I'd like to take a quick second and thank the person who responded to my last post. It's awesome to have some feedback! Just so everyone knows, I asked him to send me his home address so that we can sit down and have a further discussion on his views - which I think are all valid. He stated that having more green space in the city could be a problem as far as upkeep, mowing, etc. I could not agree more with him on this point. As I sat in the emergency budget meeting last week the budget of the Parks dept was slightly over what had been anticipated and this was solely due to the wet spring that we had. I know myself I've been cutting my lawn twice a week this summer and to maintain an entire city worth of grass is definitely a major task, but something that has to be done. I'd imagine if the grass and fields hadn't been maintained we' d be having the opposite discussion right now. I'm thankful that our parks dept is so focused on making and keeping the city looking great! But this is where some thinking outside of the box may help...how can we help these guys and girls out? There are so many places to maintain and in my book, this is a must do. We can't let our green space go to hell and look terrible, we would be inviting in more problems like rats and dare I say it - skunks! Increasing overtime budgets will certainly lead to higher taxes, having volunteers help is a double edged sword. If we start allowing volunteers do some work, we may run into issues with unions which is something that we want to avoid as well. Grievances can cost money on both sides of the issue and usually leave both sides with hard feelings. So what's the solution? I'm not sure as I sit here typing but I'm sure that something can be worked out - a solution that benefits everyone and doesn't take jobs away from our city workers.
Also mentioned in the response was the "Hub." There is one thing clear to me about the hub; you either love it or hate it there really isn't any grey area as I'm talking with residents about it. Here's my 2 cents for what it's worth. 1. The city owned parking lot behind the towers was in need of repaving and it would have cost in excess of 1 million dollars to do that work. So instead, the hub was built (which did cost 1+million bucks) but most of that was a bond from the state, leaving us to pay approximately 240K. No small amount of money, , but at least the the money was invested HERE, in our city where we can use the area, not spent downstate somewhere on a bridge or a statue.
2. I like to look at the hub as more of a piece of infrastructure that can be built upon to increase commerce and businesses in our city. Do we have a long way to go here? ABSOLUTELY! There are many aspects to attracting businesses into our city that a bathroom can't do, BUT just yesterday I was driving past Squires and there were so many bicycles in their grassy front yard I couldn't believe it. I have no idea if the hub had anything to do with that but I'll tell you if there were less than 20 bikes (pedal not motor) I'm underestimating. I bet that they saw a slight uptick in business that night. So when potential business owners begin to look at a place to plunk down, seeing foot traffic, bike traffic and traffic traffic makes our area very attractive to them. I heard at the meeting that somewhere in the neighborhood of 600,000 people visit Niawanda each year...that's a TON of potential traffic and customers that businesses could have...the hub can be a part of the hook that gets them to move FROM the river UP to downtown.
These ideas are not the end all be all by any means. If anyone wants to sit down and talk with me I'm all for it! Truthfully, I don't like doing these talks on line- you can never tell tone, and people can get really mad really fast over nothing! I assure you all I'm typing with a huge smile on my face while listening to some Paul Davis records. If you'd like to meet and talk please email me - firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set something up. Or you can wait until I knock on your door in the coming weeks - I go out every night between 6:30 and 8ish to knock. I'll post the street on here or facebook before I go so you can expect me!
Thank you all again for reading this - I know it's a long one! I truly appreciate your time and consideration of me as your representative on the council for the 4th ward.
Back to the music...
It was quite an impressive sight to see the amount of people that gathered to voice their input for closing Young St! One of the comments that really impressed me was by a resident (I couldn't hear her name from the back of the room!) who had clearly thought about how this closing would affect traffic to our downtown area and questioned whether or not beautifying Broad St was being considered. It was a great question that was representative of the amazing things that can happen when people actually work together. Looking at all of the divisive rhetoric that has become the norm, it was really refreshing to see a room of diverse people who had differing ideas come together in such a positive way. It also really contrasts with what I've been speaking to people with as I knock on doors. Many people think the new and updated ideas are great, some not so much, but what people are talking most about are having problem trees taken down, trimming hedges on Niagara St so they can see the river again, and skunks. I wish I had a solution for the skunks - but what did work in my yard was a three pronged approach...stop feeding the birds as much, laying down GrubEx ($19.99 at valu) and one of my good friends who owns a dog brushed her out and gave me a bag of her sheddings so I could mix them in with mulch. Haven't seen or smelled a skunk since.
I would like to encourage every resident to begin coming to the Council Meetings that are held on the first and third Tuesday's of each month beginning at 6 in the caucus room. To say these meetings have been eye opening would be an understatement. I would especially encourage you to attend and hear how your taxes are being spent, especially during budget season when the projected tax increases will be released. When I hear more about dates and times, I will certainly be keeping you updated!
Hello everyone! I'd like to apologize that I haven't written in a few days, its strictly because I've been out knocking on doors and meeting people face to face this week! If there's anything that I've learned (other than everyone seems to have super friendly dogs!) is that people really appreciate it when you take the time to sit down with them and talk. This week the discussions I've had with neighbors have been about politics, our kids, the Hub, trees that NEED to come down...just about anything under the sun. It's refreshing to be able to have these discussions with the residents of our ward - more so it's unifying - to see that we really all want the best for this city. I've said it time and again - my reason for running is to show the residents that we are on a progressive path, help provide opportunities to allow our kids to stay here, attract new families to the city, and provide attractions for people to visit! That's the dog I have in this fight - the residents. That's who I'm here for. Just a side bar... As of this morning I was informed that the school district has to hire 2 new kindergarten teachers to fulfill the need that was created with new families moving into the city over the summer. In the educational field that's huge. This means approximately 30-40 new kids have moved here. The COT is doing something right - please allow me the honor of your vote so we can continue!
What a busy weekend! On Saturday, I had the privilege to attend the Democratic Family picnic at Vets Park. The torrential rain that hit us a couple of times didn't dampen the family atmosphere that was present. It's interesting when you join a new group how the dynamics of your involvement seem to change over time. Joining the democratic committee reminds me of when I joined the Volunteer fire Department when I lived in North Tonawanda (had to move, was still a teen and had to go where the parents went). When you are first joining a group, you are the newbie, having to learn the language, dynamics and personalities of the organization. As your tenure in the group grows, the mores and attitudes that you possess and the group have in common tend to meld and soon you find yourself as an integral member. In the fire service, truly being a part of the group happens rather quickly as you rely on each other for safety, while in other less serious organizations it can take a bit longer to fully meld into the group. Sitting at the picnic on Saturday it was interesting to view the different circles of membership begin to meld together and reinforce the family structure of the group. I am honored to be a part of it!
You may have noticed that there are many signs going up around our ward, and city for that matter. As I was thinking about them and (yes keeping score) it dawned on me that their greatest purpose is to advertise who is running. That's it. You can't walk up to a sign and ask what your stance is on taxes, the landfill, or Tonawanda Coke. You can't get a feeling of how hard someone will work for the residents of the community by reading a sign. The only way to do that is to actually go out, knock on doors and speak to people. This goes back to my first post about investment, investing in people will never leave you poor. Hearing what their concerns are and actually helping them is what this is all about. If you don't like going out and speaking to people and hearing what they have to say, good or bad, then why do this? It is my goal to knock on every door in the ward between now and the November election. I am asking you to please treat this like a job interview (that's how I'm viewing it!) and fire away! Ask questions, tough questions of your candidate, ask about Spaulding, Landfill, Taxes, New Ideas, Clarification on anything you may want. I'm asking you to put me through the wringer and I am confident you will see that I am here to work for you and for no other reason. In fact, that was one of the best questions I got from a resident on Brookside - "Why are you running?" It's not for self interest, ego, jobs for friends and family, or anything other than showing residents present and potential that Tonawanda is an amazing place to live and I want to help make it better for EVERYONE.
I was extremely fortunate to be able to sit down with Joyce Hogencamp for a couple of hours and discuss the status of the Landfill remediation as well as the happenings at the Tonawanda Coke Plant. To say the information she provided was eye opening is the largest understatement ever uttered.
First, I can't thank Joyce enough for her tireless fight that has been done on behalf of everyone who lives in our city. The news wasn't all bad - one point that stuck out to me was that in 2007, when the air quality was tested it was roughly equivalent to the air quality in Los Angeles. Think about that! Our city with a population of +- 15000 residents had air that was comparable to a city with a population of near 4 million! This was mostly due to the unchecked and unregulated actions of Tonawanda Coke. Now, after some amazing work and advocacy by a group of very dedicated residents, our air quality has improved nearly 86% and is deemed some of the cleanest air in WNY. Some of our air is being effected by the Toll Booths that sit at the base of the Grand Island Bridge. The amount of cars that pass over the bridge on a daily basis is quite large. The problem is twofold, and almost a "perfect storm" that directly impacts our air in the COT - (1) When vehicles sit idling in lines waiting to cross the bridge their emissions are (2) carried over our city by the Southwest prevailing wind. Vehicle exhaust contains chemicals such as Carbon Monoxide, Formaldehyde, Benzine, Sulphur Dioxide, etc. While we will never eliminate the exhaust that flies over our city, we can greatly decrease the amount by removing the Grand Island Toll booth and the massive parking lot it creates as cars pass around out city.
The second major concern we discussed is the remediation of the Town of Tonawanda Dump site that runs along Hackett Drive. Last week I went to every house on Hackett and spoke with many resident about their concerns in regards to the site. Many were new residents who knew of it prior to moving in and others were 20-35 year residents who have ALWAYS known about what is buried there. Currently there are 4 options on the table for remediation that range from doing nothing all the way up to a full dig out and removal. Obviously each of these solutions (except for option 1 - Leave it as is) is going to cost money. I am of the opinion that if there is a job to be done, it should be done once and done correctly. Knowing the cost for the full remediation I am still hopeful and of the idea that it can and should be fully remediated. I feel that making Tonawanda safe and sound for generations we will never get the chance to meet is extremely important and will push for the highest remediation possible.
I hope to see you all this weekend at the Democratic Picnic being held at Vet's park. As always, if you want to speak further please email me at email@example.com, find me on facebook and please sign up for 4th Ward reminders at remind.com/join/4thwardu. Talk soon! Dave
This week has been quite busy as I continue with my campaign. I am getting closer (though no where near done!) to achieving my goal of knocking on every door in the 4th ward. My signs came in this week and it has been an amazing experience to have people contacting me to put them on their lawns - I can not thank you for your support!
It's interesting to talk with people and find out what their concerns are. As I have familiarized myself with the large and overarching issues that directly effect the residents of this ward, I'd like to take a few minutes to discuss my platform or the foundation of my candidacy.
The foundation for me, is really the people who live here - not only in the 4th ward - but for the entire city. After speaking with a friend last week, one principle from our conversation really stuck with me "Investing in PEOPLE, will never leave you poor." It is the continued investment in people that is driving me to run for election.
So, how do we make the city a place people want to visit, raise a family, or start a business in? Here are a few ideas:
Spaulding Fibre: Spaulding is currently up for sale by Real Estate Agents Cushman Wakefield. They are a multi-national company trying to sell the approximately 40 acres on behalf of the city. Below is my stance on what we can or should do with the land:
Also, if you'd like to receive updates of the happenings in the 4th Ward you can sign up to my "Remind" page here...https://www.remind.com/join/4thwardu
As I walked through the neighborhoods of Hackett, Hamilton, Taylor and Alliger last week it really struck me how many different needs and concerns there are in our section of town, and all of these concerns need to be addressed so we can arrive at a conclusion that helps everyone move forward. It reminded me of what my job has been for the last 11 years at Erie 1 BOCES. In a nut shell, I work with teachers and students to help them integrate technology into their learning. This brings with it many challenges that have to be worked with to produce a meaningful result. For example, when I run a workshop, there could be as many as 15 participants, all from different school districts, from different content areas (Science, English, Math, Social Studies, High School, Elementary School, Special Ed etc.) The additional challenge is that many of the participants have different skill levels when they come into my workshops - some may be teetering on expert level, others are just beginning. It is my duty to take these groups of diverse learners, guide them through learning something new, and have them produce a product that can be used meaningfully, in their classes, that benefits both the teacher and student. The parallel to public service as a council member is easy to draw. Council members have to work with different groups of people, all with different goals, needs and background then provide a solution that is both meaningful and responsible. I believe that my 11 years of working in this capacity at BOCES have adequately prepared me for work on the City Council. The more I speak with people in the 4th Ward, it becomes more clear that having a voice that speaks for the whole instead of the interests of just 5 or 10 is desperately needed.
Check back often to see what's going on as I walk the trail!