by Rick Pezzullo
Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray will be running uncontested for a fifth two-year term on March 21 on a slate with three incumbent trustees and an incumbent village justice, who also will face no opposition. Wray is at the head of the Unite Sleepy Hollow ticket that also includes trustees Glenn Rosenbloom, John Leavy and Denise Scaglione and Village Justice Andres Valdespino.
“Even though the UNITE team is running unopposed in the March election, people need to get out and vote. It’s essential that we make some noise and to show that we are a politically active community,” Wray said.
The Hudson Independent recently posed some questions to Wray on some key issues currently in Sleepy Hollow.
What are the main reasons you are seeking reelection?
Sleepy Hollow is experiencing profound transformation and we are in the middle of some very exciting projects. I want to see these projects through to completion: Edge on Hudson; the development of the East Parcel and the Riverwalk; our water infrastructure. But it’s not just the bricks and mortar that interest me. I want to make sure that Sleepy Hollow maintains its identity as a small Hudson River village and that all the benefits of living here accrue to everyone of our residents in every neighborhood and to our legacy businesses on and around Beekman Avenue.
Compared to two years ago when at least a few trustees expressed displeasure with your leadership, what steps have been taken, other than those two trustees being ousted from office, to make the board a seemingly very cohesive unit with very little controversies in the village?
Replacing those trustees with John Leavy and Denise Scaglione, who have the best interests of the village at heart, speaks for itself. Three trustees had issues with me and issues with a very dedicated trustee because of her party affiliation. I am willing to work with anyone, of any party affiliation, who will roll up their sleeves to make our village safer, cleaner, more just and more vibrant.
The current board, in spite of the different parties and our orientation on national issues, is a cohesive unit. We have good, substantive discussions, sometimes heated, about Sleepy Hollow’s needs because we all deeply care about the village and its future. This is why I was so pleased that Denise and John, along with Glenn Rosenbloom, have all agreed to serve another two years.
We’ve been told that the television ratings for our weekly board meetings aren’t as high as they used to be. I’m not sure how to address that.
What do you foresee as the most important issues facing the village over the next two years?
The Edge-on-Hudson project continuing on schedule is the most important issue. Planning for the changes that this development will bring is a key issue that the board is focused on. We have successfully lessened the tax burden on village homeowners and we need to continue those efforts. With the new revenue streams from Edge-on-Hudson, we are addressing infrastructure needs as well as enhancing the lives of all village residents.
How close is some noticeable development going to occur at the former GM site and is there anything in the wings the village plans to do in connection with the project?
The site is active, alive with trucks, cranes and other heavy equipment. The removal of the concrete slab is very noticeable from lower Beekman Avenue and nearly complete. The delivery of needed fill by barge and truck is ongoing. By this summer foundation work on the first buildings will be underway and, if everything stays on schedule, the first 300 households will be moving in in 2018.
We are developing a RiverWalk and a Common on the East Parcel. The Local Development Corporation is about ready to release the Final Environmental Impact Statement for public comment. That document is necessary before any significant construction can be done. We held a series of open meetings this past summer and fall to discuss various visions for this public space. Engineering studies and planning maps are available on the village website.
I am so looking forward to the ribbon cutting ceremony when villagers and visitors will be able to walk along the river.
Are any traffic improvements being planned in anticipation of the development?
Yes. We will be implementing turn lanes at certain intersections in Sleepy Hollow. Current plans call for a bridge between the East Parcel and Edge-on-Hudson. There will be bike and foot paths incorporated into the access for the East Parcel. Other measures are under discussion.
What is the Village Board leaning towards on the East Parcel?
There will be a new DPW facility, that is for certain. The public discussions have helped define new active and passive recreation areas, including a regulation-sized soccer field, a skate park, basketball and tennis courts, as well as an amphitheater and community center. I look forward to incorporating public art on the East Parcel and along the RiverWalk.
Is the board planning to add more police with more activity and traffic coming to Sleepy Hollow?
We are carefully planning for additional village staff, including for the Police Department. We will continue to focus on hiring veterans and local residents as officers; the concerns raised by the former board of trustees proved to be unfounded.
Do you expect more new businesses expressing interest in Sleepy Hollow with the development of the GM parcel?
Absolutely. The Local Development Corporation is charged with strengthening commercial economic development in the village and it is something that all of the trustees are concerned with. We want to be sure that our legacy businesses have the opportunities to thrive as well.
Any other issue you would like to address?
A critical issue, although not many in Sleepy Hollow are aware of it, is how we are represented in Mt. Pleasant. We were successful this past year in having Jim Husselbee appointed to the Mt. Pleasant Industrial Development Agency. The IDA has the power to set Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT, for businesses and corporations. For example, GM was granted a 30-year PILOT. Edge-on-Hudson was working its way toward receiving a PILOT. The Village learned of it almost by accident and we put up a successful fight stop to it. That’s when I decided it was imperative to have a Sleepy Hollow person on the IDA. The first available opening was given to Jim. Now we need to get some folks elected to the Town of Mt. Pleasant Board. Not that the Mt. Pleasant Board can do much for us, but they could make things a lot more difficult for the village.