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I hope this email finds you well.
I wanted to share some thoughts with you today, for and an in depth look at all the changes in the Village, you can reference the list on the Village website at: https://www.irvingtonny.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=2108
Parks and Trails
I continue to find that getting outside and walking has been invaluable to my overall wellbeing – mentally and physically. I am very happy that we have been able to keep the parks open and trails open, but we can only do that if residents use common sense. Almost daily I receive an email or a message complaining about a group of people not social distancing, or not giving a wide berth to passersby. This seems to be especially problematic on the Croton Aqueduct Trail. Please be aware of your surroundings and your neighbors. Ensure that you leave a minimum of six feet when passing on trails. I am happy to say that most of you are using commonsense and common courtesy, thank you.
As you know, we had to close the tennis courts in Memorial Park. I live in a household that loves tennis, so this decision was not made lightly. While this was a difficult verdict, I took some solace in the fact that tennis’ governing body, the USTA, also recommends “taking a pause” from the game for now. Their statement is available here: https://www.usta.com/en/home/stay-current/national/usta-statement-on-safety-of-playing-tennis-during-the-covid-19-v.html
Being Good Neighbors
As I mentioned in the last email, the outpouring of support for our neighbors and friends has been nothing less than extraordinary. From raising money to feed our less fortunate seniors to residents procuring and buying masks for our first responders, every day I hear about something going on that not only makes me smile but makes me even more proud to live in Irvington.
There are some areas however where we need to do better. As we have mentioned before, the Department of Public Works, like all our village departments, has been divided into different teams and their work days staggered to avoid cross-exposure to potentially infected coworkers. As a result, the DPW is minimally staffed, but the Village is still providing regular garbage and recycling pickup for residents. I will add that we intend to provide these services for as long as possible. As a result of the daily staffing shortages, it was necessary to remove the garbage and recycling receptacles on Main Street (it also protects our DPW crews who should not be picking up loose garbage). We need all of you to do your part and dispose of your garbage and recycling at home, this includes, especially, your masks and disposable gloves that you have been wearing. I do not think that it is too big of a sacrifice for all of us to carry our trash home with us and not toss it on the ground. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that this is something I need to remind anyone of but here we are.
Another topic is the use of leaf blowers. While this is a debate that has gone on for years and I do not want to address it during a global pandemic, I do want people to treat each other well. Last week, at my direction, Village Administrator Schopfer contacted all the landscapers that work in the Village and asked them to suspend use of leaf blowers until the stay at home orders are lifted. I am now asking residents to do the same. While everyone is home, we do not need to have particulate blown everywhere, and frankly there is no reason for the use of leaf blowers to the extent I have seen them used. Additionally, the Irvington Police Department has more important things to do than respond to “leaf blower calls” thus I am not instituting a formal ban at this time, but I will if we do not see voluntary compliance. Again, it is a minor sacrifice, if a sacrifice at all, to not be able to blow leaves at this trying time.
The Board of Trustees, along with Village staff led by Clerk/Treasurer Brenda Jeselnik, has been working on the 2020/2021 budget for the last several months, holding multiple budget hearings with various department heads. The tentative budget can be found here: https://www.irvingtonny.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=2122 . Tonight at 7pm we will be holding a virtual public hearing to discuss the budget once again. While I am very proud to once again be presenting a responsible, repeatable budget with a potential tax increase of less than 1%, I am afraid that we will have more work to do in the next days and weeks as we have to reexamine revenue projections due to the COVID-19 crisis. We are still very much committed to adopting a final budget that is sustainable, responsible and has, at most, a minimal tax increase, all while maintaining critical services.
Every ten years, the United States Constitution requires that the federal government complete a full count of everyone living in the country, 2020 is one of those census years. Ten years ago, approximately 75% of Irvington households responded to the census, I know we can do better than that. This year we have nothing but time, so, PLEASE complete your census, it can be completed online in under ten minutes. It is critically important that we have an accurate account for things such as the allocation of federal funding, proper representation in Congress and, locally, the proper allocation of Westchester County sales tax revenue.
This is a very trying time on all of us and the next two weeks may be the darkest yet. As the bright colors of spring remind us, out of the darkness and gloom of winter comes light and beauty. This is all temporary and I like to think that our friendships and relationships are being forged by this great test to be stronger and more precious than ever before. I know I will never forget the compassion and concern for neighbors that I have seen displayed in this Village over the last month. Please continue to be kind and thoughtful. While we are apart physically, we have never been closer than we are today.
Brian C. Smith, Mayor