By Keith S. Shikowitz

People are constantly complaining that our representatives in the government allow politics to govern their way of doing things, and, as a result, it doesn’t do the job it’s supposed to for the people of the community. That’s not the case on the local level. The Trustees and Mayor of West Haverstraw spent the Village Council meeting on January 16 seeing to it that improvements and safety of the people in the community are on the top of the list of things for them to complete. In the process, it seems like some of these initiatives will save and bring money into the village treasury.

As technology progresses, old software and websites become outdated and need to be modernized to keep up with the times. The council approved a proposal from Revize to develop and support the village website, which is going to cost $11,700. Improvements to the website should make it easier for people to navigate to find what they need.

Two major concerns people have are having decent street lights so they can see clearly at night while walking or driving, and the condition of the roads they’re driving on with those lights beaming down on them. “I’m asking for a motion to authorize Orange and Rockland to convert the street lights from the current style to the LED lights,” said Mayor Robert D’Amelio. “This was also anticipated. We’re doing our homework. I know, Ramon, Cathy and Johnny have been going to meetings for what seems like forever with due diligence. I know the Town of Haverstraw and the Village of Haverstraw are going to follow suit.” The cost of the conversion is going to be $42,933.62.

When roads are repaired, there’s asphalt debris that needs to be disposed of. During the last couple of years as the Village had redone a lot of roads, and according to D’Amelio, it was more roads than they have ever done: “Years ago, there was a major demand for the debris after milling them.” The Village was able to get rid of some of it from the Samsondale Avenue Bridge Project, which is open for use again. Unfortunately, they still have some—400 tons—to get rid of. “That sounds like a lot,” D’Amelio said. “We can’t just give it away. We have had some people inquire about it, we’re going to declare it a surplus, which will allow us to auction this off and we’ll see what happens.”

In New York City, if you block the box in an intersection, you can get a ticket because you’re impeding the flow of traffic. In the Village, there are two areas that are problematic: Route 9W and Kennedy Drive and Railroad Avenue and Cosgrove Avenue. To keep the traffic flowing, a public hearing was held and the “Don’t Block the Box” measure was passed.

Many municipalities, especially major cities, have a problem with absentee landlords. A lot of times, their buildings are in need of repair and they can’t be reached to take care of the problems. Another problem is they may have sold the property and the new owner isn’t known to the local government and can’t be contacted when problems arise. The West Haverstraw Council passed amendments to Chapter 186 Rental Property Law. “The law has glitches in it, which need to be fixed. This law will require the owner to give the Village notice of their ownership of the property. It also requires addresses so we can reach them when problems arise,” Edwards said.
Many landlords use post office boxes as their address. “We need more than a PO Box,” Edwards stated. “A PO Box is a box to nowhere.” The amendments provide for giving 30 days notice of renewal of leases and change of ownership of the property. “We’re unable to give notice and can’t enforce the law and file complaints if we can’t contact the owner,” Edwards stated.

These days, everyone is worried about and watching what their credit rating is doing. Municipalities are no different. Catherine B. Kopf, Village Treasurer reported on the Village’s financial health. “The bond report from Moody’s for the Village on the financial condition was quite favorable. There’s potential for community development. The credit report mentioned the $2.5 million bond sale showing stability in the village.”

Residents of North Wayne Avenue brought up the continuing problems with noise and other issues coming from the Carol Avenue industrial area. “If I start my lawn mower at 7 a.m., I will get a summons,” Mike Nemeth stated. “But these trucks and other vehicles in the industrial area make noise and nothing is done.”

Edwards responded to Nemeth’s concern: “The time of day they can operate is in the site plan and there are restrictions placed to regulate the time.” Traffic issues that will be prevalent when the light industrial area is built were also raised, as well as the ongoing issue of Johns to Go (JTG) and the smell that’s nauseating them. “Johns to Go is due back in court in two weeks,” Fred Viohl, building inspector, said. “TheVvillage is issuing new violations for the tenant AND the landlord.”

Edwards restated the intent that JTG will be leaving in May, better April. Nemeth reiterated that the problem there was the smell and sound. “I hear the beeping of the back-up alarms at 6 a.m. and the smell lingers in the house and my car.”

With all of that, the Village took $12,340 in fines paid to the Village and Associated Village courts.

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