“City” of Ossining?

J Philip Faranda August 8, 2011

Ossining LibraryThe corporation, or village of Ossining, will be 200 years old in 2013, and our fair municipality was the first village to incorporate in the State of New York. The bicentennial will rightly observe a long, rich history as well as cultural significance from being the cradle of the “up the river” line from old gangster movies to Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and most recently, prominent mention in the hit TV series Mad Men. 

So have we outgrown the “village ” moniker? The dictionary defines a city as an inhabited place of greater size, population, or importance than a town or village. Indeed, according to the 2010 census, of Westchester County’s six cities, Ossining is larger than Rye and an eyelash smaller than Peekskill. Of the county’s 23 villages, only Port Chester is has a greater population. Moreover, if you go outside the county to many other cities in New York State, Ossining is larger and arguably more significant than a bunch of them. 

Would there be an advantage to acknowledging the facts on the ground and declaring ourselves a city officially? Would there be a revenue advantage in terms of federal or state aid for our infrastructure or school system? These questions might be worth exploring. If the answers are in the affirmative, it would make sense to approach the idea more earnestly. 

Perhaps the symbolism of the move would make a bigger impact on  our civic psyche then the mere utility. Our waterfront remains undeveloped outside of arguments over the on again, off again Harbor Square project. Downtown Ossining, blighted and derelict for decades, has nearly completed its turnaround and is reaching critical mass in terms of vitality. Westchester magazine loves us. Should we strike while the iron is hot? Would it be a smart move? Have we graduated? Is 200 years as a village long enough? 

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