Editor's note: Every candidate running for City Council in New Rochelle in the Nov. 8 election was sent the same list of questions. The answers were only edited for style. Ivar Hyden is running against Kevin Barrett to represent District 4 on the City Council. Barrett's responses to the questionnaire can be found here.
Name: Ivar Hyden
Occupation: Business owner/artist
Family: Wife Diane Hyden and three grown sons
Line(s) on the ballot: Democratic, Working Families
Patch: Last winter was particularly severe, taxing city resources. What can be done to avoid similar situations?
We all know that weather patterns have changed globally and are contributing to the unusual weather events we have been experiencing. We must prepare this winter by having equipment at various locations around the city loaded and ready to go. All streets need to be made passable as quickly as possible for the safety of our residents. Special planning attention needs to be paid to the streets that were not plowed in a reasonable period of time last year with an eye to understanding why they were not done, and making certain that they are done promptly this year. The City should create a list of local small contractors who have plowing equipment that can be called to fill in immediately if the need arises in neighborhood side streets as long as they meet insurance and safety requirements.
Patch: The city adopted the GreeNR Sustainability Plan recently. What should the city concentrate on in the short run and long run to implement it? Or should it be something that is implemented at all?
The Green NR Sustainability Plan is a credit to New Rochelle and sets long-term goals which will benefit our local environment, but we should not mandate rules for our local homeowners especially during these tough economic times. In the meantime there are lots of small things we all can do to be more energy efficient and we should start there.
Patch: Declining revenues and increasing costs seem to be a fact of life. How would you adjust the city's budget without hurting the quality of life for its residents?
The City has done a reasonable job of reducing costs over the last few years and has tried to maintain our overall quality of life. It is not at all unique to our city to face a shortfall of revenue due to the recession. There is always some waste and inefficiency in any large organization and we must continue to monitor all expenses and require all personnel to perform their duties diligently and efficiently. In these times anyone working for the city who does not perform to these standards should be dismissed. We must also all remember that two-thirds of our property taxes goes to the school system, and of the remaining one third, only half to the city of New Rochelle, the rest to the County. Both the County and the school district need to have more oversight on expenses and personnel. I personally feel that vendors who are doing business with the city should not contribute to local candidates' campaigns and those involved with the corrupt practices of the convicted DPW manager should be barred from doing business with the City immediately.
Patch: Parking is always an issue in New Rochelle. What is the solution?
Parking is a problem throughout New Rochelle, not just in the downtown business district. In many residential neighborhoods, the current economic situation means more grown kids at home, more extended family members living in the same house and more people working from home. All of this means more cars in our residential neighborhoods. Add to this the illegal splitting of houses into more residential units, and we have serious parking problems even in residential neighborhoods. In the downtown we have a problem initially created by the Avalon buildings changing their parking policy a couple of years ago. No longer is a parking space included in each apartment’s rent and therefore hundreds of cars moved out onto our streets for free overnight parking. This meant no available parking for shoppers, diners and visitors. The new parking rules are an attempt to correct this problem … and two sensible Republican members of the council, who are merchants themselves, voted for these changes. As a businessman myself in the downtown, I support these changes, but more needs to be done. We need “smart” meters that will take credit cards instead of quarters, enable parkers to avoid tickets via remote payments and add a few minutes of free time before the violation pops up. We need much better signage so that the rules are clear, and inexpensive overnight permits for residents who really need them and don’t have other options. Closed circuit cameras throughout the downtown especially in the parking lots would increase security. And at the Church-Division garage, we need to clean, paint, install new lighting and have a manned security booth outside. Further into the future I would support building additional levels on the Library East lot so we would have a central garage right in the heart of the downtown. All of the parking issues ultimately are the result of poor overall planning in the past, and the lack of political will to require developers to provide sufficient and permanent parking solutions as part of their projects.
Patch: What are some concrete ways the city can bring more businesses to New Rochelle?
We need to continue to pursue new retail and commercial ventures especially in our downtown. I believe that given the current economic situation, it is unlikely that any of the big retailers will be coming to New Rochelle soon. But in the meantime we can continue to attract smaller retailers and restaurants. I myself have opened three retail businesses in the downtown and have helped directly to bring others to our city (two new quality retailers will be opening soon with my help). For example, because of my downtown business knowledge, I was instrumental in creating the deal that brought to Lawton Street , a new and successful addition. I have worked with the BID to bring sidewalk seating to downtown eateries, renovate empty commercial space into rentable artist studios and create movable galleries in vacant spaces. I believe we can bring quality small retailers to New Rochelle by using the arts as a hook to entice boutiques, galleries, crafts shops and services. As Chairman of the Municipal Arts Commission, I worked to design and create the look of the storefronts on Division Street and wrote legislation to require many visual improvements in the downtown business district. There is a lot more to do, and revitalizing our downtown will be high on my priorities list if elected.
Patch: How can development be used to increase the quality of life for New Rochelle residents and help the city's coffers?
We need sensible development in New Rochelle. To me that means development that produces revenue from the start, does not impact negatively on our existing residential neighborhoods, has sufficient parking and adds jobs for our local residents. I am not in favor of long-term tax abatements, but every businessman knows that sometimes you have to “give to get.” Each potential development deal needs to be looked at on its own with the overriding consideration being “how does this benefit the citizens of New Rochelle?” If it doesn’t, it shouldn’t go forward. I also believe that any new major development in our city must include funds for the improvement of related infrastructure and be visually attractive and fitting to the area. New Rochelle is one of very few cities that does not have an Architectural Review Board, and we should create one immediately to protect us from ugly, oversized and poorly designed buildings.
Patch: If there is anything you want to add or if you'd like to make a statement, please feel free.
For too long District4 , both under the old and the new map, was poorly represented on council. Unlike my opponent, I have many years of successful community service in New Rochelle, and have lived and worked here for over 20 years. I am a local businessman, artist, homeowner and taxpayer. I know what needs to be done and have the local experience needed to achieve results. I want to be a positive voice on City Council and to work hard for all the residents of my district without regard to politics.