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Mayor Hanauer's Vision for Downtown—Office Space for a Fertilizer Company

Mayor Hanauer's Vision for Downtown—Office Space for a Fertilizer Company Mayor Hanauer's Vision for Downtown—Office Space for a Fertilizer Company
For a decade the Village of Ossining has owned 200 Main Street, the historic Ossining Bank for Savings at the gateway to our downtown. Why is Mayor Hanauer and most of the Village Board suddenly advocating the sale of this building to the Interoceanic Corporation for use as headquarters of their fertilizer company?  And why now, just as development is happening and our village is increasingly attractive to retail businesses?

On Wednesday, July 2, the Village Board meeting will be held at 7:30pm at the courthouse, 88 Spring Street. Mayor Hanauer and the trustees will vote on a resolution that would grant preferred developer status to the fertilizer company, allowing them 75 days exclusive rights to decide if they want to move forward with purchase of this building for their office space. Any community members who do not agree with this vision for the economic future of our downtown will have an opportunity to speak on this proposed resolution at the beginning of the meeting.  

The entire premise of the residential development that Bill Hanauer takes personal credit for at every opportunity, is that business will follow residential development.  Chapter 4 of the Village Comprehensive Plan regarding "The Downtown Crescent and Economic Development" identifies creating a "unique dining and shopping destination to attract residents and visitors, both during day and night".  How does office space at this marquis building further that objective?

It is my hope that this plan fails. What a horrible feeling—wishing for failure of an action taken by the Village Board of Trustees on which I am so honored to serve. 

I am a Village Trustee and candidate for Mayor of the Village of Ossining. However, I was unable to participate in the closed door deliberations on this decision. Why?  Because my husband is a partner in Sing Sing Kill Brewery, a NYS Farm Brewery that presented their proposal to operate a brew pub in 200 Main Street.  On June 11, I sat with several community members at this work session as we listened to three proposals presented that night. The third was from Steve Vescio, who purchased and rehabilitated the Keenan building.  To view video from this meeting, follow the link on the Meetings & Minutes page of villageofossining.org. 

When my husband Eric and his partners realized last fall that they were interested in considering 200 Main Street for their brewery, to ensure fairness for all involved, I spoke with the village manager and corporation counsel for legal guidance. I then advised my colleagues on the board of my conflict, asking that they be mindful that when they speak to me about 200 Main, I am strictly a resident and the wife of an interested party.  Having recused myself from all decision-making about this property, I speak on this as a resident who is adamantly opposed to the Mayor and trustees' decision. What were they thinking?  Did this simply seem the most expedient path?  At what cost for our future?

Did Mayor Hanauer and the trustees perform their due diligence when making this important decision that could have such dramatic impact on Ossining's economic future?  It is my understanding that financial viability was the primary reason for their decision. That raises many questions... 

What efforts did they make to confirm the fertilizer company's financing?  Why did Bill Hanauer not respond to offers by Vincent Sultana to meet with the the board to respond to questions about the financing of Sing Sing Kill Brewery?  Vince is leading the investment arm of their company and was out of town on June 11, the only date offered for presentation of proposals. He offered to attend the June 25 work session or meet off camera with any interested board members. Instead, the only information the mayor and trustees considered regarding the financial viability of the brew pub was presented by Village Manager Richard Leins who spoke with Vince on the phone. I like Richard very much personally, but as a lawyer his specialty is how to minimize risk, and as village manager his job is not to craft the long-term vision of the village. 

I don't know what was said in those closed door deliberations.  What information did Richard relay to my colleagues?  Did Bill Hanauer or any trustee request information beyond what Richard presented? What did Manager of Downtown and Economic Development Ingrid Richards say during these meetings?  Did she encourage the mayor and trustees to adequately explore more long-term economically desirable alternatives?

If you would like to comment on the future of 200 Main Street, arrive promptly at 7:30pm this Wednesday, July 2, at 88 Spring Street, the courthouse.  If you are unable to attend in-person, you can email the entire board at BOT@villageofossining.org.  You may not consider yourself to be "political", but if you care about our community's economic future, come and speak your mind. 

Regards, Victoria Gearity
Village Trustee & Candidate for Mayor

View the June 11 work session via the link on
http://www.villageofossining.org/Cit-e-Access/Meetings/?TID=24&TPID=3475

Read the Village Comprehensive Plan at
http://www.villageofossining.org/documents/planning%2520comp%2520plan/finalcompplan2009_8reduced.pdf


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