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What is the big secret?

posted Dec 23, 2014, 5:14 AM by Doug Roberts   [ updated Dec 23, 2014, 5:20 AM ]
Firstly, Happy Holidays, everybody!  This campaign and the Village election season heats up after Christmas, but until then, please enjoy time with family and friends.  
Last night's Village Board meeting included several examples of the culture of secrecy in our Village Government which continues to fail all of us in Greenport.  Participation in our government is already abysmal, as evidenced by low attendance at the meetings and what I can only describe as a general disaffection with our Village Board amongst folks in town, shared with me in casual conversation about these issues as I talk to folks about my goals and vision for The Village.  I understand that I have my work cut out for me to re-engage Greenporters in this process, and I am eager to be doing this work.  

We need to begin by ending all the secrets.  

Last night, we had a public hearing on a wetlands permit which was supposed to be noticed on our website.  The "Public Hearing" link on the website lists information from November 24 and earlier. I understand that the issue before the board last night was before them earlier, but that's not an excuse.  The only person prepared to comment on the issue, besides the applicant, was a neighbor who'd been following the issue for months. The rest of us were scrambling to review complicated surveys and charts to come up with conclusions and thoughts we might want to share with The Board.  Did The Board have access to these documents before they were handed out last night?  This is broken and the fix is easy.  I will make sure this doesn't happen under the new administration and if it does, there will be accountability to the public who deserve information about issues as important as wetlands preservation!  

Trustee Philips raised the issue of Mitchell Park and public use permits, an issue on which I've spoken at Board meetings several times, dating back to early summer.  Trustee Philips was basically asking "What's the holdup?"  At this point, this board has had over 6 months to come up with proposed language to share with the public.  Mitchell Park will be a major issue in this campaign, and I would submit that this board has missed its chance to develop this policy.  I will bring a mandate to the board from those who support me in this election, and I will use those ideas to synthesize a policy based on the wishes of Greenporters.  I will also not allow the issue to languish.  We will get this resolved by our May meeting if my colleagues and our new Mayor will cooperate.  One thing I've learned in my career is that you don't finish a project if you don't set a deadline and then work backwards to set intermediary milestones along the way.  We need a published calendar of opportunities for the public to sound off on this issue in-person, online, by email, by telephone, or any other way we can gather input.  All that's required is effort and project management.  

Finally, there are apparently secret negotiations between The Village and The North Ferry Company to rent the dock facing the Ferry dock for the entire season.  Our Marina delivers $500K in revenue- by far our most profitable enterprise.  We need that revenue to fix sidewalks and roads, to improve parks, to provide after school and summer programs for kids.  My rough eyeball analysis, based on dock space, tells me that the west dock of Mitchell Marina is, at minimum, 5% of our revenue potential.  And the thing about revenue is that sometimes it comes in higher than you expect. If we are going to lock up 5% of our revenue potential before the season even starts, and eliminate the upside potential from oversubscription of that particular dock, we need to insist on a minimum of $30K to rent out that dock space, and we should try to get more.  The last thing we can afford is to negotiate against ourselves.  As I understand it, the Ferry Company is hoping to buy itself additional navigation space by keeping this dock free of boats.  So if this is valuable to them, they will have to pay market value. If the Ferry company wants to pay up front for multiple years, maybe we can give them a break on the price.  But we are already supporting the North Ferry's business by providing access to our roads at NO COST. We have the leverage here.  I hope the board will use it.  Most importantly, why all the secrets?  Share what you are working on with the public when you are able to do so, and let us analyze and comment.  And when you schedule a hearing on it, please put all the documents where they belong on the website!

If you want to sign the election petition, find us at Sterlington Deli on the morning of Sunday Jan 4!