AREA NEWSThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Foster Optimistic About Peekskill During State of the City Address

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Mayor Mary Foster
Mayor Mary Foster

By Rick Pezzullo

Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster delivered her State of the City Address last week, highlighting a surge in new businesses and plans for redevelopment and public improvement projects.

“Peekskill continues to prosper as a city. We have made great strides in improving the quality of life for our residents and maintaining fiscal responsibility,” Foster said at City Hall at the start of the Common Council meeting. “However, we will not sacrifice our residents’ safety or the city’s economic development efforts to balance our annual budgets. Both are necessary for Peekskill’s long-term prosperity. Our goals are to live within our means while growing economic opportunities for businesses and our residents.”

Foster, in her fifth year as mayor, said $2 million worth of renovations and restorations were made to business properties in the downtown and waterfront districts in 2011. She also pointed out the expansion and/or relocation of four businesses in the city: Bertoline & Sons, White Plains Linen, Northeast Appliance and The Peekskill Brewery.

Meanwhile, she said plans were moving ahead for Riverfront Green South Park, Peekskill Landing, and the Lincoln Plaza visitor center.

“The visitor center and plaza construction documents will be out to bid shortly after Labor Day,” Foster said. “Peekskill’s industrial districts and the waterfront district are crucial redevelopment opportunities for the city and its residents.”

As for the financial health of Peekskill, Foster called the outlook for 2012 “challenging, certainly, but not bleak.”

“While our economic outlook focuses on projects that will bring in revenues and jobs in the short term, our focus on finances needs to remain on the long-term issues that drain the city’s budget,” she said. “No amount of development or economic growth will offset the alarming increases in pension costs, worker compensation costs, health care costs for employees and health care costs for retirees.”

Foster also cautioned that layoffs could become necessary next year depending on the outcome of ongoing union contract negotiations with police, firefighters and blue collar and white collar workers.

“While we continue to try hard to deliver the same quality city services, the unknown contract settlements, litigation, workers compensation claims and employee benefit costs dictated by the state may start to impede our ability to maintain staffing at current levels,” she said. “We continue to find ways to use technology and community outreach to improve the quality of life in Peekskill and to deliver high-quality services.”

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