I moved to Nyack nearly three years ago and love living here. One thing I find vexing, however, is how important matters come up before the Village Board with very little or no notice to the public. The most recent example of this was regarding changing village regs about dogs being off-leash in Memorial Park during certain hours. This issue inspires strong feelings on both sides, and attracted a significant number of people to the meeting at which it was raised last year. However, the Board voted on Jan. 24 against allowing dogs offleash. Almost no one who cared about the issue was aware it had been scheduled for a vote, and consequently it was sparsely attended.
I saw an interview with Mayor John Shields in which he acknowledged complaints about no notice, but rather than address that concern he implied the onus is on the public to know issues are coming up. How they are supposed to know that is unclear. Is it just that I don’t know where to look? I have a feeling that perhaps agendas might be posted on the glass-enclosed board outside the Village Hall but, realistically, how accessible is that for most people – to have to physically walk to the Village Hall (and this assumes that is the case; I’m not sure if it is.)
In the Internet age — and in a village that swiftly put in place a web-based method to pay the multitudes of parking tickets it gives out — there is absolutely no reason why all interested parties shouldn’t know when an issue they care about is coming up before the Board. On www.nyack.org, there is a “Calendar” tab that lists all of the upcoming village meetings; when you click on a particular meeting, every single one says “no information available” under the event details heading. Yet, the Village has no problem posting the minutes of meetings after they have occurred on this same site. Why isn’t an agenda posted a few days before each meeting?
This lack of information gives the impression, correct or not, that members of the Board tend to conduct business on controversial issues under some cover of darkness. Indeed, I have heard many residents say that the Board intentionally acts this way and has for years. It would be very easy to quash that speculation by posting agendas a week or so under the “Calendar” section of www.nyack.org. If they refuse to do so, one must ask “why?”.