Peekskill Mayor Andre Rainey declared the city is “stronger, safer and better” than when he took office during his second State of the City address last week at City Hall.
Rainey, who is seeking a second two-year term in November, spoke of the city’s accomplishments under his watch and the bright future that lies ahead for Peekskill.
“In my 2018, State of the City address, I said Peekskill was like that legendary “Pot of Gold” at the end of every rainbow. During the past year we’ve worked hard to share some of that gold, to attract people, families, and businesses from across the country and around the world to join us in making Peekskill a great place to live, to work, to start a business, to raise healthy and happy children, and to enjoy the best life has to offer in the Hudson Valley,” he said.
“I consider Peekskill’s incredible diversity a powerful strength, and I want to make it known, in no uncertain terms, that as long as I’m your mayor, this community is, and will be, a safe place for everyone, no matter what their race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or documentation status,” Rainey stressed. “This administration represents the kind of leadership our country desperately needs right now, showing empathy rather than hostility, compassion rather than hate, and courage rather than cowardice. We are deeply committed to creating and sustaining that kind of community in Peekskill, and to ensuring that it’s a safe, sustainable and welcoming hometown for all.”
While addressing public safety, Rainey said in the last year violent crimes in the city have decreased 41% and property crime has dropped 39%. He said Police Chief Don Halmy has improved community policing, diversified the police force so that “it better reflects our community” and played a role in improving the Police Department’s reputation in the community.
In terms of economic development, Rainey spoke about the business climate in the city and development that has taken place and is currently underway.
“You may have noticed, Peekskill is hot, hot, hot!” he remarked. “Small businesses of all kinds, from bakeries and restaurants, to art galleries and salons, are popping up all over the city. We are also attracting new technology and green energy businesses, and we’re looking to attract even more.”
“We’ve worked in cooperation with a number of developers who aren’t here just for the buck, but who believe in the promise and the diversity of Peekskill and are willing to put their dollars where their commitment is, to help us move forward,” Rainey said.
Mentioning the city’s new Central Fire House as “a jewel to our Pot of Gold,” Rainey referenced a nearby building project going up, Alma Realty’s One Park Place, which will feature 181 market-rate apartments, 300 underground parking spaces and more than 10,000 feet of retail and office space.
Also being developed is Ginsburg Development Corporation’s Fort Hill Inn and Spa, where an historic convent and chapel is being converted into a 42-room inn, premier destination spa and high-end restaurant and catering facility. It is expected to be completed and open early next year.
Meanwhile, a $12.5 million project that will provide 53 affordable apartments for senior citizens ages 62 and older is being built on Route 202 on the property of a former Italian social club.
Another development that recently received approvals, 645 Main Street, will include 82 mixed-income apartments with prices ranging from $850 to $2,389 a month, plus two levels of parking, a community room, a fitness room and other amenities.
“These projects represent millions of dollars in private investment, and they’ll stabilize our finances and provide needed relief for our taxpayers, for years to come,” Rainey said.
On the financial front, Rainey maintained Peekskill was “in a much better fiscal position today than we were when I took office.”
He explained in 2018 the city’s fund balance increased by more than $900,000—-$512,000 in the Unreserved and Undesignated Fund Balance, and $390,000 in Restricted Fund Balance for the Central Fire House. Rainey also mentioned in February Moody’s Investors Financial Services upgraded Peekskill’s bond rating from A1 to Aa3, the largest boost the city has received since 2013.
“That’s based on solid management and conservative budgeting, budgetary surpluses, improved finances, structurally balanced operations, and consistent economic growth,” he said. “We have witnessed a steady expansion of the assessment roll that has broadened our tax base and helped both the city and the school district to pass 2019 budgets that were below the 2% tax cap.”