100 Days

On day 1 of my term as mayor I spoke of big initiatives. There is much to do, and it is reassuring to see all the progress that has been made in just the first 100 days of my term as mayor. Before I list some of the accomplishments of this Board of Trustees, please indulge me as I briefly reflect on what I’ve learned so far. I’ve learned I am a hands-on mayor. I’ve also learned that I can work with anyone in village government because I respect their position and their commitment to serving our community. And while shifting the culture of village government to be more open is not a quick process, everything I do is with a smile because I am so thoroughly enjoying each moment of it.

On April 7 the Board of Trustees announced our decision to hire Abe Zambrano to be the new Village Manager.
On April 7 the Board of Trustees announced our decision to hire Abe Zambrano to be the new Village Manager.

No single decision will have as great an impact on our local government as the selection of Abe Zambrano to be our next Village Manager. The search process was comprehensive and efficient. Abe will be leading an outstanding team of department managers. We on the Village Board of Trustees look forward to Abe’s help in furthering our goals to improve communication, government efficiency and a vibrant economy. We anticipate great success in these efforts as Abe focuses on the day-to-day functioning of the village, and strengthens our relationships with residents, businesses and community organizations.

This Board is committed to improving communication and accessibility. At our first legislative session, this Board of Trustees agreed to keep the cameras rolling throughout the public comment period, reversing a practice of the previous eight years. Thank you to all of the residents who participate in these public meetings.

Open Office Hours with the Mayor are a success. Every Tuesday from 10am to 12noon, I am in the Board of Trustees office, located on the first floor of Village Hall. No appointment is necessary. Occasionally a line forms, but not usually. By meeting with residents in this face-to-face manner, I’ve had the opportunity to hear big picture suggestions as well as address immediate individual concerns.

Improving energy efficiency is another goal of this Board. Last year we identified LED streetlights as a priority. At the March 11 work session we had a lengthy presentation from the group that has installed LED streetlights in other Westchester communities. This initiative allows us to benefit from the work begun by nearby municipalities to reduce our electricity cost for street lights by more than half, and improve the quality of our lighting.

At the March 25 work session we heard from Sustainable Westchester about two significant energy related programs that cost the village only minimal staff resources and no financial commitment. Community Choice Aggregation will immediately provide energy savings for Ossining residents and small business owners, and we are moving forward with the legal process to make that a reality. We are also moving forward with the first stage of positioning Ossining to take advantage of NYPrize funding for a community micro-grid that could provide the Village of Ossining with a reliable energy source even during a widespread blackout.

Proactively making smart development decisions is critical to Ossining’s economic viability and quality of life. On January 28 we hosted a community meeting at the Ossining Public Library to learn about the experience of two other municipalities regarding Green Building Codes. You can read a post about this initiative or watch the video from the meeting where Yonkers and Hastings presented us with their approaches and experiences. If this is a topic that interests you, visit the village website to apply to be on the Green Building Codes committee.

The Ossining Bank for Savings at 200 Main Street is the gateway to our downtown. We have issued a new Request for Proposal, with a bit of a twist this time. We are now open to considering public-private partnerships that could make it a success. The business or organization that breathes life into this historic building will be a powerful force in the revitalization of our Main Street.

MindMixer Ossining is an example of the dedication of this Board to engage the public. We are excited that this new online platform enables us to hear from the community in a quantitative way. It is an easily accessible ongoing series of questions that will focus this year on what Ossining wants to see happen at the heart of our downtown–the Market Square Properties.

Will I see you tomorrow as the JCYS Baseball Season kicks off with their Opening Day Parade? Or perhaps next Saturday, April 18 at Green Ossining’s Earth Day Festival at our waterfront. The theme of this year’s festival is Solar, promoting the Solarize Ossining-Briarcliff program which is a public-private partnership to bring low-cost high-quality solar to our residential and commercial property owners. After this long winter, we could all us a little more sunshine!

Between parades and festivals, I look forward to working with my colleagues in village government on these and so many more initiatives to improve our community and the lives of Ossining residents.

Ways to Get Involved & Informed

Attend a legislative session on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. Meetings are 7:30pm at the Birdsall-Fagan Courthouse, 86-88 Spring Street. There are three opportunities for visitors to speak on camera: Organizational Announcements; Comments on Village Board Resolutions; and Visitor Recognition when you may speak on any subject relevant to the common good of the village.

Serve on a village committee. Currently there are positions available on the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Landlord Tenant Relations Council, the Mid-Hudson Ambulance Committee, and the Green Building Guidelines Committee. Visit the Village of Ossining website for details on how to apply.

Watch BOT meetings on Ch 78 or FIOS 43, or anytime online at the village website or the Village of Ossining YouTube channel.

A couple of media outlets where I’ve shared village news are the Cablevision program Meet the Leaders, and on the second Monday of each month I spend an hour as a guest of Westchester On the Level. I look forward to talking with online radio host Hezi Aris again on Monday, April 13 at 11am.

Beyond Tuesday morning office hours, residents can also reach out via email gearity@villageofossining.org or call 914-941-3554. You can email the entire Board at BOT@villageofossining.org.

 

Progress You’re a Part Of

Do you have a good idea for what could be done better in Ossining?  Do you ever feel people in village government aren’t listening to you?  Whether it’s economic development, collaboration with schools, safe streets, parking, parkland, recycling, trash, or taxes—everyone in our community has something they think could be better.  And the best ideas for improvement may already have been figured out by community members.  Please take a moment to complete this survey and tell me how we can better serve Ossining.

None of us knows as much as all of us.

This phrase was offered by a speaker at last month’s Pace Land Use Annual Conference of 2013.  This simple truth was at the core of every successful initiative discussed that day—initiatives already happening in other communities.  Borrowing ideas that work for other municipalities can save us money and make us stronger.

When I was a trustee-elect, Eric and I traveled to Washington, DC to attend a conference led by the New Organizing Institute.  I immersed myself among grassroots organizers who dedicate much of their lives to fighting for issues.  The message that most strongly resonated with me then as I prepared to take office for the first time was…

Do not seek elected office so you may wield power over the people you represent, rather, seek elected office so you may empower the people you serve.

Have you driven through the Avalon development on North Highland?  The fences are down and a good chunk of the buildings are up.  Please share your thoughts on development in the survey...
Have you driven through the Avalon development on North Highland? The fences are down and a good chunk of the buildings are up. Please share your thoughts on development in the survey…

Together, these two themes inspire and guide my work for the village.  Can you help me in this effort by spending a few moments responding to this brief survey?…

Keeping Connected…

Do you want to know more of what’s going on in village government?  Do you want more opportunities to impact decision making in the village?

Sign-up here to receive emails of upcoming meetings and community events.

Follow Victoria Gearity, Trustee on Facebook.

Get Nixle Alerts with emergency messages by texting 10562 to 88877.

Receive an email with any new post I put on my website by adding your email address to the “Follow this Blog” box in the upper right corner of VictoriaGearity.com.

If there is a particular village committee/council/board where you would like to serve, contact Assistant Village Manager, Christina Papes (cpapes@villageofossining.org) and ask if there are any available seats.  Even if there are none currently, you can submit your letter of interest and resume to be considered when a spot becomes available.

Come to a Village Board of Trustees meeting.  We meet Wednesdays at 7:30.  The 1st & 3rd Wednesdays are at the Birdsall-Fagan Court, 86-88 Spring Street.  These are legislative sessions and the public is invited to speak on camera to make organizational announcements or to comment on any resolutions the board will consider that night.  When the camera goes off, the public is invited to comment on any issue of interest to them.  The 2nd & 4th Wednesdays are at Village Hall, 16 Croton Ave.  These are work sessions.  This is when the board members ask questions about potential upcoming issues/initiatives, and we decide what will be the next steps.  You can also watch meetings on tv or online.  Let me know what we can do better.

If you are one of the many folks who has contacted me this year to share an idea or concern, thank you.  If you haven’t already completed this brief survey, please do.  Perhaps I’ll see you soon at a Wednesday meeting!

Vote! Tuesday, September 10 is Primary Election Day!

VOTE logoDemocrats & Independence Party members get a bonus election day this cycle!  On Tuesday, September 10 Ossining Democrats & Indendents, go to your polling place between 6:00am and 9:00pm.  Not sure where your polling place is?  Visit the Westchester Board of Elections website.

If you are a registered Democrat in the Town of Ossining—that includes all of us in the Village of Ossining, and nearly everyone in the Village of Briarcliff Manor—I hope you’ll join me at the polls today in supporting Northern Wilcher and Kim Jeffrey for Town Council.

I encourage Independence Party members to support Catherine Borgia in her bid for re-election to serve as our Westchester County Legislator.  Catherine has been a leader on issues that matter deeply to me—in particular by protecting us from toxic hydrofracking waste, and making it easier for local contractors to install solar panels.  Earlier this year, I attended a meeting of the Government Operations Committee as Catherine chaired the discussion on whether and how the county will implement a Complete Streets program.  Catherine works incredibly hard on behalf her constituents and I am grateful that she represents us.

The race I’ll be watching most closely is for Town Council.  There are two seats up for election, and three candidates seeking the Democratic Party endorsement.  No Republicans are running for these seats, so the election will be decided by Democratic primary voters.   I’m supporting Kim Jeffrey and Northern Wilcher.  Northern Wilcher is seeking re-election.  Kim is running for her first term.

Kim Jeffrey is a friend of mine.  Still, we disagree and argue pretty regularly.  We both express our opinion and listen to each other, yet we don’t necessarily come to share a perspective.  And that’s ok.  We just move on to the next topic.  I really admire and enjoy people that can disagree with me on a particular issue, and not let that determine whether we are friends, and not deter us from working together on another initiative.

Kim and I have a lot in common—sons nearly the same age, we’re soccer moms, and we have a lot of mutual friends.  I met Kim when we were both working with Ossining Citizens for Schools on campaigns to pass school bonds and budgets.  Since then I’ve served on a fundraising committee that she chaired for the Ossining Town Democratic Committee, and supported her remarkable leadership in gathering our community together for a vigil in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.

Kim is bold.  Kim is dedicated.  Kim will be a great public servant.  I look forward to more opportunities to work with her when she is on the Town Council.

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