CIVICS 101 AT SEA CLIFF VILLAGE BOARD MEETING
August 12, 2014 -- Although not even close to voting age, several young residents turned out Monday evening for the Sea Cliff Board meeting - with a few participating during Public Comment to ask questions, raise concerns and offer their suggestions.
The Mayor and Trustees had extended an open invitation to all of Sea Cliff's youth at the previous Board meeting in an effort to promote civic education by offering children an opportunity to witness and participate in local democracy first-hand. Trustee Ed Lieberman said the idea came to him two meetings ago, when he noticed Sea Cliff School fourth grader Dylan Roth in the audience for a public hearing regarding his parents' application to modify the Still Partners cabaret license.
Monday's meeting opened with Mr. Roth and his friend Will Winchester, also a fourth grader, leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Maybe a dozen or so young citizens in the audience accompanied by their parents and sitting side-side with more seasoned board meeting regulars, listened patiently and attentively through two public hearings, and reports from the Mayor, each of the Trustees and Village Administrator John Mirando.
During public comment, Mr. Roth, Mr. Winchester, and second grader Seamus Hughes, each individually came up to the lectern to address the board.
Mr. Roth asked questions regarding Sea Cliff history, in particular its first Mayor. Its current Mayor, Bruce Kennedy pointed out the picture of a man on the eastern wall of the meeting room, and explained that the first mayor had been a Civil War veteran, and that when he served, his title was "President" - not Mayor.
Mr. Winchester expressed concerns regarding speeding on his street, while Mr. Hughes asked about the village policy regarding dogs in parks, citing his concern about a dog that had been leashed to a tree and left unattended at a Sunset Serenade Concert a few weeks ago.
The Mayor conceded that while enforcement of speed limits could be improved, he noted the local nature of the street in question and its proximity to the elementary school, and said that Sea Cliff residents could perhaps help out by urging each other to drive responsibly.
In response to the dog question, Trustee Carol Vogt explained the challenge of balancing the conflicting interests and desires of village residents - in this case, dog owners and non-dog owners.
Mr. Winchester also proposed bike lanes for the Village. Trustee Vogt responded that that could be a real challenge in a village with such narrow streets. Mayor Kennedy said that perhaps bike lanes could be do-able on Prospect Avenue where it turns into two lanes approaching Tappen Beach. He said that it might be a good idea closing one lane to vehicle traffic, creating a wide pathway for bikers to the beach. He asked Mr. Winchester if he would be willing to help out in urging the county to embrace the idea. Mr. Winchester said that he would.
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