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Preservation Committee chairman cites Town Board lack of communication

Members of the Community Preservation Fund Advisory Committee are displeased with what they see as a lack of respect and insufficient communication from the Town Board.

At the same time, Town Attorney Stephen Kiely stated opposing information at the meeting and Councilwoman Meg Larsen responded after the meeting.

CPF Chairman Gordon Gooding told the Board at Tuesday evening’s monthly meeting the entire committee should have been informed in advance of plans to use up to $100,000 of CPF money to pay for a consultant to explore and potentially write a plan for transfer of development rights that could be used as a tool in developing affordable housing.

In advance of the evening meeting, Mr. Gooding had asked the Town Board at its work session to take the item naming the consultant from the agenda since the CPF Advisory Board had not been given any heads up about the appointment and that should have come before a resolution.

Nonetheless the resolution to appoint the firm of P.W. Grosser Consulting to produce a Generic Environmental Impact Statement  and create a proposal for a TDR program was passed unanimously at th evening meeting.

Mr. Gooding said after the meeting he learned of plans to hire a consultant in an executive session with Supervisor Gerry Siller and other committee and board chiefs. But he said there was no mention of the amount of money that could be involved.

CPF member Cathy Kenny, an attorney, told the Town Board her reading of the law is that before CPF money could be used , a TDR program needed to be established.

No money is to be used from CPF funds for exploration and creation of a TDR program, Mr. Gooding said.

“I also believe if the Town would have discussed their intention with the CPF committee prior to creating the resolution, a reasonable proposal could have been agreed to,” he said.

He further questioned whether a request for proposals for a consultant had been issued and whether the job had been put out to bid .

Town Attorney Stephen Kiely said the CPF Advisory Board’s only charge is to explore and recommend possible purchases of land for preservation to the Town Board.

He further reiterated he has tried to foster improved communications with the Advisory Board and the Town Board. At the same time, he said the Town is obligated to explore possible implementation of TDRs, maintaining it’s  acceptable to use CPF money for that purpose.

“What’s wrong with a phone call — a little respect?” Mr. Gooding asked. He said he never had a problem with a previous Town Board but this isn’t the first time he and his committee have been cut out of communication.

Councilwoman BJ Ianfolla, who is a liaison to the CPF Advisory Board apologized for any misinterpretation of her role in communications.

That brought Councilman Jim Colligan into the conversation, telling Mr. Gooding when a person apologizes, it’s appropriate to accept it.

Mr. Gooding said he shouldn’t have to hear about issues concerning the CPF Advisory Board at Town Board meetings or read about them in the newspaper, but members should know about issues in advance of any actions.

In an email to Mr. Gooding, copied to the Reporter after the meeting, she said the CPF chairman was told about the plan to pay for the study with CPF money and she said she told him the cost could be $100,000 at that closed session.

“This was clearly communicated to you, you agreed that the statute allowed for it and you did not voice objection,” Ms. Larsen said. She said it was hMr. Gooding’s decision not to share that information with his commmittee.

She said Mr. Gooding “orchestrated a scenario [that] painted the board as nefarious and intentionally miss communicative. It seems like you manipulated your committee,” she said.

Ms. Larsen said Mr. Gooding attempted to “undermine and discredit the Board in a fashion that I find unacceptable.”

With that, she said if necessary, the Town Board would “insist that two members from CPF attend every executive session where contract negotiations or land purchases are being discussed to ensure clear communication.”

between the Town Board and the CPF committee. You said last night that the CPF committee under previous administrations always “flowed”. That may be true, however it was also not meeting the legal requirements set forth by its enabling legislation.

The councilwoman said procedures have change in line with purchases of CPF properties because in the past, there had been a failure to include public hearings as part of the process.

“Our attempt to correct years of flawed purchases due to a lack of public hearing Is our responsibility to the Town and you should feel that obligation as well,” she said.