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Update from the Mayor
STATE OF THE VILLAGE 2017… AND 2057
In trying to place our myriad efforts underway in context, it’s helpful to recognize the importance - and necessity - of thinking not in years but in decades. So for this 2017 “State of the Village”, here’s an update on some of the investments - for next year and the next forty years, happening in your village. Planning In 2015 after the hard work of a dedicated steering committee, your village board adopted a new comprehensive plan, the first in over 40 years. It includes short-, medium- and long-term action items, many of which the village has already started to attack. One of these is to update our zoning laws, and a committee with representation from the Comprehensive Plan group, School, Planning Board, ZBA and Village have been meeting regularly since mid-2016 with consultants. Much of the work involves making the laws more user-friendly, and more flexible for the kinds of development Perry would like to see. We anticipate public meetings, hearings, reviews and adoption in 2017. A Tree Advisory Board has also been working for over a year to provide the village with recommendations for improving our tree policies and laws. This is with a greater emphasis on maintaining and improving our “village forest,” as they call it. With their support we are applying for just-announced Urban Forestry funds. This would help us inventory our trees and develop plans for pruning, removal and replacement to strengthen the character of our gateway streets, and make sure proper trees are always chosen to “fit” their locations (power lines, narrow tree lawns, sewer lines, etc). Given the rate of tree growth, it may be 40 years before the impact of the work of these citizens hope to undertake will be fully appreciated. Finally, we just launched the Letchworth Gateway Villages Program. We reached across county lines to collaborate with Mount Morris and Geneseo and with funding support from the USDA and the villages, hired a full-time director who is dedicated to economic development and small business technical assistance in the three villages. We hope this will be a long-term collaboration that will strengthen regional cooperation to our east and build on the natural asset of America’s #1 State Park (that’s Letchworth State Park for you out-of-towners reading this). Recreation In 2017, the village will be completing the Silver Lake Trail Feasibility Study, with support from the Towns of Perry and Castile. The goal of improving recreational opportunities to link residents with our natural resources and nearby amenities like Silver Lake and Letchworth is, in reality, another 40-year plan. Initial drawings were shared at a well-attended public meeting/open house in December. Some short-term target projects include transformation of our public beach into a true village asset; plus a safer walking/biking lane along Walker Road, improvements to the Federal Street trail section, and reconnecting to Perry’s other “waterfront” — the watercourse that flows behind Main Street — via a creekside trail, a planted buffer that also filters pavement run-off, and improvements to the municipal parking lot. Another project with recreational (as well as water-quality and flood-control) implications and a 40-year impact is the dredging of the Silver Lake Outlet and the north end of Silver Lake. This is a huge, multi-year undertaking that the village hopes to take action on with our municipal partners, the County, and the Silver Lake Watershed Commission. Funding has not been identified, but a group of committed citizens along with the new owners of the former A&A property on Washington Boulevard have been researching, bringing players and property owners to the table, and advocating for this long-deferred priority. The village is expecting an engineering report and estimate this month to help us coordinate Phase I. Water Improvements Last May, the Village of Perry received the 2016 Water System of the Year Award from the NY Rural Water Association. This was in recognition of many recent, strategic investments the village has made, under the leadership of chief water operator Jeff Drain, and operators Will Stowell, Mike Mott, and recently retired Ray Bzduch. Then in August the Village won the 2016 Western Region Tap Water Taste Contest, beating out Jamestown, Rochester, Albion and Seneca Falls in the finals. More is planned. The Town of Castile is making improvements in 2017 to the Silver Lake Water District, which purchases water from the Village. This will improve water pressure and access to the Charcoal Corral, nearby farms and residents outside the village. The planned loop ties into our distribution network and also will improve pressures to village residents on the south end of the village such as Birchwood Acres. Thank you Castile! Finally, the village is studying what capital improvements are needed for our water treatment plant to carry us through the next 40 years, and in 2017 we’ll be making decisions on whether to pursue capital improvements at this time. Waste Water Improvements (a.k.a. Sanitary Sewer) In 2016 we launched Phase I construction of our planned $7 million Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvement Project. The work focused on collection lines, a composting storage facility, and a new influent structure at the plant which is pretty transformative. Call the village if you’re interested in a tour! Phase II drawings are being prepared now for the remainder of improvements that will be under construction through 2018. All this work should put us in good stead for the next 40 years on that side of the equation, with capacity to expand quickly if new or expanding dairy-processing businesses require it. Go sewage! Drainage Improvements (a.k.a. Storm Sewer) The Village has been been steadily working for years to improve our piecemeal system of rainwater collection and drainage. It is inadequate, leading to periodic flooding of residential and business properties. Additionally, there is inflow and infiltration into our Sanitary Sewer system (this shouldn’t happen) which means lots of rain water ends up burdening our treatment plant and costing the village (ie you) money treating it. Fortunately, the village set plans in motion some years back to address the drainage issues, and the pace of implementation has only accelerated under the current board. In 2011 and 2014 major drainage projects were undertaken in residential neighborhoods totaling about $1.4 million. In 2016, as part of the $1.3 million Main Street Improvement Project, the majority of the drainage system downtown was replaced including new catch basins and drain lines, and adjusted slopes, sidewalk drains, and curbs. And in 2017, we plan to start construction on the next priority neighborhood drainage project, on S Main Street including Needham Street. And, in concert with that, our grant writers are sending household income surveys to Lake Street area residents (please fill them out if you haven’t) to determine eligibility for applying for a 2017 round of funding to make post-flood drainage improvements on that side of the village in 2019. And for the lightning round: • In 2017, over $1 million will be spent by building owners downtown, supported by a $275,000 NY Main Street grant. 2016 saw our terrific new creamery and several other businesses launch. Our long-awaited brewery is open, our cookie company is expanding with plans for another 22 jobs, and more business developments are planned for 2017. I also try to meet with business owners (there are so many) to see what they need from the village… • We secured $500,000 through the Restore New York program to assist a developer with a $1.5 million rehabilitation of our pre-civil war historic block on North Main Street. Work commenced in the fall and will continue throughout this year. • We just closed out a $400,000 Affordable Housing Grant program to support necessary repairs for income-qualified owners- it was received with enthusiasm by the residents (and their neighbors) who were able to tackle long-standing woes with their homes… • Our Property Maintenance officer just shared with the board that in the 2/3 of the village he has covered so far, 102 contacted owners have completed work and another 73 properties are in process… • The village has a loan program available to help owners with repairs, as well as businesses and commercial building owners. We also passed property tax abatement laws that defer any increase in your property taxes if you make improvements to your home that would change your assessed value… • 2017 will also see the village’s website overhauled and improved… • a new sidewalk snow plow to improve our ability to clear and maintain walkways… • a new village administrator to replace Terry Murphy who retired after 10 years in that role (Thank you Terry!)… • and possibly the renovation and addition to the vacant Perry Knitting Mill building for workforce and supportive housing, prioritizing seniors and veterans. When noting all the goings-on (many of which are geared towards improving our neighborhoods, making Perry a more attractive place to live and work, support businesses, and through all this, grow our tax base) I would be remiss if I didn’t point out this fun fact: Perry alone of Wyoming County villages has a tax rate that is lower (by 2.5%) than it was nine years ago. This current board has lowered it for the past two years. The next four largest villages have seen their rates go up 7%, 16%, 22% and 28% during that time. *** In the end, there is no stasis in a village - in infrastructure, buildings, or economic condition. We’re either investing and improving, or we’re disinvested and decaying. Your board will continue to partner with engaged citizens, developers, neighboring communities, the county, and New York State, and work to address the many infrastructure, planning and revitalization needs to help support private-sector growth, restore population, and enhance our quality of life in the short term, and with an eye to the next 40 years. As always, your Village Board welcomes your input and seeks your involvement. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com, or Saturdays 11-noon at the bookstore, during my weekly “coffee hour with the mayor.”