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Previous Letters to Editor Page

Letters To The Editor must include a name and contact (phone/email) and may be Emailed to
Editor or addressed to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

Neighbors Foundation Recap - December 2014

    - Here it is hours before Christmas and I have not provided any wrap-up of the success of the Neighbors Foundation activities in this Holiday Season! We have continued to be busy in several activities. Here is my plan for a proper and complete wrap-up: First - The Holiday Distribution on Dec. 18 from the K of C Hall, was very successful. A total of 53 families were helped, using an outstanding collection of food supplied by Grand Island school children and staff, and so ably sorted by DECA students from the High School. Thanks to a very successful fund raising (still ongoing) in our Share Your Happiness campaign, we were able to purchase turkeys for all families at a good discount from G I Tops, provide Tops Gift Cards to allow each family to supplement the supplied food with extras and perishable foods. A generous donation from Say Cheese Pizza Company allowed each family to get a free pizza certificate, other gift card and financial contributions allowed us to give each youth a Target gift card, each teen toiletries and Tim Hortons plus Walgreens cards, and each young child more traditional gifts.
    The financial contributions to our Share Your Happiness are still coming in, promising the best collection we have ever received. Unique donations, such as the well-attended Pancake Breakfast fund raiser at River Oaks Clubhouse (Ellden's), plus several major donations, have made this an extremely successful drive, especially given that so many charitable organizations are having a difficult time. In early January we will prepare a final list of contributors of funds, food, gift cards and toys, and have those lists published in Isledegrande and the WNY Papers web site.
    We cannot thank the people and organizations of Grand Island enough. Yes, the small group of volunteers in the Neighbors Foundation work hard to help make the holidays brighter for some of the less fortunate of Grand Island, but it is the good people of the entire Grand Island community that make this all possible. We do not do it ourselves, you the Grand Island community make it possible.
Henry G. Kammerer
Neighbors Foundation of Grand Island, Inc.

Lighthouse Point Development Proposal - December 2014

    I am writing in regard to the current Lighthouse Pointe development that is currently being proposed to the Town Board and Planning Board of Grand Island. The Lighthouse Pointe development will be located on Whitehaven Road and East River Road. I am a lifelong resident of Grand Island and the proposed development will be located directly behind my property on Timberlink Drive. I chose to build my home in a beautiful, peaceful area with surrounding developments that coincide perfectly. The surrounding area is esthetically pleasing with woods, trees, green space, the river, and River Oaks Golf course. The area consists of single family homes and townhouses that are individually owned by the current occupants. I built my home with the knowledge that the land behind my home could be developed under the current R2 zoning. I am not objecting to the land being developed. I am objecting the proposal put forth to the Town Board by developer, Anthony Cutaia. Many Grand Island residents have continuously opposed several proposals by the developer and are opposed to the rezoning of this land in order to build apartment complexes as well as the recent plan to build 246 townhouse-like-apartments. I would expect the Town Board and Planning Board to only approve a proposed project that meets the requirements of R2 zoning. I do not feel that the current project being proposed meets the R2 zoning requirements as it is intended.
    The Grand Island R2 zoning states that it allows for "the development of single family attached and detached residential dwellings including townhouses, duplexes, and patio home configurations." It also states that the units are to be owned and overseen by a Homeowner's Association. The developer has stated that they are not in the business of building and selling single family homes. The developer changed the name of the proposed units from apartments to townhouse-like-apartments to townhouses to meet the description of the Grand Island R2 zoning. Regardless of what the developer labels the units, the units are not being built and sold to individual homeowners. There will not be a proper Homeowner.s Association overseeing the development due to the fact that the proposed units will not be individually owned; therefore, making it difficult to have a Homeowner's Association.
    According to US.LEGAL.com and Townhouse Law the legal definition is that a townhouse is defined as an attached, privately owned single family dwelling unit which is part of an adjacent to other similarly owned single family dwellings units that are connected to but separated from one another by a common party wall having no doors/windows, or other provisions for human passage or visibility. Also, the general accepted definition of a townhouse is 100% ownership of a piece of land and 100% ownership of the unit built upon the property plus a share of the common area.
    The Grand Island Zoning states that a townhouse on Grand Island is "a building or dwelling designed for or occupied by no more than one family and attached to other similar buildings or dwellings by party walls extending from the foundation to the roof thereof and providing direct access from the outside. A "townhouse" is individually owned, with the owner receiving a deed enabling him/her to sell, mortgage, or exchange his/her dwelling unit independent of the owners of any other dwelling unit attached thereto by party wall." I believe the code was written to mean that not one individual would own all of the units and in turn rent them out. I also believe that the code was written to mean that the units would be 'individually owned' by many occupants. This is the reason for Grand Island having R3 zones for commercial real estate, such as this proposal. The developer has stated that he wil
   l own all of the units and will serve as the Homeowner’s Association overseeing the development. This does not meet the requirements of the current code. In essence, commercial real estate is being developed. The units will not be individually owned by the occupant, the units will not have a proper Homeowner’s Association (since one individual will own all of the units), and school taxes will not be paid by the occupants of the units.
    The project also does not meet the requirements of the Grand Island Master Plan. The Grand Island Master Plan states that the center of the Island is to have heavier density and commercial property, and that the farther you move away from the center of the Island the lower the density with single family homes and less commercial property. The area being proposed is far from the center of the Island. The homeowners of the surrounding area of the proposed project bought their homes a great distance from the center of the Island for a reason. As a Grand Island resident I would be opposed to this project regardless of whether or not it was affecting my neighborhood. The residents are asking the Town Board and Planning Board to adhere to the current R2 zoning requirements and to the Grand Island Master Plan. We request the support of the community members of Grand Island who have a large voice of opposition. We are asking for all Island residents who are opposed to the proposed project to please contact the Town Board and Planning Board to let your voices be heard.
    The Master Plan and Town Zoning Code were created to provide what is best for the Town of Grand Island and the community, as well as protecting the community. We are asking the Town Board and Planning Board to do both. Do what is best for the community and protect the community by doing what is right.
Dean Santorio
Concerned Resident

Lighthouse Point Rentals - November 2014

   Attention Grand Island Residents:
   Please be advised that the Commercial Rental Development proposed by Lighthouse Pointe (LHP) for 246 rentals has been set for Public Hearing and is on the agenda for Monday, December 1, 2014 at 8pm at Town Hall. This is our community’s opportunity to voice to our town elected officials our objections to this development. Please take time to attend. Please check out our Stop GI Zoning Change website for additional information and to view a copy of LHP site plans.
Hank Cushing
Member of StopGIZoningChange Group

Share Your Happiness Campaign - November 2014

Dear Friends and generous supporters of the Neighbors Foundation,
    It is that time of the year when we look to our friends and generous supporters of the Neighbors Foundation in our planning for the Annual Holiday Distribution to the less fortunate family members on Grand Island. For the past 40 years, we have provided food gift baskets and gift card donations to families in temporary need, all made possible from donations from individuals, groups and organizations. Could you ‘Share Your Happiness’ by making a donation to the Foundation at P. O. Box 155 (or thru Paypall at www.gineighbors.org)? Financial contributions will help ‘fill out’ the food contributions that the G I schools are collecting for us. The Neighbors Foundation will distribute gift cards to our families with 7 – 13 year olds, so those parents may use gift cards to purchase gifts for their children. As such, we would appreciate and graciously accept (for our Holiday Distribution) gift cards for the following stores:
1. Target
2. Tops
3. Walgreens
4. Rite Aid
   With the switch to gift cards for many children, we will need only a modest amount of toys and gifts to distribute to the very young. We hope generous supporters will consider donating gift cards, or providing financial donations that can be used to provide the cards we will distribute to our families in need. We have found it quite successful to provide toiletries gifts for teens – yes, we know they wash their hair every day! That portion of our Holiday Distribution remains unchanged, so gifts of toiletries will be useful to fill boxes for those teens.
   Thank you for your consideration of participating in our fund raising and gift card campaign. Last year we provided gifts for over 60 families with close to 150 children. Your donation to us helps to make a difference in the lives of these families and their children during this holiday season.
Henry Kammerer
President, Neighbors Foundation

The UNICEF Part of my Life - October 2014

   For the first October in sixty years I am not “The UNICEF Lady” for Grand Island. This began for me nearly a lifetime ago when my oldest child went to the Grand Island Cooperative Nursery School, and we learned about “Trick-or-Treat-for-UNICEF”. Children helping children and sharing the fun of Halloween was so wholesome and promising! My involvement and passion grew, and when I was president of the PTA I gained permission to distribute educational teaching materials and the little orange boxes to all interested students there. UNICEF cartons were also available at Grand Island churches and banks.
   The other Grand Island schools willingly participated. There was a chairperson for UNICEF in each school, who handled publicity and distribution. From opening boxes at the kitchen table and rolling sorted coins as a little neighborhood group, the collection grew to using volunteer Girl and Boy Scouts. A local bank accepted bags of sorted coins for its counting machine, and issued a check to UNICEF. Another bank allowed me to put up a yearly exhibit about UNICEF’s important work in its large window. Pizza places, beauty shops and pharmacies had UNICEF collection boxes near their cash registers. Our town supervisor proclaimed October 31st Grand Island UNICEF Day. Showing its leaders' passion for 35 years Boy Scout Troop 254, now 510, planned its calendar to include "Opening and sorting UNICEF coins".
   As an art teacher in the Grand Island Schools, I organized a puppet show using hand made puppets for an assembly program, to tell about the need for clean water and schools in other parts of the world, and the role of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. Teaching in the Grand Island High School, my Art Club was allowed to sell UNICEF greeting cards during lunchtime. I sold these also directly from my home for decades. The local weekly newspaper always includes a photo of costumed youngsters carrying UNICEF boxes, focusing on a different school each October. Teachers organized "dress down day" and raised generous amounts for UNICEF. One year the high school student council donated all its profits from a flower sale to UNICEF. A retired school nurse had a yard sale solely for UNICEF.
   Our self-made goal for our annual Halloween collection has been $2,000, and most recent years we have reached it. Last October was a stormy night and our total fell far below it. When a former student heard that, and that it would be my last year as UNICEF Chair, he encouraged many other former students to send additional checks. These professional adults, graduates of the Grand Island High School years ago who fondly remembered carrying the little boxes here, were motivated to help. Many checks arrived. We surpassed our goal!
   Now that I am past ninety I have found a dedicated successor. I will miss hand delivering UNICEF boxes to the Grand Island Cooperative Nursery School, which continues to participate. Our community has never stopped supporting this annual activity when our youngsters directly help other kids whose needs are enormous. You can become a UNICEF volunteer! At its website, UNICEF.com abundant information is available for getting started!
Lee Tetkowski

CROP Walk "Thank you!" - October 2014

    The annual CROP Walk for hunger was held September 28, 2014 in Beaver Island State Park. CROP (Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty) is a fund-raising arm of Church World Service, an interdenominational relief organization supported by over 40 denominations.
   The businesses who contributed money or in-kind services or coupons include the following:
American Family Dental Group, deSignet, Dick & Jenny’s, Island Pets and Feed, IsledeGrande.com, John’s Pizza & Subs, Kaiser Funeral Home, Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, Niagara Frontier Publications, Popular Graphics, Say Cheese! Pizza, SNAP Fitness, Susies, Tops Friendly Markets and Wynne & Wynne CPA .
   In addition, the CROP Walk team wishes to thank our Grand Island Town Board for their CROP Walk proclamation presented on September 15th and read by Town Supervisor Mary Cooke, immediately before the Walk began. Others who deserve special thanks include the Dispatch editor Larry Austin, writer of the comprehensive post-walk article Alice Gerard, IsleDeGrande, and Shannon Zaccaria, who designed and produced the banner(www.getpopulargraphics.com).
    The total raised won’t be known exactly for a few weeks, as donations from walkers continue to be collected. However, between the money raised by the 40 walkers, the July car wash, Dick and Jenny’s event, and money donated at the tent set up at the Taste of Grand Island, we anticipate raising close to $5000. A quarter of that amount is returned to Grand Island and divided between the Neighbors Foundation and Trinity United Methodist Church's food fund.
   It has been a special privilege to coordinate the CROP Walk all these years, and I know that the new coordinator, the Rev. Cathy Reiley-Goddard, co-pastor of the Riverside Salem UCC church on West River Road, will carry on with new energy and creativity. If you’d like to join the planning team email her at: cathriego@gmail.com.
    We look forward to another great walk in 2015, as we bring hope and food and clean water to millions around our world and right here at home. Stay tuned for the date.
Crop Walk Video
Paul E. Robinson, Out-going CROP Walk Coordinator

Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's - September 2014

   Like most of us, I know too many people whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer's disease, the nations sixth-leading cause of death. That's why I'm joining with my husband Rick (who has the disease), the Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's on September 27, 2014. I've committed to raising awareness and funds to support Alzheimer's care, support and research, and I need your help. Together, we can become an unstoppable force against this devastating disease.
    You can help in two ways:
1. Join me in the fight against Alzheimer's by walking with us. Our team is called Dementia Busters. The walk takes place at Artpark in Lewiston. contact the Alzheimer's office at 1-800-272-3900 to sign up or sign up at alz.org/WNY
2. Help us reach our goal by making a donation to the Alzheimer's Assocation of WNY, write Rick or Peg Whitmire on the memo line of your check and mail to:Alzheimer's Asso. of WNY, 2805 Wehrle Dr.,Suite 6,Williamsville NY14221. You can also donate online at http;//act.alz.org/site/tr/walk2014/WesternNewYork, under the team Dementia Busters, Rick or Peg Whitmire.
    We would be so greatful if you would join or sponsor us. Your support of Walk to End Alzheimers will help the Alzheimer's Association to enhance Alzheimers care and support and advance critical research for all those affected by this devastating disease. We are walking to make a difference for our children and the future. We all have a reason to end Alzheimer's.
Peg Whitmire

GISD Naming Committee Press Release - August 2014

We are looking for Community Input

   The Naming Committee for the Grand Island School District has made two basic recommendations, “Grand Viking Theatre” for the name of the High School/Middle School Auditorium and “H. David Myers” for the Sports Complex. Our thoughts as a committee in summary concluded that there is definitely a need to honor other individuals who have played a significant role in our school district's development over the last 50 plus years. Our recommendation is that we create a “Wall of Honor” in the Viking Mall. We would like consideration given to the north east corner of the mall, directly opposite the doors in the Grand Viking Theatre.
   There were several names of educators from the past that were discussed and who have played exemplary roles in our Viking tradition. The Wall of Honor would include a video screen, framed into the wall, and surrounded by plaques for each individual being honored. The video stream would live on the Grand Island School District website. It is our hope that in addition to honoring individuals with a plaque, the video would enhance the stories of their contributions. We as a committee would like to collect names and recommendations from Grand Island residents.
See Naming Form, any questions email: rms@giecom.net.
We are looking for your input, Thank You,
Reg Schopp, Committee Chair
Email: Wall of Honor Nominations

Lions Club Thank You - July 2014

    On July 16th the Grand Island Lions Club held their 56th annual “Special Kids Picnic” at the Buffalo Launch Club. Over 800 kids with special needs and their chaperones enjoyed a variety of entertainment including boat rides, pony rides, Shiners Truck Rides and face painting. Sabretooth and the Lions mascot, with Pringles the Clown, milled through the crowd and engaged the children. Lunch included hot dogs, hamburgers, soda and popcorn. Lion Annette Boies-Lobl, picnic chairman, gave credit to the 110 volunteers who helped our club carry this out. Volunteers included Lions from other clubs in the district including Gasport, and our sister Club of Merritton Ontario, as well as members of the Rotary Club, the Knights of Columbus, the High School Football Team and Kenmore Boy Scout Troop 104. Special thanks goes to the Buffalo Launch Club for donating their facilities, to the boat captains who donated their boats and time including the Excalibur, to Byblos Resort and Spa for hosting our Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser; and to Tops Markets, Tim Horton’s and Dunkin Donuts for their donations.
Grand Island Lions Club

Hats off to Grand Island, NY - July 2014

    To the folks of Grand Island and the many folks that have touched the lives of my wife and I on our recent vacation during the fourth of July week, I want to thank you all for one of the most relaxing vacations ever. We cruised the river on Rainbow's End, docking at the Buffalo Launch Club and enjoyed an outdoor event featuring Sahlens hot dogs. Yummo !! Having breakfast at McMahon's Family Restaurant to start the day was a "hoot". I thought I was back in Maine where we are from. We ate lunch and dinner at Adrian's Custard and Beef. Wow!! What a roast beef sandwich with horseradish and au jus !! And let me not forget the coolest Pizza and Wings joint called "Say Cheese" featuring all my comic book friends, Buffalo pizza and wings with Rooties blue cheese dressing and dip. It was a long drive from Palm Coast, Florida to have real buffalo wings but worth the drive up routes 77, 79, I90, 190, 324 and Baseline Drive, staying with our dear friends Mike and Cathy Mehltretter. OMG !! Let me not forget VFW Post 9249. What a grand time on the 4th with folks lined up for the parade days in advance and hanging out afterwards at the VFW. Everyone from the Island and beyond must have partied there. Thank you all very much !!
Dan and Lynn L'Heureux

We Love Recycling Totes - July 2014

    After reading all the negative comments in regards to the recycling totes, I figured I would just drop a quick line with my thoughts.
   My family and I love the new totes. We are recycling more now than ever. I would bet that the community will see an increase of more then 4 times of the recycling as a whole. In addition, we are no longer concerned about our recyclables or our neighbors blowing down the street and causing eye sores.
   I will agree the totes are big however, with the large wheels, even my 9 year old daughter can roll it down to the curb for pickup. Today, 7/2/14, the City of Tonawanda delivered similar size totes to the residents and businesses for recycling purposes. Their program will start on July 14th but I am sure will not cause a fuss as Tonawanda already uses similar totes for garbage collection.
   In my humble opinion, kudos on the new recycling totes and I cannot wait for similar ones to be used for garbage disposal on Grand Island.
Happy 4th of July!
Patrick Fox

Parents of GIHS Students & Alumni - June 2014

To the parents of Grand Island High School students past and present,
   As many of you know I am retiring from my position at the GI High School attendance office on July 8th after seventeen and half years. I would like to thank each and every parent for allowing me the pleasure of sharing your bright, beautiful and friendly children. It has been a refreshing experience to watch them mature both in manners and politeness as they approach the brink of adulthood.
    I will miss all the stories, joys and yes, even the excuses for being late that your children have provided. It has always been the highlight of my job to see them change year after year and to grow and mature during their four years of high school.
    I feel blessed that I was able to have the privilege to help, encourage and comfort your children. I will truly miss them next September and especially not being able to see all the bright smiles that filled my office every day.
Mrs. (Bobbie) Cushing
Grand Island High School Attendance

Questions to the Town Regarding Recycling - June 2014

   There are many people on Grand Island that would like to know who researched the size needed for all our homes? The cans for recycling come in approximates sizes of 35, 65 and 95 gallons. In another state we all had small size given with the understanding you could come up in size free for 30 days. Some people in the neighborhood chose 65 and even 95, but we all had the option! Starting at the large size the cans are more expensive and it will be more challenging to let us have a smaller size. More research should have been done!! Recycling is an important product in our society and we are going to lose unless everyone will play.
Jack & Beverly Mikulski

Team Luke Thanks Supporters - May 2014


Team Luke Participated in the Buffalo Marathon on May 25th in honor of Luke.
From left: Bill Gworek, Kim Kalman, Jim Dolan, Amy Garten and Luke.

   Team Luke would like to take this opportunity to thank the numerous businesses, family, friends and the community of Grand Island for the outpouring of support to make our recent benefit a huge success. We are forever grateful for all of you, and the help and support you have given to us. It has been a very humbling experience for all of us. We will be "paying it forward" from this day on.
Danielle Gworek

Thank You Food Drive Participants - May 2014

    To the generous people of Grand Island, the hardworking Postal Workers, and some specially hard working Boy Scouts:
This week's Letter Carriers Food Drive produced a record amount (almost 14,000 lbs.) of food collected from Grand Island's wonderful residents. The Neighbors Foundation of Grand Island compliments the Letter Carriers for their hard work and thanks approx. 2000 households that put food out to 'Stamp Out Hunger'. We offer a special thanks to the Boy Scouts of Troop 510, and their Asst. Leader Mr. Mondoux for having Scouts pick up so much food from the streets to relieve the Letter Carriers and then sort it at our pantry. The Neighbors Foundation has seen increased calls for help in recent months, our pantry was getting low, but this tremendous outpouring by Grand Islanders has fully restocked our shelves. The huge collection also allowed us to share your bounty with the pantry of the Network of Religious Communities in Buffalo, plus Friends of the Night People in Buffalo and with St. George’s Orthodox Church in Niagara Falls. We hope you recognize the Neighbors Foundation has been here on Grand Island for over 35 years helping your neighbors (perhaps at the other end of the Island, or even down the street) when they are in temporary need. Your generosity allows the Foundation to help our neighbors, and make Grand Island an even more grand place to live. Thank you again.
Henry Kammerer, President
Neighbors Foundation of Grand Island

To all my Grand Island Friends and Neighbors - May 2014

   I am raising money for my grandson's "Adam's Apple Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis" and need your help. I am raffling off one of 13 of my favorite photos from the past year. For every $10 donation, I will enter a ticket in your name for the raffle which will be held at the CF Walk on May 18th. Donate $20, 2 tickets...$30, 3 tickets...etc. The winner will have their choice of any of the photos featured in this YouTube video. Donations can be made here.
Thank you,
Bob Kopf

To our Grand Island Neighbors - April 2014

   The Neighbors Foundation welcomes the efforts by Grand Island’s Post Office Letter Carriers to collect non-perishable food on Saturday, May 10. We hope many Grand Islanders will put a few cans or boxes of food by their mail box that morning; the Letter Carriers will bring them to our Food Pantry at St. Stephen’s Old Church, giving us a ready supply to help your Island neighbors who may have temporary economic difficulty. Please do not put out-of-date food out! If it’s still good enough to eat, why not eat it yourself, otherwise trash it and vow to remember to rotate and use food in your pantry before it is out-of-date! Thanks to your steady generosity, the Neighbors Foundation is also able to share some of your food with Inner City Buffalo Food Pantries – your generosity is widespread!
Henry Kammerer, President
Neighbors Foundation of Grand Island

Thank You For Your Help - April 2014

    We would like to express our thanks to everyone who has spent so much time helping us look for our little Smitty. We cannot believe the outpouring of support of so many people. It's truly amazing to see all the people willing to help. The power of social media is impressive. Between the posting on Isledegrande, Facebook, Twitter, and the Dispatch, along with all the knocking on doors and hanging of posters, the word was spread so quickly. Unfortunately, this story does not have a happy ending. We have not found Smitty yet. It is our hope that he does come home. We miss him so much!
Again, to everyone, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Kevin and Maura Rustowicz and Family

Response to Deny Special Use Permit - April 2014

    To Ms. Rogers-Schiavone,
I find the concern for your objection to a B&B permit for the Fix Rd. property based on its proximity to the corner of Baseline and Fix Rd to be unfounded. First, the posted speed limit on Fix Rd is 35 MPH, not 45 MPH as you have stated. Secondly, many sources of statistics place the majority of car accidents close (within 25 miles or less!) of home. This is attributed to the fact that people tend to do most of their driving close to home as well as to the relaxed nature humans are prone to when traveling in familiar surroundings. That stands to reason that residents living in the area are most likely to be involved in accidents at that particular intersection, not guests who would be on higher alert when driving in a new area.
    Lastly, the proper way to deal with problematic intersections is not to bar visitors and deny permits to people for which they are properly zoned, but to use traffic controls such as pavement markings, enhanced signage, traffic lights and whatever else would be deemed appropriate to solve the safety issues of a particular intersection.
Tina Wynne

To a hearing about the need for-More Rules and Regulations - March 2014

    As a West River Homeowner whose property adjoins one of the properties concerned—I wish to state that my family enjoys meeting guests who visit that, "Home away from Home". We like having it as our neighbor. It has been said, that all West River residents object to the arrival of these visitors. It is my observation that this is a tempest, stirred up by one agitator, and a few people with limited tolerance of the unfamiliar. The work "Tourist" has such negative connotations. Do we mean Visitor, Guest, Sightseer or World Traveler? Or, are we talking about Foreigners, Outsiders, Aliens, Strangers? It seems to me that many of the objections to these short term rentals is based upon fear of strangers. One person actually stood up in a meeting and said; "I don’t know who –THOSE PEOPLE ARE" – who come here. It borders upon paranoia or is it really prejudice because some of these visitors speak a different language or are not white? This is the cohort that the Chamber of Commerce is trying to reach with its advertising. Now, when they have been visiting the Island, you are considering sending them to neighboring towns. Is that rational? This Board is supposed to be promoting businesses to locate on the Island – Not trying to chase people away.
   The "Home Away from Home" program for Visitors is an ideal way to introduce people to the island. These guests spend money at local businesses during their stay without putting any burden on the taxpayer for services such as schools. On the contrary, if these properties with four, five, or more bedrooms were occupied by families with 10 or 12 children, the cost to the school system could be over $200,000 a year, to say nothing about the noise and upset that they would impose on the neighbors. A more fiscally prudent way forward for this board, would be to collect an occupancy tax on these "Home Away from Home" operations, not to start an expensive court battle. One group has already announced that they are pursuing legal representation. Another has approached a national Personal Liberty Group that litigates on questions of property use freedom. In my estimation the Town ought to be promoting the arrival of these guests, not enacting more Rules and Regulations, which are designed to frustrate, our resident entrepreneur taxpayers, their freedom to innovate. Thank You.
Joe Steffan
3511 West River Rd.

Response to Mr. Yoder - March 2014

   My response did make a point and did address your outrageous concerns. The problem appears to be that you are adamantly against short-term rental homes in general, and the idea of us turning our home into a B&B, specifically. For anyone who knows me "the concerns of others are never disregarded or mocked".
    There has been very little dialogue on the matter of our potential B&B because the town did not provide us with a complete application package and continues to modify the process as we attempt to open a bed and breakfast. The process seems to be a lengthy one, and rightfully so, to be done well, and we are happily moving forward. What my neighbors do not appreciate is you soliciting them, and handing them five-page fliers filled with misleading and inflammatory remarks concerning us, which is, in fact, a complete defamation of my character, and that of my family, all under the cover of night.
    You spend your time hand-delivering fliers outrageously stating that the Shipmans "….endanger people on our property, put firemen at risk when putting out fires…. are willing to take money out of others' pockets through degrading home values, and waste taxpayer money through hearings. You generously encourage them to simply "do nothing" if they want our home to become a boarding house, a flea market, a farm market, or "God knows what other enterprises". You have even gone as far as implying that we set our garage on fire in hopes of collecting insurance claims. How does that make a good neighbor?
   Yes, we were in fact running a short-term rental home. We are not now. The board is attempting to re-word some of the current law to better reflect and regulate the seventeen tourist homes on island to date. We have complied with this ruling since November 2013. For the last time, we never denied our actions. You should not assume by my response that every guest at my short-term rental has had a background check performed. Nor did I know all of these people personally. My guests aren't vetted before being allowed to visit. Do you provide background checks on yourself and your family when you travel? Do hotels, campgrounds, guest homes, and bed and breakfasts run background checks on every guest? Absolutely not.
   Implications creep back into your writing when you question "will they (guests) not be staying in your home as you have stated but rather in another building yet to be built, again misleading all concerned?" I can only suppose that we mean to house additional guests in our still-to be-built garage. That would not be comfortable, nor neighborly. For the reader, we are not setting precedence for short–term rental homes or bed and breakfasts. There is currently a Bed and Breakfast operating on the island and short-term rentals have peacefully co-existed on our island in neighborhoods since 1995. You end your letter by stating "we welcome dialog on this matter and would love to find a constructive solution to this conflict." You have – in your single-focused goal to stop bed and breakfasts on island - denigrated my name, and that of my family, and falsely and repeatedly misrepresented our intensions. Maybe next time instead of handing out fliers, extend a hand in friendship. Though I am certain this back and forth has been amusing reading during this long month of March this is the last letter I will send. I am choosing to spend time with my family and my friends in meaningful pursuits. The Shipman family will let the town government decide this very small part of our future.
Robin Shipman
2020 Fix Road

Stop Rezoning on Grand Island - March 2014

    Many residents on Grand Island may or may not be aware of the attempt to rezone the southeast section of land on Whitehaven and East River Road from R2 to R3 (400+ apartments) but let us look at the whole picture. As I went from house to house with my petition against rezoning I literally got the "Whole Picture". Of the 100+ signatures I alone collected and in conversation with the petition signers I found out a wealth of information.
   For years home owners on the island were told that there is green space in back of their development or that nothing will be build behind them. They also researched what the area was zoned before they bought their property and built the house of their dreams. Some being skeptical of what they were told looked into purchasing more property behind them and were all turned down only to find out in a year or two that another development was being built or scheduled to be built in their "green space". Surprise, is there no green space anywhere? Are residents being tricked into believing that “green space and zoning” are not necessarily true? It seems that any developer, builder, land owner can petition the Planning board/Town board to change any parcel into whatever they want. If you have any vacant land near you that is zoned R2 be aware that it can be flip flopped to suit a developer with no consideration to the residents that have spent their life saving to become proud homeowners on Grand Island. I have lived on Grand Island since 1973 and have moved 3 times (all on the island) and as many islanders, I love and cherish the life I live and have always supported the community and currently work at Grand Island High School. Our elected officials have a duty to uphold the integrity of the Town Comprehensive Master Plan and not turn a deaf ear to desires of the people that voted them in office.
    The island is unique and small - we have boundaries which make every decision important to all that live here. For more information about this proposed change to our current zoning please visit our website at www.stopgizoningchange.com and sign our petition. It is imperative that our local citizens be heard when the town board is considering any project of this enormous magnitude. Join your fellow citizens at the Town Board Meeting on Monday April 21st and stand up and be heard.
Bobbie (Barbara) Cushing

Constitutional guarantee to due process…… - March 2014

   One snowy March evening, a lone soldier standing guard was harassed by a murder of local drunks. The soldier was nobody special; a cold enlisted man on duty. The group swelled into a threatening mob. Their threats of violence escalated and the sentry was reinforced by more enlisted men from his company. Fearing for their lives, the soldiers fired on the civilians, some were killed and several wounded. The soldiers were emblematic of governmental heavy-handedness and accordingly, roundly hated by civilians. History records this event as The Boston Massacre of 1770. The soldiers and some of the civilians were charged with manslaughter and murder - the soldiers were defended in Massachusetts court by a young attorney, John Adams. Adams had no love for the British occupation and eventually became one of the signers of The Declaration of Independence and the second president of the United States. What mattered to Adams was that in a society governed by the rule of law, all men are entitled to legal representation, even despised symbols of British power.
   An article in Wednesday’s edition of The Buffalo News, with obvious and inaccurate innuendo stated that "…the voters blasted…" State Senator Mark Grisanti for representing one, Steven Martinez, who is attempting to be released from jail where he is being held on felony drug charges. (Senator Grisanti is a criminal defense attorney in addition to being our State Senator.) You may rest assured that Senator Grisanti holds no personal sympathy for the defendant; however, you may also rest assured that he is in deadly earnest about the man’s legal right to due process. The article was a clumsy attempt to defame Senator Grisanti by his opponents as his campaign for re-election draws near. Western New York's Democrats seethe with consternation over this fine Republican Senator in their midst, regularly re-elected by his constituents, in spite of the strangle hold the Democrats maintain on the local political process. The reason he is re-elected is that like John Adams, he is guided by principal rather than political expediency. Senator Grisanti is doing an exemplary job for the property owners and taxpayers of the sixtieth district he represents, and no amount of biased reporting further tarnished by transparent innuendo by the Buffalo News' editorial staff can diminish that fact.
Kevin J. Rung

Response to Ms. Shipman - March 2014

   While your response attempts to make a point, it does not address any of the concerns mentioned. That seems to be part of the problem with this issue as a whole. The concerns of others are simply disregarded and mocked without any concern or attempt to address. There is no dialog on the matter because you and your husband have taken the position that you’ll do whatever you choose whenever you choose regardless of anyone else. That seems to run contrary to any claims of being good neighbors.
   Just one simple question first. If there were no issues with the Bed and Breakfast why do it covertly? Why deny your actions to the town zoning board? Why manipulate the town building permit process? Why only attempt to get a license and do it legally when forced to by the town? If it walks like a chicken and clucks like a chicken it is probably a chicken, even one without permits to be there.
   I can assume by your response that every guest at your establishment has had background checks performed? You knew all of these people personally? Perhaps share with us how your guests are vetted before being allowed to live among our families and children. While you now propose to allow them to sleep in a home with your children. Or will they not be staying in your home as you have stated but rather in another building yet to be built, again misleading all concerned? We all know that everyone on the internet with a credit card can be trusted right?
   Ms. Shipman, I address intention in my initial letter and will conclude with the idea that intention and outcome are not always correlated. Precedence is a powerful consideration when dealing with matters of law and allowing these transient homes as precedence does in fact open opportunities for anyone to utilize Grand Island housing for more insidious purposes. In closing, we welcome dialog on this matter and would love to find a constructive solution to this conflict.
Christopher Yoder
2023 Fix Road

Rebuttal to Transient Housing Concerns - March 2014

Short term drug treatment center.
Halfway house.
Transitional housing for newly released inmates.
Registered sex offenders.
Violent criminals with direct access to our children.
Potentially dangerous guests.
Released felons.
A certain unpleasant place.
Financial harm.
Declining housing values.
Deeply disturbing.
Historic, idyllic, Civil War era Bed and Breakfast.

Just one simple question, which phrase doesn’t seem to belong?
Robin J. Shipman
2020 Fix Road

Say "No" To Rezoning Lighthouse Pointe - March 2014

   As you may be aware, a committee made up of concerned neighbors has been formed to stop the rezoning of a parcel of land on Whitehaven Road near East River Road - across the street from the old Holiday Inn (now called Byblos Niagara). This recently cleared area of Whitehaven Road and East River is surrounded by beautiful homes and townhouses such as Fairway Greens, Spicer Creek, East Riverside Woods, The Landings and Oakmont Colony - not to mention the very nice homes on East River itself. The proposed development (at last count) would build approximately 414 units. The developer is requesting Grand Island Town Hall rezone this parcel from R2 status (meaning individual home-owner residential) to R3 status which would allow them to build hundreds of rental apartments.
   We are adamant that rental apartments should not be built on this property. There are already two other R3 zoned areas on Grand Island that are vacant - we see no sense in granting permission to rezone this quiet area of Whitehaven Road to permit some 414 rental apartments. We have a website online where your readers can get more up to date information and sign a petition to join the current 800 petitioners who all agree rezoning this land is a bad idea for our neighborhood and a bad idea for Grand Island.
Please see our website: www.stopgizoningchange.com
Regards, Kevin R. Brennan

Transient Housing Concerns - March 2014

   I am sending this as a concerned resident and taxpayer of Grand Island, New York. More importantly I am composing this as a concerned father and responsible citizen. I have spent many hours attending meetings, speaking with involved individuals, reaching out to third party resources and what I have heard is deeply disturbing to me personally but also to the future of Grand Island as a viable place for many to continue raising their families in safety and pursuit of happiness.
   The issue of transient housing was brought to my attention last fall, when an immediate neighbor initially began an attempt to turn part of his property into such an enterprise. More correctly said, an immediate neighbor attempted to be granted license to operate an enterprise which had already been running for quite some time. That initial attempt failed last November for multiple reasons that are of public record and as such not to be rehashed here. What became interesting to me through this process was the following:
  • How is transient housing defined?
  • Can Grand Island enforce any definition?
  • What restrictions or controls will be put on transient housing?
  • Are restrictions or controls proposed enforceable?
  • Does Grand Island have the resources to properly police these establishments?
       I attended both the Town Board and Planning Board meetings in March and from these have begun to answer some of my questions but the answers I am finding are frightening to say the least. It appears that even in town government there is no consensus on how to define these establishments. There is a push in some circles to attempt to segregate bed and breakfasts from the vacation homes but no clear framework on what either are, how they may or may not differ or how one cannot be finagled into the other with some creative work. What I have not heard in these meeting is how a proposed definition of a bed and breakfast is not a short term drug treatment center, a halfway house or transitional housing for newly released inmates? I believe in short the definition does not omit any of these type situations. Upon speaking with a handful of attorneys I’m not sure if you even can legally bar these enterprises for discriminatory reasons once you have let the proverbial genie out of the bottle with transient housing licenses.
       Additionally, as the Fix road bed and breakfast operated already for an extended time, unknown to the town, unregulated by any authority and not in compliance with the New York State laws concerning the operation of a bed and breakfast then I must also conclude that Grand Island does not have the resources to properly police these type of businesses. As they expend in scale and number, will additional staff be added to Town Hall to do such and help mitigate the liabilities to the town? Will these businesses fund those additional staff or the additional hours put on existing resources? Does anyone even know if the sales tax and county taxes associated with such businesses are being paid? This more and more sounds like it will create costs to the average tax payer on the island for the personal profit and benefit of very few individuals.
        The points already made should be enough to create serious concern and consider a pause to the trend of establishing transient housing. That said, the biggest issue has yet to be even discussed. Transient housing allows registered sex offenders and violent criminals direct access to our children and even the children of the operators themselves. To be clear, these establishments are no more protected legally or in practice than a Motel 6 or Holiday Inn from potentially dangerous guests. Guests reserve rooms online and submit a credit card. After that, they are invited to share homes, yards and neighbors hoods with anyone and everyone around them. I know when I stay in a hotel I keep my door locked and am wary. Do we want to have to raise our level of diligence even in our own yard? Using the earlier points, what if a bed and breakfast is actually intended as a halfway house for released felons? How will we be protected?
       While I’m sure some wanting to establish transient housing have the best of intentions, the facts to me are clear. Transient housing puts the average citizens in more danger than they would be without them, they cause additional costs to the average citizen in town resources, they have the potential to cause financial harm in the way of declining housing values to neighbors which also will reduce tax base over time and they open the door to new problems downstream. Their upside is a profit to the owner only as even any small economic benefits will easily be overcome by the societal costs.
       So who is in favor of transient housing overall? Well, in a short time I was able to establish that many of those in favor are either those looking to profit or family/close friends of those looking to profit. Many of these individuals are not residents of Grand Island and the few that are live outside of the immediate vicinity of the transient houses in question. I noticed that the March board meeting invited people to speak on the transient housing issue but unlike any other meeting I had attended, no one was asked to provide their addresses. Even researching the emails in the package provided led me to Sanborn and Cambria.
       The road to a certain unpleasant place is paved with the best of intentions. I believe that some individuals are operating with the best of intentions but that will not change the probable destination. I ask that you consider the possible outcomes and think long and hard before continuing down this path. I ask for myself and my family, I ask for my neighbors, I ask for the tax payers of Grand Island who will eventually be outraged by this direction of development and most importantly I ask for our children who do not need to have more danger in their world. I thank you for taking the time to read this letter and for your attention to this matter.
    Christopher Yoder

    Deny Special Use Permit - March 2014

    I am compelled to write this letter to you to voice my strong opposition to a proposal for a Bed & Breakfast on Fix and Baseline Roads on the Island. I have been a resident of Grand Island and have lived at this intersection for 29 years. My opposition to this proposal is based on the major safety issues that ALREADY exist at this intersection. Over the 29 years I have lived there, I have seen after the fact and on some occasions witnessed several motor vehicle accidents, some severe, due to motorist’s inattention to the stop signs that are posted for east and west traffic on Fix Road. These stop signs are larger than normal and were installed by the Town of Grand Island to make sure they are clearly visible to traffic on Fix Road. This was done because of the accidents at this intersection. Also, the posted speed limit of 45 miles per hour on Baseline Road and Fix Road has also made a contribution to the severity of some of the accidents. Most of the residents are aware of the dangers this intersection poses and have for the most part been vigilant in stopping for the stop signs. But what happens when you add vacationers to the equation who are unfamiliar with the area and are looking for the address of the B&B and are not paying attention to their surroundings, i.e. the posted traffic controls? I am all for free enterprise, but at what price do we sacrifice the public safety?
    It is with these convictions that I strongly urge you NOT TO APPROVE the Special Use Permit for mine and my neighbor’s quiet residential neighborhood so that the financial benefit of one puts undue risk on others. Thanking you in advance for your time.
    Karen Rogers-Schiavone

    In Response to In Response - January 2014

    A gentleman recently addressed his misgivings about a letter I wrote; "The New Emperor's Clothes" to Dear Editor - taking issue with it having been printed. The letter reflected my opinion (albeit shared by others, to be sure....) and did not reflect the opinion of Ms. Jodi Robinson, the editor nor any of her colleagues or associates at Isle de Grande or any of its sister publications. In the best tradition of the First Amendment, Isle de Grande prints all reasonable opinion pieces, properly submitted, without bias.
    Kevin J. Rung

    In Response - January 2014

    Dear Editor,
    What a spiteful, dyspeptic, Randian diatribe you published from Mr Kevin J. Rung. Perhaps Mr Rung should lighten up by watching more Laurel and Hardy movies.
    Happy New Year,
    Mike Lockett

    The New Emperor’s Clothes - January 2014

        The idiom: “Clothes Make the Man” means you believe that what you wear will be the basis by which the public will judge you. There was a movie in 1915 by that title staring none other than Oliver Hardy, the fat guy of Laurel and Hardy fame. It is enlightening to imagine Pope Francis dressed in contemporary clothing – a sweater and slacks, for example, rather than the fourteenth century Renaissance costume that he goes about in. Wearing normal attire, his comments on social justice might be more critically examined, rather than assumed to be profound utterances by a holy man. Jorge Bergoglio ( his actual name) is the first Jesuit to fill the Shoes of the Fisherman as the Bishop of Rome and he brings to that position all of the zeal and militancy of his role model: Ignatius of Loyola. As a Jesuit from Latin America, he is a proponent of what one of his predecessors, John Paul II declared to be heresy: Liberation Theology a movement spawned by his Latin American Jesuit colleagues.
        It is all well and good, to believe in helping the poor to a better life of greater prosperity, no reasonable individual can fail to appreciate the contrast between poor folks and those who have achieved high standards of living with much material wealth; however, where Bergoglio and his fellow Jesuits run off the rails is in stating that this disparity has a moral component. It does not - the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas not withstanding. The redistribution of wealth, which is a principal theme of encyclicals by two other of Bergoglio’s predecessors: Vincenzo Pecci - Leo XIII – Rerum Novarum and Ambrogio Ratti - Pius XI - Quadregissimo Anno, are sinister in their teaching that wealth should be taken from those who have it - redistributed, and given to those who do not. This direction is morally wrong. Stealing wealth from some folks and giving what you’ve taken to others ……in the name of an assumed moral principal is an anachronism from the thirteenth century, and the creation of agencies of government with authority to tax and confiscate people’s wealth in order to redistribute money downward is theft by another name. A perfect example is the funding mechanism of Obama Care. Younger Americans are being forced to buy overly expensive health insurance in order to foot the bill for everybody else - particularly seniors who lack their own insurance. Redistribution; theft by another name.
        Many people of all races and creeds achieve wealth by vigorously applying themselves to study and then by working hard at professions of their choosing. They have made conscious choices to act in their best interest. Many of these people are immigrants who sacrifice everything to get to be Americans and avail themselves of the opportunity to achieve, for themselves and their families, the American dream. They come here with nothing but personal initiative. Others, meanwhile, neglect to study even though they are afforded every opportunity to do so just like the wealthy; and end up in low paying jobs, or no job, because they did not bother to apply themselves and learn. They are responsible for their own plight; they made poor personal choices. The moral component that Bergoglio and others seek to ascribe to this dynamic is rubbish. The poor have made poor life choices and there exists no moral obligation to pick up the slack for these unfortunate individuals who are not victims except of themselves and the poor personal choices they made. The correct response is to provide avenues for less economically fortunate folks to improve their situation by offering training, which they can choose to avail themselves of - or not - so that they are in greater demand in the workplace. Providing the poor with opportunity for self improvement, rather than charity will give these folks what they need most; the self respect and dignity of earning their own way. Endless social welfare hand outs guarantee an endless cycle of poverty and corrosive social decay.
    Kevin J. Rung