Fri 24 Dec 2021 09:00
By Alice E. Gérard
In early 2018, shortly after Jenn Baney was inaugurated as a new member of the Grand Island Town board of directors, she decided to focus her efforts on modernizing the security systems in the city’s buildings. This effort would take four years.
“Two months into my freshman year, I suggested to the board that we really start looking at our outdated safety and security systems across town and try to get to a speed where they are. the school district and private businesses, ”Baney said. .
“I’m happy to report now that, as I leave, the first stage of the plan is in place, with materials ordered and the installation of new systems underway. I am also working with (advisor) Tom Digati to set multi-year plans for plans for all buildings in the city to have the necessary safety and security upgrades so that we can feel our employees are protected and safe, ”said Baney. “Our buildings at different levels will be monitored, more secure. We have worked closely together, forming a committee of elected officials and city employees, to employ or add to our current protocols equipment and systems that ensure the safety and surveillance of all and the surveillance of buildings. For every inhabitant who comes in and for every employee working in the city, they can feel safe. “
These safety and security improvements include improvements to cameras and access to buildings, said Baney, who was honored with a proclamation from the city on Monday at her last meeting as elected official.
Town supervisor John Whitney said the work Baney did during his four years of “leadership and public service” had “materially and spiritually enriched this community. We just want to say thank you.
During the public comment period at the end of the City Council meeting, Roads Superintendent Dick Crawford said, “Jenn, I want to thank you for your four years of dedicated service to our community. It’s really enriched a lot, a lot of people here. Your willingness to always listen, respond and deliver was perfect.
Another project Baney said she was proud to be a part of was New York’s recent designation of Grand Island as a climate smart community. She said she worked closely with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) “to pursue clean energy initiatives and do everything as a community to actually receive the designation.” .
The Climate Smart Community Initiative is a state-wide program that helps local communities reduce greenhouse gas emissions and solve problems related to climate change. Currently, across the state, 349 communities are registered as climate smart communities. In Erie County, these communities include Buffalo, Amherst, Lancaster, East Aurora, and Williamsville, as well as the county as a whole.
Grand Island was the “first small community in western New York State to receive the climate smart community designation,” Baney said. She described it as “a very collaborative project with all of our employees”.
Some of the projects Baney worked on to achieve the Climate Smart Community designation included electric vehicle charging stations and the installation of LED street lighting.
Digati said: “Yesterday on my way to work I went out of my driveway and there was a bucket truck working on street lights in front of my house. The LED lighting project of which Jenn was an integral part is underway. They made my whole street in a miraculous time.
Whitney added, “Jenn, it’s been great working with you for the past two years. The projects you have been involved in take so much time and effort. You put 100% every time. As Tom stated, our street lights are all converted to LED street lights. National Grid withdrew from the streetlight market and abandoned it on Grand Island. The clean energy community designation has been returned to Grand Island. Jenn played a very important role in this. And there are others that are too numerous to mention. I take my hat off to you. I applaud your efforts. Thank you for your service.”
Baney said serving on city council gave him a chance to grow as a person.
“The opportunity to serve as an elected official is an opportunity that is not offered to many, and the privilege has not been lost on me,” she said. “My mandate was unique. Many ask me if I would have liked to be able to serve during easier times. I worked my first two years as a member of a very controversial board of directors, and my second two years were in the midst of a pandemic. So the glamor and fun just weren’t there most of the time. Much of it did not have a guide because it was new. But I wouldn’t trade those four years, because I don’t know of any other way. The character of finding experiences that come from a term like this is truly a gift. And while it may not have been pleasant for others, serving others is not a mistake. So, for the residents, you have been my singular focus this quarter, even when things were volatile or difficult. I have always tried to do what was wise and right. I hope I represented you very well.
The challenges have helped Baney grow as a member of city council and as a human, she said. Baney noted that criticism helped her become stronger as a person: “As humans we can just dismiss criticism, but we can glean the positive when someone says something negative to. your subject and really listen to what they say and possibly admit to being wrong, but consider their point of view, even if they say it in a really angry way.
During the city council meeting for council members to comment, Baney noted that when she steps down there will be no women on the five-person council for the first time since 1994, when Mary Cooke joined the board. member and, later, as municipal overseer.
Baney said she would encourage women and young people to get involved in city government, as members of committees and advisory boards, as well as to run for office: “I think the more you can. having diversity, the better in terms of representation. Big island. It really comes down to women being able to make the sacrifice, which can be more difficult for them, balancing the needs of work and family, as well as the parties connecting and being willing to support women for. posts. “
Councilor Pete Marston recognized this difficulty in balancing the needs of work and family, telling Baney, “I want to thank you for your four years of service. Not just you, but I also know your family. I know the sacrifice they make to allow you to do what you do. It’s a lot of work. There’s no way he won’t come home with you. I’m sure the boys are excited to see some more of Mum. Good luck to you all in your future endeavors. “
Baney said she was considering various opportunities for the future: “I am fortunate, at 41, to have achieved my career goals. I was able to spend a decade teaching (in elementary school) before the children were born. I was able to spend several years raising them when they were very young. I have truly been able to serve my community in a very public way and with impact, in a way that most people never get the chance to do. So in this next season I’m actually looking to take a step back and possibly work in an area that has a little less notoriety. I still have a real passion for the field of education, so one thing that I intend to work on part time is in the higher education arena; and then I’m currently pursuing a position in an entirely different field, certainly more in a support role. I have passed the stage where I need praise and recognition. I just want to serve those around me in a way that benefits others, without too much attention. “
Councilor Mike Madigan said, “I can’t say enough about Councilor Baney. Jenn, it has been a huge honor to serve with you. You worked on the basis of a code. He always did the next right thing. It had nothing to do with politics. It had nothing to do with winning or losing. You’ve always fallen on the side of doing the next right thing.
“I would just say I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity,” Baney said. “The Islanders took the risk of electing someone who didn’t grow up here. Someone they may not have known. I hope I didn’t let them down, that they took a risk with me that they felt was worth it. I am incredibly grateful for this chance to serve them, and I hope they feel it was worth the risk of electing me.
Elected city councilor Christian Bahleda commented to Baney: “I am going to replace you and I want to thank you very much for taking the time to help me get up to speed. I will do my best to follow in your footsteps.
“You’re going to be awesome,” Baney told Bahleda.
Grand Island says, “Go Bills”
On December 17, city workers were seen putting up a “Go Bills” sign in Veterans Park, easily visible on Bedell Road. Apparently the sign worked, as the Bills defeated the Carolina Panthers by a score of 31-14.