Happy New Year. Welcome to the third century of Ossining as a chartered corporate village.
In 2013, thanks to the Bicentennial Committee, our village staff, and supporting patrons, Angels and not-for profits, we brought residents together to enjoy an amazing variety of exhibits, events, and activities.
All of these inspired acclaim in the media and that coverage drew visitors from all over the region, from New York City, even from Europe, Latin America, and Asia.
They ate in our downtown restaurants, shopped in our stores, enjoyed our spectacular waterfront, and hiked RiverWalk through the Edward M. Wheeler Crawbuckie Nature Preserve.
To kick off Harbor Fest in September, Ossining Matters moved its annual 5K race to the waterfront. Following a day of sails, lectures, concerts, and exhibits, fireworks climaxed the evening.
After the enormous success of Ossining in 3D, our six-month outdoor sculpture exhibit, we were able to keep three sculptures, thanks to the private fundraising of the committee for one sculpture, the crowd funding private purchase of another, and the donation of a third by the sculptor.
I propose to re-establish our public arts committee and with the cooperation of Historic Hudson River Towns, of which I am secretary-treasurer, we will look at presenting other events that our residents and merchants can proudly share with the larger community.
2013 was a groundbreaking year – literally. Avalon on Hudson, near the north end of Highland Avenue, began to build luxury and affordable apartments, as well as 10,000 square feet of commercial space in the spring. They are already accepting applications from potential renters, primarily young professionals and retirees, projected to be.
When the worst of winter is over, Harbor Square will finally begin 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 passengers to Ossining and a sculpture honoring our volunteer fire department – a replica of the one erected in our sister village Alijo, Portugal, in honor of its volunteers.
On Main Street, the VaZa Spa opened in the former Ossining Bank and Trust – in a space that has been vacant since the 1960s. A few doors down, where Lisboa da Noite and Isabellas once were, a new fish restaurant is under construction, and the former A.L. Myers building is being restored and converted to another restaurant under two living lofts.
The Village Board is considering developing the downtown parking lots and Market Square. And, in part, to make that development possible by providing for displaced parking, I am negotiating the return to village ownership by the US Postal Service of the under-used Post Office parking lot on State Street and St. Paul’s Place.
The board of trustees is also considering over 50 issues to rank as priorities for this year. Among those not already mentioned are changing Spring Street to two-way from Maple Place to Main Street, calming traffic on streets in residential neighborhoods and major arteries, and improving safety for pedestrians and bike riders.
Also considering once again the provision of police and sanitation services to the Town of Ossining as well as, for greater efficiency, the streamlining of the process for the submission of applications, documents, architectural design drawings, and payment – all of which to be submitted in person or electronically.
This will 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.
For the eighth year in a row, I am pleased to report that our village begins the year in excellent fiscal condition and has 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 will experience a much larger increase, as we see new more residences and commercial establishments come on-line.
I will be working with Congresswoman Nita Lowey on priorities for this congressional session and as president of the Westchester Municipal Officials Association (WMOA) and a member of the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) with Assemblywoman Galef, Senator Carlucci, and the entire Westchester delegation on state issues that will impact the village, including increases in state aid to municipalities and highway funding, the prohibition of unfunded state mandates, and the repeal of MTA payroll tax on local municipalities.
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 providing the finest first responder services possible: police, ambulance, coast guard auxiliary, and fire -- for which Ossining remains the envy of the all municipalities in the state.
Again, I wish you all a happy, healthy, prosperous, and productive 2014.
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