Current board members want to control us, not help us

To the Editor:

It is with great concern that I have read the last two letters to the editor from the currently seated Knox Town Board members.

While I agree with Mrs. [Amy] Pokorny’s assessment that there are numerous services available within 20 to 30 miles of Knox, I feel that her version is extremely limited and fails to recognize the need for a diverse range of basic services desired by town residents.

Her version also provides a very narrow range of options for local entrepreneurs. I don’t believe anyone expects to see a large shopping mall, movie theater, or big-box store on the Hill; however, most of those I have spoken with during the last three months would like to be able to get a gallon of milk or gasoline without having to leave town.

How can the people of Knox rise to meet possibilities open in Knox when the town board has clearly, time and again, prevented opportunities from being available to us?  Case in point: 

— 1. I have spoken to a few individuals who applied for positions or submitted letters of intent for town positions and were completely ignored or never interviewed and suggested it was due to their political party. 

— 2. Twice this year, in June and again in October, appointments were made for positions in Knox with no public posting of these positions despite the fact that on Dec.13, 2011 the town passed Resolution #127 “RESOLVED to advertise and post all vacant paid and unpaid positions within the Town on the website and in the official newspaper.”

— 3. For 40 years, under Mr. [[Michael] Hammond’s leadership (which includes 20-plus years with Mr. [Nicholas] Viscio), no business districts have been defined on the ground, thereby not encouraging any businesses to build in Knox.  This is proven by a 15-minute stroll along the Berne-Altamont Road in the hamlet, where anyone can see more than half-a-dozen vacant, deteriorating buildings.

— 4. The planning board and the town board were recently asked to withdraw the law’s 180-day restriction in the Zoning Ordinance, “Section 51 — Non-Conforming Buildings, Uses and Lots —  Abandonment:  When a non-conforming use has been abandoned, it shall not thereafter be re-established.  Failure to use or occupy a non-conforming use for a period of one hundred eighty (180) days shall constitute abandonment,” by Mr. [Vasilios] Lefkaditis (a town resident) in an effort to come up with a solution for abandoned buildings in Knox, which would have eliminated the restriction on the Knox Country Store building. He was told by the planning board chairman, Robert Price, and I’m paraphrasing here: We’re not going to do anything for your convenience. This is despite the fact that having a store in town is obviously a convenience to everyone.

Anyone reading the Knox Zoning Ordinance can see why a business owner would be discouraged from even approaching the town boards.  Again, everything about Knox, to date, has shouted, “No Thanks! We don’t want business here!”

I know of at least three businesses that are up and running in spite of the town boards and their unreasonable demands. 

Mr. Viscio is correct in that businesses here need to be supported by the residents in order to succeed; however, somehow the town board has taken it upon themselves to discourage anyone from taking the risk.

It appears they feel it is their obligation to save us from failure.  I’m happy to remind them that this is America, which has always been known as the land of opportunity and it is our inherent freedom to take risks that we so choose.

Joe Golden, incumbent up for re-election to the Berne Town Board, stated it best when he said in a recent letter to the editor of The Altamont Enterprise, “Local government can often govern best by aiding, not controlling, the activities of the residents.”  Knox’s town boards and elected officials, with the exception of [Town Clerk] Kim Swain and [Highway Superintendent] Gary Salisbury, to date have been all about control and very uninterested in aiding us. 

After 40 years, it is time to move in a new direction. We cannot continue to look around town and delude ourselves into believing the hype we are being sold by the supervisor and town board members.

You don't have to take my word for it, look at your day-to-day experiences and draw your own conclusions: We can't fill our cars with gas, it is difficult to buy milk without a 10-mile round trip in the car, and businesses are being forced to jump through hoops to become established.

Besides, no politician should ever have the luxury of holding public office for 40 years — or we all pay the price.

If there has ever been a time for fresh new faces in Knox government, it is now!  I’m hoping with the support of the voters in Knox, Gary Salisbury (incumbent for Highway Superintendent), Bob Altieri (candidate for Knox Town Board), Amanda Gullestad (candidate for Knox Town Clerk) and I can get started Jan. 1, 2014.

Pam Fenoff, candidate
Knox Town Supervisor

Editor’s note: Pam Fenoff, a member of the Independence Party, is running on that line as well as the Republican and Conservative line. The candidates she names in the last sentence of her letter are also running on the Republican line.

While it is true, as she wrote, no business districts have been created in Knox, the town board did create a multi-use recreational district that permits “limited recreation-oriented businesses and residential uses.”