Smart developers invest in sound, long-term visions
Neighbors. For the past few years, a minority of Port Chester's current and former residents have presented the case that improvements in the quality of life, tax justice, and sustainable development are needed to help Port Chester prosper. Now, with the conservatives sensing a threat from several groups, they have framed their campaign using these exact terms. Do they think we're ignorant? We know who on the BoT have either not taken up or voted down measures to improve precisely these same objectives. This isn't my opinion; it's a summary of the voting record.
When you dig deeper, you'll hear some of the candidates attempt to differentiate their campaign by asking you to believe a bizarre assertion - that developers are easily "scared off" by municipalities that keep a tighter rein on the quality and character of their community. They embrace the message to secure your vote but continue to cast assertions that unless we prostrate ourselves, we'll scare off the developers. And I've heard them suggest that anyone that is "new" could not possibly understand Port Chester's issues. This is undoubtedly an assault on everyone's intelligence.
And despite their newfound embrace of environmental, social, and governance causes, some members are still seeding fear and divisiveness at the core of their argument. Don't take it from me; listen to the replay of yesterday's debate in English and Spanish.
All but the worst developers know that when the community prospers so does the developer. We don't need more developments that go broke when they are due to start paying 100% of their taxes or plan their business cases based on our subsidies – aka, our tax dollars. We need a Village government that can quantify and clarify the value of Port Chester to developers beyond simply offering tax incentives and abatements.
Let's take the steps required to change the perception of Port Chester from a "please don't walk away, we're desperate and will accept anything you propose" to a Village that believes in itself with a more expansive, articulate, and enduring vision. We're less than 1 hour from NYC, right on the Long Island Sound, with a walkable downtown that still echoes its industrial heritage.
We need to start acting on the belief that this is enough to attract developers. We don't need to continue to give away our ability to negotiate on the size and shape of the buildings, infrastructure improvements, or whatever else we need from developers to make these deals work both ways. The fact is that there are a fixed number of Metro-North commuter stations within an hour commute of NYC. Yet we behave like we live in a backwater and are lucky that anyone can find it on a map.
Smart developers invest in sound, long-term visions, articulated by smart local leaders that can make the case for Port Chester. Communities that put their residents at the center of every decision demand higher prices and attract better projects. Our elected leaders need to shape our codes and approval processes and then be able to demonstrate that we have an excellent package that developers will not find in New Rochelle or Stamford, or anywhere else.
Let's use this election to reject the leaders who clearly don't have the ability to articulate this vision - and get the leadership we need that can work across the aisle to develop a shared vision for a new Port Chester.