Peekskill City Council members have tasted ’ pies, cookies and cakes, but on Monday night they got a different kind of Homestyle taste, and it was not sugarcoated. One after one owner Rose Sanca’s friends and family approached the podium at the April 11 council meeting, asking the council to provide her with adequate parking once the Lincoln Plaza Visitor’s Center breaks ground. Sanca also provided a petition with 2,650 signatures calling on the city to work out a satisfactory parking situation.
Sanca’s current parking lot on South Water Street is on city-owned land upon which the city plans to build a Visitor’s Center for the this fall. Sanca is not satisfied with the city’s proposal for replacement parking: to provide metered parking at the south end of her store and permit parking across the street for employees of her 26-year-old business.
“By them making me go to metered parking, that’s restricting my business and setting me up for failure,” Sanca said in an interview. Sanca is also unsatisfied with the offered permit parking for her 22 employees, which costs $330 a year for each permit. She said that last Friday city planner Anthony Ruggerio handed her a letter that stated the parking offer, which is when she told him she was not happy with the paid parking.
Although Mayor Mary Foster was aware of the petition that had been circulating since March 10, Foster said that she and the council were surprised by Sanca’s presence and show of community support at the council meeting Monday.
“We are surprised Rose is here. We thought this was amicably resolved with staff,” Foster told Nicole Cirillo, a Homestyle employee speaking on her boss’s behalf at the podium on Monday night.
Cirillo collected signatures for the petition and told the mayor that the community members who signed were not happy. “As we told them what was going on, they weren’t shocked, but were outraged. They thought that it was mean and un-neighborly.”
“This council has a good reputation for helping businesses and you’ve helped me,” said Keith Bobolia, who owns Home Mason Supply, on Monday night. “It seems like you’ve bent over backwards sometimes to get things moving along…If there is anything you can do (to help), museums are nice, but Rose employs a lot of people.”
“I should be grandfathered in,” Sanca said, “I’ve been here 26 years.” Many community members who spoke on Sanca’s behalf reflected her sentiment, explaining she has always donated and volunteered to help with community events, and has become a staple in the community. Many also referred to Homestyle as “a destination bakery,” that has helped business in the South Water Street area. Her sweet treats draw customers from Peekskill, Cortlandt and surrounding communities.
“The community is not happy over this building now,” she said in reference to the two-story Visitor Center, which would block the north side of her shop and has also forced her to flip her entrance to the south side. The center will feature a catering business and a café. "It is not business friendly and is not nice."
Sanca has already made structural changes to her business to flip the entrance, including removing a wall. She made these changes without a fight because “Who wants to fight the city?” Sanca asked. She did not realize she would have to bolster herself with community support in hopes of reaching a satisfactory solution with the city over parking.
“We were just surprised she didn’t pick up the phone,” Foster said in an interview, explaining her surprised reaction to the turn out at Monday’s City Council meeting. Foster said that she will thoroughly review all the renderings and plans for the Visitor Center, which show Sanca’s building, and hopes to work together to find a good solution. Sanca will attend next Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting to discuss the issue with the council.
“It was good to see people out there supporting a local business,” Mayor Foster said. “We are all vested in her survival. We have to find a good solution.”