Please Don’t Destroy Geneseo (PDDG) was born two years ago last month to oppose the Newman Development Group’s Gateway Town Center proposal. I have identified myself as the founder of PDDG because I penned the phrase “Please Don’t Destroy Geneseo” and had it painted on a protest sign that I carried outside the Planning Board meeting of September 26, 2005, where Newman first publicly unveiled their PDD proposal.
Since that time I’ve done considerably more for PDDG, including assuming the Presidency last spring so that PDDG could sue the Town of Geneseo over their “missing” documents. (Unincorporated organizations can only sue through an officer). There was never actually an election for that office and I’m not sure I would win won today, as many of my fellow PDDGers have Wilcox for Supervisor signs in their yards, but I was happy to assume the title to advance the cause.
Like any organization, there has not always been complete agreement on all issues and strategy, but we have usually managed to work things out. I’ve always thought it was important to have a “Big Tent” philosophy and welcome the widest possible support to our basic goal of questioning the wisdom of developing this particular project.
Our coalition includes people who oppose the Newman PDD application for a wide variety of reasons. We have everyone from people who believe that the Lowes by itself actually will destroy Geneseo, to those who are more concerned about what it might do to their own small business. Many are concerned about traffic impacts, while some worry about it destroying the possibility of attracting non-retail business to the Empire Zone.
When I entered the fray as a candidate for Town Supervisor, the differences between my own personal views and the official position of the organization became more apparent. I do not believe, however, that the differences are so wide as to be untenable. PDDG has always been a non-political organization and will not support any candidates.
By the same token, people need to understand that when I am speaking as a candidate I am not representing the views of PDDG. If I am elected, I will have to give up my membership in PDDG. It would not be right for the leader of the town to be a member of a citizen’s group that will be actively lobbying the town board on a matter before it.
As Supervisor I will be able to do my lobbying from the inside and I hope to have some sympathetic new board members serving with me. It’s not for nothing that PDDG took over the Democratic Party! If I do have to leave PDDG, I know I will leave it in capable hands. Bill Lofquist has promised that PDDG will sue me (and the town) if we ever vote approval of the Newman PDD.
Overall, it’s been a long strange trip, but I am very proud of what PDDG has accomplished. With the help of some sympathetic members of the Planning Board, we have succeeded in stopping the Newman bulldozers by making them go through the full SEQR process. As a result, the final decision on this matter will be made by the new town board, three members of which we will elect next month– and on something this important, that’s the way it should be!