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Message from the Mayor: contracts, plastic bag ban, volunteer?, jamnesty, more
Fellow residents,

A note on contracts signed, a proposed ban on plastic bags, a call for volunteers for a committee, and events around town, including Jamnesty and building some excitement for Memorial Day.

Union Contracts signed
The Board of Trustees approved two union contracts last night after almost a year of negotiating, locking down the salary increases and other small changes to benefits for several years to come.  The Police union agreement extends out until May 31st, 2018 and locks in a set of annual salary increases starting at 1.5% and climbing to 2%.  The Teamsters union agreement, which covers those men who work at our Department of Public Works (roads and sanitation) provides increases starting at 1.5% and escalating to 2%. There were other changes, such as the union agreeing to pay more for healthcare while the Village increased the uniform allowances. That agreement extends to May 31st, 2017. Both negotiations were marked by civility and restraint - while difficult at times, they remained respectful throughout and I believe underscore the partnership between the Village and its union workers. Most importantly to the Board, the union members understood and respected the 2% tax cap under which the Village seeks to operate. We believe our municipal workers deserve to be and are, in fact, fairly compensated.  These agreements underscore that belief and put us both in a position to look forward to the next years in a cooperative and cordial spirit. The Board especially thanks Village Manager Fran Frobel for doggedly pushing the process along.

Plastic Bag and Polysterene Ban
The Village is reviewing a proposed law to ban the use of single-use plastic bags and polystyrene ("styrofoam") within the Village borders. The proposed law (short and fairly easy to understand) can be found here.  The Food Industry Alliance's representative, as well as the district manager from the A&P appeared at the two public hearings to weigh in on the proposed ban.  They offered a compromise to set up a program to encourage the use of reusable plastic bags, which would also involve crediting the schools with what would probably be a penny or two every time a reusable bag was used.  They've argued that studies show that plastic bags are better for the environment than paper bags. The Conservation Commission's argument focused on the benefit of moving to reusable bags, the blight of plastic bag litter in the community, and the toxicity of plastic bags and polysterene.  Store owners and individuals showed up to speak on both sides of this issue (video here).  While we ended the public meetings where people can stand up and comment on this issue, you can still express your opinion by writing the  We will read everything sent us up until the point of the vote, likely to happen after another Board discussion on this topic, probably at the next meeting.  

Volunteers needed
The Village Arts Committee has some openings we would like to fill and the Board is seeking interested people to submit their interest to  The Arts Committee has sponsored outdoor art exhibits, performances, poetry readings and gallery exhibits over the years. We seek people, especially with a background or strong interest in the arts (and it can be any media - dance, poetry, music, sculpture, painting, film, etc.) (and organizational skills!) to join this group of interesting and committed residents.  

Music, Memorial Day
This weekend, a region-wide effort to clean up the area by the Hudson River will take place. Our portion will be at Maceachron Park from 3PM to 5PM this Saturday. There’s music this weekend at the Upstream Gallery in town at 8PM on Saturday (free!). Next week, high school students are organizing their annual Jamnesty fundraiser for Amnesty International: Saturday May 17th from 11-3 on lower Reynold’s Field.  Many bands. Food. And a great vibe. ($5/person).   

We are lucky to host a contingent of 30 men from our armed forces who will join us for our Memorial Day Parade (which takes place Sunday afternoon, May 25th, at 2PM), along with an admiral, a number of musical groups and the usual happy assortment of fire trucks and convertibles filled with veterans and other notables.  If you were here two years ago, you know how special that moment was.  I recommend marking this on your calendar so you remember to bring the family down to observe this quintessential American moment - it just doesn't get better than this in our village.

Finally, end with a humorous story.  One of the metrics we are gathering to determine deer impact and whether, over time, fewer deer mean less impact, is via an effort called "host a hosta".  About fifty families have volunteered to host hosta plants, provided by the village (and organized by volunteers), on their property over five years. The hope is that over time, more hostas will survive as fewer deer wander our yards. (The hostas are a controlled way to measure property damage.) Most of the hostas were deployed Tuesday. The first one was consumed that same evening, just a few hours after delivery.  Sounds about right.


Peter Swiderski

Village of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York