hanauer fall 2014
Labor day, 2014 – the day when we recognize and celebrate the contributions made by workers and unions through time across the country; the day when we, in the Village of Ossining and I, especially, thank our CSEA- and PBA-represented employees and our unrepresented staff for their hard work of realizing – making possible – Ossining’s renaissance. And we celebrate and thank our many volunteers –firefighters, and members of boards, committees and commissions, whose work is also critical to the ever-increasing viability of downtown, its safety trees, flowers, restored and new architecture are, in large part, due to their labors.
So far, 2014 has been a stellar year in the Village.
Avalon Ossining, near the north end of Highland Avenue, opened with 151 Luxury and 17 of affordable Apartments in the spring. They are already over 80% rented. Avalon has brought enormous benefit to the entire community by contributing more paths of RiverWalk through the 8.5 acres they have given us, restoring and adaptively reusing the historic Kane House on the Croton Aqueduct, as well as contributing significant recreation fees, and constructing a new sewer main. Look for the festive grand opening in early October.
Harbor Square has finally begun construction. It, too, will not only benefit its residents and the diners at its restaurant, but the developer will build and maintain a park and other park-like space on the waterfront, providing greater access for everyone to water-related activities, an arch across the path welcoming ferry and boating passengers to Ossining and a monumental sculpture honoring our Volunteer Fire Department and our Portuguese Community – a replica of the one erected in our sister village Alijo, Portugal, in honor of its volunteers. Harbor Square also contributed $400,000 to the Downtown Development Fund and another $400,000 to the schools, and, before its projected completion in 2016, will construct a new water main the length of Snowden Avenue to improve water quality and provide greater pressure for firefighting in an entire neighborhood should the need arise.
On Main Street, The Stagg Group has almost completed a restaurant, another commercial space, and market rate and affordable apartments on the “We Can Do It” property, which had been a parking lot since the disastrous fire of 1995.
The restoration of the former A L Myers Building is also nearing completion. It will house another restaurant under two live-work artist lofts. A J Fish Fry has already opened nearby.
The developers of Hudson Steppe – the former Printex/Vera Scarf property, including the recently landmarked Smith Robinson House at the foot of Broad Avenue – are still before the Planning Board and the Historic Preservation Commission. Plans to restore the building have already met the Commission’s requirements.
This fall, the Village Board will continue our consideration of developing the downtown parking lots and Market Square. We intend to hold a public meeting (a charette) similar to those we held while developing the Comprehensive Plan. We want to hear what a broad cross-section of the residents and merchants want to complete the heart of downtown.
There will also be plenty of other opportunities for public comment about choices in development and/or whether to develop at all. – whether to return it to the tax rolls, leave it as parking lots, or find another use for it.
The new building at 105 Croton Avenue, housing commercial spaces with apartments above will also soon come on line.
Our pilot project, changing Spring Street to two-way from Maple Place to Main Street, adding some new crosswalks and shortening others, and bumping out corners with painted stripes seems a success. The experiment will continue for several more months, after which, if it is deemed a winner, it will become permanent; if not, not.
This will continue to be a year of increased efforts to retrofit government buildings, homes and businesses in order to lower to our carbon footprint and our energy bills; we shall investigate aggregate purchase of energy and the installation of solar panels, wind turbines, and LED lighting on the streets and in municipal buildings. At the initiative of Deputy Mayor John Codman, we are beginning by assessing energy usage and costs in the firehouses.
For the eighth year in a row, our Village began the year in excellent fiscal condition, having retained our extremely high Moody’s rating of Aa2. In 2013, we even experienced a slight increase in total assessed value. But, in 2014, we have experienced a much larger increase, as we see new more residences and commercial establishments come on-line, spreading the tax burden, relieving current taxpayers. The budget for FY 2015 is now being developed.
We are in negotiations with the Town for revisions of our inter-municipal agreements concerning recreation and parks. Our Recreation Superintendent Henry Atterbury, has done a sterling job for many years, building successful program after program, is retiring in January. We are beginning the process of interviewing applicants, who have performed extremely well in the Civil Service exam that was given in early Spring. With the participation of the Westchester Collaborative Theater, the Ossining Arts Council,The Words and Music concert Series, other thespians,artists, and musicians we will soon establish the Ossining Arts Center Committee.
The Sing Sing Prison Museum has experienced several surges of new energy. The NYS Economic Development Council has declared the project a priority for tourism-related economic development; Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and Congresswoman Lowey are on board and urging Federal funding, Assemblywoman Galef has procured $1,000,000 for hard costs, Senator Carlucci is an enthusiastic backer, and the County is supportive. IN June, we held an event to raise private money and two more are slated for the Fall.
As I have frequently said, a municipal government’s primary duty is to provide for the safety and security of its residents and merchants and that such security includes not only an excellent economy, a constantly-improving infrastructure, and safe water, but also the finest first responder services possible: ambulance, Coast Guard Auxiliary, andfire – for which Ossining remains the envy of the all municipalities in the State – and police –our department newly re-accredited. And now, for a second time in four years, the Village has bid on providing police services to the unincorporated area of the Town, which would save the Town $2.8 million in the next four years over the bid of Westchester County. We are awaiting the Town Council’s decision.
I present this message with continued great pride in our accomplishments as a village on the rise, and, again, in the work of our employees and volunteers and with abundant optimism and determination for the future.