‘Port Chester is not surviving, it is thriving’
State of the Village address paints positive picture
February 8, 2024 at 1:58 a.m.
Mayor Luis Marino (left), Trustee Joan Grangenois-Thomas and Village Manager Stuart Rabin jointly present a positive State of the Village address at the Senior Community Center on Wednesday, Jan. 31.
(Richard Abel/Westmore News)
Mayor Luis Marino called all department heads and other staff to the Port Chester Senior Community Center last Wednesday evening, Jan. 31, for his first State of the Village address. He also invited his fellow board members, other current and former elected officials, the Chamber of Commerce executive director and news media to the gathering.
“It’s an honor for me to be mayor and have a good board and good staff,” Marino began. “We are planning for our future. We went through tough times: the pandemic, the storm [Ida], and we made it.”
He called up all the board members and department heads by name to stand with him at one end of the main meeting room.
“This is what makes our village strong,” said the mayor. “We work together as a team. Our board works together with us and our Village Manager Stuart Rabin.”
“This is the first State of the Village because Port Chester is growing up and growing out,” said Trustee Joan Grangenois-Thomas.
The village manager took the microphone to enumerate the Village’s accomplishments since he began serving in that role in November 2020.
“There has been tremendous progress in the last several months,” he said.
Department heads, trustees and audience members clap as Mayor Luis Marino recognizes various people for their hard work and dedication to the Village of Port Chester.
By Richard Abel
“Your village remains fiscally strong,” the manager stressed. “One indicator is its fund balance,” which has increased from $6.3 million in 2019 to $17.8 million today. Several factors have led to that result: training staff to be smarter purchasers and more stringent policies, to name a few.
In addition, said Rabin, “we have been able to capitalize on increasing property values” with new operational software and security measures.
“Port Chester is not surviving, it is thriving,” he reassured those in attendance or listening later. “Infrastructure and climate resiliency is our standard…In the last three years we have invested nearly $20 million into our infrastructure and green spaces. And, yes, we are planting more trees.”
Speaking of replacing and repairing the once-collapsed bulkhead along the Byram River, Rabin boasted that “in two years’ time we have reached the end of phase 2. We are now ready to embark on the final phase…We hope to reopen it in the fall of 2025.”
He said there is “more on the horizon for Lyon and Abendroth parks,” promising soccer and pickleball courts at Abendroth.
“Our approach to redefining how a storm system should behave…is transforming and lending protection to residents,” added the manager. “Thirty-five million dollars is expected to be spent on sewers, with $29 million in grant funding for this project alone.”
The Village’s determination to complete the new sewers in a timely fashion is why Save the Sound agreed to end its lawsuit against Port Chester, Rabin added.
Then, of course, “the future of Port Chester’s development is front and center” with more than 30 projects having received conditional approval and over 3,000 residential units approved in the first three years the Village’s form-based code has been in effect.
The manager listed the three projects that are nearing completion: 30 Broad St., The Magellan at 108 South Main St. and Tarry Lighthouse at North Main and Mill streets.
In addition, the long-awaited redevelopment of the United Hospital property “finally kicked into gear in 2023,” Rabin added. ‘The Village is very excited to see this property redeveloped.”
“If there is one feeling we would like you to take home, it is that progress is being made,” the manager concluded. “There will always be setbacks, but Port Chester is moving in the right direction.”
Trustee Grangenois-Thomas took over to lay out Port Chester’s qualitative achievements in recent months.
“Our plan is to make Port Chester a destination,” she began, and to improve the quality of life.
Important to the critical living environment, the Village has received a $10,000 grant to plant trees on Westchester Avenue, Main Street and in Lyon Park.
Public meetings and town hall meetings the mayor has held, she said, have led to policy changes.
The Village is intent on building up recreational programming, both indoor and outdoor, for youth as well as adults by ramping up staffing in the Recreation Department.
Grangenois-Thomas also focused on the Youth Bureau, Summer Youth Employment Program, summer basketball league and youth summit, the latter two allowing low-income teens to engage with their peers from other communities.
The senior center, she said, “has become known as a safe space,” serving thousands of meals per year both in-house and delivered. The Village was recently awarded a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant for a new bus and a new home delivery meal truck but also for technology and audiovisual upgrades so senior citizens can enjoy programming without leaving home.
Another goal, said Grangenois-Thomas, is to fund the rehabilitation of the gymnasium within the Village Hall complex, the former Horton School, to use as flex space for community use as well as emergency housing in case of a catastrophic fire or natural disaster.
“It is my honor and privilege to represent Port Chester and to usher in these programs,” Mayor Marino concluded.