Village Board Defunds MLK Summer Camp

At last night’s village board meeting, Mayor Alan Simon and trustees Grossman and Charles refused to fund the MLK Center Summer Program. The village has been funding the program for several years now, providing a safe place for the village’s children to learn and play when school is out. The Mayor gave no reason for his action, which will leave parents scrambling to find safe places for their children this summer. Many members of the public spoke in favor of keeping the Summer Program.

The planning and zoning boards meanwhile have been approving more and more high density housing, with the majority of the plans being for two large units. These plans are often disapproved by the Rockland County Planning board, but overridden by the Spring Valley Planning and Zoning boards. There has been a pattern of  having a third unit, designated as a basement, but including kitchen, bathroom, etc. and which is later converted to a third unit by addition of a single door. The reason for the sham is that buildings with more than two units are subject to fire inspection.

Residents who spoke at the village board meeting also voiced concerns about racial conflict. They felt that the village policies are favoring white, ultra-Orthodox Jewish residents over Black and Latino residents. It is true that much of the new housing being approved is designed for ultra-Orthodox needs (many bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom design). It is true that needs of Black and Latino families are ignored (Summer Youth Program).

Another topic of discussion at the village board meeting was the ward system.The village board voted to repeal a law passed by the previous administration which would have given voters the option to adopt a ward system. A ward system is often adopted by local government to better represent minorities. At-large voting was often used as a tactic after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to disenfranchise minority voters through ‘voter dilution’. Sometimes courts will order a ward system to prevent voter dilution. There is currently a lawsuit brought by the Spring Valley NAACP to get a ward system for the East Ramapo school district.

Upcoming Meetings:

The Rent Guidelines Board will meet on Monday, June 11 at 7:00 PM in Finklestein Library, 24 Chestnut Street, Spring Valley.

This board determines the rent for all rent stabilized housing in Rockland County. Over the past two years, tenants have successfully argued to control increases. They have also described some of the conditions caused by lack of maintenance, resulting in improvements to the buildings. Please come out and support your neighbors who live in rent stabilized housing.

The SV-CUPON Monthly Meeting will be Thursday, June 14 at 7:00 PM, at St. Paul’s AME, 121 West St. (Harriet Tubman Way)

We will review what our members have observed in the Planning, Zoning, and village board meetings, as well as activities by other CUPON groups from around Rockland. We will plan our upcoming activities. Please join us as we work to improve our quality of life and keep Spring Valley a place where diversity is welcomed and promoted.

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