Build Your Own Letter

Letters to the Trumansburg Planning Board and the Village Board are a great way to show support for affordable housing projects in Tburg or even voice your own question that you want to ensure they ponder. Below is a handy template to use when drafting your own letter.

Introduction

The introduction serves two purposes. The first is to state your support for the project. This should be short and straightforward, the rest of the letter will flesh out the details. The second is to humanize you as the writer. Explain, at a high level, who you are and how your personal experience brings you to supporting the project. Any reason is a good reason, even if you are outside the village, maybe you are in the school district or maybe you are looking to move in or have tried to move in in the past but were priced out.

Example

I’m writing to you in support of the proposed “Hamilton Square” project. I’ve been a resident of this village for 4 years and I fully intend to be a resident for the next 40 years or more. I look forward to watching my 3-year-old progress through our school system and my wife and I

continuing to give our time and energy to sustain and grow this wonderful village. It is this focus on the future, that fuels my desire to see the “Hamilton Square” project move through the appropriate vetting processes.

Reasons for Support

The body of the letter should dive deeper into a few reasons for your support of the project. This doesn’t have to be overly detailed or lengthy, nor does it have to be the most compelling argument the world has ever seen. Speaking from your own experience, why you personally support the project, is the best approach.

Declining Population

According to the US census our village population is 9% below its peak in 1970. Additionally, since 2000, the median age has increased by almost 6 years. A dwindling and aging population is not a sign of long-term health for our village. Our community institutions and Main Street businesses need a robust population and a healthy mix of generations to thrive. Additional housing for young working families is a great way to help.

Declining School Enrollment

According to the NYS Department of Education we have lost nearly ⅓ rd of our student enrollment since the early 2000s. Currently, we are hovering just above 1000 students. This trend is troubling by itself but is even more concerning in light of the push by New York State to consolidate municipal services. Tompkins County is currently studying consolidation of county police forces and there are many who say that consolidation of school districts is the next logical conversation. It’s critical that our school district turn this trend around before that conversation begins and building additional housing for young working families is a great way to help.

Rising Home Values vs Income

According to the US census the median home value in our village has increased by nearly 80% since 2000 while the median household income has grown by barely over 20%. Additionally, it looks like this trend of diverging home value and household income will only continue in the future. Trumansburg has a proud history as a working class community and to keep that character we need to address these trends head on. Building additional housing for working families is a great way to help.

County Housing Crisis

The Tompkins County Planning Department has been studying housing needs in the county for close to two years. This effort culminated in July with the release of the County Housing Strategy which calls for building 580 new units of workforce housing, per year, in the county. In order to meet that goal the Housing Strategy calls for 50-100 units to be built, per year, across 7 “established and emerging nodes” including Trumansburg. We know that there is an affordable housing crisis in the county and this project is an opportunity for us to help alleviate it.

Trumansburg Community Nursery School

The Trumansburg Community Nursery School is a not for profit preschool that has been a staple in our community for nearly 60 years. It currently resides in the Presbyterian church which is a lovely venue but does come with some restrictions on the services they can offer. Should the Hamilton square project move forward, TCNS intends to buy a lot and build a new, purpose built facility in the development. This would allow them to expand their services beyond their current half-day programs and it would allow them to expand the size of their programs.

Environmental Argument

Developing in a village like Trumansburg is far kinder to our environment. By locating housing in the village, it preserves the natural surrounding areas. Additionally, village life lends itself to walking and biking rather than driving. When one does drive, it’s often on shorter trips to businesses near by. We need to be conscious our environmental impact and developing in the village helps us reduce that impact.

Closing

The closing serves to reinforce the introduction and to wrap up the letter. Reiterate your support for the project in straightforward and simple language and to couch that in personal terms. Again, this doesn’t have to be an argument that a debate team would be proud of, it only has to reflect your own, personal reasons, for supporting the project. Finally, end with a thank you and a signature.

Example

Trumansburg is a rare jewel in Tompkins County, and in the broader Upstate New York region. Having moved here only 4 years ago I am a beneficiary of the amazing work that my fellow neighbors have done to revitalize Main Street, renovate homes, open farmer’s markets and so much more. My wife and I moved here because of this amazing work and we intend to do everything we can to support the continued flourishing of Trumansburg. Right now that means doing what we can to reverse these downward trends and in turn, that means supporting the “Hamilton Square” project.

Thank you for your time and thank you for all the time and effort that is going into the necessary vetting process for a project of this magnitude.

Sincerely,

XXX XXXXX

123 My Street


Addressing Your Letter

The primary board dealing with the Hamilton Square project is the Planning Board. You should address your letter to that board at least. Additionally, you can address your letter to the Board of Trustees and the Zoning Board of Appeals if you feel so inclined. The project will likely come before the Board of Trustees for tax reasons and may appear before the Zoning Board of Appeals if they need any further variances.

All three boards can be reached care of the Village Clerk, 56 East Main Street, Trumansburg, NY 14886. You can also drop it off by hand to the Village Clerk during business hours or in the village mail slot after hours. I recommend sending a single hard copy and the Village Clerk will disseminate it as needed based on which boards you address.

Example:

 

Dear Planning Board and Board of Trustees,

 

[Followed by the body of your letter]

 

Address your Envelope to:

Planning Board

Board of Trustees

℅ Village Clerk

56 East Main Street

Trumansburg NY 14886