Pittsford’s most unique and valuable asset is its people. I am continuously impressed by the caliber of our neighbors. Pittsfordites are smart, educated, and accomplished. We can meet and excel through the challenges of the future, but only if we work together. Our town government must include you and your neighbors in its decision-making processes.
The Pittsford Town Board is four members plus Pittsford’s Supervisor. Five people cannot capture the full breadth of perspectives and knowledge represented within our unique and talented community of approximately 29,000 people.
There is no issue we cannot address if we leverage our incredible local talent and work together.
Our town has a problem with speeding cars. The town has installed stop signs and the Supervisor asked residents to drive carefully and buy "Drive Like Your Child Lives Here" signs. The problem persists. We need a working group of residents to identify how other communities have dealt with this issue and recommend alternative options that work for OUR neighborhoods. While I was knocking on doors recently, one bright Pittsford resident suggested placing large, beautiful planters around intersections so drivers are forced to either slow down or hit one. This is one idea our town officials did not think of and I am sure there are more.
We need more people thinking about the issues that affect us all.
We must demand transparency from our local government. When our town makes decisions about development, taxes, green space, roads, culverts, services, and many other things, it directly affects you and your neighbors.
We have seen improvements in transparency since we elected Kevin Beckford and Stephanie Townsend to the town board in 2017. Kevin initiated Town Talk sessions on Saturdays to talk directly to neighbors about town issues. Stephanie has developed a process for publishing key information on her facebook page. These strategies were so well received, the Supervisor has also adopted them. In fact, when development was under consideration along East Avenue, Stephanie reached out to the neighbors to let them know which meeting to attend.
This progress is a good first step. We need to do more. We need one or two more Democrats on the town board to implement real policies of transparency.
Currently, it is not easy to find information about the issues our Supervisor and the Board are considering. Agendas are shared right before Town Board meetings. The agendas and minutes of our various volunteer boards, which inform many Town Board decisions, are, in my view, not published on a timely schedule. If you go to the town website to look for documents, it is very difficult to find what you need. In fact, when I use my mobile device to follow a link to a page within the town website, it almost always routes me to a frustrating table of contents page.
When a project or issue will directly impact one neighborhood or area of town, the town must reach out to the affected residents to let them know (1) what the issue is, (2) who to talk to, and (3) how the decision-making process works.
I want to stream town board meetings and volunteer board meetings in real time on the web. This is a simple set-up and it would allow residents to listen to a meeting while taking care of priorities at home or work and, if needed, travel to the meeting to participate in key issues.
I want to introduce “working meetings” to the town board schedule. The public should be allowed to attend meetings where the members of the board share their concerns, discuss strategy, and identify action items. The Supervisor should not expect a rubber stamp from any board member.
When the town announces a tax cut or increase, the announcement should include an explanation of what has changed to dictate the tax cut or increase.
Pittsford is a place of excellence – excellence in quality of life, innovation, education, and service. We cannot dwell on glory days of the past and fail to plan for our future excellence.
Local government exists to serve. We need to strive for excellence in our service to the residents of Pittsford. While knocking on doors throughout our town, I am hearing concerns about the condition of our residential roads and frustration with the town’s response to those concerns. When a resident calls town hall to ask about when their street will be paved or repaired, the town needs to be informative and approach the question with a customer-service focus.
Also, with new projects on our horizon, we must make sure that we do not spread our resources thin. We must plan ahead, pace ourselves, and make sure we have personnel available to do routine maintenance work.
We have an opportunity to reinforce and expand upon the work being done by our world-class school district while also increasing the number of residents who benefit from our gorgeous new Community Center. We should re-examine our current Pittsford Rec offerings and purposefully supplement them with programs that meet needs within the community. Our current offerings are great (my family enjoys them!), but we don’t dictate what classes are offered – we rely on instructors to approach the town with ideas. We can leverage this asset by recruiting qualified professionals to offer youth development programs for kids on the spectrum, kids with anxiety and depression, and any number of other areas of focus identified by our school leaders. Our town survey noted that 77% of town residents have never participated in the Pittsford Rec program. Weighing this low participation rate against our investment in the new Community Center, it makes sense to find ways to expand the number of residents who benefit from our excellent Pittsford Rec offerings while also reinforcing and building upon the work being done in our schools.
Pittsford is full of successful business leaders and entrepreneurs and we have bright, passionate young adults graduating from Pittsford schools and local colleges. There is no reason why Pittsford could not be a place where entrepreneurs are created and perhaps an incubator for new businesses. Let’s put together a signature entrepreneurship program or contest in Pittsford. We have available commercial space, higher education partners, a pool of successful business mentors, high speed fiber internet, a great location, and smart young people. Not only will our young people develop skills to succeed in the future technology-driven business world, we will encourage low-footprint businesses to locate here and, in time, contribute to our tax base.