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Irvington's Uncontested Candidates 'Debate:' Taxes, Waterfront Zoning, Library Hours

Brian Smith, Connie Kehoe and Ken Bernstein met with residents Sunday to discuss the issues.

: no debates, no signs at stop lights and major intersections; no interns handing out flyers at the train station. The results are decided long before the polls even open.

But Irvington's three candidates—Brian Smith for mayor and Connie Kehoe and Ken Bernstein for village trustees—didn't want it that way. Smith said his intention was to make village issues as public as possible, "so that people know what we're talking about before we vote on the budget in April."

An informal "candidate's coffee" was held at resident and former-trustee John Malone's home—with coffee and breakfast fare from . About 20 people came ready to talk business...despite the transient sunshine predicted for Sunday morning. 

The first question for Smith?

"Why on earth would you want to run for mayor now?"

With the village's overall assessment decreasing year after year and pension costs rising, it is not a fun time to run a municipality.

"I love Irvington," said Smith, who has been a trustee for three years. "I want what's best for the village, and there's still a lot more to do." 

Waterfront Zoning

Residents were curious about what had happened to the waterfront "master plan" zoning law that was .

Bernstein, who has been on the board since last May, took the lead: "We kept the master plan concept, but eliminated the parking structure."

After more than 80 residents signed a petition urging trustees to reconsider allowing a garage on the waterfront, the board conceded. Bernstein continued that the revised law divides the waterfront into two parcels, north of West Main Street and south of West Main Street, clarifying that this legislation is all preemptive. The owners of the property have not presented the board a proposal for the site.

The Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing to consider the adoption of the new law on Monday, March 21 at 7 p.m. in Village Hall. See the new law here.  

Despite the outcry from residents against the parking structure during the six public hearings on the original law held earlier this year, residents at Malone's on Sunday seemed disappointed the original law had not been approved.

"[Without allowing for a parking structure] what can be built there is limited because of the laws requiring a certain amount of parking," Malone said. "People are trying to ensure there is blacktop there forever."  

(See coverage of the new law and how it differs from the original later this week on Patch.)

Closing the Library Two More Days

In an effort to save tax dollars, officials asked department heads to show how they could reduce their expenses by 10 percent. In the library's case, that was easy: stay open four days per week instead of six.

An overwhelming majority of residents present protested that idea. "The people who really need a tax break are the same ones who rely on the library," said Doug McClure.

Ann Acheson echoed his sentiment, saying: "Why eliminate the one service everyone can use; maybe there is a step in the middle to eliminate certain hours."

"Personally it pains me to cut the library," Smith said. "But we want to know what taxpayers think."

Weigh in on the question .

Other Topics Discussed:

Other topics discussed Sunday were traffic, downtown improvement and other possible cost-saving strategies, such as consolidating the rec. department (now on Main Street) and senior center (near Scenic Hudson park) and selling or renting out the Main Street property.

Acheson suggested making South Buckhout Street one-way to help decrease traffic congestion in the area and possibly offering shuttle service from bridge street up Main Street to encourage more people to patronize shops and restaurants in the business district who might not otherwise want to walk up the steep hill.  

What are questions or concerns you would like to pose to the candidates? Where do you stand on these issues? 


EESH March 15, 2011 at 01:10 PM
Offering shuttle service from bridge street up Main Street to encourage more people to patronize shops and restaurants in the business district who might not otherwise want to walk up the steep hill. IS the most stupid (I rarely use this word) idea ever. What is wrong with walking? What ever happened to all the "green" ideas Irvington wanted to start.
EESH March 15, 2011 at 01:16 PM
Mr Mayor, Since you have been on the Board of Trustee's and now mayor, my question to you is how many town employees have been added to the payroll? How does Irvington stack up against other rivertown regarding the ratio of town employees to village residents? Second, how does the salary of the Irvington Recreation Director and his assistant compare to others in similar positions in Westchester?

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