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Unique Business Opportunity - September 2019www.IsledeGrande.com often referred to as my fourth child, was in concept a simple way to present Island News to the World, helping old friends connect, we kidding called it Reunion Central. Even if some of the news was sad, like the passing of a friend, it was a way to help Islanders from the past or present connect, from anywhere in the world.
Over the past 22 years we have celebrated over 4,000,000 unique page views, literally from all over the world. Now with over 100 active pages, including Deaths, Real Estate Transactions, Letters to the Editor, Grand Island Town History with thousands of pictures, Reunion Pages, Group pages for most, if not all local organizations, Town News and of course a platform for Island Businesses to advertise their products, all maintained 24/7. If you are reading this you realize how much news we present weekly.
It has been my pleasure to provide the platform for this website and maintain it. I believe it has a role to play in the future of Grand Island, we are looking for support. Maybe you are interested in writing human interest stories or learning how a Town Website might function from the inside out. The opportunity can be on any level, advertising sales, editing text, brainstorming ideas, we are looking for your input. You might even want get involved in management, or even become an owner.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions you might have, help us think outside the box. If you would like to stop by and chat, I am in the office 8-5 Monday through Friday and Saturday 9-2, right next door at deSignet International - www.raru.com, 1869 Whitehaven Road.
Reg Schopp - Publisher firstname.lastname@example.org
Protect Our Interests - September 2019On Valentine's Day, 1936, in the very first edition of the Grand Island Dispatch (called the GI News back then), Town Supervisor John Mesmer Jr. said the following: ..."all indications [reveal] that the Island is on the verge of new growth. It is hoped that this growth will be a natural and healthy one so that the accompanying growing pains will not be too severe. Only thru the exercise of common sense and reason can we distinguish projects which will benefit the community as a whole from those which, by the very nature of their promotion can be beneficial to only a few and therefore harmful to the whole. The former should be welcomed; the latter discouraged...Only so long as this growth is healthy and only so long as we can satisfactorily serve the best interest of Grand Islanders, can we hope to prosper.”
Whether it be John Whitney, Jim Sharpe or some other candidate elected Town Supervisor in November, we MUST INSIST that they do not focus ONLY on the rights of individual property holders [who are actually NYC venture-capital investment groups]. John Whitney and his supporter Kevin J. Rung recently asserted in print that property ownership (possession being 9/10ths of the law) is the de facto reason Southpointe should not and could not be impeded. Further, that Whitney's pragmatic engineering experience and data driven perspective render him highly electable. But that attitude alone by a new Town Supervisor does not "serve the best interest of Grand Islanders," as Mesmer wisely understood was his mandate. ELECTED OFFICIALS ARE PAID TO PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE. The Town Board and Supervisor must not lose sight of who pays them, who elects them, and to whom they would owe the privilege of their leadership role. Our Town Board members and Supervisor fulfill a sacred duty that extends to future generations of Grand Islanders, not merely to monied out-of-towners drooling over our open spaces. Islanders told you in 1993, and they're telling you again now--NO SOUTHPOINTE DEVELOPMENT.
Does Harold Sherz (et al.) own the nearly 300 acres with which he hopes to create a cash cow in our beautiful town where he will never live, flush a toilet or commute over the bridges? Yes, he does. Does that give him carte blanche to go against Grand Island residents' stated position with regard to stopping unchecked and foolish commercial growth? No, it does not. It doesn't matter if you're a retired town engineer, an up-and-comer, or a former town supervisor; it doesn't matter how badly you want the job, or who's funding your campaign--if you want to be elected Town Supervisor you must come to the task to serve the best interest of ALL Grand Islanders...or we will fail to thrive.
Remember: Whitney was town engineer when the now blighted and vacant Valero gas station was built at the corner of Ransom and Stony Point. Sharpe, riding the fence, says he's "open" to Southpointe. We do not need a letter-of-the-law engineer or a wannabe fence-sitter Town Supervisor. Islanders will happily elect the first candidate courageous enough to say, "We don't have the community will or the infrastrucure for Southpointe. Its development should be discouraged and rejected on the basis of its negative impact upon our community, its infrastructure and ecosystem". Somebody....ANYbody....PLEASE step forward and boldly and openly defend what ISLANDERS, not off-Island developers, WANT. Imagine what John Mesmer Jr, whose descendants still reside here on Grand Island, would say. Vote your conscience.
Maureen P. Phillips, PhD
Captain, USAF/ANG (Retired)
Poppy Fundraiser Thank You - September 2019I would like to thank everyone who participated and gave to the Grand Island Legion Post #1346, last week at the 2019 Poppy Fundraiser. The money raised will be donated for school scholarships, care supplies for veterans in need at the VA Hospital in Buffalo, in the building of the DeGlopper Memorial Expansion and many other worthwhile projects.
Richard Bonarek - Poppy Chairman
Shopping Cart Damages - September 2019To other Grand Island residents who may not be aware of the fact that if you park in Top's parking lot and your car is damaged by their shopping carts, they are not responsible to pay for damages, even though other people witness that occurance. They post no sign to alert you to the fact that they won't be responsible for damage done by their carts to their customer's cars.
I have been a resident on Grand Island for over forty years and even though I feel they have an unfair advantage as our only grocery store, I have been a regular customer. While shopping recently, I came out to find my car, which was parked close to the front of the store, with a large crease in the side door. There was an employee waiting by my car who told me the damage was done by shopping carts. I returned to the store and filled out the proper form to report the accident. When I came back to my car I found a note with the name and phone number of another customer who witnessed the accident. I called to thank him for letting me know that it was four carts that got away from the employee collecting them. He seemed to be as surprised as I was that Top's was not going to pay for damages.
I just assumed as I'm sure most shoppers do that they would do the right thing and pay for the damage these carts did to my car. I think Grand Island residents need to be advised they might want to rethink where they shop or at least if they do choose to shop at Top's, be aware of what outcome they might face if their vehicle is parked in Top's parking lot.
ATTENTION!!! SCAM ALERT - September 2019Alert to a Scam currently active.
You might receive a text from a trusted friend endorsing applying for a grant. They are totally unaware that this is happening - EVEN though their picture or other ID is attached. You will be asked to "buy in" to AMAZON Gift Cards. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES BUY GIFT CARDS TO PAY FOR THIS. There are similar scams implying Internal Revenue Service or a Local Police or Sherrif is involved, it is not legitimate.
Paying Scammers With Gift Cards.
The Right Candidate for Supervisor - September 2019Property owners and taxpayers on Grand Island will shortly be asked to choose a new Supervisor. One hopes that the decision made at the polling place would be animated by what these folks understand to be in their best interest; that is, the choice of a candidate fully informed about the nuance of Town Law.
Recently, Mr. John Whitney wrote a piece in these pages which spoke volumes about his singular suitability. He addressed details about the proposed Southpointe Project.
Of particular note, were the alphas P.E. following his name. The letters denote: Professional Engineer and acknowledge that the person so designated is a licensed engineer. Some folks may not be aware that Mr. Whitney was, previous to his retirement, Grand Island's Town Engineer.
This brings us to a second important point, and that is, that through many years of hands on experience with demanding issues of town building code requirements, State and Federal Requirements and Regulations, Environmental Codes and many other technical issues too numerous to list he is uniquely qualified to act in our best interests as Town Supervisor.
Next, It was startling to read his qualifying comment, that his opinion was not important, but rather the opinion of the citizens of Grand Island that mattered. These are not the words of a political party hack, they are the position of a man who has worked for a long time for you and me in Town administration, and deems himself to be like the rest of us.
Mr. Whitney, true to his training and perspective correctly teased out of the various comments made by folks at the Southpointe meeting, the observation that many people simply don't want this development to occur. More importantly, and to the point of his unique suitability to be our selection as Supervisor, he evenhandedly reminded folks that the property owners of the land which would become the Southpointe Project have rights of proprietorship of this land. As property owners ourselves and taxpayers, it would be in our best interests to vote for a man who recognizes and acknowledges this proprietorship under the law.
Kevin J. Rung
Enough Already - August 2019At this time in our country when full grown adults are fighting like children who can’t figure out how to divvy things up and share kindly, or creatively imagine a path to middle-ground agreement, or summon the courage to offer forgiveness, or find the humility to tolerate difference—lots of things adults really ought to be able and willing to try to do—there are, in fact, still a few things we can come together about with relative ease. These are things for which we don’t need a higher authority—whether earthly or heavenly found—to make us behave; no need for a parent to lead us by the hand, an adult brat on either side, by whom we are admonished, “enough already!” Nope. Some things we just don’t feel an impulse to fight about, regardless who we, or the person holding that other hand, may be. Effortless agreement happens.
For example, who doesn’t believe Adrian’s beef on weck is scrumptious and the pride of Grand Island? Who isn’t just a little tired of taking visitors over to stare at all the water going over the falls, feigning profound enthusiasm yet again at the true miracle of it all? I can think of a number of things Grand Island residents would readily smile and nod their heads at one another in agreement over—the drudgery of stalled bridge traffic, the beauty of ice floes dancing by on the river in Winter, those inspiring orange sunsets off West River Road, the genuine strain of a zero-degree February day, watching the bright yellow school bus dropping off fresh-faced children in their new-school-year finest and remembering when we were thus, or how about the frustration of a failed sump pump just when it’s needed most? Agreed, right? We easily smile together recalling a first day of boating season, or the first bird hunt in January with the coolest duck blind. We like our bird feeders, our football, our flower beds, and our outdoor-music-in-a-lawn-chair summer evenings. There are lots and lots of things that unite us.
One of those things is the sense of place we have about Grand Island, and the pride we feel about our hometown. Recently, while attending the funeral of my childhood friend’s mother, another friend turned to us all with tears in her eyes and said with the tenderest sincerity, “we’re next!” No issue with agreement there! I walked away grateful she had put words to what are also my own deepest fears. For us, frighteningly soon and inevitably, it will all come to an end, as it has for the six generations on Grand Island who came before us. That unifies us too. My classmates and I find ourselves Grand Island’s senior citizens and, in complete agreement, we are baffled at how that could possibly have happened. (If it hasn’t yet, it’ll happen to you too.) She was right, though; it’s our turn.
Here’s something else we can all agree on—the pleasure of looking back and remembering who was who and what happened when. I’ve spent hours of fun with friends searching the Grand Island Dispatch archives online (http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/). In reading old issues we sometimes discover that we’ve held a skewed memory of something for a very long time—and we laugh! Other times old Dispatch articles teach us something about Grand Island we never thought about before. Skimming the pages provides a bird’s eye perspective that helps to answer questions about who we are, too. Just what is the character of our community? I challenge you to read just a few articles; take notice of how we spoke about one another and how we got things done way back when. I think you’ll agree with me; our community is pretty darn cool. That’s why everybody wants a piece of it.
If you take some time to search the Dispatch archives, you’ll begin to realize that adults with a will and the wherewithal have consistently through the generations fought hard to protect Grand Island for what it is. The children are busy being children; the elderly have already done their part. “We’re next!” It’s not that a newcomer wouldn’t, but defending Grand Island’s character takes on new heat for those of us with deep roots on the Island and a daily sense of gratitude that we’re here. What is Grand Island to us that we can’t fully explain to outsiders but know we agree on, class after class after returning graduating class? Well, we know what it isn’t, don’t we? Here’s an example—look back and you’ll read that people tried to stop the building of the Valero gas station on the corner of Ransom and Stony Point. There it sits, though, all weedy and desolate—a nice thing for our kids to drive past before and after school? I believe we all agree that was a boondoggle. Reading old Town Board minutes, even all the way back to 1944, will show you that, way back when Elsie Stamler was our Town clerk, there was agreement between residents that our stewardship of this Grand Island was serious work. The Island’s well-being had to be monitored; its safety and well-being was and is organically important to us collectively and historically. It was difficult team work then and of the sort we still do now; and it was done by adults who said no when no needed to be said. Town Board members agreed that certain things were indeed necessary for our community, and they agreed that indeed other things definitely, yet respectfully, were not. And, for the most part, they did not allow things that were bad for the Island to come to pass. If they hadn’t, we wouldn’t love it as we do.
Fast forward 75 years and hover over the Town Hall meeting room last Monday night. On one end sat a big-city outsider who professes to want to do ‘good things’ by taking nearly 400 acres of prime Grand Island greenery smack dab in the middle of wetlands, forest habitat, and most importantly local people who’ve been here for a very long time, and build buildings we simply do not need and that we (and they) know, among several other awful things, will add to the agony of bridge users and the failure of the bounded sewer system for generations to come. Sitting next to that outsider was a man who wants to design those unnecessary buildings, who professed to believe those ‘good things’ which are patently untenable, and yet who moved off of our lovely Island one year ago himself. No need for him to agree that it’s not good for Grand Island; after all, he’s just going to do the work, not commute on the bridges anymore. Shouldn’t a fellow have a job? Shouldn’t we buy their assertion that parking lots can be counted as green space? Shouldn’t any investor do anything he wants with Grand Island? Do you agree that sounds pretty rotten? The room you’re hovering over was packed to SRO saturation with Grand Islanders who, like generations of stewards of Grand Island before them, said, and wisely so, “No. Absolutely not.” You can look us square in the eye and insist your retail space and 500+ new ‘units’ are “in keeping with the character of” our Island, and—in vehement agreement we will clearly reply, to put it humorously, “Don’t pee on our foot and tell us it’s raining, mister!” There was resounding agreement in the room— Southpointe Development was a bad idea in 1993 and responsible stewards of Grand Island stopped it then; Southpointe Development is a bad idea now, and we’re next—it’s our turn to stop it again. Will this project become a Valero gas station scratching up our town’s face, or will we succeed in protecting our community as others have done before us? It’s up to every person who cares about the Island to stand up to this project’s investors and prevent it from coming to pass. Need I say why? For future generations, of course. (I mean, I’ll be six feet under soon just for the time it’s taken to write this.) Southpointe Development isn’t the same as a local person deciding to open a business or to build or flip a house he or she will live in here. Who’d disagree with that? Southpointe isn’t that. Southpointe Development is being pursued by someone who won’t ever live here, has no earthly idea of our town’s character, and yet intends to damage it for all posterity. This is someone who’ll build and build and build (in phases) and walk away richer while we remain here jammed together like sardines wondering how we sold out our birthright. I dare say you’ll agree, it takes a lot of cheek for an investor to be so boldly presumptuous and insulting, how much worse the former resident who would help him do it.
When you have a moment, open up Google Earth online and enter “Grand Island, New York” in the search field. A dizzy moment later, you’ll see from a lofty perspective how beautifully green our Island still remains. Then look to the north, south and east. That density of streets and structures causing other towns to look white with concrete is what this investor considers a ‘good thing’ for our community. How much development is enough development on Grand Island? Hunters and hikers reach easy agreement when they answer that question. As mature adults—now the decision- and policy-makers—we need to pause and consider the idea that stewardship means repurposing empty, blighted buildings like the Valero gas station and spaces in Grand Isle Village, among many others, and that indeed this, not Southpointe Development, is “in keeping with our character”. If that were untrue, others would not be vying to be here, to return here, to profit here. It’s time for us to shout in unequivocal agreement: ENOUGH ALREADY! Come to the next meeting and make history, that way your descendants will know you paid it forward on their behalf.
Maureen P. Phillips, PhD
Captain, USAF/ANG (Retired)
One Problem “Solved” and a Worse One Created - August 2019Mr. Noel Blair, Jr. is opposed to the Southpointe project. In his recent IsledeGrande article he said, “Grand Island has a problem too. [The other place with a problem is the city of Tonawanda.] We have a looming unwanted development that will clearcut a large swath of our heavily forested green space and wetlands. The Southpointe development alleges to be utilizing 11% of the 300 acre wildlife habitat, which equates to 33 acres.”
His solution to both problems is have the Southpointe project relocate to the city of Tonawanda. Fine, if the owners want to. Mr. Blair talks about ‘our’ heavily forested green space. No, it is not ‘ours’, it is theirs. He says the project is unwanted. I have yet to meet a businessman who knowingly invests in a project that is expected to fail from the get-go. Obviously, someone wants it. Why should the current owners’ property rights be curtailed by people who don’t own it? What Mr. Blair is saying is that he doesn’t want it since it will infringe on his lifestyle. Maybe so. My suggestion then is to make the developers an offer to acquire it and keep it as a green space forever. This is eminent domain on the cheap.
This is the worse problem; that is, allowing people to inflict their views on others and, in the process, use the police powers of the state (the Town, in this case) to reduce the value of their property. Where will it stop? It won’t, once blood is smelled in the water, cliques will stop anything and everything. These cliques will bear no cost for their actions. This is a terrible precedent.
That said, for the life of me I don’t understand the logic of putting senior housing units on Grand Island. We don’t have medical facilities nearby; there is no bus service; etc. It really is not a rational place to entice seniors to move to. Are Islanders going to be expected to backfill all of the amenities that seniors would like and need, but don’t want to pay for themselves? Just because something is legal and sounds like a nice thing to do for seniors, doesn’t imply that it should be done. There are externalities associated with any development. The developers should be expected to internalize those costs, not the rest of us.
If these seniors are still commuting to work, we have now compounded the commuting problem. Until the State does the right thing (don’t hold your breath) and completes the LaSalle Expressway around to the 990 and the Twin Cities Memorial Hwy., Grand Island’s bridges and roads will be congested with people cutting through, with no desire or intention of stopping here. The State needs to focus on spending our tax dollars on a useful piece of infrastructure, the highway, instead of obscenely wasteful visitor’s centers and, of course, that perennial favorite, a new sports facility.
New York State is one of the top four states (NY, CT, IL, NJ) where outbound movers exceed inbound movers. The data are from United Van Lines. Guess who uses United? Hint: it isn’t the poor. Poorly thought out decisions that will impose increased costs on the citizenry will convince even more that, as nice as WNY is, it is time to say goodbye.
Thoughts on Southpointe - August 2019As a candidate for Town Supervisor, I have been asked “What are your thoughts on Southpointe?”. My response is that my opinion isn’t what matters. It’s the citizens of Grand Island opinions that matter. However, we do have a Town Code that we must abide by also. This Code does give rights of development to the property owner. Much the same as if you purchased a parcel of land with the intent to build your home. Let’s say you’ve done your due diligence and thoroughly vetted all the environmental concerns, but your neighbors don’t like the idea of a new home being built on the vacant lot you own. Unless you violate some provision of the Town Code, you do have a right to build your home.
Now I know I’ve oversimplified this in my example, but the point is that this developer does have rights and the Town can’t stop a project just because of public outcry. That being said, there are serious concerns that need to be thoroughly examined and minimized to the fullest extent practicable.
I believe a new traffic study is warranted. There have been significant changes with more looming. The cashless tolls haven’t worked out as expected. There are as many if not more delays since their implementation. Heron Pointe has reached full occupancy for Phase I and Phase II is under construction. The West River Parkway is closed, and traffic patterns have most likely changed. I also believe the proposed connections to Glen Avon and the stub street off Carl Road need to be thoroughly investigated. This is especially true for the Glen Avon residents. What is currently a very quiet dead-end street will be a very long, straight thoroughfare. This will impact them greatly.
The developer is asking for an expansion of the Sanitary Sewer District. The Town needs to take a hard look at this request. The developer proposes to build less than the previously approved plan. If the Town agrees to expand the sewer district, it should include the caveat that keeps the amount of development to an agreed upon number.
The Town is under an Order on Consent by the NYSDEC to minimize and eliminate sanitary sewer overflows during periods of wet weather. There have been many projects already completed towards this effort with encouraging results. In conversations with Wastewater personnel, improvements have been made and are continuing. Are they enough? Frankly, No. There are still overflows, they are less frequent and smaller, but they still happen. More work needs to be done. As part of the Southpointe plan, the flows from Pump Station 7 (Carl Road) will be diverted away from Pump Station 8 (E. River Road at the South Bridge). Currently, Station 8 is a point of overflow during wet weather. This will help reduce wet weather overflows to the Niagara River. This system should be studied by a consultant of the Town’s choosing (at the developer’s expense) to see if these changes will have the desired result.
Overflows typically happen in areas of older sewers and existing sewer users are the ones that must pay for the improvements. However, the NYSDEC does provide a provision where new developments must remove four (4) times the peak flow generated by their project from the existing sewer system. Peak flows are usually about four (4) times average daily flows. This means that if a typical house generates 350 gallons of sewage per day (GPD), the developer must prove to the DEC that he has reduced inflow and infiltration (I&I) by 5,600 GPD for each house in the development.
Currently, there are two (2) ways for this to happen. They can repair existing leaking sewers (Main lines, existing house laterals, manholes, etc.) or they can pay a commensurate amount to the Town to be used towards these efforts. The NYSDEC is the agency that determines how much I&I removal is credited for each repair.
Due to new development along Grand Island Boulevard, the water model for the Town’s system should be updated. There are times during high usage (periods of hot dry weather) when the pressures in the center of Town drop to a point of concern. There have been improvements which have helped, and other improvements are planned. Updating the system model along with current flow test data is the only way to see if the system can handle the additional demands.
I would ask the developer to do a survey of mature trees in the proposed development areas and make every attempt to minimize their removal. I agree with Diane Evans of the Conservation Advisory Board that significant buffers should be identified and maintained along the Spicer Creek corridor. While the developer’s agent is correct in stating that only 11% of the sight will have hardened surfaces (buildings, roads, sidewalks, etc.), I would ask them to provide a more realistic number that includes all areas that are disturbed.
At the information meeting on August 25, 2019, there were many people that just don’t want this development to occur. As I said earlier, the developer does have a right to develop the project once all the environmental and Town code issues have been met. The only way for this not to happen is for the developer to either donate or sell the property to a public entity that will guarantee it to be green space in perpetuity.
The Town Board has the right under SEQR to hire a consultant to do an independent review of the developer’s plans and studies at the expense of the developer. I encourage this to happen. I don’t believe any of us want to see destruction of green space and reduced wildlife habitat, but if this project does come to fruition, let’s make it the best project for all Grand Island.
John C. Whitney, P.E.
Candidate for Town Supervisor
PROBLEM SOLVED! - August 2019On its website, the Southpointe developer’s architectural firm advertises the property will provide housing for “…people who would like to move to Grand Island to experience the natural beauty of the rural setting”. Aside from the laughable irony in the developer’s statement, there is truth to the offer of living in the natural beauty of Grand Island, unfortunately that setting is disappearing.
Tonawanda has a problem. It seems they have two shovel ready plots of land ready for development without any suitors. The Spaulding site has nearly 46 acres and 14 more are ready to be developed on Little League Drive. A shot of tax revenue is desperately needed for a City battling a growing fiscal crisis.
Grand Island has a problem too. We have a looming unwanted development that will clearcut a large swath of our heavily forested green space and wetlands. The Southpointe development alleges to be utilizing 11% of the 300 acre wildlife habitat, which equates to 33 acres. A project that would comfortably fit into Tonawanda’s welcoming site.
Noel Blair Jr.
Attend Waterfront Revitalization Meetings - August 2019I’m writing to encourage "every" Grand Island property owner to begin attending the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) meetings. The first one took place on August 15th at the high school auditorium, and there were at most only 50 residents there. It would be foolhardy to ignore the fact that your land is being inventoried by the state and not be present to ask how or why - and to see whether you agree!
On the other hand, it’s good land stewardship to make sure the highly paid consultants and Town Board are fully aware of the existing water features on your property, many of which they might be unaware pose issues for you - now or in the future. They want to know. Why? Because a detailed and thorough report will mean more funding for future conservation and resolutions within identified areas.
As you’ll see on the map, “waterfront” includes shoreline, creeks, lakes, ponds, watersheds, and ditches. If you want the LWRP report to include any water-based property concerns you have, particularly if they do not appear highlighted on the map as shown, be sure to vocalize them at the upcoming meetings (the next meeting will be announced soon). Map of LWRP
. Are you a boater? Find out what will go into the LWRP report about docks in all the variety of locations on the Island... There are lots of off-Island people who want open and free shore access, even in areas that may disrupt resident activity. Do you think they should have it?
The map provided at the first meeting depicts in yellow highlighted areas those water features so far identified in the newest draft of the GI LWRP report (the “water revitalization areas—WRAs”); a report they stated at the meeting they intend to have finished in about 15 months. A report of such length accomplished this quickly may or may not address your land/water interests. And it could be another 13 or more years before another study is done. “What could possibly happen?!” Lots!
Any future changes...including re-zoning....of the WRAs, including wetlands, will fall under 44 unchangeable state-level policies, from which the consulting company will be drafting and finalizing localized and negotiated sub-policies specifically about Grand Island WRAs. Ostensibly, Island residents’ concerns are included in design of those sub-policies...but not if we don’t attend and contribute at the meetings! What exactly is meant by waterfront “revitalization” and who will be doing it? You won’t know unless you participate. Visit the Town website for more information.
Maureen P. Phillips, PhD, Captain, USAF/ANG (Retired)
Appreciation Letter to NYS Parks - August 2019Recently, Councilman Mike Madigan sent a letter to Western District Director of New York State Parks Mark Mistretta, "in appreciation of and to recognize the excellent working relationship the Town has experienced over the past year..." See letter here.
Mike Madigan - Grand Island Town Council
Grand Island Candidates - August 2019I, like many Grand Island residents, feel that Town Board Members, who supported Nathan McMurray’s policy on Tourist Homes, West River Parkway closing, purchase of the Canon Building and the information center with the ridiculous traffic lights, were not the best policies for the residents. I believe that we need to elect candidates dedicated to Grand Island and not wannabe politicians. I urge the citizens to ask questions of the candidates on issues that are important to all Grand Island residents.
John Whitney was the Town Engineer who worked well with other town employees and he would go out of his way to help the residents in their building projects. I know in conversations with him, he was against buying the Cannon building because it made no sense. He realized buying a larger forty year old building to replace the existing Town Hall would increase Grand Island resident’s taxes; the building would require more maintenance, the location of the Cannon Building was not as centralized as the existing Town Hall is and we would still have the cost of maintaining the existing Town Hall. The fact is when the Cannon building was contracted to a pharmaceutical company it was a tax benefit for Grand Island, it supported local business and it benefited Grand Island residents by increasing employment opportunities. I have not talked to John on these other issues. It is time to go forward with new leaders that will listen to, represent us all and not push for special interests that only benefit a few people like Tourist Homes. I believe that John Whitney is the best qualified candidate for Town Supervisor.
Mike Madigan originally supported the Tourist Homes, but after listening to many problems Tourist Homes were creating for neighboring homeowners, he refrained from voting which prevented a quorum on the proposal for Tourist Homes. He fought to keep the West River Parkway open with an alternate bicycle path between the service road and the parkway proposal. He was against the town purchasing the Cannon Design building and encouraged the town to try to keep Cannon Design headquarters on Grand Island.
We need to know what our politicians stand for before we elect them. I hope all the candidates will use Isledegrande to publicly state their visions to keep Grand Island the best place to live.
The Sky is Falling, the Sky is Falling! - August 2019In last week’s (8/9/2019) issue of the Island Dispatch there was an article by Roger Cook: “Great Lakes flooding, climate change.” His thesis is that climate change is the reason that the Great Lakes are flooding.
His evidence? He returned to his former home town of Alpena, MI, on the shores of Lake Huron, and saw the results of the lakes being high. He stated that “Lake Huron’s waters are at record high levels.” Not really; close, but not a record, and, certainly, not noticeably higher than previous peaks. (See: http://lre-wm.usace.army.mil/reports/GreatLakes/GLWL-CurrentMonth-Feet.pdf. Also, see http://lre-wm.usace.army.mil/ForecastData/GLBasinConditions/LTA-GLWL-Graph.pdf for graphs by month going back to 1918.) As is clear, while the lakes are almost at the maximum recorded (Lakes Superior and Ontario set records this year, although Ontario’s is man-made), this occurs regularly.
While I have only been to Alpena a handful of times, I do go to the Straits of Mackinac all the time. My grandfather had a cottage in the Upper Peninsula (UP) about a mile west of the Mackinac Bridge (I watched it being built in the 1950s.) My cousins own the property today. In 1962, we had to walk quite a ways out from the high water mark into the lake to get water since the lake was very low. In the 1930s, the lake was low enough for a couple of my uncles to walk from island to island in an area between their cottage and where the bridge now stands. You could have done it in 1962 and 2004. In 1986, the lake was up to the deck of my cousin’s dock as it is today. In 2004, I could stand at the end of the dock and not get wet; the lake was down five feet. Conspiracy theorists in the UP blamed Chicago for siphoning off all of the lake water.
Changes in lake levels are driven by four main factors: precipitation; inflow from tributaries; absorption by the ground; and evaporation. This Spring the region not only had substantial rainfall and, even when it wasn’t raining, there was cloud cover most of the time. The latter precluded any meaningful evaporation.
Mr. Cook goes on to blame global warming for this. He needs to be able to explain why these up and downs have occurred over and over in the past. He then references some University of Notre Dame climate scientists who are predicting dire consequences. My difficulty in accepting many of these forecasts by climatologists is that their models can’t explain today; that is, even knowing the answer (today’s temperature) their models are unable with any degree of accuracy predict it. Even so, they expect us to believe they can predict 80 years into the future.
Forecasting like this always reminds me of this pithy observation from Mark Twain. It is very apropos for many of the climate forecasts.
“A humorous treatment of the rigid uniformitarian view came from Mark Twain. Although the shortening of the Mississippi River he referred to was the result of engineering projects eliminating many of the bends in the river, it is a thought-provoking spoof: The Mississippi between Cairo and New Orleans was twelve hundred and fifteen miles long one hundred and seventy-six years ago. . . . Its length is only nine hundred and seventy-three miles at present. Now, if I wanted to be one of those ponderous scientific people, and “let on” to prove what had occurred in the remote past by what had occurred in a given time in the recent past . . . what an opportunity is here! Geology never had such a chance, nor such exact data to argue from! . . . In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long . . . There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”
Mr. Cook’s conclusion is for us to get off of fossil fuels. Really? He lauds the move to put in place large-scale wind farms. Hello. These require tons of steel which are made using, you guessed it, fossil fuels. Further they require tons of concrete that have to be mined using( oh, you peeked) fossil fuels. Further, even if the US stopped using fossil fuels completely today the rest of the growing world has no intentions of doing so.
Solar energy to be polite is a scam. All of the virtue-signaling homeowners with solar panels on their roofs are being subsidized, big time, by the rest of us. Solar causes the electric grid to be less efficient and less stable. If those with solar panels were really serious they would have National Grid come and remove their connection to the system. Buy battery packs to store any excess that is generated to use later. If you run out, tough.
The NY legislature passed an idiotic bill, the NYS Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, to be fossil fuel free by 2050; that is, long after they are dead and can’t be held responsible for such inanity. Unless there is an incredible breakthrough in storage technology, this is a hoax being perpetrated on the public. Of course, if there isn’t a breakthrough and the State still mandates it, it won’t be an issue because NY will be even more hollowed out than it is becoming now.
Finally, the “Green New Deal” that Mr. Cook praises is another joke. It couldn’t get one Democratic vote in the Senate this year. What does that tell you. Like all of their other nonsense, it is virtue-signaling by these twenty-first century Druids. The proponents of the GND admit that its primary goal is to destroy the free enterprise system that has led to more wealth and prosperity for more people than any other system ever devised. Of course, it works best when individuals are allowed to make their own choices, not when a handful of self-righteous politicians who couldn’t run a lemonade stand profitably dictate to them.
If anyone thinks Mr. Cook is correct, then I suggest they put their money where their mouth is. Don’t use air conditioning, either at home or in a car; don’t use lights; air dry all of your laundry; get rid of that frost-free refrigerator; hand dry all of your dishes; bike to Tops; use a push mower; get rid of those electronic gadgets; and, of course, to ensure that you won’t stray from this righteous path get off the grid. You will be able to preen about at your virtue-signaling events (if you can get there), even though your life will be miserable, knowing that the most precise temperature monitoring devices won’t notice that you did a thing.
James M. Mulcahy
Thank You Dick Crawford - July 2019I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank Dick Crawford and the GI Highway Department in addressing a potentially dangerous situation on my parents' street and in taking immediate action to ensure the safety of their fellow citizens.
So often, fellow Islanders use social media outlets to vent their frustration regarding particular Grand Island issues that we sometimes forget how blessed we all are to live in such a beautiful community. Many thanks to Dick and his team!
Reagan Was Correct - July 2019Former President Ronald Reagan once quipped: “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.” Between the smug self-aggrandizing blather and sheer incompetence it is hard to see how the current level of government involvement in our lives is a net plus. Three episodes in recent weeks serve to show this. In no particular order of importance, they are:
1. We learned from the Buffalo News on Monday, July 22, that NY State doesn’t charge Canadian drivers who use the Grand Island bridges. As the article notes, Americans, as well as Canadians, who use the 407 Tollway in Canada but don’t have a transponder are sent a bill by the operators of the tollway. They have been doing so since at least 2006 which was the first time I used it. Their billing process is very efficient. Why didn’t the geniuses in Albany call the Canadians and ask them how to do it? Or better still, license their programs rather than reinvent the wheel. (Given the level of competence shown on this we would get a square, not a circle.) The article says that the State doesn’t have an agreement with Ontario and Quebec to get the required information about the vehicles crossing. (It appears that the State doesn’t have the info from some of our own States.) The State’s incompetence in this matter is appalling. They have known for some time that this information was going to be necessary. As usual, bureaucratic lethargy and incompetence rule. Will anyone be held accountable? Of course not. What about the lost revenue? Maybe if the officials who were derelict in their duty were made to pay it this issue would be resolved immediately. Why do we continue to accept performance that would cause anybody to stop patronizing a private business, resulting in its bankruptcy, as it should?
2. We all received our copies of The Bridge, the official marketing piece of the school district. On page four, the current School Board president has an article. The sentence the struck me was the last one in the first paragraph: “I am grateful to live in a community that values education.” This was said in response to the approval of the capital project that was approved in January. You may be excused for not knowing about it because the sessions to inform the public were scheduled to minimize attendance over the Holidays as was the vote on January 8th. How squandering $9 million on a sports facility shows that we value education escapes me. (BTW, we shouldn’t value education (read: credentialing) as much as we should value learning.) This waste of money wouldn’t have been approved if it had been a standalone project instead of being bundled with some items that people were in favor of. This vote was a disgrace. The School Board members that were responsible for the size and scope of the project as well as the timing should be ashamed of themselves. As a community we should demand that 1) all capital projects be voted on at the May election time when board members and the operating budget are voted on. The Board, of course, doesn’t want this because people who may have misgivings are more likely to show up. We should also demand that capital projects should be separated into their component parts rather than the odious all-or-nothing choice we were given in January.
3. The debacle known as the West River Connector Trail is a gift that keeps on giving. The State said they were going to maintain the area as part of the elimination of the roadway. They don’t want homeowners cutting the grass on the median or the shoreline. In a recent letter to the West River Homeowners they asked for patience because they are involved in removing invasive species along the shoreline. These invasive species are only there because of their 44-year neglect of the parkway. Their mowing is appalling. They use oversize machines that create ruts that become breeding grounds for mosquitos. The mowers are too large for the terrain so that they produce a raggedy cut. Last week when it was blisteringly hot it really wasn’t safe to walk your dog on the trail. Their paws would be burnt from the asphalt. Further, they can’t/shouldn’t walk on the grass because, given the lousy mowing the State does, it is tick central out there. They want to reduce their mowing so they will have more “meadows”, a euphemism for “screw you, we’re outta here.” It may have made some sense to have some natural areas when it was a scenic parkway that people could enjoy while driving along it, but not now when you are encouraging people to bike and/or walk along it. Of course, the State is only doing cosmetic things, and poorly at that, while ignoring the critical issue of subsidence of shoreline. It has been going on for years. From just south of Fix Rd. to Buckhorn Park the shoreline needs a substantial investment in erosion protection. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the State to even contemplate doing it much less doing something about it.
These are just three examples of the incompetence and contempt for the public that government officials have. We have too much government in this state. Does anyone think that people would tolerate the amount of government that we are saddled with if our State income taxes were due on November 1st, with no withholding: you wrote a check for the full amount at that time. Likewise, do you think there would be more scrutiny of the spending by the school district if one’s school taxes were due May 1, again with no escrowing by the mortgage companies so that a check for the full amount was payable at that time. Government can only impose such excessive taxation with such abysmal performances because of the fact that most people aren’t fully aware of how much is being sucked out of them. We really need to become more involved (government officials depend upon voter/taxpayer apathy) and demand much greater accountability.
Racism vs Civility - July 2019It is extremely difficult to show respect for those who respond to legitimate criticism by hiding behind that tired but convenient cry of racism.
Our congressional representatives who rant and rave in the foulist of anti-American terms do not deserve to paint themselves as victims when called to account by President Trump or anyone else.
Both Democrats and Republicans supposedly seek political civility but it seems to have gotten lost somewhere in that vast congressional barnyard. Perhaps the 2020 elections will help straighten this mystery out, or maybe not. We can only hope!
Grass Island Restoration Project Update - June 2019A meeting was held on Tuesday June 11 with NYS Parks and Grand Island Representatives that covered several issues including the Grass Island Restoration project. Following this meeting Angela Berti (NYS Parks Public Affairs) and David Spiering (Grass Island Project Director) provided additional updates that were not fully covered at the meeting. The following is a brief summary of the current project status:
Confirmed that there will be “no impact to the 2019 boating season” resulting from this project.
The originally planned September 2019 construction start date is likely delayed as a result of reviewing options that “could be considered a compromise” for the recreational boating community.
Note: These plans are still going through feasibility and have not yet been shared with the Town.
The current delay will likely mean the project construction start date will not be until after August 15, 2020. No construction will occur between April 15 to August 15 in order "to protect habitat and not disturb fish spawning and bird nesting".
Mike Madigan – GI Town Council
Thank You from the Grand Island Neighbors Foundation! - June 2019We would like to thank the Grand Island Postal Carriers, our Grand Island High School Student Volunteers and the generous people of Grand Island for making the May 11th Food collection such a tremendous success. The Postal Carriers did a fantastic job picking up significant quantities of food while also completing their important mail delivery responsibilities.
We could not have processed all of the food without our wonderful volunteers from the High School who helped us sort and categorize the food for distribution and storage. And none of this would have been possible without the generosity of the people of Grand Island. Through your support, our pantry and storage areas are full and we are well positioned to continue to provide food to our Neighbors who are in need. As a reminder for confidential assistance, please call 773-1452 or 773-7476.
Finally, big thanks to Jodi Robinson from IsledeGrande and Larry Austin from the Grand Island Dispatch for all that they do to publicize and support events that benefit and enhance our community.
Gratefully On Behalf of the Grand Island Neighbors Foundation,
David J. Conboy - President
Time to Secede - June 2019Imagine you went to Tops or Wegman’s to purchase some foodstuffs. At the checkout, the cashier said your total bill was $43.57. You gave the cashier a $50 bill. Rather than give you change he/she grabbed a Snickers bar, some gum, and a copy of the National Enquirer (just what you wanted to read!). Doing that would bring your total to $50. As such, you get no change. You would have been enraged, and rightly so.
Sounds silly, doesn’t it? What the County Legislature did last week squandering the budget surplus, rather than returning it to the taxpayers, is exactly the same. The taxpayers are being forced to subsidize (buy) things they may or may not care to. The choices aren’t the taxpayers; they are the politicians.
That said, given that they weren’t going to refund the money, shouldn’t they have spent it more wisely? Why should Albright-Knox get $5 million while road repairs only received $600,000+. (Don’t the pols drive around the County?) In fact, why should Albright-Knox receive a dime? There is nothing inherently governmental about it. I would rather give my contributions to cultural endeavors to other entities. I am sure that the rest of us have our own preferences, including none of the above. Why should politicians make the determination? This is the arrogant attitude that the politicians display towards us.
One of the worst decisions this Erie County ever made was junking the system where the town supervisors and city mayors ran the county. They had to answer to their local constituents. You could buttonhole them in the supermarket. The county legislature exists to self-perpetuate itself. As such, it likes to spend our money and tell us how much they did for us.
Now, back to the title of this article. Grand Island should investigate becoming part of Niagara County. We have as much in common with them as we do Erie County. We would be 9.2% of Niagara County, population-wise, versus 2.3% of Erie County. As such, we would have a much larger say in the spending of our tax dollars. Further, Niagara County doesn’t have delusions of grandeur. It won’t waste money on new stadiums or even studies of them. Islanders would be further ahead by getting out of Erie County. We should seriously consider it.
Crony Capitalism on Display - May 2019The lead article in the Friday, May 17th issue of the Grand Island Dispatch was titled “Holiday Inn Express receives $1 million Restore NY funds.” The story was about how the Holiday Inn Express in the former Hooker Chemical office building on Long Rd. received this money as a bribe to help get the new owners (or anyone, for that matter) to repurpose the building. The usual suspects were on hand: McMurray, Hochul, Morinello, and the owner, Patel. It is interesting to note that the article stated that ‘Hochul visited Grand Island Friday’ with the operative word being Friday. By doing this on a Friday we paid for her transportation home for the weekend.
Why should the taxpayers hand out this largess? Patel paid $850,000 for the property according to the article. Dollars to donuts, the asking price stopped declining as soon as the smell of taxpayer money was in the air. Without the rehabilitation one must assume the property was worthless. Why not sit on one’s hands for another couple of years until the price dropped to under $100,000 which it would have because there are still costs being incurred on the property: taxes and liability insurance, at a minimum.
Basically, each Grand Islander has written a check for $50 to Mr. Patel. We get nothing out of it. He has sunk $8 million into the property, including the $1 million we contributed. Is the Town going to receive 12.5% of the annual profits and 12.5% of the profits when it is sold? Of course not. We just bailed out the previous owners and helped line this guy’s pocket. It is nonsense like this that have millennials pandering after socialism (unfortunately they were so poorly taught history and economics that they actually think it is a good system.)
The cronyism doesn’t stop here. The Solar City fiasco is costing every person in Erie County $800. Who, in their right mind, would have invested $800 in that white elephant? I say the Erie County residents and Grand Island residents are paying for them even though it comes out of Albany. First of all, WE are Albany. Cuomo and Hochul aren’t lavishing their own wealth on these loser projects. It is our tax money. Secondly, we aren’t the only areas where this vote-buying is occurring. It is everywhere, with nothing to show for it in terms of greater economic vitality. (I would be remiss in not pointing out the $20 million plus (non)Visitors Center that we taxpayers have funded.)
The 19th Century French economist, Frederic Bastiat, wrote about the “Seen and Unseen.” We can all see the spiffier building on Long Rd. What we can’t see are all of the alternative uses of those funds because they were worse than stillborn. They never even considered. As long as we continue to allow a blithering economic illiterate like Cuomo to make economic decisions for us, NY will continue to lag the rest of the country.
Locally, we have (for only seven more months and 11 days, thankfully) Big Pink wanting to spend our money foolishly so that he can get his name on a brass plaque. (I am sure we could do a Go Fund Me campaign to raise the funds to buy him a plaque to put over his commode.) We must demand that our elected officials put an end to this economic waste and political favoritism.
Legion Thank You - May 2019
Photo by Robert Haag.On behalf of the members and officers of Grand Island American Legion Post 1346, I would like to thank all who bought hanging flowering baskets during this Mother's Day weekend. Even with the inclement weather and the cold, everything turned out very well. I would like to thank all Legion members who helped set up for the sale and were there trying to keep warm and accomodate buyers and their needs. The post appreciates the donations of equipment and materials to make the 2019 sale a success.
Raymond DeGlopper, Commander
American Legion Post 1346
Pride of the Island - May 2019Dear Parents,
Since 1991 the Grand Island Teachers' Association has recognized students that we believe to be the "Pride Of The Island." These students have demonstrated compassion, determination, a love of learning, and most importatly are friendly and respectful. This year we recognized 271 students who fit that description.
Parenting today is extremely difficult. We would like to thank parents for all of the times you did the following:
- Drove your children to countless activities.
- Taught them how to treat people with respect and kindness.
- Turned off the television and encouraged your child to read a book.
- Unplugged Xbox/video games and suggested to your child that they go outside and play.
- Sat at the kitchen table with your child for the often stressful homework time.
Thank you for all that you do to help us develop them into lifelong learners. We are your partners in education.
Mike Murray, GITA President
Tonight’s School Budget "Hearing"- May 2019We are told that there will be a Budget Public Hearing at 7:00 pm tonight (Monday, May 13) . The regular board meeting starts at 7:30 pm with an executive session at 6:30 pm. So, the Budget component, arguably the most important topic, gets sandwiched in between for a grand total of thirty minutes.
It is bad enough that the public input/questioning takes place eight days before the vote; translated: “Nothing you say tonight amounts to a hill of beans. This is just a social safety valve.” But thirty minutes? Really? Let me tell you now how the thirty minutes will play out. First, the superintendent will welcome everyone, fulsomely, for ten minutes; babbling on about how happy he is to be here and to have you here, too. They will then waste another ten minutes or so reading to you the budget you have in front of you. At this point, a question will be asked and they will filibuster away the remaining time. What a waste.
The blunt truth is that they don’t want to have to be confronted by the taxpayers; yours is not to reason why, yours is to pay or die (Pace Tennyson). The fiasco known as the current capital project had its public sessions scheduled to elicit the least possible turnout. (For one they hit the jackpot: no one came!) The vote was held, also, to have the smallest turnout and it did, less than 900 voted. This is the contempt they show for the people who pay the bills.
As a matter of principle, everyone should vote no next Tuesday to send a message to them that we have had it with their contemptuous, arrogant ways. Don’t fall for their Chicken Little hysteria that if the budget fails famine and pestilence will be upon us. They won’t. The contingency budget isn’t that much smaller; they will only have a few less dollars to waste.
What is Wrong with Nathan McMurray - May 2019I wonder if he will ever realize the reason we have five board members is they make decisions, not him. The town hall meeting on Monday May 6, 2019, everything was about Nathan. He said, I did this and that so many times in his five minute speech, it was hard to listen to. Nathan was upset because Grand Island’s largest employer signed a contract with Cannon Design for their building. He lost all control, making nasty remarks about other board members. Nathan’s behavior was unprofessional. I, like many, would rather see more jobs created on Grand Island, rather than take on a three million dollar debt, for a building that is forty years old and would cost far more to maintain. The fact is that the residents of Grand Island like the town hall where it is.
The elections are coming and it is time to listen to what the candidates’ views are. The question is, would you vote for someone who shares Nathan’s agenda? I would like to see a professional person and not a politician, who will do anything to be a politician, run for town Supervisor.
South Pointe Development Project - May 2019Grand Island Residents Please Be Aware.
The South-Pointe Development Project is on the Town Board Regular Meeting agenda Monday, May 6th (8PM Town-Hall). This project is one of the largest and most impactful to town green space and population that I can recall. This project includes:
1) Total forecasted incremental resident population of >1,100
2) Approximately 450-600 homes and apartments
3) Impacts between 200-300 acres directly or indirectly involving mature hardwoods, wetlands - the area is teaming with birds, waterfowl, beaver and other wildlife…etc.
4) The project impacts much of or most of the greenspace between the 190 (near the South Grand Island Bridge) and is surrounded by GI Blvd, Staley Rd, Baseline Rd, Love Rd and the South Parkway.
In the past many residents raised many concerns regarding this project (over the past 30 years) and it was shelved for some time. With rapidly accelerating development on the Island this project has again become active with the developer investing on progressing the project. The lack of what I view as enough pre-notice to the public concerns me and as a result I am asking for a delay on acting on (voting on) the following three South-Pointe items on May 6th:
1) Re-affirm South-Pointe SEQR (environmental impact) determination based on proposed modified plan for the PDD
2) South-Pointe Sewer district expansion approval
3) Approval of revised South-Pointe development concept plan
The motions I will be putting before the Board Monday will involve two motions: The first motion will be to delay the above votes until after the developer or designate reviews the proposed project with the Conservation Advisory Board and Traffic Safety Advisory Board for their input. The second motion will request no vote be taken until after a public hearing is held that would provide the public the opportunity to provide input to the town board for their consideration when they vote (it has been several years since the last hearing and much has changed with this project, the location and on the Island). Public input supporting passage of these motions would result in them being more likely to be passed by a majority of the Board.
Mike Madigan - GI Town Councilman
Just Keep Saying No - May 2019Last Wednesday, 4/25, it was reported in the Buffalo News that Cannon Design will be leaving their facility on Grand Island for Fountain Plaza in downtown Buffalo. (Remember, it was not that long ago when Cannon was looking for tax abatements and other crony capitalism-type handouts? Their fleeing is all the evidence one needs to know that corporate largess is something to be avoided.)
Our supervisor is still hell-bent on the Town acquiring Cannon’s property. As I have said elsewhere, McMurray should be excluded from any decisions concerning the Town as he will be gone by the end of the year. His reign has been awful. This obsession with the Cannon property is just the most recent exhibit. The Cannon site is probably the most valuable piece of commercial property on the Island. We purportedly want to encourage commercial activity on the Island. Why, pray tell, would we want to "nationalize" the best location?
McMurray, as I have said, does not have the best interests of Grand island at heart. He just wants things he can attach his name to, irrespective of the damage done. One needs to look at the opportunities foregone, which tend to be hidden, by acquiring the property in addition to the very visible benefits from doing so.
The article states that "However, McMurray’s effort [to acquire the property] has been held up by hesitant Town Board members." Thank the Lord for them! The writer seems to buy into McMurray’s line that they are "hesitant"; that is Big Pink-speak for not falling into line immediately. No. They are wise enough not to want to commit the taxpayers to unnecessary expenditures. McMurray doesn’t seem to have any qualms about saddling the Islanders with more tax liabilities. Call the Board and tell them not to go along with Big pink’s latest boondoggle.
DeGlopper Park Expansion Thank You - May 2019On behalf of the DeGlopper Expansion Committee, the VFW Post 9249 and American Legion Post 1346, we would like to thank everyone who came to the sod laying party on Saturday, April 27th. With such a cold and dreary day, it was great to see so many people there; putting sand in the low spots, carrying sod from pallets, over to someone to then roll it out.
Special thanks to John Braddell and family, owners of Lake Side Sod, for donating all the sod for the site. The memorial site is really shaping up. Benches are ready for placement, along with the granite walls, that will be used for the site name and listing of Grand Island veterans' names that have served.
Thanks to Dan Drexelius for being in charge of the construction on the project and for supplying equipment and tools for the work. Thanks to Jim Ehde of GI Waste Management for supplying the outdoor restroom, and to Brick Oven Pizza for lunch for the volunteers.
In closing, I would like to give a special thanks to all the people who showed up on Saturday, and worked for what ever amount of time they could.
Ray DeGlopper, Commander
American Legion Post 1346
Serving Our Town - April 2019When residents think of service to the town, they likely often think of the roles elected officials and town employees play in keep projects moving forward and our town operating in a safe and responsible manner. However, though it is known to many, the advisory boards of Grand Island also play a critical role in our decision making process. As their name clearly suggests, as a board member, I rely heavily on the advisement and expertise of those serving on our advisory boards. With over 100 people serving, advisory board members inform and support so many crucial decisions that we make.
As you will likely see advertised, both the Economic Development Advisory Board and the Traffic Safety Advisory Board have openings. These boards meet monthly and at times involve discussion or research in between the meetings. They are essential to the function of our town, and operate in a way that each member’s opinion and insight is heard and valued, with decorum a priority.
If you have both time and interest, please consider submitting your resume to the town board. You may drop off a letter of interest and/or resume at town hall or by using the email address email@example.com, with the due date being May 3rd. Have interest, but not for this board? Please continue to monitor local publications, such as Isledegrande, or check out our town website. When a need comes along that may suit you, we would love, as a board, to talk with you about it.
Councilwoman Jennifer Baney
Our Big Pink - April 2019Big Pink - When Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev met with Richard Nixon in June, 1973, the columnist, Nicholas von Hoffman, referred to him as “Big Pink". This was a dig at his being the head honcho of the Commies. Our own Commie wannabe, Red Nate McMurray, is our Big Pink.
Our Big Pink had a missive on Facebook (FB) the other day. I don’t patronize FB but a friend sent it to me. It is eight sentences long. It packs more ignorance, inane policy suggestions, and variance with facts than I thought possible in eight sentences. Let me quote it in its entirety, as published:
OPTION A: Huge numbers of American people spend hours every in bed, hopeless, unable to work (even part time) or obligated to prove they can’t find work – because they risk losing a roof over their head.
OPTION B: We tap a small portion of the dynastic wealth to create a base income for all – no strings attached. So people can start businesses, or heck work at Taco Bell without the risk of losing everything. It’s gravy money. Ambition is triggered. People feel their worth. Unlock our potential. Create that base.
You can’t make this drivel up. No one would believe you.
Start with Option A, I don’t know about you but if I don’t work, I risk losing the roof over my head! How many are “huge numbers”? Why are they unable to work (it matters for Option B)? As is usual for Big Pink he engages in hyperbole with numbers, “huge” in this case. He cites no evidence to support his contention. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that there were 7.1 million job openings last month. Their data show that 6.2 million were unemployed in March. If discouraged workers, also unemployed, are included the total increases to 6.7 million, still less than job openings. Here is a news flash, if someone needs a job in order to keep a roof over their head, the current labor market is excellent and is the best in over 50 years. Again, Big Pink was never one to let facts intrude upon his fanciful narrative.
Let’s turn to Option B. He wants to expropriate a portion of the wealth (over and above that already taxed away) of those who have created the wealth that has made the U.S. economy the envy of the world. Does he think they will stand for that? They will find ways to reduce the wealth attributed to them. Many of these efforts to avoid the taxman will reduce the economic vitality of the economy. All of the evidence since WWII that shows that lower tax rates are associated with greater tax revenues and a more robust economy than they are with high tax rates. His position is just populist pandering and ignorance (and hoping the voters trust him to be honest). Further, how much more of the taxpayer’s money does he want us to lavish on them? It isn’t as if we aren’t already providing many benefits.
In Economics 101 (or Economics 181/182 at the University at Buffalo) one learns that if you lower the price of anything, the quantity demanded of it will increase. Big Pink, by giving (other people’s) money to those who won’t work, will increase the number of those who are happy to be kept (subservient) by the taxpayers. Does he really think those bemoaning their fate in their beds are budding Steve Jobs or Steve Wozniak’s?
Here are two quotes from Thomas Edison: 1) Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work; and 2) Success is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. Where do you think the folks in bed fit?
Giving people money for doing nothing does NOT trigger ambition. It triggers dependence and sloth. People may “feel” (interesting choice of words) their worth; even if they don’t, those who do work will recognize their worth.
“Unlock our Potential!” That old commie, Karl Marx, would have been hard pressed to make a more stupid statement. “Create our Base” sounds like pandering to a constituency that is small and, thankfully, shrinking. (Big Pink was never a deep thinker.)
Big Pink has never had an original or useful idea. Arrogance and narcissism are not admirable qualities. He has been a flop as supervisor. He isn’t running for re-election because if he lost, and he would, decisively, his political career would be on the rocks. Instead, he serves up some nonsense about not being able to commit to “serving” us for four more years. Who is he kidding? If he thought he could win decisively, he would run. He would have zero compunction about bailing if he won a different seat. He planned on doing that last Fall. As I have said before, he should be excised from the Town Board. He doesn’t do anything for us; he shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions that may affect us long after he is, mercifully, gone.
One last question: has he asked Jeremy Jacobs, the owner of Delaware North (Big Pink’s most recent employer) what his view is on taxing dynastic wealth to help those who won’t get out of bed.
Repairs to Town & County Roads - April 2019We see that the Town and County are going to repave a number of roads on Grand Island this summer. The question is: “Are they going to it properly or the “good enough for Government” approach they typically use?”
This is a serious issue. The last time any road on Grand Island was properly redone was Whitehaven in the 1980s when it was widened from the Boulevard to East River. Other than that, repair is slipshod: score the current surface an inch and, then, put 4 inches of blacktop down. This, obviously, raises the road height 3 inches. It makes the shoulders steeper and less amenable to walking on. One can guess when homes were built based on the slope of their driveways to the road.
Why do we continue to tolerate this (lack of) quality performance from our government officials. They love to regulate private firms to within an inch of their lives but are immune from the same scrutiny. This needs to change and the repaving of our roads is a perfect place to start. I know their response will be “That will be more expensive.” Fine, do fewer miles of road each year or find the funds elsewhere. We are squandering money contemplating new or improved stadia for the Bills and Sabres. Let them pay for their facilities. Use the money for the taxpayers.
WNY is an underperforming area in no small part because of the pathetic public officials people keep re-electing, hoping for a different result. Remember what Einstein said about doing this. Enough is enough.
Undies Sunday Thank You - March 2019
Jonathan Beckman, Community Mission of Niagara Falls; Susan Falbo, events and volunteer manager at the mission and Rev. Mark Breese, agency minister.
Our homeless neighbors in Western New York are a bit warmer these days because of the wonderful, generous people of Grand Island. Hundreds of pairs of socks and underclothing, plus cash, were donated to the recent Rotary Club of Grand Island’s annual Undie Sunday promotion.
Rotary Club of Grand Island members sort through the multitude of donations to Undie Sunday. From left Richard Earne, club president and members Sherry Miller and Mike Billoni, Faye Teluk, chair, Undie Sunday and Dan Flair, treasurer.
The less fortunate clients of Buffalo City Mission, Harbor House, St Luke’s Mission of Mercy and The Community Mission of Niagara Falls were the beneficiaries of these donations and they were extremely grateful for these much-needed gifts. On behalf of all of them, we say “Thank You, Thank You, Thank You” to our generous neighbors and to the churches and businesses who collected the items. "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." Aesop
The Rotary Club of Grand Island
U.S. Flag at Welcome Center - March 2019Our town of Grand Island is home to an engaging new tourist facility, The Western New York Welcome Center. The State has spared no expense to build and equip this sparkling new asset going so far as to be installing new traffic signals at the top of the Whitehaven exit ramp, off of 190 south. If you haven’t stopped by for a look you ought to, it’s a really great facility.
If this new facility were a sparkling, crisp, new white shirt, there - like an annoying coffee stain dribbled on the front - is the morose U.S.flag sadly drooping on the wrong pole; like an afterthought. This symbol of our freedom, paid for in blood by many men and women, deserves more attention and respect than this.
Whenever the U.S. flag is displayed as one of three, it always occupies the center staff, hoisted to the top of the pole. It doesn’t matter if the three poles are all the same height, it belongs on the center pole – full height. The next consideration is the observer’s position. In the case of the Welcome Center, that position should be from interstate 190, not the parking lot; accordingly, the point of honor is to the flag’s own right – the observer’s left. That pole should display, let’s say - the Canadian flag - if it were displayed, and it should be hoisted so that it flies approximately one foot below the U.S. flag. The other staff, to the flag’s own left should display the New York State flag, again – approximately one foot below the U.S. Flag.
The display of the flag is based on the conventions of heraldry - the king always rode in the center, with his champion to his right - thus the flags’ position in this instance. If the U.S.flag were displayed as one of two, or one of four or more, then it always occupies the first position in the row, to the observer’s left. The display of the U.S.flag as one of three is the only exception to this rule, and is displayed as outlined above.
I’m confident the incorrect display at the new Western New York Welcome Center, is merely an oversight; placing the flag on the incorrect pole when it’s one of three is a common mistake - so common, in fact, that one can observe the same incorrect display, of all places, in front of the new United States Courthouse in down town Buffalo.
Kevin J. Rung
When are we going to wake up and smell the roses? - January 2019The front page of the Local News section in the February 3, 2019 edition of the Buffalo News contains an article about our illustrious town supervisor Nate McMurray. The headline is "Nate McMurray may have lost but he’s never stopped running for Congress". In his December 28, 2018 article published in the Island Dispatch one of his statements was, "loves being supervisor and thankful and humbled to serve every day."
All one has to do is read the Buffalo News article and realize what a mockery he is making out of his Grand Island constituents. Just to share a couple of highlights in the article - Democrat Nathan McMurray lost his race to represent the voters of New York’s 27th Congressional District by a mere 1,087 votes back in November - but ever since, he’s continued as if he represents them, McMurray’s Hamburg campaign headquarters remains open, He’s planning a town hall event just outside Collins’ Geneseo office on Feb. 23 as well as a "Before You Run 101" boot camp for prospective Democratic candidates the same day in Naples.
Perhaps the best, "What’s more, McMurray continues tweeting several times a day, mixing progressive call to battle with personal reflections and an occasional pure silliness, just as he did during the campaign. And, just as he did last fall, McMurray taunts Collins online. On Friday, for example, he called Collins "literally an invisible congressman" and added: How long must we wait? Please resign."
The good news, the Buffalo News is finally on to Nate and sees what an out of control individual he really is. When you read what Nate is saying in the paragraph above pertaining to Collins being an invisible congressman and how long must we wait? Please resign, that is what the people of Grand Island who by the way are in the 26th Congressional District should be asking the invisible town supervisor to do, resign.
Nate McMurray makes our President look like a saint. Let’s wake up and smell the roses and rid ourselves of this con artist.
EZPass Overcharges - January 2019Honorable Town Board:
Please contact the NYS Thruway Authority regarding EZPass overcharges at the Grand Island Bridges, and publicly warn EZPass users to diligently check monthly statements. Please inquire about a long term solution to this problem, and let us know if and how to avoid these overcharges.
I had two mistakes for Nov: in both cases $1.90 instead of $.09. It took a phone call and about 15 minutes to get a promise for a credit which did happen on the next statement, which then had another $1.90 instead of $.09. I felt a bit silly spending another 15 minutes to get a credit of $1.81, but did it, and I'm hoping to find the credit (and no more mistakes) on the next monthly statement.
It was extra frustrating to have the person on the phone ask me for the lane number for the toll I was challenging. It took me a minute to realize we no longer have lanes. When I told the person there are no lanes, GI Bridges have cameras, she seemed surprised and didn't appear to believe it. We did get through that bump and I did get the refund credited to my account. The second time I called there was no request for the lane number.
Thank you for investigating and I look forward to hearing about what you learn about this issue from your contacts at the Thruway Authority.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors - January 2019Regardless of how we each individually feel about the government shutdown and the southern border wall, as I have spoken with Island residents, I am aware of the concern they have for some federal workers that are not receiving pay. On Grand Island, neighbors are already helping each other during this time.
In speaking with The Grand Island Neighbor's Foundation, the needs of Federal workers clearly qualify for their assistance. The foundation provides temporary assistance to Islanders in need. And they want to help. Please contact them at 773-1452 or 773-7476. Someone will return your call if you leave a message, and all support will be provided in a confidential manner.
This is a big task they are taking on right after the Holiday season, when supplies are lower and their food drive is still months away. If you find yourself with more than enough, could you also make a call to one of the numbers of the above and ask how you can support them? Even a small food or financial donation helps.
Thank you all in advance. This Foundation, and all of those that support it, are two of the reasons Grand Island is indeed so grand.
Councilwoman Jennifer Baney
Donations can be made online here.
Town Resolution Supporting The Second Amendment - January 2019On Tuesday, January 22nd at the 8 PM Town Board meeting, I will be proposing a resolution re-affirming support for the Second Amendment. In March 2013, our former town board passed a resolution supporting the Second Amendment following passage of the NY Safe Act which eroded NY resident’s second amendment rights. My proposed resolution re-affirms the Town of Grand Island’s support of the Second Amendment in opposition to pending legislation that further infringes on our rights to keep and bear arms - if passed.
I am doing this as a town board member based on the oath of office I took where I committed to support and uphold the Constitution. My proposed resolution is one of the responsibilities I accepted when I took office - adding our voice to many other towns, villages and counties supporting similar resolutions.
I am proposing this motion for another purpose - Of particular concern is NY Assembly Bill S2857A (Parker) which, when passed, which is likely, will require each gun owned to carry a minimum of a $1M liability insurance policy. It is a costly proposition that will disproportionately impact low income gun owners - many of whom will no longer be able to afford to own a gun legally - a unquestionable infringement on their rights.
These folks are the true underdogs and their Second Amendment rights are under full assault and elected officials should support and defend these folks by going on record in opposition of such legislation.
Any new state legislation responding to firearm violence should focus on increasing penalties for criminals who use firearms to harm and threaten law abiding citizens and address the issues of mental illness related to violence. The focus on infringing the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens must end.
Please consider attending Tuesday night’s meeting at the Town Hall and comment at the beginning of the meeting regarding this matter - I am hoping for a unanimous vote of support and you can help deliver it.
Mike Madigan - Town Council
Republican Party Seeks Candidates - January 2019Letters of intent and Resumes wanted for this year’s local elections.
The Grand Island Republican Committee is seeking persons interested in running for the following local positions: Town Supervisor, two Town Council positions, Town Clerk, and Town Judge.
On Tuesday, January 15th, both houses of the state legislature passed an election reform bill and it was signed by the Governor. This new law accelerated the time that we have to endorse, collect signatures, and conduct primaries. Therefore, we will be accepting applications from now until Saturday, January 26th. Interviews will be conducted during the week of January 27th and the endorsement meeting will be held during the week of February 3rd.
This will give the Erie County Board of Elections ample time to create the petitions which will be circulated for signatures during March this year instead of June as it has been done in the past. The local primary this year will be in June instead of the usual September.
If you are interested, or know anyone that is interested, please let them know about the accelerated schedule, and send your letter of intent and resume to either me; at firstname.lastname@example.org (preferred) or the Grand Island Republican Committee, PO Box 104, Grand Island, NY 14072.
Thank you very much for your interest in serving our community!
Dean Morakis - Chairman, Grand Island Republican Committee
Niagara Footprint Festival - January 2019Dear Friends of Grand Island,
We would like to invite you to an exciting new winter family fun event. Join us Saturday, January 26th at Beaver Island State Park. The Niagara Footprint Festival will be held from 11-5pm. The festival will not only be promoting our beautiful state park but also reduce our carbon footprint. Many activities and vendors at the festival will be highlighting our local resources and how we can do better to protect these resources in the years to come.
A special guided morning bird walk will be held at 9am. Interested walkers can meet the Buffalo Audubon Society at the Clubhouse, the old Casino, by 8:45am. All ages welcome and feel free to bring binoculars.
The Clubhouse (Casino) will be open from 11-3pm. A Farmers Market will fill the Clubhouse along with many “green” friendly organizations such as Solar CIR, PUSH, NYSERDA for All, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeepers, Citizen Science and more. Arts and Crafts will be available for the kids sponsored by the GI Recreation Dept.
From 12-2pm the NF Culinary Institute will be creating an ice sculpture in the outdoor pavilion. Dog sledding will be on display courtesy of the Siberian Husky Club. NYS Parks and Campus WheelWorks will be offering Fat Tire Bikes, and Snowshoes to enjoy. (small fee for some items). Kiwanis of GI will be selling coffee and hot chocolate at the bar. Enjoy a small snack or lunch with Herb-NGardens pizza, Caseys Cabana, Popcorn Jim and House of Munch. Disc Golf and Snow Softball registration can be found on our facebook page.
Take a free horse and carriage ride from the Clubhouse (Casino) to River Lea historical farmhouse. From 3-5pm the Historical Society will be hosting a chili sale, bon-fires, a bluegrass band and tours at River Lea. Soma Cura Wellness Center will lead an interpretive meditative hike at 3pm beginning at River Lea. Parking is limited at River Lea. Consider taking the horse and carriage ride early to River Lea to get back to the Clubhouse if walking is limited.
This is a free event! What better way to break out of that cabin fever than a fun filled day at the park? Please join us and help us get the word out by telling your friends and family. A raffle for free Discovery Passes will be held throughout the day! Facebook: Niagara Footprint Festival Website: www.grand-island.ny.us.
Town of Grand Island, Councilwoman B. Kinney
New York State Parks
Niagara River Greenway Commission
GI Chamber of Commerce
GI Recreation Department
GI Economic Development Committee
GI Historical Society
GI Conservation Board
Thank You Grand Island Community - January 2019We are grateful to the Grand Island Community for approving the Capital Improvement Project this evening. There was a 68% approval rate with 540 affirmative votes and 257 negative votes.
This project will allow us to improve the overall safety of our students, faculty staff and administrators at the Middle School and High School. Additionally, the project will allow us to improve all of our facilities and enhance the overall program for all of our students.
I would also like to thank our Facilities committee, along with the Board of Education, for the work they engaged in over the past year. Their effort and commitment to continuously improving our school district needs to commended and recognized.
The Flim-Flam Artist - January 2019After reading the article in the December 28, 2018 edition of the Island Dispatch from our illustrious Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray, it made my stomach muscles vacillate. However, my initial reaction was to let sleeping dogs lie and just consider the source. After speaking with a few friends about the article and then reading it again, really riled my juices.
Since losing the election to become the Congressman representing the U.S. 27th Congressional District he is now back tooting his own horn as usual. First of all, he starts out by stating that he loves being supervisor and thankful and humbled to serve every day. The question to be asked, is that even in a “no show” role? He then gets into his love for some big projects that he helped bring to fruition such as the West River Shoreline Trail, which many individuals think was a waste of money. He loved helping the wreck of an old building that got turned into a glistening hotel (wonder what the occupancy rate is?). He loved protecting hundreds of acres of shore line (not sure what that was). Another classic was that he loved fighting Tonawanda Coke "(and getting that poisonous mess shut down)".
Does he really believe that he was a key player in making that happen? If so, he must think that the readers of his articles also believe in the TOOTH FAIRY. He also mentions that he loved working with the governor to give us cashless tolls and a beautiful Welcome Center.
Now to change gears, one of his current agenda items is to move Town Hall to the Cannon Design building which if memory serves me correct, he maintains is a "turn key" facility. Some Islanders think it would be more beneficial to attract a private sector business to that facility and keep it on the tax rolls and leave Town Hall where it is. However, another option could be for Nate to speak with his friend the governor and see if he would be willing to donate the Welcome Center to be the new Town Hall. Passing by there frequently, it is the exception to the rule of seeing more than a handful of vehicles. Now in the writer’s humble opinion that would be a win/win situation for both the Town of Grand Island and the State of New York.
In closing, reading the tea leaves one might interpret Nate's remarks pertaining to "what do I do" as an indication that he will not run again for Grand Island supervisor. What a shame that would be not to have a self-centered, condescending, arrogant and pompous individual to be supervisor again.
Zero, Zip, Nada, Nil, Nothing! - January 2019They did it. The School Board and Administration have managed the equivalent of bowling a 300 game or pitching a perfect baseball game. They had a forum to which no one came. This is the Holy Grail of bureaucrats. They couldn't have asked for a better result. At least, they got their Christmas wish. As I said in my earlier letter: “Here We Go, Again”; it doesn't take a cynic to realize that this is what they were looking for by scheduling this hearing at 6 PM, for God's sake, on Thursday, December 20.
We learn that the cost to a home assessed at $180,000 is not going to be between $15 and $16 which would have led one to believe it would be about $15.50. It is going to be $15.95. So, we know the price but we don't know what we’re going to get for this $15.95 per $180,000 home. They don't have hard and fast plans. They don't have any bids. We could, very easily, have a replay of the 1999 project where bids came in 10% above the budget and they had to scale everything back. As I have asked: What is the pecking order for deleting items if the cost is higher than estimated?
As I said in the earlier article, the biggest issue here is the timing of this vote. It is cynical on their part to have the vote at this time of year. They can give all this lame reasons and excuses they want but the fact of the matter is they're doing it because they don't expect people to show up, except their buddies. We should reflect on the fact that we've entrusted the education of our children to folks like this. Would you buy a used car from them?
Shoving in this sports field which is about one-third of the project is wrong. They are doing it because it would get voted down on its own. As such, the vote should be in two parts: the safety components and the rest of this junk.
A number of the items are things we have spent money on in the last two or three capital projects; HVAC equipment, in particular. We've replaced and repaired the HVAC twice in the last 15 years (it has showed up in every capital project). So, why is this equipment being amortized over 15 years when it probably won't last that long? We will be replacing it in eight years or 10 years. This would be like buying a car and financing it for 15 years, even though you knew the car wouldn't last more than 10. This is the height of fiscal irresponsibility but is being done to keep the increase in the tax rate down. In their thinking somebody, not the current Board or Administration, can deal with it in the future. This is what happens when people spend other people's money.
We need to turn out in force on Tuesday, January 8, and vote no. The Board needs to understand that their contempt for us is not going unnoticed and will be dealt with severely. If you don't vote, you have no one to blame but yourself for allowing travesties like this to continue.
Editor's Note: There is another Capital Project Public Hearing on Thursday, January 3rd at 6:00 p.m. at the GIHS Professional Development Room, 1100 Ransom Road.