Moving On

Dear Islanders,

The candidates I believed in did not get elected. Am I disappointed? Yes. Some things I hoped to accomplish will be much more difficult now. Am I feeling defeated? Never. Life goes on. It’s time to embrace change.

The new Council

I like Pete Marston. He seems like the type of guy who would come over when you’re snowed in to plow your driveway for you. He’s volunteered his time on advisory boards, and does due dilligence when decisions are involved. As for Jennifer Baney, once — not so long ago — she was a like-minded supporter of my goals. Ms. Baney came to my office to express her enthusiasm for what I was trying to accomplish. Her son even gave me a picture he drew for me that displayed all the initiatives I was working on.

I hope we now have a Town Board that is not ruled by anger and spite. I hope Ms. Baney and Mr. Marston work diligently towards achieving the culture of cooperation and respect they both openly advocated for. This is what I hope they cooperate with me on…

We need a community center

We need a community center because we simply don’t have the facilities to provide the services people want. Right now, the Tim Hortons acts as our defecto Community Center. Every time I go in there, some group is having a meeting on those stiff plastic chairs.

We completed a feasibility study. The input is in. Seniors want the improvements to the Golden Age Center at the Nike Base. Many want a turf field at Veteran’s Park. Some want a community theater, health clinic, and multipurpose rooms near the town center. The people who manage the plaza are still desperate to work with us on this, and I'm open to getting it done with them or with anyone else who comes forward with a plan.

Conservation—it makes cents

We must preserve more land for agriculture and recreation. We need more trails.  East River must be made safe.Walkable neighborhoods are good for communities and good for economies.

Covering Grand Island with housing sprawl would be a generational mistake. I don't care what your rationale is. It’s a recipe for disaster. I feel like the little boy in Hans Brinker’s The Silver Skates. My fingers are plugging the seeping dam, and I’m nervously looking to make sure no one is coming to poke more holes.

We must improve our Boulevard

We are never going to have a bustling Main Street like Lewiston, East Aurora, or Niagara-on-the-Lake. Grand Island doesn’t have the bones for that. There’s only one place that a main street was created where the market economy did not already plant one in place: Disney.

We have something, however, that those places don't have — we are surrounded by water and trees. That is what we must cherish and protect. Leave the chain restaurants, apartment blocks, and big box stores for somewhere else.

We can improve Grand Island Boulevard. Progress has started: from sidewalks (going in soon!) to new businesses, it’s happening. I’m trying to hammer out a deal for the gas station at the corner of Grand Island Boulevard and Whitehaven. We already had them remove the old leaky tanks. The updated DeGlopper Memorial will be a great addition to our town center. Hopefully the Greenway Commission will help us fund it. 

Fiscal maturity

If we wanted, we could never raise taxes while I was your Supervisor. In fact, we could probably cut taxes. The problem is there would be not much left of the town after we were done. Whoever came next would bear the burden of low fund balances and a damaged credit rating.

I could pound my chest and say, “I never raised taxes.” That’s what some politicians do for votes. But that would mean cutting services, ignoring opportunities to better serve residents, and damaging the long-term fiscal health of our town.

Let the cooperation begin!

There is more I would like to do. This is what I know we can do if the Town Board does what they said they would — cooperate.

I think one of the most unfortunate things President Obama ever did was to say,“You didn’t build that” to small business owners. They did build that. They had some help, and we all have some luck — being born in America (as opposed to a lot of other places) is some pretty good luck—but in every endeavor, there is a prime mover, a person who says, “I got this.”

On this point, some have attacked me for using the word “I” too much, as opposed to “we.” Well, I believe in the precision of language. I did something, my wording will reflect that. For example, if I made a call, demanded a meeting, filled out a form, or convinced a politician to help Grand Island, it’s odd for me to refer to myself as some amorphous “we.”

The “I” versus “we” criticism is most often thrown at me by conservatives. This baffles me. Are they not aware of the conservative cannon? Ayn Rand — an outsider, but arguably the most influential conservative mind in America, eloquently once wrote, “The word ‘We’  . . . is the word by which the depraved steal the virtue of the good, by which the weak steal the might of the strong, by which the fools steal the wisdom of the sages.”

Yikes. I won’t go that far, but I use the word “I” when I do something. But let’s do more "we." We can build a Community Center. We can stop sprawl.  We can ensure the long-term financial stability of Grand Island. We can improve our Boulevard.

I know I sure could.

Highest regards,

Nate McMurray