Gerry MonaghanWith Julie Baker vacating her Village of Lansing Trustee seat, Gerry Monaghan is throwing his hat into the political ring.  Originally from White Plains, Monaghan and his wife Viola have lived in the Village since 2008, after living in Ithaca, Trumansburg, Montour Falls, Williamsport, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Westchester County.  They have three sons.  He is an artist, graphic designer and independent contractor. 

Monaghan says that after moving 14 times in 20 years he is putting down roots in the Village, and running for Trustee is part of that effort.  He says he is committed to environmental issues.  The Lansing Star recently interviewed him about his candidacy at his Village of Lansing home.

Lansing Star Why are you running and what will make you a good Trustee?  What qualifications do you bring?

Gerry Monaghan I am running because I would like to see a continuation of the good quality of government that we have.  I feel like I have the people skills to be a good member of the leadership team in the Village.

I have had over 35 years of working in the creative services as an artist and as a graphic designer, as an art director and as a creative director.  I consider those skills to speak to my ability to be a creative problem solver.  I have had a number of positions where I worked in management in the commercial arts, working for large corporations, small community hospitals.  I've done a lot of medical marketing.  Communications is the name of the game.  So I would bring that experience.

Lansing Star
What would you like to make happen that the current board has not worked on?

Gerry Monaghan I would really like to see us address the issue of access for people with disabilities, especially at the Shops at Ithaca Mall.  I think we're entering a phase of transition, a generational shift.  I think we're looking for new leadership in the Village.  I see myself as stepping forward to be part of that transition.  I am hoping that through my involvement I will inspire other people to step up and want to get involved.

Lansing Star
You must be part of the Community Party.

Gerry Monaghan Yes.  When I first moved in Joan deBoer and Sorrell Gottfried came up my driveway to get my signature on a petition.  They invited me to come to a meeting.  I came and immediately liked the people that I saw.  I got a sense that these are people who have a real commitment to the Village and to seeing a continuation of good government, which I wanted to be part of.

Lansing Star
What key challenges do you see the Village facing in the next two years?

Gerry Monaghan First of all there's this new transition.  We're at a point where we're seeing a lot of the current people in the government looking to transition out.  I would say that is probably one of the key things that is going to happen in the next two years, finding new people to step up and take leadership roles.

Some of the big challenges come from unfunded mandates that are coming down from New York State.  At some point I would like to see us be part of the response that's coming from municipalities all over New York State, saying we need to stop unfunded mandates.  They are a threat to our fiscal soundness and our fiscal responsibility.

Lansing Star
You're talking about things like the growing local responsibility for storm water management and those things?

Gerry Monaghan It's really a shift from the state to the counties and from the counties to the municipalities.

Lansing Star
The land in the northeast/Dart area that was purchased and Poison Ivy Point are almost parks.  Should action be taken to make them public areas now, or is it something for the future?  Why?

Gerry Monaghan I think anything we can do to preserve open space is a step in the right direction.  Anything we can do to enhance public property to make it more usable for citizens adds to the value of our community, our lives, and our neighborhoods.  It adds to the value of our properties.

gerrymonaghan_400Gerry Monaghan

Lansing Star
In the case of Poison Ivy Point there are two more steps, to get the right of way from the railroad and signage.  The northeast parcel is more open space than park space right now.  Should it be developed with walking paths or left as open space?

Gerry Monaghan I think walking paths are great.  i think that if you get to the point where you're starting to think about playgrounds I think you're going to have a problem with people who have bordering properties.  We'd then be in a 'not in my back yard' scenario.  Leaving it as an open space with some paths and some places that connect to other paths is a great idea.

Lansing Star
As you canvass for the election, are Village residents saying that they are happy?  What are they asking for and what do you plan to serve those needs?

Gerry Monaghan It's interesting.  I have gotten a lot of response from people who would like the Village to take a stand against fracking.  They would like the Village to join the other municipalities in New York State who are making it clear where they stand on the issue.

I don't know if there will ever be a land lease in the Village, but it's certainly an issue that I would like to see us stand with other municipalities on.  If nothing else I would like to see us have a conversation which addresses the impact that this industry could have on the quality of our water and on our roads.

Lansing Star
Do you favor an outright ban, then?

Gerry Monaghan I would have to know more about the particulars of it before I could answer that question.  This is a new endeavor for me.  I don't want to go on the record as saying I favor an outright ban without knowing the particulars of it.

Lansing Star
Is there room for business growth any more?  How will you support it (if you do)?

Gerry Monaghan There is plenty of room within the current business district -- The Triphammer Mall, The Shops at Ithaca Mall and the Cayuga Mall  -- there is plenty of room for new businesses.  I don't know that we would have to increase the footprint of the business district.

Yes, more business in that district is good.  Better design, better traffic patterns -- any kind of improvements to those districts that help decrease pollution and enable people to get in and do business here in the village are great.

Lansing Star
There has been a lot of talk for years about the potential of developing Sundowns Farm and what would happen if it were developed.  Hypothetically if it were to be sold for development what would you like to see there?

Gerry Monaghan I'd love to see that become a beautiful park, but I don't know if that's in the cards.  I think all these kinds of questions relate to the work that needs to be done with the comprehensive plan.  Speaking idealistically, I would love to see the Village's comprehensive plan and how it might relate to the Town's comprehensive plan.  In the largest scope I could see the possibility for a vision for that whole stretch of Triphammer Road from the Village to the Town which would include some very wise setting aside of open spaces as a priority.

I read your article about whether Lansing is becoming a suburb of Ithaca.  I think they are talking about building a development of over 300 units just north of Burdick Hill.  I think that kind of development needs to be balanced with an inciteful vision for preserving open space.

Lansing Star
Have you talked to the Town's Lansing Pathways Committee?

Gerry Monaghan I've worked with Ruth Hopkins on a number of projects.  And Pat Pryor.  I am familiar with the Greenway plan.  I have reviewed it and I would love for there to be paths all the way from here up into the town.

Anything we can do to foster inter-municipal cooperation is something that I think is desirable.

Lansing Star
Roger Hopkins talks about what you just said, having pathways from the Village mall area all the way up to the Town Center.

Gerry Monaghan
We want the Village and the town to be walkable.  We like the idea that you can walk anywhere in the Village within 20 minutes.

Lansing Star
Lansing has been split up by the post office, the phone company and the school districts.  I think all the Village residents have Ithaca ZIP codes and phone exchanges.  Arguably there is no Village identity.  The Mayor has said that a lot of people who live in the Village don't even know they live here -- they think they live in Ithaca.

Gerry Monaghan And we go to city schools.  We moved here because of the schools. We love the fact our kids go to school with kids from 24 different countries.  We wanted that cosmopolitan, international effect.  I grew up in White Plains where we went to school with kids from the United Nations families.  We had the cosmopolitan effect.  We had that international flavor.  To know that my kids are in a school district that has that flavor is wonderful.  We purposely chose the Ithaca schools for that reason.

Lansing Star
A lot of people move to the Town because of the quality and smaller size of the schools there.  For Villagers, some are in the Lansing district and some in the Ithaca district.  Lansing is so split up in so many ways... should it just be one school system for the whole town including the Village?

Gerry Monaghan
No, no, no.  I don't think you can all of a sudden tell people their kids are no longer in the school system they chose.

Lansing Star
Theoretically their kids would be grandfathered into the Ithaca schools.

Gerry Monaghan I don't think that's possible.  I like the fact that we have two governments working for me.  I like that we have two agents for economic development.  I can't wait to see what happens with the Town Center.  I strongly support that kind of development up in the Town.

But if I want to live in live in Lansing but I want my kids to go to Ithaca schools I have the option of moving to the Village.  If I want to live in Lansing and I want them to go to just as wonderful a school system, but with a smaller, different kind of feel to it, then I have that option of moving north of Burdick Hill.

Lansing Star
Village officials say the Village will never merge with the Town and there is no cost benefit in doing so. Town officials say there is a cost benefit that would lower taxes by merging services, and that the cultures and values of the two municipalities are much closer together than they were when the Village was formed.  How do you stand on merging, and why?

Gerry Monaghan I am not in favor of merging.  I love to tell people that the Village is the Switzerland of Tompkins County.  It is a beautifully run little municipality.  We have a wonderful flavor and quality of life here.  We have an identity which is separate and apart from the identity of people who live in the Town.

I think there is a reason they split up.  There are values up in North Lansing that didn't allow the Village to feel our needs were being considered.  That's the reason the split happened.  I think it's done.

If anything there are people in the Town who would give anything to have some of the quality of what we have in the Village.  We should keep it the way it is as far as I'm concerned.

Lansing Star
Along those lines you know the Mayor has spoken up about Town taxes and has been trying to get them reduced for Villagers.  Where do you stand on that issue, and what will you do to work on it?

Gerry Monaghan As a new peson coming in I am going to learn a lot more.  I can't speak definitively now, but I think it's always a good idea to consider the formulas that are used for the sharing and distribution of taxes and services.  I would be in favor of anything we could do to reduce town taxes on Village residents, and short of that, increasing the value of what we get for the taxes that we pay.

Lansing Star
What would you like people to know about your candidacy that we haven't already discussed? 

Gerry Monaghan My heart's in the right place.  I am doing this because I want to make a difference.  I'm willing to work very hard.

It seems at this point that I will be running unopposed, but even so, my goal is to knock on 300 doors to introduce myself to people. I'm a newcomer.  I would like people to know who I am, and what I stand for.  I'm willing to work really hard.  I feel it's a big opportunity for me to become a part of this Village in a new way.

The Village Elections will be held from noon to 9pm at the Village of Lansing Office, 2405 N. Triphammer Rd., Ithaca, NY.