year old dad was shopping at Tops on Monday. He happened to be wearing his Navy Retired hat. At the checkout, a gentleman behind him thanked him for his service...then...did a very unexpected thing... he swiped his own credit card for dad's groceries and said "This one is on me"! My dad called me later to tell me of this and was very emotional about it. He said that he was so moved that he wasn't even sure if he properly thanked the gentleman.
I grew up on the Island. When I return home every summer, I will admit that I am very sad to see the changes that are impacting its charm (huge houses, apartment complexes, taking down the beautiful trees etc.), but this generous gesture gave me hope that the people there are still the kind, and caring folks that have always made the Island the awesome place that it is.
I just wanted to personally thank the kind man that did this for my dad.
What Am I Missing? - February 2018Such a busy weekend: we hear that our supervisor is going to be the Democratic candidate in another district in which he doesn't live; the white elephant also known as the tourist center was being worked on Saturday; and an outflowing of no support for the Love's truck stop. Taking these one at a time.
When does the supervisor have to be a resident in the 27th district if he plans to run? Is it when he files the paperwork or if and when he is elected? If it is the former then he will officially no longer be a resident of Grand Island. Is he required to resign or is he just stricken from the records? I think the voters on Grand island would like to know. I sure would.
Driving down Alvin Rd. Saturday morning I saw numerous workers at the tourist center site plying their trades. Why were they? It was Saturday of a holiday weekend. Given the restrictions imposed by Davis-Bacon laws (the racist laws that increase the cost of every government project) these folks were being paid at least time and a half. This might make sense if it was a waterline or sewer line that had failed but this turkey, c'mon. The State is broke and is running a deficit but can find the money to waste rushing this monument to Cuomo's ego to completion. Again, why? A couple of weeks ago, there was an article in the Buffalo News about a former school building in Lackawanna that needs to be demolished; everyone, City, County, and State agree on this. The low bid was $1.2M. Lackawanna can only come up with $700,000. Ponying up the $500,000 seems like a much more appropriate expenditure than overtime at this (and I’m sure, all of the other) tourist center. It is nonsense like this that is ruining NYS.
The truck stop. I have been in economics and finance my whole career but I am really missing what is going on here. In order for this to work for Love's, not us, they would need all of the auto traffic currently going to the existing gas stations on the Island plus lots more as well as all of the truck traffic going through the Island to patronize it. No sentient profit seeking enterprise invests in a project in which for it to succeed it needs to draw the equivalent of a royal flush. There has to be more to this story. Is there a silent partner who has agreed to take them out after a predetermined length of time? Something like this has to be going on otherwise one would opt to build a facility like this near the Lackwanna toll barrier where 90%, I’m guessing, of the area truck traffic passes. It is certainly multiples of what cross Grand Island or would even with it. The need for auto traffic will shrink the business at the other stations on the Island. So, any sales tax revenue Love's generates will have to be offset by the reduced amount from elsewhere. This project doesn't add up. Again, what am I missing?
Truck Stop Problems - February 2018The decision to support an information center on Alvin Road by Nathan McMurry is probably the catalyst for a company to propose a truck stop near the same location. However, after reading his article in the Island Dispatch dated February 9, 2018 against the proposed truck stop, I believe he is finally listening to the residents and we should support the no truck stop agenda with him.
Truck stops often leave trucks running, exposing the surroundings to exhaust fumes and other pollutants, as Nathan pointed out. He also noted that business in this complex will operate for twenty-four hours with lights glaring. The removal of the bridge tolls and adding truck routes across Grand Island will increase traffic. This increase in traffic will add to the problem of getting on and off the island we are already experiencing. We can all agree this will affect local residents in the area negatively by a truck stop. Also, it will financial hurt our local business because of its central location and added competition to a limited market that the island has.
The Grand Island Town Board has always voted to limit expansion to keep the country like condition, green space and protect our local business. Is there any member of the Town Board in favor of the truck stop?
Stop Truck Stop on GI - February 2018Town Board:
I am perfectly offended by even the thought of a truck-stop on Whitehaven Road. I am a relatively new resident to the island and moved here from Orchard Park because of this kind of nonsense. Where do these ideas come from. Nobody wants it except the Love's corporation. No, I'm not an anti-corporate guy.
Travelling North on the 190 I make a left onto Whitehaven daily for my commute and can tell you that the intersection/exit is dangerous. You cannot see to the west unless you creep ever so slightly into the oncoming traffic. You cannot see to the east if anyone is making a right and turn onto Whitehaven. I'm guessing that three trucks on the exit ramp will back-up traffic onto the 190 thus creating more safety concerns. Soon, they would backup far enough into our high speed tolls rendering them useless and creating the same smog and other issues that prompted the lanes in the first place. Or, is this a favorable concept to the state so that they can increase toll revenue at the expense of our community as well as other taxes they might raise (gas and property).
I thought we were a right to farm community? These ideas are exactly the type that have made West River residents nervous and afraid as relates to closing the parkway in favor of bikes. You cannot cut a tree down so that you can view the river scenery better, but you can put thousands of gallons of gas tanks in the ground, light up the night sky, create 65 cashier, sweeping, and shelf stocking jobs all in the name of progess? Please!
Put this idea out of our misery quickly! Listen to the residents as that is what you were elected to do. Let our community not NYS or a couple politicians determine our fate. Let the community decide what it wants to be. A few people behind a table not allowing residents to speak, is not consistent with what our community should be or stand for.
Wack-a-Mole, Again! - February 2018We read that Love's, a large truckstop operator, wants to inflict one on us. Last week, even the Supervisor said he was opposed. One can only hope it isn't a rhapsody (in reverse) on John Kerry's "I was for it before I was against it." Whether he is or isn't, this is another crackpot idea that should have had a stake driven through it, long ago.
The proposed location: Whitehaven Rd. just west of the thruway; is a particularly bad spot, although there aren't any good ones. Whitehaven is bad because the trucks will have to stop at Whitehaven as they exit the thruway. These exits are troubling enough for cars, given the slope of the exit ramps. The torque that will be produced as these trucks turn onto and off Whitehaven will deteriorate the exit ramps and Whitehaven at a much-accelerated pace. This is already a high accident area due to the visibility and will become more so with all of these semis slowly starting up and turning onto the road. Who is going to pay for the repairs: the DOT, the Thruway Authority, or the County? Actually, Grand Island could if it was allowed to sell tickets to the discussions among these three as to whose responsibility it is. In reality, Grand Island will be saddled with a crumbling dangerous section of road.
If anyone has ever patronized one of Love's properties (I have) they will know that the name of the game is turnover: the more customers, the merrier. In order to make this locale work they will need to get every truck they can to come there. This means that we can expect to see trucks that would have crossed either into or out of Canada via the Peace Bridge will now use the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge. This will mean more trucks crossing the Grand Island bridges. This, in turn, means faster degradation of those bridges. Is the State planning on repairing them on a more frequent basis? (if those who want the tolls to go away get their way, the answer is assuredly no.)
Not only do these truckstops cater to truckers but in order to justify having all of the personnel to serve them they need more cashflow. This means car traffic, lots of it. So much for all of the efforts to breathe life into Grand Island Boulevard. A much more rationale approach would be for the State which loves to spend money it doesn't have on things that won't work to do the following which actually makes sense. It should complete the LaSalle Expressway to the 990 with a branch to the Twin City Highway. Any civil engineer worth their salt knows it is easier to maintain a road on terra firma than on a bridge. This would alleviate Grand Island of much of the truck traffic that have no intention of stopping to patronize our shops.
The real question to be asked is, "why haven't any of the state or county agencies responsible for highways, their safety and maintenance spoken out and said this really isn't a good idea?" As seems to be current practice, the residents of Grand Island are being stiff-armed so some favored groups, classic crony capitalism (actually socialism or fascism), can make a potful of money while leaving the Islanders with the dregs. We need to say no, emphatically, NO!
NO to Love's Truck Stop - February 2018On Monday, February 12 the Grand Island Planning Board is informally discussing a conceptual plan for a Love's Truck Stop on Grand Island. Love's representatives will likely be there to introduce the plan. It is an open meeting at 7:00pm in the Town Hall first floor conference room.
Citizens of Grand Island are mobilizing in opposition to the proposed Love's Truck Stop on Grand Island. The truck stop would destroy 21 acres of green space consisting of trees and shrubs; create hazardous environmental pollutants that would affect air, soil, water, animal, plant and human health; would introduce light and noise pollution that would impact wildlife and quality of life; would increase traffic and vehicular hazards; and would dramatically alter the character and natural environment of Grand Island.
Because we live on an island, the ecosystem is fragile and changes to it affect the land, water, air, birds, and other wildlife who live on the Island and around us. A major hazardous spill on Grand Island would not only affect our community, but the towns, waterways, and people all around us and downstream. This is such an important ecological location that the Niagara River Corridor, within which Grand Island resides, has been designated a Globally Significant Important Bird Area and is recognized as one of the most important and threatened bird habitats on Earth.
Grand Island is currently engaged in a long-range planning process to define its cultural, social, and economic vision for the future. A truck stop is inconsistent with our goals, our plans, our health and wellness, and our responsibility to protect and enhance our environment for future generations!
Love's is meeting with Town officials and board members, and has assembled a team of lawyers, public relations staff, and engineers to defeat our community's opposition to the project and to force their proposal through. They have more than 50 years of predatory action against communities like ours and have built an empire of more than 400 travel centers in 40 states nationwide. They are a $16 Billion industry, ranked #18 on Forbes list of the largest private companies. They will describe themselves as a family-run company that makes charitable contributions and supports local organizations. But their proposal for Grand Island states that they will budget $450/year for local donations—the equivalent of a donation of less than a penny from a $50,000 business.
They are not here to help our community or to bring visitors to the Island. They are a one-stop center (showers, restaurants, gas stations for cars and trucks, convenience store, gift shop....and they would like to build a hotel, public laundry service) that aims to meet every need of the driver passing through so that no other businesses benefit. In fact, Grand Island businesses (restaurants, stores, gas stations, hotels, motels) will suffer because of them and drivers will never visit the Town Center.
See informational flyer. In addition, an online petition has been started: No to Love's Truck Stop.
Commen Sense Idea's? - February 2018In response to Nathan McMurray's commentary in the January 26, 2018 Island Dispatch about common sense ideas; I believe family, business and commercial ties are the basis of common sense. I also think Nathan McMurry's actions have lacked common sense by not following the recommendations of department employees and advisory boards.
Where was Nathan's common sense in his attempt to have short term rentals in residential zones? If he would have taken the time to ask the citizens if they wanted transient people next to their homes and children, he would have realized that the majority of the people did not want tourist homes. Grand Island has always been about family ties and protecting the community. Any candidate who would not honor family ties is putting their interests first and misrepresenting their constituents.
Business and commercial ties are common sense because they protect existing businesses and zoning laws from larger businesses or too much competition of the same product. The current moratorium on apartments is an example.
Paying eleven thousand dollars for a study for installing an internet fiber optic line for town use lacked common sense. It seems that any contractor who wanted to bid the fiber optic line would provide the pros and cons for free. The fact is that internet speed would depend on the speed of the sender's equipment no matter how fast the Town's equipment is.
Where is the common sense for supporting an information center on Alvin Road when the previous one at Burger King failed? Where is Nathan's common sense in supporting the closing of the West River Parkway and changing its use to a bicycle path? The fact is the West River Parkway will be used less as a bicycle path than it was used as a road. There will be an increase in policing the surroundings from litter and dog waste. Parking problems, bathrooms requirements, enforcing rules such as no swimming or having dogs on leashes, insurance liabilities for the residents living on the West River and the Town of Grand Island should have been addressed.
The person referred to as a handler in Nathan's commentary pointed out in the Island Dispatch, there is a process in doing things. The fact is, Nathan has often not followed the process established by a quorum vote of the Town Board and recommendations of advisory boards. As supervisor, he is supposed to represent the people and not his own agenda. Whoever the handler was in his commentary, she asked if he would do anything to win such as streaking at a Bill's game? He posted after thinking about it, he replied yes. To admit and publicly post you would do an illegal act to win, shows a complete lack of common sense and stupidity. It does explain Nathan's actions on short term rentals and other issues because he cannot accept a loss or a difference of opinion even if it is better for the community.
Views on Community Center, Traffic - February 2018I read a couple items in January 5th Dispatch that I had to comment on. In the article on the Town Board meeting, one resident stated that she doesn't notice any more traffic on West River service road when the parkway is not plowed. She either does not live on West River or lives south of Staley Road on West River. Having lived on West River for 40 years and running on it daily around 6 a.m., I can assure you that there is much more traffic on the service road when the parkway is closed than when it is not. This is especially true during morning and afternoon commute times. And most of that traffic is traveling at a much greater speed than 30 mph. The town could make a fortune on speeding tickets. Another resident stated that since the road closure and bike path were announced, the value of her house has gone up $100,000. I have a bridge I would like to sell her! How much will your house be worth five years down the road when the now enkempt and overgrown bike path is the view out your window?
As for the community center, this money should be spent on improving our infrastructure. We have waterlines that are continually breaking/leaking, are well over 50 years old and need to be replaced. You can only patch them so many times. We also still have houses whose downspouts, floor drains and sump pumps are tied into the sanitary sewer causing storm water to be treated along with raw sewage. Other towns smoke-test their sewers and require homeowners to remove these connections. Once these improvements have been made, then maybe its time to discuss a community center.
Holier Than Thou - January 2018A featured article appeared Monday January 29, 2018 in the on-line portion of the Buffalo News pertaining to Grand Islands illustrious Town Supervisor. Per the article he was using his town email account sending messages during business hours to individuals in his quest to run for Congress. It would be interesting to know how his "real employer" would have reacted if he was using his email account with them for the same purpose.
Let me share some words from a phrase that yours truly believes fits this individual to a T: attitude of moral superiority, sanctimonious, self-righteous, smug, self-satisfied, priggish, pious, condescending, snob. The phrase is "holier than thou" and must have had Nathan McMurray in mind when it was derived.
David K. Grant
Done Deal or Dumb Deal - January 2018I am so tired of hearing "It's A Done Deal". This is crunch time...and the only people that can help are Senator Chris Jacobs and Angelo Morinello. Let's ask them to stand up for what is right.
Send an Email Today: Dear Senator Jacobs and Assemblyman Morinello
West River Path Timeline:
1998 Grand Island Master Plan included a Path between the Parkway and the River.
June 2, 2014 - Grand Island residents and groups are supportive of a Path between the parkway and the River. Town Board votes unanimously for the Path between the Parkway and the River. Federal TAP funds are approved for the project with the stipulation, NO CHANGES without agreement of All Parties.
May 5, 2016 - Supervisor mentions NYS plan to Close the Parkway in workshop meeting, after acknowledging two hour meeting with State representative in January 2016. A video appears on Facebook of helicopter ride, calling the Parkway a "Dead Road", advocating for a World Class Park. Keep in mind our Supervisor is still employed by Delaware North as Vice President of Development.
July 20, 2016 - State Parks presents option #3 Closing the Parkway, immediately 73% or Grand Island people were against closing.
The first time the State ever mentioned Closing the Parkway. All the meetings in the Fall of 2015, Closing the Parkway is NEVER mentioned.
August 1, 2016 - Town Board Votes 3 to 2 against Closing West River Parkway. Additional polling during comment period generated even more, 80% against closing.
August 21, 2016 - Town Board requests Mark Thomas and New York State Parks, honor the Original Agreement.
November 2016 - State refuses to participate in Open Forum Town Board meeting regarding Parkway Closure and Options #4 and #5.
December 2016 - State announces formally in a Memorandum to the Town Board indicating its choice is Option #3 Closing the Parkway.
Safety issues were NEVER addressed, no SEQR or EIS, a Violation of State Law! Ultimately Using Federal Funds for a totally different project also a Violation of State Law!
Currently the parkway services 1500 or more cars a day, including ALL police agencies, school buses, Border Patrol the list goes on... When people suggest the Parkway is closed in the winter... it was a choice the State made to save money, it should be maintained year round. AND the State has refused to directly address the maintenance issue in the future.
Now For the Safety Concerns: Think for a second if you lived on Staley Road which already has serious traffic concerns, NOW, diverting 1500 cars a day onto Island Town and County roads? It WILL cost Island Taxpayers money. Staley, Alvin, Baseline and the West River Service Road are all maintained with taxpayer funding.
Remember NY State took the land from Islanders, promising a Scenic Parkway at the same time costing the Town of Grand Island millions in reduced property taxes. That was waterfront property they took, the most valuable asset the Town of Grand Island has.
The state of New York owns or controls more that half of the islands waterfront and Islanders still have to pay to get into Beaver Island State Park and tolls to get home!
This is not a West River Homeowner issue, it affects ALL Islanders.
We need to stand up for what is right.
Follow this Email link, add your comments, PLEASE. Senator Jacobs and Assemblyman Morinello Today!
For All the facts Visit: Grand Island Concerned Citizens for Responsible Government
What do you think?
Your Opinion Matters . . Email Jodi Robinson email@example.com, Thank You.
In Response - January 2018The issue at hand in Jim Mulchay's Letter entitled: "Pay raises for me but not for thee," appears to be the overall salary structure of the town's personnel. Mr. Mulcahy apparently finds it necessary to attack two women for their opinion on the issues. For years women have fought to be recognized as equals and treated with respect. Women are now coming forward revealing the coercive and demeaning treatment we have endured. Mr. Mulcahy's statements do nothing to stem this egregious attitude.
First, Mr. Mulcahy accuses Councilman Kinney as Supervisor McMurray's echo. Ignoring all the times the three men on the previous board echoed each other. Then he attacks me for trying to debunk the outrageous claims made in the letters I responded to. I've spoken to the minority members of the Town Board who are so often maligned. They prefer to stay above the fray. I don't have that kind of tolerance for the duplicitous rhetoric spewed by certain individuals.
Ms. Kinney works many hours a week at the town. Before Mr. Mulcahy accuses her of following Nate's lead, he should ask Engineering, Code Enforcement or our Town Accountant if she consults with them on issues. He should also ask any department how much time any of the (previous majority) Town Board members spent with them on the issues that affect the town. Ms. Kinney researches each agenda topic before every meeting. If she has questions, she asks. If she votes yea or nay on any motion, it's not because she has been influenced. It's because she believes her decision is best for the town. She does not vote in lockstep as the previous board majority has on almost every vote.
As for my long letters? How about Mr. Mulcahy 's long letters? I've read Mulcahy's missives on the school board, another public body. Questioning fiscal responsibility and transparency have been his primary focuses. Councilwoman Kinney should be allowed to question the wisdom of a motion too. She asked to table it to look at the structure in its entirety. Mulcahy seems to be on the same page there. Yet he attacks the lady's position...strange.
I believe the problem that Ms. Kinney and Mr. McMurray tried to avoid in the meeting will surface in a very short period of time. That time will be when two unions negotiate their town contracts. If Mulcahy's so-called chump change grows into breaking the tax cap, who will answer for that?
Pay Raises for Me, but Not for Thee - January 2018The opening Town Board meeting this year appears to have been a doozie. The high school students who have to attend one town board and one school board meeting are getting their monies' worth. Sort of like the night in January, 2002, when I accused the school board of lying to the taxpayers. (If you weren't there and/or didn't follow the ensuing saga, they had.)
The issue of the day was pay raises for the deputy clerks. I will state at the outset that I do not know if these individuals deserve a pay raise or, even, if they should keep their jobs. My interest is in the whole process. As usual, the following axioms held: 1. If Madigan is on one side, McMurray and his echo, Kinney, will be on the other; 2. Jean Clabeaux will write a lengthy defense of her Nate; and 3. The critical issue(s) will not be addressed.
Focusing on 3. Quite frankly, it isn't any of our business what the pay is of these employees. Think of your own job. It isn't any one else's business what your employer is paying you. We can all agree with the late economist G. Warren Nutter's dictum: "The payment I make is always too high, and the payment I receive is always too low!" Envy and whining are too prevalent but are beside the point.
The real issue that needs to be examined is whether or not the pay scales for town positions are competitive. How does the total package of wages and benefits (plus the likelihood of layoff) compare to what employers in the private sector are paying for comparable levels of output? Anybody who has ever worked in both the public and private sectors knows how much greater the productivity is in the private sector. I remember when NYC went bankrupt in the early 1970s, the weekly wages for token collectors on the subway who might on occasion have to make change for a twenty-dollar bill was $210. At Chase Manhattan Bank tellers who dealt with enormous sums and could be fired earned $155. Was it any wonder NYC had fiscal issues?
The town needs to have an independent firm assess the competitiveness of our pay packages. It needs to do this for all departments, not just the clerk's. It may be that we are overpaying/underpaying for specific jobs. When I was a manager at Continental Bank another group was merged into ours and two young ladies reported to me. They were eager to do more and I was happy to give them more responsibility. One day, I asked HR for their job descriptions. I was shocked. They should have been paid at a level two grades higher. I was able to get them the salaries they earned: one of my finer moments. My point for this digression is that it may very well be that we are underpaying.
Another aspect that deserves serious scrutiny is whether the town should be doing the work itself. We don't collect the garbage; we contract out and if we are unhappy we can (pun intended) ashcan the provider. This typically is the most cost-effective way to deliver many services. We need to quit getting in snit over chump change, a top-to-bottom review of the whole operation is where the real savings are.
Politics - January 2018As I read Nathan McMurray's opinion of himself in the December 29, 2017 addition of the Island Dispatch regarding his political agenda, I realized we can all agree that politicians can be controlled by their donors. Nathan McMurray decided he wanted short term rentals on Grand Island to support a small group of his constituents. I do not know if they were his donors, but I see by his actions, he did not listen to what the majority of residents wanted.
The proof that residents were against short term rentals in residential zones was determined by the recent elections of Town Board Members. The population had the opportunity to vote for the candidates who were against short term rentals in residential zones. As a result, Jennifer Baney and Pete Marston were elected to the Town Board. Many people have addressed issues with Nathan McMurry in the past year and he has demonstrated he will not listen or change his opinion. A major issue was the West River Parkway. When the public forum was held at the high school to determine what the residents wanted, he was a no show. As I understand it, Nathan was holding his own meeting to promote what he wanted. Was that a stab in the back?
Nathan's publication is about what he thinks of himself and implies that Grand Island residents lack logic and common sense because he thinks we fear change. I have no problem with him promoting himself but I do not think we fear change if it benefits us all and it makes sense. Nathan claims he loves Grand Island but I do not believe he understands our history. Our zoning laws were established to protect our residential rights. By driving and stopping on the West River Parkway for years, the residents have enjoyed the beautiful view of the West River. What a great loss this will be when it is closed.
For The Record: McMurray's Inappropriate Actions Continue - January 2018In regards to raises that were approved at this week's Town Board Meeting: The Supervisor wrote the following on his Facebook Page: "Members of the board argued that we were in agreement about this motion prior to the meeting, but if that's the case, I was not part of those discussions. In fact, I have never met with this Town Board, since two of them were only appointed on Sunday. Now, if they had separate partisan meetings, that's for them to explain."
For the record what the Supervisor wrote is untrue. The entire new board met, prior to the regular meeting, in a Workshop meeting and first talked about the raises at 1:43 into the meeting (https://www.facebook.com/grandislandnews/videos/580215398984337/) at which time it was agreed that the discussion should be held during the Executive Session that followed the open meeting.
The board then met in Executive Session and talked in detail regarding the proposed pay raise. The board consulted with the town Lawyer in these discussions, contrary to what the Supervisor knowingly falsely claims on his Facebook page. The discussion was a substantial discussion that he denies ever occurred - a discussion that lasted over fifteen minutes. Much or most of what the Supervisor disclosed on his FB page is what was discussed in the Executive session - which is a concern for another discussion.
When the Supervisor states that a board member falsely claimed - "that we were in agreement prior to the meeting about this motion" - he must mean that we did not unanimously agree - which is true but is not a requirement. The only requirement to pass and approve the motion was a majority vote. There is no requirement that the board must agree with McMurray's position in order to pass a motion. Note: The raise equates to a thirty eight cents per hour pay increase!!
Following the meeting McMurray reverted once again into his pre-November election behavior that destroyed all of his candidate's chances of winning. McMurray proceeded to throw the equivalent of a tantrum on Facebook. In one of those posts and comments - what was written was very hurtful towards a number of town employees and towards at least one member of the board (not me) and this highly politicized post remained up most of the day Wednesday on the politicized Grand Ideas for Grand Island Facebook page -a similar post was posted by the Supervisor on his Facebook page.
Regarding the approval process that was followed: The prior board, for over two years, agreed that raises would not be approved that were not budgeted. Department heads have been instructed to make certain such requests and associated detailed justifications are submitted prior to the budget process in the Fall for approval in the new year. This process was complied with fully and in fact one other raise was approved following this process during the meeting this week Most importantly I must conclude with the fact that the prior Board continually received compliments and positive feedback, without exception, about the professionalism and awesome customer service that our Clerk's office provides - they did not deserve the backlash what has transpired this week.
Most importantly I must conclude with the fact that the prior Board continually received compliments and positive feedback, without exception, about the professionalism and awesome customer service that our Clerk's office provides - they did not deserve what has transpired this week.
Our Clerk's office does more than most in the region and just this past week our town, thanks to our well organized Clerk's office, was one of the few who were able to support property owners with full compliance with the IRS tax prepayment requirements reducing their combined federal taxes by tens of thousands of dollars - excellent job!
Mike Madigan, Town Councilman