Whither PDDG?

To those of you wondering what has become of PDDG, or of me, or of this column and, most importantly, of our efforts to defeat Newman’s Big Box plans for the Gateway, I would like to offer this update.

The outcome of last month’s Town elections was certainly not what I had hoped for or expected. I believed that the community that had shown such concern about traffic and sprawl and such support for Geneseo’s small town character in a recent community-wide survey would elect people committed to their same vision. I’m not sure why that didn’t happen.

Maybe the personal appeal of candidates overwhelmed ideas and issues. Maybe the muck got too deep for people to wade through. Maybe the community is less committed to a particular vision of itself and its future than I believed. Maybe economic anxieties trumped.

Whatever the case, the election results, fatigue from the campaign, and the need to spend some time doing the job I’m paid to do, have led me to refocus some of my energy.

There is also another reason for my and PDDG’s lower profile these days. After a hard push to write all of our many comments on the problems with Newman’s Big Box proposal and with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that it produced as part of the review of that proposal, there hasn’t been much to do or say.

Those comments, which were submitted to the Town Planning Board on November 8, pretty much say it all: that Newman’s proposal is impermissible under state and local law and that its DEIS is so badly flawed as to require a substantial rewrite.

Once Newman is made to answer the questions required of it by the scope – questions related to how much additional traffic will use residential roads to bypass the congestion on 20A and how much additional retail sprawl will follow this Big Box and what Newman is willing to do to offset the costs of its development – the scale of this folly will be revealed.

Sour grapes, you may say. I don’t think so. Sure, I wish the election had turned out differently. Life would be easier if it had. However, we are a nation of laws and law protects us from the tyranny of the majority.

If that majority would like to change the law, it may do so. Until then, however, Newman’s proposal must be evaluated under the laws we have and I don’t think those laws look favorably on this proposal.

So, don’t expect to see any white flags waving outside PDDG headquarters. The Big Box battle is a long way from over and we will fight it to the end.

3 responses to “Whither PDDG?

  1. Welcome back Bill!

    I share your dissapointment and frustration with how things have turned out. Will Wadsworth is a personal friend whom I respect a great deal. I wrote him, congratulating him on his victory and said I knew he would do a good job. I also told him I didn’t vote for him because of his stance on the Lowe’s development.

    One might think that nothing changes with the baton going fro Wes to him, but I believe we will see a difference in style of leadership and a genuine effort on Will’s part to listen to varying views.

    I do know Will feels “Lowe’s is a done deal,” and so feels the best approach is to mitigate the ugly look and other negative aspects of the project as much as possible.

    Please have a one on one with him- he will listen and maybe he can be convinced to mount a “two tier” attack: 1) Don’t build and 2) If you somehow get to build, it must look something like this…

    I was interested to see in the D&C the other day how a developer wanted to institute a “new” alternative to big box development- a bunch of smaller shops with apartments over the top of them- kind of has a familiar ring, doesn’t it?

    Appreciate ALL your efforts!


  2. Beverly Henke Lofquist

    Dear Readers,

    Best wishes to Will Wadsworth and congratulations on being elected Supervisor.

    I agree that it will be necessary to revisit the reported, “Lowes is a done deal” comment as I see potential political support, but also legal uncertainties, questions hanging and unanswered. It is my hope that all areas of the process are carefully examined and that Will is capable of the job. The art of “listening”, as listening has been described as a skill of Will Wadsworth’s, is a potential key in unlocking some doors.

    Thank you to Stirlin for your letter.


    Beverly Lofquist

  3. Bill,

    Like Stirlin, I too am a friend of Will’s and I also told Will that I could not vote for him because of his stand on Lowes. I agree with Stirlin that Will’s character is one of careful listening and a style of fairness. However, I think he not only sees the Lowes project as a done deal, I think he envisions Geneseo as the retail center of Livingston County. If it becomes a retail center then it may impact another growing economic force in our community, tourism. People from the surrounding metropolitan areas and further afield have traditionally come here for the peace and quiet; the spectacular scenery and for country pursuits such as walking, biking, horse back riding, and hunting. I doubt that these kinds of people will want to brave crowds, traffic and possible noise and air pollution to come here.

    Our best offering is a quiet village, a beautiful town and a still sought after quality – human scale development – the smallness of things. Even in large cities, we try to “create” our own “small town.” We like to go to the same dry cleaner because we know and trust the owner and his/her work; we like to be recognized at our favorite restaurant; we like the “community” of patrons in our favorite bookstore and we always go to the same grocery store. We like familiarity and routines. These things keep us grounded so-to-speak.

    A big box in Geneseo does not add to a sense of community or to convenience. It erodes the idea of convenience if one is sitting in traffic for an hour to get to a “convenient” retail store (the time it took my neighbor to exit the Wegman’s parking lot at Christmas). In short, we all want convenient retail, but how much of it do we want? And if we do want a lot of retail here, how large an area should be devoted to it and where will this/these area(s) be located? What kind of retail mix are we looking for?

    Until we have a master plan, the answers to these questions really come before a decision on any one big box store or on a group of smaller stores. We need to look at all future retail development through the same lens; we need to mandate the same standards from the first to the fifty-first applicant. I hope Will can see the need to avoid putting the cart before the horse. I hope we see that it will take all of us, not just Will, to lead us out of our current predicament.

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