The Lansing Town Board, in the interest of inclusivity, has been considering making room on the flagpole in front of its town office building for a rainbow flag – honoring a request by a Lansing LGBTQ group to fly the flag during the month of June in honor of Pride Month.
However, that request prompted sufficient conversation among members of the board to push the issue to the board’s next meeting, with conditional approval leaving just nine days left in June to fly the flag.
Ed LaVigne, town supervisor, prefaced the discussion of the flag policy by promoting the Hate Has No Home Here signs, saying “I want Lansing to be welcoming.” Created by two elementary school students in Chicago, the signs have sparked a campaign which has spread across the country, encouraging peace between all, regardless of differences in identity. The signs are available for free from the Lansing United Methodist Church, although Lavigne stressed that there is no religious or political affiliation associated with the signs.
Referencing an incident in March 2017 where anti-Semitic graffiti was found in the Ludlowville park, Lavigne emphasized the importance of the town board’s role in encouraging a tolerant and accepting community which recognizes and celebrates diversity.
In this vein of inclusivity, the board was eager to support Lansing’s LGBTQ community, however they proceeded with a precautionary air. By hanging the pride flag, the board worried that the door would open for other groups to request their flags be hung. The board wondered how they would respond if for example a group insisted that the town hang the confederate flag.
This discussion raised questions of how the board should interact with the first amendment and what precautions they should take to ensure a welcoming community. After looking into the law and measures taken by other communities to address these concerns, the board will revisit this issue at their next meeting.
This isn’t the first time a local municipality had to consider the first amendment implications of such a policy – the Town of Ithaca recently found themselves considering the question during a and whether or not they could restrict offensive artwork.
Comprehensive Plan – Next Step
The Town of Lansing adopted their new Comprehensive Plan on May 2, 2018, after several years of review.
With the release of the plan’s final version, the board must look at how to execute it.
The board members emphasized that community involvement is essential as they move forward, meaning that transparency must be prioritized to encourage accessibility. As the board approaches different aspects of the plan, they will be sure to provide clear agendas online which indicate the exact topic of discussion so that relevant stakeholders, including business owners, farmers or residents of specific neighborhoods, may attend meetings to give their input on how the plan is carried out.
These meetings will begin with the planning board, who will follow an outline drafted by Michael Long, town planner. The outline will include recommendations for how to approach different projects, as well as a preliminary timeline for different components of the plan. Community members and the planning board will work to turn this outline into tasks that may be executed with the approval of the town board.
Other Discussion Topics
Long presented the board with an update on the Milton Meadows veteran housing development which is being constructed across from the town hall and community center. The development will include the construction of a new road which will be under city maintenance.
The board is in looking into a need for an additional employee in the town offices. This employee would serve as an engineering & planning coordinator, offering assistance to the office as a whole and the town planner. LaVigne and other board members agreed to discuss this position at a later date, after looking into current needs and how this position will remain sustainable for the town in the future as needs change.
Over the course of the next several summer work session meetings, the board will plan for an updated budget. LaVigne mentioned that the planning of the budget will offer some teachable moments for the newer members serving on the board.
Mentioned briefly was the solar ordinance schedule, which will be addressed in greater detail at a later meeting.
LaVigne shared that the Lansing Community Council will fundraise for the new barbeque pavilion at the Lansing Town Park, which will hopefully be built by volunteers. Currently, the pavilion is estimated to cost $6,000 and LaVigne has been in contact with local grillers to determine how the pavilion could best suit their needs. When finished, it will be equipped with both plumbing and electricity.
- Amongst the approved resolutions was the establishment of Sewer District #1, which will affect the Town of Lansing, the Village of Lansing, and the Village of Cayuga Heights. The implementation of the sewer will be paid for by developers along with the Village of Lansing and will come at no cost to the Town of Lansing.
- Additional resolutions included the authorization to execute the East Shore Circle minor subdivision stormwater agreements and easements, the approval of the Cargill consolidated water district extension and the approval of the town center consolidated water district extension.
- The board also amended the proposed contract with Eastern Managed Print Network to guarantee more coverage in the case of the maintenance and warranty of the town office copy machine.
- Finally, the board discussed and approved the resolution to rent a track skid steer loader for maintenance work, especially in the town’s water district.
Chloe Wray is an intern with The Ithaca Times.