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Arguments Erupt Between Pelham Residents and Board

PELHAM, N.Y. - A discussion about a parking agreement for the Clovelly Homeowners' Association became contentious Tuesday night when residents challenged members of the Pelham Village Board about the issue.

During public comments on the agreement, four Pelham residents addressed Mayor Ed Hotchkiss and the board about whether Hillside and Brookside avenues are public or private streets. The board has argued that they are public while the residents said they have always been private.

Carolyn O’Connor was the most vocal of the four and the first to speak. She brought up several issues that she had with the resolution.

“I’m not going to go into the motivation of the village taking this position that they have challenged for 80 years – that Brookside and Hillside are private streets,” said O’Connor. “I do question why the village is going forward at this time when there are several issues unresolved.”

O’Connor and Hotchkiss got into a fierce back-and-forth argument on several issues she raised. She cited the board's discussion at its meeting in May and question whether the mayor changed his position on the matter.

“I don’t think I changed my position,” said the mayor. “You go back to old maps and to the 1800s, you can see the streets going into Mount Vernon, before there was Clovelly, before there was a Hutchinson Parkway. In fact, if you go over to Mount Vernon right now, there’s a Brookside and Hillside where they used to be. So, these are always in our opinion public streets. We feel that it’s a very strong case, I cannot emphasize this enough that it’s a public street.”

The debate between O’Connor and the mayor did not stop there as she spoke for several more minutes before the argument exploded.

“You act like it’s a gift to us,” said O’Connor. “It’s not a gift. We have 80 years of history that say these streets were owned by Clovelly or the neighborhood. Eighty years we paid to maintain the streets. Eighty years the village denied services. Eighty years the village went on record that the streets were private. Now, all of a sudden, it’s in question because it suits your purposes.”

Three other Pelham residents came to the microphone to speak to the board during the public comment on the issue, which lasted more than an hour.

Jamie Cabarrocas, who has been vocal in the debate since the beginning, said the streets are private and thinks the board has only said they are public to allow the Picture House to add a second theater. Cabarrocas is worried about a pipe that will be installed on Hillside Avenue for storm water runoff if the Picture House expands. The board, however, said it is possible the pipe will never be installed.

“Because it was the Picture House permit that started this, there’s some people who live on those streets might think that we’re doing this in order to make sure that this happens for the Picture House because we feel it’s for the good of the village,” the mayor said after the meeting. “But, that’s not the case. Really, the reason is that you just can’t have a situation where you don’t know who owns the road. So, that’s what we’ve always maintained. Some people might not believe it, but we still maintain it.”

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