Ali Boak’s most recent town-wide mailer asked three important questions, to which I’d like to offer some answers.
- "Why has it taken more than a decade of struggle to get cell phone service in Scotts Corners?" In a word, aesthetics. In an acronym, NIMBY. The funny thing is, you might not have noticed that the Scotts Corner tower is up, as for all the hand-wringing about aesthetics, it’s practically invisible. It makes you wonder if another 20-40 feet, for the same “fixed costs” of hand-wringing, would have provided a dramatically larger coverage area. Curiously, Ms. Boak’s beautification/safety TEP application is largely focused on aesthetics, too, and will take dramatically more time and money than say, several raised crosswalks. The latter would solve the speeding problem overnight, but my guess is aesthetics are delaying things here, too.
- "Why doesn't our business district reflect the beauty and vitality of our town?" Trinity Corners is the elephant in this room, and too many people forget that it’s private property. Treating waste-water is the number one problem here and throughout the district. Even a “waterless” business will have employees that need to use bathrooms, and if the other adjacent businesses are using all of the building’s water allocation, expansion of business activity simply can’t happen. Trinity Corners, in particular, is built on swampland whose zoning has become vastly more restrictive since its construction, all in the name of protecting our watersheds. Strict Constitutionalists might have called this a “takings”, and one with profound unintended consequences, but let’s save that for another day. It’s ironic that self-professed “progressives” endlessly build barriers to economic progress, and then lament the lack of it. Speaking of which…
- "Why couldn't your town government get a community center built?" Our town had a referendum on building the center, and got approval to build it for a total of $4.5 million, including any grant money. Thanks to the Wicks Law and prevailing wage regulations, kept in place for decades by Democrats and their union supporters, construction bids came in 10-30% higher than necessary, and far beyond the referendum amount. It was decided that cutting the scope of the project to get under the $4.5 million would not meet the center’s objectives. We can thank Wicks for adding untold millions to our public school building projects as well.
Ms. Boak and her team proudly proclaim that they can seek “grant” money to get things like the above done, not mentioning that those grant dollars are funded from our state and federal taxes and fees. Putting aside Constitutional questions, such an arrangement exacerbates a culture of cronyism, one ripe for corruption and one that pits neighbor against neighbor, town against town and state against state as they compete to feed at the public trough. This is precisely the cause of the increased division and acrimony that everyone's noticing lately. It’s not a game we should join.