One Door Closes – Seven Others Open, Sleepy Hollow Welcomes the New Year

Regardless of what has been reported about Sleepy Hollow contributing to the stalemate on the General Motors site, the fact remains that General Motors and its partner, Roseland, found their working arrangement untenable.

imagesIn essence General Motors opened the door for Roseland’s exit. That same door has allowed at least seven other potential developers to line up with the hopes of partnering with GM, according to Sleepy Hollow Mayor, Philip Zegarelli. As 2008 gets underway "Lighthouse Landing" may have experienced some slippage in start-up time, but it has not gone back to the proverbial drawing board to be recreated. The Village is putting all the relevant information, for new and interested developers, onto a CD. That disk will contain the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), a final draft of the Special Building Permit to be issued by the Village and all other relevant material for potential developers. In addition, due to the forward thinking of the Sleepy Hollow’s government, Roseland is bound to make all of its building plans available to General Motors. Once again the wheel will not have to be reinvented and with those building plans any new developer will receive a "jump start" in the construction phase.

General Motors will be meeting with the Mayor and the Sleepy Hollow Board of Trustees in Executive Session (public not permitted) to discuss the potential replacement for Roseland. Due to the fact that General Motors has entered a lawsuit against Sleepy Hollow, any and all future meetings concerning "Lighthouse Landing" will be held in Executive Session.

The Village will also be meeting with School Superintendent, Howard Smith, and School Board President, Joe Lillis, to discuss the impact of anticipated taxes the School Board will not be receiving. Looking back several years ago one can remember the Mayor addressing the School Board about the pitfalls of counting on tax revenue from "Lighthouse Landing" within a specific time frame. Fast forward to 2008 and the tax revenue is not there for the School Board, leaving the onus, once again, on property owners.

In other areas within Sleepy Hollow, several key people will be moving on to retirement or other positions. Village Administrator, Dwight Douglas, will be leaving effective February 28, but will continue as a consultant to the Village. Both Joe DeFeo, the Superintendent of Public Works, and Village Clerk, Angela Everett, will be retiring by the end of the month. Sonya Goldstein Suss will assume the position vacated by Angela.

All contractual agreements have been satisfied and the Village enters the new year with signed contracts between the PBA, Teamsters and Administrative Staff unions. Projects such as Barnhardt Park and the gazebo in Kingsland Park are nearing completion. Beekman Avenue revitalization continues with Trustee Andy Murray and the Village Administrator taking charge for the much needed work.

As for taxes, residents will once again face a Village budget that is between 87% and 90% fixed due to state-mandated requirements. The Mayor has asked all the Village departments for a price increase freeze in their budgets and the Board will be reviewing each department’s findings. New York City has once again raised water rates for Sleepy Hollow, with the recent increase being 11%. New York City has an instant source of increased revenue from the Catskill reservoirs it owns. Being dependent on the City for water has left not only Sleepy Hollow residents vulnerable to regular price increases. By allowing the Tarrytown Lakes (which provided 40% of water consumption) to deteriorate and its pump house to fall into disrepair, neighboring Tarrytown has been added to the list of totally dependent municipalities.

As the new year begins, Sleepy Hollow’s Mayor is calm and optimistic. He and his Board stand behind the planning they have put in place for various projects big and small. As the year unfolds so will the results of their endeavors.

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About the Author: Robert Bonvento