Letter to Editor
I’m Neil J. Pagano and I’m running for the seat of Mayor of the Village of Port Chester in the upcoming .
I have lived in our Village just about all of my life. My family and I have invested in it and operate a successful real estate, appraisal and insurance business here that is now going into its 83rd year of operation. This is all front line – in the trenches experience.
Although I’m new to the elected political arena I have had at least one foot in the governmental process being a member of the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee since 2007 and as Chair of the Village of Port Chester Industrial Development Agency.
During my 2 year tenure as the Chair of the Industrial Development Agency, in addition to making other significant administrative changes and upward financial adjustments to certain other existing PILOT leases, my activities also involved:
- Personally negotiated a bond transaction with the King Street Apartments that will provide the Village with about $4.1 million in payments over the life of the bond term. Also included in that amount was a $600,000 upfront payment made directly to the Village that would later be used to purchase open space near Edgewood Park and make needed technology upgrades in our Building and Code Departments.
- Creating nearly 60 jobs with the majority going to Port Chester residents with the Restaurant Depot deal and froze the property tax assessment that would have gone down about $3 million because of the significant reduction in size of the former building.
- Leading a Marina Task Force with the Waterfront Commission and its Chair to craft a Marina development vision that will take one of our greatest but severely underutilized assets and maximize its revenue generating capabilities. Once completed the process will reform our waterfront into a boater-friendly, attractive facility with transients docks, public restrooms, pump out stations and a formal administration plan to oversee the management of this all but forgotten and overlooked gem.
Once elected, one of my objectives will be to refocus the role of the Mayor and unify our Board by reaching across all party lines, thereby breaking the gridlock to move a number of stalled projects forward. I believe I am uniquely suited to the task because heretofore I have not been aligned with any political party nor do I come with any political baggage. The fact that I have been endorsed by the Republican, Independence and Conservative parties helps support that statement.
Since my discharge from the military in 1965, I’ve witnessed and lived through all of the grand experiments and schemes foisted on us by our village fathers and we have all lived with the consequences - some good, others not so good. Among the good and enlightened decisions made during that period, and one which I feel is most important, is our present Village form of government – a Community run by a Village Manager and full-time professional staff but responsible to the Mayor and 6 Trustees whose collective purview is making policy. If left to operate as former trustees Joe Carlucci and Bill Davidson designed it in 1975, the structure works and is very effective - so long as it is not interfered with by part time politicians who have a much more grand vision of their role. I will fight to retain, refocus, and protect this system because, in my opinion, it was not only one of our Community’s better decisions – it is the heart of village operations. It doesn’t need fixing. The politicians just need to be educated and restrained.
My primary objectives will be in the area of economic development, with additional focus on our infrastructure. The main points are to: 1.) stop the lip service and empty rhetoric by really developing plans to expand our tax base; 2.) seek other revenue sources, not only from grants that always come with strings attached but real income generating opportunities; 3.) address once and for all the issues of our collapsing Bulkhead and our failing Police Headquarters facilities no matter how difficult those solutions may be; 4.) obtain Code Enforcement relief, and; 5.) provide the support facilities that our downtown requires in order that it can continue to grow.
Much has been said and much has been written in the blogs and in hard copy publications about the development of the United Hospital site by the Starwood Company. We have to engage them intelligently and, for once in our Village’s history, begin to tell the developers what the Village wants and needs instead of the other way around. Do we have all the answers? Heck, No! But I’m confident with the constitution of a new board and focused leadership that is committed and joined together once again by consensus we will find the right solution for our Village. You simply don’t blow away a property owner who is already invested in our Village and who wants to pump an additional $200 million dollars into our community or send mixed and confusing signals to him so long as those dollars are “smart dollars” and so long as the development doesn’t further burden our schools, infrastructure, and overall quality of life.
I’m committed to insure that the Starwood development strategy must be one that brings “net tax dollars” into the community and not those that burden it. Cost of Services analyses is critical. Do I want to see 800+ apartments at the United Hospital Site? No way. Make that clear…..NO WAY……BUT……we can’t shoot ourselves in the foot either. We must find creative ways to engage the idea of “smart development” and negotiate with property owners who are already in the game and attract others by creating effective financing packages that utilize both the IDA and our newly formed Local Development Company to bring those “net tax dollars” into our income stream. We have the tools. They are the Village’s expansion tools but have not been used creatively enough to undertake the development tasks that our Village cannot afford to lose. I believe I have the “in the trenches experience” – not just a corporate-level-view but the hands on type of experience that gets things done.
Believe me - I get it and I AM impatient. The combination of tax base expansion and the increase of our revenue stream must both be a part of our development formula. We can only cut a budget so much before you are into the bone. Too much time has been wasted and, the Village and you and I - the taxpayers - are paying the price for failed performance each and every time we write the check to pay our property tax bill.
I don’t “need” the job as Mayor. I just “want” it.
I’m Neil J. Pagano. I’m running for Mayor of the Village of Port Chester and I am seeking your support and your vote on March 19, 2013. Thank you in advance for your trust and vote of confidence.
Neil J. Pagano