Public Participation in Tarrytown’s Comprehensive Plan Expanding

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by Robert Kimmel – 

“The outpouring of participation at this event was a testament really to the village and the people within this village. It showed me that the people are getting involved and understand the process.”
— Joan Raiselis

Tarrytown residents will have another opportunity to offer their ideas and visions for the future development of the village. The second public workshop for the village’s in-progress Comprehensive Plan, entitled “Tarrytown Connected,” takes place Sunday, November 5, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Warner Library.

The workshop follows a similar session in September and a presentation by the planners early last month before various village boards and committees at the Village Hall during which the public was also invited to participate. Discussions also included possible train station area zoning changes. The October session was partly directed at avoiding duplicate work by the village boards and committees.

Describing the public involvement at the initial workshop, Joan Raiselis, Chair of the Station Area Study, commented, “The outpouring of participation at this event was a testament really to the village and the people within this village. It showed me that the people are getting involved and understand the process. How great that was,” Raiselis stated. “It takes a village to make a village.”

The public workshop process was set up by a consulting team which consists of WXY Architecture + urban design, the Pace Land Use Law Center, Regional Plan Association, and Westchester County Planning.

“What we are doing now from the September event and the coming November event is consolidating people’s thoughts and narrowing them down and detailing them,” said Tiffany Zezula, Deputy Director, Pace Land Use Law Center and Adjunct Professor, Pace Law School. “It is mostly directed toward the Comprehensive Plan work and not so much toward the train station zoning right now, which will follow the Comprehensive Plan. The priority focus right now is on the Comprehensive Plan. The goal is still to complete it by May of next year. We are on track for that.”

A Public Engagement Report issued by the village consolidated and examined the wide-ranging comments offered at the earlier workshop. “Participants expressed a clear wish to maintain and protect the Village of Tarrytown’s unique character, including its historic properties, recreational and natural spaces, and diversity of businesses and population,” it stated.

Land use topics were emphasized at the workshop, according to the report. The topics included, Built Environment; Economy; Mobility; Community; Culture and Entertainment; Natural Resources and Open Space. Economic Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities, and ways to support local businesses, were also brought up.

“People were talking about mobility and connection within Tarrytown,” Zezula said. “How do we connect all the places within Tarrytown? How do we get from point A to point B?” She added that there were also concerns expressed about how to handle the increased pressure of development.

Questions and feedback also included “strategies to reduce traffic congestion, improve parking availability and improve pedestrian safety and walkability,” the report noted. Expansion of parking embraced both downtown and the train station, and “shared mobility opportunities including bikes, buses and shuttles.”

In addition to gathering new information from participants, the November workshop will also “Show attendees that we listened and that this is what we heard from you and that we heard correctly,” Zezula said.

Comments and responses to the topics made at the earlier workshop were carefully recorded, and comment cards from participants were collected. There were a myriad of subjects discussed under categories such as development, economic, strategies, and positive comments. They ran from “lack of chain stores,” “economic development on Rt. 119,” the “village as a tourist attraction,” “access to the riverfront,” “stop overflow of traffic on Route 9 into residential neighborhoods,” to “bus access and routes,” “create opportunities for employees to live and shop where they work,” and “station area to Main Street (use shuttle or tram).” There were dozens more.

Another topic was added to the discussions by Village Administrator Richard Slingerland who had attended a recent state meeting regarding sea-level rise in Westchester County. “It’s a big issue with major impacts on the village’s Comprehensive Plan,” he commented. “Sea level rise creates significant challenges for all of our waterfront community areas.” Waterfront planning and building codes will need to take that into consideration.

Ultimately, the planners will need to consolidate the variety of concepts into a design that benefits the entire village. “We are not planning specific solutions right now, and we want to make sure that we understand what the goals are for the village as a whole before we transition to more specific planning toward those goals,” Raiselis stated.

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