It is my pleasure to seek re-election as Mayor of the Village of Pelham Manor on March 19. I am honored to run with former Trustee Angela Michelle DeLillo and Trustee Joseph Senerchia, two experienced public servants whom I have known since childhood. All three of us graduated from Pelham Memorial High School, offering residents the first ticket comprised entirely of PMHS alumni in Village history. We share a commitment to effective, open and sustainable government. Our team will work diligently to continue delivering high-level services in a fiscally and environmentally responsible manner.
Pelham Manor is a historic, welcoming and well-managed Village. The Board of Trustees interacts productively with residents, visitors, service department personnel and other elected officials at all levels of government, including our state representatives. We pride ourselves on achieving a successful balance between tradition and progress. As Mayor, I have fostered a collaborative and inclusive approach to government, nominating qualified residents with diverse backgrounds to our Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board. While our employees have received some of the most sophisticated professional training available, the Village is still known for its small town charm.
I remain dedicated to promoting transparency and increasing communication with residents. In furtherance of these objectives, the Village recently launched a new website, available at www.pelhammanor.org. The site features easier navigation and access to Village personnel and elected officials through published e-mail addresses and telephone numbers. We have also increased the frequency of our Village e-mail blasts and Facebook posts and are in the process of launching on other social media outlets. In recent months, I have visited with students at Siwanoy and Prospect Hill Schools and look forward to meeting with the Pelham Seniors on March 18. As a reminder, I provide community announcements and accept public comment at each Board meeting. Following the election, I will resume my Thursday morning community radio updates at 8:25 a.m. on WVOX 1460 AM.
As Mayor, I am tremendously proud of the Village’s financial record. We have been New York State tax cap compliant during each year of my administration, and Pelham Manor continues to operate debt free. We do so through strategic planning and a measured approach to infrastructure maintenance and capital projects. We are currently preparing the tentative 2019-2020 budget and intend to present an increase of less than 2.49%, thereby remaining under the tax cap. The Village is audited monthly, and we have received a favorable rating from the New York State Comptroller, based on our available fund balance. More than half of our fund balance is unreserved. The remainder is reserved for projects such as street paving, equipment purchases, building repair, sewer maintenance and to cover uncollected taxes and tax certiorari judgments.
During my tenure, I have focused great attention on our service departments. The tremendous strides made in terms of staffing and accountability are noteworthy from my perspective as a longtime resident and former prosecutor. Pelham Manor is fortunate to have first responders who distinguish themselves with advanced training and truly impressive work in the field.
In 2018, Police Chief Jeffrey Carpenter was selected from an international field to attend the three-month FBI National Academy for law enforcement executives in Quantico, VA. There, he received specialized training in the latest police practices and procedures. Consistent with my goals, Pelham Manor police officers now make daily trips to Siwanoy and Prospect Hill Schools, promoting safety and fostering productive relationships with our youngest residents. The Village has also reinstituted the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program (DARE) with a newly certified DARE officer. This officer will work cooperatively with the department’s school liaison officer, who is also trained as a school resource officer. Residents can keep up to date with Pelham Manor police announcements via the Nixle text notification system (text 10803 to 888777 to sign up) and Facebook.
Last November, the Pelham Manor Fire Department experienced one of its greatest challenges in recent memory, confronting a two alarm fire in the historic Schuyler Park cooperative apartments at Four Corners. Pelham Manor’s career firefighters and volunteers, with mutual aid, deftly evacuated the building and contained the fire to one apartment. Our centrally located Firehouse at 4 Penfield Place affords us quick response times in critical situations where minutes count. The blaze was managed under the leadership of veteran Fire Chief Joseph Ruggiero, who regularly conducts training exercises in Westchester and coordinates practice drills with the FDNY. Chief Ruggiero also serves as Village mechanic, obviating the need for that salaried position.
Pelham Manor’s DPW performs street, sidewalk and park maintenance, as well as refuse and recycling collection, making four trips to each household per week. This department quietly serves as the lynchpin for the Village’s many impressive environmental programs, as DPW personnel also operate Pelham Manor’s recycling center on Spring Road. The center is open three days a week to drop off household recyclables, textile recyclables and electronic waste. The Village composts the organic waste collected at no cost to taxpayers and offers this compost to Village residents for free. Our refuse is processed off-site as part of an EPA and DEC regulated renewable resource program where the material is burned in a filtered environment and converted to energy. The Board regularly reviews Pelham Manor’s recycling, reuse and green initiatives to ensure that we are good stewards of the environment.
As Mayor, I remain committed to responsible revitalization, including modest zoning refinements in our business districts, to foster reasonable development with low impact on our services and schools. The Board has renewed special permits for low impact uses in the Canal Road area that generate revenue with little drain on services. We are presently reviewing a developer’s proposal to construct an e-commerce distribution center in the B-2 district at the Bronx border. The applicant is scheduled appear on April 8 at our regularly scheduled Board meeting to address concerns articulated by the Board and residents relating to traffic, aesthetics and the environment. Please join us at 8:15 p.m., if you are available.
While in office, I have worked diligently on behalf of all Pelham Manor residents. I have been honored to serve with dedicated colleagues on the Board and a talented Village administration. As the Village faces complex issues over the next two years, I will continue working to address them. I look forward to building on our record of accomplishment and continuing the momentum over the next two years.
This election provides a unique opportunity to support a team raised in Pelham Manor and committed to its future success. Michelle, Joe and I respectfully request your vote on Tuesday, March 19 at the Pelham Manor Firehouse, 4 Penfield Place.
Jennifer Monachino Lapey
Mayor, Pelham Manor