Houlihan Lawrence Broker Manager Brendon DeSimone sat down with Pound Ridge Town Supervisor Kevin Hansan to learn about his plans for Pound Ridge.
DeSimone: You took office eight months ago, how was the learning curve?
Hansan: For the first three months, I divided my time into thirds. One-third was for learning my new role, one third went to addressing day-to-day issues and responsibilities, and one third was spent planning for the things I want accomplish.
DeSimone: What are some of the things you wanted to do?
Hansan: Well, I’ve lived in the community for more than 20 years, and I always sensed that there was a desire for more community activities in town—to do more than what we were doing. We’re fortunate in Pound Ridge that we are one of the only towns up here that has a small downtown—a good downtown, and we weren’t investing in it. Businesses were coming and going. The infrastructure for fresh water and waste water was lacking. I felt we weren’t giving the businesses the attention we should. I wanted to see more attention paid to shop local. I wanted to see more activities aimed at bringing people to town. I’ve been focusing on that.
DeSimone: How do you do that?
Hansan: First, you make sure that we have the basic services that people need when buying local: a place to fix your car, buy light bulbs and batteries, and do your grocery shopping, dry cleaning and a florist. Our local businesses offer just about any product or service you need, and we can’t afford to lose any one of those businesses. We also put in an Economic Development Committee to stay up on the changing consumer needs and desires to make sure our business district adjusts accordingly.
Then, you bring people to town for events. We’ve started with Food Truck Fridays. They’re not about the food trucks, per se, they are about bringing people—locals and out-of-towners—to town. Making them aware of what’s in the business district, so they walk by and think “when was the last time I stopped into North Star or DiNardo’s for dinner?” We’ve talked to the restaurant owners. So far, bringing in the food trucks hasn’t hurt our local businesses, it has helped bring visibility to the revitalization that has been happening in Scott’s Corner.
DeSimone: What has the community response been?
Hansan: Tremendous! It’s not just younger families who want a reason to get out of the house, the older ones—the empty nesters came, too. That is the thinking behind the community events. If you can think of others, bring ‘em on! We’ll do more.
DeSimone: Any other new goals or initiatives?
Hansan: Getting more exposure, more visibility, in a positive way. Piloting a shuttle to the train station—which isn’t a new idea but one that the town hadn’t found the right solution to yet. And we are talking about creating a dog park—another way for community members to gather. And, we’re in the midst of redoing our town website.
DeSimone: Ever held public office before?
DeSimone: Why now?
Hansan: I wasn’t looking to run but I felt the town was being overlooked by buyers, and our real estate values hadn’t recovered from 2007. I thought, “you can either try to fix it or do nothing about it.” I also figured that someday I’ll want to sell my house. We needed to put an emphasis on turning this housing market around by getting Pound Ridge back on the map as an “in” community where people really want to live. It used to be a very popular destination for people from Manhattan—for creative types. I wanted to start to reestablish that.
DeSimone: What makes you qualified to take it there?
Hansan: I view it not so much as a public service position but more of a CEO position. I mean, anyone can cut taxes—it just means choosing to not pave the roads until later or cut other services. Cutting is easy; there’s no creativity to cutting. That doesn’t improve your brand.
In a corporation, if you keep cutting, you put yourself out of business. So for me, it was more about how do you add value, and that meant delivering value back to the shareholders. The shareholders, in this case, are the homeowners. How do we give value back to the homeowners? We’ve got to increase the demand for people who want to move here, so more people want to “buy our stock.” If I can get more people to buy our stock, then it will lift everybody up. I need to make the product better to make it easier for you, my sales people, to keep selling Pound Ridge as well as you’re doing.
DeSimone: What’s going to make them want to live here?
Hansan: I’ve got to invest in the assets here. I’ve got to make sure the businesses are doing well, the schools are doing well, the golf course is doing well—that the Inn at Pound Ridge is doing well. I have to make sure we protect all the assets that make up Pound Ridge.
DeSimone: What was your professional background?
Hansan: I have my own Information Technology company since 1995.
DeSimone: What’s your biggest challenge?
Hansan: Getting the word out about how great Pound Ridge is. Homebuyers coming out of New York City instinctively think they need to be on a train line, even if they don’t commute to the city daily. They pay a premium to be down county or on the train line. If you’re only commuting two to three times a week or you work from home, you’re better off in Pound Ridge than in Chappaqua. You can spend less on your house, less property taxes, and have three to five acres of land! And, there’s not a bad piece of property in Pound Ridge. We have a lot of houses that are ready to be modernized or upgraded, so what I want to do is make that simpler for homebuyers.
Hansan: By working with the building and planning departments, the water control board, and the landmarks commission. Stay on them and ask “how can we make this process simpler and faster?” And, don’t push off the decisions. That costs the homeowners money. So, then we can say to homebuyers, maybe you don’t think you want a fixer upper, but everything’s simplified for you, so don’t rule it out.
DeSimone: What the best thing about Pound Ridge?
Hansan: The community. It’s very friendly. Years ago, my wife and I were driving our kids home from a visit out of town, and my son, who was 12 or 13 at the time, said about Pound Ridge, “how did you find the most perfect place to live?” And, it’s true. It’s this little oasis. And, I think everyone in the community wants to keep it that way. But, that doesn’t mean never move forward. We should still modernize.
DeSimone: Any frustrations?
Hansan: It’s too early in the process to say. But, I’m good at removing bottlenecks.