Irondequoit, N.Y.— In September, the Irondequoit Town Board unanimously rejected a plan to give the I-Square development a 25-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement. At that time, the developer, Mike Nolan, said he was “looking forward to Election Day”.
Nolan said supporters of I-Square may have to wait until board members are replaced if they want to see the I-Square project move forward. Nolan stands firm that the length of the PILOT has to be 25-years.
On Election Day this year, voters in Irondequoit decided to replace the only current board member whose seat was up for election. Republican Peter Kelderhouse was appointed to the board in August 2012. By the end of his term, he would have only served on the board for four months.
Kelderhouse, along with the rest of the board, voted to approve a 10-year PILOT for I-Square but denied Nolan’s request for a 25-year plan.
Kelderhouse and the board said the project lacked a sound business plan and they felt that 25 years was too long of a tax break for a project like I-Square. However, when it comes to the election, Kelderhouse feels his loss had very little to do with the I-Square controversy.
“I was very surprised with not being elected,” says Kelderhouse. “I think it was just a presidential year and people were staying in line [with their party]. We are Democratic Irondequoit. We have more Democrats than Republicans. In walking and checking my e-mails, they were probably four out of five people who thought that the board did the right thing by voting against the PILOT.”
Political newcomer and Democrat Irena Skrobach-Scoglio won the seat 57 percent to Kelderhouse’s 43 percent.
She has not said whether or not she would support a 25-year PILOT for I-Square but has criticized how the town board has handled the I-Square issue.
“Most [voters] expressed concern that there was a lack of communication and information sharing,” Skrobach-Scoglio says. “They really needed to have that in order to have concrete decisions.”
Skrobach-Scoglio says she based her campaign platform on transparency and communication.
Even with Skrobach-Scoglio on the board and even if she supported a 25-year PILOT, her vote is just one vote and it wouldn’t be enough for Nolan at this time. However, Nolan feels that it’s progress.
“It's heading in the right direction,” Nolan says. “We have a couple of pro-development people on the board which I think is favorable for us.”
Nolan maintains that the project is only affordable for him if it gets a 25-year PILOT and says realistically, he may have to wait for the next election (when three board members are up for election) to move forward with the I-Square plan.
Meanwhile, Kelderhouse says he will still stay involved in the Irondequoit community. He says the Irondequoit Town Board does support the I-Square project but must make sure it is fiscally responsible before approving a PILOT.
“I will do everything, as a resident of this town, to see that Nolan gets what he needs, but I will maintain that 25 years is too long.”