Message from the Mayor: Rezoning, Volunteers, Water Tower, Oktoberfest

Peter Swiderski
Fellow Residents;
An important development on the rezoning process, a request for volunteers, a heads-up regarding an incoming survey, and finally, the upcoming Oktoberfest here in town this Friday.
Waterfront Rezoning
As the waterfront site is cleared, and BP Arco completes its draft design for the actual clean-up itself (a huge, $350 million effort to occur both on- and off-shore), we face as a community the big job of rezoning the waterfront.  Zoning is the primary way the Village can exert control over what is ultimately constructed on the waterfront.  While existing legal decrees have imposed some limitations on height and the proximity of development to the shore, the future use for the site is pretty much wide open: rezoning will set that, among other things. The existing zoning allows for its original industrial uses and no developer would build to that use in the current environment – and the clean-up will leave the site remediated to the point that most residential uses (other than single family) are allowed.
In the last week, we have had discussions with BP Arco that may have a direct effect on that rezoning process. BP Arco is considering contracting with a developer with experience in “brown fields redevelopment” (as old industrial sites like these are termed) to carry out both the remediation of the site and the ultimate redevelopment. BP Arco is free to do this: and it does not mean they are offloading their liability for the clean-up of this site – they can’t. BP Arco has been speaking to several large firms, and are prepared to draw the Village into those discussions. It is not clear what the contractual arrangement will be – sale, lease, or other mechanisms – but what is clear is that BP Arco is moving ahead with this approach and we need to determine how to factor that into our rezoning process.
To help us through the decisions ahead, the Village is seeking to engage Dr. John Nolan, who is head of the Pace University Land Use Law Center and a national authority on how communities engage in rezoning and redevelopment. He is familiar with the site and the issues:  the Village has reached out to him informally over the years to keep him in the loop and to seek his input.  Professor Nolan would help the Board of Trustees establish a rezoning process that will best represent the Village’s interests while appropriately engaging BP Arco and any potential developer. We are exceptionally sensitive to how such a process evolves – the Village rezoning effort must have the expertise and support necessary to wend our way through this process and do so in a way that captures the community’s interests and vision.  Dr. Nolan can help us in this quest.
Volunteers Needed
The Village government operates, in part, relying on volunteers who staff the various Boards and Commissions that help determine policy, zoning variances, environmental initiatives, and new efforts like traffic safety or rezoning.  We have openings on two Boards – Zoning and Planning – that we are seeking volunteers to fill. We are also seeking volunteers for the new Waterfront Rezoning committee we will be seeking to establish later this Fall as we kick off the process to rezone the waterfront. We are seeking, but are not limiting ourselves to, a broad set of backgrounds. If you have legal, real estate development, waterfront engineering or landscape architecture design, planning or project planning skills please consider applying – but if you are also simply sincerely interested, we welcome you too. 
Please go (HERE) and complete the application, attach a bio or resume, and submit it to or drop it off at the Village Clerk’s office (on your left as you walk into the Municipal Building). 
Water Tower Survey
Over the course of the next two weeks, you will get a simple one-page survey asking your input on the fate of the iconic water tower that remains on our waterfront.  As part of the remediation effort, the water tower needs to be taken down. We have agreed with BP Arco that the Village has the option to deconstruct and store the water tower for eventual reconstruction, or, alternately, replace it with something new if we so choose. A subsequent email and the actual survey itself will follow with more detail about the choices and the costs associated with those choices.
Friday Night Live Oktoberfest this Friday
This Friday, October 13th, from 6-9PM, Boulanger Plaza (the parking lot off Main) will be set up as a robust Oktoberfest party, with music, what is likely to prove outrageously good food, beer, and activities including a live demo of the Fire Department’s “Jaws of Life” used to pry open cars damaged in accidents as well as the “smoke trailer”, jumpy castles and more. Stores are also open late.  This is an expanded version of the Oktoberfest thrown last year, which was a big hit.  Come on down, hang with your fellow residents, and enjoy what will hopefully be great weather and a nice night out.
Peter Swiderski