BY JANIE ROSMAN
Peter Vitro, president of the New City-based residential association group the Little Tor Neighborhood Association — and a recipient of the Rockland County Distinguished Service Award — believes in having things “done the right way so that nothing negative happens to the neighborhood.”
Several years ago, the county wanted to redo New Hempstead Road from the Palisades Parkway to North Main Street and make it four lanes. No way, said the neighborhood. It will destroy the character of the surrounding area. “After a while, we got it to where they’d fix two lanes and modify the intersections to keep a good flow,” a project that’s nearing completion, he said.
Seated with his longtime friend County Executive Ed Day (before he ever was county executive, of course) on the Vision Plan Advisory Committee for the New City Hamlet Center, Vitro advocated for his community. “Our main goal was to have the commercial buildings on the west side of Main Street not exceed two stories with no apartments and to keep the density in the area at a minimum,” he said.
The result was a floating zone that prohibited more than two-stories and apartments on the noted side of Main Street. Vitro said the county tried to put a bypass road from the Rockland County Courthouse parking lot around the jail and end at New Hempstead Road, that land abutted his neighborhood.
“People moved to the area because of its single family-zoned neighborhoods and the privacy,” he said. He pushed back; eventually, the county met with the highway superintendent and several neighborhood residents to emphasize that it was dedicated park land as well as environmentally protected. As a result, the County withdrew the proposal.
A retired New Rochelle police sergeant with 23 years on the force, Vitro “is modest and unassuming, and a staunch protector of the hamlet of New City against untoward development,” Day said.
As vice president, Vitro was Day’s right-hand man when the association was reconstituted in 1998; five years later (2003) he took over as president when Day resigned to become the chief of detectives for the Baltimore police department..
“He led on his own for 11 years, and his presence has been the vanguard for the central New City community,” Day said. “I am thankful a man of his caliber is here looking out for all of us.”
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