JEROLOMAN WINS TOP SPOT IN BLOOMING GROVE
By Edie Johnson
Stepping up from 6 uncontested terms as Mayor of the Village of South Blooming Grove, Rob Jeroloman will soon take on the leadership duties for nearly 20,000 residents in a town whose populace includes a broad mix, with a growing component of NYC commuters, local business entrepreneurs, farmers, equestrians, and former and present NYPD/FDNY members some of which moved here after 9/11. Jeroloman belongs to the former as a NYC detective of over 20 years. Voter turnout was high, and the final tally will probably show a new record. Tight with his work team he is frequently out, alongside them on some kind of construction or engineering project, if not working on the budget, legal issues or the new comprehensive plan.
Blooming Grove’s new Comprehensive Plan has been updated this year, with an eye toward smart growth and protection of rural character. Both villages are updating theirs as well. The push for a more advantageous tax base has resulted in several large new businesses, including Mediacom Headquarters, a Sleep Inn, and rezoning as Light Industry its portion of the 258- acre Central Orange Development Area shared with the Town of Chester. The town’s new Comprehensive Plan will include exploration of a PDR (Purchase of Development Rights) plan to protect remaining farmland and open space. Tourism is growing, with the land around the iconic Moodna Trestle, the popular Long Path and Highland Trail providing spectacular views that connect to the Appalachian Trail. The Gateway watersheds and valley include 5 protective overlays.
Some challenges Jeroloman will face as Supervisor include continued management of the town’s rich resources of the Schunnemunk Ridge and valley, and protecting the town’s aquifer and the waters of the Moodna Creek. Some old infrastructure pipes in South Blooming Grove have infiltration issues and are being replaced. But with one of the biggest wind and rain storms since Hurricane Irene occurring last week, there was good news that the many flood mitigation measures taken in recent years seem to have been right on the mark since there was no significant flooding or ponding. Roads were clear and safe throughout the town and both villages by morning.
Washingtonville, the larger of Blooming Grove’s two villages, is experiencing a rebirth with the historic renovation of Moffat Library and a new park on the former FEMA floodplain. This month they held ribbon-cutting at a smartly financed (by grant and low- and no-interest loans) wastewater treatment plant upgrade and expansion. With villagers eagerly instituting Placemaking initiatives, business is thriving.
Asked his vision for the town, Jeroloman said the following:
“The new Comprehensive Plan is important, especially with regard to protecting our aquifer from being depleted. This will be important both to provide services and to sustain safe growth. We can bring in new jobs and increased tourist trade, especially with the attractions we have, like the Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville and the new Sleep Inn in South Blooming Grove, but the use of water resources has to be monitored.”
“I am hoping that with the rezoning of former Camp LaGuardia (Central Orange Development Area) we can bring in some clean rateables, like solar, which can help provide both energy and tax relief.”
Asked if as the new Supervisor he intends on following through with a contemplated expansion of the Town Hall, Jeroloman said he will walk the building with the town’s engineer and revisit what might be done by reorganizing, and see how much space can be saved digitizing of the town’s large collection of old records. He said he has already spoken to some experts and “There’s a good chance there would be some grant money available for digitizing and document storage through Iron Mountain.”
With new Placemaking efforts in Washingtonville, and interest as well as voter turnout increasing throughout the Town of Blooming Grove, residents have been very active. Asked how town meetings will keep a balance with the increasing number of people seeking dialogue. He responded, “My leadership style will be the same as it has always been. Sometimes people go to great effort to attend meetings, and they will be encouraged to speak ……..just as long as its productive.”