My name is David Dukler and I am running for a second term on Gardiner’s Town Board. All candidates do their best to distinguish themselves by taking certain positions on the issues of the day, but what is relevant today may not be a priority in the future. What guides us in decision-making is an approach, a lens through which we view the responsibilities of our service.
Growing up in New York City and choosing to come to Gardiner, I am acutely aware of what a precious resource our community is. I think of Long Island and the transformation it has undergone in the past 70 years. From being a land of potato, dairy and vegetable farms, of small towns and rural roads, it has become the poster child for congestion and overcrowding, long commutes, malls and big box stores.
This transformation informs us that it can happen here if we let it. I take the long view: what do we want our town to look like in 200 years? Our Master Plan lays out a vision that combines open space development, concentrated development in a few areas, limits on big stores and our best attempts to retain the rural atmosphere which we have today for future generations by charting a build-out plan for residential housing.
Some want Gardiner to stay the same as it is today. That will not happen. There must and will be more development but at some point, limits will be reached. As a community, we have chosen to delineate that point by creating our Master Plan. We decided not to let the “market” decide. We have seen the results of that too often. The Master Plan resulted in a new code (which we are beginning to update). It is apparent that there are gaps in the code, situations that we did not anticipate. It is in these grey areas and those to come that I use my 200-year timeline to help me think about to move forward. What kind of regulations should we have? How do we view new trends not foreseen in 2006? How do we protect existing residents and property rights? What resources should we be developing? Trails? Sidewalks? Parks? Small business? Concentrated development? Theme parks? Glamping resorts? Solar farms? Motor tracks? Theaters? The list goes on.
Rockland County has become more and more congested since I first worked there in 1975. That is not my 200 year vision for Gardiner. In the future, I know that locals will treasure having Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska in their backyard, being able to access its beauty and tranquility, in a world which we cannot yet imagine. To the greatest extent possible, I want residents to have that feeling about the Gardiner we leave them, one filled with rural roads, open fields, vistas, farms, local shops and businesses, low-density housing, vineyards, apple orchards, housing, parks and trails. We should not leave them another Levittown, another Spring Valley. We will have failed in our responsibility to our descendants if that is the result of our time here.