Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Consolidation and growth machine politics

Previous efforts to consolidate municipal government and induce future growth in Cobleskill have faltered due in large part to a lack of cohesion among local elites. The push has largely been led by local developers and their proxies serving in local government. These pro-growth interests see consolidation as a means of streamlining planning and zoning functions and more easily extending infrastructure to desired growth areas.

However, these efforts have been pursued piecemeal and furtively for the most part because Cobleskill’s downtown business interests, most notably the Cobleskill Partnership, Inc., have strongly resisted efforts to dissolve the Village into the Town. Obviously, they understand that further development in the Town of Cobleskill or the Town of Richmondville will come at their expense.

What’s more, dissolution or consolidation means a relinquishing of power (i.e. the power of extending water and sewer to proposed developments, or the power of planning and zoning) at the most local levels of government. Understandably, citizens who currently hold that power are not likely to voluntarily give it up, perhaps even if it means reductions in government costs and thus lower tax rates.

Though a citizen’s committee established to explore dissolution of the Village dissolved only itself last January, the push for consolidation has recently picked up a head of steam in the form of Village Mayor Mark Nadeau. Not only has Nadeau been enthusiastically pushing a significantly broadened conception of local consolidation and partnership, he has also continued the piecemeal consolidation of individual town and village services, even proposing an ambitious plan to dissolve the village police department into the county sherriff’s department, a plan which was recently beat back by local opposition.

This gradualist approach to consolidating individual services is particularly troubling. Last year’s efforts to shove village dissolution down voters’ throats was met with substantial outcry from village residents who wanted no part of it. When asked outright if they support dissolution of the village, the answer is a resounding no. However, it is unclear if village residents understand that Nadeau and Galasso are simply going ahead and doing it anyway piece by piece.

But at this point you should at least be aware that Nadeau and Galasso are interested in a bit more than saving a few pennies for strapped local taxpayers. When Mike Sellers, Sandy MacKay and Carol McGuire were on the Board of Trustees, Cobleskill’s development interests were focused mainly on projects just outside the Village so that they could conceivably connect to Village water and sewer systems. But even that seemed to elude them. However, with Mark Nadeau, Mark Galasso and Howard Burt on the Board, the horizon has shifted dramatically.

Cobleskill’s pro-growth faction is now playing at a much more ambitious region-wide consolidation of government services – everything from police and fire protection to land use planning to (naturally) local infrastructure. This would not only open up huge swaths of land to development but it would grant a virtual monopoly over that growth and development in Cobleskill and Richmondville to a Nadeau-Galasso power axis already taking shape.

The plans currently being undertaken arguably represent a classic and essential strategy of growth coalitions: the manipulation of government activity designed to induce growth and direct that growth to locations that benefit members of the coalition. This would mean putting in new roads, selectively expanding local infrastructure and enacting favorable land use and zoning regulations.

When you begin to put the pieces together, just as Nadeau and Galasso apparently have, you begin to see a plan not for consolidation of municipal services but for consolidation of political power. You see a continuous corridor of apartment complexes and chain stores from Howe Caverns to West Richmondville Road, a “second Main Street” of strip malls developed along an expanded MacArthur Avenue that will divert traffic away from the first Main Street, and hillsides dotted with subdivisions full of unaffordable McMansions.

But is all this scheming really worth their while? Currently, it seems unlikely that significant additional commercial growth could be supported by the region’s population. Therefore, even with water and sewer hook-ups, the chain stores may never come. Additional market-rate housing doesn’t quite seem that feasible either. Look at the intersection of South Grand and Mineral Springs Road: Nadeau’s own condo project seems to have been stalled for years.

The real question then is, How much damage can they do in their desperate attempts to stimulate growth even if they don’t manage to pave over everything from Central Bridge to East Worcester? Unfortunately, quite a lot. For example, an extension of MacArthur Ave. might well open the door for an additional strip mall or two (which would probably not be a good thing). However, extending that side street to completely bypass Downtown could be disastrous. The diversion of vehicular traffic could be the coup de grace that turns Main Street into a boarded up skid row.

Another possibility is that opening up additional parcels to growth could simply result in the shuffling around of existing businesses, creating nothing but more vacant buildings and more headaches. We’re already seeing this with the new Rite Aid that is being built across the street from the CVS that is currently being built. Even worse, these schemes may entice businesses to leave Downtown Cobleskill for locations further afield, i.e. the Maranatha complex. The result could be a highly inefficient and unsustainable reshuffling of local businesses for the benefit of a handful of landowners and land developers.

There’s also the future costs of extending water and sewer lines to consider. These lines may not bring the promised sprawl, but they will still require regular maintaince. No matter, all the new roads and water lines will mean more money in the pockets of the old boy network of lawyers, engineers, and developers.

Perhaps the biggest problem with this strategy are the opportunity costs, particularly of not fixing up Downtown Cobleskill. As the plywood plague continues to spread, Main Street needs more money and ideas than ever. Yet Nadeau and Galasso would happily reduce Harmony Acres and half the block to rubble if it meant putting in a Walgreens.

This assumes that runaway sprawl development is not economically feasible. However, if land is readied for growth there should be no doubt that there will be new projects proposed. Will we be the next Clifton Park? No; and to suggest such is silly hyperbole.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't put the brakes on these schemes lest we watch Nadeau and Galasso throw away a ton of our money in a desperate bid to wreck what’s left of our local economy just to make a few bucks for themselves.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

YEA! Sean's mother let him use the computer again! (or did he just get out of jail??)
No matter...it is a good thing, nevertheless...

Anonymous said...

Nadeau and Murray are in a shit storm. Both will be resigning. Apparently their denial has been refuted by audio evidence. So say goodbye to baby huey!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I heard the audio footage and for the life of me i cant beleive our elected officals would talk that way..What are they thinking?????

Anonymous said...

Where is this audio tape? Is it on you tube ? Please post link.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking that Nadeau wants a visit from Reverend Al Sharpton. If the Village Board is smart they will ask Nadeau to resign and back away from him as far as possible. Mark, I think you need to get you meds checked. I feel so very sorry for your wife and daughter. It is time for you to be a man and step up and do the right thing. Have you not threatened the employees of the Village, the residents of the Village and created enough ciaos to satisfy your sick demented mind? All I can say is that you are a very sick person and you need help.

Anonymous said...

That fat fuck fissel needs to go. What a weasel to tape his co workers. It is illegal and Mark and Tom should fire him for it.

Anonymous said...

the writing style is different than the first sean. would the author at least change his name . the new author sounds like a professor. this person lacks the intensity of the first shean writings. that person was fervent in his or her beliefs. this new person writing lacks emotion.

Anonymous said...

My personal opinion is that all 4 need to go... Nadeau, Murray, Fissell and Eckler!!!!!! I mean imidately!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey "My personal opinion"


asshole ---they are all elected--- you cant get rid of them

Anonymous said...

look what i found http://cobleskill.aimoo.com/
its empty

Anonymous said...

Fissell just posted on TJ's fbook page, offering to send audio file to anyone who asks.

Anonymous said...

Fissell is sitting on a gold mine just think of all he has on tape of murray talking about the other board members or kerr or nadeau or his wife,or the tax payers.I sure he will use it should the time be right.Say good bye supervisor

Anonymous said...

Hey Fissell has to go.you cant go anywheres these days with out being taped just think about it,the ATM, stores,hiways,traffic lights leave fissell & eckler alone or they will release your tape next

Anonymous said...

both of the audio clips cut off pretty quickly. makes me wonder if Fissel said something in reply that he does not want us to hear. Not condoning what those other two said, just curious how the entire conversation played out.

Anonymous said...

hello "both of the audio clips":


I am told the original is 2-1/2 hours. Not something easily sent out on an e-mail. What is most ironic is that Fissell's only hope for the fire to be fueled comes from the likes of Carol McGuire, George Yoder, Sandy Mckay and all of the other uber-liberals in town. People who in the past were trying to oust him. Personally if Nadeau and Murray survive this they will be ineffective leaders for the balance of their term. However if they are smart they will speak to everyone as if they are carrying recorders.

DecentFolk said...

you think only uber liberals would be offended by that word?

Anonymous said...

Big pow wow tonight at the village office. About every offical in the county is or was there. Dont know what if any out come was thou...

Anonymous said...

These men are not rascist,Just men that are trying their to do their best for the tax payers and for a change are listing to them and taking action for them,I hope the taxpayers dont turn against the elective officials for doing what they believe is somthing that needs to be changed badly.This is clearly a fight between the three involved with one trying out do the other. If it wasnt these two some one else would be the victim or victims.Lets hope all can really see whats going on here not just whats on the surface.As for ones who want to step in for there politcal betterment shame on them for asking these men to step down and taking this as an oppertunity.They should realize this could be them in one way or another.Nobodys perfect just human.

Anonymous said...

If the Cobleskill Times Journal did its job (instead of being in the pocket of Lew Wilson) no one would need a tape recorder.

Anonymous said...

What you say is what you think. Don't sugarcoat what was said. These men were caught expressing their true feelings towards blacks . Both men quickly scurried out of town as soon as the media showed up. What does that tell you?

Anonymous said...

Yo, sugar coat what was said was said expressed not there as their beliefs but as an expression just like using a curse word or giving the middle finger. Everybody has that right even the african americans and they use themselves just like you are using now.Freedom of Speech dah P.S. If that were their true beliefs you would see them on the street corner just like the peace keepers or troop supporters. Also ask yourself the real question why would a whiteman use the race card against has own race when you truly dont know his real beliefs,I cant remmeber seeing him holding no signs. Maybe he is manipulating the employee for his own purpose and he is really the problem. WE really need to find out the real truth on this tale thank you.Not the T-Js spin or just people who wanted somthing different at the election and cant wait till the next election to express there feeling in private.I might add even the T-J used the words and stated there reasons why but Im sure that doesnt show that iswhat the newspaper belief is , after all the editor is a white person do you know if they have any black employees? Now let hurry to make assumptions Mr sugar coat

Anonymous said...

To that last Anonymous person: you are a real idiot man. None of what you said makes a damn bit of sense. Why not spend some time learning how to develop a complete thought and write a complete sentence. Until then, I suggest you leave the real thinking to people who can actually do it.

Anonymous said...

Hey folks you should revist seans commets section on the STUCK WITH THEM piece dated july 3 2009.what a crystal ball it seem a year ago the tapping monster warned people and the elected officials BEWARE!

Anonymous said...

Who is that Hotop dude with the Napoleonic complex and the urgency to be so righteous that he goes out of his way to demonstrate to others his progressive ways and pseudo intelectual prowess. My uderstanding is that when people wanted Fissel out, long before this incident, he was the one that kept him in. I guess that's why the road he lives on is always well maintained by the highway department and mine is not. Nice double standard. I guess the word Hypocrite comes to mind, but then ofcourse that's small town politics.

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