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Yoo Hoo! Mayor Schmidt. Your Slip Is Showing!

July 4, 2007

just-asking-croton-on-hudson-questions.jpg

Fellow residents, would you believe that—at taxpayer expense—the village of Croton-on-Hudson is policing the parking of automobiles on private property? That’s right. Violate one of the rules established by the owners of the Van Wyck shopping center, and the village will ticket your car so fast your head will spin. Balance such unusual special treatment against the following:

At the July 2nd village board meeting a visibly distraught woman, a Radnor Avenue resident for 32 years, reported that neighbors were maliciously parking their cars so as to block egress from her driveway. The only comfort Mayor Schmidt could offer this complainant making her first-ever appearance before the board was to suggest that perhaps the village should have “a conversation” with its seldom-seen police chief about “what can be done,” and then the village might have a little chin-wag with the offenders. That was neither reassuring nor a magisterial resolution of her problem, Mr. Mayor.

He reminded the woman and viewers that many Croton streets are narrow, making passage difficult. One obvious solution he did not mention would be to allow parking on only one side of Radnor Avenue, a thoroughfare frequently used by knowledgeable drivers to avoid the congestion of Maple Street.

It is no exaggeration to say that our village is so busy tending to affairs it shouldn’t be messing with that it neglects keeping its own house in order. For example, the election that unseated Leo A.W. Wiegman as a village trustee took place on March 20. One might think that by now, more than three months later, this village would have corrected its records and its web site to reflect his departure from office. Yes, one might think that. And one would be embarrassed to discover that one was very wrong.

Readers who care about how efficiently our village operates will be interested to learn that Crotonblog has found Leo Wiegman’s name still listed in July as a sitting trustee in at least five different places on the village’s web site.

Our mayor is fond of reminding us that “the buck stops here,” usually said while making a fist and gesturing with his thumb at his chest, Yet he has never answered, or even acknowledged, some twenty-odd questions Crotonblog has specifically addressed to him over the past 15 months. Under the circumstances, we are not about to make his job easier by providing him with any clues about the buck we just dropped in his lap. Go find the errant names on your own, Mr. Mayor. When you’ve finished your scavenger hunt, we’ll let you know how well you did.

And while you’re at that long-delayed task, Mayor Schmidt, how about doing something to get village departments and boards to pull up their socks, especially those involved with important—sometimes crucial—decision making?

For example, what have you to say about this little tidbit, Mr. Mayor? Chaired by Kathleen Reidy, the dilatory Zoning Board of Appeals hasn’t posted a copy of the minutes of its meetings (i.e., its decisions) since October 11, 2006. What’s your explanation for why the Zoning Board of Appeals is so notoriously and persistently delinquent? Imagine that! It’s a big, fat nine months behind in its postings—long enough to make a baby. In Crotonblog’s book the Zoning Board of Appeals is just plain irresponsible in its inattention to diligent record keeping.

By contrast, let’s look at the Planning Board, chaired by Chris Kehoe. Its minutes are reasonably up-to-date, thanks to its efficient secretary, Sylvia Mills, who must wait for their approval by the board at subsequent meetings before they can be posted. The latest Planning Board posting of minutes is for the meeting of April 24, 2007.

The Visual Environment Board, chaired by Douglas Wehrle, is merely an advisory body, yet its latest posted minutes are commendably up to the minute. Their latest posting covers the June 27, 2007, meeting. On the other hand, another advisory body, the Waterfront Advisory Committee, chaired by Fran Allen, has not posted minutes since August 30, 2005.

And then, Mr. Mayor, there’s the significant hiatus in the posting of minutes for the village board of trustees, the body over which you preside. No minutes have been posted on the village’s web site for village board meetings in the five months last year between January 6, 2006, and June 5, 2006. What is the village hiding?

That’s already a pretty long list of infractions. Crotonblog could go on, but you get the idea. How come there are so many glaring inconsistencies in the village’s public records on your watch, Mr. Mayor? Who’s minding the store?

Just askin’.

On July 9, 2007 9:57 PM, TeaDrinker said:

CORRECTION: Crotonblog’s attention has been called to our contributor’s misreading of the village board meeting archives for 2006 (as illustrated below). Because of a change from the format previously used in 2005 and earlier, the term “Not available” that appears alongside each meeting date is not meant to refer to the minutes but to the video stream of the meeting, which was not available before June 5th. Minutes of board meetings are available for the period between January 6th and June 5th. Crotonblog regrets the error.

On July 6, 2007 11:47 PM, TeaDrinker said:

“Logician” makes an interesting association. I have long felt that there might be a connection between Croton’s elitist policy of residents-only access to its parks and its failure to attract and keep commercial enterprises.

There’s a marvelous line in George Kelly’s 1926 Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Craig’s Wife” that also serves as its epigraph. I was too young to have seen the original, but I did see a 1947 revival. In this play, Miss Austen says to Harriet Craig, a woman bent on preserving her material security at the cost of her marriage, “People who live to themselves are generally left to themselves.”

Does this line describe what is happening to Croton?

On July 5, 2007 4:21 PM, TeaDrinker said:

Congratulations Crotonblog for taking the sheet off the corpse and calling attention to this village’s foolish and probably illegal participation in a scheme to fill the village coffers by enforcing parking rules established by a commercial property owner. What has this village done for you or me lately?

At the Van Wyck shopping center we have rigid police enforcement in the service of private interests while at the nearby strip mall the village turns a blind eye to blatant chaotic violations of the village’s own parking rules. What a laugh! In the end, of course, the laugh’s on us—the taxpayers who put up with this nonsense. There’s nothing available in the Van Wyck shopping center that isn’t available at other places where there’s no risk of a ticket. I, too, got a one of those $5-a-minute tickets and refuse to shop there anymore.

This village likes to promulgate the fiction it has “small town values.” If that were true, it would have set up a gentler system under which first offenders merely received a warning and had their license numbers recorded in case of a repetition. But, no, that would have been too small townish.

The thing that’s small about Croton is that it’s small-minded—so small-minded, in fact, that it discourages visitors from even so much as setting foot inside its parks. Come to think of it, one can say that Croton treats visitors like dogs, which also are banned from its parks. What other place can make that claim?

At the same time, a small group keeps wringing its hands over the great number of empty commercial properties. They dream of an almost mythical savior who will descend on Croton bearing huge wads of cash and rescue the village from commercial oblivion. When are these bleeding hearts going to wake up to reality and see the cause-and-effect relationship that surely exists between Croton’s small-mindedness and its shrinking commercial base?

No wonder businesses fail to thrive in a place so manifestly unfriendly to visitors. Who could “luv” a village whose motto seems to be: “You are welcome to come to Croton and spend your money. You can even fill a picnic basket at one of our food stores. But that’s as far as our welcome extends. Having spent a few bucks, just don’t hang around and expect us to welcome you to our parks.”

What a bunch of bottom feeders this money-grubbing village administration has become!

On July 5, 2007 12:58 PM, coh_resident said:

I too recently received a $25 parking ticket for parking in the private lot that serves Zeytinnia, the Post Office, CVS, etc. for parking in one of the “employees only” parking spots for all of 5 minutes while I ran into buy something because no other spots were available. After I received the ticket, I counted the number of spots in that parking lot: Out of total of 90 available spots (excluding handicap spots) 18 are reserved for employees only. That’s 20%! Now let me ask this naive question: Are the stores in that mall really interested in alienating their patrons by having them ticketed for parking while shopping in their stores? I understand that employees need to be able to park but so do patrons. The real question is: Does the benefit to the employees that accrues by reserving 18 out of 90 spots for them really outweigh the inconvenience to the patrons of having those spots off limits? I think the obvious answer is no. Here’s some back of the envelope reasoning: the vast majority of patrons spend 15 minutes or less per visit. The vast majority of employees are there for eight hour shifts (or longer). If an employee arrives to find no spots available (highly unlikely, I might add), he or she might have to wait 1-5 minutes before a space becomes available if there were no reserved spots. Not a significant sacrifice, in my opinion. On the other hand, by placing 20% of the spots off limits to patrons regardless of whether they are free or not vastly reduces the parking available to patrons and adds to congestion in the lot. It seems to me that placing that number of spots off limits to patrons provides little benefit to the employees and a great deal of inconvenience to the patrons. The real beneficiary is the town, who gets $25 per ticket. What an outrage, especially for residents whose taxes are already plenty high.



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