March 27, 2017
The primary mission of the Greater Ossining Chamber of Commerce (GOCC) is to strengthen the economic success of local businesses and by extension, that of the Ossining community as a whole. In this regard, the GOCC has an obligation to speak on proposed and actual governmental actions that may affect our businesses as well as the general public who interact in various ways with the Ossining business community.
The Ossining Village government and its elected representatives, as well as appointed administrative officers, and the general public are well aware that the GOCC is greatly concerned with the tabling of a proposed resolution to rescind/revoke the Village Board’s prior resolution (Resolution Q dated February 1, 2017) authorizing a $500,000 bond for improvements at the Historic Five Corners intersection of Main and Spring Streets in Downtown Ossining.
First, we are disappointed that the scheduled revocation of Resolution Q did not take place as was promised at the March 15, 2017 Board of Trustees meeting. This was an unexpected and unfortunate development, for in our view, “tabling” the revocation, while continuing to act toward implementation of Resolution Q, is inapposite of the Village Board’s previously stated intent to press the restart button on the above mentioned bond matter. Instead, the result is that Resolution Q remains fully alive and kicking.
Second, while the GOCC appreciates that the Village Board has called for a “town meeting on April 6, 2017 at the Ossining Public Library” we view this as the beginning of a conversation and a baby step. What is needed is a series of roundtable meetings comprised of representatives of the Village Board and of such organizations as the GOCC, the Historic Preservation Commission, Architectural Review Board, Environmental Advisory Board, other “land use” boards, and factions of the community that might wish to participate and so should be properly included. Such meetings should be held at neutral locations such as the General Electric, Maryknoll, or Mariandale complexes, and under the guidance of a competent external facilitator and recorder. It should be noted that this was the way the consensus for the most recent Ossining Master Plan was achieved.
Third, while the GOCC fully understands the Village Board’s desire to bid out the proposed intersection street improvement project such that the work can begin and end during the summer of 2017, we believe that getting a project that has community consensus is superior to one that is rushed through because of an artificial deadline and the exigency of potential construction company bidders. Frankly, GOCC’s research suggests that the bids for summer of 2017 construction will far exceed the $500,000 bond request if for no other reason than there is insufficient time for responsible bidder companies to line up and commit the necessary resources to timely begin and complete the job. Accordingly, at the least they will have to pay their subcontractors more.
Fourth, we maintain that State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process is required by law to be in place prior to passage of any resolution for a project of this type and magnitude. The GOCC will shortly provide more definitive information on this requirement but until then, anyone interested should consult the information on bonding and SEQRA posted on the internet by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation at http://www.dec.ny.gov.
Finally, the GOCC thanks the 2700+ folks who signed the Roundabout petition – despite allegedly having had some administrative imperfections – which was a resounding response of the people to an ill-conceived project, of questionable value, facially dangerous, and indeterminate in cost to far exceed the initial bond amount. On general principle, the taxpayers are entitled to have a better and more realistic fix on the total amount of debt they are expected to pay back for any capital project like this, as well as specific data such as traffic loads and accident counts, etc., as would justify a roundabout at this particular location. While the GOCC does understand the “general” efficacy of roundabouts, this does not mean that they are suitable in all situations, particularly here at the intersection bifurcating the downtown crescent at Main Street which we believe would likely be disastrous to our businesses, pedestrian safety, and not the most advantageous use of prime property. Visit http://bettercities.net/article/problems-modern-roundabouts-20946.
In any event, the GOCC intends to continue to work with the Village Board and all concerned stakeholders, to seek a resolution to this and other issues that affect the quality of life for everyone in our Village. Our goal is to work toward making Ossining, the wonderful and dynamic place that it is, even better.
Gayle Marchica, President
Greater Ossining Chamber of Commerce