Comments on open government, Opus 40, the state Open Meetings Law, support for a controversial housing development in Glasco brought some sharp exchanges in an otherwise low-key town candidates’ forum Monday, sponsored by the League of Women Voters.
Incumbent Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel is not a member of a party; he’s running on the Democrat and Working Families lines. Republican Kelly Myers, a member of the Village Board, is also endorsed by the Independence and Conservative parties.
Republican Town Board candidates Pamela Riggins and Joseph Roberti Sr. faced off against the Democratic endorsed candidates Leeanne Thornton and Fred Costello, both members of the Independence Party and endorsed by the Working Families Party. Riggins and Roberti are endorsed by the Conservative Party.
Sculptor Harvey Fite’s magnum opus, six acres of limestone formations constructed without the use of mortar, was the subject of debate both between Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel and Republican candidate Kelly Myers and the town board candidates. Myers praised the sculpture garden, and said she had held her wedding reception there. “It is a very special place,” she said. However, “it’s a wonderful idea to have it as a public place, but we can’t afford it right now. This town board is unrealistic in the way they’re spending money because people are really hurting.”
“We spent approximately $12,000 starting the not-for-profit going,” Helsmoortel said. “They said I spent discretionary funds, and there is no line for discretionary funds, That’s true, but there are lines for legal expense, consultants’ expense, development expense, and those funds were drawn from lines that allow that kind of spending. Twice a month those bills are approved by the Town Board.”
Regarding the sculpture itself, Helsmoortel said “Opus 40 is a treasure; it should be protected. I feel bad that we were not able to continue to protect Opus 40 for the town, but I feel Opus 40 will be successful. It is nationally known.”