The following letter to the editor was submitted and written in its entirety by Susan Siegel, former town supervisor of Yorktown.
To the Editor,
In the event of an emergency, what would help you more?
- Getting a phone call or email from the town with information about the emergency, or
- Knowing that the town’s first responders (police, fire, ambulance) had a newly furnished and carpeted room to meet in
If you favor the furniture/carpet option, then sit back and relax. There’s nothing you have to do. But, if you’d prefer to know where you might be able to get dry ice, whether there’s an emergency shelter, which roads are closed, or whether other parts of town have electricity, then you might want to call or write to Supervisor Michael Grace and other members of the Town Board. (For a listing of their phone numbers and email addresses, visit the Town’s web site.)
Here’s why Town Board members need to hear from you.
The only way the Town’s new Emergency Notification System can come close to being able to communicate with most residents during an emergency is to supplement the system’s current limited database of 4,500 phone numbers. The only way it can do that is by purchasing Verizon’s proprietary 911 phone list that has 19,000 land line listings for Yorktown. The money to pay for the list would come from the remaining funds in the $20,000 grant the Town received last year to set up the Emergency Notification System, so there won’t be any cost to the taxpayers.
If your phone number is one of the 4,500 numbers in the current database, then you probably received several messages during the October Halloween storm about the emergency shelter and the fact that there was electricity west of the Taconic Parkway. You may also have received phone calls or emails from the Water Department if your neighborhood has experienced a water main break.
The problem today is that Supervisor Grace has not signed the contract with Verizon, despite the fact that the previous Town Board voted unanimously to purchase the list.
Instead, it appears that Supervisor Grace and other members of the new Town Board, without any public discussion, want to use the remaining grant money for another purpose, a purpose not included in the original grant request. They want to use the money to furnish a room in the basement of the courthouse where the town’s first responders can meet during an emergency to coordinate their efforts. In recent years, when the group has needed to meet (it never met during the October storm), it has used the large classroom in the Police Department that is already equipped with phone and internet access. These meetings did not interfere with the regular operations of the department.
Why the first responders need a new room, dedicated exclusively for that one use, has yet to be explained to the community.
So if you want to get that emergency phone call or email, then make your phone call today and tell your elected representatives that the grant money should be spent for its intended purpose – setting up a comprehensive Emergency Notification System.