An Interview with Dan Hochvert, Candidate for Mayor of Scarsdale
- On Our Minds
- Published on Tuesday, 28 February 2017 15:52
- Joanne Wallenstein
Dan Hochvert is the Scarsdale Citizens' Non-Partisan Party candidate for Mayor of the Village. As part of a series of interviews with the candidates, we posed a series of questions to Dan, and here are his responses:
How long have you lived in Scarsdale and what do you like about living here?
We have lived in Scarsdale more than 37 years. We love living in Scarsdale for the volunteer spirit, the Village in a Park nature of its canopy and, as so many others did, we moved here for its school system but stayed more than 30 years after our 4th and youngest graduated from SHS.
What volunteer or civic activities have you been engaged in?
I served as Scarsdale Village Trustee from 2006-2010 and was appointed to the Scarsdale Planning Board in 2012 and chaired the board in 2015/16. I co-chair the Scarsdale Forum Education Committee and previously served twice as the chair of the Citizen's Nominating Committee, (2012 and 2013) the group that nominated me for Mayor. I am a former President (2012) and Vice President of the Scarsdale Forum. I served as treasurer of the Procedure Committee, led the assembly of soap box derby cars for an after school club at Greenacres, built a shelter for the Scarsdale High School Garden Club, sited and assembled 12 raised beds at Hyatt Park, chaired the Board of the Community Unitarian Church, led the team that built the deck next to the Teen Center and currently serve as treasurer of both the Friends of Scarsdale Parks and the Teen Center and more.
Why did you decide to step up and run for Mayor at this time?
I was asked by members of the CNC to allow my name to be considered and I agreed. I believe a candidate for Mayor should understand what I learned during the four years I served as a trustee and have demonstrated that she/he can work collaboratively with other Board members and the staff.
Among your many roles and accomplishments in town, what are you most proud of?
I don't know whether pride is the right emotion but here are some issues I worked on that benefitted residents:
First, I led the opposition to the original resolution to approve the sale of Village property at 2-4 Weaver Street and as a result, the payment the Village subsequently received was about double originally offered. Various changes in the project were negotiated by Land Use Boards that improved the project from an aesthetic perspective.
Second, as Chair of the Village Board's Municipal Services Committee, I worked with a group of Staff Department heads and the Village Manager to revise the Storm water Chapter of the Village Code, line-by-line, in two extensive sessions, As a result, storm water flooding in the Village's drainage sensitive areas has been substantially reduced.
Third, during the revision of the Village Center portion of the Village's Comprehensive Plan, I was able to persuade fellow Village Board members that the consultant's recommendation for the height of future buildings in the area should not be as high above sea level as the top of the Harwood building since ground level variations would mean that a building at Popham and Garth roads would be about 15 feet higher above ground level than the Harwood Building. Another faulty aspect of the consultants' recommendations was to permit three-story buildings along Scarsdale Road. When I looked at the area from Overhill Road residences, it was clear to me that this would intrude on yards of those residences. The Board adopted both the changes I suggested.
I think Board members need to fully understand details and I believe these examples show the depth of my "digging" so that the people who relied on my representation were served.
What are your views on historic preservation and land use in Scarsdale? Do you think the Village should strengthen its laws in regard to lot coverage, tree preservation and preserving historic homes?
As for historic and land use, there should be a balance. Owners have rights and neighbors have rights. One thing that seems reasonable to me is identifying candidates for historic review so that owners know which might fall into that category. As for land use, this is an issue that I think needs to be regularly thought about and Code changes need to be made when there is a weakness uncovered.
Do you support the renovation and expansion of the library – even if it means a tax increase?
Regarding the library, I think the role of libraries has changed and when generous residents agree to fund nearly half of the cost to modernize the library and the project includes necessary repairs and ADA improvements that would, if done separately, amount to almost half of the bond issuance by the Village, I support the project. The increase in annual taxes, on average, is small compared to the benefits of an improved library.
What are your views on the Village's decision to defend itself against the Article 78? Do you agree? How do you think this should be resolved?
Since the Village's filing in opposition to the Article 78 points out the many flaws in the 78 filing, I agree with the decision to oppose the Article 78. I believe the path the Village is on will take us to a proper resolution. Clearly, the process used in the reval needs to be changed. At a recent meeting of the Forum's Assessment Reval Committee, an idea of having an assessment advisory council was discussed and I think that idea should be considered I think the timing of the next reval needs to be addressed as soon as feasible, but the process used must be improved.
Do you think that the uproar over the 2016 revaluation points to problems with the non-partisan system?
To my mind, there is no correlation between the non-partisan system that Scarsdale has embraced for decades and revaluation. The Village Board had no role in the development of the Ryan reval and must not under NYS law.
What would you do to restore faith in Village government?
The faith in government is increased when the people understand the reasons for Board decisions and I believe the improvement in communication already underway should be continued and enhanced.
What are the biggest challenges facing the Village today?
In addition to finding the appropriate path to resolve the reval, there are several issues that need to be thoughtfully considered and I don't believe there is a single one that is the "biggest" for everyone. Scarsdalians are concerned about road condition, traffic/parking, Village Center vacancies, neighborhood character and many more. I think depending on who is asked, the Board would hear different "biggest" issue. A continuing responsive Board will be appreciated.
(Photo Credit Lisa Van Gundy)