The moment Alessandra Biaggi was declared the Democratic primary winner for the state senate seat held by Jeffrey Klein, a question that immediately entered the thoughts of many civically minded neighbors was most certainly, “What’s going to happen with all that money?”
Klein’s relationship with senate Republicans may have cost New York its place as one of the most progressive states in the country, but it did bring far more money into the 34th Senate District than would’ve ever come otherwise, short of Klein becoming majority leader.
Still, that money did do good for the community, especially with the Kingsbridge Riverdale Van Cortlandt Development Corp., which worked to bring fun and inclusive civic events to our community. Whether it be street festivals, RiverFest, concerts, or something as simple as holiday decorations — we could depend on KRVC to plan it, run it, and clean up afterward, providing many hours of fun and fellowship.
Sadly, we didn’t have to wait long at all to get our first taste of KRVC in a post-Klein world. The Johnson Avenue street fair, planned just after that fateful primary election, was immediately canceled. Days later, KRVC executive director Tracy McCabe Shelton announced some large funding sources had come through. But still, there was going to be some belt-tightening — and it would likely start with payroll.
The first casualty was announced last week — Cliff Stanton, a former city council candidate and who spent 10 years with KRVC, stepped down as the group’s greenway director. He not only was forefront on initiatives to create a river walk along the Hudson River — giving Riverdale much-desired access to the beautiful waterway bordering the community — but was a key player in RiverFest in recent years, the summertime festival at the College of Mount Saint Vincent that celebrated the Hudson.
It goes without saying, there’s not many festivals the community can attend, and if we lose RiverFest, we’ll have even fewer, if none at all.
That’s why it’s important for the community to really step up. RiverFest requires a lot of resources, both financially and through sweat equity, and its continued viability depends on us either helping KRVC keep it alive, or someone else taking it over.
A community can have the best homes, the quietest neighborhoods, the most fantastic businesses. But if there are no street fairs, if there are no concerts, if there are no movies in the park, if there are no RiverFests or festivals like it — then is this really a community anyone would want to live in?
We don’t think so. And now it’s time for us all to step up.