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People: Trustee Candidate: Mark Edsall

Mark Edsall
Mark Edsall
February 13, 2007

Third in a series of profiles of the six individuals expected to be on the ballot in the village Mayor and Trustee election on March 20.

Mark Edsall, who is running for a fifth term as trustee in the village of Cornwall-on-Hudson, has ties that run deep throughout the area. He is a member of the third generation of his family to live in Cornwall and the village and he hopes that his two children and future grandchildren will want to live here, too.

People who work in local government know Edsall, 50, as an engineer who has developed the instructure plans for numerous projects in Cornwall and another 28 municipalities in the region. He is also a familiar face at the Cornwall Fire Department, where he has been a member for 32 years, nine of those as president.

They also know him at the Lions Club and the Elks Lodge or from the soccer field. Edsall coached soccer for 15 years, working with teams from Cornwall Youth Soccer and East Hudson Youth Soccer. He also played soccer at Cornwall High School in the early 1970s, where his brother was a guard on the fabled basketball team that never lost a game in four years.

After high school, Edsall earned an engineering degree at Manhattan College, then joined the New Windsor firm now called McGoey, Hauser & Edsall, Consulting Engineers.

“I was not always a person who thought the village board was doing an OK job,” Edsall says, recalling how he criticized the handling of a sewer project near his residence in the 1990s. “Then I thought I could contribute some of my experience to make it better.” He was elected as trustee in 1999.

In the past eight years, Edsall has applied his knowledge of engineering and municipal practices to help the village reduce spending as much as possible, he says. He worked closely with the Storm King Fire Engine Company #2 when it had to purchase a new rescue truck and a new pumper. “I went to the factory and looked through all the specifications,” Edsall recalls. “We studied it carefully, then went forward on a planned basis.”

He notes that he and trustee William Fogarty are both against borrowing, saying that “if you are trying to pay a debt off, you don’t take more debt on.” That’s why he would not vote for a new sweeper for the village Department of Public Works (DPW), urging the department to borrow the town sweeper while the village one was repaired.

Edsall also says that the Local Development Corporation saved the village about 40% of the cost of the new DPW building on Shore Road. “The highway garage (on Hudson Street) was very old, in the middle of a residential neighborhood, and the trucks were getting bigger and bigger. I thought the move was a good decision.”

Edsall says the job of the trustees is to move ahead cautiously with recommendations made by committees like the LDC and the Master Plan. “They have a lot of enthusiasm and ideas,” Edsall notes, adding that “the trick is taking a vision and making it meet a goal.”

He favors the proposal to renovate the front of the Food Bank building on Hudson Street, especially since the village will not have to pay for it. He has mixed feelings about what to do at the riverfront, noting that the quiet and peacefulness found there is what makes it so nice. He does see a benefit in a dock that would make river access more safe.

Edsall says he would like to look at alternatives to widening the roads in the Cliffside Park neighborhood, including the possibility of creating a one-way loop that maintains the character of the neighborhood. He remembers the issue first came up several years ago when an emergency vehicle could not get to a Cliffside Park residence to attend a medical emergency because the road was too small and clogged with parked vehicles. He says he will never forget a fire that killed a man in Cornwall in the 1980s after the fire truck was delayed because a parked car blocked its turning space.

As an engineer, he has been involved with water and sewer projects across the county and he sees the village water system as “unique” because it will soon count on three sources of water when neighboring towns often only have one. “New York City can shut down its aqueduct whenever it wants,” Edsall says, “and if you don’t have a back-up source like we do, all hell breaks loose.”

For Edsall, keeping the character of the village is a priority, a goal he says the new restaurants and stores have helped to achieve. He forsees a struggle with zoning and says “you have to look at what is best for the village and at the rights of property owners. You have to balance the two.”


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