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Sleepy Hollow Candidates Debate Revitalization Efforts

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – Village trustee candidates all agreed during a debate held Thursday night that the revitalization of downtown Sleepy Hollow was an important issue that would need to be addressed in the coming years, but they differed on how best to accomplish it.

“We're at a fork in the road,” Trustee Karin Wompa said.

The Philipse Manor Improvement Association and the Sleepy Hollow Manor Association hosted a candidates' night at Philipsburg Manor on Thursday. Candidates running for village trustee seats participated in the debate, which featured questions from residents on a variety of issues. Thursday's debate followed a debate held at the Kendal-on-Hudson retirement community on Monday.

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 business district is slowly improving,” candidate Susan MacFarlane said. MacFarlane argued for continued advancement of the current board's goals and programs, including the facade program. She also said now was the time for the village to consider adding more municipal parking to attract business owners and customers.

Sleepy Hollow Independent Party candidates argued the village needs to create a master plan to guide development.

Roach said a master plan is vital for the village.

“We can't wait for GM to work on a master plan,” he said, noting that the plan would help meld the new development with the existing business district.

Scott said he thought the village should first work to revitalize the area before concentrating on parking.

Candidates also differed on the clean-up efforts surrounding the General Motors redevelopment. Although all six candidates agreed that the site is an important concern, Democratic candidates argued that the Department of Environmental Conservation would make sure the task was properly done and that the village would make sure their guidelines were followed through a special consultant engineer that has been hired.

Independent candidates argued for a more active role in the clean-up guidelines. Bedell said it was the village's responsibility to make sure that the proper controls are in place to address residents' concerns because they are the people who matter most.

“It's more important that we are protected as residents than the time table” in getting the project developed, Bedell said.

Candidates also differed on how best to engage the village's large Hispanic population. Independent candidates argued for more translated newsletters and a Spanish-language website in addition to creating a Hispanic relations committee to solicit concerns from the community.

Lobato-Church and her fellow candidates agreed that a Spanish-language website was needed, but also pointed to current efforts being made by the Board of Trustees to gather Hispanic input. Lobato-Church argued that the Independent candidates' statements made it seem like they wanted to forcefully integrate the community.

“I'm not going to force them to do something,” she said, noting that Hispanic residents were free to address any concerns they had or to fill open positions on committees such as the Police Advisory Committee. Lobato-Church noted “the door is open,” but that not everyone wants to get involved.

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