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To Be Or Not To Be: Upper Nyack As Hamlet

by Dave Zornow

Upper Nyack, Dec 14 — Upper Nyack’s Village Board, feeling overtaxed and underserved by the town of Clarkstown, holds a public meeting Tuesday night at 7p to discuss dissolving the village or seceding from the town.

Supporters say Upper Nyack could do better on its own. Skeptics say the trustees are swimming against the statewide tide of local consolidation to reduce expenses.

One option the trustees will propose is dissolving the village to become a hamlet. Hamlets don’t have boundaries, local governments, taxation authority or official recognition by NY State. Should Upper Nyack unincorporate, Clarkstown would become responsible for the Hamlet-To-Be’s roads and sewers. However, any debt accrued by the village would remain with the residents of Upper Nyack.

Property owners in an unincorporated Upper Nyack would theoretically have a lower tax burden because they would no longer pay village taxes and any increased costs the town would have to bear would be spread among all Clarkstown taxpayers.

However, as many residents already complain that Upper Nyack doesn’t get its fair share of town services, it’s unlikely that dissolution will get any more attention for Upper Nyack.

The trustees are also considering seceding from Clarkstown and becoming an independent town-village. To make that financially feasible, Upper Nyack would have to replace Clarkston’s police coverage and spend less than the $900,000 which the town says it spends to protect the village.

To unincorporate, the village would need to collect petition signatures and get the approval of Rockland County and Upper Nyack voters. “It’s basically a divorce proceeding,” says Upper Nyack Treasurer Barry MacCartney. Local government experts say it’s also likely that the New York State legislature would need to approve secession.

Despite the urgings of New York State to consolidate as a way of saving money, Upper Nyack officials haven’t seriously considered the idea of merging with adjacent villages because the new entity would cross town lines and require the approval of too many jurisdictions. Also, downtown Nyack has different issues and concerns than Upper Nyack, they say.

In 1872, Upper Nyack incorporated to escape higher taxes and having its independence usurped by the Village of Nyack.

Nyack Mayor Richard Kavesh thinks there are too many obstacles for the northern village to overcome to make either option likely, but he thinks the communities can work together to reduce costs. “We have had a very successful collaboration paving roads with South Nyack,” says Kavesh. “I’d be open to further conversations with both villages about sharing services — particularly the big expenses like DPW and police services.”

Nyack Trustee Doug Foster says he understands concerns about consolidation among the river villages, but believes that it’s in everyone’s best interests to have an open discussion about the pros and cons. “I think consolidating would be  a win-win for the two villages,” he says.  Foster says he’s open to meeting with the trustees or any interested residents to explore ways for the communities to work together.

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