The following letter was published in this week’s issue of the Gazette.
To the editor:
The Katz is out of the bag. After months of rumor and speculation, the Board of Trustees have deigned to let a few select friends know what is going to happen with the village property which is the focus of the rezoning. Last week, the plan for development of the Katz property was finally told to the bottom level of citizens.
Croton has three levels of citizenship, as seen in the current re-zoning project discussion. At the peak are people like Ann Gallelli and Richard Masur: the ones whose vision will be imposed. Below that are people like Messrs. Doyle, Brumleve, and Kauderer: those who may whisper into the ears of Party leadership. At the bottom are folks like Mr. Schuerman: those who by the grace of Party leadership are granted a private audience for the purpose of being told what will happen in Croton.
Most readers of this newspaper don’t fall into any of those categories. They may be residents of Croton, but they are not citizens of Croton. They don’t participate in the actual decisions except to dutifully applaud and give a veneer of democracy. All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
Remember the village meeting a few months ago? Ms. Gallelli told us (The Gazette, week of March 28/April 8) at the time: “last week Croton’s Village Board began a discussion with residents.” We were told of a taxpayer-funded $75,000 consultant study that would seek input. We were treated to a PowerPoint and they humored us with earnest expressions of thoughtfulness as audience members got up and spoke. Remember the consultant firm employee who circled around taking photos of us? It wasn’t because we were a particularly attractive group, nor because of our cutting-edge fashion. It was to build a record so that if there is a lawsuit about re-zoning, the Board of Trustees can show a judge that they followed procedure.
Croton residents were literally were reduced to stage props at a dog and pony show. The fix was in, and unless you are in the tiny group in the second-tier of Croton citizenship you would not have known the ending.
It was only with the release of the May 21 minutes of the Bicycle Pedestrian Committee that we learned of the private audience which Ms. Gallelli granted to a member of the BPC where Ms. Gallelli said that the Katz “rezoning will include increasing structure from 2 1/2 stories to 3 stories” and various other details.
I am not clear as to why some are chosen to be informed and most are not. Membership in a specific political party seems to be a necessary but not sufficient condition. Nor am I clear as to why the BPC is now the go-to source for information on the disposition and development of village property, but since that is the case, there needs to be transparency. The BPC is advocating for various measures, but the only one which we know about is the BPC view that parking requirements for new businesses should be reduced or eliminated. This is a significant step, as people living on Young Avenue can attest. We don’t know what other goals for new development the BPC is working on, since those are being discussed by email and not in public session.
Almost every Monday, there is a public session of the Board of Trustees. Those sessions are televised and available online. Croton politicians need to start conducting business during those televised sessions. They need to inform the citizens of Croton during those televised sessions. We should not have to rely on private meetings with hand-chosen constituents being disclosed in minutes of the Bicycle Pedestrian Committee.
In the meantime, be sure to dress nice when you go to the next dog and pony show at the Harmon firehouse. You don’t get a session fee unless you are in the union, but you do get to be part of the live performance.