The Northern Westchester Examiner

Mayor Rips Peekskill Democrats Code Enforcement Plans

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The Peekskill Democratic slate unveiled a code enforcement program for the city last week designed to more aggressively address ongoing complaints and violations in neighborhoods.

However, Mayor Frank Catalina maintained the delays in city officials inspecting plumbing repairs, driveway permits, building permits and certificate of occupancies were caused by Peekskill being short two full-time employees in the Building Department that were eliminated during the previous administration.

“Just on the face of it, they want to make our building inspectors and code enforcement officers paper pushers, more concerned with making reports to the Council than doing their jobs,” Catalina charged. “It is not the purview of the Council to supervise them, that’s the role of the city manager, and he’s doing a great job, as I see it.”

Democratic mayoral hopeful Ken Martin and his running mates, councilwomen Kathy Talbot and Vivian McKenzie, and Andre Rainey, are proposing to require regular reports be made to the Council on problems in the city, and the code enforcement hotline be published on all city communications with residents and businesses.

In addition, the Democrats are seeking mandatory annual re-registration for landlords and income producing properties to ensure the city and first responders can reach landlords at any time. Failure to re-register would result in fines being levied against tax bills.

“The fact is, Peekskill has numerous laws on the books that allow the city to go after negligent landlords and address code violations that destabilize neighborhoods,” Martin said. “Instead of creating new laws that would make backyard barbecues a crime, we need to publicly hold the city accountable for ensuring that its code is enforced aggressively.”

“One of the things we learned during the fire on South Division Street was just how difficult it is to find a landlord who is renting out apartments in Peekskill,” McKenzie said. “If you want to make money in Peekskill by renting out apartments, then you need to ensure we know how to find you if and when a problem emerges or a resident has a complaint.”

Catalina said the city already has detailed records of every property owner and a requirement to register ‘annually’ was rejected by McKenzie and Talbot, along with the rest of the Democratic majority on the Council.

“If the councilwomen even read their emails they would find weekly reports from the Building Department outlining exactly what they are asking for and additional detail regarding cases pending, in the reports filed by the Legal Department,” Catalina remarked. “The Building Department investigates every complaint they receive, so I’m not sure what they mean by requiring them to develop a ‘pro-active plan to visit every neighborhood in the city annually’ and that’s why I ask again, if this were a serious proposal, why not bring it to the table at any C.O.W. (Committee of the Whole) meeting?”

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