Landis candidates focus on garbage collection, parks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 12, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
LANDIS — Landis Alderman James Furr is throwing his hat into the mayor’s race to run against incumbent Mayor Dennis Brown.
Brown, whose first term as mayor will conclude this year, served as alderman from 1992-2002 and as mayor pro tem for two years.
Furr’s term isn’t set to expire until 2013. This is his first run for mayor, but he has been an alderman since 2005.
Alderman Tony Hilton was first appointed to the board in 2002, to fill a seat vacated by a board member who stepped down. Roger Safrit also won a seat on the board after another board member won the 2008 election and then stepped down.
Tony Corriher has served two previous terms as alderman and is seeking to return to the board.
He has said in the past the board needs business-minded people who can bring “prudent and fruitful ideas” for the future of the town.
Furr said after being on the board for more than six years he decided to run for mayor because he believes there needs to be a “focus on more economic accountability to citizens” and someone who is “more responsive to the citizens.”
“Also in that focus, greater availability to the citizens than the incumbent,” Furr said.
Brown said he was not too surprised about Furr running.
“I think he believes that no race should go unchallenged. We are friends and will remain friends,” Brown said.
He said he feels as though he’s represented the town well.
“I’m here to be mayor,” Brown said.
Furr said one thing that makes him stand out from Brown is initiative.
“In my six years as alderman, I believe the record will show I’ve brought more ideas and initiatives to the board than any other member,” he said.
Furr said he wants to use that same initiative and ideas to serve the people as mayor.
Brown said what makes him stand out is he’s a people person.
“I relate well to people and people feel like they can talk to me. I don’t have any problem meeting people and discussing a possible solution. You will never find anybody that cares about Landis more than I do,” he said.
One big issue the town grappled with during this past budgeting sessions was how to save money. The board approved to contract out several services including garbage and began recycling in an effort to save the town some money.
Furr was opposed to contracting out the services, he said, he would have focused on improving the efficiency of the existing operation.
“To actually save money would’ve involved the release of employees. After the action was taken, our incumbent mayor supported keeping employees after their job had contracted to be done for them,” he said.
Safrit said it will save the town money.
He also said since people loved the recycling, it would have been “stupid” to not add garbage.
Corriher, like Furr, also thought it was a bad decision to contract out services.
He said the “sacred cow” was back yard garbage pick up, particularly for the seniors.
The current contracted garbage services allows residents with special needs or disabilities to have their garbage picked up from their yard instead of being rolled to the curb.
Hilton said it was an excellent decision to contract services. Had the town not contracted services, he said, the board would have had to increase garbage fees or increase taxes.
“Given the economy, we couldn’t do that,” he said.
Brown said he thought it was a great decision and the feedback has been positive.
“It was best thing at that particular time to save the town money,” Brown said.
The town in recent months has worked hard to improve its recreation department and passive park.
The parks are a nice benefit for the town, Hilton said.
Passive parks is a solution to having a viable park and is a way of not spending a lot of tax money, Hilton said.
Safrit said concentration could be placed instead on working with the planning board to get more industry into the town.
“A lot of people say incentives shouldn’t be given, but without it you are not going to get industry,” Safrit said.
The town should be focused less on developing other recreation facilities and parks, Corriher said.
“We already had a pool facility and a park on South Beaver Street that’s been neglected for years,” he said.
Corriher said he’s not against parks, but the town needs to maintain what it already has.
He said there is a great need for an indoor year-round recreation facility. He suggested it be placed in the old hardware store on North Central Avenue.
Furr was a proponent of the Lake Corriher Wilderness Area and is glad to see the passive park project come to fruition.
Brown said focus on recreation was aimed in the right direction.
He said Landis is a place where people want to live and relax after work.
Corriher said the next five years for Landis look very bright.
Corriher said there are people who have money to invest in Landis and are ready to pounce.
“Landis stands in a good position and good area for growth. Controlled growth is good,” Corriher said.
“Hopefully some gradual economic growth. It’s dependent upon the general economy,” Furr said.
Brown said the next five years in Landis also looked bright.
“I don’t see Landis going anywhere but up,” he said.
Safrit said he envisions the parks will be completed, which “is a good thing for the people.”
“We’ve already seen how things have progressed for Lake Corriher,” he said.
The wilderness area gives people a place to go locally, Safrit said.
Hilton said the town is working with ElectriCities to identify property that could already have the utilities in place and be ready for construction.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.