Previous Letters to Editor Page
Letters To The Editor must include a name and contact (phone/email) and may be Emailed to
Editor or addressed to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072
No more than 600 words per letter and one admission every three weeks limit.
‘Daily Percent Positive’ is a Misleading Statistic - September 2020I taught Mathematics for 41 years. I cannot stay silent any longer as our local news media readily accept what Cuomo and Poloncarz show in their Powerpoint presentations. Anyone who has studied Statistics knows that you can sometimes “spin” your results to mean what YOU want them to mean, which is putting “bias” to the stats.
The morning news headlined last week with “COVID Cases Among Children are up 17%. The Newscaster emphasized the 17% like we should all be alarmed. I don’t know the exact number (because NYS isn’t releasing numbers of children), but we do know those cases are rare. So, if 6 children in WNY had the virus and ONE more caught the virus, that’s a 17% increase! Maybe we had 12 cases. That would mean 2 more caught the virus. That 17% is meant to cause alarm, when the numbers show, there is no need for alarm!
Now let’s take the “spin” off of the ‘Daily Percent Positive.’ There was a day in August where WNY had only 0.9% positive tests. The following day, the BUFFALO NEWS jumped in with “WNY Doubles its Positive Cases” with a 1.8%. Besides the fact that we doubled a very, very tiny percent, let’s look at the samples. Approximately 5900 people were tested on the first day for 53 positive cases. A day later, approximately 3400 tests were released at 1.8% which is 61 people. The number went from 53 to 61, not alarming at all. But Poloncarz’s office and our local news media got suckered into the “spin” of saying “Rate Doubles” and alarming many people!
A more VALID measure would be to use ‘Positive cases per 10,000 or 100,000 of population.’ I have seen both of these used in our local statistics. These stats tell the story better than the daily percent!
I have more reasons for abhorring that ‘Daily Percent Positive’ category. If the number of tests is bouncing constantly between 3,000 and 6,000 then that is not a consistent sample. Also, Cuomo is comparing regions to each other. Each region has a unique populace, things that make them unfair comparisons. Large cities tend to have more cases. Certain jobs that require frequent testing might be more prevalent in some regions, giving them much larger samples than other places. Also a factor is WHY some people are going for tests when they are not showing symptoms and their job doesn’t require it. We were discouraged from testing early on, UNLESS you had symptoms. I have a feeling that a HUGE percentage of the population has decided that’s what they’re going to follow, even if we’re told that anyone can go for a test. Why would healthy people go for a test? What is their motivation? I haven’t gone for a test. I don’t even know anyone that has gone for a test. Have you gone for a test??
Most level-headed people without symptoms are not going for tests. To stay below a 1% ‘Daily Positive Rate’ we need 99% of the people showing up to be healthy. That can’t continue for long because we’re running out of panicky, nervous and worrisome people that are healthy but going for a test anyway! Also, when Cuomo set the parameters for Phase 4, he chose 5% positive as a benchmark for sending us back to Phase 3. Then why is he a fear monger for us to get back under 1 %? His line was at 5%! News flash---on tonight’s news Cuomo is still scolding WNY for a 1.5%. Is he purposefully using a subjective statistic when he could be concrete with ‘Positive Cases Per 10,000 of population!!!
Cuomo wrote a book to commemorate his ‘wonderful’ handling of NYS during the pandemic. Seriously?! Not only did he put COVID patients into nursing homes, but he opened SUNY Colleges and Universities WITHOUT TESTING the students FIRST!! Now, there are COVID problems at SUNY schools and that is definitely HIS fault. I think he wants back-to-school to fail. Why else would a ‘genius’ like him NOT test the arriving college students?! Why doesn’t he FACE the current problem…travel to SUNY Campuses and do his press conferences there! Stop scolding us adults---he’s preaching to the choir! Millennials and ‘Generation Z’ DON”T watch the evening news!
In closing, people need to social-distance and wear masks when that is not possible, even when outdoors (that includes ordering ice -cream or food at a window). Wear masks indoors at businesses and other public places and COVER YOUR NOSE, PEOPLE! Otherwise, Cuomo and Poloncarz will continue to scold us with INVALID STATISTICS!
Enough is Enough, Stop Placating This Guy- August 2020During the previous four years the writer sent several letters to the Editor of both the Island Dispatch and IsledeGrande. Some of them were published in the Island Dispatch and all of them were published in Isledegrande. They all pertained to our former no show, empty suit Town Supervisor, Nate McMurray. Once he left office my letters stopped until now and this letter was precipitated by the last two editions of the Island Dispatch that contained “LETTERS’ from Nate McMurray.
My initial reaction was to let sleeping dogs lie, but then his last letter titled “They blew it, and someone needs to say it” riled my juices. It is disappointing to me that the Island Dispatch gives this Blow Hard individual the time of day by publishing his all about I, me, know it all letters. As in the past and now in the last two Island Dispatch editions, his letters may want us to believe and probably believes it himself that he can walk on water.
What surprised me more was that his letter was published even though it must have been written before Amazon withdrew their application based on his opening remarks, “By now, you have likely heard the news that Amazon has decided to temporarily abandon their project on Grand Island”. Please stop giving this guy the time of day by publishing his letters, enough is enough.
Banner Day for GI - August 2020August 12th was a banner day for those Grand Island residents who instantly recognized a bad proposal but feared Whitney and council members would buckle under The Trillionaire’s tactics. Preposterous at the outset, its particulars had to be dug out of 2200 pages and 7 supplements. Let’s thank Council members for countless hours spent reading the obfuscations and bad math, figuring out how to tell The Trillionaire that $15.00/hour is not a “good” job, no matter how desperate and weakened we are by the pandemic and vulnerable to predation. Ten million dollars is insufficient to build a rec center too.
Thank local businessmen for scrutinizing the flimsy cost/benefit pitch, clarifying it equaled only a 2.6% increase in the town and school annual budgets, not the boon some continue shouting. Thank others who clarified that “PILOT” means The Trillionaire doesn’t like to pay taxes. Thank construction union members for reading the “good” deal closely too: “The warehouse is designed to automate future labor? Hard pass!” Thank business owners who acknowledged they’d lose customers who’d have found it too difficult to get here and unsafe to settle here. Infrastructure improvements would be too costly for The Trillionaire?
How about approaching with an offer that could make Erie County feel good about the handshake - to repurpose a brownfield site, to create living-wage jobs with easy access to the largest number of unemployed workers, to help Buffalo rise again from the ashes left by the last robber barons, who poisoned us all and left us for dead. Thank those who called out every hair-brained detail of Amazon’s proposal. It’s not the case, as Poloncarz asserted with brazen irony, that Grand Islanders are the reason the warehouse will be built elsewhere. Rest assured, The Trillionaire will build along the I-190 corridor to profit exponentially off WNY. The reason it won’t be on a logical site in Erie County rests with Mr. Poloncarz.
Maureen Phillips, PhD
Captain, USAF/ANG (Retired)
Amazon Employees Will Support GI Businesses - August 2020Fellow Grand Islanders:
At one time, there were two Gas & Service stations at the corner of Long Rd and GI Boulevard. Both stations went through multiple owners before being abandoned. Oh, after Baldwin’s Exxon and Cook’s Exxon left, there also was a Garden Center there for a couple of years. Soon gone, kaput! Go south a short distance and a building stands which WAS Shelby’s Café. That failed, too. Further South down the boulevard, Duce’s Doghouse tried to live a dream. Duce’s went out of business, similarly followed by a Mexican Restaurant. Serene Gardens appeared on the scene with big plans for future expansion. They bought a ton of acreage, but low and behold, the ‘curse of the north end’ put them out of business.
Allow me to list a few more- Cook’s Mobil, Hector’s Hardware, Contract Interiors, Wayside Furniture, a Ford dealership, Neisner’s/Ames (long before the Ames chain collapsed), Pizza Hut, Holiday Showcase Restaurant and let us not forget Fantasy Island! There were many more failed businesses that I can’t remember. You might say, “Oh well, going into business is a gamble.” But these businesses were owned by PEOPLE, many of which WE knew. These businesses were their livelihood, their dreams, their future--- or so they thought. Shattered dreams, bankruptcy, financial ruin and many times, total devastation hit these people and their families.
There are probably numerous current businesses in danger, mainly due to the pandemic. The influx of a thousand Amazon employees may give these businesses hope for the future. Amazon employees take Lunch or Dinner breaks. Good for our restaurants. They also run errands on those breaks - drop off some dry-cleaning, ship a package or drop off a watch to be repaired.
Fears of bridge tie-ups are unfounded. HUNDREDS of vehicles cross GI every hour. Ten Amazon rigs per hour would be less than a 1 % increase in traffic. ONE PERCENT! Their delivery vans are hybrid or electric; no need to worry about smog from them. If Amazon chooses Niagara, they’ll STILL be using our bridges!
Home building isn’t doing much for our tax base. Large businesses CAN improve the tax base. Again, Amazon and its employees could help bring back Fantasy Island and save many of OUR FRIEND’S businesses!
Additional Perspective on Project Olive (read: Amazon warehouse) - August 2020By now everyone should be aware of the extended list of negatives of this project for Grand Island. I have enumerated a number of them elsewhere as have other residents. There are some additional aspects that should be considered in my opinion.
The first is the tawdry attempt at legal bribery via the $10 million contribution that Amazon is offering. The “incentive zoning” payment is pathetic. It is a bribe, pure and simple. ‘If looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and waddles like a duck, it is a duck.’ That quaint phrase is apropos here. We, as Grand Islanders, should ban the use of this on Grand Island. Politicians put it in so they can get a bribe without getting bribed. It is wrong. Amazon has the chutzpah to offer the money and then tell us how we can spend it! This, in and of itself, should disqualify the project.
A second issue turns on what is referred to as the Time Consistency problem in economics. If a policy is put in place people make plans based on its continuation. If the policy is reversed or revoked at some point in the future, the plans are no longer valid. People then take into account that policies that are implemented can’t be relied on so they adapt. They move or otherwise reduce expenditure in areas that rely on consistent policies. In the current case if the zoning laws are suspended then we really don’t have any zoning restrictions. (It will be hard to deny someone in the future, based on equal treatment under the law.) As such, the granting of zoning variances will not be a one-time event. It will set in motion continuous requests for variances which will have to be granted in most cases. If this occurs Grand Island will become much less livable. The decline in livability may take awhile but it will occur.
This isn’t idle theorizing; rent control and forced busing decimated once prosperous communities. Turning Grand Island into distribution hub will cause it to look over time like a distribution hub: lots of warehouses surrounded by residences with declining property values; increased noise and congestion levels; and a declining quality of life for the homeowners. At this point we will have lost control of our community.
Amazon knew what the zoning laws were on Grand Island before they purchased the land (or options on it). They should be expected to comply with them. If they don’t like our rules, they can always go elsewhere (as they should). As I have said elsewhere this project is a stalking horse for something else. It makes no sense, in and of itself, to build it on Grand Island. There is an end-game that is being hidden. If we opt for Project Olive we will have opted for the real reason. It will be too late to do anything about it at that point. We will not get a do-over if we don’t like the result of granting them their variances. Basically, this should be an easy vote: the answer is no to any zoning changes.
Amazon? Lest We Forget - August 2020“Buffalo Rising” March 14, 2017 McMurry said, “How many times have you been stuck in traffic trying to cross the Grand Island Bridge”. “How many Grand Islanders wonder why one of the highest taxed states in the country is taxing them to go home” “Worse yet the thought of sitting in traffic and breathing in fumes from a tractor trailers and cars.” Well-said Mr. McMurry. Our former, infamous, Supervisor made a several important points.
We will look at only two of them.
1) We are one of the highest taxed States in the country.”
The Amazon representatives stated at a Town Hall Meeting that they were not paying any State, County or School taxes. Mr. Whitney asked “but you are paying Grand Island taxes”. They responded NO. Here’s the rip. Mr. Bezos the riches man in the world and his company Amazon can go into any community, say we are here and we are not paying any taxes but your lucky to have us and by the way, here’s a 10 million dollar ”incentive” to buy you out. Here’s where it gets good. The Erie County Development Industrial Center has a PILOT program where, depending on the size of the project, they reimburse the town with some tax money.
Does Erie County or New Your State print their own money to give away? NO, THEY TAX US, so that big corporations can be lured into coming to the state. Amazon gets the tax freebee and we the taxpayer pay more taxes to cover the loss of tax revenue. But we never stop to put 2 and 2 together to say who is actually paying for this. Not ERIE County, but us. When their tax incentives are gone, they will have depreciated their building and they will be gone and Grand Island will again be left with an oversized building for 20 – 30 years.
2) McMurry stated we are sitting in traffic and breathing in fumes from tractor-trailers and cars.“
Earth Justice has an article stating, “a 700,000 Sq. Ft. Amazon warehouse emits a literal ton of air pollution each day.” The warehouse on Grand Island is a little over 5 times bigger than that warehouse. That means over 5 tons of air pollution a day. The winds on Grand Island are generally out of the West, South West and North West. Hence they are called the Westerly’s. Where do the winds put all this hazard pollution? Over the Long Rd. area, Sandy Beach, Huth Road Elementary School, Veterans Park, and possibly Sidway Elementary School. It breaks my heart for the parents and children in these areas that will have to pay the price for a bad decision. It will forever be a sad day for Grand Island, if Amazon goes through.
Now for what wasn’t stated. Back around Feb., - March of 2018, The town of Grand Island put into place amendments to Grand Island Zoning Code to stop plans for Loves Travel Stop at Whitehaven Road, 21 acres. The residents had, according to WKBW news 765 signatures on a petition. CRED4GI has well over 2000 signatures in less than 1 ½ months. If Grand Island has approximately 500 tractor-trailers coming daily to the Island, they will need to be fueled and some will break down. Maybe Love’s will get revisited, now that they believe a few million dollars may buy us.
Will the town board sell our way of life and the gift of this “grand” Island down the river, for 30 pieces of silver? We all know that once you plant the kiss and we take the money, you can never go back. It will only get worse, buying more land for their truck overflow. Has anyone thought of Tonawanda Coke as a great place for this project? It checks all the boxes and more.
Amazon Harmful to GI - August 2020I am writing in regard to the possible Amazon warehouse on Long Road. I am concerned about the tremendous traffic this facility will create. The employee and truck traffic will cause numerous tie ups on the bridges and the island plus faster deterioration of the bridges. Imagine the delays when they need repair and these repairs will be more numerous with the increased traffic on the bridges. In addition there will be added noise and smog. This will seriously effect the wild life near the north bridge.
Emergency hospital visits could be delayed. Appointments would be missed. We will need more services, school, fire and police protection. Amazon will give the town money to soften the blow of these problems and draw backs to this large project, but no amount of money will lessen the damage to our beautiful island. Grand Island is simply the wrong place for this project. For this project to be even considered for Grand Island is absolutely absurd! Give the island what it needs another Grocery store.
What About Amazon Drones - August 2020
Amazon’s "Prime Air" - which will use unmanned aerial vehicles called drones “to enhance the services we already provide to millions of customers by providing rapid parcel delivery” - has been well-publicized by the company. See website for details.
If the warehouse on Grand Island is approved:
A picture of an Amazon drone from the company website is shown above. To maintain the quiet and peaceful nature of Buckhorn Park and the entire Island, we must stop the Amazon warehouse. Tom DeLoughry
Don’t Sell Us Down the River - August 2020My name is Dawn Fitzgerald. I live on West River Road directly behind the proposed Amazon facility. My husband and I bought our home approximately 30 years ago. Over time, we’ve invested in our home to make it a place of peace and quiet and a place that we were looking forward to spending our retirement years.
Some have said that we should have known that we bought our home behind an area zoned M1, light industrial. Yes, we did know, but the Town had zoning laws & a Master Plan in place that would protect us from the monstrosity that is now in play.
Each day we look out over our backyard and see deer, fox, coyotes, turkeys, pheasant, opossum, and many other wildlife species. Across the street, in the Niagara River Corridor, are Great Blue Heron, Egrets, Eagles, Red Tail Hawks, and many other rare waterfowl. This project will devastate the habitat of countless wildlife species. In addition, please consider the air pollution of hundreds of semi-trucks a day emitting diesel fuel while continually idling and the incessant noise pollution created by those same trucks. Also, the lighting that will surround the homes bordering this project will be like watching an evening football game at the stadium every single night.
The proposed development not only affects us, but all of Grand Island. Our current infrastructure cannot accommodate a project of this size. The traffic will be unbearable and the condition of our Town roads and bridges will deteriorate rapidly. The truckers will find alternate routes to get to and from the Amazon warehouse, potentially destroying the roads on Grand Island Blvd, Baseline Road, Whitehaven Road, Bedell Road, and the portion of East and West River Roads that run through Buckhorn State Park as well.
Supervisor Whitney and Town Council, please don’t sell our Island and our Quality of Life down the river. Please listen to your advisory boards. We implore you to just say No to Amazon and leave our island a Grand place to live.
Another Aspect - August 2020There is an aspect of the potential Amazon warehouse that may have been overlooked. Should the town board permit a 5 story structure, other developers will sue demanding equal protection, without approval of the town board. This will lead to high rises, not merely to house $15/hr. Amazon slaves, but also public housing, and waterfront condos in front of existing houses on West River, and, after eminent domain proceedings, East River & the Gold Coast. Don't doubt it.
Amazon Vote - July 2020This Amazon vote has all the makings of a Hollywood movie. On the one hand, we have one of the world’s largest corporations, in secret negotiations with a local politician, to ram through a project opposed by the small-town residents (you know the details at this point).
On the other hand, we now have the Town Board as the last hope to keep our Island “a center of conservation, health, and wellness in Western New York” (see the official GI Town website About Grand Island).
We are in the final scene of the movie. Does the Town Board crumble under the pressure from outside influences, break their campaign promise to represent Grand Island residents, and turn a truly “Grand” place to live into “Amazon” Island? Or, will the Town Board do what is right (again, “a center of conservation, health, and wellness”), and oppose changing our Island forever?
I am personally looking forward to a “feel good” ending. The kind of story about courage that could be told at Charlotte Sidway Elementary for generations to come about what almost happened during the summer of 2020.
Dear Mr. Poloncarz - July 2020Dear Mr. Poloncarz,
I have been your staunch supporter for all of your terms in office. I applauded your news conferences with Dr. Gail Burstein on the Erie County response to the covid-19 pandemic. I was so proud to have you and Andrew Cuomo as our leaders in this emergency, reporting the facts. I thought of you as an exemplary politician.
And today, you broke my heart! To hear you at the podium sounding just like a paid salesman touting Amazon’s supposed benefits to our community was so, so disappointing. I understand that Erie County could benefit greatly, financially, from this project, but this profit is at the expense and detriment to the quality of life for the citizens of Grand Island. It is too bad that you didn’t fight harder for the Bethlehem Steel site, which would be a brilliant land reuse of this long-abandoned wasteland.
Of course, Amazon wants to build here. Grand Island offers an easy location for them to build one of the largest warehouses anywhere in the world. It is obvious to see the advantages to them. But it is a totally inappropriate location for us Grand Island residents who chose to live here, in this tranquil, bucolic environment, not in a commercial development like you see elsewhere along the I-290. If/when, in 15 years or so, Amazon decides to pull out, our island might look like the abandoned Bethlehem Steel site does now.
By the way. Those thousand projected Amazon jobs aren’t such a great deal for Grand Island. Most of them will probably not go to island residents but to people who will have to commute from Buffalo and Niagara Falls. The recent news reports that many Amazon employees are very unhappy, complaining of the terrible conditions they must labor under. They do not have health coverage. Amazon resists hiring union workers to build their projects.
I remember you saying that your mother told you not to call Dr. Burstein “doc” but to be respectful and use her full name and title. Did she also tell you that “money isn’t everything”? Quality of life is more important. I think you might feel a little differently if this monstrosity were to be built at the corner of your own street. Large projects are not welcome on Grand Island.
Richard M. Garlapow
Amazon and Political Popularity…should this be included as an issue? - July 2020It is of interest to note that both the Town Supervisor and the County Executive have repeated the same narrative about their personal popularity. It goes something like this: “No matter what decision I make it will be unpopular by some group.” This is true, but should a popularity factor be included in a decision?
Gentlemen, with all due respect, this is not an issue of popularity. The issue is much more serious than that. Amazon will affect the lives and well being of some 20,000 residents who make Grand Island their home. A serene quite residential area that is appreciated by all who have chosen to live here.
Please base your decision not on popularity but the facts:
1. The infrastructure of our Island (the bridges, overpasses, roads, sewers and water supplies) cannot support this Amazon Behemoth. Our infrastructure is designed for low density residential use and will not support what Amazon wants to build.
2. The negative impacts which weigh upon: residential homes that border three sides of this property, and neighboring Buckhorn State Park and protected wetlands.
3. Our Board and County Executive should have an ongoing dialog with Amazon that considers alternate areas in Erie County. A discussion that includes locations that are seeking revitalization and have existing Zoned Industrial Areas seeking development.
Jobs and revitalization are of important economic significance to our county but in appropriate locations. Grand Island is not the place. This Amazon project is much too large and does not fit. If this project is allowed to proceed it will “Crush” Grand Island. Call or write to the Town Board and express your thoughts.
It's Not a Done Deal - July 2020Some would have us all think that a 100’ tall structure operating 24/7/365 sending hundreds of semi trucks up and down our roads, clogging the already crowded bridges and devaluing Island properties shouldn’t be stopped. You must be against working people, they’ll say. You don’t understand how it works, they‘ll say. They have the audacity to suggest that residents shouldn’t speak up to protect the character and beauty of the Grand Island community. Just shut up and take it, they say. It’s a done deal, they’ll rumor. But the fact is that within a scant 2 weeks 10% of Grand Island’s registered voters—red, blue and everything in between—had already signed a petition to say with ready clarity that the proposed warehouse belongs in Western New York, just NOT in this location.
It’s not even close to a done deal. Grand Islanders have slowly begun learning key information about the project, not just the downplayed and “mitigated” details the developer wants you to buy whole hog. You know how you feel about our town.... You know a global corporation paving over 1 square mile of our island doesn’t sound right. You instinctively know that undoing that much of our town’s surface area permanently erases the notion that this place is grand to be in. For whom would it be grand? A commuter worker? A north-end decades-long homeowner? A small business owner wanting to establish here? Not at all. Stand up as soon as you possibly can to be pro-responsible growth and pro-responsible job creation. Stand up with your neighbors to get businesses to the Island that are going to offer fair wages and good working conditions, companies that will actually pay their fair share of taxes on the full value of the land and not expect us to give them all of the benefits and none of the commitment to act responsibly toward who and what we are here on Grand Island.
This is not an industrial park. Writers who want you to believe that the nearly 4 million s.f. warehouse would be “great” for us simply cannot have done their research about such projects across the country. They’re trying hard to convince others that hundreds of semis operating around the clock every day of the year wouldn’t harm Grand Island’s successfully expanding ecotourism industry or cause havoc on our basic infrastructure. That’s just plain illogical. Go ahead: read for yourself about communities who have cowered In the face of dangling dollars and promises that are ultimately not met. Read how they have incurred horrible consequences for failing to stop it. How jobs will go away after publicly promised automation of the warehouse is complete. How the company isn’t actually buying, but rather leasing, the land with no responsibility for leaving all that vast amount of concrete behind when it decides to move on.
You’ll find cautionary tale after cautionary tale across the country - and the other towns are not islands in the middle of a protected natural habitat! If you have not looked around the internet using a key word search about Amazon’s warehouses, don’t take a side just yet. You don’t have to believe people who write here, and you don’t have to listen if you think anybody’s exaggerating. Do your own research. Read the proposal and realize how it is absurdly out of alignment with the island, surrounding neighbors and our gorgeous habitat.
But here’s great news! The two alternative sites in Genessee and Niagara Counties are IDEAL—wide open, already zoned PDD, and along the 190 corridor. Call the Genessee and Niagara County Economic Development Centers. Ask the planners there if they think it would be responsible business practice In their locations if they were an island with rickety bridges. They’ll shake their heads like most rational people and wonder what the hell proponents of putting this thing on an island could possibly be thinking?! A thousand new jobs in Western New York, oh hell yeah! A global conglomerate swallowing up 145 of the last remaining open acres on Grand Island? Oh hell to the no, no, no.
Maureen Phillips, PhD
Captain, USAF/ANG (Retired)
Air Pollution & Amazon - July 2020The Project Olive Amazon warehouse proposal is a 24/7 distribution center of almost 4 million square feet with acres of paved surfaces to which constant vehicular traffic will be occurring on the premises and on all the roads leading up to the site. The vehicles will be tractor trailers, utility vehicles and passenger vehicles and they will be using the roads and the site 24/7. The proposal estimates the numbers of the vehicles per day, which amounts to hundreds per hour with constant non-stop traffic, and also notes an increase in traffic that will occur during the holiday season. The emissions originating from the movement of the vehicles does not take into account the number of hours of cumulative idling by the engines on the site waiting to park, waiting for loads, and waiting to leave the site.
With non-stop constant vehicular activities comes constant air pollutants and negative impacts to air quality, all of which are scientifically documented to be detrimental to human, animal and environmental health. Air pollution causes or exacerbates health conditions such as asthma, lung diseases, and cardiovascular issues. Studies have found links between air pollution and brain deterioration, stunted development and behavioral changes. The micro-particulate levels produced in the emissions are one of the primary causes of asthma in children and a new study shows that the higher the level of particulates in the air, the greater the indications of psychological distress in people. Micro-particulates are produced in abundance when a cold diesel engine warms up. And we all know, there will be plenty of cold diesel engines warming up in a facility located in our climate.
See full letter here.
Sean Christian (Bubba) Rustowicz
Support for Project Olive - July 2020I am writing to voice my support for Project Olive on the north end of the Island. Much has been heard from the “vocal minority” regarding this project. They use hyperbole and completely unsubstantiated claims in an attempt to scare the rest of us into thinking our Town as we know it will cease to exist. Some examples I’ve seen online include:
“Our bridges, roads, habitat, infrastructure and your very own neighbors will suffer FOREVER if this comes to pass” and “Our bridges are even now constantly in use and in need of repair. Tie-ups at the bridges could be massive! Noise and pollution unbearable! Cemented swaths of wetlands irreplaceable! Water and sewer needs? Detrimental to everyone’s quality of life here.”
Reading these letters, one might assume that Project Olive was a nuclear test site, designed to destroy Grand Island and all life forms inhabiting it. Project Olive is a warehouse. An extremely large warehouse, but still a warehouse. The area they want to build is already zoned for such use. They are asking for a significant height variance. Personally, I’d rather see a 90-foot-high building with a 850,000 sq. ft. footprint than a sprawling building with a 1.7 million sq. ft. footprint, but only 45 feet high.
These letter writers love to state how long they’ve lived on the Island, as if that gives them more authority and a stronger voice than someone like me, who has only lived on Grand Island since the early part of this century. These are the same people that formed coalitions, made signs, hired attorneys and wrote endless letters opposing the new bike path on West River Road. Again, they made outrageous claims of increased accidents, poor quality of life and even death. Now that the path is open and operational, I haven’t seen any data to support such claims. It appears to me to be a beautiful addition to the West River and it eliminated a completely redundant roadway.
I work in Lancaster as the CFO for a large general contractor. When news broke this week about the project being canceled or put on hold, co-workers and others I am in contact with could not believe that Grand Island would waste such a great opportunity. Having a company like Amazon come to the Island would be a feather in our cap and show the rest of WNY that Grand Island is a great place to live and work. Businesses on the north end of the Island that always seem to struggle attracting customers will now see an increase in traffic, and presumably, revenue. New retail and service businesses will most likely be attracted to the Island, offering residents additional choices to stay on the Island, rather than having to go to Amherst or Niagara Falls.
Finally, there most certainly will be a financial benefit to both the Town and its residents. Adding a building of this size to the tax rolls will have to cause a significant decrease in property taxes. Without having numbers as to the cost or assessed value of the completed project, I would estimate at least a 4% savings in total real estate taxes for homeowners. For a typical house assessed at $250,000, that would equate to savings of between $300 and $400 per year.
I’ve also read articles where Amazon has come to other communities and they’ve offered substantial amounts of money to the localities in the form of infrastructure improvements, new buildings to benefit the community and even cash. If they are willing to invest in such a large project on Grand Island, probably approaching $200 million, I don’t think they’d balk too much at $10 million requested by the Town. Perhaps we can use the money to build a new Town Hall/Community Center on the old Fantasy Island site and free up the current Town Hall site for future development in the center of town. Heck, I even know of a good General Contractor to do the work. Let's not be bullied by the “vocal minority.” It's time for the “silent majority” to be heard.
I think Neil is Right On . . .in his satire lives the truth.
“Our bridges, roads, habitat, infrastructure and your very own neighbors will suffer FOREVER if this comes to pass”. I agree.
“Our bridges are even now constantly in use and in need of repair. Tie-ups at the bridges could be massive! Noise and pollution unbearable! Cemented swaths of wetlands irreplaceable! Water and sewer needs? Detrimental to everyone’s quality of life here.”. Again I agree.
"Reading these letters, one might assume that Project Olive was a nuclear test site, designed to destroy Grand Island and all life forms inhabiting it. Project Olive is a warehouse. An extremely large warehouse, but still a warehouse." Supporting hundreds of trucks, one every 3 minutes. A warehouse that clearly belongs in Niagara Falls where trains can bring the containers without the trucks. Actually with its own rail bridge into Canada, Niagara Falls needs this project to return to full employment. Does it make too much sense?
"These letter writers love to state how long they’ve lived on the Island, as if that gives them more authority and a stronger voice than someone like me, who has only lived on Grand Island since the early part of this century. These are the same people that formed coalitions, made signs, hired attorneys and wrote endless letters opposing the new bike path on West River Road. Again, they made outrageous claims of increased accidents, poor quality of life and even death. Now that the path is open and operational, I haven’t seen any data to support such claims. It appears to me to be a beautiful addition to the West River and it eliminated a completely redundant roadway."
These are people that love Grand Island and maybe that does come from living here longer, it would make sense.
Interesting how he also twists the West River Path issue. What he doesn't realize is that 100% of the island was "For the Path", when it was proposed, between the Parkway and the River, we were all "For the Path". If we would have prevailed we would have the Path and the Parkway would still be a functioning Scenic Parkway, enjoyed by millions, as it was designed.
The truth is revealed in his final paragraph when he, "the CFO for a large general contractor" offers his services, "Heck, I even know of a good General Contractor to do the work." I rest my case.
Islanders, Hold on to your hats, the push is now going to be the Financial Benefit to Grand Island, and what a shame if we were to miss this opportunity. It is Hot Air and the developer along with the land owner are inflating the "possible" benefits. Why are there NO hard numbers to back this up. Sure, lets rezone the project so it won't have to conform to the existing zoning? Why would we do that without the facts?
So much for the slam about the "vocal minority" ironically he just might be describing himself, So much for satire.
I will admit that I love the island, my home for almost seventy years, I also love the people of Grand Island, most are kind and considerate and they would never consider a tax break (which we probably never see) a priority over the peaceful nature of our community. I wonder if Neil would be able to gaurantee the 4% savings on property taxes? Most of the time taxes on major projects go to cover the increased costs of water, sewar, fire protection, roads, etc. etc. etc. So we need to approve the project and cross our fingers? A GRAND reason to say NO!.
We need to wake up, we are being played. Sign the petition. Demand the Facts.Reg Schopp
Smoke and Mirrors - July 2020Mr. Whitney and Town Board,
We were surprised to hear that Amazon (oops those who must not be named) paused their project olive on Monday night. We are not fooled by this action. We may have won a battle but We fear this will be a long war. We know they are regrouping and will come back stronger to claim what they obviously want very badly, our island.
I am so sorry you will soon have a lot coming at you. They will try to wear us down with more proposals of mitigation (for problems they are creating), incentives and favors, all legal smoke and mirrors and most likely lawsuits if they do not get their desired result. It will be exhausting and expensive. We all need to stand together...that is our strength for as long as it takes.
They cannot steal our island from us and we must stop those on our boards who will willingly give it away for a few dollars. I am so disappointed in the few on our boards who see this as their opportunity to have a money grab....realtors and developers to name a few. How could you live with your neighbors or yourself if you betrayed your oath to be a keeper of this island for its residents when this issue is so widely opposed? Listen to the people and do what is right.
We are not savvy in the law or even town politics, just concerned taxpayers for 44 years. We know why we chose Grand Island as our home. Everyone who lives here should ask themselves that same question. Why do you live here? Are you willing to fight to keep it.? Are the board members ready to fight to keep it? This project olive does not fit with our Grand Island Master Plan criteria, how and why has this negotiation gone on for so long? What is the purpose of having a plan if you cannot enforce it?
McMurray hid this project from residents for two years while he worked his magic to try to win a seat in Congress! How did this happen? There has to be a way to stop this predatory giant with all their money, lawyers and influence. We are just the little guys but ...It is our island not theirs. We should be able to say NO to Amazon for so many reasons. This is still America last time I checked. Stay strong GI! Sign the petition, join your neighbors to let your voices be heard.
Paved Paradise - July 2020As a retired Grand Island High School Science Teacher ( Biology, Environmental Studies, for 37 years) I would like to apply my knowledge and address the Amazon proposal. “Project Olive.”
The Residents, the Business Community, the Town Board and even the Board of Education have raised several concerns and weighed in with questions regarding: traffic, the bridges, the roads, and the pollution ( air, water, noise, smell, visual ) the trucks and cars, the size and height of the buildings and several other issues.
In each and every case Amazon has come up with solutions that are all nicely packaged in thick bound proposals and backed up with literally millions of dollars of incentives and the employment of a cadre of their business and legal minds. Amazon is no doubt very successful and “Loaded” with enormous wealth.
No cost which might be required to place their warehouse on Grand Island is too great and no concern too small or unanswerable. “Olive” can afford it and they have the know how on fixing any doubt or concern you might have. You just ask and you shall receive!
However, there is one looming and frightful concern which they have failed to address: What to do about the disruption of the natural environment which exists on Grand island. ( teacher knowledge) Once the current natural and balanced environment of our beautiful island is destroyed, Amazon and its money will not bring it back. The air will smell of diesel, the noise will be a constant din, the water will have a strange taste, and the beauty of living on this unspoiled Island will be gone. The peace and tranquility we have all enjoyed will be gone.
Joni Mitchell summed it up in a tune that maybe you will remember, I’m pretty sure many of my students do remember: “Don’t it always seem to go….You don’t know what you got until its gone… Paved Paradise and put up a Parking Lot…. da da da da da….Paved Paradise and put up a Parking Lot”
Amazon wants us to consider a monetary trade off. Amazon believes that if they pay us enough, we will change our current conservation, pollution, zoning and other safeguard ordinances. and allow them to put up their “parking lot… and as the song suggests right over the top of “Paradise” If this project is allowed to proceed it will “ Crush our beautiful and tranquil Grand Island”. They can never pay us enough. Don’t let it happen. Contact our Town Board. Let the Town Supervisor know.
Say NO to Project Olive - July 2020At age 97 in addition to coping with this incomparable pandemic, widespread determination to face racism, and the severe economic crisis, I now am facing a very local threat, Project Olive!
Grand Island has been my home since 1949; my children grew and thrived here. I wholeheartedly became active in the Cooperative Nursery School, accepted leadership in the PTA, chaired the Citizens Committee for the High School (before there was one), moderated candidates’ debates through the League of Women Voters, headed the Island-wide KIDS VOTING, chaired the UNICEF collection for the Island for about 60 years, and taught at the High School many years. Through the decades I attended town meetings about zoning and long range planning. The natural beauty and unique quality of Grand Island have been a constant source of motivation!
Now we must save the Island from this threat to its identity! I urge you to reject PROJECT OLIVE. It is utterly not the right place for a mega corporation to take over one-fourth of our Island. Our bridges are even now constantly in use and in need of repair. Tie-ups at the bridges could be massive! Noise and pollution unbearable! Cemented swaths of wetlands irreplaceable! Water and sewer needs? Detrimental to everyone’s quality of life here.
Just say NO to TC Buffalo Development Proposal.
West River Road Traffic - July 2020I have complained time and time again.
I have motioned to the drivers to SLOW DOWN. The responses are showing me unkind gestures, swearing out their windows as they fly by and purposely speeding up ! ! Really more than upsetting. And it’s not just one or two it’s a string of four or more in a row.
I also have a problem with the number of Lawn Services, Construction and especially Delivery Trucks doing 50 MPH or MORE. It has become a speedway for cars and motorcycles. They also will pass several cars if they are doing the speed limit. The Speed Monitor that you have put up is a joke. They keeping going with no hesitation. Oh and not to mention the fact that it’s people texting while they do all of this.
I have seen NO increase of Police Patrolling. I am in my yard or sitting in my kitchen facing Long Road almost all day. Even the State Parks Trucks, Town Trucks and State Thruway Trucks speed. I am more than angry and upset daily. This is not how I want to be living. I do not want to spend every waking moment putting up with these issues.
MY SUGGESTION IS TO INSTALL SPEED CAMERAS. STOP THE PUSSYFOOTING AROUND THIS ISSUE AND TAKE ACTION. This will certainly bring revenue to the Town. We don’t need any more traffic on our roads. The taxes you expect to collect bringing Amazon here can be off set by collecting speeding ticket revenue. My two cents.
Are You Crazy! - July 2020If I was an elected official representing the taxpayers of Grand Island and a developer came to me with a proposal to build a 5 (actually 9) story, 3.8 million square foot distribution facility on Grand Island, after I stopped laughing (or crying), my response would probably be: “are you crazy? That is preposterous; I can’t imagine a more seriously detrimental project for Grand Island. Obviously, it would totally destroy the quality of life in our tranquil, rural/suburban community. I can’t possibly approve that for the people who trusted me to make honest decisions to benefit our community.”
As a 50-year resident of Grand Island, I am absolutely opposed to Project Olive. I see many obviously negative consequences and zero benefits to the residents of Grand Island. Please keep your constituent’s interests in mind when you vote on Project Olive.
Project Olive - is going to be built, somewhere - July 2020Why would Amazon pick Grand Island to host it’s warehouse in Erie County? The location is ideal for shipping goods north to Canada and south to service WNY and Pennsylvania. The land is available to develop. The opportunity to tap into an ample hard working labor force willing to start at $15 per hour. A county and state in dire need of new employment opportunities and a shown willingness to grant expected tax breaks. The expected $40 million payroll will benefit the host community.
Logistically, Grand Island is ideally suited for this warehouse, especially with the toll booths removed. If Grand Island doesn’t approve the plan and it moves to Niagara County, we will still have the outbound southern truck traffic PLUS all the inbound truck traffic delivering the goods to the warehouse, on both of our bridges! We will receive none of the financial benefits of hosting the site and all the traffic!!
If it moves south of the island elsewhere in Erie County, we will still have outbound truck traffic headed to Canada, with no financial benefits. This warehouse is going to be built. Amazon picked Grand Island as it’s first option. Where is the secondary location? If it’s Niagara County does that change your opinion? Amazon opened a similar sized warehouse in Clay, NY this year. What lessons did they learn? Change is scary but these opportunities are few. Let’s hope our town officials are up to the task.
Amazon Opposition - July 2020Dear Supervisor Whitney,
I write this letter to you, copied to other interested people or entities, to express my opposition to the Amazon warehouse proposed for building and operating on Grand Island, what would be one of the largest warehouses in the world.
First of all, I am a resident of Grand Island and write this letter in that capacity. Though I am an attorney, it is not in that capacity that I write this. I am also on the G.I. Long Range Planning Committee, but this letter is my own, independent of that committee. What I am, however is a nearly 40 year resident on G.I. who loves this community and who is very concerned about the negative impact such a project would likely have on Grand Island and its residents.
I also have experience with the history and operation of the G.I. Bridges. Back in the early 1980 s I, along with another attorney represented a group of G.I. citizens who desired the tolls to be eliminated. After a great deal of evidence being considered at a days’ long hearing before a Federal Highway Administration Judge, we settled the case. As a result, the residents of G.I., to this day, pay a toll of only nine cents while other commuters pay, I believe, $ 1.00 a trip.
This came about because the enabling legislation that provided for a toll to be charged had decreed that a toll could be charged only to cover the reasonable costs of maintenance and repairs of the bridges and for a period of time that reflected what would have occurred had the cost of building the bridges been amortized at a reasonable rate. I had subpoenaed the NYSDMV records of toll income and expenses paid since that legislation, which is what led to the settlement before we concluded the hearing.
DMV had not kept bridge tolls separated from income from other parts of the NYS Thruway and other bridges, nor had they apparently kept very good records of expenses of maintenance. I had included in my discovery demand, inspection and repair records, most of which they could not produce.
The exposure of this deficit led to an immediate inspection of all four bridges and a period of continuous work on the bridges. And it led to settlement of the case. I have no idea how well DMV has kept up with record keeping and inspections and repairs. But I ask you, has there been an effort to obtain current information of the condition of the bridges in preparation for making a decision about Project Olive? This is very concerning since the older two bridges were built in 1935, while the newer set were finished in 1965. These are old bridges! Are they in any condition to handle what I understand will be thousands of trucks per day. Even if maintenance is up to date, doesn't steel over time weaken and buckle? Are our bridges really strong enough to handle these likely modem trucks that have been lengthened or are doubled up to be pulled by one vehicle?
Traffic on our bridges with that kind of usage being added to their daily loads will create major back ups at all times of day, not just the usual rush hour delays we have learned to live with. Won’t that kind of traffic congestion interfere with not only the citizens, but also the other businesses on G.I? What about getting emergency vehicles back and forth over the bridges? I could expect that Amazon should also be concerned about that.
Air pollution caused by traffic has been of concern to our town government in the past. Even with Tonawanda Coke now closed, tests have shown that air pollution is still occurring at and around the bridges. With this volume of trucks not only crossing the bridges, but coming into our community within close proximity of residential areas, I would expect that there would be significant deleterious effect on health. Also, are these trucks going to run their motors while they are loading, unloading or just sitting in the gigantic parking lot?
Children and adults walk, ride bikes and otherwise enjoy the openness of our community.. Are they to be restricted in their enjoyment of our natural environment? Honestly, I am baffled that there is even a question about the appropriateness of Project Olive for our Island. I know there has been talk of the tax money that would flow from such a monstrosity, especially if we are to lose Fantasy Island, but now it appears that there is hope that Fantasy Island will either be saved or replaced by a similar family recreation park.
And have you considered what will happen to property values on the Island? I find it difficult to believe that the Island would be attractive for residential or small businesses if they have to contend with this nightmare of traffic. My guess is that not only will real estate value be decreased, but that current G.I. residents will seek to move off the Island, and not be able to sell at current land values. In the end, the taxes the town receives as a result of Project Olive, may well be offset by taxes resulting from decreased value of the property.
I am confidant that you and the Board care a lot about the Island. Please take into consideration the issues I raise here as well as all the other citizens who have expressed their dismay that this matter is even controversial.
Very Truly Yours,
CC: Mike Madagan; Peter Marston, Jennifer Baney, Tom Digati - G.I Board Members; Kevin Hardwick, E.C. Legisl.; Angelo Morinello, NYS Assembly; Brian Higgins, Congressman; G.I. Dispatch; Isledegrande
Observations on Project Olive - July 2020Some observations on Project Olive, aka, Amazon. In no particular order of importance, note these items.
The Chamber of Commerce says they are “offering wholehearted support for the project.” This brings to mind Lenin’s statement: “The capitalists will sell us the rope by which we hang them.”
It was stated that traffic will increase 2+% on the north bridge and 3+% on the south bridge. These estimates may be perfectly accurate but are basically irrelevant. The numbers in question should be the increase in traffic during rush hours: M-F, 7am – 9am and 4pm – 6pm. Those time periods are the binding constraints, not 3am.
It was also stated that this will increase employment by 1,000. Excluding the impact of the coronavirus, unemployment of Grand Islanders is well below 1,000 people. This means they will have to commute from off of the Island. This will impact bridge traffic. Was this included in their estimate of traffic flows?
Let’s say they all decide to live on Grand Island. We certainly don’t have 1,000 vacant homes and/or apartment units. We have, maybe, 7,000 dwelling places. Adding residences for 1,000 would increase the housing stock by 14% in one fell swoop. This is only the start of it. Our utilities are already close to maximum capacity. If these new residents were told that they would have to pay the incremental costs of incurred of supplying them rather than the average cost; i.e., having the existing users subsidize them, would they come?
What happens if Amazon decides to move on and the property sits vacant for an extended period of time. We will have incurred substantial infrastructure costs and have added numerous dwelling which now sit idle. The infrastructure will still need to be maintained. The increased housing stock will depress prices. This isn’t as preposterous as it sounds. This is, essentially, what happens to Niagara Falls when the hydro plant was built in the late 1950s and the project ended in the early 1960s. The population skyrocketed and then reversed itself. The schools and utility infrastructure remained and had to be paid for by those remaining.
We were told that we will receive all of the wonderful benefits if it comes here. This is the usual handwaving, with zero data, to justify a project that isn’t justifiable. We will receive as much in the way of benefits if it locates elsewhere in Erie County. Sales tax revenue is collected at the state and county levels, not the town level. Property taxes that go to reduce the burden of county services will still redound to us.
As I have said elsewhere, there has to be more to this than we are being told. Grand Island is about as poor a location for this as one could find. There are numerous sites in both Erie and Niagara counties that are superior in every respect. Why push this site? It has to be a stalking horse for something else. If we bite on this we have bought the whole cookie whether we like it not.
If we get stuck with it we should require the following:
1. no tax abatements, Amazon doesn’t need them. They have the 4th highest market capitalization, $1.31Tr, behind the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., Apple, and Microsoft.
2. Any and all infrastructure improvements that are made specifically for them, they pay for.
3. They post a bond that is sufficient to return the property to a greenfield site if they leave and it hasn’t been fully occupied within a year.
If it is necessary to go through their landlord then he is on the hook. He can negotiate with Amazon. Regardless, we shouldn’t be subsidizing the uber-rich.
JUST SAY NO! - July 2020At close of business yesterday, July 7th, close to five hundred people had signed a petition asking Supervisor Whitney and Town Board members to deny the zoning variances requested by TC Buffalo and its client, Amazon. They’ve been working rapidly to submit supplement after supplement in response to requests by town officials, particularly the town engineer.
When do Supervisor Whitney and Councilmembers’ constituents - you and I - get to respond directly to TC Buffalo? When do we get to put truth to some distorted claims they make to try to win the prize of taking over our town? Many, many more hundreds of Grand Island residents will no doubt follow suit and sign the petition to stop them from doing just that.
If you’re not alarmed and already on the petition, you must not have read the fine print of the proposed facility or heard from your neighbors just what’s been going on. We have McMurray and Sharpe to thank for bringing this monstrosity to Grand Island. But it is by no means whatsoever a “done deal”. Not by a long shot.
They began negotiating as long as two years ago and somehow never said a word to the community at large, but people are starting to RISE UP and GET UPSET by what they’re discovering. If you don’t want the entire northwest end of Grand Island paved over for a facility with thousands of truck runs slated to come and go from 138 loading bays....a structure large enough to house 54 - FIFTY FOUR - football fields...that will come right up close to countless homes in that corner of our community...then run as fast as you can to Supervisor Whitney’s office and ask him to deny TC Buffalo’s request for special rezoning. Better yet, write a letter and send it to “firstname.lastname@example.org” because if you do it has to then be posted online to the public record and join countless other letters already there asking the Town Board to listen to us and JUST SAY NO.
‘Why would Amazon choose Grand Island?’ is a logical question so many have asked.... Answer: because unlike the 25 vacant industrial warehouses ideal for their purposes in Buffalo, OUR PRISTINE acreage wouldn’t require toxic waste cleanup. No, instead, they’ll bring their own toxicity - 24/7 - 365 delivery trucks beeping day after day and a brightly lit, 9-story monster of a warehouse buzzing all night every night - right next to our residential neighborhoods. The Island’s night sky will glow with Jeff Bezos’s money maker.
I’m not against business development, but this is not right for Grand Island. Our bridges, roads, habitat, infrastructure and your very own neighbors will suffer FOREVER if this comes to pass. This won’t be the town we all love anymore. It just won’t. Who doesn’t like Amazon deliveries? Who doesn’t want jobs to come to WNY? None of us are against those things. But for the love of God we’ve got to Insist that GRAND ISLAND SHOULD NOT PLAY HOST TO THE SECOND LARGEST WAREHOUSE IN THE WORLD.
It’s a lot like asking a chihuahua to run the Iditarod. Preposterous! It would break us like a pup. How could the Chamber of Commerce and Long Range Planning Board, still oddly-enough led by Jim Sharpe, possibly be in favor of such permanent damage to our town? It’s a question that begs logic. Write to the Town Board. Make your calls. Sign the petition. Let Supervisor Whitney know you don’t want this to happen.
Maureen Phillips, PhD
Captain, USAF/ANG (Retired)
Stop Amazon’s 3.8 million sq. ft. warehouse from being built on Grand Island - July 2020The decision our town board makes regarding Project Olive, i.e., Amazon, will be the most important decision they will make as our elected officials. It will have deep and long-lasting implications for all of the citizens of the town and it is a decision from which there is no retreat.
Once we walk through this door, we will never be able to return to the existing character and nature of the island that we have enjoyed for decades. So before they make up their minds, I recommended recently that they do the following:
This is the ONLY way the town board will be able to understand what life really will be like here if this project is allowed to proceed. Not by reading through 2000+ pages of documentation or listening to consultants paid for by Amazon that do not have the interests of Grand Islanders at heart.
They should then ask themselves one question: WOULD I WANT TO LIVE IN THAT COMMUNITY? If the answer is no, which I’m certain it would be, then they owe it to the people of Grand Island who placed their trust in them to protect us from this Goliath project and vote NO on TC Buffalo’s (Amazon’s) requests for a zoning change and major variances to our currently approved ordinances and Comprehensive Plan. I hope everyone will contact them and tell them: NO AMAZON WAREHOUSE ON GRAND ISLAND.
Project Olive Does Not Fit Grand Island’s Comprehensive Plan - July 2020When Grand Island’s Town Board passed the Comprehensive Plan in September 2018, the document became a standard for defining “the community’s vision for the Town of Grand Island in the form of a physical plan to organize and control natural growth and to provide the framework for achieving the community’s goals and objectives. It is designed to be used by the community as a tool for reviewing proposed projects and as a guide in determining the best use of a piece of property.”
So why does the Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC), which drafted and refined the Plan, still exist? Does the document require interpretation? Is it unclear or incomplete? These are extremely important questions, because according to New York State’s report on Zoning and the Comprehensive Plan, “Once a comprehensive plan is adopted… all land use regulations of the community must be consistent with the comprehensive plan. In the future, the plan must be consulted prior to adoption or amendment of any land use regulation. In addition, other governmental agencies that are considering capital projects on lands covered by the adopted comprehensive plan must take the plan into consideration.”
In other words, it is an extremely powerful role to be able to interpret and apply the 113-page document, and to explain which statements and guidelines within should be emphasized and which should be ignored.
As an example, take the LRPC’s correspondence to the Town Board regarding the proposed Project Olive plans, which were submitted by Jim Sharpe on June 15th. He concludes, on behalf of the LRPC and with three key points drawn from the document, that “Project Olive as currently envisioned complies with the goals and objectives of the Town of Grand Island Comprehensive Plan." But does it?
First off, the goals and objectives of the Comprehensive Plan include the following categories: (1) Natural Resources, (2) Transportation and Accessibility, (3) Community and Social Capital, (4) Neighborhoods and Housing, and (5) Economic Development. Project Olive does not fit with the first four categories, as written in the Plan. It is inconsistent with goals related to the environment, roads, community interests, health and safety, and our neighborhoods and communities. At best, one could argue that it is only consistent with the 5th: Economic Development. But even there, in the section titled Industrial, the plan says, “Though industrial by name, these areas would be predominantly more light industrial in nature, designed to fit inconspicuously with the surrounding land.” How does one fit a nine-story 3,800,000 square foot building inconspicuously onto Grand Island?
Moreover, the Economic Development section clearly states that new ventures should complement “the ‘Island character’ that is unique to Grand Island.” And the Future Land Use Map very clearly designates the location of the proposed Project Olive as Rural Residential… not industrial. Rural Residential. How does the LRPC ignore the Future Land Use Map - a critical document that was used to justify and promote this comprehensive plan to the public?
Given these elements of the Comprehensive Plan, how could one possibly interpret it as consistent with Project Olive? The answer is that the document is being used, selectively, to lobby for a project that does not fit with the vision for Grand Island that was presented to the community and approved by our Town Board. Project Olive is not consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, and that is reason alone for the Town Board to reject this proposal.
The Town Board should dissolve the LRPC and review the Comprehensive Plan on the basis of what is included within, and what was built on the basis of community input, not based on how some would prefer to interpret and use it.
Dave Reilly and Nicole Gerber
Grand Island Saved by Residents 74 Years Ago - June 2020In 1946, residents of Grand Island told their Town Board in a vote of 354 to 30 that they did not want a regional airport on the island. The vote was taken as an informal expression of Islander public opinion against the building of a large airport meant to serve the eight counties of Western New York. This was reported in the Buffalo News edition of September 11, 1946. The overwhelming opposition was registered in spite of an explanation by the airport consultant for the Niagara Frontier Planning Board that Grand Island could tax the airport and receive about $750,000 a year in taxes.
How is that relevant for Grand Island today? Grand Island is being confronted today by a similar enormous project that would destroy many acres of land and green space, pollute air and water, and would forever change the residential character and rural nature of the island.
The proposed Amazon distribution warehouse would sit on 145 acres and its size would be 3,783,000 million square feet - a square footage that would put the warehouse among the largest in America. The plan has 484 tractor-trailer trucks coming to the warehouse every day. That breaks down to 1 truck every 3 minutes.
Grand Island is being told the warehouse will bring significant taxes to our municipality, yet the amount to the community has potential contingencies based on state tax programs and incentives. Why did the Grand Island residents reject an airport 74 years ago? Why didn’t the Grand Island residents choose the lure of the $750,000 a year in taxes? A tax total that with today’s value of the dollar, is equivalent to $10 million.
The key points that led to the defeat of the airport proposal was the “evident desire of the islanders to preserve the quiet residential character of their community.” (Buffalo News, 9/11/46) “We like our island as is, exclaimed Archibald. B. Kirkwood, home owner in the East River Road. “I moved out of Buffalo because of the very conditions that make this a desirable airport site.” “No one came to Grand Island to be in the middle of a brass band,” commented Joseph Pugh home owner in the West River Road.” George H. Alt, Jr., Chairman of the Grand Island Revisory Zoning Board stated, “We’ll have a blighted area of probably three miles around this airport. So far as Grand Island itself is concerned, the tax proposition has been the outstanding bait for accepting the airport. But are we going to accept taxes for a condition we cannot put up with?”
I found this newspaper article in George Alt. Jr.’s 1946 journal, and I echo my great-grandfather’s statement. The majority of residents today have the same oppositions to such a massive project on Grand Island as did the residents 74 years ago. They saved the island then, and we can do it again today.
Nicole Renee Gerber, PhD
6th generation Alt
More Amazon Thoughts - June 2020I grew up here and my family has had a 62-year commitment to serving and helping the people of this lovely Island. I left here in 1976 to serve my country and pursue a career. After 42 years of being away, I chose to return here to spend my retirement years.
I found many things had changed over the past four decades, but for the most part, the character of the Island had remained largely the same. It is a place to breathe, walk, ride bikes, kayak and boat on an amazing river. After many years of living in and around large metropolitan areas, I also enjoy the relative quiet and lack of traffic. But I fear this is all about to change.
The proposal to build an Amazon Warehouse center on our precious Island is terrifying to me. It will forever change our way of life and I am utterly opposed to it. I have read about the irreversible damage these facilities have had on other communities and am loathe to have this happen on our Island, when far more suitable sites are available in the WNY area.
Amazon has a history of not contributing to the public good, either through local taxes or organization support. Quite the contrary, these facilities have been known to contribute huge amounts of air and noise pollution to their surrounding communities. On Feb 12, on a state road near a similar warehouse in California, a group of volunteers counted 1,116 trucks in a single hour pass through their community. That’s upwards of 21,000 trucks per day that contribute to so much air pollution to the area that children are no longer able to comfortably play outside.
Is that what we want for our community? I should hope not. This would be on top of paving over a huge swath of wetlands; home and breeding grounds to a countless variety of birds and animals. Please help me and take whatever action you can to fight this. Make your voices heard to our elected officials. Post a sign in your yard. Call or email your elected officials. Talk to your friends and neighbors to do the same. This is a one-way door that once we pass through, we will never be able to go back.
Please contact the following representatives, whose votes we need to thwart this project.
Catherine J. Rayhill
Dr. And Mrs. Edward A. Rayhill
Michael and Donnette Rayhill
Michael W. Rayhill
AMAZ-NO!- June 2020A new 117,000 square foot Amazon distribution facility is opening this week in Tonawanda. To celebrate, according to the Buffalo News, the trillion-dollar multinational corporation donated 80 meals to FeedMore WNY. That’s right… 80 meals.
The distribution facility has an enormous footprint, as seen in the attached pictures. But it will be dwarfed by the proposed project on Grand Island. Project Olive is designed to be a 3.8 MILLION square foot facility. That’s 32.5 times larger than the Tonawanda facility. Given that, one can imagine that Amazon may be willing to donate a hundred meals if the project goes through!
In California, where the multiple distribution facilities in one area do not add up to the proposed size of the project on Grand Island, an investigative report estimates $642M in uncompensated public costs for noise, road damage, accidents and harmful emissions in 2018 alone (https://www.bisnow.com/national/news/retail/new-report-takes-amazon-to-task-about-the-damage-its-warehouses-do-101986).
No matter what Amazon offers in terms of taxes, jobs, and incentives for Grand Island, there is no way that this facility can be justified for our town. The negatives outweigh the positives from any angle, except for the only one that matters to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos: putting money in his pocket. It will come at an unbearable cost to the people of Grand Island and the surrounding communities. We must let our Town officials know that this project must be stopped. Just Say No to Amazon!
Dave Reilly, Ph.D.
Thoughts on Amazon - June 2020While we’ve all been locked behind doors terrified by thoughts of dying a lonely COVID-19 death without the comfort of loved ones, representatives of Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest man on the planet, and his operatives at TC Buffalo have been drooling over our hometown and plotting to use it in a way it cannot and should not be used.
An Amazon Distribution Center sounds so simple, so easy, so ready to be given the green light. Forget that they pushed the paperwork through between February and May with few Grand Island property owners/taxpayers made fully aware. Forget that the GI Chamber of Commerce members have obviously all been given orders to sign on and speak up in favor of it—despite the fact that Amazon is proven to destroy, not help, small businesses. Google it; you’ll see for yourself. And this, just when we thought that the back room handshake crap ended when McMurray/Sharp were ousted......
Try to forget that the 3.7 million square foot facility is the equivalent of 1800 new homes on the north end of Grand Island. Forget that it’ll be 9 stories tall, obscuring our views northward and forever changing what can and can’t be done to our community. Forget that it will diminish property values for those whose land will face the concrete jungle and hear the incessant movement of trucks. Forget that it will offer work only to those who build it, then provide maybe 20 jobs at most—robots inside the warehouse do the rest. Forget that Amazon expects incentives to come then has shown over and over again that it evades its own tax responsibility—true that.
Forget that the habitat there, the animals and the wetlands, will be paved over in perpetuity. Forget all that for a moment to consider that the landowner Is boldly aware that he will profit immensely on our pain. There’s no way he doesn’t know that; it’s obvious. He’ll become immensely wealthier and we will inherit 24/7 semi trucks going up and down Long Rd and every road leading to it...FOREVER. All day, every day, Amazon trucks, everywhere. Grand Island will be branded Amazon country. Do you want that?
Our highway superintendent explained to me that, just like the Thermo-Fisher truckers whose GPS devices divert them off of Staley Rd down West River and Love Rd, he cannot legally stop Amazon’s traffic through our neighborhoods. Is that what you want? If you don’t, head to Town Hall and tell Supervisor Whitney and Council members. Tell them NO WAY! That’s what other towns across the country have done—many of them forced to do so by public protests. And they’ve prevailed. And, while you’re in Whitney’s office, see if you can get an answer to a question that immediately pops into all of our minds: “Why in heaven’s name would they choose to try to build in our quiet, beautiful farming community instead of one of the numerous empty industrial spaces in Buffalo or in the wide open areas in Niagara County?” There’s responsible business development, which we’d ALL like to see along GI Blvd, and then there’s SELLING OFF OUR COMMUNITY.
Maureen Phillips, PhD
Captain, USAF/ANG (Retired)
Vacant Commercial Property - June 2020Anyone that will listen,
When we look around Grand Island and see empty buildings we have to ask why? Could there be a stipulation that any commercial property that is left vacant for more than a year needs to be torn down and the land returned to its pre developed status.
Think . . the Grand Island Plaza has been an eyesore for 20+ years, there are others. The Dunlop building couldn’t be given away to potential tenants/owners, no one would take it. We seem to have no recourse when a landowner decides he is ok with the taxes as a write off against other income.
I believe the “Olive Project” won’t be owned by Amazon, they will be a tenant. The Amazon Business Model is judgement proof, all operating pieces and parts with limited liability sub-contractors. No one suggests that it isn’t a good business model but we don’t need to be on the short end of that relationship. We are so worried that we can end up in a law suit . . . we need to protect ourselves and our Town.
Are the tax incentives the State is throwing around going to be there in 10 or 20 years. Is Grand Island going to have to offer them incentives . . to stay? Who else would want that monstrosity?
The size alone dictates a new town ordinance or law. Every vacant building will easily fit into the “Olive Project” (interesting name) They should call it what it is Monster Warehouse. . . . in fact a good percentage of the empty buildings in Niagara Falls would also fit. Let us not do something we can’t fix.
Reg Schopp - Concerned Citizen
Back to Business - May 2020Our leaders must stop grandstanding and get back to business! Despite Cuomos dire predictions, the sky has not fallen and much of the critical medical supplies from the federal government remain unused or have been returned. A glaring example was the quick turnabout of a 1000 bed hospital ship which has already left NYC harbor.
Although miscalculations can be excused, daily press releases don't solve problems. Fortunately, footdragging by our congressional leaders has been eclipsed by Trump and his task force, working closely with state governments to provide necessary resources and sensible plans of action.
Such cooperative effort is a MUST if progress is to be maintained during this life and death struggle with the Covid-19 scourge. You and I deserve no less!
Neighbors Foundation Receives Donations - April 2020
The Grand Island Teachers' Association (GITA) donated $3,725 to the Grand Island Neighbors Founation as part of a recent appeal related to the COVID -19 Pandemic. Mike Murray, President of the GITA, along with teachers Mike and Laura Grosso spearheaded the effort in response to a request for assistance from the Neighbors Foundation. In the picture above Mike Murray presents the checks to Neighbors Foundation President David Conboy in a socially distant manner as Mike Grosso observes. Photo courtesy of Laura Grosso. The Neighbors Foundation greatly appreciates the generosity of the GITA and its members and will put the funds to good use in helping our Grand Island neighbors in need.
The Neighbors Foundation also would like to thank Jill Ungaro, owner of Live Love Buffalo, a Grand Island based business that is donating 30% of the proceeds from the sale of Grand Island High School themed apparel and products to the Neighbors Foundation. Please see the website for more information on how to purchase items and support your Grand Island neighbors in need. This offer is extended until the end of May.
As a reminder, those in need can call 773-7476 or 773-1452 for assistance. Those wishing to make a donation may do so online at www.gineighbors.org, or mail a check to: Grand Island Neighbors Foundation, P.O. Box 155, Grand Island, NY 14072.
Amazon Suggestions - April 2020This is hard for me to say but the Amazon facility on the Island is a done deal. This project, with its 1500 employees, countless vendors, truck traffic and air pollution will further deteriorate the quality of life so cherished by many of us long time Islanders. It continues a process that many of us disagree with starting with the deterioration of the Grand Island Plaza, high density apartments and a new strip plaza in our Town Center area that looks like large garden shed.
Having said that, the Town should attempt to get as much out of Amazon as possible to soften the blow. Here are my suggestions:
- Have Amazon purchase property for employee parking lots in the Town of Tonawanda near the South Bridge and in Niagara Falls near the North Bridge (they have the money).
- Employees would be bused to and from the parking lots hopefully using natural gas or electric powered buses. One bus is the equivalent of 40 cars.
- A large area around the facility could be used for green space to protect nearby homeowners since a gigantic parking lot will not needed. Some of the land could be made available to Grand Island farmers to produce locally grown products.
- Require downward facing outdoor lights that will help reduce light pollution.
- Trucks and vendors for the facility would be prohibited from 7 to 9 AM and 4 to 6 PM to avoid rush hour traffic. Probably hard to enforce but worth pursuing.
- Have Amazon purchase 10,000 trees that would be given to homeowners, businesses, and the Town for planting in appropriate areas. This will start the process of re-greening the Island whose trees have been destroyed by disease and development.
Some people might say that having all that traffic will benefit Grand Island Businesses. The Amazon employees will mostly shop via Amazon since they received a discount, so very little retail shopping can be expected. I’m not sure if Island restaurants will benefit that much from the employees since most people want to go to work then go home. However, a little creativity could be used to entice them to stop after work by providing transportation from the work place to the restaurant and then afterwards to the off-Island parking lots.
The Town has some leverage to extract concessions from Amazon if they choose or they can allow themselves to be bowled over by developers as has been the case in the past.
DeGlopper Park Expansion Dedication Postponed - April 2020Due to the unforeseen circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we regret to announce the postponement of the dedication of the DeGlopper Memorial Expansion from June 6, 2020, to June 5, 2021. We feel that this decision is in the best interest of public safety.
The DeGlopper Memorial Expansion Committee would like to extend its sincere thanks to the Grand Island Community and all who have provided support. The Memorial honoring the brave men and women who have served our country and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice will be one that is of major historical significance for our community. We look forward to your continued support as we work towards the completion of this project.
We assure you that our work to complete the project will continue as we are permitted to do so within the New York State guidelines for construction.
We invite you to visit the website at www.degloppermemorial.org for updates on the Memorial, as well as, opportunities to continue to help support our mission.
The DeGlopper Memorial Expansion Committee
HRL Racing Season Cancelled - April 2020Due to unforeseen circumstances associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hydroplane Racing League (HRL) has cancelled the entire 2020 series. This series is compiled of 9 races: Cambridge, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan; Long Sault, Ontario; St- Felicien, Quebec; Valleyfield, Quebec; Sorel-Tracy, Quebec; Beauharnois, Quebec; Brockville, Ontario and North Tonawanda, New York.
Quote from the HRL’s Commissioner Didier-Bernard Sequin, “Our priority is the health and safety of our racing teams, partners, attendees as well as our volunteers and employees. Moreover the financial and logistical challenges of each organization are important, especially without the Salaberry-de-Valleyfield event, which is the financial backbone of the League. We want to avoid compromising the financial of our different sites. We feel a deep disappointment, but we are dealing with unfortunate circumstances and we support the measures implemented by the government. We are convinced that our fans understand the situation and will be happy to see hydroplane drivers back in 2021 HRL circuit”.
This decision is difficult for us to take, but we, the Thunder on the Niagara committee, understand that it is necessary and we support the decision. We look forward to August 7-8 2021 and promise our fans and sponsors that we will have an event that you will be proud of.
Niagara Frontier Boat Racing Association
Gary Roesch - Commodore
Really? - March 2020I read the article by my high school classmate, Kevin Rung, on this site the other day. He appears to be in favor of the Amazon facility. Clearly, that is his prerogative. However, the caricature of my article that he uses as a punching bag needs to be responded to.
He says, at one point, “There will be an increase in semi traffic on I-190 24 hours a day as Amazon’s fleet go to work; but to extrapolate a sudden crippling increase in accidents closing the bridges is unsupportable.” I said, “Who is going to eat crow when there is an accident at one of bridges which backs up traffic for two hours? So much for keeping to anything resembling a schedule.” It is an extreme case of hyperbole to get a ‘sudden crippling increase’ from ‘when there is an accident at one of bridges.’
I don’t see anything in my article about “…the trucks”……as if a motorized plague might be unleashed onto the Island; for what possible reason would Amazon’s trucks need to trundle about on the Island’s roads?” This is just creating a straw man to attack. Nowhere did I say that the trucks would be cruising the Island’s roads.
He says, “Amazon’s new warehouse would result in important new Island infrastructure.” No. It would result in a new privately-owned facility. Infrastructure items are bridges, sewers, roads, pipelines, etc. On the other hand, the increase in truck traffic will degrade one piece of infrastructure much more quickly: the bridges. We saw the inconvenience when they were re-decked in recent years. Does anyone seriously want that repeated more frequently?
However, that is beside my main point. My point was and is that putting this facility on Grand Island doesn’t make sense economically. Any location on the mainland would be more profitable and/or less costly. Anything one can do on the Island one can do less expensively on the mainland. This is true of any island. You have a lower material well-being for a given income on the Island which is more than offset by perceived quality of life options. (If it wasn’t you wouldn’t live here.)
Given that it makes more sense to build this facility on the mainland, why is it being done here? This is my Cui Bono? question. Something doesn’t add up. If one wanted better access to Canada, Niagara County has plenty of property zoned for this off the 190 and near rail sidings. In Erie County, throw a dart and one can find properties: Walden Avenue, Genesee St., etc. Any would make more sense than Grand Island. Again, Cui Bono?
First Responders and Medical Professionals: Running Towards the Danger - We Thank You! - March 2020Reminiscent of 9/11, our first responders and medical professionals on the Island are risking a lot (themselves) to save a lot (save others). The Town of Grand Island thanks these remarkable and heroic individuals that are truly selfless.
It is human nature to avoid life threatening risks - especially those hidden or silent risks that can be brought home to their own family. Our first responders and medical professionals are right there on the front line doing just that. As an example, The Grand Island Fire Department responded to eight calls Friday, March 27th (the first call being at five in the morning and the last at near midnight). At a time when our residents are being asked to stay at home to prevent getting sick, our volunteers, following a stringent protocol that mitigates risk, are entering homes to help people that are sick or injured, including patients suspected of having Covid-19. Similar heroic acts are being performed by the ambulance crews, doctors and nurses who are on the front lines against this virus, many of which are Island residents.
Our entire community has stepped up in this challenging time. The outpouring of people throughout our community who are volunteering to help the most vulnerable amongst us is truly remarkable. Neighbors are checking on neighbors, making certain they are okay and giving them support by shopping for and providing food. Many have organized, with support from the town and our schools, delivering meals and groceries to those who need this assistance. Others have supported our hardest hit businesses, such as our restaurants, by ordering out and providing them a financial lifeline that is much needed.
A truly heartfelt thanks to all of you for pulling together as a community. Your efforts are what make our community so fantastic and you are making our community and country safe and strong in this challenging time. You are truly great Americans. The next time you see one of these folks, from a safe distance of course, please thank them!
GI Town Board: Jennifer Baney, Tom Digati, Mike Madigan, Pete Marston and John Whitney
Oppidum Populusque Magnae Insulae - March 2020My friend, Jim Mulcahy weighed in recently in these pages with some observations regarding the proposed Amazon warehouse which looks like it might be built on the Island’s northern end. Drawing upon the Latin which he and I studied during our years at the same Prep school he asks: Qui Bono? To who’s benefit? The proposed Amazon warehouse makes sense for several reasons and in answer to Qui Bono – why - Amazon benefits. So what?
The land on which the warehouse would be built has sat undeveloped for the thirty seven years I have lived on the Island; my hunch is that Amazon acquired it for a song. It sits right on the principal north/south artery I-190 allowing shipments south and east into the eastern and southern counties as well as into Niagara County to the north and maybe Canada. Who benefits – Amazon – so what?
Lots of static is being emitted about “the trucks”……as if a motorized plague might be unleashed onto the Island; for what possible reason would Amazon’s trucks need to trundle about on the Island’s roads? Rather, they would concern themselves with entering and exiting I-190 via the shortest route to and from their warehouse. I-190 is already a major artery for semi traffic moving north and south into and out of Canada and Niagara County. Amazon will benefit. So what?
There will be an increase in semi traffic on I-190 24 hours a day as Amazon’s fleet go to work; but to extrapolate a sudden crippling increase in accidents closing the bridges is unsupportable. Besides, most bang-ups which close the bridges involve automobiles not paying very good attention or texting during the morning rush to get off the island to work.
Amazon’s new warehouse would result in important new Island infrastructure. The warehouse would be conceptualized and built after careful and thorough review by the Town’s fully competent elected officials. Both the Town and School system would realize significant new tax revenue. Our Town would gain new population that would need to avail itself of our stores, businesses, restaurants, and so on. So……..in response to my friend Jim Mulcahy query: Qui Bono? To who’s benefit? Oppidum populusque magnae insulae – the town and the people of Grand Island.
Kevin J. Rung
Neighbors Foundation Message - March 2020Neighbors, during these challenging times we want to remind our Grand Island friends that the Neighbors Foundation is here to help provide food for those that are in temporary need. Please call 773-7476 or 773-1452 for assistance.
We've also received many calls from people asking how they can assist the Neighbors Foundation. If you have food you would like to donate, you can drop it off in the narthex of St. Stephen's Church on Baseline Road. There is a receptacle to the right as you walk in the main door. Alternatively you can call me at 773-7476 to arrange a time and place to meet.
We also provide those in need Tops Gift cards for perishable food so we expect our financial resources to be stretched over the next few months. If you would like to donate money, you can donate online at www.gineighbors.org, or mail a check to:
Grand Island Neighbors Foundation
P.O. Box 155
Grand Island, NY 14072
Be well and let's continue to care for each other, especially our neighbors in need.
David Conboy - President, GI Neighbors Foundation
Cui Bono? - March 2020I know that I have used that title in the past but it is particularly appropriate for the topic I want to discuss. Cui Bono is Latin for, basically, “who benefits?” In my economics courses I always tell the students that to understand why something occurs, we need to ask ourselves, “who is the beneficiary?” This will lead one in the correct direction to understand why something happens.
The case in point here is the Amazon warehouse facility proposed for the north end of Grand Island. A disinterested analysis of the location would show that it is about as poor a site as one could imagine for a warehouse and distribution center with the volumes anticipated. Again, Cui bono?
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, came up with a brilliant idea that has benefitted million of users of his site. The fact that Bezos was/is clever does not imply that all of his underlings are. (I think the debacle in Queens, NY should prove that. The rants against the tax breaks caused Amazon to pull out without so much as a whimper. If it was such a great deal why not explain it to the public. Even AOC should have been able to understand that Amazon was just not going to pay as much in taxes, not get a check from NYC. Amazon, in my opinion, is clicking their heels that she ran cover for them. While Amazon may have received tax breaks, when someone put pencil to paper to determine their labor costs, especially for executives, the deal started heading south. NYC’s public schools are a wreck. Any exec would have to send their kids to private schools which will be over $20,000 per student per year of after-tax income. Further, it gets very pricey to live in NYC. If one opts for the suburbs, there is the commute. The salaries that were going to have to be paid I am sure made this venture much less attractive. It was easier to save face by bailing out due to “community protests” than admit you screwed up.)
Who is going to eat crow when there is an accident at one of bridges which backs up traffic for two hours? So much for keeping to anything resembling a schedule. With the purported number of trucks that will be plying these bridges each day they will wear out that much faster. Do we really want to have the bridges redecked every other year?
There is lots of land in Erie and Niagara Counties that is zoned for this type of activity; is accessible to railroads and highways; and comes in sufficiently large sizes to accommodate it. The argument for putting it on Grand Island seems to be the weakest any potential site. Grand Island will get minimal tax revenue; the County and the State will be the primary beneficiaries. Grand Island, on the other hand, will incur all of the infrastructure costs and increased commuting costs.
There was a hue and a cry when a truck stop was proposed for Whitehaven at the Thruway exit. It was stopped even though we are talking about a far greater number of trucks with this project. Where is the outrage over this beaut?
If the powers that be want to do something that would benefit Amazon and others, the LaSalle Expressway should be completed to the 990 and the Twin Cities Expressway. I, personally, would add undoing the ignorant decision to bisect the Island with the Thruway in the first place. (Yeah, I know: fairy tales can come true….) Nonetheless, we should demand that the former is done. Soon!
Again, Cui Bono? This project couldn’t pass any free-market test. As such, someone has, at least, one ulterior motive for foisting this catastrophe on the Island. Just Say No.
COVID-19 UPDATE - March 2020Fellow Islanders:
In accordance with Governor Cuomo's Executive Orders, the Town has reduced our staff to all but absolutely essential operations. We have closed all the Public Buildings including Town Hall, Highway, Library, Golden Age Center and Recreation buildings. With water bills being sent out, we're asking that you mail a check or place one in the drop box located outside the lower level entrance to Town Hall. On-line payment is another option.
We must remember that this virus is not to be taken lightly. Please practice safe social distancing, wash your hands often, use hand sanitizer, wipe down surfaces with disinfecting wipes. Work from home if possible and avoid large social gatherings. In other words, please do everything possible to minimize the spread of this disease.
In these trying times, we need to try to stay positive. Isolation can lead to depression. If the weather allows, get outside, take a walk, go for a ride. Make some phone calls, reach out to a friend or your neighbors. We will get through this. We can, we must.
Hopefully this will be over soon. On a lighter note, Spring is here!
John C. Whitney, P.E. - Town Supervisor
Project Olive Comment - March 2020Grand Island residents, and most particularly those of us who have worked all our lives to buy homes on or near West River Road or Long Road, are evidently viewed by those town officials who pretend to represent us as just some more powerless furry creatures whose homes they will permit Amazon to destroy. They have known of Amazon’s intent to convert our heretofore peaceful neighborhood into an uninhabitable industrial zone for some time, but said nothing until recently to their constituents, to whom they allegedly report & who have been paying their keep.
They barely bother with an excuse, muttering politicians’ drivel about the “tax base” and “buying wetland credits.” Even from a financial standpoint, development by a predatory retailer the likes of Amazon adds no net jobs to the local economy, because for every one of Amazon’s underpaid hires, at least one higher paying job is lost among locally owned shops. “Buying wetland credits” is just a way of pretending you’re not destroying the environment by throwing a few dollars around.
Nothing good ever comes of a situation in which people have no voice. It is up to us to put a stop this situation, and it must be made clear to the Town Board members that it is time for them to represent us, and that further complicity in Amazon’s ruinous scheme will not be tolerated.
Keep Medicaid Cap - March 2020For decades, one of Western New York’s greatest challenges has been the burden of continually rising property taxes. For too long, this burden forced families, seniors and people on fixed incomes to relocate to other states. But in the past decade, we have made considerable progress in both economic development and revitalization of this area that so many of us are proud to call our home.
Governor Cuomo made reducing property taxes one of his highest priorities. We all agree that taxes on middle class, blue-collar, hardworking individuals and families cannot continue to rise unchecked. The Governor fought for passage of the 2% property tax cap and a cap on the amount of Medicaid costs paid by counties. That has benefitted Erie County greatly in our ability to provide high-quality services while continuing to reduce your taxes, which we did in the County Legislature when considering this year’s budget.
The Medicaid cap helped counties slow or even reverse the decades of property tax increases that made life unsustainable in Western New York. But now that progress is under threat from a new proposal that would remove the cap and shift a portion of those costs back to local taxpayers. Local taxpayers simply can’t afford this. If we are forced to absorb more Medicaid costs, counties will have no choice but to return to the bad old days of choosing between increasing property taxes or making cuts to vital services like veterans’ services, road maintenance, public libraries and more. Our seniors deserve quality programming as do working mothers deserve adequate daycare. The Governor’s proposal could jeopardize the exact things that are making life here appealing to so many.
We can’t afford to take a step backward. New York’s counties stand ready and willing to be a partner in finding ways to reduce costs while maintaining a high quality of care. But we must protect local taxpayers and keep the cap on local Medicaid costs.
Hon. Kevin Hardwick - Erie County
Fantasy Island - February 2020I was devastated to hear that Fantasy Island was closing down for good. This was my favorite childhood place to go with my family, and later on I enjoyed it with friends as a teenager and well into adulthood, joining my niece and nephews there, and more recent their children. I have so many fond memories of the place – picnics with my family, the Golden Nugget Saloon Show including the old ragtime piano music and Can Can routines, riding the train through the tunnel (when they used to do that!), and watching the “crazy” people dare to ride Devil’s Hole...but I was not surprised when I heard of its demise after visiting the park last year with my sister and her son’s family.
It broke my heart then to see the park so dilapidated. If the present owners wondered why they lost business, they only needed to take a ride on the antique cars to see three or four of the cars dismantled and rotting along the path and then overgrown weeds hitting them in the face as they drove it along the outer part of the path closest to the highway. Or see the remnants of the old log flume ride laying in the undergrowth nearby. Or find so many rides with signs saying "next seat, please." I’m sure there are others like me that find the demise of our childhood park heartbreaking and I’d like to see our Town revitalize it and bring it back to life. Maybe we could do a town-wide GoFundMe page or something, get some initial funds going to save it? Maybe call the Governor’s Office? The State sent all this money to fund the Welcome Center (I won’t go there on that waste of taxpayer dollars), so why not an amusement park? I hope that our town leaders won’t let this park die, regardless.
Open Letter to Town Board - February 2020I am writing to ask that we, the taxpayers and voters, are given a full accounting and explanation of the Deputy Supervisor position in the last administration. In previous administrations the title of Deputy supervisor was given to an (elected) Council member who took over in the Supervisor’s absence, similar to the President, Pro Tem in the US Senate. It was not a permanent position.
How did Grand Island come to have a position this high in our government structure? I don’t remember voting on it. I do remember voting years ago to eliminate positions. Shouldn’t such a powerful position have received the explicit approval of the voters?
As importantly, how was he compensated?
1. Did the supervisor pay him out of his own pocket?
2. Did the supervisor reimburse the Town which then cut the Deputy a check?
3. Did the taxpayers have to pay for both the supervisor and the deputy supervisor?
Needless to say, it makes a difference. If it was 1 or 2, especially, what legal risks were the Town (read: taxpayers) exposed to? Further, are the Island taxpayers on the hook for any post-service benefits like higher pension benefits or health care benefits or others? We better not be.
Finally, if there exists, anywhere, the ability for a future administration to do something like this, it should be your first piece of business to drive a stake through its heart. Back room skullduggery is a disgrace and we should explicitly disavow and disallow it.
James M. Mulcahy
Prosperity - February 2020Politicians like to submit missives to opinion columns in order to keep their name in front of voters. You can’t blame them - if you ask the average guy who his State Legislator is, or his Congressman, most of the time he would have no idea. And so, our Congressman Brain Higgins, submitted a piece to the “Opinions” section of Friday’s edition of the Island Dispatch using President Trump’s State of the Union Speech as an opening. Although it was probably written by one of his staffers and signed off by him, it none the less exhibited a viewpoint animated by shared effort toward goals we can all subscribe to; Mr. Higgins is to be commended.
There was, unfortunately, this: “It is undeniable that the $1.9 trillion tax cut benefiting big corporations and the wealthy failed to deliver for hardworking Americans.”
Mr. Higgins’ observation was his opinion, thus - we can allow him the exaggeration of suggesting something as if it were true; however, stating that: (the tax cut) "......failed to deliver for hardworking Americans" is false, Mr. Higgins’ opinion notwithstanding. The Tax Policy Center reports that for 2018 all quintiles (statistical groupings) enjoyed a tax decrease; not only the so called “wealthy” of the upper quintile, but also the lower and middle income quintiles. Moreover it noted that within all quintiles, some taxpayers paid higher taxes; this “some” included high income earners – the wealthy. Differences were the result of data interpretation, variability of tax deductions, earned income credits, and variations in tax bracket creep.
This much is certain: The tax cut enacted by the Republican Congress and President Trump has resulted in igniting an economic boom. Corporations and small businesses are investing in expansions and upgrades as a result of those tax cuts, generating an explosion of employment in the US not seen in decades. New job openings are going unfilled and the level of African-American and Latino unemployment has never been as low as has now been achieved. Real wages have increased and consumer purchasing continues to rise as a result. That means new cell phones, new flat screen TVs, new cars and so on; all the stuff we all want.
But in spite of all the evidence to the contrary there are candidates for president pumping their fist in the air trying to convince gullible sections of the population that the demonstrable success of free enterprise must be replaced by the misery and envy of Socialism. Data suggests their supporters are young people who have no knowledge of the grim Socialism that some of their parents and grandparents endured – first hand.
Mr. Higgins’ opinion piece suggests there is hope that cooler, rational heads will prevail as party candidates in the upcoming election, affording American voters a choice between realistic candidates whose platforms are grounded in a collaborative real world with continuing prosperity – rather than the fantasy world characterized in George Orwell’s 1945 fable, Animal Farm.
Kevin J. Rung
Will We Lose a Great Asset to the Community? - January 2020There comes a time when all good things come to an end..I heard by the grapevine that we may see the demise of a great community asset namely Isledegrande.com. I am hoping it is just a rumor, but if is really true, I will be very sad.
As a frequent user of Isledegande.com for information of what’s happening on our Grand Island, it would be a shame if it was no more. I understand the cost of publishing a free service must run in a good deal of financing. From the information I have, Reggie Schopp has been the main source of keeping Isledegrande.com in business. Evidently the cost of publishing the site has risen to a point where it is not making ends meet. Donors and local advertisers are not sufficient to keep up with rising costs.
I’m sure we will all miss Isledegrande.com unless some Angel comes to the rescue. An Angel in the form of more advertising revenue, local donor participation from (clubs, school projects, Senior information groups, Church groups, Veterans Groups, Local Businesses and more who are now a part of the weekly news.
I was surprised that many of our Grand Island Citizens do not know that this source of NEWS of the ISLAND exists. Those of you that know this GEM exists, Get the word out to your friends and maybe we can save the most valuable Asset on this Grand Island, Time is short, join us NOW ! Save ISLEDEGRANDE.COM
To the Grand People of Grand Island - January 2020The Neighbors Foundation of Grand Island was happy to have brightened somewhat the Holiday Season for 53 families on the Island. However, we did NOT do it ourselves! Many of you from Grand Island helped with financial, food, and gift contributions, so that the Foundation could provide food baskets, turkeys, hams, gifts for children involved, and other help for those families.
Many of you helped: big food collection by students from all schools, hard work by School System Maintenance Dept. bringing it to K of C Hall, then DECA and Interact sorting that food for us. Many local organizations: the K of C with use of their Hall for distribution, others made donations to our ‘Share Your Happiness’ fund drive or held events that raised money, collected food or gift cards.
To acknowledge the help we have received, the Neighbors Foundation has placed a listing of all our donors and workers in the Neighbors Foundation segment of the IsledeGrande web site. The Foundation, with donations and work of so many in those lists, was able to help your Island neighbors in temporary financial distress. Thanks to all the donors and helpers listed in that summary - you made the 2019 Holiday Season a bit happier for your Island neighbors.
See list here.
David Conboy, President, Neighbors Foundation of Grand Island