December in Irvington… Making a List & Checking it Twice

In early summer we met with Larry Schopfer, Irvington’s Village Administrator, and he prioritized a “First Tier” list of important issues the Mayor and Board of Trustees were working on. It’s roughly six months later and we asked Schopfer to update us on the progress made.

“The first priority clearly was the budget and to start the process early, which we did. We brought a comprehensive look to the Board at the end of September. That included last year’s budget results, a look at the first half of our current budget and a better projection for where we are headed for next year,” he said. “That projection will become a preliminary budget once Village department heads turn in their estimates on expenditures for the coming 2010/2011 years. That preliminary budget will then be presented to the Mayor and the Board by the end of December. The Board will then hold a series of workshops and have almost four months’ time to do it before passing the new budget,” Schopfer added.

The next highest ranking order of business for the Board has been negotiations with the local unions. The contract for the CSEA (Civil Service Employees Association), which covers the outdoor workers for the Village, was settled on November 16. It is a two-year contract. “On June 1, 2009, there was a retroactive 1% raise; October 1, 2009 another 1% raise and on June 1, 2010, there will be a 2% raise. That was well within the parameters set by the Board,” he noted.

The police (PBA) contract expired on May 31, and the Village is currently in negotiation over a possible shorter contract than the current four-year one that expired. “With these negotiations, we have a labor attorney with whom we work. I am on the negotiating committee along with the Mayor and the Police Chief whose position is considered one of management within the Village,” explained Schopfer.

Two issues involving the Town of Greenburgh have Village money going to the Town in one instance, and money flowing back into Irvington from Greenburgh in the other. The Village will pay approximately $920,000 for water charges from the period of 2004-2008. Greenburgh will in turn pay $350,000 to the Village for fire department coverage of East Irvington for the period of 2006-2009.

Village-wide flood studies are underway and RFPs (request for proposals) have been sent out. The Village approved $120,000 in funding. “We got responses from almost a dozen engineering firms. Hopefully, within the next couple of weeks, we will make a decision and award a contract. The Firehouse study has proven that the structure is sorely in need of expansion. “According to new firefighting standards, there are a lot of deficiencies,” Schopfer reported. In the summer Irvington submitted a $4,000,000 grant proposal to FEMA for a new structure but, as of this writing, had not heard back on their request. “The Board has approved $90,000 to do the design work for expanding the firehouse. To date, no architectural firm has been chosen.”

With regard to the Nature Center, the Village received a $239,000 grant from the Federal Department of Energy with the help of Congresswoman Lowey. “We need to push forward plans and get moving on construction for the Nature Center but there is a catch. The money is not quite enough to build the Center and it’s way too much money to just do design work. So we are caught in the middle. The location is at 170 Mountain Road and the house on the property is currently in disrepair,” Schopfer said. The Village owns the property and is looking into ways to start a bidding process in the spring to get construction started. “We are hoping for a considerable amount of donated labor on this project and this is what is taking the time to coordinate,” he said.

In the downtown area, Schopfer quickly noted the accomplishments of the IBIC (Irvington Business Improvement Committee). The Farmers’ Market was an initial success this summer and laws have recently been passed to allow for permits of outdoor dining, where the sidewalk width and slope of Main Street permit it. “The Village owns the sidewalks and is responsible for their maintenance. This is a fairly large shift for the government and we feel it can work out on a case- by-case basis. Merchants will need to have the right type of insurance, however,” he added.

New rigging above the stage at the Irvington Town Hall Theatre was installed in early October.

The cost was $35,000. Also in October, a renewal of the contract with Cablevision was set in place; it is a fifteen-year agreement.

On the waterfront, there is not too much new to report on. The Board is presently assembling their goals and listing their priorities for the eventuality of rezoning. Once the goals are
finalized with the input from Bridge Street Properties (the other owner of Irvington’s waterfront), the revised goals will be published −  hopefully by the end of December. After that, the Village Attorney will be directed to draft legislation that meets those goals. “In some cases, however, it may not be that simple. There may not be legislation enacted to meet all the goals put forth,” Schopfer was careful to point out.

With 2009 heading into the final stretch, the Village of Irvington can be seen as not only “talking the talk” but “walking the walk” on important issues. That is refreshing, at the very least, and highly commendable as governance goes.

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About the Author: Robert Bonvento