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Polish the Ossining Diamond

The image of Ossining as a distant prison town is hard to dispel but it is not an impossible task because Ossining is much more than that.

Mention to someone from New York City, Long Island and elsewhere in the State that you live in Ossining and you are sure to get one or all of these responses: “Oh that’s interesting,” so, how do you like living in upstate,” and, “aren’t you worried about prison breaks.” It seems that condescending, negative and plain wrong information about the Village of Ossining abounds and is grist for the bad rumor mill. Some time ago in an effort to separate Ossining from the prison, a former resident and Village Trustee, Jodine Wang, (now deceased) suggested that the Village change its name to North Briarcliff or failing that, that the prison be called “The North Briarcliff Correctional Facility. It was a tongue in cheek remark but the protest letters from our neighboring community flooded the local papers for weeks. The image of Ossining as a distant prison town is hard to dispel but it is not an impossible task because Ossining is much more than that. It is a diamond in the rough and all that is needed for this diamond to shine is a concerted effort to make its actual but hidden treasures known.

One of the ”polish the diamond efforts “ that I am most enthusiastic about is the “Holy Ossining Tours” that former Mayor Miguel Hernandez organized with the support of the backing of the Ossining Historical Society and the Ossining Parks and Recreation Department.  I have attended several of these events and can tell you that the participants’ just love them and keep coming back.  The idea behind them is that Ossining’s “sacred spaces and peaceful places’ (aka places of worship and cemeteries) are   underappreciated architecturally and historically significant sites that enrich our lives and should be seen by everyone.   Soon we will have a self-guided tour booklet for the Downtown Historic District and Miguel is working on a very interesting companion self-guided tour project called, “Museum in the Streets.”  In addition, Dale Cemetery is in the process of being nominated for inclusion in the prestigious National Register of Historic Places

Ossining is more than a gritty prison town and the Village Board on which I serve is making a full press charge to strengthen the economic engines of historic tourism and historic preservation.   Recently we published on our website the Significant Sites and Structures Guide designed to catalogue the Village of Ossining's numerous buildings, neighborhoods, and other locations that are of architectural, cultural, and historical significance.  The Guide, the first of its kind for Ossining, was drafted by a committee consisting of members of the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Historic Preservation Commission, working closely with the Ossining Historical Society...

The Guide is intended to provide a resource for those seek information on historic structures located within the Village of Ossining.  The document contains sixty-two entries, each of which focuses on a particular landmark within Ossining.  The entries have been divided among five chapters, each corresponding to an era in Ossining's History.  The guide will show property owners, architects others how to maintain, repair and design properties in the historic and other districts in an appropriate manner that is consistent with the historic character of the Village of Ossining.

Ossining still has a long way to go but it is on the right path and I hope will join in the effort to “Polish the Ossining Diamond.”

J Philip Faranda September 06, 2011 at 12:17 PM
Robert: your are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. There is no comparison between the downtown today and that of yesteryear, so how can it be going "down." Please tell me what was "better" in any building beside the one remaining vacant AL Meyers storefront and what is there now. Ossining National Bank was boarded up blight and is now renovated and ready for occupancy. The rest are occupied, with the exception of Mauro's, which is simply vacant but not boarded up/crumbling.
J Philip Faranda September 06, 2011 at 12:54 PM
Call to arms? It is simply a desire for people who say inflammatory things to not hide behind anonymity. There's no need to read anything else into it, as I am quite transparent. The fact of the matter is that the downtown area is head and shoulder better than it was in the 70's through the 90's where it was literally crumbling, vacant blight. They have finally gotten over the hump and in a poor economy at that. Of course there there is room for improvement, but compared to where we were it is night and day in a good way. It would be a shame for people who live out of our area to read this and assume that downtown is not what it is, which is open for business.
Linda Cabral Marrero September 06, 2011 at 01:23 PM
I have been in Ossining for four generations!!! I have never seen it in worse shape, with so many lost opportunities, the neighborhoods are a far cry from what they use to be, the taxes are also much higher than ever before and for what??? Empty promises and higher taxes thats seems to be the hallmark of Ossining! If you knew Ossining, we had a vibrant downtown with stores and shops not anymore. We were willed the riverfront and we gave it away, instead of developing it the way the community wanted it, we were given an opportunity to have a film/theater center by the we can do it wall, and it's still a parking lot. Examples of how to better Ossining are all around us, look at the other waterfront towns, look at the Burns Center and what it has done for Pleasantville. Let's tell it like it is, I would love to see Ossining return to the great place it once was, were legal immigrants abided by the laws and we truly had a melting pot of a community!
CJAFHH September 06, 2011 at 02:54 PM
No one is questioning your transparency (your statements are very clear). I'm simply questioning your inability to respect other people's opinions with your inflammatory statements and sarcasm: man-up, talk the talk, don't hide behind a screen name, ooh passive aggressive, etc.,....all of these statements do not change my opinion that Ossining needs help. Whether it is your intention or not to create a smoke screen about other's opinions, it is simply that, my opinion...you're not going to change that with insults. If others reading this blog assume that downtown is not what it is, then so be it. They have a right and ability to check it out for themselves and form their own opinion, I'm not going to lie about what I feel or hold my tongue about the town I live in because of that, it only hinders progress. My concern is the ability to voice what I see as a town not living up to its potential, whether my voice is one of anonymity or not.
robert kraft September 06, 2011 at 03:05 PM
j ;you truly might need a seeing EYE dog the town is getting worse BE HONEST!!!YOU MUST BE RUNNING FOR OFFICE

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