By Geri Corey
Scott Wohl comes to being mayor of the Village of Goshen with formal education in political science as well as the experience of having done it before. He recalled those ventures on a recent day.
Born in Monticello, NY, Wohl moved to Goshen during middle school and graduated from Goshen High School in 1990.
“I haven’t left since then,” he said, although he studied political science and urban planning at SUNY Albany.
But he took a break from SUNY in 1993 to work with his mother in her real estate appraisal business. His flexible hours allowed him to get involved with local politics, beginning with sitting on both the Town of Goshen Planning Board and the Joint Recreation Commission.
He was elected trustee to the Village Board in 1997, and then, in 2003, became mayor, serving until 2007.
“It was such a fantastic feeling,” said Wohl. “I thought this was the greatest thing that ever that happened to me.”
While mayor, he went back to college to finish up his degree.
“It wasn’t easy; there were no online classes. I had to drive to Albany twice a week. But it certainly was worth it,” he said. He earned his degree in 2016.
Serving as mayor for the first time was “challenging,” said Wohl, but he felt much was accomplished, including laying groundwork for sewage treatment plant construction.
“It was an unbelievably huge expense and undertaking being responsible for the oversight and construction of the plant. A tremendously hard undertaking,” he said. “It’s not glamorous, but it’s functional. The focus for us now is water quality.”
Wohl noted that the village is still dealing with issues from his first term, like working with the Town of Goshen to remove a school building “loaded with asbestos and lead.”
“I’m thrilled to see this project going forward,” he said, pointing out that the Town of Goshen is now working on bids, intending to remove the structure by spring. He also credited Legoland with generating more revenue than expected.
“They pay their water bill quarterly, like everyone else. With such a great revenue source, the result will be better water for residents at no additional cost,” he said, noting that he hasn’t seen any increase in crime or accidents since Legoland opened.
According to Wohl, the Joint Recreation Commission hasn’t changed much since 1997, and he’d like to see the parks add amenities. The Erie Street Park could have rest rooms and the popular skateboard park could be brought back.
A part-time code enforcement officer, Ed Gibbs, will be starting soon.
“It’s important how the Village appears to people. A great looking village sends a message, and a code enforcement officer attends to quality of life issues on a day-to-day basis, like addressing those with homes in disrepair or leaving garbage out on the street,” said Wohl.
Of the newly elected Town of Goshen Supervisor Joe Betro, Wohl said, “He seems focused and highly collaborative. It’s time to see where the Town and Village can work together. Shared space will bring about savings and convenience for everyone.
Wohl is aware that the opioid epidemic has hit close to home, and Goshen’s local schools have been impacted.
“We’d like to work with the schools to see what we can do to try to stem the impact,” he said.
The Village already provides school resource officers for security in each of the schools, and Wohl says that District Superintendent Kurtis Kotes is willing to team up to tackle the issue.
“This is an issue too big for village, town and school district to handle alone. Maybe if we work together, we might have an impact,” Wohl said.
The Goshen Village Board has quality-of-life issues on its agenda to address, said Wohl, “But not to be forgotten is maintaining the character and historical integrity of the downtown. This is essential. It’s why Hallmark came here--it’s cute, but it’s still viable for businesses to survive.”
To maintain the historic integrity of the village with new growth, Wohl wants to see updating of the village building code and zoning ordinances, clearly written and easy to understand.