Enbridge has been taking longer than anyone expected to install the pipeline. They’ve run into some problems in drilling the hole—they hit unexpected sections of rock that could have affected the integrity of the pipe.
They’re being very careful and they’re heavily regulated, so they’re going slowly. That’s a good thing—we want them to be careful—but it’s also frustrating, because it’s taking a very long time.
Which parts of Yorktown are still affected?
Essentially, the area through Legacy Field near Route 132 is still affected. The good news is that the sections they’re still working on aren’t in neighborhoods. They’re finished with the section that goes from Maplebrook through to Stoney Street.
Construction was supposed to end in October 2018, so Enbridge needed a new agreement with the Town to continue using staging areas, including areas near the Legacy ballfield. Initially, they’d paid $3.8 million for inconvenience to the Town, plus another $500,000 in licensing for the staging area.
They tried to bargain that they should only be paying extra for that staging area—but the truth is that they’re still causing inconvenience to the Town. They’re still using our roadways heavily, there’s no use at all of Legacy Field—it’s a major impact on all of us.
So, we argued that they needed to pay an additional percentage and calculate the total based on the $3.8M plus the 500K. They balked at that, obviously, but long story short, they agreed to pay the town $1 million for the first three months they extended—November, December, and January—and $350K every month thereafter. They’re now saying they expect that work could extend through September.
How will the Town use that money?
When I was first elected, I went to a training program in Albany, and one of the pieces of advice they offered was this: When you get a windfall, never invest in anything that requires recurring costs.
Unfortunately, the previous administration did the opposite. It committed all of the initial money from Enbridge to the new Granite Knolls ballfields, including money that was originally supposed to be allocated to the repair of roads impacted by the project.
Granite Knolls will be a tremendous asset to the Town, but, it will result in a significant amount of recurring costs—constant ongoing maintenance, additional employees, replacement of turf.
It was not prudent to use all that money at once. However, it’s done; ultimately, we’ll get a great athletic complex that will hopefully generate revenue from out-of-town use.
But with the new negotiated funds, we’ll address the infrastructure issues that have been kicked down the road for too many years. Several town buildings need new roofs, and we’ll use the funds toward repair of those buildings
We’ll also be able to deal with structural road issues, including the retaining wall at Mohegan Lake. We can address these problems before they begin to fall apart—and forestall the additional expenses we would incur if repairs had to be made on an emergency basis. It also avoids the inconvenience of closing roads, like Baptist Church, and lets the town plan ahead so that less work needs to be done in the first place.
It should also be noted that in cooperation with the Town’s Highway Superintendent we were able to negotiate some additional funding from Enbridge, in addition to that noted above, for repair of some additional roadways.
What’s the latest on the Lowe’s construction?
The store intends to open in late March or early April. There are some outstanding issues, particularly the area near the Taconic, that they’re assuring us will be rectified. The site plan requires that area to be re-milled and re-paved. Unfortunately, the timing of the project is such that they can’t pave now because it has to be warmer to put down asphalt.
It should also be noted that since Route 202 aka Crompond Road is a New York State roadway, the town had little control over the activities taking place on it. However, we were in constant conversations with the State’s inspectors urging them to address outstanding issues that inconvenienced town residents.
Also, as part of the requirements under their site plan, the houses along Old Crompond Road must be hooked up to sewers. That final agreement is still being worked out.
Anything else you’d like to add?
One highlight of my month: Yorktown has one of the first young women’s groups in the Boy Scouts of America, and I hosted them here at the Town Hall and gave them a tour for their governmental and community service badge. I’ve been meeting a lot of fantastic students recently, and that’s been very gratifying.
This column is a regular Q&A with Yorktown Town Supervisor Lanny Gilbert. Have a question for him? Email AskLannyGilbert@gmail.com.
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.
First things first: What does the Town Clerk do?
My office deals with the nuts and bolts of daily life for the people of Yorktown. We’re an efficient, smooth-running department with a wonderful, knowledgeable team who are devoted to the residents of our community. We work directly for the citizens of this town and that mission is clear in everything we do.
If you’re re-elected, it would be your second term as Town Clerk. What have you done so far that you’re most proud of?
I’m proud of making our work more available to more people, in a variety of ways. We’ve finally put the town’s official documents online, making them more secure and accessible. Our office now accepts credit card payments. We’ve automated work where possible, making it more convenient for our residents and more cost effective for our town.
We’ve also made our office more accessible to some of our seniors and disabled residents by creating a Mobile Town Clerk’s Office, which brings our office out to the community. Some people have difficulty coming into our regular office, so we go out to them at Jefferson Village and the Nutrition/Senior Services Center. More locations will be added soon.
There are more initiatives, as well:
- Instituted a program to convert and scan documents, freeing up valuable office space and facilitating research.
- Shredded more than 37 tons of paper in conjunction with the Westchester County Mobile Shredder.
- Began an online Dog License Renewal Program this spring.
- Created four drop-off locations to participate in the Cell Phones for Soldiers Program, a national nonprofit organization that collects recycled or refurbished phones to give active-duty soldiers ways to connect with their families.
What made you decide to run for a second term?
In January 2003, I became the Deputy Town Clerk in the Town of Yorktown and had the honor of working with and learning from Alice Roker, the former Town Clerk. In 2016, I was honored and humbled to be elected Town Clerk and have loved every minute of the past four years. I have met many wonderful people and have enjoyed helping others over the past 20 years of my public service career. I decided to run for a second term as Yorktown Town Clerk because I have more initiatives that I would like to see implemented in our community.
Professionally, I’ve continued to improve my skills and connections: I’ve achieved designations as a New York State Registered Municipal Clerk and an International Certified Municipal Clerk. I’ve forged relationships with other clerks all over the state.
Did any particularly interesting stories come out of your first term?
In 2017, our museum team found a record book up for auction that had to do with the communities of Yorktown, Cortlandt, and Somers. At the time, we did not have any idea of just how important this record was to the town and its history. I contacted the Manhattan auction house handling the sale and asked for this book to be returned to the town. The auction house contacted the person who owned the book, and she agreed to let the town have it back for free.
This book was the oldest record of the town! It begins in 1760, and it’s called the Book of Highways. As we move forward, I will be placing more historical documents like this one on the Town Clerk’s website so that everyone can enjoy the rich history of our community.
What do you enjoy about Yorktown and how do you plan to make it better?
I most enjoy the sense of community and spirit of volunteerism that exists here. I am always amazed at how much our residents are willing to give to a group in need. We have a wonderful cross-section of all ages, and I am always pleased by the interaction I have with them. Our older residents remind me to honor our history; our younger residents remind me of the wonderful future we have ahead of us in Yorktown.
I am humbled and honored to serve as Town Clerk, and I hope to continue to serve in a second term.
by Larry Kilian and Mary Jane Kilian
Co-chairs, Issues and Resolutions Committee
Yorktown Democratic Committee
Are we paying attention to how the New York State Senate works? All too often it represents special interests and not us. Case in point: using standardized test scores to evaluate teachers. In an attempt to improve our schools, New York State started using standardized test scores to evaluate teachers. There is now a consensus of opinion that that was a very bad idea. Two years ago, the NY State Education Department put a 3-year moratorium on the practice because of concerns about its validity.
On May 2, 2018, the NY State Assembly, by a vote of 133 to 1, passed a bill (A10475) to remove test scores from teacher evaluations. In support of this bi-partisan effort, a similar bill (S08301) was introduced in the NY State Senate with the support of 54 co-sponsors (only 32 votes are needed to pass a bill in the senate). Problem solved? No. Enter special interests.
In New York, the for-profit charter school industry has spent millions of dollars to influence state legislators and oppose legislative candidates who do not support their for-profit industry. Why should we care? Charter schools are funded with public money, taking much needed dollars away from our public schools.
The Republican leadership in the State Senate never brought this bill—with 54 co-sponsors—up for a vote. Instead, they introduced and passed a bill (S8992) with the support of our senator, Terrence Murphy (SD40), which included an increase in the number of charter schools. It also weakened the requirement for non-public schools with extended day programs to provide instruction equivalent to public school instruction—a position favored by Senator Simcha Felder, a Democrat who votes with the Republicans to give them a one vote margin to control the legislative agenda of the Senate. The result: the law requiring the use of test scores to evaluate teachers is still on the books—problem not solved because of special interests.
Another example: gun violence. In the wake of yet another horrific school shooting, in March 2018, the State Assembly—with bi-partisan support—passed a bill (A089768), 115 to 20, which would allow a judge in cases of extreme risk to remove guns from dangerous persons even if they were not yet charged with a crime. Inexplicably, our Assemblyman, Kevin Byrne (AD94), voted against this bill. A similar bill (S07133A) was introduced in the Senate with 30 co-sponsors—with 32 votes need to pass. Enter special interests.
Tom King, the president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and NRA board member, opposed the legislation. It was never brought to a vote in the NY Senate. The result: nothing done because of special interests. If our Republican representatives had asked us what we thought, we bet they would have found that even a majority of gun owners wanted them to pass this bill to protect our children from school shootings and families from domestic violence. Special interests prevented the measure from coming up for a vote—State Senators can block measures without making their position public. We need to know. This needs to change!
Special interests have the right to spend millions of dollars to contribute to candidates’ campaigns and oppose those candidates who fight against them. We, the people, have a right to judge whether our representatives are representing us or special interest money.
In both cases described above, there was broad, bi-partisan support for a bill in the Assembly and no vote in the Senate. Take the time to find out what your representatives are doing in Albany. That’s harder than it used to be. For, example, local newspapers typically do not cover how our representatives vote, their positions even on important issues, and which special interest groups are giving them money. Are our representatives accepting contributions from special interests such as the charter school industry, public utilities regulated by the state or businesses working on the gas pipeline?
Vedat Gashi, NY State Assembly candidate (AD94) and Pete Harckham, NY State Senate candidate (SD40) have told us that they will represent us and not special interests. Let’s pay attention and work together to change Albany so it works in our interest.
By Larry Kilian and Mary Jane Kilian
Right now, pull out your car insurance policy and look at what you are paying to pay for uninsured motorists. It’s surprisingly high, given that the vast majority of drivers do have insurance as required by law. However, if all motorists were not required to have insurance, the cost would go up astronomically. Apply the same analysis to predict what will happen to the cost of our health insurance if everyone doesn’t have to be covered.
By Larry Kilian and Mary Jane Kilian
Low voter turnout, particularly among young people, has reached crisis proportions – and few people seem to notice. In terms of the percent of people voting, the United States ranks near the bottom among developed countries; New York ranks near the bottom among states. If we do nothing, we can expect fewer than 20% of 18 to 24-year-olds to vote in the coming mid-term election. We need to act now to increase voter registration and turnout.