Town should ensure participation in comprehensive-planning process

To the Editor:
I am writing to voice concerns regarding the comprehensive planning that our town is currently undergoing. This is a process that started in November 2022 and should end by November 2024, according to the information given by Mr. [Supervisor Peter] Barber at a town board meeting many months ago. We have seen four meetings with the consultants, a visioning workshop, and a survey.

The consultants do take comments at the end of each meeting, but we have seen very few of the comments acted on. The committee as well has asked questions and, from listening to what these members have to say, it appears that they too are not always getting the information they are requesting.

The website with all pertinent information is on the page of the committee on the town website; however, it is not clearly spelled out what and where it is. The web page identifies the link as “2023 Pathway to our Future.”

While this is a catchy phrase, it does not clearly identify what information is there. A number of folks have asked where this information is and, unless you have the time to click on every single link, it is very frustrating.

Why not add a statement that this is a link to all of the information that has already been obtained? Why not make this truly user-friendly to engage more participation from the public? Why is this not being done? This is not transparent.

The survey that is being used to gain information is not readily accessed or used as much as it should be. In fact, the consultants said they had received about 500 responses. This is an extremely poor showing for a town of over 35,000 people.

The public suggested that perhaps surveys could be placed in the library, sent out with water bills, posted at Town Hall, etc. Everyone nodded as if it were a good idea. One town member felt that first-class postage to mail these out would be cost prohibitive.

Another suggestion was to extend the survey until after some of the neighborhood meetings took place, with the understanding that people could become more engaged as they actually attend a meeting. The survey was extended until May 15, which will have passed at the time this letter will have been published and before the first neighborhood meeting on June 1 at the Westmere firehouse.

There has not been much publicity about this on the part of the town. These kinds of activities need to be publicized in our local paper, at all of our town meetings, and in all the local newsletters. How do we expect to see results and engage the public if there is no publicity of these activities?

Unfortunately for Guilderland, advertising of any and all events is either on the town website or in the supervisor’s weekly news. Not everyone in this town subscribes to this service and not everyone checks the town website for information.

If your residents are not seeing what they should, isn’t it in the town’s best interest to expand how it does the business of keeping its residents informed? If a town is not doing this, is it laziness, lack of caring about the process of adequate public notice, or do they not want to know how we as residents feel about our town? You can be the judge.

A town should go out of its way to ensure the best participation if it truly cares about what the public wants rather than what a few politicians want.

Robyn Gray


Guilderland Coalition for Responsible Growth


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