Idel, why are you running for trustee?
My knowledge and expertise in government has enabled me to help many people for many years. As a trustee, I will have an even greater ability to assist my neighbors and all the people of the Village of Lawrence.
What experiences or unique talents would you bring to the Board?
For the last few years, I’ve owned and operated a local commercial construction company, working on many challenging projects. I was also able to complete the construction of a small addition to my house. Dealing with all the intricacies of our building department, along with its requirements and rules, has given me insight into areas where the Village can do a better and more efficient job without compromising on safety.
What’s your position on what should be done with the sewage treatment plant?
I believe this is one of the Village’s most important decisions that must involve the whole Board. To assume I’m the only one who knows what to do is arrogant and is not who I am.
The first question is, do we want to develop the property at all. If the answer is yes, then we should get the best deal for the taxpayers. Based upon the information we currently have out there publicly, Uri Kaufman believes we can receive $20 million for the property if sold to a developer who envisions a Regency-type facility. Alex Edelman believes we can receive $7 million for the property if sold as eight single family homes. But why eight? Why not five? Ten? Fifteen? From my reading of the meeting minutes, Mayor Edelman picked the eight number out of a hat. It was not based on any study or analysis.
As trustees, we must do what is best for the future of the Village. The most important thing we must do is ensure that we maximize value financially, aesthetically and safely.
What is your vision to enhance the golf course?
After Superstorm Sandy, we Iost a great opportunity by not expanding the LYCC clubhouse to allow for weddings and larger simchos. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to receive FEMA funding for most of the repairs/upgrades which would have allowed this to happen. I still believe it is plausible and could be extremely beneficial to our neighborhood. Having many friends whose children are in shidduchim, it would be wonderful if we had a local wedding hall where we can make a large wedding without traveling far. Having gone to weddings at the Sands, I can tell you how enjoyable it has been to know that when we leave the wedding, we can be home in a few minutes. I believe this can be accomplished, and we can pay for it without increasing our taxes or fees.
You put out a 10-point platform. Which are the two most important points of that platform and why?
Preparing for the next storm is perhaps the most important issue as we cannot continue to pay the highest rates for electric and still have such issues. We just experienced a small-scale wind event, and it caused many Village residents to be without power and, more importantly, without answers or any point of contact with PSEGLI as their communication systems failed. This requires a knowledge set of which I am very familiar with. Having been involved in the sale and installation pre-Sandy and post-Sandy of hundreds of standby generators, I can attest how fearful many people are of the issues with LIPA and PSEGLI. Many people aren’t even aware that LIPA still exists and while some work has been done there is a lot more to be done. PSEGLI is the company that manages out local grid, while LIPA is still the base utility. I will work with Michael Fragin, who previously served as a trustee on LIPA’s board, to come up with solutions to more effectively deal with the inevitable blips as well as come up with a comprehensive plan to ensure that Lawrence residents have access to a consistent and operating electrical utility.
I also feel that having all members of the Board and all Village employees treating each other and residents in a respectful, civil and collaborative manner is key to ensuring that the Village will continue to being an enjoyable place to live. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case, and people who have had issues and seek to redress them have been treated condescendingly or derisively and without common courtesy. This cannot be tolerated by any member of the administration or any Village employee. To foster a harmonious relationship between the administration, Village employees, and Villagers is perhaps the most important part of being able to serve on the administration.
Have Village taxes gone up over the past several years, relative to inflation?
I believe we need to look at a holistic approach to taxation. To say “has the overall levy gone up relative to inflation” is just a minor aspect of the issues. We need to look no further than the building department fees which have almost tripled over the past few years to realize that yes, they’ve increased above the rate of inflation. Additionally, the overall Village outlays have as well. We need to see what aspects of Village government can be done through better use of current technology and attempt to obtain cost savings. Additionally, we need to review overall staffing requirements in the Village to ensure we are getting the best bang for our taxpayer dollars.
What type of a surveillance camera program do you envision?
A surveillance system that utilizes CCTV as well as license plate readers for every vehicle that travels into and through our Village. This will enable us to know whenever someone enters or exits our Village by car, as well as any access point to enter our Village. While our Village encompasses almost four-square miles, we have very few ingress and egress points and can easily install these components quickly and inexpensively. Additionally, I feel we can try to involve our residents who are utilizing Ring or other such devices to share their video feeds with the Village and local law enforcement. There have been bicycle thefts that were recovered based upon sharing of video on social media where, within hours of posting these videos, the bicycles were returned without any law enforcement officials getting involved.
As a Village, we can do a lot together, helping our neighbors without having any additional costs to the Village.
Are you in favor of free parking for Lawrence residents?
Yes and no. Everything cannot be free. I do, however, envision a system similar to Los Angeles whereby we can purchase (for a fee) a resident sticker so we can park in lots for free and not be subject to tickets if we forget to park in our driveways between 3-5 a.m.
Since we are on this topic, I would like to also discuss our system of punitive penalties. I would like to change the 14-day and double penalty system, having received complaints of people not knowing they received a ticket, either because the ticket was drenched in a deluge or simply was affixed to the car in a manner that allowed the violation to go unnoticed and only found out about it when the ticket fee doubled. We, as a Village, cannot do this to our residents, visitors or businesses. We must better utilize technology to inform people of the violation and inform them that failure to timely pay the violation will cause an increase in penalty. Once we embrace technology, we can allow people to pay their fees/fines, etc. easily without concern of increases and will make the money come in easily.
As a last point on fines, I have heard of Hatzalah members receiving fines and summonses while parking and while on calls. Having gone through so much with COVID-19, as well as everything else that they do for our community, I find this disgusting. I, for one, would establish a method for the local Hatzalah coordinators to submit a list of placard requests so that these great volunteers who give so much of themselves can do so without fear of fines and tickets. I assure you, we can afford to do this and they deserve to be shown that the Village as a whole appreciates their hard work and determination.
I really appreciate you allowing me this time to share my point of view, and I’m hopeful that I not only won you over, but most importantly, I have won your support and vote. If you have any further questions, as always, please feel free to reach out to me and hopefully, from September 16th and on, I will be able to serve you as a trustee in the Village of Lawrence.
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