Author Archives: gracny

About gracny

We are a group of Groton residents interested in raising public awareness of issues related to gas drilling, including land leasing and the methods and risks involved with unconventional gas drilling (a.k.a. “hydrofracking” or “fracking”). We believe that all of our neighbors, whether their land is leased or not, value clean drinking water, clean air, and the recreational opportunities and quality of life in Groton, NY.

Public hearing on a fracking moratorium April 8 at 7:30pm

The Groton town board will hold a public hearing and a vote on a six-month fracking moratorium.  The meeting will take place on April 8 at 7:30pm at the town offices, 101 Conger Blvd.

Come to the public hearing and let the town board know what you think!

You may feel that we have been down this road before and it seems kind of silly to be standing in front of the town board yet again, telling them how fracking poses a serious threat to public health, safety, infrastructure, and a peaceful way of life.   There are two things to keep in mind:

1.  The town board has changed for the better.  In the last election, a pro-fracking member, Don Scheffler, was replaced by Kelly Smith, who re-introduced the fracking moratorium.  We now have a real chance at getting a moratorium passed.

2.  As time passes, more and more evidence is gathered showing that hydraulic fracturing is  dangerous to public heath and safety.  See this summary for a quick overview of some recent studies.  As more communities experience large-scale gas drilling in their backyards, they are finding that the industry messages about safe gas drilling are misleading and false, and even the people who initially welcomed fracking are very unhappy with the negative impacts on their lives and property values.  As a result, more and more moratoria and bans are being put into place, including in major cities.  We need to communicate these new and ongoing impacts to the town board members at the public hearing.

Based on their past comments, several town board members rely on attendance at public hearings and meetings as an indicator of public interest in issues.  If you want the board to take a moratorium seriously, you need to be at the meeting!

For a quick overview on the Groton town board’s actions (and inaction) concerning a fracking moratorium, see the timeline.

Next GRAC meeting is April 16

The next meeting will be Wednesday, April 16 at 7:00pm at Mike & Jen’s house.  Contact us if you need directions.  We’ll discuss our recent progress towards a new fracking moratorium in Groton and the next steps in our plan.  New members are always welcome!

Groton town board votes 3-2 against a moratorium

Today was a dark day in Groton. The Town Board, having just lost a seat (and almost two) in the recent election, decided to revive their long-tabled fracking moratorium so they could vote it down before the new board member could take her seat in January. As expected, the vote was 3 to 2, with Scheffler, Gamel, and Clark voting against the moratorium, and Sovocool and Morey voting for it. The 3 – 2 vote means that, if they had waited to vote until January, the vote would have been 3 – 2 in favor of the moratorium, because Scheffler lost his seat to Kelly Smith, who is in favor of a moratorium.

The moratorium had been tabled since November 2012 when the town board decided not to vote on it because they wanted to first form an ethics board to rule on potential conflicts of interest (some board members have held gas leases in the past). The town board then took until August 2013 to establish the ethics board, dragging out the process far longer than many other New York towns.

As was made clear at today’s (December 10, 2013) town board meeting, the ethics board was never asked to consider possible conflicts of interest related to gas leases. In addition, the existing Tompkins County ethics board could have been consulted at any time. Thus the town board could have voted on their tabled moratorium at any time since November 2012. Why delay? They knew that fracking was going to be a hot issue in the upcoming election, and they did not want to go on record with a vote either way.

Delaying the moratorium vote for over a year to allow for an ethics board ruling was clearly a stalling tactic. However, the town board’s hand was forced by their loss in the recent election. They knew they had a 3-2 majority against a moratorium, but the majority would change in favor of a moratorium in January. Thus they held a sham public hearing (at which pro-moratorium speakers outnumbered anti-moratorium speakers by a ratio of 4 to 1) and immediately voted against the moratorium.

The vote was a bald-faced political move by a majority that no longer represents their constituents. It was also a pointed attempt to deny the incoming board member, Kelly Smith, a voice in the debate.

What is the next step in this fight? Find out more at the next GRAC meeting on December 18 at 7pm at Mike and Jen’s house.  Contact us if you need directions.

Public hearing on a fracking moratorium Dec. 10 at 7:30pm

The Groton town board just announced (with an absolute minimum of public notice) that they will hold a public hearing and a vote on the six-month fracking moratorium that they tabled over a year ago.  The meeting will take place on Dec. 10 at 7:30pm at the town offices, 101 Conger Blvd.  Please come and voice your opinion to the town board!

After over a year of stalling, why are they suddenly motivated to hold a hearing and a vote?  The town board members have repeatedly claimed that they do not think a moratorium is necessary.  Perhaps their motivation comes from losing the recent town board election.  The winner was Kelly Smith, who is against fracking and in favor of a moratorium.   Many people think that the town board’s sudden interest in the moratorium may be an effort to vote it down before Kelly gets a chance to join the board in January.

Come to the public hearing and let the town board know what you think!

For a quick overview on the Groton town board’s actions (and inaction) concerning a fracking moratorium, see the timeline.

Kelly wins!

Kelly Smith won the town board election!  It was a very close race and was decided by a handful of votes.  Thanks for all of your help and support throughout the campaign!

Coffee with the candidates on Saturday, Nov. 2

BunAppetitKelly Smith and Neil Snyder, candidates for the Groton Town Board, will be at Bun Appetit (215 Main St., Groton) on Saturday, November 2, from 10am to noon.

Kelly and Neil believe that the Town Board should be a resource committed to benefitting Groton residents. Come and share your thoughts about the challenges facing Groton and your hopes for Groton’s future.

Be sure to vote on November 5!

An open letter from Kelly and Neil

Dear Groton Neighbors,

We are running for two seats on the Groton Town Board because we are concerned about many issues that the current Town Board has failed to address. The current Board members have become complacent, no longer responding to the community’s needs and concerns.  The legacy of the Town Board incumbents is years of neglect.  Groton deserves better and needs change!

While all other towns in Tompkins County have recognized the dangers of  hydro-fracking and have prohibited the process, the current Groton Town Board has failed to act. In states where fracking is occurring, there is evidence of water pollution and plummeting property values; the current Board refuses to respond to our concerns despite the fact that nearly 1000 Groton residents have signed a petition asking the Board to ban hydraulic fracturing.

People pay relatively high taxes to live here and have the right to enjoy the peace and quiet of their property. Local zoning regulations protect some, but not enough, of those rights. Zoning needs to be strong, logical, and enforceable, especially when addressing public nuisances such as noise and traffic.  The Town Board incumbents have repeatedly refused to address either issue.

Despite laws which require government to be open and transparent, most issues effecting our town are discussed behind closed doors and through private emails. Most public board meetings last a matter of minutes, during which most agenda items are never discussed.  We will strive to improve the lines of communication when it comes to town matters. We promise to remain accessible to all the residents of Groton and will listen to your concerns.

We love the beautiful, tranquil, rural character of Groton, but it needs revitalization.  We will work hard to protect our community assets and strive to improve what could be better. By promoting healthy hometown values, and by listening to you, we hope to unify and strengthen our community.

To change Groton politics and chart a positive course for the future, please vote for us on November 5th!

Thank you,

Kelly Smith and Neil Snyder


Exhibition at the Main Street Gallery on October 19

Fracking Drill_Elm Tree_POSTER_FINAL_Email Invite_CroppedThe newly reopened Main Street Gallery (105 Main St., Groton) will host a GRAC fundraiser on October 19 from 6 – 11pm. The event will be hosted by Jeff Toolan and will feature the work of Groton photographer Glen M. Sanders.

The image on the right will be printed as a limited-edition poster and sold in black-and-white ($10) and color ($25) versions, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting GRAC.

This event is important both for GRAC and as an important step in revitalizing downtown Groton. We hope to see you there!