The Maybrook elections are heating up this year with a fiery divide between the incumbents and newcomers.
Village Mayor Dennis Leahy is running for reelection alongside current trustee Rob Pritchard and trustee candidate Daryl Capozzoli. They are running against the “Maybrook United” – Thomas Starro, a worker for Interstate Waste Services running for village mayor, Joseph Byrne, a tax manager and Valley Central Board of Education member running for village trustee, and Joshua Tyrrell, a full time student, five year part-time EMT, 11 year firefighter and former marine running for village trustee.
Leahy first became mayor in 2008 when the village was in the beginning stages of what he called “the worst recession many of us ever experienced in our lifetimes.”
“My goal during those four years was to start chipping away on the village’s infrastructure,” he says. “You can’t build a home unless you have a good foundation. We built a new senior center, government center, enhanced our parks, added more community events, new sewer lining to replace outdated lines…and started sidewalk replacement on Tower Ave.”
Since his first year in office, Leahy has been adding on to his lengthy list of accomplishments in the village. In 2011, the village started sewer lining through Community Development Grants. To date, 95 percent of the sewer lines have been completed in the village.
Most recently in September of last year, Leahy, along with all other village trustees, introduced the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) for the village’s Downtown Design District.
“Many hours were spent getting this document together and we were able to introduce it to the Village Board in September 2017,” he says. “This Zoning Code Amendment is a vision for our village and will set the table for investors in our efforts to bring back Main Street in our village.”
The DGEIS had been in the works for six years and is on track to be adopted this year. On February 26, the board of trustees unanimously passed the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) Findings Statement, the amendment pertaining to the downtown zoning design district.
“This did not happen overnight,” says Leahy. “The old Maybrook Rail Yard property is looked upon as the best site for industrial development in the county because of five key elements: water, sewer, rail service, [Orange County Airport and Stewart Airport] and [being] two miles from Interstate Route 84. Our village thrived for many years as a railroad community…[the old Maybrook Rail yard] has the potential of becoming the 21st Century Rail Yard in our village that will support a thriving Main Street, bring in new residents and quite possibly a need to reopen our Maybrook Elementary School. Our village is moving forward and we are on the path to where we want to go.”
Now, Leahy is looking forward to a bright future in the Village of Maybrook.
“My vision for the Village of Maybrook in 2018 and beyond is to continue to move forward on the revitalization of our village,” he says. “It’s taken a lot of work to get to this point and [the Village of Maybrook Board of Trustees] will continue to push forward.”
Along with wanting to see Main Street thrive again, Leahy wants to see positive growth, good jobs and property values rise.
“I’ve lived and owned a home in the Village of Maybrook for 30 years,” he says. “…I, along with trustee Robert Pritchard and trustee candidate Daryl Capozzoli, have an investment in this village just like all of the other homeowners in the village.”
Pritchard first won a seat as village trustee in 2010 while working full time at the Stewart Air National Guard Base. As the base converted from C-5’s to C-17’s, Pritchard spearheaded a year-long project at the base to counter the loss of some of the 250 jobs, ultimately resigning his position on the board.
In 2012, Pritchard regained his seat and was appointed as Deputy Mayor in 2017 after trustee Noreen Reynolds announced she would not be seeking re-election.
“At that time Mayor Leahy asked me if I would accept the responsibility of the role of Deputy Mayor in part due to the now top priority of driving economic development in the village and I accepted,” he says. “…My accomplishments are generally associated with infrastructure, economic development and revitalization. I have been working on these programs since my 2012 re-election and it has been a long road.”
Speaking on the SEQRA GEIS, Pritchard says the February 26 vote to enact the Maybrook Traditional Downtown Development into law will allow and encourage developers to invest in the Maybrook community.
Economic development in the village is a top priority for Pritchard.
“One of the assignments [in] my role in economic development includes bringing in development and consequently tax revenue,” he says. “For this I have made several trips to visit the owners of a large industrial parcel in the village to attempt to encourage their interest in developing the property they own… After spending a day with the mayor and I these owners have decided to pursue development and are now earnestly in the engineering stages of an 880,000 square foot light manufacturing and corporate park. It is my intention to assist them in seeing this through to fruition and build this village a formidable tax base.”
Pritchard has several other ideas for projects in the works, including the extension of Main Street across the railroad tracks to allow for access to both the new corporate park as well as the Stewart State Forest Preserve. He has also been working on the creation of a 500 foot pedestrian and bicycle path interconnecting the two parks in the village that are currently separated by a half-mile walk on public roads.
Pritchard and Leahy are running with Capozzoli, a U.S. Army veteran and third-generation Maybrook resident. He has a long history of getting involved with the Maybrook community having been a member of the village planning board for eight years, a village police officer for 20 years and village fireman for 26 years with eight of those years serving as the president of the fire department.
“For as many years as I’ve been here, I’ve had a simple goal just to make [Maybrook] a village that people want to raise their children in,” he says. “I want my children to be able to raise their children here. I think my ultimate goal is to give the best services to our taxpayers.”
Capozzoli currently works for the Orange County Parks Department.
“My ties go deep,” he says. “I’ve been working there for the last 20 years. I started at the bottom as a laborer and now I am a parks maintenance leader in Newburgh. I run Algonquin, Cronomer and Cronomer Hill [park]. I run all three of those parks, but I started from the bottom and worked my way up.”
Self-proclaimed “political pragmatists,” Byrne, Starro and Tyrrell make a promise to village residents to put aside their personal political affiliations when making decisions for the village.
“There is a lot of misunderstanding about what you can do based on what ideology you have,” says Tyrrell. “In terms of local government, our scope of responsibilities is so narrow and our abilities are so limited by the New York State Constitution and the U.S. Constitution that we can’t, like Democrats are usually known for taxing stuff, we can’t tax everybody into oblivion, because they’re going to leave…So when the political pragmatism comes into play is that we need to be able to see and take pieces from each side in order to address all the needs of our community but also not creating too much of a burden now or in the future.”
The Maybrook United are focused on four things: fiscal conservatism, infrastructure, public safety and community development.
They want to fix the village’s broken budget system starting off by pledging not to take any salary if elected to office and reexamining the budget, looking for redundancies, ineffective practices and surpluses.
According to the Maybrook United, fixing the village’s budget would allow for the village to replace the water tower on Prospect Avenue.
“The problem with that water tower is that it’s about to be a water treatment plant part two,” says Tyrrell. “Because again, [the village] has no money set aside in the capital reserve.”
Tyrrell, a public administration major at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says it is time for a fresh set of eyes on the village board.
“In so many years people have been complaining,” says Tyrrell. “We’ve heard the complaints. We’ve embodied the complaints. We’re a part of these complaints. Year after year when these elections would come around, the board was uncontested. And it’s time [that] changes.”
Along with fixing the budget, the Maybrook United say they will do an aggressive search for all available grant opportunities, something they say may be hard to come by in the “current political finance climate.”
A growing issue in Maybrook is the increase in drug overdoses. As an EMT, Tyrrell has seen first hand how devastating the impacts of an overdose can be.
“The usage of drugs is a very hard topic to touch,” he says. “As an EMT for the last five years for the Village of Maybrook, I’ve seen [a lot]…It’s everywhere. It’s not just here. The problem is that everybody seems to think that they have an answer and all we keep on doing is getting dead heroin users. I wish I could just go up to the heroin addict and say, ‘Hey, listen, we don’t want you to do this because we don’t want you to die. What can we do to help you?’”
In July of 2016, Leahy introduced legislation pertaining to the drug use or sale by renters in the Village of Maybrook and was passed unanimously by the board of trustees. A part of the legislation, under Chapter 152: Rental Property, reads:
“A special summary proceeding to evict a tenant from leased premises may be maintained upon the ground that the premises, or any part thereof, have been used or occupied for the purpose of using or possessing drugs deemed by New York State Penal Law to be illegal by their nature, quantity, possession, or use…”
On February 28, Leahy will be holding a meeting at the Maybrook Village Hall with Town of Montgomery Supervisor Rod Winchell, Village of Walden Mayor Susan Rumbold, Valley Central Superintendent John Xanthis, Valley Central Assistant Superintendent Michael Bellarosa and Village of Montgomery Mayor Stephen Brescia to discuss the current state of the drug epidemic and identify problems.
The Maybrook United think that the village can do more to address the drug issue.
“I think that [the meeting] is a starting point but we have too many round tables,” says Byrne. “Now we’re just changing locations of them and new faces….We need a community coalition beyond those round tables.”
The Maybrook United want to address the drug epidemic in two ways: funding and education. They want to allocate funds to help resolve the drug epidemic by hiring more police officers to patrol areas within the village and educate younger kids in schools about drugs.
Byrne currently serves on the Valley Central Board of Education, where he says he oversees a $101 million budget that funds the education for more than 4,200 students and employs more than 400 staff members. He previously ran for trustee in 2014 and recently resigned his position from the village zoning board of appeals.
He says he brings a much needed younger perspective to the board and hopes to bring optimism back to Maybrook.
“You want to have a village where you have young families coming in,” he says. “Not only do younger families help the school district but everybody wants to talk about [Maybrook Elementary] never opening back up again. Will it happen? I don’t know. But the only way you get that is if you get the younger families in here.”
Starro is running for mayor because he wants village residents to be heard.
“I don’t think [Leahy] is strong enough,” Starro says. “He’s not listening to the people.”
He wants to update the village police department, officially recognize Logan’s Way, an undedicated road, and work towards having full transparency with residents.
“I’ve got a strong team here,” says Starro. “We work together. We talk constantly. We nosedive into different topics…we go deep.”
For Starro, he says being mayor is all about doing it for the people. Not for the title.
Village of Maybrook elections will be held on Tuesday, March 20 at the Maybrook Senior Center from noon to 9 p.m.
By Jaspreet Gill