Who better to address residents of Edgemont considering whether to incorporate as a village than the mayor of the last village to incorporate in Westchester County – Mayor Paul S. Rosenberg of Rye Brook.
ECC president Bob Bernstein said today that Mayor Rosenberg will be the featured speaker at the annual meeting of the ECC this Wednesday evening, April 26, at the Greenville Elementary School at 8 p.m. The annual meeting will also honor Edgemont resident Jon Lewis as the recipient of this year’s annual Silver Bowl Award for distinguished community service.
Rye Brook was an unincorporated area in the Town of Rye, in southeastern Westchester, until it officially became a village on July 7, 1982.
Mayor Rosenberg will not advocate for or against Edgemont’s incorporation, but rather will share his perspective on what it is like to be the mayor of a young village that is roughly the same size as Edgemont, both in terms of population, geographical area and lack of a traditional “Main Street” that is responsible today for providing the same municipal services that a Village of Edgemont, if it incorporates, would have to provide for itself.
Mayor Rosenberg will discuss the services Rye Brook provides itself, and those it outsources, and how those experiences have worked out.
There are several key differences, however, between Edgemont and Rye Brook. For one thing, unlike Edgemont, Rye Brook did not have its own fire district when it incorporated, which meant that, unlike Edgemont, the new village had to acquire its own fire protection services. Rye Brook has since outsourced fire services, which proved unsuccessful, and then switched to an inter-municipal agreement with neighboring Port Chester, which has also proved challenging as Port Chester has had to reduce personnel and cut costs.
If Edgemont incorporates, by contrast, the Greenville fire district will automatically become the Edgemont Fire Department, which would put Edgemont at a significant advantage over when Rye Brook started life as a village.
Another key difference is that while both Edgemont and Rye Brook are known as close-knit communities, about 70% of Rye Brook is in the Blind Brook school district, and the remaining 30% is in the Port Chester school district. The proposed Village of Edgemont, by contrast, would be served only by the Edgemont School District.
Mayor Rosenberg will also discuss how Rye Brook operates as a village, how it started out with virtually no village infrastructure, but later went on to build a new village hall, and how none of its elected officials, including himself, receive a salary, and how Rye Brook selects its candidates for elected positions using a non-partisan system, much like that used in Scarsdale.
The mayor, who is also an executive director in J.P. Morgan’s Audit Department, was first elected Mayor in March 2013, and prior to that served for nine years as a village trustee. He and his wife moved to Rye Brook in 1999 and have 16-year old boy-girl twins.
Some of Mayor Rosenberg’s accomplishments since becoming Mayor include streamlining and simplifying Rye Brook’s zoning code, implementing its first comprehensive plan, and consistently saying under the New York State tax cap.
Mayor Rosenberg also implemented a fiscal transparency program – the first municipality in New York State to do so – which allows visitors to the village website, ryebrook.org, to click on a button labeled, “Transparency Center,” http://www.cleargov.com/new-york/westchester/village/rye-brook/2016 and get a report on the village’s demographics, along with a complete breakdown of the village’s revenues and expenses, all illustrated with pie charts, box charts, mountain charts and bar charts.
Mayor Rosenberg has also implemented new community programs for his village, including “Rye Brook Winterfest,” “Music in the Park,” and “Ice Cream Fridays.” He will also be opening Rye Brook’s first dog park this fall.