By Kathy Savolt -
As over 200 people stood outside in the cold beyond the expected 8 pm start to a special meeting of the Board of Trustees (BOT), some wondered what was happening behind the closed door.
People anxious to attend the meeting began arriving at 5 pm – three hours before the scheduled start. These extra early birds, which included a large group who had attended a well-publicized pre-meeting rally at the Washingtonville Housing Alliance (WHA) offices, were rewarded with space in the heated vestibule which filled up quickly.
As 8 pm came and went, with sightings of various Trustees, Village staff and police officers, the crowd was getting antsy.
When the doors opened and 90 people were let in (maximum room capacity is 96, counting the BOT, staff, and police officers) and the meeting was cancelled for “safety reasons,” the Mamaroneck Observer decided to find out what happened.
In a brief phone interview the next day, Mayor Sharon Torres explained that Trustee Lou Young had taken responsibility for scheduling the meeting, something usually done by staff. As the time grew near, everyone realized there was no format for how the meeting would proceed. Torres proposed one and there was discussion until all members of the BOT agreed. But then they realized there were more people outside than anticipated. Although Young had hastily arranged for “overflow” space across the street, the BOT balked at the thought of Village residents not able to get into their own courtroom.
When the Police Chief and Fire Inspector arrived and informed the BOT about the size of the crowd, the lack of safe egress, and the fear for public safety, the BOT agreed the situation was unsafe and the meeting was cancelled.
Torres mentioned the passion for affordable housing that several members of the BOT have, and they all agree affordable housing is an issue they need to address. They are working on how to address it and how important it is considering other priorities. She mentioned she has been working on finding common ground with each member of the BOT and the results of that effort are beginning to be seen.