SH Comprehensive Plan Gathers Public Participation

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by Robert Kimmel –

Sleepy Hollow’s pursuit to have village residents aware of and involved in the creation of a new Comprehensive Plan and a Waterfront Plan is nearing the end of its first year, and the process has   included four public workshops, meetings, online surveys and updated website information.

Just under 8,000 persons inhabited Sleepy Hollow in 1980 when its last master plan was adopted. The population has increased to more than 10,000 residents, and with the development of Edge-on-Hudson likely to add 3,000 more, the necessity for village officials to acquire a new vision and goals for the community became obvious. And they wanted public input.

“The plan will be forward-thinking and address anticipated growth in a way that preserves the community character, fosters economic development and recognizes the village’s natural assets” is the description given to the project by village leaders.

The Plan’s Steering Committee, composed of village stakeholders and its consultant team have been assessing responses from the online public survey which ended in October. The survey sought to, “…gather input from a diverse range of people, living, working and spending time in Sleepy Hollow.”  There were 36 questions listed.

Some 367 persons participated, with 88% of the respondents living in the village, and 8% percent in Tarrytown. The largest income category within the survey takers were those claiming incomes of $250,000 or more, representing 29% of the respondents. At the last household income tally, in 2016, the village’s median income was about $53,000. Almost 30% of the survey respondents preferred not to indicate their incomes. Philipse Manor residents represented 26% of the respondents, along with 14% living in Sleepy Hollow Manor; 18% in the inner village/downtown, and 12% in Webber Park.

Women represented just over half of the those responding, and overall, 78%, were between the ages of 35 to 64. Their formal education far exceeded the general educational level of residents, with 92 % noting that they had at least a college degree.

Among the responses, those described as “quality-of-life issues” led the answers. Building maintenance was listed by 47%. Overcrowding was noted by 34%. Affordable housing was cited by 26%.  Respondents also focused on lowering property taxes, “improving the downtown/inner village area,” and traffic and parking matters.

Answering a question regarding the type of businesses, “you would like to see in Sleepy Hollow that aren’t there now,” coffee shops led with 80 individual responses. Restaurants, bars, specialty food stores and quality grocery stores were among many of the responses.

As for top priorities improving the downtown, “more attractive storefronts” was chosen by 64% of those participating. Parking was at 39% and maintenance and clean-up at 36%, while more culture and entertainment was listed by 25%; more trees and plants, 24%, and outside dining, 21%.

Passive recreational activities led the answers from respondents, where asked, “How do you or would you like to use the Sleepy Hollow waterfront? Walking led with 95%, and enjoying water views, 82%. Visiting waterfront parks was selected by 72%, and of the more active uses, Kayaking headed the answers with 42%.

Asked “How you get to work, or your other regular destinations?” the large majority, 84%, answered, “drive.” However, 56% percent also answered, “train or walk.” About half indicated their transportation involved combining both. If they take a train, half noted they walk to the station, while 27% drive.  Tarrytown and Philipse Manor stations each accounted for half of the stations used most often by those taking trains.  Responding to the question, “Where in the Village do you think walking or cycling is difficult?” Broadway (Route 9) was frequently the answer. The Broadway, Beekman Avenue, Bedford intersection area was a focus. That area was also specified with answers to the question of where traffic congestion was heaviest in the village. The high school and Morse School adjacent streets were mentioned as well.

As for where parking was a problem, Beekman Avenue was a frequent answer, as were Cortlandt, Clinton, and Depeyster, all in the inner village. Parking in the evening was noted as the most difficult time. Interestingly, a good number of respondents indicated that parking in Tarrytown was more troublesome, particularly on Main Street.

A shuttle bus or trolley service to the train station or other key destinations was the most common response to the question, “What transportation options are missing in Sleepy Hollow or need improvement?” Coordination with Tarrytown was noted for transportation improvements by a number of responders.

Noting that Sleepy Hollow shares a school district and library with Tarrytown, there was a question about sharing other services. Answers included recreation, DPW, and emergency services, such as police, fire and ambulance, and 35 responses supported merging the two villages. Saving money was a factor among the responders.

In response to a question regarding missing municipal or social services in the village, there was a wide variety of answers, including a public pool, community center, and recreation center, more services for seniors and the Spanish-speaking community, and more activities for children and teenagers.

A draft outlining recommendations for the Comprehensive Plan was completed last month. After a plan is approved by the Steering Committee, it is submitted to the Village Board of Trustees who must be certain it complies with State environmental rules. The Trustees are expected to hold a public hearing early next year on both the Comprehensive Plan and Waterfront Plan before they are adopted. The draft recommendations and other documents pertaining to the Comprehensive Plan may be found online at: http://sleepyhollowconnected.com/documents.

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