In Tarrytown…Planning in a Comprehensive Way

For all residents and other interested readers, the Village of Tarrytown has embarked on looking into the Economy, Community, Culture & Education, Built Environment, Natural Environment & Open Space, Mobility, Sustainability & Resilency for the coming years.With the Village’s online program, residents are literally being asked to stand up and be counted with regards to what’s good about Tarrytown, what’s not so good, what new things would make it better, and how the Village can remain a village and not an extension of a New York City Borough.

On Sunday, September 17 at 1pm, the Village hosted a public meeting at the Warner Library with the intent of summarizing the existing conditions within Tarrytown and then allowing attendees to contribute in breakout sessions and small table discussions.

River Journal (RJ) asked Richard Slingerland (RS), the Village Administrator, for some background information as to who has been contracted by the Village, what the costs are for the compilation of data, a time frame for the next step of a comprehensive plan, and what is being done on the deteriorating state of the Tarrytown Lakes. Mr. Slingerland was very helpful, and we thank him for providing the following answers.

RJ. With the October 2016 Tarrytown Connected report “A Framework for the Station Area and Waterfront” I see the names of four organizations that prepared it. How much did the total report cost the Village and can you provide a breakdown of what each organization was paid individually?

RS. The original Tarrytown Connected, A Framework for the Station Area and Waterfront was performed using 4 organizations. The company, Collaborative Planning Studio, acted as the umbrella organization that included the Regional Plan Association (RPA), which is a professional planning association, and Kevin Dwarka, a land-use and economic planning consultant.

The 4th company, VHB, performed traffic studies under separate arrangement with the Village.  The total cost for the Tarrytown Connected report was approximately $100,000.  A grant in the amount of $15,000 was issued by the Hudson River Valley Greenway, which is acknowledged in the document.

RJ. With the Comprehensive Plan meeting on 9/17 at the Warner Library, are the same four organizations involved, and if so, what is the Village allocating dollar-wise for their work?

RS. The new effort to update the Village’s Comprehensive Plan is moving forward under contract with WXY Planning Studio out of New York City.  The organizations working as project-partners under the umbrella of WXY Studio include Pace Land Use Law Center, the Regional Plan Association (RPA), and Planner George Janes, for a total estimated cost of $175,000.  The Village is also working under a separate Inter-Municipal Agreement (IMA) with the Westchester County Planning Department to have a senior planner assigned as project manager to this project, for a cost to the Village of $50,000.  The total allocated cost for the Comprehensive Plan update is $225,000. A grant in the amount of $100,000 was made to the Village by the New York State Department of State.

RJ. What is the next step and when (time-wise) for a follow-up to the 9/17 meeting?

RS. Next steps in this process are: (a) to have a working group meeting of the Village Boards and Committees on Tuesday, October 3, 2017, from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm here in Village Hall, and (b) another Public Workshop scheduled for Sunday, November 5, 2017, from 1 pm to 4 pm, again in the Warner Library.  The Comprehensive Plan is scheduled to be completed roughly in April or May of 2018.  The total effort by the Village of Tarrytown includes significant support by Village staff, and countless hours of Village volunteers in various committee groups.

RJ. What concerns, if any, do Village officials have regarding over-development? And, if so what are their specific concerns?

RS. The Village officials on the Board of Trustees, the Comprehensive Plan Committee, and the members of the Village Land Use Boards – Planning, Zoning, Architectural Review – all have concern and interest in making sure the Village has balanced development that fits within the land and environment of the Village.  This includes adequate Village infrastructure such as roads, water, sewers, parking, lighting; support services including municipal police, fire, public works and schools; and environment including parks, open space and natural areas.  [All involved in the planning process] will seek to maintain this balance as the Village grows into the future.  The concept of Comprehensive Planning is about controlled development, and it is one reason, among many, to support the Tarrytown Connected study efforts with significant community involvement.  The Village of Tarrytown wants to continue this journey into the future on the best path, to the maximum benefit of current and future residents and business persons working in the Village.  That is part of the reason why we sought out, and have so much support from, the County and State government and elected officials, as well as planning associations like the Regional Plan Association and Pace Land Use Law Center.

RJ. What action is the Village taking specifically for the protection of the Tarrytown Lakes from invasive plants and algae growth?

RS. On a separate note, the Village of Tarrytown has been working to improve the lakes’ quality for many years now.  The most recent efforts include working with the company, Lakesavers, with whom the Village has worked to purchase and set up the lakes’ aerators to reduce the algae load in the water.  We are researching other alternatives to make further improvements to the lake water quality to address the algae blooms as well as invasive aquatic plants in the lakes. The Village government is working very closely with TEAC and the Tarrytown Lakes Committee, and there is ongoing communication with Lakesavers on the water quality of the lakes.

In closing, regarding the last question and answer pertaining to the Tarrytown Lakes, the remedy does not appear, visually, to have been a successful approach. The smaller lake is all but overrun with plants and algae blooms throughout the spring, summer and into the fall. The larger lake now, too, exhibits plants and blooms that a few years ago were confined to the smaller lake alone. With the attention being given to the waterfront, and its parks and walkways along the Hudson River, we should not forget that one of the most beautiful man-made resources that Tarrytown has – its lakes – have deteriorated, and no amount of aeration has stemmed their progressive demise.  It will take more than committees and ongoing communication to remedy the situation. It will take attention, action and long-term commitment.

One could envision a walkway around the smaller lake much in the way Riverwalk has materialized on the Hudson.  Now, there’s an exciting opportunity for our Natural Environment & Open Space Comprehensive Plan.

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