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Port Chester Residents Form Committees For Change

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. – Port Chester residents formed nine different committees Thursday night to address quality of life issues and ongoing problems in the village, from overcrowded neighborhoods to taxi cabs and loitering.

Residents gathered at the Port Chester Community Center with Mayor Dennis Pilla and Keith Morlino , a concerned lifelong resident who began a Facebook group called Making Port Chester A Better Place over the summer. At the meeting, attendees were encouraged to sign up for nine different committees including: Illegal Housing, Public Behavior, Traffic and Pedestrian Safety, Noise, School Residency Verification, Village Board Efficiency, Public Safety, Consistency in Building Code Enforcement, and Downtown Aesthetic Improvement.

Denise Clark, a senior resident born and raised in Port Chester, said she had seen a lot of change over her years in the village, but her main concern was with taxis in Port Chester. “Thank goodness in this town seniors only pay $2 … I believe that’s a blessed privilege for me to have that discount, but a couple of times I have waited outside for [a taxi] to pick me up and they pass right by me when they see I’m a senior.”

Chelsea, a 22-year-old resident, said she was the youngest person in the room and expressed her hope that the organization would involve more youth in the committees. Other residents brought up illegal immigrants living in the village, loitering and drinking in public, overcrowding, what will move into the United Hospital site and a lack of parking for nearby residents due to the Capitol Theatre’s reopening, among many other problems.

Pilla addressed certain issues that were brought up, especially those concerning density and housing violations. Attendees asked why there was so much construction going on in the village when there are already overcrowded streets and schools.

“If we want Port Chester to remain vital, we need to update our housing stock too. Eighty percent was built before 1969 … and that type of housing, if it can be updated and improved, is not necessarily bad thing,” he said. “The key thing is density. What the [Board of Trustees] is trying to do is to manage the density. We’re hoping over time to take some multi-family neighborhoods to create incentives to create single-family housing.”

Longtime resident Bishop Nowotnik asked the organizers of the meeting, “How are you going to communicate back to the community the stuff that happens in these nine committees? Is that going to be Facebook as the main vehicle, or are you thinking of something else?” Another resident asked how the committees will send out information to those who are not on Facebook, and especially to those who cannot speak or read English.

Communication will begin with Facebook, Morlino said, but he did not have a definitive answer as to other methods. “To be honest, I hadn’t thought that deep into it yet. We need to see what resources we have now just getting people signed up for these committees or this is all not happening,” he added.

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