SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. Elections for village trustee are less than a month away, and The Daily Sleepy Hollow is preparing by asking the candidates 10 questions about local issues, what they hope to accomplish and why residents should vote for them.
Six candidates are running for three open seats on the board of Trustees. Incumbent Karin Wompa is running alongside Jennifer Lobato-Church and Susan MacFarlane under the Democratic and Better Government lines. David Bedell, Daniel Scott and Sean Roach are running under the Sleepy Hollow Independent line.
The following questionnaire was filled out by Wompa. Check back during the next two weeks for each of the other candidates' answers. For previous questionnaires, visit our topics page .
Please tell us a little bit about you:
Currently I am a stay at home mom and village trustee. Previously I worked in healthcare revenue, as a manager at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and as a consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers. My bachelors is from City College of New York and I received my Master of Public Health at NYU. We have lived in Sleepy Hollow since 1996 (16 years). I wanted to live where there was a real village and community. Coming from the city I loved the low-key diversity of the area beautiful views of the river and the beautiful natural surroundings.
What qualifications make you the best candidate for village trustee?
My four years of experience as a trustee and the accomplishments and advances we have already made: Beekman Avenue improvements (Morse Park, store fronts, plantings), bringing in the Senior Center, negotiating the General Motors agreement, re-staffing the police department and significant reduction in annual tax increases of zero percent, 1.9 percent and 2.9 percent.
What committees and organizations are you involved with in the village and area?
As a trustee I serve on and have served on the Public Safety Committee (Police, Fire and Ambulance), Administration committee, Communications Committee, Senior Committee and General Motors committee. I am president of the Downtown Revitalization Committee. Our current projects include administering the façade grant program, a streetscape grant where 50 percent went to the renovations of Morse Park and the other 50 percent will go toward trash cans, bike racks, flower planters, tree wells, Beekman Avenue, Main Street events and the annual village calendar.
How would you address the tax cap and residents' concerns about higher taxes?
Actually, we began addressing that concern in 2008. We ran on fiscal responsibility after the village endured 8 to 9 percent tax increases annually. So whereas other municipalities may be scrambling right now, we have already put ourselves in a good position to continue low tax increases. Also, with the new development projects about to begin, there will be an increase in tax revenue, benefiting the village.
What would you do to help revitalize the downtown business district?
It seems that candidates keep bringing up downtown revitalization without really looking responsibly at the role that government plays and the tools we have put in place to begin a transformation of the community. We already have seen changes take place on Beekman Avenue. This administration has concentrated on the following areas, which will bring about the evolution of our downtown:
- Updating village building codes and adding staff to the building department for enforcing code violations, including hiring a village prosecutor to prosecute violators in court.
- Completing the General Motors negotiations. Obviously the development of the GM property will have an enormous impact on the Sleepy Hollow downtown.
- Development of Castle Oil and the new overlay zoning area. This protects the development possibilities on the riverfront.
- Downtown Revitalization Corp.
- Streetscape grant used to renovate Morse Park and purchase additional upgrades for Beekman Avenue.
- Administration of the façade grant. We have finally, after much work and contact with the landlords and business owners, begun making strides with the façade program. This is a matching grant, so we had to really get the buy-in of property owners. Once these monies have been spent we can seek additional grant monies for future projects.
- Events to bring residents to the downtown Earth Day event, Halloween event.
Moving forward we will begin looking into development opportunities for small business owners looking to start a business in Sleepy Hollow, attracting visitors to the village with the expansion of the hayride, marathons, street fair and strengthening our police department with additional promotions and new hires.
What are your opinions on environmental concerns such as the Duracell clean-up and the former General Motors site?
Unfortunately the prior administration agreed contractually to indemnify Duracell, now Proctor and Gamble, of any liability for future contamination and remediation responsibility in exchange for the land. This short-sited decision put the village in the position of being responsible for the cost of remediation required to meet the new level standards set by the DEC, which totals several millions of dollars. The remediation will be costly for the village and will require close oversight to ensure the work is being done and being done correctly. In negotiating the contract with General Motors, the committee ensured that any future liability, for needed remediation, be the responsibility of General Motors and/or the developer. General Motors will be an enormous project requiring constant oversight, our building department will need to be prepared and staffed adequately to meet that need, as well as the appropriate expert consultants brought in to ensure the project meets village codes and standards.
What are your opinions on the General Motors redevelopment project and the issues that surround it, such as Tarrytown's lawsuit over traffic concerns?
Part of our negations with General Motors included the granting of an easement and property put aside to allow for a second egress in and out of the development leading to the north side. This will reduce traffic on the southside of the project. That being said, we expect the decision regarding Tarrytowns lawsuit to be found in our favor based on the arguments made by both parties.
What are your thoughts on working with other municipalities and government agencies to share services?
I have always believed that certain village responsibilities should be moved up to a higher level of government. It doesnt make sense for each small municipality to handle items such as water supply, when you could centralize the function to a level where the knowledge and better resources exist. I would certainly be interested in discussions with the county to see where we could move municipal responsibilities up to a county level.
What other issues need to be addressed within the village?
The other major project right now is the building of a larger water reserve to hold a 24-hour supply of water for the village and the projected population increase with the development of Castle Oil and General Motors.
However, there are always ongoing issues that we address every day that are not in the limelight. We are running a municipality, a $13 million organization. So each day we address issues such as infrastructure, personnel needs, employee contracts, parks and recreation, safety equipment for fire and ambulance, DPW concerns etc. We are always discussing village items that need to attention or can be improved.
Why are you running for the position of village trustee?
I originally decided to run because the village was being so poorly managed. We had large tax increases each year, the village had several lawsuits against it, including from its own staff, the police department was under investigation, General Motors negotiations had fallen apart and the downtown was deteriorating. In the four years I have served on the board, we addressed and overcame all those issues. Growth takes time and this village is now growing. We are at a turning point where a number of large projects will begin to take off. As a resident and current trustee of this village, I cant stress enough how important it is that we entrust the operations and decisions to be made for this village by a board who has a track record of accomplishment, commitment and ability. Jennifer Lobato-Church, Susan MacFarlane and I bring that record with our candidacy.
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