Letter to the Editor: Sleepy Hollow Mayor Wray’s Case for Another Term

[Ed. Note — This letter was submitted to River Journal by Mayor Ken Wray. You can see the letter from Martin Rutnya HERE]

Ken Wray

To the Editor:

Welcome to Martin and Shanna to Sleepy Hollow.  It is always gratifying to learn that people are discovering what an extraordinary community this is.  And I applaud Martin’s volunteer efforts. One of the great things about Sleepy Hollow is that we have so many volunteers in so many different capacities.

The knowledge that is gained through volunteer efforts should not be conflated to what one learns by serving on the Planning or Zoning Boards or as an elected Trustee. These positions offer the broader perspective necessary to becoming Mayor.

Experience also matters. My accomplishments as Mayor are predicated on the time I served as a Trustee, and still it was a steep learning curve. I became Mayor at a good point in the GM negotiations for Mayor Zegarelli to hand it off, but now is not a good time for a change in leadership. There are way too many projects underway.

It’s great that Martin states he would concentrate on downtown development; we’ve been doing that for years. And we’ve been focused on development that benefits our small business owners and families who have been here and made Sleepy Hollow their home. This was made clear in the Comprehensive Plan that was drafted with meaningful public input. We have been working on our downtown, starting with critical infrastructure. New and upgraded sidewalks and lighting are installed on Beekman Ave, and work continues down Valley Street. We have significantly increased our tree canopy as well, prioritizing downtown and adding over 100+ trees.

Today, Governor Hochul awarded a $4.5 million grant to Sleepy Hollow to build on our vision – and the progress we’ve made – for our downtown communities. I am really proud of the team that worked so hard over a number of years to secure this funding.

Concerns about our debt should be taken in the context of our increasing tax base and our credit rating. The Edge project will add well over $7 million annually in new revenue, substantially more than what is needed to retire the debt for the Common. (One big ticket item is the new DPW facility. Our old one is worn out and it sits in a floodway. To get it out of the floodway, we worked to get – and we received – a NY State grant of $2 million.) And we’re getting an additional $10 million in development fees from Edge. For over ten years our annual audited financial statements have received the highest rating – “an unmodified opinion” – and our bond rating improved to Aa3 during my term. Our Local Development Corporation carefully negotiated the most recent borrowing, finding the right lender and waiting for the right time.  The interest we are paying is 3.0%. So, let’s borrow the money, get the work done, and as Edge continues to come on line, the debt will be retired.  I would hardly categorize the approach we’ve taken to development as “haphazard.”

It is so easy to trot out the ‘transparency’ pledge — as if we aren’t already.  All Trustee Meetings and Work Sessions are open to the public, carried live on two channels, streamed via the Village website, and are archived on the Village website, along with approved minutes and agendas. And we’ve been a consistent adopter of new technologies: from water meters to a database of our tree inventory to purchasing EV’s and the GIS mapping necessary for planning, design and grant requirements.

It has been my privilege to serve as the Mayor of Sleepy Hollow, leading the Village as it advances, becoming a gem in the Hudson Valley on the Tappan Zee. I hope to continue.  I ask for your vote with the slate of Unite Sleepy Hollow trustees: Denise Scaglione, Tom Andruss and Jared Rodriguez. In re-reading the comprehensive plan the other night, I was reminded what a magical place Sleepy Hollow is. Beyond Washington Irving and headless horsemen, it’s the values that this community embraces that are so inspiring. Thank you.

Ken Wray

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