GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- I have just begun my 12th term of office as Greenburgh Town Supervisor. I'm very appreciative to you, the voters for re-electing me as the chief elected official of the town.
It's exciting and rewarding to have the opportunity to work with many terrific employees and department heads, town board members who work hard to make you happy. It's great living in a town with outstanding services and a community that is diverse, with lots of fantastic people living here. And, almost daily, there are surprises.
Two days ago, a woman stopped by my office. She told me she wanted to help low income children. We discussed some programs and the woman immediately handed me a check for $10,000 payable to the Lois Bronz Children's Center - which provides child care services to children on Manhattan Avenue. An unforgettable surprise.
The one prediction that I can make with certainty is that it's impossible to predict what the key controversies and issues will be. These are some of the goals/initiatives that I anticipate working on during the coming months.
There is no time to waste starting to work on 2014 initiatives:
1) Frank's Nursery Sale: The town board is planning to sell Frank's nursery later this winter (probably in March). We hope to generate over $3.5 million from the property.
2) Three members of the town board have asked the Commission of Planning to initiate rezoning of Dobbs Ferry Road for recreation uses. A rezone could happen in 2014.
3) Lease Of WESTHELP for Affordable Housing: We hope to persuade the county executive and legislature to authorize the town to lease the abandoned WESTHELP property for affordable housing. We are disappointed that the county was not cooperative in 2013.
4) Release of HUD Funds For Manhattan Ave. Beautification/9A Sidewalks: The town has lost some federal funds for the Manhattan Ave beautification and 9A sidewalks because of a HUD/County Executive dispute over compliance with an affordable housing lawsuit. The town has complied with federal affordable housing laws. We are exempt from having to build additional housing. We're innocent victims. I would like the federal government to release funding that had been promised to us and to let the town find a state or other local agency to administer CDBG funds. Union Baptist Church will be celebrating their 100th birthday in May. It would be nice if Manhattan Avenue could be beautified in 2014.
5) Initiating Revaluation Process: In 2013 the town board appropriated funds for the first revaluation in over 60 years. The actual process begins in 2014. Revaluation will take a few years and should reduce certiorari/tax refunds --and provide residents with more stability and predictability.
6) Rollout Of New Sanitation Truck That Uses One Employee Instead Of Three: We authorized the purchase of the one arm bandit sanitation truck in 2013. The truck should arrive in 2014. We need to make sure that the neighborhoods where the truck will be used will continue to be able to rely on efficient service. A smooth transition.
7) Back Taxes Collection Process: Earlier this year over $23 million dollars was owed to the town in back taxes. We initiated an aggressive effort to collect back taxes. The effort seems to be working. As of the end of the December the amount owed has gone down to just over $18 million. We will continue to aggressively collect back taxes owed. This will be a continuing initiative.
8) Comprehensive Plan: The town board will review a draft comprehensive plan that will be released early in 2014. The plan will address land use/planning issues.
9) Court Audit Recommendations: Last year the town board retained the services of an independent auditor to address internal control issues at the town court. We don't want the study to gather dust. In 2014 we need to follow up on the recommendations and implementation plans.
10) Smooth Implementation Of Infrastructure Initiatives: We will start installing new water meters and LED lights around town.
11) Library Boiler: Last year the library was closed when the heating system broke down. To reduce that possibility, a new boiler should be installed.
12) Study: Should The Library Be Independent Of The Town Government? The Greenburgh Library is always packed with appreciative residents who love the services being offered. Should the library be independent of politicians --have their own independent elected Board? Should the budget of the library be approved by taxpayers and not be part of the town budget deliberations? We should study this option- independent library boards exist in other communities.
13) Greenburgh Nature Center Would Like Developer Escrow Funds (Not Taxpayer Dollars) To Be Used To Build Children's Trail Ans Disabled Trail: GNC Children's Wing, introducing early education and hands on learning in conservation education..
Greenburgh Nature Center - GNC Sensory Trail for the disabled population which would widen the scope of nature's landscape.
14) Initiation of YouTube neighborhood videos about different neighborhoods in town highlighting why Greenburgh is a great place to live. YouTube neighborhood videos will help realtors get top dollars for homes. We're going to highlight the best that the town has to offer.
15) Pavilions at Veteran Pool (Ping-Pong, Shuffleboard, Miniature Golf A Possibility): Secure parkland funds (non tax dollars) to build pavilions for AFV Park Pool Complex and Secor Woods Park and install by fall of 2014.
16) An Upgraded Massaro Park With Water Spray Pad: Secure parkland funds (non taxpayer dollars) to build a water spray pad at Massaro Park to be opened for the 2015 season.
17) Secure parkland funds: Using non tax payer dollars to build new tennis surfaces for tennis courts at AFV Park (three) and Massaro Park (one).
18) Outdoor Fitness Stations: Purchase and install four outdoor fitness stations at Travis Hill Park for teenagers and adults.
19) Background Checks: Pass a town board resolution requiring background checks for all town seasonal and part-time available employees (annually) and for new full-time hires only during the screening process.
20) Disabled Parking: Build additional handicapped parking for the AFV Park Multipurpose Center by June, 2014.
21) Reduced Rates For Late Hours At Pool: Establish twilight rate for general admission to the Anthony F. Veteran Park Pool Complex in 2014.
22) Tightening Up Internal Controls, Looking For ways To Manage Your Tax Dollars More Efficiently: Last, but definitely not least, will work hard to tighten up internal controls. And, to look for ways to manage your tax dollars more efficiently.
What have we left out of the list? Let me know. Email email@example.com.
Have a happy new year. And, thank you again for having re-elected me as your Town Supervisor. I am as excited with the job today as I was minutes after being sworn into office 23 years ago!