By Mary Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville
Oct. 14, 2020: Late last year, the Village undertook a Comprehensive Plan process, something we conduct every ten years.
The vision and overall purpose is to maintain Bronxville as a small scale, attractive community in which the pattern and quality of land use reflect the needs of residents, businesses, institutions, and other interest groups in the Village. It essentially keeps government on the right track in terms of understanding what residents care about most, how they envision their Village, and what they would like added or changed.
As a corollary to the research, we also conducted a public survey. I realized in looking back over my columns that though the Comprehensive Plan was printed and memorialized and is currently the working template for new legislation including zoning code changes, streetscape improvements, infrastructure repairs, etc., I have not shared the tabulated results of the public questionnaire.
Results of Public Questionnaire
The rate of response was extraordinarily high, resulting in 705 responses translating into a representative sample of nearly 30% of the Village’s households.
To sum up the results in a sentence, the overwhelming sentiment was to keep the Village essentially the way it looks today with only some tinkering at the edges.
The following are results organized by category and represent the answers of a healthy majority of the respondents.
Architecture and Landscape
Respondents want to preserve the special architectural character and appearance of existing buildings and neighborhoods and maintain a natural landscape.
They favor maintaining the pedestrian scale of the buildings, streets, and open spaces that currently exist near the downtown area and maintain the general Village character of the central business through careful control of land uses, storefronts, signage, building maintenance, and ongoing improvements to the streetscape.
They would like a better mix of retail stores and services and other commercial uses that are geared to the needs of local residents and those in nearby communities.
The village population, given its land size, was about right according to 83% of the respondents, and the Village should neither generally encourage nor discourage additional housing development with a similar percentage saying additional urbanization and crowding will change the character of the Village in the long term.
62% of residents believed regulations should be enacted to further balance house sizes with lot size and neighborhood scale. We are currently working on that through a task force led by former Zoning Board Chair and now Trustee William Fredericks and Zoning Board Chairman Stuart Mackintosh.
Villagers felt the most significant environmental issue was flooding, closely followed by concern over the loss of trees and vegetation.
Surprisingly, only 40% agreed with the restriction on the use of disposable plastic bags, containers, utensils, and such, and only 36% said the Village should actively encourage the installation of solar panels on residences.
In contrast, 63% of the respondents favored expanding the LED fixtures currently used in the central business district to elsewhere in the downtown area, and 73% support the conversion of the existing street light fixtures on residential streets to new and more energy efficient and cost effective LED lighting.
Almost 100% of those questioned favor temporary closures of Park Place to create a pedestrian plaza for special events. Only 40% of the same respondents supported a permanent closing of Park Place.
Over 60% of those questioned would like a boutique hotel that would fit into the character of the central business district.
Those questioned thought the West Side was optimal for additional development if it would add to our tax base. In a very positive development, 67% of those who responded said they shop weekly in the Village with Eastchester being the biggest competition, though, with the loss of Lord and Taylor, one has to wonder if this is still true.
Over three quarters of the respondents thought the Metro North underpass needed everything repaired: lighting, painting, structural repair, and better maintenance and cleanliness. As you can see, that project is currently underway.
Residents want to achieve fiscal savings without sacrificing the existing high quality of Village services.
The vast majority of residents were not against user fees levied on not for profits to pay for services such as sewer system maintenance and police and fire.
The residents want to ensure high quality maintenance of the existing recreational facilities, though only 17% of respondents said they use the Village paddle and tennis facilities, and 58% said that we do not need any additional recreational facilities in the Village.
However, 86 percent of our respondents want all parks and recreational facilities to be smoke free. Only 17% of the respondents said they use our Village library on a regular basis, and 20% said they never avail themselves of the library services though, for those who go to the library, almost 100% said they were satisfied with the services.
Everyone seems to want more parking in the downtown and nearby areas. To that end, the Village Board of Trustees purchased what was formally called the Avalon lot.
Of the respondents, 77% were amenable to joining with New York Presbyterian-Lawrence Hospital on creating some sort of additional parking in the Maltby lot area. The response to having meters operational on Sunday was almost unanimous opposition.
Pictured at top: Mary Marvin
Photos by A. Warner
Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.