Tarrytown Comprehensive Plan Project Picks Up Momentum; Engages Public

by Robert Kimmel

Tarrytown’s multi-faceted project to set visions, goals and policies for its future development is pursuing public input as it continues to shape a series of themes to help guide the planning project toward completion.

Tarrytown downtown gallery rivertownsAmong the many general goals targeted by the village’s Comprehensive Plan and Station Area Zoning Project are to “create an affordable, connected community that attracts and supports residents and workers of all ages and backgrounds; encourage a robust and diverse economic base with thriving commerce,  strong businesses and clear value for taxes levied; ensure safe and convenient movement for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, with ready access to transit and connections to other municipalities and commercial centers.”

Other pursuits include an effort to “enable active enjoyment of village amenities, including its open space, trails and waterfront facilities, as well as commercial and entertainment opportunities.” Tarrytown’s comprehensive plan project also sees a need to support these objectives with “way-finding and related information.” Also noted in a status report outlining goals was the need to “preserve natural resources and features, and promote development infrastructure that reduces resource dependence and increases resiliency to a changing climate.”

As part of its current phase, the project is also conducting briefings and symposiums during the summer months outlining those subjects for both village officials, boards, residents and business owners.

A brief plan update to the Board of Trustees was provided recently by David Aukland, chairman of the steering committee overseeing the project, and the Village’s Project Manager, William Brady, who has been “borrowed” from his post as an Associate Planner at Westchester County’s Department of Planning. They liaison with the board through Deputy Mayor Thomas Butler.

Symposia sessions during June and July explored themes such as “Built Environment,” which accounted for “Land Use and Zoning, Housing Affordability & Choice,” “Historic Preservation,” “Wayfinding and Accessibility.” “Mobility,” the topic of a July meeting, brought attention to “Transportation infrastructure, – roads, rail, sidewalks, transit systems, congestion and parking, carshare, street design, bicycles and walkability.”

The session on mobility offered some definitive points of discussion such as the “need to understand how the Village can interpret trends”…such as the declining use of personal vehicles and the increase in shared modes of transportation. It also noted the need to “further investigate and support transportation links between Tarrytown and  the other rivertowns.”

An August 9 symposium at Village Hall will deal with “Natural Environment and Open Space,” and “Sustainability,” while additional research will delve into the village’s “Fiscal condition and tax base,” “Employment and Workforce,” and “Community Culture and Education,” among others.

Public workshops, giving residents opportunities to both learn more about the project, and voice their opinions, are planned for the fall; the first is scheduled for Sunday afternoon, September 17, at Warner Library.

Emphasizing the project’s intent on public outreach recently were Joan Raiselis, a Planning Board member who chairs the Station Area Zoning Work Group, and Tiffany Zezula, Director for the Land Use Law Center at Pace and an Adjunct Professor at Pace University School of Law. They described coming efforts to alert residents to associated events via flyers, posters, mailings, stickers and the like, as well as the possibilities of questionnaires soliciting comments at settings such as the library or Tarrytown Farmers’ Market (TaSH). “We want to get the information out to as many people as possible,” Zelzula noted. Raiselis added that, “We want people to be engaged in the process.”

Raiselis was co-chair of an initial planning effort that began several years ago which focused on the train station area and developed proposals that it labeled “Tarrytown Connected.” Those are now integrated into the Comprehensive Plan.  Zoning guidelines based on those proposals for the Metro-North station area and waterfront could lead to greater mixed-use development in that district, running from residential to recreational. Work on re-zoning the area is scheduled to start in the fall.

Zelzula and Raiselis concurred that the plan “…to shape Tarrytown for the coming decades,” will likely be completed by April of next year.

In its quest for help from persons with further expertise, the project recently added three “advisors:” Ed Burroughs, former Westchester County Planning Commissioner, John Nolon, a Distinguished Professor of Law at Pace University Law School and former adjunct professor of land use law and policy at the Yale School of Forestry and Environment, and Linda Viertel, who has been instrumental in Tarrytown land preservation, spear-headed the creation of RiverWalk Park, and served on the committee which developed the 2007 Comprehensive Plan for Tarrytown.

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