I am honored to have been elected NCVOA President for 2023-2024 and would like to express my gratitude to Immediate Past President Nora Haagenson for her staunch leadership and unwavering commitment to protecting Home Rule. Nora’s dogged efforts helped galvanize a statewide opposition from towns, villages and cities to avert the imposition of Governor Hochul’s Housing Compact. While we made progress, we must remain vigilant as this direct assault on Home Rule is certain to resurface.
One of our objectives this year is to gather data that will allow us to thoroughly analyze the need and capacity for affordable housing in each of our communities. This study will consider various factors, including zoning, commercial space availability, infrastructure and the impact on our sole source aquifer’s water supply. Armed with this vital information, we can make informed recommendations and develop meaningful strategies to address the actual housing needs of our communities.
We know each village has its own distinct characteristics and challenges. What works in one may not be suitable for another. It is important to note that several of our villages have been at the forefront of creating workforce and affordable housing, namely Westbury, Farmingdale and Mineola. Their experiences and knowledge will help us identify potential opportunities for affordable housing without compromising the integrity of existing neighborhoods. Furthermore, by assessing existing commercial spaces, we may discover innovative solutions that integrate housing with economic development.
However, we must not overlook the critical issue of inadequate infrastructure. Many villages lack proper sewage systems, and adding more housing without upgrading infrastructure can strain resources such as schools, hospitals and public safety services. The required capital investments likely will necessitate additional state funding.
While addressing the housing issue, we cannot ignore the concerning trend of out-migration from New York State. High taxes and rising crime are among the primary reasons for this exodus. Over the past two years, more than 600,000 people have left New York with Long Island’s population declining by over 15,000 – primarily due to out-migration. Left unchecked, out-migration may inadvertently solve the housing dilemma. But out-migration creates fiscal problems for our villages. Families priced out of the region leave behind a diminished homeowner and workforce base, straining our tax revenues.
To combat this, we must be proactive in advocating for our state legislators to prioritize efforts to reduce crime and create a safe and attractive environment for our residents and businesses. One critical element is reforming the discovery laws. Prosecutors face overwhelming compliance burdens and unrealistic deadlines for gathering essential discovery information. The current statute obligates prosecutors to collect even irrelevant material within extremely short timeframes, leading to countless criminal cases needlessly being dismissed due to missed deadlines. This jeopardizes public safety and undermines our police forces. Crime must have consequences. Amending the discovery laws will provide prosecutors with the necessary time and resources to gather vital evidence, ensuring our communities are safer.
I heard former quarterback Peyton Manning speak recently. He won the NFL Most Valuable Player award five times. He said: “The most valuable player is the one that makes the most players valuable.” As leaders within our villages, we possess the power to play a valuable role. By coming together, pooling our knowledge and making our collective voices heard, we can strengthen the influence of our 64 villages.
I urge each and every one of you to join hands with us in this endeavor.
Mayor Elliot Conway
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