Ask Lanny: Supervisor Gilbert Answers Questions about Traffic and Economic Development
Every month or two, we sit down with Supervisor Lanny Gilbert and discuss his work and current events in Yorktown. Have a question for him? Email AskLannyGilbert@gmail.com.
First, questions from readers! Two readers emailed to ask about the intersection of Hanover Street and Underhill Avenue. What’s the problem and what’s the town doing about it?
That’s a really tough intersection, and I know people have been asking about placing a traffic light or a stop sign there.
Dave Paganelli and I have discussed it, and he’s spoken directly with the people who live in the immediate vicinity. A traffic light in such close proximity to the flashing light right at the firehouse isn’t feasible, so it’s most likely that Dave will put in a three-way or two-way stop.
We hear the important concerns about dangerous driving at that intersection—some in the middle of the night—and we’ll take that information to the police.
What’s happening with the town’s new economic group?
We’ve just created an Economic and Business Revitalization Committee, made up of volunteers with a wide range of talents from a broad base of experience.
Larger picture, our goal is to be able to explain to potential businesses exactly what we have to offer here. We want to examine the town’s assets and demographics, and then do a self-evaluation to lay out a clear argument about why businesses should set up shop here.
For example, the Goldfish Swim Center is opening soon in the Triangle Center. They determined Yorktown is a viable location, partly because we have a lot of young families, but the kind of self-evaluation we’re going to create with this committee would be able to help a place like that before it came in. Hopefully it’ll help many businesses in the future.
Another example: If we can add more events at the theater—which is already a wonderful asset to the town—and have more shows, play movies, have Saturday morning matinees…that will attract people into town. More events at the theater could have helped a frozen yogurt place that wouldn’t have to rely only on summer traffic, because people would get dessert after going to a movie or a show all year round. At the new swim school, with parents bringing their kids for lessons, they might get lunch or a treat in a local restaurant, or stop into a store, right afterward.
We really want to create that symbiotic relationship, where businesses work together and benefit everyone.
Who’s on the committee?
It’s important to me to have a collaborative process here, with a lot of voices contributing to it. We’re including an at-large member from the Chamber of Commerce, too—we want to make sure it’s inclusive.
We’re changing the tone of economic revitalization here. At one of the Town Board meetings, the prior supervisor was critical of this committee, basically saying that the supervisor was elected to dictate rather than solicit ideas. To order people around rather than look for input—that mindset right there demonstrates the difference between my administration and the last one. I want to hear ideas of others in addition to advancing to my own. We all need to work together.
Can residents add their input?
Absolutely. We’re still looking for consultants, and we’d love feedback from anyone who wants to give it.
The committee’s first sit-down with all the members is in mid-October, and they’ll determine their schedule then. Once they’ve established a calendar, hopefully by the end of the month, their meetings will be open to the public and everyone can come and voice their ideas that way. Or they can always call my office. My door is open, and I can pass feedback on to the committee.
Speaking of open doors, tell us about the decision to publicize all the Town Board meetings.
The Board recently voted 3-2 to televise the meetings. When I was running for Supervisor, I promised to open up the process of our community government. I’m very proud to fulfill that promise, along with Alice and Vishnu. Transparency is important and it’s the right thing to do.
I do understand the argument against transparency, based on the idea that someone might use the work sessions as a forum for grandstanding. Obviously, we hope people don’t do that, but having an open process and a transparent government is more valuable. That outweighs any negative aspect of televising them.
This is not an anti-anyone administration. There’s no spin here; this is just me and my perspective.
This column is a regular Q&A with Yorktown Town Supervisor Lanny Gilbert. Have a question for him? Email AskLannyGilbert@gmail.com.