Jun 13, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The three candidates for trustee for the June 18 village election explained to voters who they were, where they stood on the issues and why people should vote for them at the June 11 candidate forum held by the League of Women Voters.
Incumbents Amy Weber Mann and Peggy Van Arnam, both seeking reelection, and challenger Fritz Koennecke, Jr., current president of the Cazenovia Board of Education, spent 70 minutes before a crowd of about 30 people answering questions on topics such as what Caz will look like in 10 years and how the village should get there, what should happen to the Riverside Drive property, how can the village have a better relationship with Cazenovia College, should the new Lincklaen Street parking lot be paid or free and whether or not the village should consolidate with the town.
Each candidate was given time for opening and closing statements, then given two minutes each to answer the questions, which were supplied by audience members and asked by the forum moderator, Sandra Kaplan, membership chair of the League.
“I love Cazenovia … it’s a great community … I’d like to do my part to keep it that way,” said Koennecke, who spoke first through lot draw. Koennecke, who grew up in Cazenovia, said he moved away for many years to serve in the military and moved back because Cazenovia is such a special place. He said he believes in smart economic growth, in attracting more young families and businesses into the village and in maintaining the beauty and cultural history of the village while also allowing for future growth.
Van Arnam, who spoke second, said she has lived in Cazenovia for 40 years and believes it is a “great community,” and she is running for reelection “to make sure those things remain.”
She said she believes in smart economic growth, in care and planning for village infrastructure, in providing affordable housing and services for both young families and senior citizens. “Why [vote for] me: I’m already doing it,” she said. She added that the current board of trustees is very harmonious as a group. “It works well. Why change it?”
Mann, who was first elected to the board in 2009, said she has made a number of essential partnerships and relationships during her four years on the board, she has many achievements under her belt and more goals to achieve. She reviewed a large list of achievements the board has made during her tenure, including great strides for the Carpenter’s Barn restoration committee and the village Tree Commission, both of which she chairs. “I don’t feel like I’m done yet,” she said. “I am up and running and ready to keep going.”
The evening’s forum was a cordial affair, respectful and substantive — and it was more forum than debate, with the candidates agreeing on a majority of the issues broached by the audience.
The candidates all agreed that:
—In 10 years they want Cazenovia to be the same, and preferably better, than it is right now, with a vibrant downtown, an Empire Brewing Company farmstead brewery up-and-running, and more agri-business and agri-tourism in the village.
—Smart growth is essential to the future of Cazenovia, to increase visitation and population and to keep local businesses vibrant and successful;
—The recent village partnership with L.L. Bean as a host site for the company’s Outdoor Discovery School was a huge and exciting success for Cazenovia, and the village must be sure to capitalize on that relationship to increase and encourage other business, visitation and population opportunities.
—It is not too early to start considering emendations to the village Comprehensive Plan, especially in light of the ongoing Village Edge South development project, but that any such changes should be done slowly and deliberately.
—Shared services between the village and the town, which are currently ongoing, are essential and logical; and that the idea of consolidating the village and town was not something they opposed, although none of the candidates came out and said they outright support it.
—The poor relationship between the village and Cazenovia College is something that must be addressed and improved, and that the creation of a “town and gown” committee to foster better communications is a good idea. The candidates all agreed that the college’s decision to sue the village in state supreme court over the proposed fencing of their athletic complex was not only wrong, but completely unnecessary.
They also agreed that it may be time to create a “fee for services” arrangement with the college, an institution that takes village services without paying any of the village taxes or costs, in addition to buying up village land and houses and thereby removing those properties from the village tax rolls.
There were few disagreements or differing answers among the candidates, with the biggest being the recent decision by the village board to make the upcoming parking lot at 22 Lincklaen St. a paid lot. Mann and Van Arnam both stood by their beliefs (and votes) that the lot should be a pay lot because it offers a “different menu option” for parking in the village, it caters more to visitors seeking an easy place to park and it avoids the probability that a free lot would be immediately filled every morning by college students and downtown employees.
Van Arnam, who is chair of the village parking committee, gave particular attention to the parking issue, saying parking requires some improvement in the village, and that while 90 percent of Cazenovians are courteous people who park appropriately for the time they spend downtown, the other 10 percent of Cazenovians “are entitled.” She said several groups of people are “ill-served” by the current state of parking in the village, and one of those the community needs the most is out-of-town visitors. Such visitors are willing to pay to park in order to find an easy and reliable spot.
Koennecke disagreed, and said he feels the lot should be free parking. He acknowledged the probability that college students especially would “hog” all the spots, but said there should be a way to restrict all-day parkers in the lot, such as with a time limit.
Another minor disagreement between candidates concerned the idea of creating a recycling drop-off area in the village so residents do not need to drive out to the transfer station. Both Mann and Van Arnam said they would agree to that idea. Koennecke said he “kind of” agreed, but warned that the size of such a drop-off should be limited. “We don’t want a mini version of the dump [in the middle of the village],” he said. He also suggested the idea of the municipality handling trash pickup in the village, bidding out the work to companies by street. “On my street there are 10 houses and seven different garbage companies — that’s six extra diesel trucks using fuel,” he said, referring to the idea that better recycling and garbage pickup goes toward better sustainability.
In closing comments, all three candidates reiterated their positions and reasons for being elected or reelected. Mann and Van Arnam both said they have done the job of trustee, they know the job and have had many successes and there is no reason to change the make-up of the current board. Koennecke said he has the background, experience and vision to serve on the board, and he would like the opportunity to serve the community that he loves.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.