New supervisor outlines agenda for Caroline

Mark Witmer has taken the reins in the Town of Caroline as the new town supervisor, and recently outlined an agenda that should keep the town board busy for the foreseeable future during a conversation with Tompkins Weekly
“Broadband and Ambulance/Emergency Services are two big issues we’re working on right now,” Witmer says. “As you know, Caroline was not included in the county broadband project with the rest of Tompkins County. Gary Reinbolt, our newly elected council member, has expertise in this area and is exploring options so that we can develop a plan within the next few months.”
 
The other important project the town is undertaking is emergency services. After 57 years of service to Caroline, Slaterville Volunteer Ambulance shut down at the end of 2015 because of a shortage of volunteers. “We are engaging interested community members and emergency services providers to gauge the potential for volunteers, and exploring the formation of an Ambulance District for the Town of Caroline,” Witmer says. He notes that the town board passed a resolution this month authorizing an Emergency Medical Services Advisory Committee that John Fracchia is heading.
“In the long view, I think the Planning Board’s work on updating Caroline’s Comprehensive Plan is really important,” he says. The Planning Board held three public workshops in the past year to get resident input, and board members are now on the verge of sending out a survey to Caroline residents soliciting input on what people feel are their most pressing concerns, and/or most cherished aspects of life in Caroline. “As a community-inspired vision for the Town, the Comprehensive Plan forms the foundation for town actions. We look forward to hearing from the Caroline community.”
 
A draft local law is reaching maturity right now, Witmer says. The Caroline Aquifer Protection Committee has been working on an Aquifer Protection Law, with the assistance of Steven Winkley of the New York Rural Waters Association. The committee is reviewing a final draft and will soon be moving that forward.
 
“My goal is to maintain and build the quality of life in Caroline. To me this means keeping my eyes and ears open to the community and doing whatever I can to facilitate the good work of the community I serve,” says Witmer. “We have a number of citizen advisory committees that support the Town Board in providing information and direction in particular areas—the Watershed Committee, Energy Independent Caroline, and Aquifer Protection Committees, for example. We’re alway open to new ideas, as this harnesses local interests and expertise for the benefit of the town.”
 
Witmer reports that that Cal Snow has been appointed to fill his vacant town board seat. Cal’s a dairy farmer and an active member of the community, including having previously served on the Caroline Town Board. “It was also exciting and inspiring that we had five other people put themselves out there for the council seat, as well as one person interested in the Planning Board. We were delighted to hear about each person’s areas of interest and I’m really happy to report that several of these folks have stepped up to help us in other ways. Town government is a participatory process and the town board is so heartened to have this good energy.”
 
Witmer served as a town board member for two years in Caroline before taking the supervisor position in January. He has been active with Energy Independent Caroline, the Watershed Committee, and other town committees. “I’m really proud of the work Energy Independent Caroline did to bring affordable, clean solar energy to residents of Caroline, Dryden and Danby through Solarize Tompkins Southeast. I was honored to serve as the program director for that effort. It was a huge success, and led to the countywide Solar Tompkins and HeatSmart Programs.”
Witmer is a part-time instructor of biology, most recently at Wells College. He and his family have lived in Caroline for 13 years, after spending a number of years in the area during graduate school in the late 1980s and early 1990s.