Transition in Tarrytown: A Conversation with Tarrytown Mayor Karen Brown 

Mayor Brown with Anthony Ross and Patrick Saldis of the Tarrytown Parks Department preparing the ice for skating this January.

Karen Brown was sworn in as mayor of the Village of Tarrytown on Dec. 6, 2021, succeeding Thomas D. Butler, Jr., who retired.  Brown had served as a village trustee since 2016, and before that she served for eight years on Tarrytown’s Zoning Board of Appeals. 

The mayor’s position has a two-year term and carries a $4,800 annual salary. 

The mayor and Board of Trustees are responsible for village policy. The village administrator (currently Richard Slingerland) is responsible for implementing that policy.  

Here’s River Journal’s Q & A with Mayor Brown: 

RJ: What is your first priority (or priorities) now that you’ve taken office? 

KB: My priority as Mayor has been to facilitate a smooth transition of leadership within the Village. We have three new trustees, each with unique expertise and interests. We spent a good amount of time assigning areas of focus and committee assignments to the six trustees, who are all eager to make a difference. I think the new energy brings excitement back to the volunteer-led boards and committees.  Another priority of mine is to reintroduce the Comprehensive Plan to the residents, show them where we are in its goals, and get more ideas on where we want to go from here. This way, we will be ready to evaluate economic and development opportunities, on their merits, when they’re presented. 

That’s for the big picture. We also want to make sure that the “small picture” items, the everyday tasks, don’t get left behind. We have good teams working here in the village government but there is room for improvement to their systems. The Board of Trustees and I are encouraging departments to investigate new technologies and services. The challenge will be to find funding to implement upgrades or additions to staff. We have been trying to address some of the issues that require New York State input such as the intersection at Benedict Avenue and at the entrance to I-87/287 on Route 9. 

RJ: You (and the trustee candidates who ran alongside you in November) won the recent election pretty decisively; how do you interpret the election results? 

The Brown family at Sleepy Hollow High School in 2015.

KB: My slate and I worked hard to bring our message to Tarrytown, knocking on doors, being present at community events, and participating in forums. I’m proud of the election results!  We can move forward with our vision for Tarrytown confidently knowing we have support from a large majority of voters and understanding the concerns of others.  

RJ: What are the key economic development challenges (business, residential, infrastructure) facing Tarrytown? 

KB: The real challenge is to properly take advantage of the many growth opportunities available to Tarrytown. There are areas in the village ripe for improvement: There is a great need for housing in the region, and for attracting new types of business to Tarrytown that will benefit existing ones. We have entities eager to invest in these projects. Yet there remains a reluctance on behalf of the village to encourage this growth. I can’t say I have the answer to this conundrum, but Tarrytown is very lucky to have smart land-use professionals among its residents who generously give of their time and expertise working through these issues.  

RJ: What are the most important “quality of life” issues faced by Tarrytown? 

KB: Dealing with Covid has been, but there is light at the end of that tunnel. The St. Patrick’s Day parade will take place in March, as usual. Hopefully, that will be the start of a full year of events in Tarrytown. Keeping Main Street “one the prettiest in the country” is going to require input from the Village, downtown businesses and residents. To this end, the Board of Trustee is hoping to re-energize a Beautification Committee. Upgrading our water system, attending to damaged sidewalks and streets, maintaining staff and systems are all ongoing issues. This leads to what I see as the greatest challenge to a high quality of life, the financial burden on residents to pay for these things, which goes back to the importance of moving forward with economic development. 

RJ: You’re a long-time resident as well as mayor. What do you tell visitors to Tarrytown are the “musts” to see and do?  What do you tell people thinking of moving here are the best things about Tarrytown? 

KB: Tarrytown has everything! Restaurants, theatres, shops, miles of wooded trails, historic sights, and an amazing view almost everywhere you look. Move here for the school systems. But I tell people the best reason to move here is the people. 

RJ: What are your favorite things to do for free in Tarrytown? 

KB: Skating on the Tarrytown Lakes in the winter. Also, going to a Sleepy Hollow High School football game in the fall. I love the display of community spirit. You get an amazing view of the bridge and foliage from the stands. Plus, “Once a Horseman, always a Horseman.”  

PHOTO: Karen Brown and Family 

CAPTION: The Brown family at Sleepy Hollow High School in 2015. 

PHOTO: Karen on the Pond 

CAPTION: Mayor Brown with Anthony Ross and Patrick Saldis of the Tarrytown Parks Department preparing the ice for skating this January. 

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About the Author: Lee Hemphill