To the editor:
The Public Forum held last Wednesday at the Harmon Firehouse regarding the feasibility of building a structure at the parking lot was attended by over 60 people reflecting the diverse make-up of the Village and commuters. Ideas and opinions were exchanged in a respectful manner and in some cases consensus was achieved among participants. This was just the beginning of a process helping Croton to determine the possibility of maximizing the income from its second largest revenue source, the train station parking lot. The goal is to alleviate the tax burden on the primary source of revenue - you, the homeowner.
We insisted on a study of the feasibility of a parking structure in return for our support for the recent repaving because we believe that just maintaining the lot was not good enough. We need to find out if our parking lot can be optimized to provide more revenue in the future to help relieve the burden of sky-high property taxes on our residents. Although the $3 million project to raise and repave the flood-prone areas of the lot is complete now, and hopefully will last for at least 15 years, this investment was totally at the taxpayers’ expense and does not add more spaces or more revenue to our coffers. It was a maintenance project.
We believe as Trustees it is our duty to explore every possible option to help the Village either generate income or offset expenditures, without impacting the quality of life for our families. This can only be done by taking an in depth look at how the Village generates income.
By instituting the first-ever mid-year budget progress report we can track spending and income to date in this fiscal year; the first step to responsible fiscal management. Having reduced your Village taxes by nearly 2% for 2009-2010, this report will be key in achieving our goal to cut taxes again this year. Reducing expenses in the Villages takes a great deal of study, homework and budget “know-how” but we are determined to reach our goal.
We successfully requested and have received $750,000 from the Federal Government with help from Congressman John Hall, which reduced the overall parking lot expenses as well as $1.2 Million grant for improvements on Croton Point Avenue.
Approximately 7 weeks ago, the current board approved rezoning to provide potential for increased revenues and have begun the process of marketing these improvements to potential businesses.
Unfortunately, last week we read in this section of the Gazette some incredible accusations regarding the feasibility study but reality paints a far different picture.
On a unanimous vote by former Mayor Gregory Schmidt, former Trustees Sue Konig & Tom Brennan as well as current Trustees Ann Gallelli & Rick Olver the Village Board approved plans to mitigate flooding in the train station parking lot as well as begin a study on the feasibility of a parking structure. Now that we have entered the political season, a former Trustee has either forgotten her vote on the subject or, at the very least, the specifics of the motion on which she voted to approve.
The approval was to study a parking structure, not to build housing at the parking lot. Any attempts to tie the current parking structure feasibility study to an old Transit Oriented District (TOD) report are made up. The consultants will examine demand for more parking, the ability of the ground to support such a structure and costs of building it, improvements to the lot as a whole and possible ways of financing a structure without requiring a contribution from Village taxpayers. Any comments to the contrary are simply not true.
Please don’t take our word for it. Go the link provided and see for what the Trustees unanimously voted on February 2, 2009: http://www.crotononhudson-ny.gov/PublicDocuments/CrotonHudsonNYTrustMin/2009/02-02-09.pdf
We believe it’s demeaning to the Village and its residents to denigrate those who participated in the dialogue last Wednesday; particularly without offering any alternative plans to address the tax burden on the homeowner. What the Village needs are more residents who are willing to participate and for leadership to bring creative ideas to solve the real problems we face here so that we can enjoy the beauty and small-town charm that Croton has to offer today and for years to come.
Ann Gallelli, Trustee
Rick Olver, Trustee