Rethinking Village Board Meetings

By Doug Foster

The Village should restructure the way it holds meetings. Currently it is too easy to slip into a mode where very small decisions take too much of board members valuable time (and the public who attend the meetings), and HUGE decisions never get on the agenda or if they do, they are rushed. In the end, the Village Board spends all its time tending to the trees in front of its face and forgets about managing the forest.

Thursday’s meeting, which included two critical resolutions (2009/10 budget, “superblock” redevelopment) was a painful example where more time was spent on a single event in Memorial Park than on moving ahead with Nyack’s biggest redevelopment initiative since urban renewal. For the first hour the Board had a lengthy and incredibly detailed conversation about two events and a proposal that the downtown businesses would pay for parking three hours on Fridays for two months (doing the math, that’s 24 hours in total).

The Board discussed what should be staff level discussions and decisions, such as insurance and if a project needs to go to the Architectural Review Board. The Village has a Building Commissioner. It is his job to make ministerial decisions like that. And, for the record, putting covers over the Munimeters 8 times for three hours is most definitely a “temporary” sign, so should not be subjected to the ARB. It wastes a lot of peoples time (which is money) and adds to the perception that its hard to get anything done in Nyack.

I suggest the following way to restructure the meetings so that the Board can actually spend time planning and managing:

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