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Change in Nyack?

by JC Brotherhood

Change may have come to the rest of America but it doesn’t look like it will visit Nyack anytime soon.

Most of the Democratic candidates presented by Friends of the Nyack’s September first showcase spent their time bemoaning the general state of the economy and explaining why they couldn’t be expected to change much of anything if elected. Caught behind the curve  it appeared that someone just cashed Nyack’s reality check.

It’s all about our commitment. But commitment to what, exactly? I understand our community needs to support our downtown as a vibrant and attractive destination in order for it to thrive and benefit everyone and I everyone I know remain committed to that.

The reason to re-develop property in Nyack’s Downtown is revenue. Developers reasonably expect a return on their investment, the current property owners involved  expect fair compensation for their real property, new retail and commercial tenants expect to make money. The creation and support of an Arts Center takes money and the Village desperately needs new ratables to support its overburdened tax base.  This all  requires a substantial commitment from everyone, including the single family homeowners and renters who make up Nyack’s tax base.

That said, what commitment will the new Mayor require of the principal beneficiaries of this project, the developer and the business community as whole, in return for our support?

As an example: I would not presume to tell Candidate Olive what she can charge for a martini, but she feels completely entitled to tell me what a fair rate of return is for that parking space out front. The Parking space which  belongs to all of us, and besides providing much needed revenue for the Village, provides access to her bar. Currently on Thursday night that return is exactly zero. We need to look beyond simple marketing gimmicks and the disingenuous arguments presented by the Chamber of Commerce about parking in Nyack if we are going to move forward in any meaningful way. What commitment does the business community intend to make to its own well being besides lobbying a compliant and willfully misinformed Village Board for concessions which impact the rest of us?

Retail is in trouble these days; and not just here in Nyack. Empty shops beget empty shops and a bad business plan remains a bad business plan but it is naïve to think that we can simply build our way out of this  especially with pressure from the Mall and Online shopping.  I haven’t heard any candidate address this other than to express ‘€œexcitement’€ with a plan they all admit doesn’t really exist but nonetheless seem willing to commit more money for another  study.

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There is an essential difference between what constitutes good business policy and good public policy. We should be very wary of anyone who would argue simply to expedite the peoples business. Considerable deliberation needs to be a part of good public policy and while this “sausage making” is generally unpleasant it is the job of good legislators make sure this debate has a beginning, a middle and an end. This has not been the case in recent years but it doesn’t mean we should disregard the importance of a well informed debate.

Given the scale and the large financial risks involved in redeveloping Nyack’s downtown, what ethical standards will the new Board insist upon in order to assure we are protected, today and in future deliberations?   Who decided to give up over $100,000. Per year from parking revenues? Who decided to let our marina district decay now possibly to the point of no return? Was there a vote on this? Did we miss this meeting?

If we have learned anything from the macro-economic disaster it is that diversity is essential. It is here the Citizen’s Advisory Committee’s did not go nearly far enough excepting perhaps the recommendation of a Business Improvement  District for the downtown but it still begs the question what types of businesses does Nyack want to develop in the next ten or twenty years and what can we do to attract that type of business? Happy Hour? The current business model in Nyack appears to be selling as much alcohol as late into the night as possible while disregarding the cost of the hangover the next morning.

We need to support Nyack’s retail, and  not ignore Nyack’s excellent destination stores but at the same time we need to look forward and recognize the vulnerability of any system predicated on a monolithic, top down (trickle down anyone?) economic model driven by special interests if we are going to maintain a healthy business climate.

The micro-economic disaster that is Nyack, is reflected in this Lame Duck administration’s  abject denial of any consequences of their own collective support of government by an Orwellian Mobocracy. (I offer my sincere apologies to self-respecting waterfowl everywhere.)

Who will ensure the ‘€œcold hard look’€ the critical decisions facing us require and these times demand? Whoever is elected Mayor in November its clear the makeup of the Village board will be very different  so I think maybe its not such a bad thing the redevelopment project formerly known as Riverspace has been put on hold. Should we burden the incoming members with any decision based merely on expediency at this point in time especially one that is driven by a fairly narrow and shrinking constituency?

That’s the question Nyackers need to ask themselves when they enter the polls tomorrow.

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