Levenberg discusses issues at forum in Garrison

Dana Levenberg, the newly elected state Assembly member whose district includes Philipstown, took her listening tour on Feb. 11 to the Desmond-Fish Public Library in Garrison, where residents and politicians discussed issues ranging from radioactive water disposal at Indian Point and climate protection to affordable housing and potholes.

Levenberg, a Democrat, lives in Ossining, where she had been town supervisor. She succeeded Sandy Galef, who retired after holding the Assembly seat for 30 years.

Indian Point

Levenberg shared several attendees’ concerns about plans to release radioactive water into the Hudson River from the former Indian Point nuclear power plant near Peekskill as part of its decommissioning by Holtec International.

“Unfortunately, they meet all of the federal requirements for the release, so they’re allowed to do it,” said Levenberg. “I don’t know how much power we have because it’s the federal government.”

However, she said she would like more information. “We’re going to try and get some data about what has been the impact over the years” from previous releases of radioactive water into the Hudson River, she said.

Levenberg said her office is considering a letter-writing campaign “to get enough noise made” to slow or stop the release, which is scheduled to happen before autumn.

Affordable housing

Philipstown Supervisor John Van Tassel expressed concern about a sweeping proposal by Gov. Kathy Hochul to address the state’s housing crisis. Dubbed the New York Housing Compact, Hochul’s plan would see 800,000 new homes built in the state through a range of incentives and mandates.

Levenberg said she agreed with the overall intent of the plan. “We know we have an affordable-housing problem,” she said. “Our workforce can’t afford to work here.”

However, Levenberg added that she has heard a lot of opposition from constituents. “The pushback in my district has been universal,” she said.

She said that she feels that the proposals are too general and need to be tweaked to fit each community. “One size fits all doesn’t fit all,” she said. “We have to find something that’s more nuanced.”

She had particularly harsh words for aspects of the proposal that would encourage more housing near transit stops. “It’s basically a giveaway to developers,” she said.

Road maintenance

Levenberg heard concerns about New York’s road maintenance strategy and funding, and agreed that the state should do better. “It’s never enough,” she said.

She said she would like to propose a bill that would allow local municipalities to fill potholes and repair roads and bill the state for reimbursement. “If they don’t get to the potholes within two weeks after they are reported, we can go out and patch them,” she said.

That proposal drew a thumbs-up from Cold Spring Mayor Kathleen Foley. “Super duper,” she said, with a smile.

Climate protection

One resident asked about Levenberg’s support for climate protection bills, including proposed legislation to allow the New York Power Authority to build and operate renewable generation facilities to meet state goals.

“I am generally in support of anything that is going to make our environment better,” she said. “I haven’t said ‘no’ to any of those bills.”

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Joey Asher is a freelance writer and former reporter for The Journal News.