Previous Letters to Editor Page
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Editor or addressed to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072
Welcome Center Wastewater Problems - 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contracted by NYS for the "Welcome" Center, that the Engineering drawings provided to the Town of Grand Island are outdated and were outdated prior to Grand Island receiving them in January - outdated by approximately three months.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 A full and complete investigation on who and why drawings that have been reported to be as much as 3 months outdated were provided to the town instead of the drawings sent out for bid.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.
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 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 taxes by approximately $500,000 - excellent job!
Mike Madigan, Town Councilman