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Grand Island Town Board: Not all on board with Solarize Grand Island

Sat, May 12th 2018 07:00 am
The launch of the Solarize Grand Island program will take place at Town Hall Saturday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to noon but not everyone in the Grand Island Town Board sees the program in the same light.
During the Town Board regular meeting Monday, the board voted 4-1 to approve Solar by CIR as the selected installer for the Solarize Grand Island campaign. Councilman Mike Madigan voted "No."
In a press release from the town, Solar by CIR is identified as the company that will work with residents throughout the Solarize Grand Island campaign, a New York State's Energy Research and Development Authority program offered to residents and businesses who sign up for solar installations by a fall deadline.
The press release said Islanders "will be able to take advantage of group rates below market prices."
Councilwoman Bev Kinney moved the proposal and has spearheaded the program.
Madigan said during the meeting that he is "uncomfortable" with the wording in the promotional materials and its effort to "push one particular vendor over all others."
He said it sounded like the program was using government staff to promote what is essentially a private enterprise. Kinney said it's a NYSERDA program that the board approved and that NYSERDA recommends using one installer.
Councilwoman Jennifer Baney said town employees weren't required to be on board with it and that NYSERDA "vetted these companies for us."
Jeff Pedro, chief financial officer and an owner of Solar by CIR states in the press release, "We are delighted to be a part of the Solarize Grand Island campaign. Solar by CIR has a 40-year history of electrical services, CIR Electrical Construction Corp. has made the quantum leap into renewable energies with the creation of a division within itself dedicated to solar energy, now branded Solar by CIR. Solar by CIR has the infrastructure to complete project types ranging from residential, commercial, industrial and community solar projects. Solar by CIR currently has an installed capacity of over 15 MW. Regardless of electrical usage, site, or budget, Solar by CIR has strategic financing partners that can offer help offer a vast variety of renewable energy solutions. Whether you require upgraded energy efficient lighting or an entire power system with backup generators, CIR's staff of NABCEP certified professionals can provide you with the services needed."
Town Manager
During Monday's workshop meeting, Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray floated the idea of hiring a town manager and cut Town Board salaries as a means to create a greater spirit of cooperation in town government.
McMurray said even the smallest issue in town government is politicized, and some town employees feel they are in a polarized environment and afraid to speak their minds.
Other board members didn't see a town manager as a means to solve those problems.
Madigan said a town manager implies decisions would be made by un-elected persons without accountability to voters.
The board took no action, but agreed to look at the possibility of bringing on a human resources person to fill a gap in that area.
On the same topic of spirit of cooperation, Kinney read definition of "decorum," saying she was "very disturbed, distressed" by the last Town Board meeting that variously called hostile and rude. She said the board must enforce a hostility-free atmosphere and that it was way past due to put a halt to this bad behavior.
"It's time to take back our meetings," she said. She suggested the council read the town manual and refresh itself on Robert's Rules of Order.
Cannon Design
McMurray told the board he wants to move forward with a feasibility study for Cannon Design's building in case the Island firm leaves town, as is rumored. McMurray said he wants to move forward "with due haste."
At the same time the board is considering expensive upgrades to town buildings, the Cannon building is in excellent shape, McMurray said, calling it a "beautiful building we can get at a reasonable cost."
Kinney said she was "pretty stunned" at projected costs of removing asbestos from the community building at the Nike Base.
Madigan demurred, saying the discussion of a town takeover of Cannon's building seemed to suggest the government was trying to make it easier, not harder, for Cannon to go, "almost like we can't wait for them to leave," he said.
He proposed an opposing motion, to meet with Cannon to "retain them in our community ... and do everything in our power politically ... we shouldn't be doing things that make it easier for them to leave."

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