Mayor's Newsletters

Mayor's Newsletter - May 2016
On: 05-05-2016

Dear Residents, Here is a quick update on things going on in the village, with a special report on...

Recreation Dept.

Proposals and Initiatives in Process
Little White Church Cemetery 

the village is hoping for an early spring arrival so the next phase of this restoration project can commence. As you can see when passing the property, most of the dead trees and evasive growth has been removed, although not completely. There is still a fair amount of undergrowth which will be removed and work done to eliminate its return. This has been a sizable job after so many years of neglect and abandonment. The early phases of any reclamation project involving a lot of clearing and chopping down of things will not be the prettiest. But this will not last too long. Soon the more delicate job of bringing the cemetery ‘back to ‘life’ will begin. The Revolutionary Memorial design has taken more shape on paper, and we expect to meet with the contractor and designer within the next few weeks to move to final design and construction layout; as well for the plans for a pathway around the edge of the property.  A new fence will be erected and new trees will be planted around the property for more beauty and screening. The village will look to the Historical Society to identify historically important headstones and memorials; we want to do the best job possible restoring and re-positioning the many headstones which have been moved, broken, or severely neglected over the past many decades. As the weather improves and the restoration commences, we will keep everyone posted on the progress (and volunteer opportunities) as this exciting project moves forward.

Waterfront Stabilization and Renovation Project

As previously reported, sub-surface obstructions have made for more difficult work to complete the final portions of the seawall around the southern portion of the park at Willow Point. The project’s contractor and engineers are working on a solution to meet this challenge. It is going to take some additional time for this phase of the work to be completed. We will keep everyone fully informed as to progress and the final plan for the Willow Point area.  In the meantime, the County Design Team has been busy developing the final RFP package for bids on the upland improvements.
The village has previously communicated the park will be closed this spring and summer in anticipation of the commencement of the upland renovation work. While time lines are difficult to predict for large projects such as these – especially those which involve rivers and shorelines – at this point in time the park land is still expected to be closed for all activities beginning in the spring into the expected completion of the project in 2014.  We will keep everyone fully informed it there are any changes to this time line.
Joint shared services being studied with Hastings-on-Hudson

As previously announced and communicated, the village has commenced 2 joint initiatives to study and analyze shared service potential with Hastings. One area will be in the supervision of the villages’ respective recreation departments. Both villages have needs and assets which could align to make the supervisory function more efficient; potential monetary savings could be realized by both villages, while at the same time creating enhanced programming to benefit the youth and all residents of each community.  Small teams from each village have been meeting and productive ideas have emerged which could lead to a formal shared service framework.  I anticipate this initiative item to be on the agenda for the next Board of Trustees (‘BOT’) meeting on March 12th when we will hear an update from the Administrator and research team, and to consider and communicate the next steps.
The second shared services area – also previously announced – is a study to analyze the potential savings and logistical gains of a full consolidation of the villages’ respective DPW operations. There are also needs and assets which might align. Hastings is in need of a new facility, and Dobbs Ferry has a new state-of-the-art facility which might offer spare capacity. Of course, while it is important to seek potential savings, the needs and interests of our residents served by the Dobbs Ferry DPW operation and workers cannot be compromised. This study will be substantially financed by a NY State Local Government Efficiency Grant Program, which has been finalized and approved. Looking at DPW consolidation – or portions thereof – is not a small deal. It will take time, and no decisions will be made quickly. Heads of the Dobbs Ferry departments will also be fully involved in this process, and the village will fully communicate along the way.
Rivertowns Square

This important mixed use re-development proposal has now moved into the site-plan approval process. The applicant is now before the village’s Planning Board for subdivision review and approval; they will also be before the Architectural & Historical Review board. These public meetings have/will be noticed, announced, and broadcast through the village’s normal channels, and the public is encouraged to attend and/or watch to keep informed and/or provide input.
Other projects proposed or ongoing … since the last Newsletter we still do not have anything new to report regarding the property formerly known as Rudy’s.  A residential plan has been submitted, but more work apparently remains to be done for the water mitigation and management plan. As this proposed development project moves ahead we will keep everyone posted. The Walgreens structure has filled in more as the exterior brick is now beginning to materialize. It will be nice to see these spaces continue filling-in as the brick and building details become more apparent. This new building and its code conforming ‘streetscape’ design will stand as an attractive new transition to the gateway district, enhancing business traffic for all the local merchants, providing residents a more convenient shopping alternative, and giving the village a stronger property tax base for the future. The Mobil gas station in the gateway business district has been sold to a new ownership group.  The new business owners have met with the village’s Technical Advisory Committee and are going before the Planning Board on March 7th with an application for new commercial uses of the property beyond the sale of gasoline. It is of course not against the law for business owners to present applications. We do not know much nor can we comment about this proposal except to say the board will be watching closely with interest and encourage the public to also watch and/or attend the public meetings for more information. When more specific details are known about the proposal and at the appropriate time the board will make comments and provide a directional signal.
Action recently taken
Masters School new Athletic and Cultural Arts Center Approved
The Board voted unanimously to approve the site plan for construction of a new athletic and cultural arts center on the school’s campus.  In granting the approval, the board considered among other things these factors: (1) the Planning Board had presented a resolution to the BOT recommending approval of the proposed building; (2) language adopted in the BOT’s resolution re-enforced the school’s ongoing commitment to make its assets and resources available within reason for the benefit of the residents of Dobbs Ferry; this in lieu of property taxes; and (3) other language was adopted in the resolution which fully addressed border screening and athletic field issues (unrelated to the specific proposal)which had been of concern to a few residents near the campus. The building is beautifully designed and will be a great new asset to the school, and a further source of pride for the community as a whole. The Masters School has been a great neighbor to the village and has really stepped up in recent years (new track facility, field access, etc.). The village in turn supports the school as an important and valuable institution within the community. It is a great working relationship which has been getting stronger over the years. We look for this to continue
Mercy College new on-campus dormitory proposal referred to Planning Board
At the most recent meeting, the BOT voted (5 ayes, 2 absent) in favor of a motion to refer the college’s proposal for construction of a new dormitory on the Dobbs Ferry property to the village’s Planning Board. The Planning board will now closely review the proposal and make recommendations as to the issues which need to be studied in more detail, and the best processes to accomplish this. Under village code, the proposal will ultimately need the approval of the BOT. There will naturally be legitimate concerns of the immediate neighborhood which must be seriously considered, and the village has and will look after and protect the interests of the nearby residents, and community at large.  The potential macro impacts to the village will also be considered, down side risks as well as upside benefits.  The village has greatly appreciated the recent efforts of the college and actions it has taken to contribute in a more meaningful way, working to become a better and more important member of the community; these efforts will make a more positive difference to the community and the college going forward.  At the same time, it is the responsibility of the village’s boards to closely review this proposal – which is not small – to be sure the final plan is in the best interest of the college, the immediate neighborhood, and the entire village of Dobbs Ferry. We will keep everyone informed as review of this proposal moves forward.
Upgrade to village website; enhanced search and retrieval of documents and video archives
Thanks to a NY State government efficiency grant combined with the work of the Village Administrator and the Deputy Village Administrator/Clerk, the village’s website will now have much greater capacity to store and retrieve substantially more volumes of documents and videos.   Users will find the search function has been enhanced making it easier to find and retrieve archived files. The village website has been greatly improved over the past 3 ½ years, at little-to-no cost to tax payers. The village will continue to work to improve the website as a communication, information and marketing tool. Residents with specific website or relevant technological expertise who are looking for ways to get involved are welcome to join the village’s IT Committee. The village can always use good people who want to volunteer in positive ways. You can make a difference.
Other things going on in the village … and up the road
DFSD exploring IB program for Middles School grades 6-10
The Dobbs Ferry School District has announced it will begin to explore and study an accreditation process to bring the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program to the Middle School grades 6 to 10. The IB program has been in place in the High School since 1998. The District, as well as local parent and teacher groups will of course be providing much information to parents and residents as the exploration process moves forward.
To learn more about this school initiative, there will be a community meeting on Monday, March 11th at 7:30pm at the Springhurst Elementary School, Walgrove Avenue.
The reason I mention this item in the Mayor’s Newsletter is because what goes on in the schools of course has a big impact on the village in many ways … including property values and the village's tax base. Dobbs Ferry is lucky to have such dedicated and good people serving on the Board of Education, a great School Superintendent, and Principals, and Administrators and Teachers and Parent Volunteers and Staff who make our schools a special place. This attracts new families (home buyers) and more businesses who want to invest in Dobbs Ferry; and this directly impacts the fiscal condition and tax rates of the village, which is the job (and worry) of village government.  But it will be up to the community's parents, the BOE, and the District to weigh all the relevant educational factors, school objectives and the best interests of the kids; and they will, and no doubt there will be open discussion and thorough review, and the best outcome will come about for the community
The village encourages everyone to attend the District and community meetings to share and learn more about the facts of this important issue.

Village of Dobbs Ferry to participate in Sleepy Hollow’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade!
Dobbs Ferry is proud to be participating in the Sleepy Hollow St. Patrick's Day Parade this coming weekend.
Details are as follows:
When:                 Sunday, March 10
Where:                Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown
Time:                   Parade begins at 1:30 PM
Formation will start at 12:30PM on Main Street (near the firehouse) in Tarrytown.
Parking is available on Beekman Avenue by the old GM plant.
Shuttle buses (provided by Tarrytown School District) will be available to take people from Beekman Avenue to Central Avenue, than walk one block to Main Street.
The village is excited to be participating with the other Rivertowns villages in this event, and we hope that many of you will be able to make the trip north on Sunday to Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow to watch the parade and cheer the Dobbs Ferry contingent on. We will march with a village banner, accompanied by apparatus and crew from the DFFD, officers of the DFPD, village officials, staff, and American Legion Post 1048.  Girl Scout or Boy Scout Troops that wish to march should contact Liz Dreaper, Deputy Administrator/Clerk at 231-8504; so we have a note and record of all the groups who will be joining. It promises to be a fun day for all.
Well, that’s it for now. As usual, we do want to hear from you if you have any issues or concerns or ideas or if you want to get involved. Our e-mail addresses are on the village website. We will get back to you.
Hartley Connett
Mayor, Village of Dobbs Ferry
March, 2013