By Buffy Calvert
Marty Donnelly sits across from me looking as fresh and eager for action as ever but admits that after 18 years at the helm of the Town of Andes he is tired and ready to pass the job he has loved on to his successor, Wayland (Bud) Gladstone.
Marty’s tenure as Andes Supervisor was the longest ever. Early on, under his guidance and with grant money he garnered, many elements of the community (e.g. farmers, business owners, veterans, library enthusiasts, old-timers and flatlanders) entered into a “Visioning Process” that led us to adopt a Town Comprehensive Plan, a touchstone for future decisions. He presided over the dissolution of the Village in 2003-4 and historic decisions to ban wind turbines and fracking in the Township. These controversies generated strong opinions and emotions but, partly because of the unifying work done together, did not tear the body politic apart.
“First of all,” he said, “My grandfather’s motto was, ‘You want to try to make things better.’ I could think of something but could do nothing without the support of the Town Board. And, by extension, the people.
“Second, I am grateful I was able to find money elsewhere to benefit our town. For example, the $5,000,000 in the state highway budget.”
With persistence and an innate stubbornness, Marty has striven to make Andes better than he found it. When he saw a chance for funds his response was always, “How can I access and use it?” Marty’s eagle eye, looking out for money to benefit Andes, his willingness to apply for it and set to work to use it has transformed the town.
In partnership with a community “Streetscape Committee,” the Town, with funds from NYC, the state and federal governments, launched a complete overhaul of Main Street, Delaware Avenue and Lower Main Street, under- and aboveground: new water mains, our first sewer system linked to a brand new Wastewater Treatment Plant (courtesy of NYC/DEP), repaving of Route 28, including, at Marty’s insistence, 9 new storm water drains, sleek new sidewalks, street trees and shrubs, benches and vintage street lamps. Sidewalks so smooth children now skateboard or rollerblade, baby strollers glide along and we elderly step lively. In Spring, the community-minded folks on the Hotel porch decorate the lamps with flower baskets, at Christmas with festive wreaths. And our drains are so thirsty that Andes has escaped floods that submerged our neighbors.
Marty assured me that he loves Andes and will continue to live here, focusing on Ballantine Park and the newly renovated depot. He says, “I feel blessed with my family, and beyond that, I have to share what God has given me.”
We in Andes are blessed to have Marty among us.~