I am writing in response to Susan Siegel’s latest letter regarding the proposed plans for Granite Knolls park (“The true cost of Granite Knolls,” Aug. 10). I say “latest letter” because no sooner do we hear news of our town government attempting to accomplish something for the community than do we find a quote or full blown letter from Ms. Siegel, replete with criticisms of both the actions and the supervisor. Consider the record thus far over the years:
A couple of years ago, when the first Spectra pipeline project was being planned, the supervisor, recognizing that the project would be approved and any necessary lands simply seized, attempted to get out in front and negotiate a good deal for the town so that recreation facilities could be built. Ms. Siegel was quick to launch criticism and help defeat the initiative. Unsurprisingly, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the pipeline expansion, and Supervisor Michael Grace did well to go back and get what he could for the town.
Please note, if anyone seriously believed that a project spanning four states and benefiting thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands of homes, would be cancelled or impaired because a handful of people were upset about a few acres of “parkland,” then please, stop reading at this point and immediately begin searching for some common sense. The net result: the pipeline is underway and the town would have fared better under Mr. Grace’s proactive approach.
Now, we have another expansion of the pipeline and the town is again being proactive in negotiating a good deal with the company. The revenue from this settlement, coupled with the funds from the last expansion, we are told, will be sufficient to cover the cost of the recreation facilities. The ink had not dried before we heard this most recent criticism that the proposed project would cost the town money and that the supervisor is getting around this by dipping into the funds that remained unspent from the first pipeline expansion. Interestingly, at the time of the first deal two years ago, Ms. Siegel was quick to point out that the funds received would not be adequate to cover the cost of the project. Now that the town has found additional funding to advance the project at little to no expense to the taxpayer, this is apparently not good enough!
This troubling pattern is not unique to the agreements about Granite Knolls. The supervisor and town board continue to hold the line on taxes year after year, meeting and exceeding the requirements of the tax cap. Ms. Siegel’s response was annual criticism that this was being accomplished by depleting the town’s fund balance and other reserves, which, if true, would leave us ill-prepared to deal with any sudden expenses or emergencies. Interestingly, the town’s books were audited this past spring and given a clean bill of health. In fact, if memory serves, it was reported in this paper that the town’s fund balance had actually increased over the years!
Right on cue were comments from Ms. Siegel, who accused the town of manufacturing the surplus by delaying critical infrastructure projects. These delays, it was suggested, created the very need for the supervisor to announce his “Year of Infrastructure.” As if the dilapidated state of our town’s roads suddenly manifested itself overnight. Please, the embarrassing state of disrepair taxpayers are forced to endure is the cumulative result of many years of neglect. I encourage anyone to look back at prior years’ town budgets to see what had been allocated to paving under Ms. Siegel’s tenure as supervisor.
Hopefully, I am not the only taxpayer, or voter, keeping track of this absurdity.