Retirement Incentive Program Moves Forward, Public Hearings Scheduled for Tattoo Parlor

Here's a quick roundup of Monday's Peekskill Common Council work session.

The Peekskill Common Council will vote on a resolution to provide an early retirement incentive program to city employees during the Oct. 22 Common Council meeting.

The program would be made available to all municipal workers 55 or older, or police officers and firefighters with 20 years of experience. Workers must also meet state retirement requirements.

City officials are offering the program to try and offset the layoffs looming in acting City Manager Brian Havranek’s $35.6 million budget proposal for 2013. Havranek’s proposal would cut 31 full-time jobs, seven which are currently vacant, and nine part-time jobs in the city.

One stipulation in the program is that the incentive is limited to the first three police officers and first two firefighters who apply and qualify for the program. This limitation was added to better maintain public safety staffing levels.

A change to the original draft of the incentive proposal is that program will be extended to workers eligible for retirement in March, not just the end of the year.

“I think there may be some who may hit their eligibility in January or...clearly before the end of the pension year, which is March 31,” Mayor Mary Foster said during Monday’s work session.

Employees would have until Nov. 9 to decide if they want to sign up for the retirement incentive.

Tattoo Parlor Proposed on Main Street
The Peekskill Planning Commission has received its first application for a tattoo studio since it passed an ordinance last month allowing them in certain areas of the city.

Patrick Conlon, who is applying for a special permit for the studio, has already signed a lease for a ground floor space on 25 North Division Street, which is adjacent to Westchester Community College’s Peekskill Extension.

As part of the special permit process, the studio is required to meet a number of stipulations including: being a minimum of 500 feet away from any schools containing students in grade kindergarten through 12; not being located on Main Street, between Nelson Avenue and North Division Street, and on South Street between Depew Street; and having a minimum of 200 square feet of the tattoo studio dedicated to displays of art. .

Anthony Ruggiero, the city’s director of planning, said the proposed studio met all of the laws requirements.

Since the studio would be located in the city’s historic district, its signage will have to be approved by the Landmark and Historic Preservation Board. The Planning Commission and Common Council will schedule separate public hearings for the tattoo parlor next month.

Gallery on 115 North Water Street
Noted antiques collector Steve Erenberg has purchased the building at 115 North Water Street and he wants to convert it into a showroom, studio and workshop.

Erenberg, whose collections can be seen at earlyelectrics.com and radio-guy.com, specializes in light fixtures, industrial masks and other ‘oddball and scary scientific stuff.’ Erenberg said that he also an artist and sculptor and he plans to work in the building once it’s completed.

The majority of the clients that pass through will be interior decorators, set designers and architects.

His plan is to bring the two-story building back to the 1800s.

“It’s going to have a real life street presence,” Erenberg said. “We’re going to have antique lighting, obviously. I have some cast iron elements from Manhattan that will be brought in for a new entrance, so that will be nice, and we’re going to open up a balcony in the entrance with a spiral staircase.”

Ruggiero said the building doesn’t have any site plan issues, but a special permit is needed from the council to meet city guidelines regarding antique galleries and professional office spaces. A resolution for the special permit and a public hearing will be on the agenda for the Oct. 22 Common Council meeting.

Patty Villanova October 16, 2012 at 12:10 PM
About that tattoo parlor- I'm very surprised that after all the hoo hah, the City is allowing Mr. Conlon to open his establishment at 25 N. Division which is one of the premier RETAIL locations in Downtown Peeskill. Mind you, I have nothing against said tattoo parlor, but if ever there was a commercial use that belongs on the second or upper floors of a building, it's that one. Not too long ago the city hired a taxpayer funded consultant to study attracting and retaining retailers in the Downtown. (why they keep hiring consultants when they have at least 40 extra people in city hall is beyond me, but that's another story). Anyway- the conclusion was that the city needs to obey its own zoning & planning regs and make sure that prime retail spaces are used for just that- real shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants- and that other uses such as law offices, real estate offices and the like, belong on the upper floors. If ever there was a business that belongs off of street level, it's the tattoo parlor, especially after all the problems Conlon had in the first place with the zoning, etc. It is obvious that Foster, Klaxton & Co. have no desire to ever see Peekskill's downtown return to its former retail glory-- there's simply not enough money or political capital in it for them to ever do the right thing. And you don't need a consultant to explain that fact of life.
Leslie Lawler October 16, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Since our Common Council, Planning Commission and Zoning Board are so incongruous with each other and heaven forbid they should follow the charter, code or an ordinance....why worry Patty? We'll just hire another lawyer.
Patty Villanova October 16, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Funny how Foster & Co. seem to have plenty of money for outside contract workers yet refuse to have the existing staff (now complaining of being canned) do the jobs for which they are being paid. What exactly does the Corporation Counsel do as per the Charter? And why are taxpayers funding non-staff contractors for economic development, administration of the BID, planning, and a host of other positions that are currently being funded for City workers? There are two possibilities - either the workers are not competent to do their jobs in the first place, or the administrators and managers can't figure out how to get the work done with the staff they have. What we call a lose-lose situation.
Patty Villanova October 16, 2012 at 01:44 PM
The Empire Center of NY just came out with their annual survey "What They Make." Seems like Peekskill workers ain't doing too shabby. Here are some stats: Peekskill has 138 "City Employees" at an average salary of $67,030 which is the second highest in the Mid-Hudson Region and also # 2 statewide for "General Employees" in the Cities category. Got that? Poor, struggling, down and out P'skill pays its workers the second highest salaries of any city in the entire state of NY. Nothing in this report about benefits. Heck- maybe it is cheaper to hire those outside contractors.
Liz Claire October 16, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Patty -- The Chicago School strike was largely about Charter Schools, which are an end run around the Unions. It could be that the current City staff was hired long ago to perform jobs appropriate to a different era, jobs that could be made redundant today by productivity gains and the shrewd application of technology. Can't blame them. Times have changed. The difficult question is, how best do we deal with the current situation, a situation of Mary Foster's making. Had she not wasted the Fund Balance we wouldn't be in this predicament..
Patty Villanova October 16, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Liz- the problem in Peek & Put Valley is simple: too much spending. The salaries & benefits of government workers, especially in the school system, are simply unsustainable. Promises were made to the unions that cannot be kept. I liken this to a kid begging his parents for a really expensive car when he turns 16, and the parents say, OK, OK, when you can drive, we'll get you that Porsche or BMW, just to shut him up. The years go by quickly and the kid demands the car, but the parents by this time are broke, unemployed, no money coming in, etc. They have no money for the fancy car, in fact, they can't pay their taxes or mortgage and can barely keep gas in the car and food on the table. What are they supposed to do? Think it's any different in our cities and towns? By the way, Putnam county (a tiny county) has the 3rd highest salaries statewide even though there is virtually no commercial tax base. We are all getting screwed.
Liz Claire October 16, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Patty, I agree that spending is too high. But let's put blame where it properly lays: at the feet of every sitting Common Council person, all of whom should be voted out of office. They decided to drain the rainy day fund, buy contaminated land, build a firehouse we cannot afford, divert resources that could have been used to make the downtown an attractive place to do business. And they did this with full knowledge of the coming pension obligations. That chicken has now come home to roost, and like Toto has pulled back the curtain of their arrogance & bad judgment. There is a visceral, knee-jerk reaction to City workers that is distasteful. These are our neighbors & friends. They negotiated within the context of contract law. You can't blame them. Blame the other side, the Mayor & Common Council who caved in negotiations while at the same time squandered critical City assets. I disagree with you regarding "unsustainable." More properly, they are "unsustainable without substantial tax increases." The City has no business speculating in real estate. If the City dumped all the land it can't do anything with and gets its cost out, it can meet the current pension obligation. Instead, it holds onto land. Nothing in the City Charter says the City should engage in real estate speculation. The spoiled child in this scenario is the Mayor and Common Council who have put their own egos ahead of the good of the City. This problem we now face was completely avoidable.
Kirsten Berger October 16, 2012 at 05:10 PM
I am thrilled to hear that Patrick has signed a lease for a tattoo studio that will also have an art gallery space. I hope this process goes smoothly and I hope all the naysayers will stop saying nay. A new business is going to open in Peekskill, this is something.
Patty Villanova October 16, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Why is it such a big deal that a new business is going to open in Peekskill? What happened to all the old businesses that were here from 2005 to the present? I guess Kirsten doesn't care to find out; it's much easier to blame the "nay sayers" for pointing out some truths about why there's such a dismal success rate for entrepreneurs in the downtown. That is, unless you somehow get tapped into the city's money tree that bestows "grants" and other incentives to the favored few. I had my shop on Brown St. for 7 years and found out the hard way what it's like to put your blood, sweat and tears into a city that you love when the deck is stacked against you. I saw firsthand what happened to the 30+ businesses that came in during the boom years, many who didn't survive their first year. Look at the retailers that are left from that era- the Coop & Treat Station. Does that tell you anything about "business retention?"
Ray Adamick October 16, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Well said Kristen, if the studio was on the 2nd floor, a disabled person would be stuck!
Ray Adamick October 16, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Patty, I know how you feel, but the boom years are long behind us, we can only look forward! I was at the post office the other day, and I looked over to the old drugstore and wishing that it was open again.
Jill Gertz October 16, 2012 at 06:56 PM
A basic image search of Patrick Conlon the "festish artist" shows drawings of girls giving oral sex and getting ejaculated on (see "Swarm" illustrations. This guy is just into garbage basically. I'll bet its a wonderful crowd that his place will draw. Spare all the highfalutin "but its art" excuse. Now that Peekskill is putting a porn artist next to the college it would make sense to put a strip club close to Camp Smith. I recall it was Newburgh that first had all the strip clubs and porn shops. Seems Peekskill is headed in that direction under the current regime. They should have followed their first instincts about the fetish/tattoo stuff
Ray Adamick October 16, 2012 at 09:33 PM
It's 2012, not 1955


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