by Robert Kimmel
When Mike Blau departs from his position as Tarrytown’s Administrator next month, he’ll have completed two tours of duty totaling more than 17 years in that job. He’ll leave behind a solid record.
“He worked remarkably well with all of Tarrytown’s various constituencies, plus he was a tireless advocate and relentless cheerleader for the village,” Mayor Drew Fixell said. “Mike is an extraordinarily talented, calm and insightful person, who possesses a depth and breadth of knowledge and experience that one rarely finds in any field.”
Blau first served as administrator in Tarrytown from 1987 to 1995, and after village manager posts in Mamaroneck and Briarcliff Manor, he returned to Tarrytown in 2008. He had praise for the village.
“I have always found that the elected officials, the staff, the residents, are not afraid of change and progress, provided that they believe it is positive for the community,” Blau said.
Asked what he saw as an accomplishment in Tarrytown, he noted the waterfront, referring to “the RiverWalk, the renovation of Pierson Park and restoration of Andre Brook. I’m also pleased to have taken part in the development of the Hudson Harbor project because it has made a huge difference in the village.”
Blau commented that, “I have only seen the community become better over the years, because the people here have a vision for the future. The village has taken on two difficult actions, as one of the first to create historic districts, one of the first to create tree preservation laws. So the elected officials I have worked with over the years have never been afraid to take on difficult issues.”
As for difficult aspects of the job, Blau mentioned, “Attempting to make as many people happy as possible. Never easy.” He cited as an example, “Controlling taxes. I have had to recommend layoffs and such to the Village Board in order to control taxes, and that is never a pleasant thing to do. Residents are pleased that their taxes are being controlled, but someone may have to lose a job.”
He also targeted speeding and parking problems as other thorny issues he has encountered in all three villages where he’s worked. “People are always claiming cars are speeding on their roadways, and where are the police? Unfortunately, the police can’t be everywhere because we don’t have that many police. We don’t have the staffing levels to address all of the issues that are out there that people want to be addressed. We certainly attempt to the greatest extent possible, but you just can’t make everybody happy,” Blau remarked.
Blau said he “enjoys all the people in Tarrytown, and the projects we’ve been working on. I have a great management team and employees, and I have very supportive elected officials. Putting it all together has made the job here enjoyable. A challenge at times, but I like a challenge.” Noting that he has spent half of his professional career in Tarrytown, Blau said, “I would like to thank everybody in Tarrytown for the opportunity provided to me back in 1987, when I first came here and again in 2008. It has been a great place to work.”
Fixell described Blau’s service by noting that, “It’s impossible to count how many times people not only from the village but from every corner of the county and even state, told me how lucky we were to have him. And on a personal level, I will miss him enormously — not only as the administrator who could always be counted on to do the right thing and provide thoughtful and unvarnished advice, but as a trusted and valued friend.”
Blau remains in the office until April 14, assisting new Village Administrator Richard Slingerland, who arrives April 3, with the turnover of his position.
Blau, 62, and his wife, Allison, are moving from Briarcliff to a “brand new house” they had built in North Carolina. He expects to begin teaching as an associate professor at the University of North Carolina next September.
“I am looking forward to being able to share 35 years of experience with students who want to learn about the profession,” Blau said. However, he also intends to “play some golf, learn how to kayak, and if I want to, one day, do nothing.”