May 20, 2024, Mayor's Column

Now that Spring, nice evening weather and longer daylight hours are here, a fair number of you have written to us about the congestion and a perceived diminution in the quality of life in our beautiful business district. We share your concerns and have been actively working as Trustees with our Village Police Department to ameliorate what we can within our legal parameters.

Many of you have had some very good suggestions, some of which we can implement and some of which do unfortunately, not pass legal muster. I will spend the next two to three columns writing on this issue, as it is front and center in the priorities of the Trustees and the Police Department.

I will address in order of the volume of suggestions/concerns expressed to explain both our proposed initiatives interspersed with the legal ramifications of solutions proposed by concerned citizens.

There is a concern about the proliferation of scooters in the business district. To that end, our Police Department has initiated an “Operation Two Wheels” which is a traffic enforcement detail to combat the rise in reckless bicycle/moped/scooter/e-bike usage in the Village.

The above two wheelers should never be operated on a business district sidewalk and will be issued the appropriate appearance ticket. If operated on a public roadway, such vehicles must obey all appropriate NYS Vehicle and Traffic Laws such as failing to stop for a red light, appropriate licenses, registrations and insurance.

As a side note, last Friday the Police Chief personally stopped four scooters and all met legal requirements. In contrast, over the weekend, four mopeds were impounded and others issued numerous violations.

Our police will never engage in scooter chases in the business district because the danger to those in the vicinity far out way the potential enforcement benefits.

Teenagers are prohibited by Village Law from operating bicycles on all business district sidewalks but if operating them or in the roadway in a reckless manner ie., popping wheelies, riding wheelies toward on-coming cars or skidding tires in front of pedestrians, officers will stop the cyclist, take possession of the bicycle and notify parents for retrieval procedures.

For a trial period with temporary signage, the Police Chief has proposed a scooter only parking area on Park Place adjacent to the health food store – 5-minute scooter parking only for a quick food pickup. As an added benefit in addition to congestion relief, it will allow the Police Department to monitor the area and impound any non-registered scooters or mopeds.

This scooter service is a major conundrum because many Villagers who do not like the sound, driving, disturbance and the sometimes erratic driving of the scooters are according to our food establishments the major customers of the scooter driven services including Uber Eats and Door Dash, so this becomes another balancing act and cost/benefit analysis. Many of our establishments also derive a great deal of their profits from this delivery model and we must be aware of the personal rights of those drivers working hard and engaging in lawful business. The police department has also scheduled an overtime effort for the coming weekend to remove illegal two wheels to send a strong message early in the season.

However, legal scooters are here to stay as long as there is customer demand.

Many of you have also mentioned groups of people congregating and seemingly not adding to the purchasing power of the Village, but in some cases sitting on walls and discarding cigarette detritus and other debris on Village streets.

Some have suggested the idea of invoking a loitering violation. However, the New York State law on loitering simply does not cover what is going on in the Village.

According to NYS Law, a person is guilty of loitering when:

The loiterer remains in a public place for the purpose of gambling with cards, dice or other gambling paraphernalia; or

Loiterer remains in any transportation facility, unless specifically authorized to do so, for the purpose of soliciting or engaging in any business, trade or commercial transactions involving the sale of merchandise or services or for the purpose of entertaining persons by singing, dancing or playing any musical instrument.

In addition, addressing another suggested prohibition relating to smoking cigarettes, cannabis or vaping, New York State law only makes such activity illegal:

  • In the ticketing, platform or boarding areas of the train stations operated by Metro North
  • Within 15 feet of the entrance and exits to hospitals and general care facilities
  • Within 100 feet of entrances, exits or outdoor play areas of elementary and secondary schools and on the grounds of nursery schools and all elementary and secondary schools
  • Within 100 feet of entrances, exits or outdoor areas of any public library
  • At any playgrounds between sunrise and sunset

Cannabis smoking is further prohibited in motor vehicles, restaurants including their patios and most public and state parks and beaches.

Next week, I shall address other issues including double parking, crossing double yellow lines, tinted car windows and vehicle noise.