Pelham Examiner

Pelham needs to broaden tax base, replace municipal facilities, reinvigorate its downtown

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To the editor,

Some of us are feeling angry about the Village of Pelham redevelopment plans. I get it. Trust me. I’ve been irate also.

Here’s my theory on what’s happening under the surface. We’re going through the classic stages of grief. We’re processing change. We’re grieving for the Pelham of old, or perhaps the idea of it. Or resisting change when it feels like reinvention.

To complicate matters, we’re all at different stages. The emotions people are expressing in this debate range from shock and denial to anger, depression, acceptance and optimism.

I jumped into the debate three years ago. I was livid about proposals for Sparks, Manning and Wolfs. So I marched into Village Hall in an absolute rage. I went to board of trustees and planning board meetings, organized my neighborhood and formed alliances across the village.

But anger alone proved it wasn’t going to solve the problem. Eventually, I was forced to accept the basic facts about our situation. I moved forward and now fully embrace the need for change. In fact, I’m optimistic about the possibilities.

How can that possibly be?!

At the risk of oversimplifying things, here’s how I break it down. Pelham needs to broaden its tax base, replace costly municipal infrastructure and reinvigorate its downtown. We can accomplish this by giving developers more flexibility, have developers construct our municipal buildings and by expanding housing options in town, especially for newcomers and down-sizers.

We elected a group of our neighbors to Village Hall positions over the past several years. This is the bipartisan plan for Pelham they created with our input. This debate doesn’t hinge on national party affiliation. It comes down to whether we are ready to move ahead with reinvigorating Pelham. I remain steadfast in my belief that we are all in this together, and this community spirit is what makes Pelham special.

Yes, we have other pressing issues to address. Pedestrian safety and traffic control is one issue I will continue to advocate for. It’s personal. And I share the concern about the capacity of our schools.

My family moved to Pelham 12 years ago. The issues we are debating today are nearly identical to ones Pelham was discussing in 2007 and earlier. It’s now 2019, and the reality is we have to make some tough decisions.

We can’t do everything at once yet have to start somewhere. We need outside help and an infusion of revenue. The window of opportunity is still there, but it will close soon. Interest rates, the economy and other market factors won’t be in our favor forever. Pelham cannot wait another three to 10 years to reassess, start from scratch, or wait for the economic cycle to repeat. Boomers are retiring now, and many want to stay in Pelham, yet the lure of new options in surrounding communities is powerful.

The good news is many details of Pelham’s redevelopment have yet to be finalized. Everyone is welcome to participate in this process, provided they show up. We can all give criticism, offer input and shape the outcomes together.

I’m not suggesting the results will be perfect, or everyone will be thrilled. But the outcomes will be better, and for more people, if all of us get involved.

Which is why I am casting my vote for Chance, Ariel, Mike and Lisa. A vote to move Pelham forward. And I encourage everyone to participate in the process of finding the best solutions possible. Especially if you’re angry.

Todd Cross

Manning Circle

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Pelham needs to broaden tax base, replace municipal facilities, reinvigorate its downtown