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Hastings Mayor's Message - 10/23/09 - Quarterly Report to Residents

Peter Swiderski

Dear Fellow Residents,

In this second report to you, I’d like to share the results of the second and third quarters and update you on a number of initiatives we’ve undertaken. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, or any trustee, for discussion.
In these difficult economic times, we expect the next budget, which will be voted on in March 2010, to be at least as tough as the previous one. Given the dismal outlook during our last budget cycle, we were forced to freeze Village employees salaries. Determining what we can, and cannot, afford drives the Board’s decision-making on issues large and small. Most new initiatives mentioned in this email are either very low or no cost, relying on grant monies, another organization’s funding or volunteers. Unless resident safety and health or legal issues are involved, the Board is not inclined to support new expenditures during this time of economic crisis.
The Waterfront
We have seen some real and exciting progress on the waterfront.  Demolition will begin on the metal-clad buildings within the next few weeks and it should be done by the end of the year, broadly opening up views.  Much of the brick debris will be stored on the site for future use, and metal (to be recycled) will be removed by barge. Trustee Quinlan continues to work closely with both BP and the DEC to determine how to carry out the remediation of the northern 28 acres of the site owned by BP Arco.
Meanwhile, we expect to see an agreement between the DEC, Exxon and Chevron to begin the clean-up of the less-contaminated southern 14 acres of the waterfront site, which is owned by Exxon, Chevron, and Ulrich. This clean-up will include both the physical removal of a number of pockets of contaminated soil and, if the outcome of a test under way on the site is successful, bio-remediation. Bio-remediation involves pumping a fertilizer, diluted hydrogen peroxide (which provides oxygen) and an enzyme into the soil to encourage the growth of native bacteria that literally eat the volatile organic-compound contaminants in the soil.  The process takes a few years, but leaves behind clean soil.
The Village awaits the next step from the New York Power Authority on funding to replace the senior bus with a new, hybrid vehicle. We should have it in hand within a matter of months. Trustee Jennings has also worked with Pace University to begin the review and development of a green building code. Village Manager Frobel has begun work on a plan to improve our recycling rates and is working on a plan to improve our waste disposal process. We are also seeking monies to, ultimately, replace our street light bulbs with LED versions, which would save the village considerable money and lower our carbon footprint. The concept of sustainability increasingly informs decisions across the full spectrum of Village decision-making, changing the way we do business.
Trustee Walker, along with a dedicated crew of volunteers, raised money from sponsors and put on a hugely successful and well-attended event, “Friday Night Live,” which was held on the first Friday in October. With Warburton Ave. closed, hundreds of residents moved from band to band and among the stores and restaurants and outdoor events, enjoying the evening and each other’s company. It was a remarkable night out. We will have another event the first Friday in November and December, each with a different theme.
Finally, the Village Manager is working with Police Chief Bloomer on a series of recommendations to improve parking in the downtown. We have added a number of parking spots near St. Matthews and are reconfiguring parking toward the Warburton Ave. Bridge.
While the Board has unanimously decided to move ahead to address the deer issue, we have been increasingly frustrated by the limitations of New York State law and the methods of culling, which are licensed by the Fish & Wildlife Department, that are permitted. Apparently, New York State law only provides for the shooting or bow-hunting of deer, and requires a 500- foot radius around the shooting station.  The owners of all residences within that perimeter must approve of the cull. There is only a small section of Hillside Woods where there are no residences within a 500-foot radius, clearly limiting our efforts.  We are working with Fish & Wildlife personnel to identify other methods, but I am pessimistic that we will have the tools to do what needs to be done. We are starting to plan to lobby for legislative change as well as to think creatively about how we can address the health issues and property damage caused by deer within the parameters of the existing laws.
Verizon FIOS
Hastings residents currently have only one cable franchise, Cablevision.  We are seeking to approve a franchise for Verizon, with whom negotiations deadlocked two years ago. Three months ago, the Board voted to accept the contract that Verizon had withdrawn when they walked away from negotiations.  Verizon has since indicated the contract needs further internal review. We are waiting for them to submit it and hope that they have not changed it significantly.
Website design was completed last month and a new site should be rolled out by the end of autumn.  We are awaiting a version to examine and approve, before moving all our content over to the new site.
New Board Member
Trustee McLaughlin has moved to Chicago to attend divinity school and resigned from the Board. I filled the opening by appointing Nicola Armacost, an energetic and skilled resident known for helping to organize the “Take Me to The River” concert series and the elaborate waterfront puppet shows. She has children in the schools, a deep professional skill set and a broad commitment to public service. I look forward to her joining an exceptional board and lending her shoulder to our efforts to  move Hastings forward.
We continue to seek public involvement on all our initiatives. If you are interested in sharing your expertise or willing hands on a project or committee, we would welcome hearing from you at  If you have an issue you want to discuss or want to hear more, always feel free to reach out to us.
Peter Swiderski
Nicola Armacost
Bruce Jennings
Jerry Quinlan
Meg Walker

Village of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York