Community integrity plebiscite
To the editor:
From Webster’s: plebiscite n. “A direct vote by an electorate on an important issue or proposal.”
In 1998, during my first year as councilman, I gathered support to put the non-binding referendum on the ballot: “Should the name of the Town of Wilmington, NY be changed to the Town of Whiteface, NY?” Alas, we lost that vote 52%-48%, but I don’t think anyone rolling into our town nowadays has any doubt about how we identify where we live.
In a letter to the editor printed March 3 of this year in this newspaper, I proposed moving the school district line that currently bisects our community to the town borderline. After checking in with the Essex County Board of Elections on current proper procedures, I drafted a petition with the editing help of Favor Smith, and he and I then gathered the required number of signatures. On Aug. 3, Town Clerk Dawn Stevens helped us certify the signatures, then I drove to Elizabethtown where the Board of Elections reviewed, accepted, and date stamped the petition at 3:33 p.m. All being set, we proceeded to more extensively research the actual locations of the school district line and the relative school tax differences. I already knew one borderline very well, as I for a time owned 51 acres with a farmhouse just over the line on Bonnieview Road. The plan was to create a detailed informational flyer to send to everyone prior to voting day.
Stopping by the Town Hall to check if I might help with a setup detail for the firehouse candidate forum two weeks ago, Dawn looked up at me and said, “I just received the ballot. Our petition was rejected by the state.”
The informational flyer will now be individually numbered and include a yes or no check mark space, and an area for optional comments. Drop box locations will be described, and a mailing address to send your vote. We’ll open the boxes and mailed in votes at the Town Hall.
The question rejected by the state: “Should the Town Board of Wilmington begin a process to unify the public school districts into one, under the Lake Placid Central School District? This process will take many years, and will not dislocate any students currently enrolled in the AuSable Valley Central School District.”
The reasons to do this? Having homeowners watch the Lake Placid school buses drive by on Quaker Mountain whilst paying AuSable Valley school taxes, which are triple Lake Placid’s rate, is simply unjust.
Having our community’s youngsters, who grow and become friends at our beach, parks and playgrounds, and go to all the events, concerts and library and Youth Center programs … having one-fourth of these kids and young adults wave goodbye to the rest of their friends every morning is the exact opposite of community integrity.
Thank you for reading this and your participation in the plebiscite. Best wishes for a healthy and pleasant winter!
Karl von Entress