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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

Create a Finance Committee - November 2022

    In the November 11th issue of the Island Dispatch the lead article was about the Town’s preliminary budget, discussed at the November 7th board meeting. As noted, the discussion was contentious, due to the “need” to breach the tax cap. The Town’s supervising accountant, Pam Barton, said “it became necessary to breach the tax cap because of issues centering on debt carried by the sewer district fund. The rate went from a low last year of 0.19% to 2.88%, today.” Ms. Barton, patting herself on the back, noted that interest rates could have been higher ‘had she not acted swiftly to prevent that from happening.’ Really?
   Here is what really occurred. Ms. Barton has been gambling that interest rates would stay low and has funded the town with one-year BANs (bond anticipation notes) instead of obtaining long-term financing. Needless to say, the taxpayers lost on this gamble. If one has a long-term asset it makes sense to finance it with debt of comparable maturity. In 2021 the average monthly rate for 10-year AA municipal bonds was 1.17% and for 20-year, 2.02%. It was the height of fiscal irresponsibility to continue to fund the town’s obligations with one-year money, especially as the Federal Reserve Board announced that it was committed to killing inflation via interest rate hikes. Even if the Fed wasn’t committed to doing so, prudent financial management strongly favored locking in the very low long-term rates. (As a point of comparison, no one who planned to stay in their home forever would have financed it last year with an Adjustable Rate Mortgage, ARM, when he could lock in a very low fixed rate.)
   At the November 7th meeting, I recommended that the Board create a Finance Committee, similar to the other advisory boards the Town has, to provide the Board with expertise in the area of finance, especially funding alternatives. At the point of the board meeting when I made the recommendation, I wasn’t aware of the mistaken approach to the town’s finances. This just re-enforces my position. There is no reason not to have one.
Jim Mulcahy

DeGlopper Memorial Expansion - November 2022

    The DeGlopper Memorial committee is pleased to announce the installation of the granite stones and pavers ordered between May 2021 through early September 2022. Unfortunately, supply and workforce shortages caused the delay.
    At this time of year, please remember to take some time to honor our service members. Veterans Day is a time for us to pay our respects to the men and women who serve and sacrifice so that we can enjoy our liberties and freedoms. It is an opportunity to show our appreciation for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to sacrifice for the common good.
    Thanks to our community's generosity and support, the expanded DeGlopper Memorial site is a place of distinction and honor to those Grand Island Veterans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and all who served our nation. We invite you to show your appreciation by visiting the 2333 Grand Island Blvd. site and kindly request your continued support for the ongoing maintenance of this project. For more information on ways to donate, purchase granite stones and pavers, and place names on the Grand Island Veterans memorial wall, please visit: www.degloppermemorial.org.
With our deep appreciation,
The DeGlopper Memorial Expansion Committee

Staley Road Safety Concerns - October 2022

    I participate on the steering committee for the Staley Road Safety Concerns. The committee members and I would like to expand awareness to Staley Road residents that may not have gotten a flyer or attended the meeting at the Welcome Center on August 22nd. (about 128 flyers were passed out to Staley Road residents via knock on door and input into mailboxes) 45 people attended the first meeting to be able to share their concerns regarding Staley Road. There are many, but the top two are lack of proper shoulders and speed. With the expansion of the plants over the years traffic has increased significantly and the residents of Staley road do not feel safe walking, jogging, riding a bike or pushing a stroller down the street. Many expressed concerns over just getting their mail out of the mailbox.
   There is not a proper shoulder on the road, and the speed limit is too high (many drivers exceed the speed limit by 5+mph). The committee has had signs made to increase awareness, they say “Make Staley Safe” and there are 42 signs on lawns so far! They are $8 each and we would like to let people know they can purchase them if they would like. (Mary.pfalzer@icloud.com)
   Meeting to be held - Tuesday, October 25th at 7pm at the Welcome Center on Alvin Rd. Staley Road and GI residents will have the opportunity voice their concerns over the safety of Staley Road to Town Officials. There are also two email addresses we would like concerned Staley Road residents (or GI residents in general) to submit their concerns to. The town board email box (townboard@grand-island.ny.us) and public comments email box (publiccomments@grand-island.ny.us.
Mary Pfalzer - Staley Road Committee Member

Clean Water, Clean Air Bond Act - October 2022

    Mason Montante sent a letter to spread awareness for the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act vote on November 8th. See LETTER.

Taxes & Garbage - October 2022

   Town Councilman Mike Madigan wrote of upcoming (10-17-22) Town Board items that could be of interest to residents: Taxes & Garbage.

Jon Roth Recognized - September 2022

    Tip of the GI Viking cap to Jon Roth for his Lifetime Achievement (GI Chamber) recognition…well deserved for all he has accomplished for our students, athletics and the community.
Mike Podlucky GI ‘66

2780 Long Road Warehouse Project Update - September 2022

    Residents have asked about the status of the Long Road Warehouse and whether this project is still active. The project remains active, and the current project status is as follows:
    Passero Associates, on behalf of the developer Acquest, is in process of finalizing the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) documents and has suggested to the town that these will soon be submitted for review. The next step for the project is completion of peer reviews by consultants paid for by the developer but hired by the town. The town identified several categories that required expanded information in the review under SEQR. The peer reviews by hired professional consultants will focus on the following areas and documents: Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), Sanitary Sewer plan, Domestic Water plan, Traffic study/impact, Geotechnical impact assessment, Light Pollution study/impact, Noise Pollution Study/impact and overall environmental impact.
    In May 2022 the town passed a motion to contract CC Environment and Planning inc. to review the SDEIS. This motion passed 5:0 by the Town Board – this consultant’s work will not start until the final SDEIS is submitted to the town. On August 15, 2022, a motion was passed to hire a consultant to perform a peer review of the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) which has been submitted to the town by the developer. This motion passed 4:1 with a dissenting vote cast by myself, I preferred to wait for the complete SDEIS submission by the developer.
    My concern is that until the final plan/SDEIS is submitted I am uncertain if any possible amendments may impact the SWPPP which has been received and the just hired consultant can and will start work on. I preferred the town have the complete submission rather than doing things piecemeal to avoid confusion and possible errors. It is my understanding that there are still unresolved issues such as building height and other issues. I understand the other Town Board members’ position is that we have the SWPPP so work can be started - The developer is accepting the risk (they are paying) so why delay? Both sides have valid positions.
    The next steps for this project are - once the complete SDEIS is received it will be posted for public access and comment and the remaining consultants will be hired by the town in the above noted areas of focus to complete the associated peer reviews.
    To conclude, this project does remain active, and it is projected that additional action (hiring of consultants) by the town will occur prior to year-end, after the SDEIS is submitted by the developer. This document will be posted on the town website for public review and comment back to the GI Town Board. If you have comments or questions regarding this project, please submit them to the following e-mail which the town board will receive: PublicComments@grand-island.ny.us.
Mike Madigan - Town Council

Leave a Minute Sooner and Enjoy the Drive! - August 2022

    There have been an increasing number of complaints regarding road safety on Grand Island. Residents on Staley, Love, Whitehaven, Bedell, West River and East River have complained regarding speeding and safety. Some of our roads have limited shoulders which constrains traffic and increases risks for pedestrians and vehicles – one accident can leave a person with lifelong injuries or worse.
   Recently Lewiston announced it is planning to put into effect 25 MPH speed limits for all roads in their village. NY has a new law that enables local governments to reduce speed limits to 25 MPH. I do not prefer this action and am uncertain how effective it would be at reducing risk. If you wish to provide feedback to the town about this topic – please send your e-mail to PublicComments@grand-island.ny.us
    Pedestrians, please wear reflective or bright clothing and be vigilant. Drivers, please increase your awareness and don’t allow distractions and please follow the posted speed limits. When driving - leave a minute earlier, relax, smile, enjoy your freedom and make it to your destination happier and more relaxed!
Mike Madigan - Town Councilman

Garbage and Recycling Pickup Complaints – What the Town is Doing to Address and How You Can Help - August 2022

    In recent months the Town Board has received a considerable number of complaints related to Casellas failing to meet their contracted garbage and recycling pickup requirements. Compounding this failure is Casellas frequently ineffective customer services complaint management. As a Town Board member, I have received more refuse pickup complaints in the last six months than I received in my first six full years as Councilman, we have a problem that must be addressed.
    The Town has requested a preventive action plan from Casellas to resolve the frequent issues. We will continue to monitor complaints and update town residents on whether we see improvement as a result. Contractually each home is allowed to discard up to ten garbage bags of trash, one bulk item and one recycling garbage tote weekly. So here is where the residents can help: Please use the garbage and recycling totes wherever possible. If possible, please avoid having additional items outside of these totes. A reduction in items outside of the totes would make the Casella employees job significantly less time consuming/more efficient and these folks would appreciate your support in this matter – please help them out. This reduction would likely reduce issues resulting in complaints.
Mike Madigan – Councilman

For The Record: Radisson Hotel Conversion Project - August 2022

Proposed Plan
    On June 21, the Grand Island Town Board became aware of a desired project to convert the existing 263 room Radisson Hotel at 100 Whitehaven Road into 138 apartments that retained the pool areas, moved the workout facility to the first floor upgrading it, revitalized the existing dock, improved the outside appearance with new landscaping and other building improvements. The project managers have communicated their intent to introduce a nice restaurant facing the river and other longer-term plans that have not been fully shared. A request has been made for the developer to provide the Town Board the full plan as part of the rezoning request review process that can be shared with the public.
    The Developer’s target customer, according to their assessment, is younger single professionals and older retired folks that seek to downsize. Their target rent price is in the range of $1450 to $3500 dollars for single room, studio and double room apartments based on their current assessment. The developer has completed a project that they say is similar in downtown Buffalo – The Grid Apartments located by the Buffalo Medical Campus.
    For the project to proceed the 14-acre parcel of land would need to be rezoned as a Planned Development District (PDD) – this zoning designation, by town law, is limited to a minimum acreage of 25 acres. The town is currently reviewing the request to rezone this property as a PDD through a process that is allowed by Town Law of incentive zoning. Incentive zoning involves the developer offering an incentive to the town/town residents in exchange for making an exception to the town’s zoning law (in this case the minimum 25-acre requirement).
    The developer proposed an incentive to the town offering an approximate 0.42-acre parcel of land on the south end of the property that includes the old ferry dock on the waterfront. The Town has not yet taken a position on this offer. The piece of land being offered to the town as an incentive is located on a curve on East River Road and is a narrow strip of land on the waterfront at a location that has a strong current. Minimal parking would be possible at this location due to size. A Kayak launch would be a consideration - motorized boat launch seems highly unlikely due to the small size of this land parcel combined with the location on the curve and the associated road safety considerations.
    Other incentive ideas are being sought and reviewed and will be discussed between the town and developer and publicly as part of this process – community input and feedback would be appreciated regarding the land offer or other suggestions yet to be identified. The developer held a community project review on August 9th seeking community input that had great attendance and participation – the developer was not required to do so - this meeting was well received by the community. The overall feedback appeared positive and supportive of the project with some concerns expressed.
    The Town Board scheduled a public hearing on this project at town hall for 8PM August 15th and is seeking resident comments. If you would like to provide feedback and are unable to attend, please send your comments to the following e-mail address: PublicComments@grand-island.ny.us.
Mike Madigan – Town Councilman

Two Modest Proposals - May 2022

    I am putting forth two proposals that I believe should be completely non-controversial and should be acted upon immediately. Now, these proposals are not satire as was the original “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift. I am dead serious about these.
    The first proposal is that the presentation to the public of the proposed budget should be held the week after it is approved by the School Board. Current practice is to approve the budget at the second Board meeting in April and hold the public hearing prior to the first Board meeting in May, typically three weeks later. This is a week before the vote. There is no reason for this delay. Using this year as an example, the budget was approved on Tuesday, April 19th, (Easter was on the 17th so the Board meeting wasn’t held on Monday).
    The presentation to the public was on Monday, May 9th, three weeks later. The presentation to the public should have been on Monday, April 25th. It should NOT be held the same evening as a Board meeting. It used to be held on a separate night so all attention could be devoted to it. This is a very simple action to take. It should be done. Ask the Board members if they are in favor of doing so. Make them look you in the eyes and give you a direct answer.
    We all know why the presentation is made a week before the vote and sandwiched in between the executive session and the public board meeting. They really don’t want to have to answer any questions or give the public time to digest the budget and its implications. Again, make them give you a direct, coherent justification (they can’t) for not adopting this proposal.
    The second proposal is a bit more discomfiting but should be done, also. The vote should be held at the Fire Hall. We have held a number of referenda there. It clearly is easy to do. It is a central location. Those who live on the south end of the Island won’t have to trek to the north end.
    The Board and administration will be opposed, of course. Why, you may ask. It levels the playing field for challengers by having the vote on a neutral site. Currently, the deck is stacked against challengers. Anyone who has paid any attention knows that they schedule concerts for the evening of the vote, offer take-out dinners, and, this year, had an art exhibit by Kaegebein students. Their brazenness would put a Chicago ward boss to shame.
    Again, demand the Board members justify why they are opposed to doing this, if they are. Make them look you in the eye and tell you, with a straight face, why it isn’t possible. If they do that, make them give their reasons. (We should have a contest for the most inane reason.)
    Both of these proposals should be acted upon and implemented, going forward. (Note: all votes, i.e., capital projects; should be held at the Fire Hall, not just the budget and Trustees vote.) Opposition to them by the Board will give a clear picture of the contempt they have for the public. Make them do the right thbing.
Jim Mulcahy

Importance of Arts - May 2022

    Having to balance a budget where art is a line item can be a challenging proposition, and putting a price tag on art education can be like appraising the value of love or soul. This is about something greater than balancing career opportunities. Art is a place where some kids actually find meaning in their overall life. A creative experience cannot be evaluated with ordinary metrics as its success cannot be measured in dollars and cents. Yet, the power of art can move human beings and sometimes it even saves lives. When I think back on my four years at Grand Island High School, I can tell you with certainty, it was the art room with Bill Maggio where I found refuge. This is where my adolescent character was given the needed space to be awakened.
    Later this week I’ll be back on Grand Island to celebrate my mother’s 99th birthday. She taught at Grand Island High School and continues to live on Whitehaven Road in the family home I grew up in. She still goes to Tops where people regularly stop her to say how their art experience in her class room continues to be meaningful to them to this day.
    Educating kids is about legacy. We have to ask, what kind of community do we want to create for the next generation. I want these kids to become adults that are rich in purpose, that are driven by care and concern for other human beings. I have to imagine what might have turned out differently for me without the great art department of the 1970s at GIHS.
* Would I have created the Common Ground World Project at the United Nations in New York?
* Would my artwork be in the collections of fifty museums in many countries?
* Would my artwork be hanging outside of the auditorium at GIHS?
    I urge you to please reconsider the importance of the arts at Grand Island High School. At a time when the world has gone digital, our kids need less time in front of screens. More than ever they need tangible studio art. Please keep our wonderful art programs intact. Our legacy depends on it!
Neil Tetkowski

Thank You Island Neighbors - May 2022

    Grand Islanders - On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I would like to thank you for your bountiful contributions this past weekend with the Letter Carriers’ food collection that benefited our organization.
    Through your amazing generosity, we are well postured to support our neighbors who require assistance through the summer and into the fall. Of course, we could not have done it without the superb efforts of our Grand Island Letter Carriers who collected and brought all the food to our pantry. Please join us in thanking them for what they do each and every day, and especially their extra effort and selfless service in gathering the food donations this past Saturday.
    We would also like to thank the Kiwanis Club, representatives from Grand Island High School, and all our volunteers who spent hours organizing and sorting the food. Thank you once again Grand Island for your continued support of the Neighbors Foundation as we remain committed to providing confidential food assistance to our neighbors. If you need assistance, please contact us at 716-775-7998.
David Conboy
Grand Island Neighbors Foundation

Please Vote! - May 2022

    Next Tuesday, May 17th, is the date for the School District budget vote and the vote for two Trustees. Your vote matters. The vote takes place at the High School between 8am and 9pm.
    This year the budget requires a 5.59% (that isn’t a typo) tax rate increase, based on the current assessed values. Let this sink in: a 5.59% increase. I guess when you have wages that go up automatically every year; guaranteed, defined benefit pensions; and gold-plated healthcare coverage; 5.59% is chump change. To most, however, it is a big deal.
    The bad news is that it is going to get worse if nothing is done to stop the impending train wreck known as requiring all new buses after 2027 to be all-electric. This is a ludicrously bad idea. It is virtue-signaling by people in Manhattan who couldn’t find Malone, Herkimer, or Grand Island on a bet. It won’t make an iota’s worth of difference in global warming. It will devastate people’s finances. I don’t detect any effort to challenge this any more than the lockdown or mask mandates were challenged.
    Clearly, there needs to be new thinking on the Board which is why I am running. Please come out and vote for both your pocketbooks and the well-being of the students. Ask, beg, cajole your friends and family to also come out to vote. The winning combination is Jim Mulcahy (that’s me!) and Sherry Steffans.
Thank you,
Jim Mulcahy

Spring Flag Raising at DeGlopper Memorial - May 2022

Photos by Robert Haag

    On April 30th a group of people from the DeGlopper Memorial Committee, American Legion Post 1346, VFW Post 9249 and the Moose Lodge #180 gathered at the memorial to raise all new flags at the site.
    Fifteen people were on hand to raise the flags of all the armed forces, consisting of Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. The memorial looks very impressive with all the flags flying once again. One of our Legion members drove from the Auburn, NY area on very short notice to help participate. Many thanks to him for his effort to join us and to all others who make themselves available for our projects.
    Thank you to those who donated toward the purchase of new flags. The committee continues to request monetary donations for the ongoing maintenance and completion of the memorial project. We thank those who have and continue to donate throughout the duration of this endeavor.
Ray DeGlopper, Commander, American Legion Post 1346

We Can Do Better - April 2022

    Yes, I am running again this year for School Board. I was asked to consider doing so and, after some reflection, decided to do it. Now, one of my oldest friends on the Island, dating back to 1961, thinks I am nuts. He is right. Another friend of over 50 years, from Grad School, thinks I am doing the honorable thing. He, also, is right.     While the budget is still an issue, primarily due to decisions that were made in the past that we are stuck with, it isn’t the primary reason that I am running. The past two years have shown the indifference toward and, in some cases, outright neglect of the well-being of our students. The claque in Albany dictated to the schools throughout the state. As usual, it was a one size fits all approach. That is bad enough in serene times, much less in the chaos inflicted by Covid. Further, many of their diktats were not based on science as they should have been. There was no cost-benefit analysis done of the collateral damage caused by their decisions.
    I was shocked by the passiveness with which almost every district accepted these orders. Neither the governor or the DOH was ever compelled to provide evidence as to why their approach was appropriate. The will of the parents, who pay the taxes, was ignored. Of course, it is always ignored. The high-priests of education don’t like to be challenged or second-guessed. We hear about communication, but it is just a buzzword. The Voice of the People at Board meetings is basically a social safety-valve, nothing ever comes of it.
    This is what drove me to run. I will not take as an answer: “Because I/We said so.” There has to be a clear benefit from taking said action instead of another. I will push to have the Voice of the People section of the Board meetings restructured so there is dialogue. Also, we definitely need to encourage students to consider going into the trades. Finally, I haven’t forgotten about the budget. I have an MBA from the University of Chicago, specializing in finance and accounting. I know budgets.
    Please come out on May 17th and support me. Ask/beg/implore (!) your friends and neighbors to do the same. WE CAN DO BETTER!
Thank you,
Jim Mulcahy

Airline Overbooking Petition - April 2022

    My family had a horrible travel experience in February 2022 at the Buffalo Airport which cost us unplanned peripheral expenses including financial/time/mental losses. This policy was immediately related to the routine practice of overbooking by airlines, and it's all legal but heavily weighted to the benefit of the industry with little to no regard for the personal economics let alone respect of time for the average consumer.
    Our flight was oversold by 11 seats and although we had boarding passes with seats, we were randomly selected along with the others. (It was oversold by 5 seats on the way back too!). We missed a few days of our vacation and the frustration was that it was NOT do to uncontrollable factors such as weather, mechanical/technical issues, or staffing shortages. This was and is an intentional practice by which the plane is oversold to minimize the AIRLINE’S losses. I assure you, we have lost a lot of money and efforts for full reimbursement are not easy to pursue.
    I am trying to make something positive come from this experience by working to have change implemented in the airline industry. I have started a petition outlining the detail. It lists and links to the law as it reads in our CFR, and am seeking support by consumers to push Congress to update the parameters by which airlines can utilize this currently abused tactic. https://www.change.org/overbooking. Thank you for supporting if you feel comfortable!
Melissa Hartwick

First GIHS Grad Class - January 2022

Click photo for larger view.

    The article and photo are from 1966. Grand Island Senior High School's First Graduation Class. When we entered this brand new high school we were basically 3 year seniors. We had no upper classmen. Thus, we carved the way for Grand Island Senior High School. The article in the Buffalo Evening News published in 1966 is a great example of how we came about.
    A 24" x 36" framed photo was made from the original that the late Terry Swain kept for many years. The framed photo was displayed at our 50th reunion and our 55th reunion. We truly would like to see this framed photo of the First Graduating Class of 1966 displayed and acknowledged in our High School. We hope this comes to the attention of the School Board and the Principal.
Thank you in advance.
Nancy Buckley Valone

Add Class of 1966 - January 2022

   As a member of the first graduating class of Grand Island Sr. High School, I request that a framed class picture be accepted and prominently displayed with the other classes. Since our class was responsible for making most of the decisions for the class/school that remain today such as school colors, Vikings, motto, yearbook design etc., we deserve a place of notice in our school.
Suzanne Burk Ryan - ‘66