by Jen Laird White, Mayor of Nyack
Summer 2015 is coming to a close and it certainly feels, on some days, like fall is in the air. It has been a nice summer in our village, weather warm but not too warm, rain heavy, but not too heavy and our streets busy in just that way we like it. Mostly Music was as wonderful as it always is despite having to deal with the missing gazebo and rain that seemed determined to fall almost every Tuesday night. Rivertown Film and the Hopper House made watching movies under the stars a “must do” in Nyack, thanks to the wonderful cleverness of our wonderful Kris Burns. New businesses opened…like Communal Kitchen, a delicious addition to our options for yummy food, a few closed their doors, like Bee Alive which made its home here for many years. Street lines are being painted, the park continues to transform, paving plans are underway and the Skate Park organizers, despite a setback of high construction bids managed to overcome their stress and briskly raise forty five thousand dollars so that construction can begin this fall…but more on that later.
I want to start by saying good-bye to three of the people who have helped make Nyack work for many, many years. First, Kathy Hanrahan, who has been the cheerful and efficient face of the Nyack Building Department is retiring after 20 years and heading South. We thank Kathy for all she has done for everyone in this village and for her unbelievable cheeriness. She will be missed. Sokuna Mam left us a month ago…but she didn’t go far. We were delighted to report that Suki is now the South Nyack Deputy Clerk, a wonderful job that will utilize her multitude of talents…lucky South Nyack. And lucky for us, Suki is regularly spotted all the way up north in Nyack on a regular basis. And last, but certainly not least, Police Officer Neil O’Donnell, who for 31 years wandered the streets of our village keeping us safe, has called it a day. We loved Neil and his commitment to our village and his retirement is a loss for us all. We will sing his praises at the first Sept. Village Board meeting on Sept 10th, at 7:30 pm, if you want to stop by to share our goodbyes. Just a quick way to say thank you. It is always nice to see folks at the board meetings.
The park work is still in high gear. The fishing pier is gorgeous and nearing completion. Because of the new post Sandy flood standards, it comes into the park quite high off the ground and the last phase of construction is the handicapped accessible ramp to get onto the pier. Once the major work is done, we will add movable tables and chairs, lights and the TZ projects granted viewfinders and guide to the New NY Bridge project. I think it is going to be a very popular park spot, not just for bridge walking but for watching the sunrise, enjoying the river and, of course, fishing.
The new gazebo will have removable stages and be fully wired for sound so that next year, Mostly Music will be happening in style.
The skate park project hit a snag when the bids for construction came in. Any municipal project, whether being privately funded, as is the case with the skate park, or publicly funded, must be bid out and the lowest responsible bidder chosen. In this case, the lowest bidder was forty five thousand dollars higher than the skate park design team had estimated. This was not the fault of the designer since estimating is always a bit of a guessing game and many factors influence the end price. The “Nyack Needs a Skatepark” community, led by their unbelievable leader, Sarah Anderson, gulped once and then set about doing what they do best…firing everyone up for one last challenge and raising money and enthusiasm. In one short week, Sarah and her team raised over forty five thousand dollars. I tell anyone who comes to see me in the village with a good idea to meet with Sarah Anderson because she knows how to make things happen. She never gets discouraged, she is always positive and she works her tail off. She should be an inspiration to us all. She tapped into so many generous donors who will have permanent mention etched into the park itself but the last gap of $12,000 was filled by the board of the former Riverspace project. I am incredibly grateful to each and every donor to the skate park project, it could not have happened without you, but I am going to give a special shout out to the Riverspace Board who spent many years and hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to get Nyack a permanent art center, filling the existing building with cultural events that were just extraordinary and engaging the entire community and county. When the project collapsed because of floods, lawsuits and general divisiveness, the downtown suffered a tremendous loss and every restaurant and business owner will tell you they have not recovered. The Riverspace Board was devastated to have their beautiful vision disappear into the ugliness of legal wrangling and so was everyone in Nyack. I have hopes that we will one day resurrect that vision, that an art center will make us solid and whole in a way that will benefit everyone, but in the meantime, it is nice to know that the team that was Riverspace still loves Nyack enough to make this wonderful and substantial gesture.
Road Paving in the Village of Nyack
by Trustee Doug Foster
2015 is a “down” year for major road improvements because we are between cycles to bond money for major projects. Nevertheless, we are going to get a lot done, much of which we can thank O&R (and Jim Politi for negotiating the deal) for contributing to repave the roads they worked on last year, along with the $92,000 in “CHIPS” funding from the state for road work.
Work already done this summer includes repainting parking lines on those streets repaved last Fall, a new center line on Broadway, and lines for crosswalks on Broadway and Main Street. We also filled a LOT of potholes, and thanks for those that posted on our repair-me form.
Still to do later this season will be a “Crack Sealing” program to fill the cracks on streets that were repaved recently. This will significantly extend their life before cracks turn to potholes and we have to repave.
And, finally, in 2015 we have several streets that will be milled and paved. We have received quotes for the work and the following list are roads that will definitely be repaved:
- Tallman Avenue
- Haven Court
- Tillou Lane
- Sixth Avenue
- Grand Avenue
- Rockland Place
- Duryea Place
If possible, we will add Midland Avenue south of Main street.
There are several roads that need significant attention on their road surfaces and very expensive additional work, including curbs, stormwater drainage and supplemental sidewalk repair. These roads include:
- Midland Avenue
- Piermont Avenue
- High Avenue
The improvements on these roads will be included either in next year’s budget and/or our next bonded, capital project.
All in all, I am pleased that we are able to undertake such extensive road maintenance and improvements in 2015.
People often ask me about why we don’t have hanging flower baskets on our streets. I am with all of you. I would love to see flower baskets. And lots of other simple beautification projects including better holiday lights. The reason it has not happened yet has been largely financial and partly structural. We have been committed to living within the 2% tax cap, meaning that your taxes only see an increase of 2% each year which is great for property owners who want their taxes to stay low. It is more complicated for a municipality with lots of expenses. 2% in a village the size of Nyack translates to only about $60,000 in discretionary funds for spending on things other than necessities each year. And with brutal winters killing roads, old infrastructure problems needing constant fixing, regular maintenance, trash pickup and a union contract that has to be respected, there has not been any extra money to either buy the baskets(the actual purchase is several thousand dollars) or, more importantly, maintain them. We struggle with the same thing when it comes to maintenance of the streetscape beds along Main Street. They were a lovely idea but no one bothered to figure out how maintenance would happen. That said, I am proud to say that we have, because of very careful budgeting and underestimation of revenues and after years of recovering from previous administrations mismanagement of funds and heavy debt, we are finally able to start spending money on things that are not just practical but also attractive. I promise, this spring, we will see flower baskets throughout the village. We have added a dedicated maintenance worker for the downtown and Memorial Park, Jamal Ladson, whose responsibility it will be to make sure everything is cleaner and we have created a beautification committee that is working to actually make sure the baskets, the holiday lights and other fun and attractive Nyack ideas happen. Christine Corday of the Christine Corday Salon and Kim Cross of the Nyack Center are spearheading this effort and I know they’d like help. So many thanks to them. And to the Nyack Marketing Association that has agreed to help out both with ideas and financial support. You can email me if you want to volunteer for this committee…it’s really fun. If you are interested in things like this, you may want to attend the monthly Downtown meeting, the first Monday of every month upstairs in Village Hall at nine am. It’s a great meeting where ideas, big and small, get tossed around, updates on village projects happen and wonderful things take root.
There is a tremendous amount of mis-information about the TZ Vista proposal. In short, the applicant has requested a Zone Text Amendment. The process for such a request is that the Village Board has asked both Nyack Planning and Rockland County Planning for comments on the request. We have received the Nyack Planning Boards response but are still waiting for the county to respond. We have also asked the consultant on our Master Plan update to review the request as the first order of business in their work. Following responses from all parties listed above, we will open a public hearing and will welcome comments from the public during that time. If you would like to comment before the public hearing opens, we ask that you do so in writing via the Village Clerk (firstname.lastname@example.org). After an appropriate period of public comment has occurred, the Village Board will make a determination on the text amendment.
I want to report that we awarded two big grant funded projects at the last board meeting. The 2.5 million dollar Broadway TAP grant to make Broadway more attractive, pedestrian and bike friendly and environmentally healthy, will be completed by a team from McClaren Engineering, an impressively talented worldwide firm that we are lucky to have headquartered in our back yard. The update on our Master Plan will be an impressive and diverse team headed by BFJ, a renowned planning firm who come with a deep knowledge of our village having prepared the in-depth Parking Study we currently use as a guide.
A reminder, Nyack will be holding a September 11th moment of reflection in Memorial Park at 6:30 pm to remember those river village residents who lost their lives that day. It is a brief ceremony and it would be wonderful if you could join us. This Monday (Aug 17), as part of the Rivertown Film movies in the park series, come watch the film “The Princess Bride” in Memorial Park. Free popcorn is available on ME. The series will continue on Friday, September 18 in with a Classic Cartoon night dedicated to our wonderful Victor Overton. September is right around the corner.
Enjoy the last weeks of summer.
Jen Laird White is the Mayor of Nyack, NY