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Lansing Town Hall

The budget is approved and elections are over.  Both results went into effect Wednesday, at the start of the new year.  After a year in which many things have been accomplished for the Town, Town Supervisor Ed LaVigne hinted at what's to come in the December board meeting, talking about future projects and working with the new board. 

"These last four years have been very good," LaVigne said.  "One of the hardest thing when you run for reelection, they say, what have you accomplished?  I don't really keep track and I haven't accomplished anything. We've accomplished a lot. And I think as we continue to bring our town up to the 21st century, we have a lot of good people with good ideas and a lot of them have a wide lens. And that's all good."

Despite the intensity and contentiousness of the election, the political makeup of the Town Board is the same as it was last year: three Democrats and two Republicans.  Most of the votes last year were either unanimous or four to one, indicating that despite philosophical differences the board was able to work together effectively.  With Katrina Binkewicz retiring from the board and Bronwyn Losey winning her seat, LaVigne said he looks forward to another successful year, noting that he has known Losey for a long time.  he also said that no that he has retired from his career as pharmacist he will have more time to move the Town forward.

"These next four years are going to be very interesting and I'm a firm believer things happen for a reason," he said. "The fact that we got you (Losey) and the fact that we've got this great board means that the planets are in alignment and the fact that I'm retired, Now we're going to crank it up to warp drive, you know, this is all going to be good and it's all made good and it's all going to be good work just like we have in the past, these last four years."

LaVigne has listed four goals for 2020 including increasing the Town's economic growth, improving and expanding the town trail system, making high speed Internet available to all Lansing residents, and the creation of a dog park.  In service to these goals, the Town Board created an official town Parks and Recreation/Trails advisory committee, and LaVigne says a committee will be formed to develop a strategy to bring Internet to everybody in Lansing, as well as a dog park task force.  A Conservation Advisory Board was created last year, and has begun meeting.

At its December meeting the Town Board created a committee to advise the Town Board on ways it can help facilitate the now-closed Cayuga Power Plant into a major data center, which town officials hope will reverse the dramatic decline in property tax value the plant has suffered over the past decade.  LaVigne says that a one-time five cents per thousand dollars of assessed value plus the creation of capital reserve funds has helped stabilize spending, and the Town will continue to focus on increasing the tax base.

Work will continue on Sewer District #1, and construction will begin on Consolidated Water District Extension #5 that will make water delivery more reliable in the area around the Triphammer and Auburn Roads intersection.  The Milton Meadows development on town center land is largely complete, and some ground moving has been done at the site of the new Salt Point Brewery restaurant and brewing facility that is expected to open later this year.  And despite the fact that 'Lansing' is not part of the name of the Ithaca-Tompkins International Airport, the fact is that most of the airport is in the Village and Town of Lansing.  The $34.8 million expansion was declared officially open for business, and this year will see the construction of a new NYS Department of Transportation facility across the street from the airport, as well as a shared fueling facility that will service planes and other airport vehicles, county vehicles, and the DOT.  A professional building on North Triphammer Road has been under construction despite the winter weather.

While Village of Lansing Mayor Donald Hartill and LaVigne have expressed much angst about the NYSEG moratorium on new natural gas capacity causing companies to leave the Lansings or not consider moving here, there was good news from Tompkins County Area Development (TCAD) in 2019, when it was able to provide incentives for a building in the Cornell Business and Technology Park to be renovated to include laboratory and dry room space for two incubator companies that arose from Cornell University's McGovern Center Incubator program.  TCAD President Heather McDaniel said that allows companies that are born in Tompkins County to stay here when they are launched as independent companies.

Large developments on Triphammer Road and East Shore Drive are in the planning phases.  The developers have agreed to pay for the Sewer District #1 infrastructure, which will likely be constructed this year, as well as contributing to a new section of Village sewer along Cayuga Heights Road that is part of the overall plan for both the Town and Village. Town officials are also anticipating more interest from developers on town center land, now that the first two projects are in place.

Two big initiatives that will impact the northern portion of the town are a proposal to create a new AG district that will encompass most of the northern half of Lansing where most agriculture takes place, plus a proposed Wind and Solar law that will help define the size and scope of potential solar farm projects.  LaVigne said that Tompkins County Director of Assessment Jay Franklin will be asked to advise the board on the tax revenue implications of various types of potential solar development.

The Town Board will also consider a list of potential property tax abatements or exemptions with Franklin advising on their impact on town revenue.  The Town already extends some of these exemptions (such as for seniors and veterans), but the Town reviews them from time to time.

Improvements to the town parks have continued while the Planning and Parks and Recreation Departments continue to apply for funding for a Myers Park Master Plan.

While LaVigne hoped Republican candidates had been elected to the two board seats that were up for election in November, he said he is happy with the makeup of the 2020 board.

"The nice thing is that they're all decent people and I can work with decent people," he said. "There's easy common ground with decent people. And I felt very confident going in no matter how it turned out that we would have a good board and we're going forward because we have the best interests of the town."

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