by Nyack Mayor Jen Laird White
The 2015 State of The Village includes updates on Memorial Park, Infrastructure improvements and commercial development. And let’s not forget parking, too.
Happy 2015 to you all. What a wonderful way to kick it off by working together to get through the “never to appear” Snowmageddon (and the snowstorm after that. And the one since the snowfall after that…) As much ado about nothing as it was, the snow emergency planning worked beautifully, the community did everything it could to make sure rules were followed, DPW was assisted by everyone’s efforts and have quickly gotten the streets back in business. We so appreciate everyone’s willingness to help. Special thanks to Gypsy Donut and Soup Angels who made some extra efforts to keep our cold and extremely tired DPW guys fed and beveraged. Those are the kinds of generous actions that make Nyack the spectacular place it is.
It was a good holiday season in the village. Merchants are reporting that their stores were busy and places like the Hopper House have said there was a nice uptick in tourist traffic. All good news.
Special thanks should go to the Nyack Marketing Association who between the cool Arnold Roufa billboard on the West Side Highway, the amazing Roufa ad at the mall and their constant pursuit of more ways to capitalize on what a fun place we are, are really getting the word out there. They have big plans for the future and we should all be very grateful for their commitment, not to mention their cleverness.
I want to begin this year by promising monthly updates on all of the exciting things that are happening in the village, and there are a lot of them, along with news about day to day business and items of interest to everyone in the community. I think it is going to be an amazing year.
As I am sure you have all noticed, paving of North Broadway has FINALLY been completed. We did note a post paving engineering problem on the corner of First Ave that resulted in pooling water and needs some re-engineering work but other than that, Broadway looks gorgeous, complete with new up to date handicapped accessible curbs and corners.
Victor Overton and his DPW crew have been diligently replacing missing street signs all around the village. If you know of missing street signs, let them know. (845-358-3552). The winter has thus far been kind and our salt, sand and plowing money are still in good supply. Victor was honored at the Nyack Center’s Black History Month celebration this month…at an amazing annual event which included a high school oratory contest. The other honorees were Vanessa Green and Rev. Weldon McWilliams IV. It is an awesome event even when they are not honoring our wonderful Victor.
The park is coming together nicely. The last piece of the children’s playground has been installed, the epic-ly cool hillside slide. Come spring, the fencing, benches and children’s gardens will go in and, thanks to The Nyack Park Conservancy and especially benefactors and former Nyack residents Jo and Peter Baer who generously funded this project, we will have the nicest park in the County. The Nyack skate plaza final plan was approved by the Village Board. It is a gorgeous multi-use bit of design that features native plant landscaping, cool seating, a skateable homage to the Tappan Zee bridge and the coolest, wheel friendly design imaginable.
The engineering drawings are being completed now and we expect to award the build contract sometime early spring and be ready to roll, pun intended, as summer kicks off. The skate park is way ahead of the projected timeline for completion because of a substantial grant from Senator David Carlucci, support from the Tony Hawk Foundation, the wicked cool Misfits and their fearless leader Jerry Only, that pushed fundraising over the top. We can’t thank them enough.
The fishing pier hit some snags along the construction way including a barge buried fifteen feet beneath the existing pier that made pile driving impossible. A HUGE thanks to the NY Thruway Authority for sending over Tony Canale, the Design and Construction Oversight Engineer on the New NY Bridge…in other words, the man in charge of pile driving for the giant bridge happening to our south, who gave us guidance on how to get the project back on track. It was an honor to have his input, not to mention amusing watching the guy in charge of pile driving on one of the worlds largest infrastructure projects scratching his head for a solution for our small pier. We are now moving ahead as we awarded the final contract last week.
The decking should begin soon and the fishing pier will be done in the spring. The pier is being built with a DOS grant along with a supplemental grant from the Thruway Authority to cover seating, lighting and amenities related to the construction of the bridge. Thank you to Secretary of State Perales, who came for the pier groundbreaking and the team at the Thruway for their help along the way.
We finally received our FEMA funding along with our insurance compensation for damage incurred during Sandy. I must say that the State and the Federal government were incredibly helpful during the whole difficult and long process, Congresswoman Nita Lowey and her staff helped us along the way, and we are deeply grateful for their efforts. Our allotment will allow us to repair some remaining areas of Memorial park, repair marina bulkheads and electrical work, do necessary sediment removal and, I am delighted to report, finally have boats bobbing in Nyack’s marina this summer.
Nyack is delighted to be the recipient of a Toni Morrison Bench By The Road. Here is a story from Nyack News and Views that describes the bench project. We should all save the date in May to be present to receive our bench in Memorial Park and celebrate our rich and complicated African American history. I want to thank Bill Batson and the entire committee for working so hard to see this project to fruition. It is an extraordinary honor for our community.
TZB SUP and Broadway Streetscape
We recommend that all Nyack residents look at the parking alternatives being recommended for the pedestrian and bicycle Shared Use Path (aka SUP, for those who have wondered what a SUP is) on the new bridge. Nyack figures into some of them as a potential location for parking for those on bicycles. The deadline to submit comments about parking near the SUP is Fri Feb 13.
We were incredibly fortunate to receive a $1.4 million grant from the TAP program (Transportation Alternatives Program) that will allow us to continue to improve the village’s walkability and bikeability. With that money we will complete a necessary upgrade to all of Broadway, bringing it into line with Main Street, adding period lighting, better sidewalks, rain gardens, permeable pavement and bus shelters, bike lanes and improved signage to encourage people to wander or ride our streets from one end of the village to the next. We have long seen the need to give Broadway the attention that Main Street has always gotten and now we have the money to do so.
We are planning to apply for CDBG funding to pave Piermont Ave and add sidewalks in areas that are currently without, most importantly, heading into Memorial Park. In addition, we will apply for funding to perform for energy efficiency and environmental improvements to Village Hall.
Nyack Senior Center
We are also grateful to Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee who secured a $125,000 to upgrade our Senior Center by replacing a leaky roof and windows and improving kitchens and bathrooms for a building that provides recreation and social opportunities for many senior citizens and serves other members of the community on weekends and evenings. The grant will also allow us to purchase and install an emergency generator to provide Nyack’s second heating and cooling center during natural or other disasters. Now all we need is to find a source for funding for computers for our seniors and school aged kids of the community who don’t have access to computers in their homes. Any ideas are greatly appreciated.
Website Beautification Program
The Nyack-NY.gov has recently been upgraded and we thank Trustee Doug Foster for his efforts. The website had always been slightly difficult to navigate and the new version makes information very easy to find.
We are also working with consultant Louis Rampersad to improve the phone systems in Village Hall and minimize the unanswered phone lines. If budget allows, we will seek to hire someone to answer phones at a general number so that no one feels like their call is not being received. We have efficiently run Village Hall for several years now with a minimal staff, to great effect both from an operations standpoint and financial frugality. That said, we are all frustrated at times by how often the phones don’t get answered and we want to solve that.
The village is currently experiencing a lot of interest from developers who are seeking to build on blighted or abandoned properties. We have seen several abandoned homes actually find new owners and receive major face lifts and several more have just entered the market and will likely be sold quickly. This will help neighborhoods that were suffering deeply from these empty properties to revitalize and thrive. Special thanks in this department to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Senator David Carlucci for working with Nyack on solutions to the complicated national problem that these abandoned properties have become. Because of a series of new laws, banks are no longer allowed to let these properties languish. There were tremendous efforts by residents, particularly those in the neighborhood south of Main Street who have worked with the senator, the village and, through us, with the AG, to solve these problems. Their activism has been impressive and has resulted in solutions.
Several larger parcels in the village have been sold and are at various stages in our land use process. They are all attractive residential projects, some extremely high end, others in the middle rental price range and still others classified as affordable. These are exciting projects that will only strengthen the financial health and future of Nyack and we are pleased that developers see Nyack as a place worthy of investment. The building department has all plans that are currently in our land use boards in their office and you are welcome to stop by to see them.
As you can see, the NYLO Hotel is quickly rising at the top of the village. It is a welcome and beautiful addition to Nyack and we can’t wait for them to open in July of 2015, complete with 136 rooms, a Delmonico’s Steakhouse, banquet and conference facilities and a radio station and performance space.
In light of all of the developer interest in the village and in the post Sandy and soon to be post New NY Bridge world, we applied for a grant from NYSERDA through the Regional Council process. The primary focus of the grant was to make sure our current master plan, almost a decade old, reflected our desired density and future feel of the village for the village, look at sustainability improvements to our code and to the village itself and to determine what our future transit needs are. The current bridge has no train system in it’s plan and while there is a desire for BRT at the State level, no plan is in place for implementation so the final area of the grant is to look at public transportation options to determine if they are feasible and if the community is interested in having a way to commute to job centers and/or for tourists to visit us. We were delighted to receive the grant and the process will begin shortly. The village will be hiring a consultant after an RFP process and then citizens committees will be formed and public meetings will begin. The decisions in this upgrade will be based on input from the public not driven by the Village Board so if you are interested, email me at email@example.com and we will see to it that you are notified of meetings and put on a committee if you would like to be.
I also want to congratulate the new Deputy Mayors of Nyack Don Hammond and Marie Lorenzini and thank the outgoing Deputies (and still Trustees), Louise Parker and Doug Foster. They do much to help make Nyack run smoothly and we can’t thank them enough. And a huge thanks to our Village Administrator, Jim Politi, as always, for making this place work. And when it doesn’t, for fixing it. Please, don’t ever hesitate to contact any of us. I also urge you to email me questions or concerns. This is a small village and we are a responsive government but we can’t help if we don’t know about something. No problem is too small.