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Hastings Mayor's Message - 07/23/09 - Trustees' Update

Peter Swiderski

Dear fellow residents,

Three months into the new Board’s term, I want to share with you an update on a number of initiatives currently underway.  The new board is working well together to move a broad agenda forward.  There’s much news and many things going on, so this update will be quite high-level.  If you have any questions or are interested in hearing if you can help on a given issue, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or the responsible trustee for further discussion.
A new budget was passed shortly after the new Board was seated:  a number of difficult decisions were made and we were able to keep the increase to under 2%.   Village Manager Frobel is monitoring expenditures carefully and we are on track to the new budget so far.  It was a difficult budget cycle and we expect the next one to be at least as tough.
The Waterfront
British Petroleum (BP), which now owns and is responsible for cleaning up the northern two-thirds of the waterfront once owned by Arco, has submitted several alternate scenarios proposing how the waterfront may be cleaned up to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).  The DEC is reviewing those scenarios and will soon choose one that will become the template for how the ARCO portion of the waterfront will be remediated, finally.   
Trustee Quinlan has established high-level relations with both BP and the DEC and is working with Scenic Hudson, a non-profit advocacy organization to determine how to best move the process along.  Our initial contacts and efforts have been very interesting and promising.
Meanwhile, on the less-contaminated southern part of the waterfront site (which is owned by Exxon and Ulich), Exxon has been carrying out a limited experiment this summer to verify if “bio-remediation”, which relies on native bacteria in the soil to break down the chemicals there, will work on their site.  If the experiment is successful, Exxon may begin remediation next year.
The Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) is a State-sponsored planning process where a community sets policies for how it protects its waterfront assets.   A volunteer committee drafted a LWRP plan for the Village years ago.  The Board of Trustees completed their review of the LWRP policies last week and the LWRP committee will now make a pass at reviewing the Trustee edits and update a final version that we will submit to the State, hopefully before the end of the year.
The Village has moved forward on replacing the senior bus with a new, hybrid vehicle partly sponsored by the New York Power Authority and by grant monies. We should have it in hand within a matter of months.    The Planning Board has begun work on a green building code, and will be reviewing various approaches over the next half-year.   Trustee Jennings, working with the Village Manager and the Conservation Committee, will be working on a strategy that will focus on increasing our recycling rates and improving our waste disposal process.
Trustee Walker, in close concert with the Chamber of Commerce, has initiated work on new signage to help direct people to and through the downtown.   She has also solicited input to bring a series of events to the downtown like is done in Tarrytown in their Third Friday program that is intended to bring people downtown on a regular basis.  Finally, the Village Manager is working with the Police Chief on a series of recommendations to improve parking in the downtown. 
Public Committees
Trustee Mclaughlin has created the first draft of a standardized set of rules and procedures for our many volunteer boards and commissions. This should help to formalize processes, and standardize expectations.  The new procedures will be reviewed and then distributed by the Board of Trustees in the next quarter.
Design Guidelines
The Architectural Review Board (ARB) has created the first draft of a set of design guidelines for our downtown, intended to ensure that future renovations or buildings adhere to a set of common-sense principles that will help to ensure that any work respects the existing downtown “look and feel” and fits more harmoniously with the existing buildings. The Trustees have reviewed the draft and the ARB is updating the design guidelines for another round of review later this summer or early fall.
Comprehensive Planning Committee
A volunteer-led effort to devise a comprehensive plan for the Village is well underway, and a number of public meetings over the last three months have provided important input to this process.   A preliminary draft is underway and the community will be solicited for further input as the effort unfolds.
The increasing number of deer in our community have harmed the health and safety of our residents, damaged the balance of our wooded ecologies, and ruined countless gardens and landscapes.  We have reached the point where, as a community, we now realize that something must be done to reduce the deer population in Hastings. The Board has just received a long-awaited report from the Greenburgh Deer Committee that takes a long and in-depth review of the deer issue in our community.  The Board will be reviewing the report and its recommendations and will begin considering its options over the next few months.  Our first Board discussion is scheduled for August 4th. Public comments will be scheduled for September.
Verizon FIOS
Hastings residents currently have only one cable franchise, Cablevision, while many neighboring communities enjoy a more competitive environment with franchises signed with both Verizon FIOS and Cablevision as dual providers.   This is due, in part, to a negotiation with Verizon that became deadlocked two years ago when Verizon walked away from the table.  We are in the process of attempting to restart negotiations with Verizon so that we can bring a second franchise to our village.  This will also be discussed at the upcoming August 4th Board meeting.
We have reviewed and selected a new provider that will help to upgrade and improve our website as well as provide a broad technology platform that will help our Village both provide information out to the public and coordinate internally.  Website design will begin in the next month and a new site should be rolled out in the third quarter.
Finally, a number of other initiatives and events have occurred in the intervening few months. Broadway was re-striped down to two lanes for much of its length and the Village and State are monitoring it to see how it works.  The Farmer’s Market reopened in its usual location and is better than ever.  We enjoyed a movie shoot, a river-side blues festival, the Farmer’s Market re-opened in its usual location, and numerous special events.  
It has, in short, been a busy few months with no let up heading into the fall.  We continue to seek public involvement on all our initiatives, and if you are interested in sharing your expertise or willing hands on a project or committee with us, 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
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Village of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York