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.
What’s the story with Kmart closing?
Since I first became Supervisor about a year and a half ago, I’ve been working closely with Oster management, the company that manages the shopping center and it’s always felt like we’ve been at cross-purposes. Every time I heard any Kmart was closing, I’d cross my fingers that it wasn’t the one in Yorktown, but Oster was hoping it was.
Of course, I’m concerned for anyone affected by the closing—the people who work there, the people who shop there.
What is the reason for this?
Like Sears, Kmart was on the precipice of bankruptcy for so long that other stores did not want to invest in this shopping center while Kmart was still the anchor. It’s been floundering for years, and it didn’t seem like a safe bet. Obviously, it wasn’t. While I definitely was not hoping for them to fail, I do see a new potential for revitalizing this shopping center in a significant way.
This is very similar what happened in Mahopac: there was a Kmart anchoring the shopping center on Route 6, and that mall was a ghost town. After Kmart closed, a brand-spanking-new ShopRite opened up there. The Kmart had to leave first, and now that shopping center is coming back.
Will this happen?
I think it’s a strong possibility. We definitely could have that kind of resurgence here in Yorktown; we have had interest recently in this shopping center.
My administration is doing a lot to try to stimulate new businesses coming into the buildings in our town. We’re doing well so far; many new businesses have opened up and succeeded in the last year or so, and our Economic and Business Revitalization Committee is working very hard to solidify an economic vision for our town that benefits everyone and doesn’t line certain individuals’ pockets.
Can you talk about the Town’s new solar energy plans?
There are applications coming in to put solar arrays in the town, and we’re weighing the pros and cons. The Town could earn revenue from the land without incurring any costs from the burdens on infrastructure that residential or commercial building naturally bring. Yorktown would be generating income and not allocating town resources.
There are major incentives from NY State to get us to be non-fossil fuel dependent by a certain date down the line—and it’s also an environmentally responsible thing to do. Other towns have taken this step; we’re examining it now.
What’s the latest on your re-election campaign?
It’s election season again, and there’s something I’d like to address. The Yorktown Republican Party recently ran a Facebook ad claiming that I raised taxes and then hiked water rates 14%. This is a totally false interpretation of the facts, showing that Republican Party leadership cannot be trusted.
My budget indicates that I have, in fact, lowered the increase of town tax rate as compared to the prior Republican administration. In addition, due to the prior administration’s failure to address the water rate issue the Republicans, under Michael Grace raised water rates 25% in one fell swoop in 2016.
Finally, I would note that because of the Republican administration’s failing to adequately address the water issue over their six-year term, it remained necessary to impose an additional 14% increase. That increase was voted on by the current Town Board in a bi-partisan, unanimous vote including current Republican Town Board members.
Where is their honesty to the electorate?
This column is a regular Q&A with Yorktown Town Supervisor Lanny Gilbert. Have a question for him? Email AskLannyGilbert@gmail.com.