Gazette Ceases Publication: Donates Archives to LHS

In 2010, the Larchmont Gazette ceased publication. In 2011 the publishers donated all contents to the Larchmont Historical Society, which will continue to make the Gazette archives available online.

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Mamaroneck Town Board Reacts to Consolidation Study

Members of the  Mamaroneck Town Board reacted this week to a report from the Tri-Municipal Shared Service/Consolidation Study Group. The group made seven major recommendations, including: the creation of a joint Mamaroneck Town-Larchmont Village detective unit that could save as much as $450,000; a possible merger between the Mamaroneck Town and Larchmont Village fire departments; and a tri-municipal assessor’s office with functions outsourced to the private sector.

Click to access the entire report.

Comments were generally positive at the board’s public meeting on Wednesday, March 17. Reaction was mixed, however, at the earlier untelevized work session. There was general concern about the scope of the report – which specifically did not address the issue of “whole sale merger” of municipalities. On the other hand, there was criticism that the report was too specific in naming individuals who might carry out particular initiatives.

Councilman David Fishman, who was a member of the study group, defended the report as an incremental step. The group aimed to “succeed at small steps, and then move to bigger steps.” He noted, “Full merger won’t happen now.”

Praise for Hard Work

At the public meeting,  Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe recognized the hard work of the study group, its chair, Bill Dentzer, and the two representatives from Mamaroneck Town, Mr. Fishman and  Maureen Feerick LeBlanc. The group had been working for almost a year before issuing its report this month.

The supervisor praised the study as being “very elegantly written, very well-phrased,” and said her board will “continue to mull” it over and will get together with the Village of Larchmont and the Village of Mamaroneck.

But at the Work Session?

At the work session, however, a number of issues surfaced.

One criticism was that the report – though well-written – seemed slanted towards a Village of Larchmont view of the issues.

Councilman Fishman defended the  report as “not biased” but rather focused on “what’s best for the tri-municipal area.” While he conceded that the many of the recommendations for shared services did not include the Village of Mamaroneck, he said this was because participation was opposed by that municipality’s elected officials.

Board members also were concerned with how best to proceed with the study’s recommendations for the police and fire departments.

While Councilman Ernie Odierna liked the suggestion of combining the detective forces, Councilwoman Phyllis Wittner felt the “most inflammatory part of the report was the naming of people.” The study recommends that Larchmont Police Chief John Poleway supervise the detectives and suggests a possible merger of Larchmont and Mamaroneck Town fire departments under Mamaroneck Fire Chief Sean McCarthy, a volunteer.

Ms. Wittner  said “ it was not in the purview of the committee to name specific individuals, and further they did not have sufficient information to do so.” Supervisor O’Keeffe said officials  needed to talk to the police and fire departments before making statements on their proposed reorganization to the public. Mr. Odierna suggested that various departments be invited to discuss the recommendations with the board.

Councilman Fishman cautioned, however, that such discussions rarely result in reductions in force, since “employees always say this is what we need.”

Town Clerk Christine Battalia noted that consolidation alone would not necessarily result in savings unless there is a diminution in the total number of employees.

Supervisor O’Keeffe took issue with the study recommendation that the Mamaroneck Town Clerk award parking spaces in both the Larchmont Village and Mamaroneck Town lots.  She said this might result in Mamaroneck Village residents obtaining spots in the Larchmont lot. In addition, this might mean that town-wide funds would be used to pay for services that are only for Larchmont residents.

More positively, there was general agreement among the board members that it was a good idea to combine recreation activities across the three municipalities, as suggested in the report. However, there were some questions as to whether it was better to have this reviewed by the current committee heads rather than follow the recommendation to establish a new committee to work on combining activities.

Town Administrator Steve Altieri said the best way to handle recreational offerings might be to determine how, who, where and when a particular activity should be run and then consolidate the organization and administration of this activity under one of the governmental entities.

Board members appeared in agreement that before making any determinations on the report’s recommendations, there should be an opportunity for public comment and further discussion with the various departments highlighted in the report and with the other municipalities involved.

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7 comments to Mamaroneck Town Board Reacts to Consolidation Study

  • Anon E Mous

    It appears that during Sunshine Week the Larchmont Gazette has pierced a curtain and shed light on the backstage of our government. Clearly, that could be one of the more enlightening and valuable outcome of this well hidden study process.

    And what of this ‘untelevised’ portion – LMCTV broadcasts only part of the meeting despite its public funding?

    Ellen DeGeneres said, ‘In the beginning there was nothing. God said, “Let there be light!” And there was light. There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better.’

    Sincere thanks are certainly due to all in the ‘study group’ for their efforts. But on first pass, the report fails, as the group’s members appear to acknowledged the difficulty of real change at its start, rather than confronting the real issues which with which our communities must deal. The consequences of failure are grave.

    But, the discussion as reported by the Gazette, that occurred in the untelevised portion of the Town of Mamaroneck Board Meeting, clearly and importantly shows us as residents that there will be more talk, less action; while the report indicates total proposed savings if all its suggestions were implemented, that would hardly be seen by the taxpayers of the municipalities. Perhaps exposed to the glow of the sun, solutions will appear; we can have rays of hope.

    Perhaps as in the report, just as with the School Board, the contention that real leadership, real management and real change are outside the control of our governing bodies, the real savings would be in the elimination of those. A big school budget will not solve the problems we are leaving to the future because we lack courage to achieve enduring solutions. As Sunshine Week and the Gazette have brought much to light, now our eyes must open, and the choice between success and failure is ours, whether we choose to accept it or not.

    ‘We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.’ – JFK

  • JKS

    I hope our town and village officials will listen to residents and understand that mergers and consolidation, wherever they can result in increased efficiencies and reduced costs, are imperative. I wish Mamaroneck Village would participate as well. Things are only going to get economically (i.e., reduced state aid–the state is practically bankrupt, and a disaster) and our towns need to find any way possible to cut costs and not raise taxes on families that are already hurting. I commend and thank the commission for their hard work on all our behalf!

  • consolidator

    Community to small-town managers set in their decade-old ways : grow up !

    • Anon E Mous

      First person – When the end of the world comes, I hope to be in Larchmont.
      Second person – Why?
      First person – I would rather be in Larchmont because everything happens in Larchmont 20 years later than in the rest of the civilized world.
      - Source unknown.

  • all for consolidation

    What about sanitation and recycling? Why the multiple layers of administration? Combine them! All over i am reading that Americans need to prepare for drastic cuts in services…HEY! cut the administration first! Exactly how difficult is it to manage 80 (just making that number up) sanitation workers vs. 40? TOM,VOM, and Larchmont should have : ONE firedept, ONE police dept (If that …lets just outsource it to the county), ONE Rec. Dept, ONE courthouse, ONE GOVERNMENT…STOP WASTING our MONEY…And if the committee overstepped their boundaries by naming names…so be it. MS. Wittner, Look at the substance NOT the minutiae. Do something! MOVE…this took a YEAR?? Now what…will you debate it for another year?? If you are concerned that this isn’t what the community wants, let us vote…it will become crystal clear…

  • all for consolidation

    I meant to also thank the committee….

  • Lafayette

    Finally a well thought out and actionable report on combining municipal services. It pragmatically (and wisely, for now) falls short of a wholesale merger, but at least it recommends action we can implement immediately. A couple of years down the road, when we all realize we have one school system (already done, thank god), one police department, one fire department, etc, it will be obvious to all how wasteful and unnecessary it is to have four local governments. Even the VOM will join in. Then the real savings will roll in.

    But first things first. Let’s start with implementing these seven recommendations as soon as we can. Let’s hope the “mulling over” period won’t be too long. Let’s freeze the hiring of the Larchmont fire chief (and any one else).

    I am shocked by the councilmember’s comment that the report was “inflamatory” to name names. Instead of being “inflamed”, the councilmember should be grateful that someone is doing their work for them, and has the courage of formulating specific recommendations. What we need is audacity and willingness to challenge the way we waste our tax money. We should be thankful this study group made us move a step in the right direction.

    Let’s get to work and implement these recommendations.