Ossining’s downtown is alive with entrepreneurship. New businesses are opening up, and live music, theater and art events are happening at venues all over town. Our restaurants are bustling on Saturday nights with people enjoying cultural cuisines from Jamaican to Turkish, and Portuguese to Peruvian. Down on the waterfront, Henry Gourdine Park and Harbor Square have become destinations for people from around the county, coming to enjoy one of the most spectacular river front locations on the entire Hudson River.
Beyond plowing snow, protecting drinking water, and enforcing traffic laws, local government has an active role to play in fostering this success. Village government supports the local economy by updating laws like permitting sidewalk cafes to operate year-round, expanding access to cabaret licenses, and opening the door for a nonprofit to sell tickets at a black box theater. Most recently the village has been asked to consider changing our code so that food trucks can enhance the success of our local economy and quality of life.
What’s special about revitalization in Ossining is that it’s happening hand-in-hand with progressive housing initiatives and development designed to preserve the economic diversity that is the hallmark of our community. While we anticipate continued development of luxury housing on privately owned waterfront parcels, we know that an effective local government also works to preserve a diversity of housing for the work force that makes our community function.
Since I took office as mayor just over four years ago, we have engaged in a number of studies and public discussions about economic development and housing—particularly how to leverage mixed-use mixed-income development as an economic catalyst. Ossining is attracting the interest of developers who have an impressive record of success particularly in mixed-income development. We are considering a project on a village-owned parcel that would significantly increase affordable housing and also connect our waterfront district and our downtown. Of course, one of the first steps in any discussion about development is to reach out to the Ossining School District. I have had a preliminary discussion with Superintendent Sanchez about how the schools might be part of this project in a more direct way than ever before, and we’ll be meeting again soon to discuss concrete options. The village is fortunate to have the assistance of affordable housing experts from county and state government, as well as local and area nonprofits as we navigate this process.
Big things like housing developments, wonky challenges like updating the comprehensive plan and corresponding zoning laws, and bureaucratic journeys with the NYS DOT to improve Route 9, are all underway and all take years of stable leadership to make happen. Meanwhile, there are simple actions we can take that make tangible differences. In speaking with one of our new downtown businesses, the owner told me that one of the reasons she selected Ossining was the tree lighting we installed up and down Main Street a couple of years ago. It isn’t just festive, she said, it also gives her a sense of security after dark.
With spring flower baskets around the corner, potential new outdoor gathering opportunities, and an ever-increasing calendar of cultural events, Ossining is poised for another spring and summer season of economic growth for the whole community.