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The Star caught up with him in his Myers Heights home last Tuesday (10/25), just a day after he underwent foot surgery.
Lansing Star: Why are you the best candidate? What unique benefits do you bring to the job?
Greg Lawrence: All three candidates are good. Where I'm different, where I bring a specific skill to this position would be bringing information together. When someone's talking about a sequel review for a project, what does that mean? What does the documentation look like? How many pieces of information do you need? Who's the originating agency? When do forms have to be processed? Something as simple as that.
Those are all things that I do as a librarian, and The Town Board sometimes, when confronted with a need, needs to be able to find the best, most up to date information. I do that quite a bit.
So I see myself as a person who helps bring information to bear on problems, and sharing it with other members.
The same thing holds true with talking to community members. I've lived here for seven years and the only people who reliably come through are Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. I've yet to have a Councillor come and knock on my door. If they did come around, what would you say to the person? how would you tell them about what's occurring in the Town that's in front of the Town Board?
I do a lot of communication like that to faculty, telling them what information is relevant to their needs. In that sense I am a person who is immersed in information, and the information is a critical lever in good decision making.
The other thing that I can bring to the table is that I am deeply immersed in team work. Team work values the dog sled metaphor. Very often you're just out in the pack. You have to help the leader, the person who is the most knowledgeable person about something, help them complete what they're trying to do. Teams are these bodies of people who, if everything clicks and everybody's pulling for the same goal, it's amazing how effective they can be. When teams are discordant, when they don't function very well, the most important thing you can do is minimize that dysfunction so that they can move forward. Sometimes there's a road block and you're just trying to get around that.
So those are the two things that I think I can bring to the Town Board. I'm not saying the Town Board lacks them. They're just things that I could bring as part of my role.
LS: What are the top two or three issues facing the town over the next four years and how will you address them?
GL: I think that the issues about potable water North of here along Algerine Road, and there's now a discussion to go along Drake Road. I think those are very important issues. I'm very behind municipal water so that people can move off of wells and get something that is consistent and monitored. I think that if you are going to have the buildup of the Town center, let's say around the area of where the Town Hall is currently, then you need to be able to bring a lot of water to bear.
The other issue will be about sewers. Here's where I am of two minds. I think that sewers in certain places don't make sense economically. In other places they make a lot of sense. I think sewers in a place of high population density, if you build a town center that's the place to put the sewers initially.
There are other places it might just be a whole lot better with a more dispersed population to find some method of renewing the septic fields that are already there. It's not a major engineering feet to just rebuild somebody's septic field and it may be a whole lot cheaper to go in that direction for the homeowner.
So I'm a believer in the sewers that way, up there by the town center. For a place like Ludlowville it's very clear that there's a lot of people that are concerned about it and I'm not sure that an alternative rebuilding of those septic fields might be the better way to go. I don't know if the Town can give people money, but it couldn't hurt to examine this as an issue to see if there is a way to find some collaborative or cooperative funding so that the Town reaches its goal of safe waste disposal for its households, and people get their goal, which is to keep the tax bite low.
LS: Ideally how should water and sewer be implemented? Realistically how would you implement them?
GL: At this point in time I don't know.
LS: What can or should the town do about services the County provides? For example, road patrol. Is it adequate? If the County were to drop it what approach should the town take?
GL: From what I know, especially from attending the County legislative candidates meeting the other day, for every position that the County would fund, for every patrolman, you're talking about five people. It's a 24/7 position with people to fill in for illness and vacations and so forth, so you're actually funding five people. And the town supervisors have apparently gone to the County legislature about this, and the County legislature has funded a position for this year and they may fund others.
I think that the issue of coverage needs to have us look at the way that the demographics are changing, but we also need to ask where is the crime occurring? I think there is a difference between having someone on patrol so that you just feel good, versus someone on patrol who is actually performing, not just driving. The County patrol people handle a wide variety of tasks, not only arresting and preventing crime, but dealing with car accidents, responding to speeders, responding to flood emergencies, possibly providing escort services for students across a road and so forth. They have a multitude of tasks.
And we have to decide should some of those tasks be done by others to free up the patrolmen? Before I go much further I'd like to research the statistics and not only the last couple of years, but the last 15 or 20 years and see how have the levels of county sheriffs equated to effective crime control, or any other services, and see ... are we actually experiencing more violent crime, and where are they occurring. Do we need to increase the representation of the sheriffs there, or do we find out the rise in crime in the County is where the municipalities have their own police, such as in the city or in Cayuga Heights.
So it's not a simple question and it's not a simple answer.
LS: What changes would you hope to see in the town 10 years ahead, or 20 years ahead?
GL: I believe that I'd like to see Lansing continue to grow and at the same time enable it to still have the same qualities that attracted my wife and I to come here. My brother Peter used to call it the "Last Man In" theory. the last guy in goes, "Oh it's so great and I don't want anybody else to come here."
So I guess my goal would be, I would like to see the town grow, not double, but I would like to see it grow. I'd like to see it grow in a way that reduces the impact on the land here. We do have the open spaces which makes things exciting for people. I'd also like to see more business in the town. I'd like to see businesses that are going to create a product that doesn't bring, let's say, a lot of waste into the town, but brings a value added to the community. We have people who do come here to work in their businesses. Who come to contribute to the community. Their kids grow up here and want to come back here.
The idea of an industrial park is good. There will be some issues with it where some people will make certain types of noise, but we can address those issues. So I think there can be a balance of some light industry here and have a residential component nearby. People shouldn't have to drive five miles to get to work. My wife's father used to walk home for lunch, then go back to his tool industry.
As I look at some of the services, I saw in the newspaper how an engineering firm up on Ridge Road was creating small monitoring devices for water flow, and they received I think a three quarter of a million dollar grant from NOAA to go beyond the design stage and start producing these things.
That's the type of value-added industry that I think would be very good here, because it's utilizing brain power rather than heavy duty manufacturing power. That would be a great addition to the community.
My vision for here is that I would see the community grow by another 10 or 20 percent in the next 10 or 15 years, not double, but at the same time bring in, hopefully, some very high paying jobs that would be very compatible with the school system we have, the natural surrounding area that we have. I think a lot of the people that live here, we're a fairly well educated community.
LS: What would you like to say about your candidacy that I haven't asked about?
GL: I think that I bring certain skills to the community. I've recognized that my contribution to the community doesn't have to be through a town board, but I'd like to do that if possible. I believe that I can bring a concept of deep communication with the public. I would like, as a Town Board member, not to have people come into the town board meeting and talk to me, but for me to be on business walking around town talking to people and being pro-active about it. Being elected to the Town Board would really give me the impetus to get out there and to be communicating with the people on a weekly, monthly basis.
The town is big, but it's not so big that you can't have personal involvement in the concerns of people. My wife would probably say, "Greg, you're crazy." But as I said when I was talking to people door to door, if you have a problem you should be able to call your town councilman and say, "I've got a problem. What are you going to do about this?" I think that comes with the territory. And that's something that I personally would like to see how I develop as a town councilman, as a person, as a neighbor.