LAKE GEORGE - At the final town board meeting of 2009 - and the last of retiring Supervisor Lou Tessier's lengthy tenure leading local government - several residents offered their own visions of the town's future.
Among those challenging the local government to take a new direction was Lake George resident Joanne Gavin, who has been critical of the town government's conduct, which at times has been autocratic, according to critics.
Prefacing her remarks with a salutation to Tessier to enjoy his retirement in good health, she detailed things that needed to change.
The town government, she said, needed to reform and put an end to secrecy and retribution from those in power toward citizens with opposing views.
She said that such attitudes curtailed good decision-making and alienated citizens.
"Treat the entire constituency with respect - Eliminate the name-calling," she said.
It is far more important, she said, for the public to openly discuss and debate vital development, environmental and community issues at board meetings than hear reports at about light bulbs that needed replacement.
"We need to be heard so we can all work together to improve this community," she said, noting she was speaking on behalf of the Lake George Citizens Group.
Gavin added that comprehensive accurate meeting minutes should be taken that properly reflect the debates and problems that do surface. She also said that all residents should be treated equally, calling for ceasing the practice of favoritism in issuing land-use variances.
"The laws and codes must be followed," she said. "The bad development must stop."
Gavin challenged incoming Supervisor Frank McCoy to make changes towards more open, responsive government, and to realize that that's what the public was demanding through their heavy votes in November for alternative political candidates Dennis Dickinson, Marisa Muratori and George McGowan.
"This was a huge message to all of you," she said to the town board. "Are you listening now? People are concerned."
She said that her group would continue to work toward their goals.
"A government that is responsive to its constituents is far more effective than what we have had over a number of years!"
Town resident Dave Redpath echoed many of Gavin's opinions.
He also called for more respect of those who had differing opinions and for a government that responds to the inquiries and needs of its citizens.
He also said that town government should provide clear, detailed budgets, and not just spreadsheets with expenditures and receipts identified only with code numbers.
"We are looking for transparency," he said.
He also said that government should only take up particular functions if truly needed, only if the private sector couldn't accomplish it on its own.
He noted that the controversial town project to reconstruct aging Gaslight Village buildings should have been preceded with analysis, debate, a comprehensive business plan and with consent of the public.
Redpath also wished Tessier well in his retirement and offered a remark to the incoming supervisor.
"Frank McCoy, good luck, your stakeholders will be watching," he said.
Mike Seguljik also spoke to the town board.
"You need to get a handle on what's going on with these development projects and planning review," he said. "There are signs the water quality of Lake George is declining - tourism development pressure is hammering us."
The town board members listened with attentive expressions, and they refrained from engaging in debate with their critics.