The Village Green
Newsletter of the Village of Pomona
From the Mayor's Desk
I hope that this communication finds you and your family safe and warm, despite the harsh winter. With this in mind, I wanted to share with you some items regarding your Village:
Village Elections - Don't Forget to Vote!!!
President Franklin D. Roosevelt once stated that "Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting."
Village elections will take place on WEDNESDAY, March 18, 2015 from 6 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. at Pomona Village Hall, 100 Ladentown Road, Pomona, NY.
Personnel Changes in Pomona Village Hall
In the fall of 2014, there were several resignations within our Village government. This included a Village Trustee, Clerk, and Treasurer. And when an opportunity for cost containment and improvements presents itself, most well-run entities, seize upon the opportunity for improvements. This we have done, without sacrificing the services that our residents have come to expect and require.
In November 2014, Frances Arsa Artha was appointed to fill the vacancies created by the resignations of the Village Clerk and Village Treasurer. A meticulously detailed individual, Fran comes to us with a background in business management and tax accounting, has a degree in accounting, and is in the process of fulfilling the requirements for Enrolled Agent status with the Internal Revenue Service. Starting a new job is a daunting task; however, Fran is a quick study and has been working with one of our former appointees (Treasurer) to maintain consistency in our financial reporting and record keeping. We are all confident that based on her initial months with the Village, she will continue to be a vital and integral asset to our Village government.
In October 2014, Nicholas G. Wilson was appointed as Village Trustee. His appointment came as a result of the resignation of Rita Louie, who recently contracted to manage a large tenant coordination project in NYC and was "...finding it nearly impossible to keep up with the daily regular chores, let alone also pay attention to Village business." Trustee Wilson has always strived to serve his community, both in the public and private sectors. In the public sector, he served for over 22 years with the NYC Police Department, having received training from the US Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, the NYS Emergency Management Office, and NYPD Intelligence Division. A retired Lieutenant in the Counter-Terrorism Patrol Services division, he now works in the private security sector. He has served on the Village of Pomona Zoning Board of Appeals, in addition to assisting the Recreation Committee with various child-friendly events. His love of both sports and community has led him to coach and referee as well. We are all looking forward to him continuing to serve the Village and its residents.
In November 2013, Louis Zummo joined our staff as our part-time Building Inspector. He joined us at an interesting juncture in our Village history as both the Zoroastrian and Sri Ranganatha Temples (both mentioned herein) were embarking on major capital renovations projects. Mr. Zummo has completed all the required state certifications and is also a certified Code and Fire Inspector. While the Village does have another [primary] Code and Fire Marshall, Mr. Zummo is able to assist in Code and Fire Inspections. He approaches his job with respect, accuracy, and attention to detail to ensure full compliance and residential safety. He is able to utilize all the tools at his disposal in order to complete his analysis and in special instances, has brought-in experts from the NYS State Buildings and Codes department.
Briefly, in July 2007, the Congregation Rabbinical College of Tartikov Inc. filed suit against the Village and its elected Trustees in U.S. Federal Court claiming violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), Fair Housing, and complaints that our local laws were discriminatory. Rather than the Plaintiffs submitting an application, which all property owners must do for any proposed development, the Plaintiffs (Tartikov) instead started a lawsuit in Federal Court. Depositions (sworn statements) of Defendants (the Village and its elected/appointed officials) and the Plaintiffs were scheduled and held during the summer of 2014. More the 40 people were deposed on both sides, including former and current Village officials, the Village Attorney, and others. Here is where we stand now:
- Once depositions were concluded, our attorneys were able to make a motion for Summary Judgment to the Court. What this means is that we must prove to the Court that there is no material fact in dispute and that based upon the law, Tartikovís lawsuit against us should be dismissed. Memoranda of law supporting the Villageís position were submitted. Hundreds of pages of exhibits and affidavits were produced. What we have shown to the Court, and what our Village community already knew, is that despite the allegations raised by Plaintiffs (Tartikov), the Village and its officials never engaged in discriminatory acts against anyone and that our laws are applicable to all, are facially neutral, and that Plaintiffs (Tartikov) have produced no facts to support their claims against the Village.
- At the same time, our attorneys are responding to Plaintiff's motion for Summary Judgment, which also involves Memoranda of Law, affidavits, factual statements and exhibits.
There is no question that the costs associated with this litigation have been exponential and unfortunately, our taxes will more than likely rise again (at least in the short-term). Fortunately, through surplus, we have been able to mitigate a large portion of the costs associated with our legal expenses, by amassing a surplus that was utilized to defray the costs so the impact would be less severe.
The Walmart Project, aka Minisceongo Park Project
Over the past several years, the Village filed suit against the Town of Haverstraw, Town of Ramapo, and Mt Ivy Partners, LLC (the developer of the proposed 'Walmart' Shopping Center) regarding the proposed development across from David's Bagels and the Mt Ivy Gulf Station. Environmental issues, traffic, procedural illegalities, amendments to town law for a specific developer, proposed use, self-created hardships, violation of town scenic law, as well as community character are but some of the issues that we raised. In fact, our points are so good, that one of the respondents (defendants) being sued has utilized these same points in another lawsuit with another adjoining municipality. Sometimes it's smaller government that sees the larger picture. And while tax ratables help to achieve the overall municipal goal at providing services while oversetting those costs, it must be balanced. Such is not the case here. We are still awaiting a court decision.
Water. Clean water. Vital to our very existence. Something that comprises up to 65% of the adult human body. And something that needs to be protected for our continued survival.
Recently, the Village of Pomona supported a petition submitted by ROSA to the NYS DEC to take jurisdiction over an additional 14+ acres of contiguous wetlands on the Patrick Farm. This has been a long-fought fight, and while we have known for many years that these wetlands existed, it was only through the continued efforts of ROSA and the Village, that these wetlands were identified. The Village supports the protection of these vital wetlands which are of unique and intrinsic value, which are necessary to help prevent flooding, protect wildlife, reduce water pollution as well as protect the health, safety and welfare of Pomona residents.
Over the past three years most Village residents have seen a flat tax, a decrease, and then an increase in their Village taxes. And while cost containment is an ever present presence in every decision, safety, service levels, infrastructure improvements, the protection of our environment and quality of life, continue to be a priority of this administration. The Village budgets that were approved provided a solid foundation for achieving these results, while being cognizant of the current economic conditions, and being respectful of our fellow Village residents. However, as previously noted, our taxes will more than likely (and unfortunately) rise somewhat this year. We are anticipating that this is a short-term occurrence. However, be aware that there have been and will continue to be improvements made that will be seen by Village residents.
Capital Improvements in the Village
Over the past year, you have seen a number of improvements around the Village. These have included:
- Tennis Courts at Van den Hende Park (off Beaver Dam Road)
- Fairty Pond at Secor Park (clean-up and gravel path restoration)
- Burgess Meredith Park (equipment rehabilitation, clean-up, and gravel path restoration
- General clean-up of Village right-of-ways
- Back-up generator at Village Hall
- New fencing at Village Hall
- Our new Welcome to the Village of Pomona signs
In the coming months, a significant re-investment in our shared infrastructure is being explored. This will potential include exploring and securing bonds to repave our roads, as the price of oil, a primary component of asphalt, is at an all-time low. Additionally, I have reached out to our County, State, and Federally elected representatives to provide the Village with assistance regarding the roads on the top of the mountain in Pomona. For those who are unaware, since the Winter of 2007-2008, through a series of yearly Emergency Declarations, the Village of Pomona has incurred costs related to pre-storm, during, and post-storm related activities on these undedicated roads. This is to ensure ingress not only for Village residents residing on these streets, but Rockland County Emergency Services, and other State/Federal agencies, should accessibility to a Primary Component located on Cheesecote Mountain be required during either a County, Regional, State or National emergency.
Tennis Anyone? – Village Tennis Courts – Van den Hende Park (Beaver Dam Road)
For those of you who might be unaware, our Village has four (4) parks (both Passive and Non-Passive). In one of the non-passive parks, van den Hende, the Village has two (2) beautifully resurfaced tennis courts which can be enjoyed by Village residents and their guests. Constructed with top quality material and painted in US Open Blue and White, these courts are a true gem. To ensure that only Village Residents are utilizing these courts, you will need to come to Village Hall to obtain a key for the courts (deposit required). Besides this continued wonderful asset to our Village, an additional bonus is that the vast majority of monies utilized to refurbish these courts were paid for by entities other than the Village taxpayers (i.e., monies paid by Developers that were designated 'Monies in Lieu of Land') for large developments.
Fabric of Our Village Community – Staying in Pomona
- Since March 2001, the Darbe Mahre Zoroastrian Temple (DMZT) congregation has called the Village of Pomona home. Located on the site of the former Pomona Jewish Center (circa 1967) on Pomona Road, the DZMT congregation determined several years back that an aging facility would neither deter them from calling the Village home nor deter them from practicing their faithís tenets of "Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds." And so, in March 2014, after many years of planning and fundraising, the DZMT Congregation, as well as the entire NY area Zoroastrian Community, and invited guests, celebrated with a groundbreaking ceremony for what will eventually be the New Arbab Rustam Guiv Darbe Mehr temple. The beginnings of this new temple are now visible on Pomona Road. Photo credit: Tania Savayan, The Journal News
- Since 1998, the Sri Ranganatha Temple Congregation has also called the Village of Pomona home. Over the years, thousands of devotees have visited the temple and worshipped here. For the past several years, the Congregation has embarked (amongst other things) on several capital renovation projects including the modernization of public areas and upgrading and weather proofing the temple roof. Perhaps, the most visible of these projects, was the replacement and re-dedication of the golden dome, known as the Vimanam Tower on the temple's roof. Located on Ladentown Road, the Congregation has always offered, and continues to offer help to anyone who is in need of assistance. All one needs to do is call or stop by. And as always, you will be greeted with the familiar and welcoming 'Namaste' greeting (rough translation - ("The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit within you").
So, what makes the fabric of our Village community strong, brilliant, resilient, and vibrant? 1) When our quality of life is not diminished or stripped from us; 2) When we not only listen, but hear what our neighbors our saying; 3) When we form bonds through our Village events (education, cultural (Pomona Cultural Center), etc.) and get to know our neighbors as friends; 4) When we lead others in the protection of our natural resources by challenging irresponsible over development that affects the air and water we all need. 5) When we protect our past, like in the instances of Noel Fernandez having her family's property placed on the state and national register, Joni Anger's efforts with the Preservation of the Ladentown Church, Ellie Litman's efforts on Historic preservation committee, and Barbara Pollitt's efforts on the Heritage Herb Farm on the Burgess Meredith property. Quiet persistent leaders, like these, are amongst us. Please help and join in and continue to save our history and be a part of the Village's History. So please, enjoy your Pomona. Past and Present, and please consider helping out so that future generations can enjoy it as well.
With best regards,
Mayor - Village of Pomona
P.S. - We have many Village events planned for the upcoming seasons, including the Pomona Music Festival tentatively being scheduled for September 2015. To help assist us and defray costs, and to be the first to know, please sign-up through the 'Contact Us' on our Village website. In this manner, we can send out an email blast and information you of these events at no cost, or limited cost events. I look to forward to seeing you at one, or all, of these events.
People to People
In October 2014, emails blasts were distributed, the Village Kiosk updated, and Pomona Village Hall became the drop-off location for the Pomona Supports People-to-People food drive. After several weeks, however, nothing was dropped off. So the Pomona Supports People to People organizer (Lynn Parsons Yagel), made a suggestion to go to the source. And so, on the weekend before Thanksgiving, Mayor Yagel, his wife, daughter, Trustee Wilson, and several friends stood outside Stop and Shop and collected enough food to fill the upstairs Village Board Meeting Room. It's amazing what our Village community achieved. Thank you!
Tuesday Night Yoga Classes
For those of you who would like to get back in shape, every Tuesday night (weather permitting), Yoga classes are held at Pomona Village Hall. The one hour class begins at 7:15 PM. All you have to do is bring a Yoga mat and wear comfortable clothes suitable for exercise. Classes are free for Village residents and based on space availability non-residents may join for $10. Instructor: Charlese Randolph. Hope you can join us! Beginners welcome.
Coffee with the Mayor
In September, Mayor Yagel hosted a Coffee with the Mayor at Pomona Village Hall. This type of gathering affords residents the opportunity to sit with the Mayor in an informal setting. If you are unable to come and discuss your issues at a Village Meeting, or are unable to attend a Coffee with the Mayor, you can always send Mayor Yagel an Email at email@example.com or call Village Hall and leave a message. The next coffee with the Mayor is scheduled for Sunday, March, 22, 2015, at 9a.m., weather permitting.
Grand Fondo New York 2015 - Sunday May 17th
Gran Fondo New York offers riders a challenging 100 mile route with 8,000 feet of climbing, including a climb up Bear Mountain. The ride is in the style of European cyclosportive, which is not a race, but includes a number of timed climbs and prizes for the fastest cyclists. The 2015 Gran Fondo New York will be held on Sunday, May 17th 2015. As in past years, Gran Fondo NY cyclists will be passing through the Village between 9:30 am and 2:15 pm. Go out and cheer them on!
Calling All Volunteers
One of the key ingredients to our Village's success has always been the Volunteers who have assisted us with our various events, committees, and causes. Whether it be the Pomona Music Festival, the Children's Halloween party (a big Thank You this past year goes to: Patti Wilson, Kay Olive-Kelly, Mary Ann Fenton & Rory Wilson, Chelsea and Kathryn Yagel, Samantha and Sabrina Loughman, Bryan Garbutt, Nicholas, Patricia and Ava Wilson, Tjokorda Gde Arsa Artha, and Rhoda, Fiona and Maia Zingale), the annual Children's Fish-in (Jeff Rosen and Burt Singer), donating time, artistic talents or items (Martin Joffee), donating their professional services for heating and A/C at Village Hall (Jeff Rosen) or serving on one of our boards a (i.e., Historical - Ellie Littman, Joni Anger, Suzanne Kernan, and Noel Fernandez), this helps to make us a better community. If I missed someone, my apologies. We are always seeking volunteers and suggestions in order to continue the tradition of making ours a better community.
Summer Outdoor (Children's Movies) - Suggestions Welcome
Over the past several years, Trustee Leon Harris has undertaken running the childrenís Summer Outdoor Movie events on the Great Lawn at Pomona Village Hall. Some past showings have included: Frozen, Secretariat, Major League, Up, Rio 2, and others. This is a free event for all. Village residents and guests usually bring lawn chairs and blankets. We are currently in the planning stages so please, send in your suggestions. Sign-up for Email alerts so that when the movies and dates are finalized, you'll be the first to know. Additionally, suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep Rockland (and Pomona) Beautiful
From April through May, thousands of your friends and neighbors will be out to clean up and beautify Rockland during the Great American Cleanup. Join fellow local residents and other volunteers, in a county-wide effort with Keep Rockland Beautiful. If you are interested in participating for a few hours, or please send in an email to our Village Clerk, Fran Arsa Artha at email@example.com or call Pomona Village Hall at (845) 354-0545.