Congers Civic Group Meets December 8

Holiday partying on the agenda along with serious items

The Congers Civic Association will hold its final meeting of the year December 8 at 8 p.m. at the Congers Veterans Memorial Association building at 66 Lake Road. The association, one of the largest and most active in Rockland County, holds general membership and public meetings four times a year, with the December meeting also serving as its year-end holiday party. All residents of Congers and surrounding area are invited to attend.

President Gerry O’Rourke says public input will be sought in particular at the Decemeber 8 meeting regarding proposed re-zoning by the Town of Clarkstown along three state highways running north and south through the town, two of which, Routes 9W and 303, pass directly through the heart of Congers. The other is Route 304, which runs from Nanuet to Haverstraw, with all three highways actually joining at the very north end of Congers, at Dr. Davies’s Farm.

Clarkstown is in the final stages of updating it’s Master or Comprehensive Plan, begun in 2009, and part of that wrap-up is a study of zoning along the three state highways, and how it might be changed to meet future needs.

“All of us in Congers traverse one or all of these roads regularly,” O’Rourke notes in the Association’s December newsletter. “Hence it is important for our voices to be heard as recommendations or conclusions reached in the course of the review will eventually be presented to the town and could impact us by future zone changes.”

“Two recently held public meetings resulted in only light attendance,” O’Rourke notes, “and responses to surveys sent to businesses along the routes were even lighter. The town did its job by notifying all businesses of the study via a mailer and an item in the press.

“Obvious issues such as the backups at the never-ending congestion at the intersection of Lake Road and Route 303 in Valley Cottage, complications of turn signals at Lake Road and Route 303 in Congers, issues related to the zigzag of zones involving residential, mixed in with industrial and commercial operations, huge setbacks, lack of safe walking; makes one wonder how things ever evolved into what we see today. Unfortunately,” he adds, “most of the Route 303 traffic bypasses local businesses in the revitalized hamlet centers.

“Even though what is in place may be very difficult to adjust I think it is important for all of us to do some creative thinking of what could be done to improve our situation, promote added businesses to bolster our tax base, and add jobs, as well as what should not be done,” O’Rourke says.

“Please come to our meeting with your thoughts and ideas. We will summarize them and see that our ideas and concerns make it into the study’s suggestion box.”

Besides the study of the state highway areas, the president says the association will welcome any other suggestions and concerns Congers residents have about their hamlet and their community, and how they might be improved. Any and all subjects are open for discussion, O’Rourke says.

In other business, O’Rourke announced that the Association will hold open house sessions at the second floor local history museum in the restored Congers Railroad Station on three upcoming Saturdays from 12 noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 10, Jan. 21 and Feb. 18. There is no admission and visitors are free to examine all of the exhibits and discuss local history with association members, officers and historians.

O’Rourke also lauds the restoration efforts currently underway at the triangle park adjacent to Rick’s Club American Restaurant at Lake Road and Route 303. Begun by the Association several years ago, the park is now maintained by Majestic Lawn Care, and several improvements have recently be installed, the president says, including signage, running water and electricity, stonework landscaping and restoration of plantings and a plaque honoring association member Helen Olsen. The project is part of Clarkstown’s “Adopt-A-Spot” program.

O’Rourke also urges all members and residents to vote on the New City Library budget on Dec. 14 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Congers Elementary School. On the same day and time residents can also vote for three of five candidates running for the library board of trustees, but must cast their ballots at the library itself on Squadron Boulevard at North Main Street in New City, rather than at the school.

He also announced that the Congers Fire District has proposed a budget of $937,000 for 2012, the same as this year with no increase planned. Voting for one position on the Fire District Board of Fire Commissioners will be held Dec. 13, from 6-9 p.m. at the North Harrison Avenue firehouse. All Congers residents are eligible to vote, with incumbent Ron Gaglione running unopposed for another five-year term.

O’Rourke also reminds residents that Clarkstown’s Parks and Recreation Department runs a “fun-filled evening of activities for families” every Saturday evening from January through March from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Congers Lake Community Center on Gilchrest Road. Activities include open gym and a game room, movies on a giant 60-inch TV and a fitness room for those over 16. All that’s required is a Clarkstown ID card, which can be obtained by calling the department at 639-6200.