Re: The Pines of Perinton and my comments made to the Perinton Town Board at its 1.25.23 Town Board Meeting
First, here are two links for any reader to first review to help with understanding my comments to the Board:
The following is what I presented to Board:
- It is great we could be here tonight on the first anniversary of the devastating fire at the Pines of Perinton (PoP) last year to recognize first responders, fire fighters, and the overall Community response involving scores of people and organizations
- It is also great that Governor Hochul recently recognized the PoP by naming it as a recommendation for the State and National Registers of Historic Places
- But I’d like to frame both of these recognitions with some questions for the Town
- Why hasn’t the cause of the 1/25/22 fire, with 18 apartments destroyed and 168 residents displaced, been determined after a year? (Note: after my presentation, the Town’s fire chief confirmed that the investigation determined the cause to be “undetermined”)
- What is the status of the numerous Town code violations identified AFTER THE fire?
- Why did the Town have “no comment” to the press as quoted in a 9.21.22 news article about a Negligence Lawsuit filed by a tenant? What might your comment be today?
- Per another 9.9.22 news article, there were (26) Code violations that were ordered by the Town to be fixed by Winn Residential (the property management firm based in Boston, MA) by the end of last September; what is the status of these violations?
- What is the status of any subsequent reports and violations since?
- What is the status of the purported $57m Winn Residential PoP renovation plan slated to start this year?
- Will Winn Residential benefit by the Governor’s recommendation in terms of funding benefits, tax credits, etc. and how might the tenants of the PoP benefit?
- Does the Town authentically celebrate the 50-year presence of the PoP in the spirit of the Governor’s statement? This presence includes 43 acres, 508 apartments, and 1200 residents
- Worthy of note in that statement is the following: “The governor’s office said that the Pines is being considered for its role in the creation of affordable housing for low-income families and senior citizens in the late 1960s and early 1970s. At that time, its developer, the New York State Urban Development Corporation (UDC), was the only major developer in the country for affordable housing in the suburbs, the governor’s. Of the UDC’s fifteen NY projects, the Pines of Perinton was the most successful and remains the most intact today.”
- In the view of the Town, how do the words “most intact today” resonate in the face of ongoing serious Code Violations?
- Can tonight’s recognition regarding the response to last year’s fire be extended to include a more public presentation on the Pines campus and perhaps incorporate any kickoff/ribbon cutting ceremony of the soon to begin renovation? … and perhaps include an open house event for the public.
- Can the Town do more such that the Pines and the 1200 people living there are considered more as neighbors rather than seemingly forgotten about other than when there’s a crisis?
- Why doesn’t the Town look at the Code Violations more systemically versus treating them as individual situations to be fixed, and then develop an overall plan for more lasting remedies?
- Electrical issues can cause fires; roof and ceiling leaks cause related water issues one of which is mold; rodent infestations each have both cause-and-effect health consequences; and these violations are only the tip of the iceberg and should be fixed promptly and evaluated systemically
- How can the Town help support the creation of a formalized Residents Association or Union?
- Stated on Winn’s website is to “turn housing into homes”; how can the Town help Winn better fulfill that and make it more of a reality for the PEOPLE at the Pines, their families and their children?
- Lastly, the HUMAN BEINGS living at the Pines are citizens of the town and our neighbors; how can the Town actualize and mobilize a community-wide humane spirit consistently and not just when something happens like last year’s fire? … and also include Winn Residential In any discussion
As part of the Town Supervisor’s closing words during the recognition segment he said something along the lines that the community’s response to the fire shed a very positive light on the Town and that “we are here for our neighbors”. I used his words to close out my comments as well.
After the meeting, he said he would be setting up a meeting with me to discuss the questions posed. I plan on including the three residents/advocates of the Pines who also made passionate comments about the ongoing travesties occurring at the Pines and the related human trauma.
The overall Pines situation is a forgotten story involving 3% of the Town’s population. The Town and many in the Perinton/Fairport community did a great job in responding to last year’s crisis as a result of the fire. Now it must join forces with the Pines residents and Winn Residential to permanently resolve the many issues impacting the lives of the families and the children who live there.
A resident of the Town of Perinton
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I’m in the process of reading your book, Understanding and Combating Racism – sorry, I’m late to the “party”. Through the messages I’ve gleaned from the book, I better understand what it means to oppose injustice, not just from a racism lens, but also wherever it occurs. Your words to the Perinton Town Board certainly demonstrate your commitment to this pursuit and I hope to have the “guts” to emulate your courage in similar circumstances.