Village of Dobbs Ferry Election for Mayor
Allegra Dengler's answers to a questionnaire presented to Dobbs Ferry Mayoral candidates by the Sierra Club's Lower Hudson Group.
Q1:What should be done to preserve open space in Dobbs Ferry?
Allegra: The public overwhelmingly voted for a $3 million bond that would be used to preserve open space. I was a founding member of the Dobbs Ferry Open Space Coalition that got that bond issue on the ballot and successfully promoted it to the public.
Since then I have been Trustee liaison to the Open Space Committee which has established criteria and identified property to acquire. The Committee recommended that Paul Gallay of the Westchester Land Trust be brought in as a consultant to make contact with owners of property that might be of interest to the Village to acquire with this bond money. They specifically recommended that the Board hire Mr Gallay to talk to the owner of 145 Palisades St, a significant waterfront property threatened with development. The Committee recommended that the Village acquire a Conservation Easement on waterfront property there. The Board approved Mr Gallay's fee schedule but did not bring him in. Instead, the current Mayor with his majority on the Board hired the former Village manager to negotiate the exchange of Village property (Village garage site) for a strip of waterfront property in connection with a 280 unit condo development. This was done behind closed doors without input from the public or Trustees.
There are also improvements to our codes that I have advocated that would result in preservation of open space. One example is my proposal to work with the Ardsley Country Club to change the zoning there to Recreational Zoning, as was done successfully in Mamaroneck. The Board has opposed this.
Q2: How should Dobbs Ferry handle the Wickers Creek conservation easement?
Allegra: The Village of Dobbs Ferry should take seriously its responsiblity as holder of the Wickers Creek Conservation Easement. I worked very hard with the Friends of the Wickers Creek Archeological Site (FOWCAS) to amend the conservation easement to allow the public to walk on it and to create links which would allow the public to get to the beach area. If the 145 Palisades property is protected, the links will also allow a footbridge which will create a pathway for people at The Landing development to walk to the train easily, rather than driving a congested mile and fighting for a parking space in our train parking lot.
I also was alone in pressing for remediation of a slope collapse of one portion of the Wickers Creek ravine. As a result of my persistent efforts, the developer stabilized the slope and created a $100,000 bond fund in case of similar collapses in the next 5 years.
Last summer, the developer put fences on the Conservation Easement without notifying the Village as required by the Conservation Easement. When notified of this breach of the agreement, the Mayor asked the Village's consultant to address the issue. Mr Jim Ryan defended the fences and gave no reason for not informing the Board. I asked that the consultant ask the developer to remove the fences, but did not have the support of the Mayor and Board. Mr Ryan was supposed to report back to the Board after meeting with the developer about removing the fences, but has not done so to date, many months later. One of the fences, illegally built into the Hudson River, has been partially demolished by the ice.
I continue to advocate for working with the new homeowners, the Village and students to work together on a clean-up and habitat restoration project of the currently littered and degraded habitat. The current Mayor and Board do not support these initiatives, and respond to discussion of the Conservation Easement with inaction.
Q3: What should be done to improve energy conservation in the village? Do you favor using alternative energy sources? For example, Croton is looking at purchasing energy created by wind power.
Allegra: I favor bringing in NYPA to do an energy audit for our new library to determine what can be done to reduce the considerable heating and cooling costs. Energy use was not a priority during the design and planning of the library. I have also advocated for energy conservation measures in the new public works garage currently in the planning stage, with more success. The architect has talked with NYPA and made some improvements as a result.
I would ask for an internal energy audit to see what could be done to reduce municipal energy use. I am very interested in Croton's purchase of wind energy and Greenburgh's new law requiring energy conservation measures in new construction and would seek to take such actions in Dobbs Ferry.
Q4: Can the Dobbs Ferry recycling program be improved? If so, how?
Allegra: I would work with the Dept of Public Works to determine a baseline of how much recycling we do now and seek ways to increase the amount recycled. This might entail public education, enforcement or new DPW procedures that would make it easier for people to recycle. It is currently difficult for people to recycle some items, such as batteries.
Q5: Can steps be taken to cut the amount of salt being used on highways? For example, Yorktown Heights has drastically cut salt use by spaying a salt solution on roads instead of applying salt crystals. What can Dobbs Ferry do?
Allegra: I brought the Yorktown Heights solution to the attention of the Board of Trustees and the Building Dept, but there was no follow-through by the Mayor. Meanwhile, the head of our DPW was interviewed on Ch 2 as saying that we have had to use so much salt this year, we have almost exhausted our salt budget. Beyond that, by inspection there is more salt being used on our streets than in previous years, with resulting damage to cars, plantings and road surfaces. I have asked for a report on salt use and budget for the next Board meeting.
Q6: What steps, if any, should be taken to limit the application of pesticides in the village?
Allegra: A year and a half ago, a Village employee sprayed a pesticide at the train station which caused illness in a susceptible allergic person on the platform. Village staff was subsequently reminded of procedures. I would work to inplement IPM (integrated pest management) policies by the municipality.
Q7: Can Dobbs Ferry do more to control stormwater drainage, which pollutes the Hudson River?
Allegra: We are now required under the new Storm Water Management rules to do a lot more to control stormwater runoff. The Village in the past has seen development take place with inadequate stormwater management in place during construction, resulting in erosion and soil runoff into the storm drains. I would work to insure that the staff gets all the necessary training to meet the new standards, and that our zoning codes be revised to reflect the new standards, to give our Boards the authority to enforce proper management of stormwater.
Q8: In light of development pressures, do you think that village zoning laws are adequate to protect the environment? Should they be changed?
Allegra: I'm liaison to both the Arichitectural Review Board and the Planning Board, and as such know first hand the problems our obsolete codes cause for our Village. The current zoning laws are very problematic to the environment as well as everyone who has to deal with them-applicants, neighbors, the Village and our Boards. A member of our Zoning Board has described them as "an embarrassment" and a Trustee from a neighboring Village was quoted as saying you could "drive a hummer" through Dobbs Ferry codes.
As liasion to the ad hoc Land Use Committee, I have been advocating for a rewrite of our outdated codes. We have just been successful in writing an RFP for zoning code rewrite. The Board approved sending it out for bid at the last meeting. I am concerned that the Board will not approve putting the money for the needed rewrite in the budget. I will advocate for putting the money in the budget for this, as well as applying for grants to help with this effort.
We need revisions to our steep slope law which does not protect steep slopes. We need protection for stream banks in our codes. We also need improvement of our tree preservation law. I have worked with the CAB to improve our Tree Preservation Law but it is still in Committee.
Q9: What needs to be done to ensure the quantity and quality of Dobbs Ferry’s drinking water?
Allegra: Dobbs Ferry uses the same water as NYC, so my efforts have been to protect that water supply. I have opposed the Millennium Pipeline in part because of its threat the the Kensico watershed as well as the proximity to the Bryn Mahr siphon of the aqueduct in Yonkers. I have also worked to close the Indian Point nuclear power plants in part because of the catastrophic impact a release of radiation there would have on the drinking water reservoirs that provide our water.
Q10: Do you have any particular accomplishments or opinions relating to environmental protection – not identified above – that you would like to address?
Allegra: There are many opportunities to create policy at the local level that protects the environment. This is especially true in New York State which is a home rule state. So many of our decisions have an impact on the quality of our air, our water and the living earth we superimpose our real estate on. In the short term, there are human benefits of a better quality of life, healthier families and in many cases a lower cost to the taxpayer (using less pesticides, recycling more, and energy conservation are three examples of measures that save money).