Berne can work together properly for the good of the community

To the Editor:
The first edition of the “Berne Bulletin” was recently published. The town “Superviser” makes some very questionable statements regarding “…planned projects that were set aside during the pandemic that are being restarted….”

Planned projects are cited that I recall no serious board discussion of, or action on, before, during, or after the pandemic. The supervisor’s statements appear to mislead residents into believing the board members have been working on things they have not been working on.

Identifying a potential project in a campaign promise, quoted statement, or letter to the editor does not constitute a board “planned project.” It takes actual work to plan a project and municipal projects must be openly planned and documented.

Were these planned projects ever meeting agenda items? Was a new town hall ever seriously proposed or discussed as a town project in any board meetings? Municipal water? Was that proposed or discussed as a project in any board meetings? Who was working on the plans?

Was a new highway garage ever seriously proposed or discussed as a project in board meetings? Expansion of the town museum is a project that was put on hold due to the pandemic? The need was mentioned, but I recall no serious discussion of any such “planned project.”

Sidewalks? The need is apparently being evaluated by a committee now. There is no sidewalk project planned that I am aware of and there was no such project during or before the pandemic.

When did the board scope these projects and decide to move forward and begin the planning process?  Who was working on all these “planned projects?” The supervisor’s statements are very, very questionable. Will he answer these questions?

And the streetlight project, part of an initiative to qualify the town for up to $200,000 in grant money, was derailed and defunded by the GOP-backed board majority who, by motion Jan. 1, 2020, also decommissioned the conservation board that was overseeing the project.

That’s not an accomplishment in my opinion either. Odd that that would be mentioned as some kind of accomplishment.

I worked cooperatively and productively together with everyone, start to finish, on two major town projects, the library and the transfer station. I know what goes into a successful municipal project. We all worked very hard to secure grant money and progress these planned projects to fruition.

Everyone knew who was working on them and the status of the projects at any given time. Everything was discussed in open meetings. Berne can work together properly for the good of the community. That is not happening now.

If any of these “planned projects” the supervisor mentions were even discussed, I was not involved and I recall no legitimate proposals for such projects or any initiation of the planning process in board meetings. So, the one board member with real municipal-project experience isn’t consulted, or even informed of, these “planned projects?”

Is there any correspondence anywhere to document what has been done so far or who was working on these plans? As a board member, I’d like to know what is going on.

With the exception of the grant initiative that was derailed by defunding the streetlight project and the official decommissioning of the conservation board, I would ask the supervisor that any record of these other “planned projects” be documented and the town board meetings where they were discussed be cited. 

Otherwise, I believe these claims of work done by the board in the Berne Bulletin are simply not true.  

Joel Willsey

Berne Town Board

Editor’s note: In an email to The Enterprise responding to these criticisms, Supervisor Sean Lyons wrote that it is normal for projects to begin without public knowledge, since certain logistical steps like bidding need to be taken before a plan can be developed, and that it’s the plan that would be presented to town board and public. 

“It is prudent that these plans/ideas be presented to the board and public as a prepared proposal, which require months of pre planning,” Lyons wrote.

He added that the newsletter was written when he still planned to run for office (he recently became ineligible for candidacy due to his employment with the federal government) and that he knows “as well as anyone that any projects like those I have listed must undergo months of board discussions, public involvement and feasibility and environmental impact studies to name just a few steps.”

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