The Future of South Nyack: An Existential Decision

By Jennifer Korn

On Dec. 17, South Nyack voters will decide the fate of their village. After the news surfaced that Yeshiva Viznitz, of Kaser Village, Ramapo, purchased Nyack College, South Nyack residents petitioned for a referendum to be held.

 

After the petition was filed, the South Nyack Village board hired CGR consulting firm to break down the impacts of the potential dissolution.

 

CGR will answer questions from the public and release a “Dissolution Impact Report” on Nov. 24, at the village’s Board of Trustees meeting.

 

CGR also established a website to keep South Nyack residents informed of their findings.

 

The website, called, “The Future of the Village of South Nyack”, allows residents to sign up for electronic notifications and submit questions.

 

“Our goal is to get the facts to our residents concerning the dissolution of the Village of South Nyack,” said South Nyack Mayor, Bonnie Christian, in a statement to the Rockland County Times.

 

“I am looking forward to the full CGR report,” said South Nyack Village Trustee, Michael Lockett. “We, each resident and public servant, needs [sic] to dissect it and put it in context of 2020-2021.”

 

As the community waits for the CGR report to come out, some say that regardless of the consequences, dissolution of the village is necessary.

 

“If you’re an eligible voter in South Nyack and you want to retain the character of your community, of your village, you need to dissolve that village,” said Pete Bradley, civic activist. “Because if not, you’re going to have a massive powerful political group making the calls.”

 

“There’s a pattern of history here with the politics of the Hasidim, where they like high density housing and they prefer to get a lot of people in their area living closely together due to the lack of available land,” said Bradley.

 

 

Unlike towns, villages do not need to get land alterations approved through town zoning and planning boards. Villages have local control over how the landscape is developed, and there is no village population limit in New York State.

 

The Nyack villages were incorporated after residents of Orangetown felt that the flourishing town could not fulfill local community needs. In 1872, Upper Nyack established its own village, and the Village of Nyack was officially incorporated shortly after. South Nyack seceded from the Village of Nyack and formed its own village in 1878, because southern residents were opposed to paying taxes that did not benefit them. The leftover central portion of Nyack then re-incorporated itself as a village.

 

Although many share Bradley’s concerns about the village becoming overpopulated and overbuilt, not everyone agrees.

 

“These people bought that property for a religious school,” said Yehuda Zorger, of Airmont.  “These people are not here to change South Nyack, they’re not here to do any of that.”

 

Zorger claimed that there are thousands of Jewish families living in other areas, such as Airmont, New City, Pomona, Chestnut Ridge and Hempstead, who have not changed the character of the areas they live in. He does not see South Nyack being any different.

 

“It’s all about fear mongering and it goes into the whole character of the Jewish community doesn’t pay taxes, the Jewish community doesn’t contribute to society,” said Zorger. “It’s all the same.”

 

In 2018, Rabbi Aaron Fink, who purchased the Grace Baptist Church in Nanuet and planned to build a private girls’ school, was verbally attacked by residents in Clarkstown Town Hall. In video footage, people can be heard shouting, “We don’t want you, go back to Ramapo.”

 

“There wouldn’t be any other minority group in this country, not even one where that kind of behavior would have not been national news or tolerated in any way, shape or form except when it comes to the Orthodox Jewish community,” said Zorger.

 

If the Dec. 17 referendum passes, the South Nyack Village will be dissolved into Orangetown.

 

Zorger warned that if there is a direct correlation to the Orthodox community moving in, there may be a lawsuit, “just like Airmont is currently facing a lawsuit from the Justice Department,” said Zorger.

 

The mayor expressed her concerns about other potential consequences of losing the village.

 

“Our residents need to be informed before they cast their vote and understand what the consequences and cost will be,” said Christian. “These costs include the intangibles, which include the loss of our Department of Public Works and our Police Department.”

 

Bradley agreed that there will not be a South Nyack Police Department if the village dissolves. “The reality is, when villages dissolve, they usually get rolled into the town police departments,” he said.

 

“Both our Police Officers and DPW employees know the ins and outs of our village and most importantly they are very familiar with our village residents,” said Christian. “We stand to lose this valued connection if the referendum passes.”

 

Bradley does not believe South Nyack police officers will lose their jobs if the village is dissolved, but they’ll be absorbed into the Orangetown Police Department. “In the totality of the pros v. cons, that’s not going to measure up to what the consequences of still having that village are going to be,” said Bradley.

 

Bradley is also worried that failure to dissolve the village could hurt the Nyack School District, in addition to the entire village of South Nyack and the village of Nyack.

 

“Dissolution whether pro or con is a big decision that should not be taken lightly as it affects all of us,” said Lockett.

 

“What the long term end game is going to be in Nyack, I don’t think that story has been written yet,” said Zorger.

 

Ultimately, South Nyack residents will decide the future of their community.

 

**Bradley formerly served on the Clarkstown Town Board, and the Clarkstown Zoning Board of Appeals.