Here’s to April showers bringing May flowers. It is nice to see winter making it’s exit. And yet, despite the seemingly perpetual snow fall, our snow budget seems to have survived and may even have a little surplus when all the book keeping is done. Kudos to Victor Overton, Jim Politi and the whole DPW for excellent budgeting and for excellent snow handling. It was not an easy winter. Our Village Administrator has handed in his version of next year’s budget and the Village Board is making it’s tweaks. Once again, we are below the 2% Tax Cap, something the Board remains committed to. Not much has changed since last year’s budget but some of the items you might note are as follows:
Projected parking revenue has been reduced in this year’s budget because for the last few years and largely due to weather related free parking periods, revenue has not been hitting it’s mark. We have acknowledged that this weather pattern is permanent and that it is likely we will have the same number of free parking periods each year. The parking revenue this year was also negatively impacted by a changeover in meter service providers and a police investigation related to our parking department. All unfortunate and solved, unlike the weather. This current board has voiced a desire, shared by all, to reduce our dependence on parking ticket revenue as a goal for the future.
Building fees see an increase from previous years. This reflects the Pavion project and two others that have entered our land use process.The fees reflect an extremely conservative estimate. Nyack continues to experience a tremendous amount of interest from developers and business owners who are interested in either building or opening new businesses here. We are experiencing unique healthy growth compared to much of Rockland County and is truly an exciting time in the Village.
Our new but flourishing recreation department continues to grow and provide excellent and exciting programming for all age groups. (http://nyack-ny.gov/spring-2015-youth-recreation-programs/) The winter session included a program that involved kids writing their own songs and making videos free tennis programs in conjunction with the United States Tennis Association and taught by high school tennis players, an art program and our first series of programming for Seniors.
A new line in the budget will be dedicated to funding for sustainability. Sustainability is the balancing of Nyack’s needs for a vibrant future, with a strong local economy, robust natural environment and high quality of life. The Village set up a Sustainability Desk last year, with volunteer Marcy Denker at the helm. With the support of grant funding and wonderfully committed community volunteers, Nyack is joining leaders in Rockland County and the Hudson Valley in sustainable planning to make our buildings more energy efficient, our streets and landscapes green and safe for cars, bikes and pedestrians and our riverfront s more beautiful and resilient in the face of rising sea levels and changing weather patterns. With a grant from the Hudson River Valley Greenway Council, the Sustainability Desk created the Sustainable Nyack Action Plan 2015-2016 , which is full of specific steps the village can work on over the next two years. One example– Promoting better landscape management, starting with municipal property. An upcoming workshop of the Village Board will consider a proposed resolution in support of the successful Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em program mulch-mowing leaves.
Do peruse the budget. People often ask me where their tax dollars are going and this is a line by line itemized description of just that, including salaries.
I thought I would answer some commonly asked questions…and you should feel free, in the future, to email any you might have. The top questions THIS month are, as follows:
Why does it take so long to fill pot holes?
Pot holes are a huge problem all over the East Coast this season. Winter was rough, in case you had not noticed. Asphalt plants had trouble keeping up with asphalt orders and everyone had to wait their turn for both the patch material and the machines necessary to do the work. It was also necessary to wait for appropriate weather conditions. Too cold and the patch would not stick, too warm or wet, same problem.
Victor, George and the guys have done one round of filling and will do more as the season progresses. Let us know if you see a hole that we missed by going to our website at (http://nyack-ny.gov/repair-me), or email at email@example.com.
Why do we have those epic white lines at the corner of each street? Seems like wasted potential parking spaces?
Those long patches of white lines are federally required setback lines for public safety. They are determined by traffic experts at the federal level and make it possible for motorists to see oncoming traffic and pedestrians. Their specs are not designed by the village and they are mandated by law. It does take up a lot of space but we in Nyack have personally seen the near tragic results, when some years ago a Grace Thrift Store volunteer was badly injured by a car that couldn’t see properly around vehicles parked in the sight lines. We were grateful that she survived but it was clear that sight lines must be obeyed and properly painted.
What’s next in the park?
The park transformation continues. This spring we should see the construction of the fishing pier/viewing platform, the moving of the gazebo, the installation of fencing around the Playground, the grand opening of the hillside slide, the addition of Children’s Garden planters around the new playground and the construction of the Skate Plaza. It is so exciting. The playground slide is ready to go, we simply need to construct a railing, which will happen in the next few weeks, and plant the hillside grass. The Skate Plaza design is finalized, construction drawings are almost complete and the job will be awarded soon. The fishing pier is ready to go, weather permitting. We held our first public workshop on April 9(see power point here) related to the new gazebo design and check our website to find out when there will be a follow up public meeting.
Why isn’t Nyack helping South Nyack with the SUP Terminus? In fact, we are, or at least, have. I eat lunch with Mayor Christian every couple of months and we discuss many issue facing our villages including, obviously, the New NY Bridge. We have offered many suggestions, alternatives and ideas on the issues facing the Village of South Nyack and the Thruway Authority. We have walked parts of both villages with Mayor Christian and Thruway representatives seeking parking alternatives and we have offered both short term and long term help with the solutions to the SUP. That said, South Nyack has made it very clear that the concerns and the solutions are theirs, and theirs alone and while they appreciate our offers of help, this is South Nyack’s issue.
When they have asked for our assistance we have gladly provided it and we will certainly do so in the future, should they be interested in our help.
What’s With Parking Tickets?
My office is right next to the Parking Authority office and one thing that I hear a lot, as folks come in to discuss their tickets with Debra Karten, our wonderfully calm Parking Authority manager, is that parking tickets are a “money grab”. Debra is wonderful with upset people and certainly parking tickets can be upsetting. It is important to note, however, that parking revenue is a necessary part of day to day operations in the village. We are fortunate to be a thriving village with many visitors and neighbors using our downtown. The volume of use makes for some serious wear and tear on our streets, our sidewalks, our trash quantities, our parks, all a sign of thriving vibrancy. This kind of use requires constant work to keep it from disrepair, expensive work that parking revenue, both tickets and meter revenue pay for. The village instituted parking several decades ago and tax payers have, unknowingly, reaped the benefit of that revenue in the form of lower taxes. Now, with the Village committed to staying under the two percent tax cap, parking revenue is an important addition to the monies used to fill potholes, pave streets, repair the park and countless other costly fixes. We, in Village Hall, would far rather see that money come in the form of meter revenue than tickets. But people forget to feed the meter and our parking aids will ticket. We have encouraged, over the years, a patient approach to expired meter tickets and the meters automatically build in an extra five minutes of leeway in case someone gets held up. It is also important to note, as former Mayor Richard Kavesh is fond of pointing out, one of the most important parts of paid parking is that it encourages turnover in the most desirable spots in the Village. Each merchant should benefit from available parking in front of their store and only with parking turnover does that happen. If parking were free, people would park their car all day in the most desirable spots in the village, not a healthy thing. We have an excellent parking study that was commissioned some years back. (http://nyack-ny.gov/document/bfj-parking-study/) And before your eyes glaze over, it is actually a very interesting read. We are also looking at new methods for reducing our dependence on parking revenue, encouraging higher turnover on Main and Broadway and creating long term parking options. More on that next month!
A couple of shout outs…one, a huge shout out to Victor Overton for seeing us through this winter. And Jim Politi for always getting the job done. Our staff at Village Hall is incredibly dedicated and I thank them all.
I want to note the death of Bill Hodgson(http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/lohud/ obituary.aspx?pid=174291742), who served our village in many capacities for many years, including as the deeply intelligent and thoughtful Chair of our Planning Board and Mary Ann Mathsen(http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/lohud/obituary.aspx?n=mary-annmathsen&), a member of the Nyack Fire District’s Ladies Auxiliary, a teachers aid at Upper Nyack Elementary and my friend. They gave so much to our community and they will be deeply missed.
We have an EXCELLENT and exciting Earth Day happening in the Village on April 18th. The event has been moved from Memorial Park to downtown and it should be awesome. Mark your calendars. The Nyack NAACP’s annual dinner is April 16th. It is an amazing event and everyone should think about coming. Frances Pratt is the driving force behind our NAACP, she is something else, and you might want to think about attending just to see what extraordinary headware she is sporting.(www.nyacknewsandviews.com/2015/02/naacp-president-pratt/). And mark your calendars for May 18th. Toni Morrison is coming to the village to honor us and our history. We must fill the streets! (www.nyacknewsandviews.com/2014/11/nsl_tonimorrisons-bench). And Nyack Valley Cottage Little League opening day is April 11th.
The parade kicks off at ten am on Lake Road. Play Ball! (http://nvcll.org)
And congratulations to Johnny Cakes aka Skylark and and the Food Networks American Diner Revival(http://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/american-diner-revival/100-series/american-diner-revival-shipwreck-rescue.html) coming to give them a makeover. We’ll let you know when it airs! Jimmy would be thrilled.
I will be back in May with more. In the meantime, send me any questions, concerns, updates, things of interest. We always like to hear from you. (firstname.lastname@example.org)