Ian Murtaugh: A History Lesson

Dear Neighbors:ian2019

There were a pair of letters published in the Gazette in the March 28th edition. One was sent by Ms. Roseann Schuyler and concerned several issues, among which was the Municipal Place Gateway and the North Riverside Ave. public input session held by the Village Board the week before. A companion letter, by Mr. Paul Steinberg, dealt with the same subject.

Several years ago, I was moved to run for the Board of Trustees, largely because of the proposed Harmon Redevelopment rezoning plan that was under discussion. Like the rezoning questions that are currently in the earliest stages of discussion, a similar examination of the best way forward in Harmon was undertaken by the Village Board and staff, with substantial input from the community.

Once elected, I was involved in many discussions, officially and privately, with friends and neighbors who had questions and concerns about what might ultimately be approved as a rezoning plan for the Harmon business district along South Riverside Ave. The questions were generally good and, initially quite measured and respectful.

However, before long I found myself in the middle of a storm of claims, accusations and dire predictions about what the adoption of “the plan” would be. Even before there was an agreed upon “plan”. And then it devolved into a series of wild accusations being hurled at the Mayor and the Trustees, and residents being whipped into a frenzy over misinformation and fear-mongering.

Of course, once a prolonged process of careful consideration had finally run its course (and the filing of a series of unnecessary law suits, all of which failed to stop the rezoning process), the Harmon Business District plan was enacted and the rebuilding began.

I am a lifetime resident of Croton and have lived in Harmon for many years. I well remember the “way Croton used to be” and in my opinion, the changes enabled by the rezoning plan have been a marked improvement for our Village and the neighborhood in which I live. None of the dire predictions made by those opposed to the Harmon plan (which included Ms. Schuyler quite prominently) came to pass.

As we embark on this next phase of change, I hope that we do not have to follow that same game plan. These two letters reminded me of the early stages of the Harmon process, and that concerns me. I hope we do not have to repeat the mistakes of the past, but instead can have reasoned, thoughtful discussions and civil disagreements, and then move forward together as a community.

 

Ian Murtaugh, Former Trustee

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