Concerned citizens of Waddington bash supervisor's proposed development projects; call for zoning
Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 1:29 pm

To the Editor:

The two proposals before you are designed to fit into the Supervisor’s over zealous vision to develop commerce in this town. Both proposals, if approved, will most definitely lead to other problems, all of which will have a transforming affect on this small residential community of ours. The trailer park/camp site proposal, in particular, will undermine every aspect of our community: security, the peaceful and quietness of our way of living as well as negatively affecting our home values.

All of this is being planned by the supervisor without any discussion with the community until he is forced to do so. Such profound changes should only be undertaken with the consensus of the community. Since this has not been done, both proposals should be voted down.

• Clark House proposal:

During the past two decades in Waddington, the role of Town Supervisor was given to Mr. Green followed by Mr. Dalton. Throughout their tenures, property values increased and the town quietly grew. Both men understood this was a small middle class community largely made up of a retired group and a smaller active working group that lives here but works elsewhere. Accordingly, under their direction, only improvement projects, which directly benefited the community, were undertaken.

The present supervisor is an ambitious and a relative newcomer to Waddington. Upon assuming the role of supervisor, he has seemingly also appointed himself as the visionary seer of this community. Instead of taking a prolonged pause to understand the slow heartbeat of this community, he was instrumental in forging ahead with the Clark House multi-million dollar undertaking to restore the hotel to its original grandeur, and thus become the focal point for downtown Waddington.

Since the inception of this project several years ago, little has been accomplished. However, we understand $500,000 has been expended. In our view, this project is a classic example of what happens by rushing into something without adequate research and understanding. The end result usually winds up being a boondoggle, which is the case here.

Waddington has had a motel located on the river for many years. A few years ago, a young English couple bought the motel. In doing so, they anticipated making about a million dollars in improvements. When the envisioned business traffic did not materialize, the motel was sold without any notable improvements.

It is difficult to understand the supervisor’s economic rational for continuing to support another hotel when the existing motel is faltering due to lack of business. According to a recent newspaper article, the people making this proposal made a proposal in Potsdam, which was voted down due to inability to obtain financing. What kind of folly is going on when an investor with limited capital and questionable experience wants to restore a hotel with not apparent market? The Clark House project appears to be a continuing boondoggle.

• The trailer park/campsite proposal:

This proposal involves building a trailer park/camp site at Leishman Point. It would be a year-round park open to the public at large to support the town’s promoting of fishing. By all indications it is a cheap undertaking that will not only destroy the beauty of the area, but also the community, as we know it.

Our criticisms of this proposal are as follows:

Waddington already has one trailer park located a few miles from the urbanized area. Since trailer park/campsites are generally unseeingly in appearance, noisy and generate traffic they are usually located in isolated areas, which are patrolled by the New York State Park Police. Leishman Point, however, has such a close nexus to our community it is inevitable to impact us all with no provision for security.

Presumably this proposal is intended to raise tax revenues for the community. There is little evidence to suggest that a cheaply funded park of this nature would raise much in the way of revenues after new operating costs. There is even less evidence to suggest the business community would benefit from the residents of the park. For example during the past two decades, there has been no notable increase in commerce from the trailer park traffic at Coles Creek. The largest beneficiary has probably been the grocery store and they have since downsized to a mini-market with very limited goods. Everything about this project is indicative of a deeper motivation that has a bad smell.

Waddington is an idyllic community with virtually no crime or violence and little traffic or noise. There are churches and convenience stores as well as multiple recreation facilities such as parks, walking paths, a golf course and driving range, and ballpark. And of course the river, for swimming, fishing and boating. Then there is always the thrill of watching the large ships sail by. It is this ambience that attracts people to buy and/or build houses here. Even though growth of the community is slow, it is planned and orderly. Disrupt this living environment with increased crime, noise, traffic and so on - and you destroy this community’s vehicle for growth. No growth means extremely slow sales and reduction in home prices.

The values of houses in the urbanized community amount to millions of dollars. These houses represent a large share of the tax base of this town. Any decision to disrupt the living environment and established housing patterns would, in our view, have a negative impact on housing values and thereby reduce the tax base of this town.

What strikes us about this proposal is that the supervisor seems to think we old men and old ladies are so feeble minded that we do not pay attention to what is going on. Let us disabuse him if he thinks this.

Not only do we know what is happening, but also know the difference between competent and incompetent leadership. We will let him know our judgment at the next election.

• Administrative matters:

The proposals discussed above do nothing to improve tax revenues. On the contrary, they appear likely to have the opposite effect because they are so poorly thought through. A good share of us in this community live on fixed incomes. Any tax increases are immediately felt in our discretionary spending. Therefore, in our view, the supervisor must become more practical and sensitive to the needs of this community. He needs to stop being selfish in his attempts to fulfill his own agendas.

According to the supervisor, the community is experiencing increasing costs and flat-line revenues. Rising pension and healthcare costs are some of the principal causes. These problems have to be addressed at the county, state and national levels. Until they are, the community must insist that the supervisor exerciser greater flexibility and restraint in his budgeting process, such as delaying improvement projects.

In conclusion we would like to suggest that the town council appoint a qualified committee to update and develop and zoning plan. This plan is the governing tool to ensure the community’s growth takes place in a controlled and orderly manner consistent with existing housing and commercial patterns. The other governing tool is to ensure building permits are issued only in accordance with the approved plan. Our community, including Leishman Point, is a beautiful natural resource, which must be protected.

 

Anthony Zeledeon and the Concerned Residents of Waddington