Louise Parker and I are seeking reelection to the Nyack Village Board and share the wonderful distinction of being the only two candidates in decades, running together, who were born in Nyack Hospital, graduated from Nyack High School, married people we love here, had our children here, buried our parents here and have devoted our lives to this great Village. We have never called anywhere other than Nyack our home.
My parents moved here in the forties and I live in the house that I grew up in on Dickinson Avenue. Our entire family, my siblings, my wife and two daughters, we all went through the Nyack School system and graduated from Nyack High School. My mom Harriet was a kindergarten teacher at Lake Road now Liberty Elementary School for over 25 years. She was known as the teacher in sneakers. My Dad, too, was a teacher, at BOCES in West Nyack where he started the “Electricity” class. He was also an auxiliary sheriff and responded to the 2 events that most rocked our community in the past 40 years. The High School bus crash and the Brinks robbery. He was a first responder to both events. I can remember him crying over both tragedies. I served on the Nyack School Board for 7 years, I am a volunteer coach for the football team and my wife Ronna and I work with kids who are struggling, helping them with school work and figuring out their future.
My colleague Louise Parker is a hard working single parent, a middle sister from the legendary Parker family, third generation Nyackers, ten kids, a family large enough to almost win the primary election alone. Louise’s mother was the first black female matron of the Nyack Police Department and her dad, a Korean war vet, worked for Xerox and others to help his large family thrive. The Parker family home overlooks the Nyack Marina though Louise now calls Nyack Plaza home. Louise has served this community in so many ways, as a devoted member of St Phillips, possessed of a wonderful voice that she shares with the choir, a founder and organizer of the African American Day parade and as both Board Member and volunteer, with the both the Nyack Center and Head Start. In her fifteen years on the Nyack Village Board she has overseen the Nyack Housing Authority and the Nyack Department of Public Works, two complicated areas of Village Government. Her commitment to minority employment, affordable housing, jobs and her demands for the rights of those who struggle most in our community have had a strong positive impact on our Village, forcing us to see our diversity and celebrate it and rather than paying lip service, actually working toward making us the integrated community we are, even if we have a ways to go.
We have watched Nyack change. We remember when there were a couple of grocery stores in our downtown, Woolworths was actually open and and bar fights often rolled into the street and Nyack police used batons to break them up. We remember when the now much discussed Gedney Street parcel was giant oil tanks and we would sneak in and swim there even though the water was full of dead fish. We remember when there was no such thing as the “old” High School…We remember when Frank Sinatra moored his boat here, stories of when the St George Hotel thrived and families could go to the Lighthouse for special occasions. We remember when they tore down black family homes and replaced them in an attempt at “urban renewal” with the current strip mall and unachieved plans to build high rises on that spot. We remember when the John Green house was owned by a slumlord and families who lived their suffered from no water or electricity. We remember when Pavion actually made “Wet and Wild “cosmetics and the Time Hotel was the Soffel Seals plant; locals worked there and our streets were busy with large trucks and vehicles connected to manufacturing. Yes, we have seen it all, at least five decades of it. We know this place and, yes, we have watched this place change many, many times over because that is what life is about when it is moving forward and adjusting to the times.
We can tell you, as people who have literally seen Nyack through decades of change, and our entire lives, that one of the beautiful things about our great Village is that it is constantly changing and improving. The Nyack of today is completely different from the Nyack of our childhoods but that is not a bad thing. It is just a reality. One of the reasons that we have both chosen to serve on the Village Board is to be careful agents of this change but protectors of all that is precious about our Village. And we are incredibly proud to have done that…but more on that in our next post…