WARWICKFiscal year 2004 was a year of improvements, works in progress, and change in the Village of Warwick. Mayor Michael Newhard gave his state of the village address Monday night, outlining the accomplishments of the past year as well as the struggles. "The shared or common thread of the past year's activities is that all these activities represent works in progress, work that continues to balance and define our village," he said. The board adopted a new comprehensive plan in 2004, a plan that took years to develop. The village also hired a planer to rewrite the zoning laws, bringing them into compliance with the comprehensive plan. This project should be completed sometime in 2005, Newhard said. Development continued to be one of the village's main issues. Warwick Grove, an over-55 community planned behind both Memorial Park and Homestead Village, began construction. The development was first proposed in 1996 and fought by residents of Homestead Village and later, Creekside Apartments. Access to the development was one of the biggest stumbling blocks. A road was built parallel to Creekside leading back to what will be the 200-home development built by Leyland Warwick Partnership. The developer also donated two acres to the library, which may be the site of a new library. Local developers also proposed a mixed-use zone on the Welling property, the land that was the rallying point a few years ago that sparked the green ribbon campaign. Grand Union had wanted to move out to the property but many citizens wanted to keep the property green. Now, developers want to build retail stores, offices and residential housing, along with a new Red Swan Inn, echoing the historic hotel that existed across the street from the site until the 1950s. The board is in the process of an environmental review on this project. With growth has come stresses on the village's infrastructure. Improvements were made to Southern Lane, Carroll Drive, South Street Extension, West Street, Woodside Crescent, Locust, Oakland Court, Clinton and Linden streets. The water plant, which is now 21 years old, is being upgraded for greater efficiency. The village also commissioned a water resource study. Newhard said this comprehensive tool will allow the village to contend with growth issues and to plan responsibly for the future. Recreation in the village also evolved over the past year. Summer concerts continued, last year even using the Railroad Green as a setting. Discussions came up regarding skateboarding the safety and rules that go along with it. The village formed a volunteer skateboard committee, which turned in its recommendations just last month. John Garcia, who ran the village's summer recreation program for 30 years, retired in 2004. Ron Introini, who had worked with Garcia in the past, took over the job. Newhard thanked the Warwick Valley Gardeners who helped to beautify the Railroad Green Park, as well as the Warwick in Bloom committee, who placed planters and hanging baskets in the spring and summer as well as fall displays and evergreens in the winter. Newhard noted that the village and the Department of Public Works came to an agreement and signed a four-year contract. The village is also being sued by the Village Hall office workers, who charge the Mayor and Board of Trustees have discriminated against them. Their salaries are not equivalent with the men of the Department of Public Works, they claimed. In concluding, Newhard compared Warwick to Bedford Falls, the fictitious town in "It's A Wonderful Life," the Frank Capra movie classic. "Every time George Bailey enters old man Gower's drugstore, he makes this wish and declaration, I wish I had a million dollars.' Well, sometimes wishes come true," Newhard said. The village was notified just weeks ago it would receive $1 million from the state's Oil Spill Fund to help offset expenses incurred from the reservoir dredging two years ago. "This grant will cut the debt from this project by one half," Newhard said. "We are all faced with modern challenges," Newhard continued. "We all continue to be challenged with cost of living expenses as well as the stress of change." He encouraged residents to become involved in the community, to participate in any way they can to make Warwick a better community. "Volunteer for Meals-on-Wheels, work at a local food pantry, join the Warwick Valley Gardeners, or coach a Little League team, Be a fireman. Our ambulance corps is volunteer-based. Apply to become a member of the Friends of the Library, or a zoning board member. Become an interested citizen." He said he is most happy with hearing from people outside of the community what a wonderful village and town Warwick is. "We are a healthy blend of vitality and opinion, of new and old, affluent, and of middle class, hardworking families," Newhard said. "I promise that your commitment and involvement will come back to you and your community, and it will feel like receiving a million dollars."