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New Year’s Resolutions 2018 – River Journal Asks the Mayors

As we settle into 2018, we asked the Rivertowns’ mayors what New Year’s resolutions they have made for themselves and their constituents, and what challenges they expect to encounter. All are approaching the months ahead with a sense of renewal and hope – hope for improvements in communication, sustainability, transportation, housing and much more – all areas that much of the nation is dealing with as well. Their answers reveal both optimism and a shared awareness that true progress is only possible when the commitment to it is strong and supported. It takes a village … and a dedicated leader and team at the helm.

Irvington

From Mayor Brian Smith, Village of Irvington

1. What New Year’s resolutions are you making for Irvington?

My resolution for 2018 for Irvington is to increase communication with residents.  We have been trying for years to have more engaged citizens, but unfortunately we only have the same core group showing up to meetings and sharing their opinions.  It is a bit ironic that one of my personal resolutions is that I want to spend less time on social media.  While it can be a great communication tool, it is also can be a huge time waster and rather toxic.

2. What obstacles/challenges do you anticipate you might encounter?

In general, our budget is going to be challenging, as always.  Healthcare costs continue to rise quickly and there are rumblings that pension contributions will also be up this year, so we are starting behind the eight ball. Add the recent Greenburgh reassessment as well as the tax changes in Washington that affect the deductibility of property taxes, and you can see why communication and the associated dialogue with residents is so important.

3. What plans do you have to overcome the challenges that will enable you to see that the resolutions are not broken?

Better communication has been a goal in the past and achieving it has been elusive.  I think increasing the amount of my personal communications with residents (i.e. my From the Mayor’s Desk email) is the key.  So, I need to create a regular schedule for my emails, both for my own discipline and so residents can become accustomed to consistent communication.

4. Do you have a few words to send to area residents?

There was a lot of negativity in 2017 – especially at the national level – and frankly, a lot of it is justified.  I am hopeful that 2018 can be a year of hope and positivity.  Making our Village, Town, County, State and Country a better place will not come from negativity and attacking those who do not agree with us.  We live in a wonderful Village with wonderful neighbors – we are very fortunate.  Additionally, even if you imagine the person that has the most differing views from you politically, we have much, much more in common with that person than we have differences.  This is easily forgotten, especially if we spend our time on partisan TV programming and social media.  So let’s all put our smartphones down, talk to each other and work to make each other’s dreams come true in 2018.

Tarrytown

From Mayor Drew Fixell, Village of  Tarrytown

1. What New Year’s resolutions are you making for Tarrytown?

As we have maintained bi-partisan cooperation and a high level of positive attitude on the Board of Trustees, we want to continue to work together to maintain a stable tax base with cost-effective services for the Tarrytown residents and businesses.  We will continue to plan for the short and long-term growth of the Village by working through and completing the Comprehensive Plan Update for the Village in the late spring of this year, which will help guide our priorities for development and re-development of the Village.  It is important through this

process that we maintain and protect what is integral to the past, and the identity of the Village of Tarrytown, and provide for the future vision of growth around the Village in sustainable ways.  These include transit-oriented development, sustainable practices both in building and in municipal operations, reducing our carbon footprint, and keeping taxes affordable.  A long-time issue, and one of the most important items for the Village to solve, is the Village’s parking situation. All viable options (solutions) are currently on the table for consideration. We will also need to plan for the changes that will be affecting the Village, including the completion of the opening of the new Tappan Zee/Mario Cuomo Bridge, and the anticipated increases in pedestrian and bicycle traffic we know will be coming across the bridge.

2. What obstacles/challenges do you anticipate you might encounter?

As we enter the year 2018, Tarrytown, as a part of Westchester County and the New York Metropolitan Region, is facing many challenges that the communities in our area must address.  These include keeping a stable tax base in the face of rising pressures from the enactment of the new Federal tax law, maintaining our Village infrastructure including our roads and bridges, storm-water system, sewer and water system, and providing for the long-term future of Tarrytown through planning and implementing sustainability strategies for the Village government operations, as well as for the community.

3. What plans do you have to overcome the challenges that will enable you to see that the resolutions are not broken?

The Village’s new updated Comprehensive Plan will be key to planning for the future growth of the Village, both for housing that will provide for all economic aspects of our community, with affordable housing for our workforce, affordable housing for the next generation known as millennials, while maintaining and nurturing our diversity, and for infrastructure to accommodate and provide access to transportation, including the Metro North railroad, the Beeline Bus system, and the Lower Hudson Transit Link buses.  In the meantime, we are also working to develop a plan to accommodate the anticipated growth in pedestrian and bicycle traffic in a way that works for Tarrytown but does not displace all of the shoppers and visitors we already have coming here.  By completing the update of the Comprehensive Plan this year, that will keep our goals and resolutions on track.

4. Do you have a few words to send to area residents?

Tarrytown has long been a vibrant and attractive community to live in, especially with our great school system, attractive and entertaining downtown with great places to shop and eat, our easy access and 38-minute express commute to New York City, and our recognition as one of the top places to live in New York State and in the country.  We will continue to establish zoning laws and keep our other local codes up to date to protect our attractiveness and quality of life as a place to draw young people and families here, and maintain a reasonable tax base to allow our long-time residents to stay here as well.  We have special places like Lyndhurst, the Tarrytown Music Hall, and the River-Walk in Pierson Park and Losee Park along the Hudson that are beautiful and amazing places to visit and live near.

For any residents who want to get more involved in Village government, they should send my office an e-mail with their expression of interest and how they would like to help.  We have many opportunities to help with all of our local Boards, Committees and Commissions.  They can also help through community organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, service clubs like the Rotary, and we can always use more volunteers in the Tarrytown Fire Department or the Volunteer Ambulance Corps.  The Mayor’s e-mail is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , the Village Administrator’s e-mail is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and our Village Clerk’s e-mail is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  People can also write to: Attention Mayor Drew Fixell, Village Hall, 1 Depot Plaza, Tarrytown, NY, 10591.  We welcome everyone who is interested to get involved.

Village of Briarcliff Manor

From Mayor Lori Sullivan, Village of Briarcliff Manor

1. What New Year’s resolutions are you making for Briarcliff Manor?

First and foremost, I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2018.  Briarcliff Manor had a roller coaster of a year in 2017, and my resolution for our Village for 2018 is to continue to move Briarcliff Manor forward with consistency and stability.  Our Board is firmly committed to completing long-envisioned projects that we were able to jump start and put into action.  These include our Pleasantville Road/North State Road intersection and our partnered project of 9A/North State Road.  We have changed Briarcliff Manor’s past and have opened doors partnering with our adjoining municipalities, the County and State, to make things happen.  It is exciting.

We are also committed to moving Briarcliff Manor forward, with a constant update to our code, which in many respects is antiquated – last looked at over 40 years ago – while Briarcliff Manor is now a very different Village.  This includes recognizing underutilization of private property and allowing for change, while balancing the impact on our residents and our Village as a whole.

While these highlights are only a minutiae of our work, my resolution for our Village is to move through 2018 with progressive recognition of our current times, all with consistency and stability.

2. What obstacles/ challenges do you anticipate you might encounter?

The residents of Briarcliff Manor are forward-thinking, respectful and truly supportive of the Board and our actions as a whole.  We have sought to include all residents in sensitive actions by, before taking any action, forming advisory committees made up of residents to provide the Board with our residents’ voices.  This has been invaluable.  Our plan is to continue to include all residents’ voices.  Having said this, I recognize that the biggest challenge that I see in 2018 is the residents’ reaction to change. Various anticipated projects coming down the road, since we amended our Comprehensive Plan with respect to the possible use of certain properties in our Village in our B Zone, will certainly be debated by our residents.  What I will say is that we don’t foresee obstacles. What we will see are challenges that will require the Board to work hand-in-hand with our residents, which we are committed to doing.

3. What plans do you have to overcome the challenges that will enable you to see that the resolutions are not broken?

My plan is to let all voices be heard so we all, as residents of Briarcliff Manor, can chart our Village’s future together.  The only way things move forward and get done with consistency and stability is to move forward in a slow and steady manner that lets all opinions, views and voices be heard.  This is similar to the way we are proceeding with amending our Noise Code, which was antiquated and forgotten to the detriment of some of our residents.  We heard their voices, recognized the need to act to never let it happen again, and included those affected residents in the design of the changes, which will be our first public hearing of the New Year.  That being said, for me, one of the hardest parts of moving forward with change is that I can’t make every resident happy with our decisions, although I truly wish I could.

4. Do you have a few words to send to area residents?

To all of the residents of Briarcliff Manor, I personally wish you a happy and healthy New  Year.  To all area residents, whether residents of Briarcliff Manor or in our surroundings, I extend my wishes for a great year and encourage each of you to be assured that we are committed to continuing to be a part of the whole community, not just our Village.  We will continue to seek every avenue to partner together to improve our community. No municipality can be isolationist.  Rather, as I like to say, we are all playing in the same sandbox, so let’s play together!

We are partners with neighboring villages, our towns, the County and State on various projects and systems, and this Board will continue to seek out every opportunity to work hand in hand.

Ossining

From Mayor Victoria Gearity, Village of Ossining

1. What New Year’s resolutions are you making for Ossining?

Each new year, it’s beneficial to reflect on what our experience has taught us about how best to serve the people of Ossining. In 2018, we will build on the success, and lessons, of the past. The budget we passed a month ago is now being set into motion. It includes about a quarter of a million dollars directed toward economic development. This initiative includes updating our comprehensive plan, a new approach to parking, and establishing a clear economic strategy for how Ossining will move forward.

2. What obstacles/ challenges do you anticipate you might encounter?

In our multi-faceted approach to make housing in Ossining more safe, affordable and accessible, we have already begun the legislation, funding, appointing and implementing needed to move in the direction of our goals. Even with legislation in place, and the political will to proactively address overcrowded housing, one of our challenges of the past year has been the ability to hire the code enforcement staff needed to adequately implement the policies.

3. What plans do you have to overcome the challenges that will enable you to see that the resolutions are not broken?

With a change in administration for County government, we are optimistic that this obstacle will be addressed. We have already reached out to County Executive Latimer’s office to schedule a meeting to discuss how to improve flexibility in hiring the municipal staff needed for the safety of our community.

4. Do you have a few words to send to area residents?

Economic development is a priority that encompasses everything from paving to parking, housing to streetlights, and taxes to zoning. We spent much of 2017 reaching out to the community for feedback on how to prioritize our approach for further revitalizing Ossining’s local economy. 2018 is a year for implementing these goals, and building on recent success in our downtown business growth.

Sleepy Hollow

Mayor Ken Wray Village of Sleepy Hollow

Unfortunately, Sleepy Hollow’s Mayor did not answer our questions.

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