2008 is now history. The following are highlights of the year in review.
* NEW BOARD/TRANSITIONS - 2 new members of the Town Board (Kevin Morgan & Sonja Brown) were sworn into office. Judith Beville was sworn into office as Town Clerk. Al Regula, Commissioner of Public Works and his deputy, Butch Nanna, announced their retirements at the end of the year. Bill Carter was appointed the new Commissioner at the Theodore Young Community Center. Mike Kolesar is our new Comptroller. Police Chief John Kapica will retire in 2009. Councilman Kevin Morgan, a former Detective, is assisting the Board as we prepare for the interviews with candidates for Police Chief.
* NEW OPEN GOVERNMENT REFORMS - Work sessions are now televised live. Work sessions are now streamed live on the internet. Work session agendas are also archived. Work session agendas are posted 24 hours in advance of work sessions. Town Clerk Judith Beville sponsored a community meeting with Robert Freeman, executive director of the NY Committee on Open Government. He answered community questions about open government. Councilman Francis Sheehan has been posting all resolutions on the town web site in advance of all Town Board meetings.
* MONEY MAGAZINE NAMES GREENBURGH 80th BEST PLACE TO LIVE in the United States.
* S & P INCREASE BOND RATING TO AAA, A DISTINCTION SHARED BY LESS THAN 3% OF ALL LOCALITIES. This is the highest possible bond rating a municipality can receive. We are proud of the upgrade --especially since these are difficult economic times.
* NEW LIBRARY - The $20 million library that was approved by the voters two years ago is now open. It's a beautiful, new building with state of the art features. Councilwoman Diana Juettner worked very cooperatively with the Library Board -- overseeing the transition from the old library to the new. I am hopeful that in 2009 a job club can be organized. The Library Board decided to discontinue the cybermobile. Three new Library Board members will assume office in January--Frank Musantry, Diane Creston & Tom Saez.
* COMMUNITY HOSPITAL AT DOBBS FERRY SAVED - The Community Hospital at Dobbs Ferry has been saved.
* DOG PARK OPENS - A new dog park opened at East Rumbrook Park. It's in a beautiful, wooded setting and is very popular.
*XPOSURE AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM - The Town received a grant of $167,500 from the Lanza Family Foundation to set up a very creative after school program at the Theodore Young Community Center. Children open up their own bank accounts, invest in the stock market, host radio and TV programs and are exposed to different professions. The Greenburgh Xposure program will be featured in Scholastic Magazine in early 2009. Councilwoman Sonja Brown was instrumental in expanding the indoor skating program at the center, among other initiatives.
* TOWN CLERK INITIATIVES - The Town Clerk has created a "Hot Line" for town residents to call regarding cable TV issues. The number is 831-3031. The Clerk coordinated and sponsored several mentoring initiatives at Town Hall for area high school students including, the WISE program, the newly created Town Hall/Xposure mentoring initiative and opportunities for individual students to experience the work environment. Lee Mouzakitis, Records Management Clerk, upgraded Records Management. A Records Management Advisory Committee was established.
* NEW ENERGY CONSERVATION COORDINATORS - Allegra Dengler and Deann Cartwright replaced Nikki Coddington as Energy Conservation Coordinators/Outreach. A climate action task force was formed.
* GREENBURGH HEALTH CENTER WON'T MOVE. Although the Health Center received approval to build on Knollwood Road they decided to stay at 330 Tarrytown Road. The escalating construction costs and bad economy forced the Health Center to defer plans to move.
* COMPREHENSIVE PLAN – the Town of Greenburgh started our comprehensive plan review with numerous community meetings in different neighborhoods--soliciting feedback from the community on issues: taxes, traffic and infrastructure, affordable housing, public facilities, services.
* A committee was established to review possible actions the town could ask the NYS Legislature take to amend the Finneran law to allow a tennis bubble to be built by a private company at AF Veteran Park. The town would receive significant rent and infrastructure enhancements. The Appellate Division of the NYS Supreme Court reversed the Taxter Ridge case (re: who pays/can use the park). The case is being appealed to the NYS Court of Appeals - the highest state court.
* AFFORDABLE HOUSING - at the urging of the Planning Board the Town Board approved a zoning code amendment extending 10% affordable housing requirements to three zones. The Town Board also approved a rezoning request made by Westhab to build 28 units of workforce housing at 22 Tarrytown Road (across from Staples, Verizon, Deli Delicious). 4 units of affordable housing on Warburton Ave. in Hastings opened up. 2 town employees moved into the housing.
* EAST HARTSDALE AVENUE SUMMER CONCERTS - In 2007 the town received a grant to have music concerts at DeSanti Plaza. In 2008 we lost the grant. However, Town Clerk Judith Beville organized over a dozen concerts at no cost to the taxpayers. The musicians donated their talents.
*JOB NETWORKING - I have set up a small program helping unemployed residents find work. Residents who are working are encouraged to contact their personnel office and advise me of job openings. I share the information with people who ask for help finding employment. I am hoping that a more structured job club will be established at the library in 2009.
* REMEMBER MICKEY’S OLD FASHIONED HOT DOG STAND ON JACKSON AVE? The stand had operated for 78 years but was closed down after Mickey's son took over the business from his father. The Zoning Board of Appeals granted the hot dog stand permission to re-open.
* THE TOWN OF GREENBURGH AND VILLAGE OF DOBBS FERRY received a grant from the state to study the feasibility of sharing/consolidation of police services and selected a consultant.
*911 MEMORIAL - We completed the re-landscaping of the 9/11 Memorial at Richard Presser Park on Central Ave. New plantings, benches have enhanced the park.
* WESTCHESTER GOLF RANGE TO STAY IN BUSINESS. In 2002 the Town of Greenburgh considered the possibility of acquiring the Westchester Golf Range (Dobbs Ferry Road). Golfers went crazy and the town withdrew the effort. The owners then tried selling the property to a housing developer but that application fell through. Good news. The golf range was sold and will stay a golf range.
* A STUDENT INTERN, ANDY LAUB, used his internship time to set up a Greenburgh You Tube initiative -- featuring aspects of living in Greenburgh.
* THE WESTCHESTER COUNTY BOARD OF LEGISLATORS, over the objections of Legislator Tom Abinanti and me, voted to purchase and renovate 450 Saw Mill River Road for $13 million to house voting machines. We objected to the fact that the property will be taken off the tax rolls. The county could have saved millions by placing the voting machines at existing county owned buildings.
* BUDGET - The Town Board worked very hard to keep tax hikes single digit, successfully avoiding a projected tax hike of between 17% and 23%. The tax hike in 2009 is 7.7%. A citizens budget committee headed by Don Cannon worked hard during the year and came up with recommendations. Thanks to their efforts we were able to reduce the size of the tax hike significantly. Council members Sonja Brown, Kevin Morgan, Diana Juettner, Francis Sheehan and I spent many evenings during the spring/summer/fall months making house calls to residents -- seeking their input. We made significant cuts in the budget and have reduced the workforce size.
* ABANDONED PROPERTY AT 24 JOYCE ROAD FINALLY DEMOLISHED - for at least five years we have been pushing to have an abandoned property demolished. The property was a big eyesore. Finally, in May the property was demolished.
* GIS TRANSPARENCY - A video of all roads, sidewalks, curbs, properties in the town can be accessed on our GIS system. Road conditions are rated by a private company (excellent, good, poor, horrible). In the future, residents will be able to compare their streets to streets that have been resurfaced. It will all be done on merit!
* MORE ROOM FOR THE COURT - the Town will be purchasing a trailer to provide more space for the Town Court.
* PORTABLE WEIGHT SCALES - the Town will purchase portable weight scales to test commercial vehicles for compliance with weight limits on town roads. The weight scales are expected to generate significant additional revenue to the town.
I would like to thank all the members of the Town Board - Sonja Brown, Kevin Morgan, Diana Juettner, Francis Sheehan and Town Clerk Judith Beville for working so hard in 2008. Although we do not always agree on everything - one of the highlights of 2008 was how we all worked together in a cooperative manner. We were able to accomplish a lot this past year. I hope 2009 is also a big success.