- By Dan Veaner
Although many residents volunteered literally years of their time to try to get a centralized sewer system, that proved to be too costly. More volunteers did amazing work in developing a preliminary plan for a town center. After the failure of the last sewer initiative three developers were willing to band together to pay for infrastructure including roads and a package plant (a small sewage treatment plant) on land across from the town ball fields if they could build what would be the beginnings of the residential portion of a town center that would eventually include a small retail and business area and possibly a business park. But the town government couldn't get its act together to make that happen, even though it wouldn't be footing the bill for the infrastructure (including sewer).
Ironically for a town with a history of failed sewer projects (four by some counts, and two for sure during the life of the Star), Warren Road has seen a major growth spurt of industrial and dwelling projects, largely because sewer was extended from the Village into the Township. The main motivation came from Transonic Systems, Inc., a company in the Warren Road business Park that wanted to double its building size, but could only do so if municipal sewer was extended to their site. They put up the money for the initial study, and all establishments along their route have clearly benefited, as evidenced by an impressive growth spurt along that road.
Despite a distinguished history as the location of the International Salt Company, which produced table salt for over seven decades starting in 1891, Salt Point saw a major decline in its fortunes after the salt factory burned down. Some people liked to walk along the rough trails, but many saw it as a party place where crime and illegal dumping was the norm, so much so that it became known to most Lansingites as UC point, named for the popular Utica Club Beer.
44 years after the factory closed Town Officials signed an agreement with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to manage the site. In the nine years since that agreement was reached, Salt Point has seen a major transformation from a scruffy junk depository to a beautiful, quiet natural area, a nature park that could be safely enjoyed by all. While the Town performed some of the initial improvements, which included restoration of a parking lot, blocking old rough roads, and constructing a new road, the volunteer organization 'Friends of Salt Point' took over the responsibility of raising money through grants and using volunteer labor to establish nature trails, bird houses and benches. Most dramatically an osprey nesting platform was erected in 2013, and an osprey family moved in almost immediately. That is only one of the many families that enjoy the park today.
The Village of Lansing government could be characterized as a 'maintenance' government, and it is very, very good at that. For the most part the Village Trustees try to maintain the quality of life villagers have enjoyed since its inception. You might say the formation of the Village was the big dream to be had there. The biggest accomplishment in the last 10 years, and a big one it is, was the reconstruction of Triphammer Road in the mall areas. With three major malls and a large number of smaller establishments, the road had been outgrown by commercial business. The initiative was led my Mayor Donald Hartill and then Deputy Mayor Larry Fresinski, who made sure the project meant beautifying the Village and enhancing sidewalks, lighting and plantings as well as relieving traffic going on and off of Route 13 and in and out of the malls.
There are a few big dreams in the hopper for the Lansings. Some time next year it lookslike the Village will build a new park. That will double the number of public parks in the Village. A Town Center is still a part of the comprehensive plan, and many people have said they would like to see one. I am not holding my breath, but it could happen. Another is the potential conversion of a large plot of northwest Lansing natural and farmland into a state park. My own dream is that someone will want to create a Lansing Tourism Board to create a historical trail as well as a tourism trail. I noticed that a group of East Shore Merchants have been distributing a brochure around town, and perhaps they or someone else will expand that effort to bring more tourism to this beautiful town.
All of this is not to say there haven't been many successes in the Lansings in the past ten years. The Lansing Community Library comes to mind. The Lansing Town Trail. The new Village Hall. The bandstand in Myers Park, the Log Cabin, the Lansing Community Council events including the Independence day fireworks, the elevator at Woodsedge... Lansing people excel at identifying community needs and finding ways to realize them. And the ongoing successes -- the town Highway department and Parks & Rec department are the jewels of the Lansing government. The Athletics hall of Fame. The RINK. If I tried to mention all of them I would fail, as my memory does more frequently these days. But I take some solace in having already written about most of them over the past decade.
Despite these wonderful accomplishments, the Town as a whole has just not seemed to be able to find a way to make big municipal dreams come true. A lot of effort has gone into the comprehensive plan and now the Ag plan. What became of those big dreams outlined in the last version of the comprehensive plan? Perhaps that's what's coming in the next decade. If so, the Star will cover it.