By Rick Pezzullo —
When Peter Bartolacci submitted plans to construct two-tiered retaining walls in the rear and side yards of his property on Miller Avenue in 2012, he had no idea nine years later that he would still be seeking approval — and pursuing elected office on the Tarrytown Board of Trustees.
“It’s been a very interesting experience, an enlightening experience,” said Bartolacci. “This gave me insight and curiosity to start thinking about things. We have gone through this. How many other people have gone through this? Are good decisions being made? Who’s making those decisions? Why are they making those decisions? There’s work that needs to be done to make things better.”
Bartolacci, a graduate of Bucknell University, has lived in Tarrytown for 18 years. During a more than 30-year career, he has worked or consulted in finance, marketing and human resources for multinational companies.
“I’m a financial person, an analytical person. I understand numbers,” he said. “I have an open mind, I listen, which I think is critical. I’m a firm believer in democracy and the will of the people. I think change is a good thing. The one thing I have learned in my 18 years in Tarrytown is you need to question everything. I have also learned that the Village Board doesn’t like to be questioned.”
Bartolacci is running on the Village Alliance Party line, led by Trustee and mayoral hopeful Doug Zollo. His trustee running mates are Ida Doctor and Terence Murphy.
“I think Doug is very much in line with how I think,” said Bartolacci, who mentioned Zollo was the only village official who reached out to him when he was having an issue with the village over an escrow discrepancy. “We’re (Village Alliance) a coalition. We all don’t think alike. We may differ on certain issues. You want things to be vetted. You don’t want group-think. It’s a diversity of thoughts.”
Before deciding to run for office, Bartolacci advocated for speed humps to be installed in the Miller Park neighborhood, helped force the Metropolitan Transit Authority to dismantle and relocate a cell tower that marred Tarrytown’s river views, and raised public awareness about the proposed Station Area Overlay zoning to ensure all public concerns were addressed.
“The cell tower was a bit of an eye opener. I woke up one morning and suddenly there was a huge cell tower staring me in the face,” Bartolacci said. “There wasn’t a lot of effort by the village to stop it. Through grassroots organization we got a petition together and we got the cell tower taken down. I guess I’m an accidental activist. I never had any intention to be involved in any of this.”
Bartolacci said development and traffic congestion are major issues facing Tarrytown.
“I’m not anti-development, but it has to be done right and to an appropriate scale and provide a benefit to the village,” he said. “I don’t see how we could allow high density development, particularly in the station area and downtown area, without first truly understanding the impact Edge-on-Hudson (in Sleepy Hollow) will have on our village.”
With three slates of candidates on the ballot on Nov. 2, Bartolacci maintained “competition is a great thing.”
“The party in power has run unopposed for several years. If there ever was a time change could happen, it’s probably now,” he said.
Bartolacci continued to pursue approval for the retaining walls on his property. The Planning Board did approve an iteration of them in September 2020, after the Zoning Board of Appeals granted a variance and Bartolacci’s contractor adjusted the engineering plan for the walls. The process was adjourned for a couple years while Bartolacci sued the Village of Tarrytown Zoning Board of Appeals, appealing to the Supreme Court in White Plains and the Appellate Division in Brooklyn. He recently submitted updated plans. On Oct. 25, 2021, the Tarrytown Planning Board approved them. Read a letter to the editor from a neighbor regarding the plans and Bartolacci’s response.