Mayor of Mount Kisco Gina Picinich took office in December. Houlihan Lawrence Broker/Manager Brendon DeSimone sat down with her and Deputy Mayor Jean Farber, a longtime Houlihan Lawrence agent, last week to find out what’s new in town.
Congratulations on your victory. You’re not a career politician, what is your professional background?
Several years ago, I retired from the corporate world of professional development and communications to spend some time with my children and became very involved in volunteering. The opportunity to serve as Executive Director at the Mt. Kisco Chamber of Commerce, a non-profit organization, came up, and it seemed to be a good fit. A partner and I applied for the job together as a job share—bringing different talents and different skills. Through this work, I developed a greater understanding of the challenges and opportunities for the business community.
What were you and your partner able to accomplish in your joint role?
The chamber had not been looking at our community with a broad, modern view. They had a waning membership, and there were few benefits to membership. There has to be a win/win. There has to be a value proposition. So, we took notions from a business and corporate environment, brought them into a non-profit organization and increased the impact of the chamber in town. It’s the same thing we’re seeking to do here in government.
What is special about Mt. Kisco?
Mt. Kisco has this tiny footprint –a little bit more than three square miles. It’s this small town feel, yet it’s big because we have a dense population, world-class healthcare, family entertainment, an excellent elementary school, corporate stores and smaller, independent shops. And we have great restaurants. So, we’re a big, little village. We also have a very high level of service. We have sewers, and Mt. Kisco picks up your garbage. This is not something that happens in neighboring communities. So, for our tax dollar, which is low compared to our neighbors, we deliver a lot of services.
How did you find your way to MK?
My husband and I were renting an apartment in Larchmont and the options for buying a house there were limited. So we said, let’s go further north. We looked at what the Toll Brothers were building in Armonk (my husband was dead-set on new construction). They told us about what they were building in Mt. Kisco, we saw that the train was here, and it was just under an hour to the city. We said, “we can do that!” I commuted in for years. It’s very civilized. I got my train pass, my parking pass, dropped my car, grabbed a coffee and a copy of The Post. I was on the platform for the 6:32. You get on the train and give it up to God.
What do you love about Mt. Kisco?
I love to walk from where I live in the park and come to downtown. We have walking trails in town. The Mt. Kisco Historical Society is working on developing guides and tours and even a phone app.
The restaurants in the community are really, really good with varied menus from Turkish to Ethiopian, and different styles, ranging from the food court at Exit 4 to fine dining at Winston.
We have a great range of shopping, as well—everything from Target to Elephant’s Trunk.
Small Town Feel
I love the small town experiences, like the Little League parade. On opening day, the players and coaches gather at the fountain and march up Main Street to Leonard Park for a ceremony. The Rotary Club sells hot dogs. That’s the stuff that your memories are made of; your family’s made of, your community is made of.
What are your administration’s goals?
Ten Year Plan
We are developing a ten-year plan that we hope will lead us to become a village where everything is connected. Through walkability, through ease of use, with more outdoor dining, more places where people can gather.
We are looking for ways get businesses into vacant locations. Our building inspector and planner meet regularly with prospective business owners so we can understand what they’re seeking to achieve and then move them through the process. We’ll be hosting commercial real estate open houses for potential business owners and real estate professionals, too. We are working on parking—looking at the user experience and how to make it more accommodating.
Telling our story better about who we are to the outside world through social media and the press.
Continue with our green initiatives. We have solar initiatives in place to reduce our carbon footprint, and we have green space. We want to make sure we are identifying that as an asset and make sure that people are using it, and we’re protecting it.
I love all the new things happening with the Arts Council. We recently had a beautiful photo exhibition that was a collaboration with the Arts Council, Historical Society, Advisory Council, and Tree Preservation Board. And, there are plans underway for much more!
Deputy Mayor Farber, as a founding board member of the Mount Kisco Arts Council, what can you tell us about the council’s plans going forward?
I am excited to help bring a very ambitious summer concert series to the village beginning June 13 and running through September 19. The council will sponsor music at Fountain Park (in front of Village Hall) every other Wednesday evening. We have signed up a very eclectic group of musicians—jazz, blues, roots, rock—and admission is free. This will add another dimension and reason to come downtown to shop, have dinner, and enjoy our village.
It all sounds terrific. We can’t wait to see all your plans come to fruition!