Ask Lanny: Supervisor Gilbert talks about the Town’s infrastructure and more
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.
Has there been any progress on Yorktown’s storm recovery?
Yes. We’re still getting information from the utilities about the last round of storms and working to use that information to make sure we’re more prepared for the next one. I’m afraid that this is our new normal; our weather is getting more severe, particularly heading into thunderstorm season.
I really hope everyone signs up for Nixle, which is great for getting practical updates about emergency situations—power outages and storm damage, but also things like bear sightings and construction updates.
What preparation are you focusing on for the next storm?
We’re purchasing generators for sewer department, highway department, and the Town Hall so that we can respond to constituents’ needs and communicate effectively during power outages and other emergencies.
All these entities are obviously vital during a crisis—sewers and roads for obvious reasons, and the Town Hall because we know individuals reach out to us there to find out what’s going on. During the last storm, we were getting emergency emails from the county and state, but we were unable to receive them or respond. This is safe, responsible planning for the future.
Are there any other projects moving forward?
Absolutely. Many of these things aren’t sexy, but they’re important for the town—such as dealing with water main issues, pump stations for the sewers, road repair, that kind of thing. We always have an eye on the budget and an eye toward the development of the town.
At a recent Town Board meeting, the former Supervisor questioned the status of some projects he’d proposed during his administration. Where do they stand?
For the first time since I began my time as supervisor, Mr. Grace came to the board during courtesy of the floor and asserted that issues bought forth by his administration shouldn’t be ignored.
And they aren’t being ignored. Several projects begun during his tenure are still ongoing. For example, we’re moving forward with the Lowe’s project. There were problems with the town taking responsibility and ownership of the sewers and the water lines. Originally, that was done without the town having any kind of indemnification against the costs, and it exposed us to potential liability for decades. We wanted to make sure the town was protected, and we did—our interim town attorney worked out an indemnification clause, and we were able to hammer out a deal with the company. I’m very proud of that.
Similarly, with the ring road near the mall, there were a lot of neglected aspects that potentially exposed the town to significant risks. We’ve addressed those issues and are moving forward with the project.
We’re also working on the sewer project. With that one, Mr. Grace had planned to tax the entire district to upgrade something that would only benefit a very select few. I believe that’s unlawful, and I held an informational hearing about it, and we’re talking with engineers right now from his administration and previous ones. We’re working it out. His claim that there could be shovels in the ground right now is completely disingenuous, based on what I know from his own engineers.
What we will not be pursuing is the Depot Square project, which involved moving the highway garage and creating a new mixed-use building on Front Street. That project is a house of cards, and the one that would fall first is the financing. After you spend all that money, there’s no way that there will be funds left over to build a better senior center. I simply don’t believe that his numbers are accurate or that it can be built at no cost to the town.
Our town is in decent financial shape, but we’re in serious need of infrastructure repairs that have been neglected for far too long. The can has been kicked down the road enough, and it stops now.
What are you excited about in Town?
[Town Board member] Alice [Roker] and I went to a really valuable informational session at Mercy College about creating local incubator initiatives. The campus we visited in Bronx County has incubation center, where they provide space and technology for small businesses, to give startups the opportunity to free themselves up to be creative. I’d love to bring something like that here.
I also recently attended a Love Wins event for Pride Month at the Yorktown Grille, and I spoke briefly there. I said it was my privilege to represent a community that’s welcoming and inclusive and doesn’t turn people away. I felt very proud to do that.
And I enjoy the administration of the town. I know I’m accomplishing things and helping our community. Like in life, you have fun things and serious things; I’ve attended serious and sobering events as well as uplifting ones like the Relay for Life and the Hike for Hope, for suicide prevention. It’s an honor to do this job.
This column is a regular Q&A with Yorktown Town Supervisor Lanny Gilbert. Have a question for him? Email AskLannyGilbert@gmail.com.