Drawing new business and tourism to the village, upgrading the fire department and continued fiscal accountability for village taxpayers are among the priorities of newly-elected Stillwater Mayor Judith Wood-Zeno.
“What I’m proposing may sound ambitious but I want to make the next four years really count,” said Wood-Zeno, during a 15-minute outline of her goals to the Board of Trustees at her first meeting as Mayor on Dec. 19. “Many of these things we have talked about before but I’m committed to getting them done.”
Wood-Zeno was elected Mayor by village voters in November after serving nearly two terms as Trustee. She replaces former Mayor Judith Wood-Shaw who did not seek re-election. Wood-Zeno also served as Deputy Mayor under Wood-Shaw and was sworn into her new role as Mayor on Dec. 4. Her four-year term expires in 2027.
One of her main priorities since becoming an elected official has been looking to promote Stillwater’s historical heritage and beautification efforts. Part of that effort was overseeing the Experience Stillwater Committee – a group of village and town residents brainstorming ways to capitalize on tourism through events and activities that highlight Stillwater’s rich historic past such as a walking tour.
Wood-Zeno also discussed these other goals for her first term as Mayor:
Regular office hours for the Mayor
Wood-Zeno said she will establish regular office hours for the Mayor’s office at Village Hall “so people can stop in and meet me face-to-face.”
Upgrades to the village Fire Department
“We need to look for a new or expanded firehouse,” Wood-Zeno said. “Our current building is in poor shape and we need to do what is necessary to fix it. I know we’ve been trying to do this for years but I want to continue to look for ways to accomplish this and explore new land options. We also need to look at our equipment and make sure all our fire apparatus is at peak performance.”
Grants opportunities and new business development
The village will continue to work with professionals to secure grant monies for village improvements and ways to draw new businesses into the downtown area.
Village park improvements
Development of new recreation areas along the Hudson River, a small pavilion near the toddler playground at Major Dickinson Park and a new fence for the basketball courts at the American Legion field.
Department of Public Works
A focus on better planning and scheduling for new equipment and vehicle purchases so the department is not left short-handed due to equipment breakdowns.
“This includes financial integrity and the way we spend the residents’ money, keeping in mind that every dime we spend is not ours, she said. “The residents are paying for all the village expenses, so we all need to show transparency and accountability. They have elected us and have a right to know.”
Expanded documentation within village departments
“I am a strong believer in documentation,” Wood-Zeno said. “So, over the next four years, I’m going to meet with each (government) department and ask that our village processes be documented thoroughly so any novice could pick up and do that job. I’m going to meet with each employee and Trustee to understand what your goals are, what your individual needs are, and what your priorities are so we can set a mutual course for the village.”
Village charter review
Forming a committee to review and update the village charter and focus on such areas as building code, planning and zoning regulations. “The village charter hasn’t been updated since the 1800s,” Wood-Zeno said. “There are things that are not complete and need attention.”