This year's Festa promises to once again be a fun experience of community. Established to demonstrate the powers within a compact, complete, complex place with a high level of connectivity creating a convivial community, the Festa promotes the relationship of where people live with their downtown. Skeptics believe that downtowns are doomed as a result of shopping malls and the internet. The reality is that downtowns have always been the preferred place to shop, provided that they could just notch it up a bit. Dobbs has been accomplishing that over the past 13 years since the Festa was reestablished. Its genealogy is from the Labor Day Festas that Dobbs used to enjoy back in the 60s. Like many missteps resulting from the Great Sprawl Experiment that began in 1947 and ended in the Great Recession in 2007, that Festa was discontinued. It was brought back by Mayor Monahan in 2002 when we all needed a boost. It has thrived since and Mayor Connett has continued the tradition of providing great weather. Come out to enjoy music, dancing, play, food, drink, and most of all community. Two years ago, the CEO of an urban movement decreed the Festa to be the best demonstration of a true community event that he had experienced. For that to continue, we need everyone to come and have a good time. View Comment
Sorry CJ, but this is not a result of Obama or Cuomo. HUD's action against Westchester was initiated under George W. Bush. HUD's action was the wimpy reaction to a claim brought against HUD for allowing Westchester to be part of a system that distributed federal funds to relatively wealthy communities that did not qualify. Various communities had gotten into the practice of including demographics from zip codes that gave them an advantage of being awarded grants. An organization in New York City brought the action and, instead of accepting responsibility for what had happened under their administration, HUD shifted the blame to the County. County Executive Spano avoided a debilitating legal process by settling the suit. County Executive Astorino has tried to prevent the monitor from expanding the obligations and changing the conditions of the settlement. The current decision by the Courts hinge on the definition of the word "promote". There is a lot wrong with the way in which the settlement has been handled, which I believe is the result of the monitor being able to take advantage of the continuing threat from the New York City organization. The County has done a lot of good work and Obama has actually been very effective in changing the way in which HUD operates. Unfortunately, the positive changes that Obama has implemented, which include ideas like requiring funding to be integrated between HUD, the EPA, and the DOT to significantly reduce wasted expense, does not retroactively affect the actions that were determined prior to Obama's election. View Comment
Touring the Sandy damaged south shore of Long Island, one thing became very clear: the structure of cities in New York State affords many advantages over villages located in towns. The city of Long Beach has been able to respond much faster and efficiently than the neighboring towns of similar size. Interestingly, in New York State, it is not the population that determines the classification, but the structure.
Looking at the costs in the river villages and the duplication of efforts, it is clear that there will need to be changes in the future. Dobbs Ferry has made a number of efforts to find ways of collaborating with its neighbors to both control expenses and improve services. The idea of aligning rec departments follows the idea of aligning DPWs with Hastings.
While I am sure that there will be quick objections, I think the end product of this direction could be very positive. Hastings, Dobbs Ferry and Irvington withdraw from the Town of Greenburgh and form River City. All three villages retain their geographic identities as "villages" but function as districts. Each could still have its Mayor and Trustees, although they would be functioning as part of a larger entity. It would be up to each how engaged they chose to be with the City in terms of consolidated services. Instead of this taking away benefits, I think it would increase benefits to the community. For example, there could still be three police stations, but there would only need to be one chief and the number of lieutenants and detectives could be consolidated. This could result in having more cops on the beat. The DPW and Rec Departments could be handled similarly, improving the services to the community while reducing costs. The fire departments in the Villages already function in this way. They figured out a long time ago that by coordinating their efforts they could provide a better range of equipment types and, by cooperating with one another, they could make us safer. View Comment
Francis is correct, but to be more specific. It is the clock that was installed by the original bank that is still for sale on Main Street in Dobbs Ferry that was reconditioned by Wachovia Bank, when they took over that building about 15 years ago. In the background is Doubledays, which has also been a history of successive pubs. When it was the Ferry Inn, it was wild on Thursday nights. The hair salon across the street, which was operated by three women who included themselves in the Enterprise ads with looks of attitude had to install a pull down steel protection door to prevent their windows from being smashed each Thursday as the result of someone getting smashed at the Ferry Inn and deciding that the rejections and disappointments in their life demanded action; throwing a garbage can through the window. Doubledays is still really fun, but much more under control.
It would be great if someone decided to buy the bank and bring something to Main Street that strengthens the retail businesses by adding more shoppers. Unfortunately, when it can take years to get through the approval processes, it can get so frustrating that you start to want to throw a garbage can through someone's window. The disappointing thing is that it is not the Village that makes getting approvals for real estate difficult, except perhaps by be willing to allow everyone a voice in the process, which I also have to commend. It is the very vocal opposition to anything called change that creates the environment in which the Boards feel that they have to move slowly and carefully, instead of taking swift action in the best interests of the community.
And before those who are protesting other changes take the time to explain that they would not oppose this change, maybe it would not be them opposed to this one: unfortunately, everything that suggests a change or something new can find someone to oppose it. That said, I was told the other day that there actually are people who will oppose everything indiscriminately. They are called CAVE people: Citizens Against Virtually Everything. The problem I have is identifying anyone who would take that position as a "citizen." Being a citizen requires an understanding of civics, which in turn demands the ability to support those things which are good for the community, even if it is something that worries them personally. View Comment
As nice as it would sound if we could just return to the past, or even less likely simply keep things the way that they are and avoid "change", this is not our reality. Things are constantly changing and many of those changes are coming from outside our Village boundaries. When the U.S. decided in 1947 to change the way that federal funds would be used in the future and then adopted the 1949 Housing and Community Development Act, it set into motion the great American sprawl experiment that was finally confirmed to be a complete failure in 2007.
Our region is now confronted with an environment that has been compromised by excessive infrastructure, requiring lifestyle patterns that have proven unsustainable, and compromising the very sense of community. Rivertowns Square is an adaptive reuse of an existing property that is already served by infrastructure and that used to bring 1,000 cars to this site in a two hour period in the morning and saw those 1,000 cars leaving the site in a two hour period in the evening. It is exactly the type of project that the Mid-Hudson Economic Region Sustainability Plan has identified as a repair to the damage caused by the policy of sprawl. It is a mixed use complex that balances jobs, homes, amenities, stores, and businesses that will reduce the total vehicle miles traveled by people in the surrounding communities. And it does that with very real financial and other benefits to those communities.
The long list of concerns that was developed in the SEQRA review has been carefully addressed in complete detail, evaluated by an unusual number of trained professionals, and then analyzed carefully by the Mayor and Trustees, who made a decision on Tuesday that allows the project to move into the Site Plan Review process. The Planning Board will now be able to work with the developer to evolve the design so that it maximizes benefits and minimizes potential adverse impacts.
The people opposing the project have either generated or accepted inaccurate information about the project and the repetition of that inaccurate information has caused confusion within the community. I don't know Mr. Crawford, but what he said at the meeting Tuesday night was a summary of how this project has evolved. He acknowledged that it is a large project and that he was very concerned in the beginning, but noted that after reviewing the facts, he urged the Board to move the process forward. The impacts are understood: it has been determined that, with the appropriate mitigating measures implemented, there will not be adverse impacts. The people entrusted with this responsibility have properly moved the project forward, as is mandated by law.
This is a good thing and something that will help us "maintain the quality of live that we moved here for," which is a Village that was substantially developed with a land use pattern that predate sprawl, including the area of Chauncey, which was here before the Village of Ardsley. View Comment
Hold those you love close. And stop trying to find answers or make sense out of this tragedy. There are no answers that will have this turning out to make sense. That is the problem with senseless acts of violence. If you want to try to apply reason to this, focus on why we feel the need to protect the rights of people to have access to these very real weapons of mass destruction. I understand that it is people who kill people, but having access to guns like these puts tools in the hands of troubled people to multiply the devastation. And stop the endless discussion leading to nowhere in the media. The very effort of trying to rationalize the irrational causes us harm. And hold those you love close. View Comment
Santa will be arriving at around 3:00 and will be located near the corner of Cedar and Broadway. There will be carolers strolling Cedar and Main Streets beginning around 4:00. Everyone will convene at the tree at 5:00 for the lighting of the tree and more carole. After the tree lighting, everyone is invited to the Firehouse on Main Street for hot chocolate, cookies and Holiday cheer. If any groups are interested in participating as carolers, the normal caroling fees have been waived. All are welcome to share the spirit of the season. View Comment
Thanks for the coverage on this important project. In an effort to avoid confusion, it should be noted that this application has not yet moved into the approval process. An approval of the project is not yet being considered.
The action you are reporting that the Board of Trustees is expected to make within the next month is adoption of the Findings Statement. That is a required step in the SEQRA process. The FEIS was accepted by the Board several weeks ago, and the FEIS is the document prepared by the Board as lead agency stating the conclusions that pertain to potential impacts that the proposed project may have on the environment. The Findings is where the lead agency sends a message to all other agencies, including the Dobbs Ferry Planning Board, summarizing what the goals should be for the project when it is being considered for approval. In effect, the Findings give direction to other Boards as to what needs to be taken into consideration in the evaluation of the applications for Site Plan Review and Subdivision.
The Findings are not an approval of the project. The approval of this project will be something considered by the Planning Board during both Site Plan and Subdivision Reviews, with the Planning Board making the final decision on the Subdivision and a recommendation on the Site Plan. The approval of the Site Plan is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees, taking the recommendation of the Planning Board into consideration. Neither the Site Plan nor the Subdivision Review processes have yet begun.
It was great to have 31 people willing to speak their opinions at the microphone and I appreciate the 21 who expressed their fears and objections about the project. as well as the 10 who were brave enough to voice their support for the process and the project. View Comment
Actually, it was thousands, not hundreds. The official counts vary, but it is more than 10,000. Thanks so much to everyone for participating. The people that I brought in from out of town to check it out, who deal with urbanism as a day job, were overwhelmed by the sincerity of the event and the diversity of the community. View Comment
Thanks so much for the coverage of our event. While it was a little cool weather-wise, the spirits and smiles were warm. Thanks to everyone who attended and participated. It really is a celebration of community and a way for everyone to see how rich we are in diversity and good people. Special thanks to Mayor Connett for keeping his promise of delivering good weather, as well as his many other efforts without which the Festa could not happen. Same to all of the Trustees who let us do this. It was good to see that they were all at the Festa having a great time. View Comment
It is crazy that students have to be housed in these hotels. Mercy College should build dorms to accommodate their student needs. I understand that there was a time when Mercy was all about being a commuter school, but they have made a great decision to become a more complete college, attracting students from a wider distance. The need to have dorms on the Dobbs Ferry campus to make that effort complete. Luckily, there is a great location on their property that would provide fabulous dorms with views of the Hudson. The only safe way to have a large student population living together is to have it structured by the institution that best understands how to manage that age. Hotels are not set up to provide that kind of guidance. Having students have to commute from those hotels to the campus is also not ideal, increasing traffic on the streets. Build the dorms. View Comment
The renovation of these steps will improve the connection of the campus to the Aqueduct, facilitating a more direct route to both Mercy College and the Dobbs Ferry downtown. It is a small but important part of Dobbs Ferry's commitment to a more walkable and bikeable community. One small detail, however: if you need a picture of the Dobbs Ferry campus, let me know. Your picture is of the Ardsley High School. View Comment
First, my disclaimers: As the Chief Operations Officer for the Congress for the New Urbanism and also as a participant in SWEAC, I have to acknowledge that I have an interest in creating walkable neighborhoods, complete streets, and sustainable communities. With my "personal interests" clearly defined, I want to thank you for this article and commend you for recognizing the importance of understanding WalkScore as a factor in assessing the quality of life where we live.
Everyone can find their own WalkScore by going to WalkScore.com and entering in your address. It then computes the walkability of where you live. This value has now found itself into the real estate world and is often included on the websites of Coldwell Banker, Houlihan Lawrence, and other large real estate companies, with high walking scores increasing the sale and rental price of homes.
Not content to rest on laurels, it should also be noted that the Dobbs Ferry Board of Trustees is starting discussions about adopting the recommendation put forward by the Southern Westchester Energy Action Council (SWEAC) promoting complete streets. In addition to side walks that promote walkability, complete streets include crosswalks, traffic calming, cycling, and other strategies to make our streets about the people instead of the cars.
My house on Broadway has a walk score of 92, which is a "walker's paradise". Unfortunately, there are areas in our Village that rate lower, with Round Hill Road getting a walk score of 45, which is "car dependent". Hopefully, the Village's focus on complete streets and improvements that can be made in those neighborhoods that are not yet considered "walkable" will make this a positive factor for everyone in the Village. Sidewalks, raised cross walks, bike lanes, and some new destinations in the area of Ogden and Beacon Hill could help raise that area to also become a "walker's paradise". View Comment
Please vote for the transformation of the Cafeteria into more of a Student Center, where kids will be able to eat breakfast and lunch in a more functional and accommodating environment, but also be able to do many other good things. It will make the space more usable for many purposes. Instead of building some other space for meetings and events, the Facilities Committee has proposed the idea of making the existing space somewhere to schedule all kinds of other activities, as well as a community meeting room. Various groups in the Village have trouble finding a convenient and appropriate place to meet. The Center at the Middle/High will be able to provide such a place. The fact that it is close to the gym, has the ability to be open when the rest of the school is closed, and has the garden terrace adjacent makes it a great space for all types of uses.
Also, many thanks to Anna Sterne for her years of wonderful dedication to our School District. I remember serving with Anna on the Nonpartisan Nominating Committee for School Board Members and I was struck then by her intelligence, humor, and tenacity to get things done. She is the diametric opposite of the aloof bureaucrat who spends our time and money avoiding actually doing anything. While Anna has never been afraid in a Think Tank, she is most effective in a Do Tank. The recent ranking of our High School was not an accident and Anna had a lot to do with where we are.
Please remember to vote tomorrow and support our School District. View Comment
To refine my comment just a bit: the discussion was about the fact that our District is very conservative in the way that it maintains a fund for future certieri decisions. While it is prudent to do this, and much preferable to bonding tax refunds, we have more a significant amount of money set aside for a worse case scenario than the history of settlements can justify. My statement was intended to say: it doesn't make sense to me for us to hold on to more money than we are likely to need in the future, when we could use some of that money to solve a need that we have right now, particularly a need that could benefit both the character of the school and the educational program.
We do not have a lot of other spaces in either our schools or our Village that can provide the setting for a large group meeting that is intended to be interactive and a bit upscale. We hold meetings sometimes in the Embassy Center gym for want of a better space and the multipurpose room at Springhurst is okay for some events, but certainly not upscale, and not practical for Middle School or High School programs. The idea is to create the community resource of a place where other kinds of meetings can be held. The existing cafeteria does not provide the best setting for those meetings.
It should also be noted that renovating the cafeteria was something that we wanted to do back in 2000 under the last bond, but it was cut from the scope for budgetary reasons. We all hoped at the time that it would be only a couple of years before it could be renovated to work effectively with the new spaces created next to the cafeteria, including the new gym. The plan that has been prepared by KDG has done a very good job of integrating all of the spaces into an efficient and attractive student center, that will also be able to function as a community resource. Instead of being used only as a place for the kids to eat, this can now be a student center operating the entire day and extending into after school activities. And it does a great job of improving the efficiency of the operation of the space as a cafeteria and improving the safety of the kitchen. The fact that kids have to walk into the area with the ovens to pick up their food, which is a cramped area, makes no sense.
This is a good investment that will benefit the District and the community. The fact that it can be achieved using funds that the District already has is an efficient use of tax dollars. I commend the School Board for solving this problem in a creative way. View Comment
I just want to make sure that it is clear that I totally support Mercy being approved to build this field. My point, which you have reported accurately, is that the long ranged plan for the athletic field should include bathrooms, lights, stands, a score board and maybe even accommodations for a temporary snack bar. There should be a specific understanding that these will be available to Dobbs Ferry schools and local youth programs as a place to play, when it is not being used by Mercy. While I think it is wonderful to have Mercy College in our village, it does put demands on our local services that are paid for with property taxes, which Mercy does not have to pay. Creating a facility that will serve the community, as well as the college, is a way for Mercy to help balance cost/benefits. I expect that there will be people opposing this, perhaps simply because there is someone to oppose anything. My intent is to support the effort and encourage the applicant to be bold in those ways that can best benefit the entire community. View Comment