Washingtonville Mayor Bucco Opens Discussion on Village Future
By Eugenia Moskowitz
A special open meeting was held by the Washingtonville village board on April 23 for the purpose of, as Mayor Joe Bucco said to an audience of over 30 people, “Better envision the village we all live in.” His proposal in opening this discussion (the first of many, he said), was to outline the creation of a Celebratory Historic Downtown and a revamping of the village’s archaic 1995 zoning. Bucco said the historic area would be village-determined since Washingtonville does not have a recognized historic center yet does have historic buildings within the area he is proposing from approximately the Corner Candle Store on 208 to Brotherhood Winery up North Street, and from Joann’s Florist on West Main to Metamorphosis on East Main. The civic-cultural activity hubs of Moffat Library and Brotherhood Winery (which brings people in for weddings and other large events) are vital to drawing people to the village’s center, Bucco said, as he asked for input from the public.
In the summer of 2016, Bucco had organized an open meeting to discuss a “vision” for the future of Washingtonville, which instantly gained traction and was carried forward that fall by the Placemaking initiative which in 2017 revitalized the village with a busy schedule of successful community events (such as Witchingtonville and the Easter Egg Hunt). Chamber of Commerce events were also improved upon. This meeting furthered those original ideas with concrete zoning changes and comprehensive plan adjustments (currently being worked on) in order to, Bucco said, “Enhance the integrity of the village, not change it.” The current zoning of office/residential, and the over 20-year-old Comprehensive Plan does not comply with the current needs of the village, he said, which has grown threefold since 1995. He said the village needs to adequately control future land-use policies to maintain community character, quality of life, and civic pride. This includes the preservation and renovation of the village’s historic buildings; the aesthetic appearance of properties, streets, and sidewalks within this designated downtown area; traffic congestion (working with the state regarding 208 and 94); shade trees; the character of any new buildings; keeping signage lighting and storefront facades aesthetically pleasing; and addressing the growing community’s needs including community facilities, parks, recreation, and the police force needed to protect them. Bucco said, “Warwick started 30 years ago. We started only one year ago.”
Due to the current board’s smartly-managed finances and budgeting, village taxes went down and these initiatives are all cost-neutral. Regarding parks and recreation, Vern Allen Park and the playground part of Memorial Park is being infused with grant money and, via a public committee of board members and moms which has been designing them, will be amended to be fully inclusive. The new Sewell Community Park across from the middle school is currently in construction.
For further specific details about Bucco’s presentation regarding the village center’s current office/residential zoning and specifics regarding promoting other types of dwellings which are beneficial and restricting those which are not beneficial to the community’s character — including graphics, powerpoint slides, and further specifications — please visit the village website at http://www.washingtonville-ny.gov or stop in at Village Hall; hours are Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm, and the second and third Saturdays of the month from 9am to 12 noon. Please visit the village website to contact the mayor and board trustees via their phone extensions. Videos of every meeting can also be viewed by clicking on the link to the village’s YouTube channel.