Anything is possible if you’re willing to work hard. It sounds trite, but it’s true. I’ve complained in the past about lack of motivation and cooperation from elected officials. There has been blocking and nitpicking and accusations. But the new Town Board members seem to have their hearts in the right place. Many of the things I’ve been pushing for over the past two years could have been done long ago, but I didn’t have cooperation. Here are some facts regarding these projects.
If we want to stop sprawl, truck stops, or anything else we need to rely on a document called a Master Plan. Also known as a Comprehensive Plan, the Master Plan is a legal framework that determines development guidelines. Since demographics change, Master Plans are traditionally redone every 20 years.
Jim Sharpe led the Master Plan that saved Grand Island from an administration that revised zoning regulations on whims. His Master Plan saved us from a the old plan designed increase our population to over 100,000 residents. The plan Jim spearheaded laid the framework for a sustainable long-term vision for our town.
But his old plan has never been updated, and laid dormant for far too long. It’s time to revise it, and we have been doing just that. Please get involved in the process. This isn’t just another document. It’s a way to protect your backyard and steer the future of Grand Island.
We need a community center. We don’t need a massive sports complex, but we do need a space where community groups can meet. Our Town lacks social cohesiveness. I’ve been visiting other communities and many of even the smallest and humblest have more to offer than Grand Island. They may not have luxurious spaces, but at least they have somewhere for people to gather.
We need to prepare Veterans Park for the athletic needs of Grand Island, improve our Golden Age Center, and to find a place for a civic center. There are lots of options. All it really needs to be is a meeting place. It could be at the plaza (you wanted a revitalized plaza—this is an option!), on another plot of land, or it could be an existing facility acquired through private partnerships, something I’m looking into now. It could even be a combination of these ideas.”
I get more complaints about Tops not having competition than I do just about anything else. Lots of people have told me they refuse to shop there. But think about it: we could lose the only grocery store we have. Tops filing for bankruptcy is all over the news. Bankruptcy could mean closing this location, or it could mean restructuring it to make it better.
I’ve tried to get other grocery stores to build locations on the Island. They’re not interested in what I have to say. Letters from a Supervisor only go so far. We need a concentrated community effort. I am happy to support this effort, but citizens taking the lead will be more effective. Look at the domestic violence issue. The Family Justice Center satellite location initiative is driven by members of the community, and they’ve had great success.
The West River Multi-use Path project was a no-brainer. It’s going to give more people access to that space, which has been dominated by too few for too long. Opening the waterfront and trails to the public is objectively the right thing to do. See the Tuesday, Feb. 27 article in the Buffalo News about how towns are “rewriting their playbooks on recreation.” The articles says “Aquatic Centers, Ice Rinks? Nope. Residents want trails.” And we are going to get a trail—right on the waterfront. We are the cutting edge of this new recreational trend.
Let’s take it further. After the recent accident on East River, more attention has been drawn to making that area more accessible and walkable. We need to this for many reasons. But trails and protected space will help keep Grand Island safer, greener, and free from sprawl.
Putting in a simple backbone of broadband would cost a few hundred thousand bucks. Sure, that seems like a lot. But to put it in perspective, a new police car, which our Police Department expressed interest in purchasing within the next few years, costs about the same. The football field at the high school cost well over a million.
When my dad was a kid, the three most popular sports were baseball, horse racing, and heavyweight boxing. Two of the three are no longer fashionable. That’s how athletics works. Sports come and go. Don’t get me wrong—I love sports, but if we’re willing to spend so much on athletics, what’s the holdup on broadband?
Investing in broadband is common sense. It would help our businesses, our students, and our residents. In 20 years broadband will be everywhere. We can grow off that backbone. Grand Island can be part of that movement toward technology.
What’s the holdup?
Here’s a secret: we don’t have to wait to accomplish any of this. We could do it all next month if we had the willpower to get it done. We need cooperation and action. Let’s get it done.