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  • Mamaroneck Observer

Board Highlights November 27, 2023

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training For All

The BOT expanded diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training to all volunteers who serve on Village Boards and Commissions. This action increased the budget for this training to $90,000.

This first came before the BOT at their August 14th work session, and it was also scheduled for that evening’s regular session which is not usual. Village Manager Jerry Barberio told the BOT that he has been working on the training mandate he received when he was first hired and listed other training programs he instituted for the staff. He believes specialized training is needed to work with a diverse citizenry and respond appropriately to help our community. He continued, saying that he wanted to make sure “we (Village staff) are well prepared for anything that could come our way and that staff feel comfortable and the public feels comfortable dealing with our staff.”

On the agenda for a vote was a proposal from the Radical Gadfly Consulting Group. See HERE for the original proposal. Radical Gadfly’s letterhead does not include an address, requiring an internet search. The firm does not have a web presence but, we found reference to the company’s creation in June 2023, and it is based in White Plains. The proposal does not include any prior experience or references but a search of the firm’s principal, Phillip Marcus, Jr. revealed an extensive history of similar training for large, global companies.

According to the proposal, the first month of a twelve month engagement is for initial assessment and planning which includes interviews with an unknown number of “relevant” employees, a facilitated focus group and data review.

After that, every employee will be assigned to one of four cohorts of 38 individuals and attend monthly 60 – 75 minute sessions for eleven months. Meetings are in small groups to “promote psychological safety.” There was no mention of training new employees.

The Village did not issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for this work but instead directly solicited a proposal from Radical Gadfly and described the company as having worked with school districts and other public entities. Despite having a “mandate for training,” this item was not included in the budget and at the August 14th meeting, the BOT passed a resolution authorizing the training for 150 employees, including the BOT and the police department, and transferring $63,000 from the reserve fund. It passed 5-0 with no discussion on the cost difference as the proposal was for $51,000.

BOT members did request that the Village Manager look into including all volunteer members of the Boards and Commissions. They noted that asking volunteers to attend monthly sessions would be difficult and that since volunteers change annually, they would have to figure out the details.

At the October 10th work session, Village Manager Jerry Barberio reported that there are 84 total volunteers on 12 Boards and Commissions. He also reported that training for the employees was to begin in November and that the BOT had not been scheduled as yet.

At the November 27th regular meeting the BOT had a revised proposal from the consultant to add 85 volunteers at a cost of $39,000 which, when added to the original $51,000 proposal brings the total cost for the training to $90,000. See HERE. The revision notes that all other details of the arrangement remain the same. Since the BOT approved $63,000 in the original August 14th resolution, they needed to add $27,000 to meet the revised cost. The resolution passed 5-0 with the additional funding transferred from the reserve fund.

During the public comment period of the meeting, resident Amy Siskind asked that any DEI training include antisemitism because incidents are on the rise and Mamaroneck has a large Jewish population.

Are Accessory Dwelling Units Coming?

An item on the Work Session Agenda to adopt zoning changes to allow for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in residential districts was proposed by Trustee Lou Young. No backup was provided to the agenda but at the meeting Young asked the Board of Trustees for consensus to instruct the staff to provide information at a future meeting on the following topics:

· What is the current policy as it applies to the Tiekert/McCrory lawsuit regarding the Sigalow property (spelling corrected);

· A Model ADU ordinance;

· The cost of land use litigation for the past 5 years;

· The ability to exempt properties in the floodplain from an ADU ordinance; and

· Ability to offer incentives for homeowners who offer affordable housing in their ADUs – possibly a village property tax reduction.

It appears that Young is linking the concept of ADUs to litigation and affordable housing.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) can provide affordable and accessible housing options for people of all ages. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people aged 50 or older to choose how they live as they age prepared information on ADUs. See the AARP Model State Act and Local Ordinance and explanation HERE. ADUs may be “affordable” units or market rate units. The goal is to help solve the severe housing shortage as well as helping older homeowners remain in the community as they age.

When Governor Hochul proposed ADUs a few years ago as part of the solution for the State housing crisis, the idea was strongly opposed by downstate communities, and it was withdrawn. Opposition to Young’s idea has already begun with a resident, Alana Stone, speaking out against it at the regular meeting of the Board of Trustees.

The Village Thanks Mayor Murphy

The November 27th BOT meeting was Mayor Murphy’s final meeting after two decades of serving both the Village and, briefly, the Town of Mamaroneck. Residents, staff, and fellow Board members thanked him for his service and dedication to the Village and wished him well in the future.

Murphy closed the meeting by saying “It’s been a pleasure and a privilege.” He mentioned that he enjoyed “working with so many of you” and wished “best of luck in the future.”

Murphy began his Village volunteer work in 2000 when he was appointed to the Recreation Commission and as a Trustee in 2001.He was elected Mayor in 2017.

Mayor Tom Murphy


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