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Hudson Independent: Sleepy Hollow Trustee Candidates Convey Views on Village Issues

March 12, 2021


By Robert Kim­mel- 

Each of the four can­di­dates com­pet­ing for the three open seats on the Sleepy Hol­low Board of Trustees in next Tues­day’s elec­tions have pro­vided res­i­dents with broad views on where they stand on a va­ri­ety of is­sues fac­ing the vil­lage.

The can­di­dates’ po­si­tions on an ar­ray of sub­jects were ex­pressed dur­ing an on­line fo­rum con­ducted this past Wednes­day evening, March 10th. Aimed at ad­vanc­ing the elec­toral process, the fo­rum was co-spon­sored by the League of Women Vot­ers of the River­towns and Moth­ers Out Front Westch­ester River­towns.

Three of the four can­di­dates, Denise Scaglione, Jared Ro­driguez, and Tom An­druss, are com­pet­ing in the March 16th bal­lot­ing as mem­bers of the Unite Sleepy Hol­low party, which has led Mayor Ken Wray’s ad­min­is­tra­tion since 2015. Daniel Con­vis­sor is in­de­pen­dently pur­su­ing a trustee seat un­der the ban­ner of what he calls the Change for the Bet­ter party.

Along with the trustee con­tenders, Wray is pur­su­ing his sev­enth term, run­ning un­op­posed, as is Kather­ine Bald­win, who will be on the bal­lot to con­tinue in her post as Vil­lage Jus­tice. Nei­ther were Fo­rum par­tic­i­pants. The ses­sion was mod­er­ated by Kather­ine De­r­ing, a mem­ber of the League of Women Vot­ers of North­east Westch­ester.

Is­sues dis­cussed at the Fo­rum ranged from the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of Beek­man Av­enue’s down­town busi­ness dis­trict, an­tic­i­pated ad­di­tional traf­fic from the Edge -On-Hud­son de­vel­op­ment, to taxes and po­lice re­form. In open­ing state­ments, the four can­di­dates gave brief de­scrip­tions of their qual­i­fi­ca­tions and the vil­lage sub­jects of most in­ter­est to them.

Scaglione said she is pur­su­ing a third term as a vil­lage trustee and has lived in the vil­lage for 22 years with her hus­band and two sons, one of whom at­tends Sleepy Hol­low High School and with the el­dest now in col­lege. As a trustee, she has worked on de­sign plans for the 28-acre Vil­lage Com­mons, De­vries Park, and the restora­tion of the Pocan­tico River shore­line. Scaglione also men­tioned her vol­un­tary in­volve­ment with ath­letic ac­tiv­i­ties at Sleepy Hol­low High School.

She has also been in­volved in work­ing on the vil­lage’s Com­pre­hen­sive Plan, and has been ac­tive in the El­e­men­tary Par­ent/​Teacher As­so­ci­a­tion (EPTA) of the Tar­ry­towns and as a Vice-Pres­i­dent of the Philipse Manor Beach Club. If re-elected Tues­day, she said she would be the longest serv­ing trustee.

Con­vis­sor ex­plained he has been a res­i­dent of Sleepy Hol­low since 2013, liv­ing here with his wife and two chil­dren. Shortly af­ter his ar­rival, he said he be­came a mem­ber of Sleepy Hol­low’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee and also ob­served how the vil­lage worked. He has watched or tes­ti­fied at more than 90 Board of Trustee meet­ings. He noted that he led sev­eral park clean-ups, and pro­vided in­for­ma­tion on how to make Route 9 and nine in­ter­sec­tions down­town safer. His work, he said, had him in­volved with vil­lage staff and elected of­fi­cials.

Ro­driguez stated that he is liv­ing down­town in Sleepy Hol­low with his wife and young son Calvin, re­sid­ing in a two-fam­ily house while restor­ing it and mak­ing it “su­per en­ergy ef­fi­cient.”

He said, “In my ca­reer I’ve made a big im­pact on re­duc­ing en­ergy con­sump­tion in very large, mul­ti­fam­ily and com­mer­cial build­ings and help­ing com­mu­ni­ties and small busi­nesses in the Hud­son Val­ley plan for a bet­ter fu­ture.” He has also worked on trans­porta­tion needs in the met­ro­pol­i­tan area and is “ad­vis­ing the City and State of New York, on ad­dress­ing the chal­lenge of rapid cli­mate change.”  Ro­driguez de­scribed grow­ing up in Haver­straw and hav­ing earned a de­gree at Tufts Uni­ver­sity in en­gi­neer­ing and ar­chi­tec­ture.  At N.Y.U. he re­ceived a Mas­ters of Sci­ence in real es­tate de­vel­op­ment.

An­druss, also on the Unite Sleepy Hol­low ticket, has lived in the Philipse Manor area for 14 years with his wife and two teenage daugh­ters. He de­scribed hav­ing served in sev­eral vol­un­teer roles, mostly as a mem­ber of the Sleepy Hol­low Plan­ning Board for the last three years. An­druss said, “I am ex­cited to have this op­por­tu­nity to serve the com­mu­nity as a mem­ber of the Board of Trustees,” adding, “I be­lieve Sleepy Hol­low is on the right track.”

“The lead­er­ship of the United Sleepy Hol­low party, with Mayor Wray and the cur­rent Board of Trustees, is the big rea­son Sleepy Hol­low is mak­ing progress, “An­druss said. “Those of us on the Unite ticket have a record of co­op­er­a­tion, thought­ful­ness and col­lab­o­ra­tion and can achieve great re­sults.”

A ques­tion from a res­i­dent asked about the ef­fec­tive­ness of the vil­lage’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion with its pop­u­la­tion and what the can­di­dates might change.

“The vil­lage does a lot to reach out to the com­mu­nity,” Scaglione replied, cit­ing email blasts that are sent out and a quar­terly newslet­ter. How­ever, she said the email reaches only about 3,000 ad­dresses, and the word has to get out to have more peo­ple sign-up for the emails.

Con­vis­sor also noted the need for more peo­ple to re­ceive the emails, and sug­gested the use of Span­ish in pro­mot­ing their ex­is­tence. He pro­posed hav­ing post cards sent out. Ad­vance in­for­ma­tion about trustee ses­sions and top­ics are needed, he added.

“I think the vil­lage is do­ing a lot right, par­tic­u­larly with the email blasts,” Ro­driguez, said. He main­tained that tech­nol­ogy and so­cial me­dia could be uti­lized to im­prove get­ting the word out. “One of my pri­or­i­ties would be to reach the Latino com­mu­nity; a lot of my neigh­bors are not in­volved.”

“More com­mu­ni­ca­tion could be go­ing out, and it should be bilin­gual,” An­druss said. How­ever, he em­pha­sized, “Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is a two-way street, and peo­ple should be at­tend­ing meet­ings.” An­druss also said that there are email ad­dresses and phone num­bers by which vil­lagers could com­mu­ni­cate with of­fi­cials and staff mem­bers.

What part should lo­cal gov­ern­ment play in pur­su­ing New York poli­cies for deal­ing with cli­mate change was an­other ques­tion asked of the can­di­dates.

Con­vis­sor, an ad­vo­cate of bik­ing, de­scribed the biggest im­pact as be­ing trans­porta­tion and called for greater bike use along with more ef­fi­cient re­cy­cling of waste.

En­cour­ag­ing the use of al­ter­nate en­ergy sources was An­druss’ ini­tial sug­ges­tion, and he stated the vil­lage has to ad­vise de­vel­op­ers, builders, and home­own­ers what the new rules are and en­cour­age them to use them. “Make sure de­vel­op­ers work within the rules us­ing more mod­ern and ef­fi­cient ways,” he said.

Ro­driguez in­di­cated that he has been “heav­ily in­volved with the com­mu­nity pro­fes­sion­ally re­gard­ing en­ergy sources and re­quire­ments.” He also cited the need to push de­vel­op­ers to meet en­ergy re­quire­ments and to make re­duc­tions in en­ergy use.

Scaglione re­capped that Sleepy Hol­low has been di­rected to­ward be­ing a cli­mate smart com­mu­nity and that it also par­tic­i­pates with Sus­tain­able Westch­ester in hav­ing res­i­dents uti­lize clean en­ergy sources.

Not­ing that Sleepy Hol­low has a di­verse com­mu­nity, a query brought up con­cerns that there was a lack of unity and asked what could be done to bring the com­mu­nity closer to­gether.

An­druss sug­gested that, through his ex­pe­ri­ence as a youth soc­cer coach, (in one case for his daugh­ter’s team) such sports ac­tiv­i­ties and pro­grams bring chil­dren from dif­fer­ent back­grounds to­gether. He said the de­vel­op­ment of a recre­ational area “will serve to bet­ter con­nect all of our var­i­ous pop­u­la­tions.”

Ro­driguez said he and his wife made a con­scious de­ci­sion to live in a highly di­verse com­mu­nity, both cul­tur­ally and so­cio-eco­nom­i­cally. He called for vil­lage in­vest­ment in Beek­man Av­enue in or­der to  have a di­ver­sity of busi­nesses. He said, “Let’s get the en­tire com­mu­nity to come to Beek­man to do their shop­ping so they are phys­i­cally around their neigh­bors.”

In re­sponse to an­other ques­tion brought up sep­a­rately about “fa­voritism” in the vil­lage, Ro­driguez said “that is ex­actly why Unite Sleepy Hol­low has me on their ticket. I can rep­re­sent res­i­dents who live down­town, who cur­rently don’t have rep­re­sen­ta­tion. I can bring a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive to the board.”

Hav­ing had per­sonal in­volve­ment with many dif­fer­ent sports groups, Scaglione said she and her hus­band had worked with fam­i­lies from all over Sleepy Hol­low and Tar­ry­town. She also de­scribed a re­cent vil­lage hir­ing as a pur­suit to di­ver­sify its staff.

A com­mu­nity cen­ter down­town was Con­vis­sor’s sug­ges­tion. It would “stim­u­late ac­tiv­ity that would bring to­gether peo­ple from all over the vil­lage to the stores,” he stated. He also called for ve­hi­cle free means to have peo­ple get around on their own, “… peo­ple walk­ing, dy­nam­ics on the street,” as he de­scribed it.

How to im­prove the num­bers and sus­tain­abil­ity of small busi­nesses in down­town Sleepy Hol­low was an­other ques­tion asked of the can­di­dates.

Ro­driguez men­tioned the vil­lage’s new Com­pre­hen­sive Plan, part of which is aimed at that prob­lem. “Line by line re­form of the Zon­ing Code… needs to be made to make our down­town cor­ri­dor a more vi­brant walk­ing cor­ri­dor.”

“Zon­ing rules which, as an ex­am­ple, pro­hibit restau­rants and bars from lo­cat­ing within 200 feet of an­other, would get thrown out,” he said. Park­ing re­quire­ments for es­tab­lish­ments are also tar­geted for re­form­ing, he noted.

Scaglione also ref­er­enced zon­ing changes needed to im­prove the busi­ness dis­trict, and she also de­scribed the restau­rant dis­tanc­ing reg­u­la­tions as “kind of silly.” She said rec­om­men­da­tions within the Com­pre­hen­sive Plan need to be ap­proved to make the needed changes.

That sen­ti­ment was echoed by An­druss, who said, “Zon­ing is the key.” There were a num­ber of items re­quir­ing changes that would lead to in­creas­ing busi­nesses in the down­town ar­eas, An­druss stated.

Con­vis­sor’s first re­sponse was “Ditto!” The need is also to make down­town “more walk­a­ble and bike­able,” he sug­gested and called for af­ford­able hous­ing and busi­ness rents as well as not hav­ing park­ing take up space for stores and hous­ing.

A dis­cus­sion also em­braced the ques­tion of po­lice re­form in the vil­lage. There was some crit­i­cism that Sleepy Hol­low po­lice re­form was slower and not as trans­par­ent as in other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Ro­driguez smil­ingly sug­gested that the other mu­nic­i­pal­ity might be Tar­ry­town. He had heard, he said, “Tar­ry­town hired a fa­cil­i­ta­tor to help get their process done. Un­for­tu­nately, it is ex­tremely ex­pen­sive, but it would have been bet­ter if we did.” He called it “a for­ever process. Com­mu­nity out­reach is needed, so that we have unity,” he added, re­mind­ing lis­ten­ers that re­form is a state re­quire­ment.

Scaglione af­firmed that poli­cies re­gard­ing polic­ing “have to be reval­u­ated. A ne­ces­sity.” She de­scribed meet­ings aimed at that are mak­ing progress. “The Po­lice De­part­ment is mak­ing great strides to clean it­self up,” she stated.

Con­vis­sor called po­lice ac­tions, “a cru­cial part of our lives. How po­lice re­spond to all, sorts of hap­pen­ings. Thus, trans­parency with our po­lice de­part­ment is nec­es­sary.”

“I have heard noth­ing but glow­ing re­views of the Sleepy Hol­low Po­lice De­part­ment,” An­druss de­clared. “How­ever, I am cer­tainly in fa­vor of the re­view process. And it does­n’t have to stop at the end of this cy­cle.”

The hour-and-a-half Can­di­dates Fo­rum in­cluded other ques­tions re­volv­ing around such mat­ters as safety on the streets, af­ford­abil­ity of hous­ing, and an­tic­i­pated traf­fic caused by the Edge-on-Hud­son de­vel­op­ment and other con­struc­tion.

A link to a record­ing of the full Can­di­dates Fo­rum is avail­able at https://​​watch?v=0cU­Gok98IRI.  Sleepy Hol­low vot­ers  will be able to cast bal­lots from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Tues­day, March 16th at nine polling dis­trict lo­ca­tions. Those lo­ca­tions are in­di­cated on a link found on the vil­lage’s web­site: sleepy­hol­


Sleepy Hollow Trustee Candidates Convey Views on Village Issues – The Hudson Independent Community News –

By Robert Kimmel- Each of the four candidates competing for the three open seats on the Sleepy Hollow Board of Trustees in next Tuesday’s elections have provided residents with broad views on where they stand on a variety of issues facing the village.