Patrick Taylor Highlands Mayor This is the Advent Season in the Christian calendar, a time of hope, joy and anticipation. I share that hope, joy and anticipation for our town as we move into the new year. I anticipate a better year than the past one. I have faith in the resiliency of our residents and their determination to make Highlands even better in the future. The huge response to the Highlands Community Plan Survey gives me hope. The folks guiding our comprehensive plan are excited that almost 900 people have taken the survey. If you have not done so, please go to the town website and spend a few minutes to take the survey while maybe sipping a festive glass of eggnog. It is vital that we get input from a cross section of residents, whether they are full time or seasonal residents. Folks living in and around the town are also encouraged to respond. We all have a stake in the future of Highlands. Taking the survey is similar to voting. If someone fails to respond, then it is hard to be critical of the outcome. In the early part of this year the results of the survey will be made public, even before the final comprehensive plan is completed toward the end of 2021. I look forward to the survey results and anticipate the planning board members to begin dissecting and analyzing the data. I will support this process because I suspect there will be important data that needs review as soon as possible. I also have the hope that our business community will return to some level of normalcy this coming year. The food and entertainment sectors have taken a big hit in 2020 and a recovery is very much needed. With the economic recovery, I hope the town board and staff will be able to develop a budget that meets the community’s critical needs. Paving of roads should continue as a priority, and other infrastructure needs have to be addressed next year and into the future. One of my favorite projects that was delayed because of restraints of this past year was the conversion of street lights from halogen to LED lights. LED street light units can be dimmed or increased to meet the needs of the space, especially in neighborhoods. Other hopeful items on the horizon will be the completion of the Highlands Smart Cities fiber network and a review of short term rental policies. I know there are differing points of view concerning STRs, but I believe the town is long overdue in addressing this issue. Finally, I am hopeful with the advent of the COVID-19 vaccines. I use the word advent because the rollout of these lifesaving vaccines is a hopeful sign and taking place as I write this piece. Having a large part of the population vaccinated could help us get back to a normal life style. When my time comes as a member of the 65 and older group, I will take the vaccine. I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. While this has been an infamous year in many ways, we all have hope and a lot to look forward to this coming year.