Early Monday morning, a petition containing 543 signatures was hand-delivered to Megan Carey, the Stony Point Town Clerk. However, Megan did not officially accept the petition in the in her new office inside the but rather outside on building’s grand, front porch, where the town is conducing business due to the current threat of coronavirus. So, the 61-page petition had to be exchanged, not directly by being handed over, but by being placed on a table, so the town clerk could officially retrieve and timestamp the document.
I am very proud of the Stony Point residents who each signed and carried a petition for a permissive referendum – a state law which guarantees that the voters of Stony Point will have the right to decide on whether or not to sell the town-owned Patriot Hills Golf Course and 25 acres of Letchworth property. Thank you to Greg Julian, chair of the Stony Point Democrats, Hollis Griffin and Walter Cintron who delivered the petitions and helped to coordinate the effort among the more than 50 volunteers. SPACE members and supporters helped in this effort as did a number of registered Democrats, Republicans and Conservatives who did so in common cause and in an effective, non-partisan effort.
Congratulations, by working together, Stony Point residents were able to achieve the 543 signatures, almost double the required 304. Signatures for this petition were also collected in about two weeks time instead of the 30 days permitted by law because the town board attempted to hide the notice of the resolution – burying it in an unrelated section of the the town website, making it very difficult to locate. Also, the town board had the authority to but refused to offer the referendum vote to the public. Instead the volunteers who carried petitions, had to do so using great safety precautions at a time when the threat of the coronavirus in our community was increasing. We adapted or normal door-to-door approach by providing the petition for download online and asking individuals and couples to each sign and witness each other’s petitions and leave them in the mailbox for pick up by volunteers. Thank you to all who helped in this tremendous effort – it is a testament to the spirit of democracy among the residents of the Town of Stony Point!
Going forward – what happens next?
It is very important for everyone to realize the purpose of this permissive referendum. The people who signed the petition are not necessarily in favor or against the town’s plan to sell the property but, instead, we reject the Town Board’s resolution on February 25, granting authority to Supervisor Jim Monaghan to sign a contract when a contract DOES NOT EVEN EXIST. This permissive referendum DEMANDS that WE THE RESIDENTS OF THE TOWN STONY POINT are the shareholders, the stakeholders – having spent nearly $30 million over the past 20 years. We want greater transparency from the town and to invite THE PUBLIC to be included in the process.
We collected these signatures because we want a voice, to have a seat at the table, to understand the finances, to understand the terms of any contract to sell and what is going to be built on our town-owned land. We, the residents of Stony Point are the owners of this property and have both the right and the responsibility to understand the specific plan being proposed by Mr. Amar as and his partners who are financing Patriot Hills Park, LLC BEFORE the Supervisor signs any Contract of Sale. The Supervisor and Stony Point Town Board DO NOT OWN this property, WE DO!
Once we are able to meet again, the town board need to hold a public hearing for Mr Amar, and his investors in Patriot Hills Park, LLC to provide a presentation and explain their plan. This petition demands transparency. We are not necessarily against Mr. Amar’s plan but we want to be sure we UNDERSTAND the finances, the anticipated benefits, the projected expenses, the plans to develop the property, the options to resell the property and any terms of the proposed Contact of Sale of OUR town-owned land and the most important town-owned asset BEFORE the supervisor is authorized to sign a CONTRACT OF SALE.
The law requires that a public vote be held no sooner than 60 days or later than 90 days. Our elected officials, the Supervisor and Stony Point Town Board, are RESPONSIBLE TO MAKE THEIR CASE, to explain its plan and give STONY POINT TOWN RESIDENTS good reason to vote in support of the Contract of Sale – not out of fear but of greater understanding, with our eyes wide open!
Stay safe during this difficult time. Take advantage of the time home with with your families.
I hope you can get a project done you never had the time for, possibly early spring cleaning, or to read a book that you always wanted to read. We have that time now.
Keep calm. Call to comfort a friend or older relative. We can all get through this together!
George Potanovic Jr.