Fred Pizzuto, the new Town of Lloyd supervisor, is already getting comfortable in his new offices in Town Hall. “Paul [Hansut, retired supervisor] was gracious enough after the elections to let me come into the office and get acclimated to the position,” said Pizzuto, a registered Independent who ran on the Democratic and Conservative tickets, narrowly beating out his opponent, Jeffrey Palladino, by approximately 70 votes.
“That night was something,” said Pizzuto, referring to Election Night, when the Ulster County Board of Elections’ vote count went haywire due to both human and mechanical issues. The results originally had Palladino winning, but the numbers being reported manually by each district had Pizzuto in the lead, and finally everyone drove to the BOE offices in Kingston to get the numbers straight. “Only once we arrived there, someone who worked at the Board of Elections had a medical issue, and that sent them and the entire county into chaos,” he recalled.
Eventually the health issue was resolved, as well as the votes; and it did come down to counting the absentee ballots, which put Pizzuto in the lead.
The fourth-generation Lloyd resident may be new to the supervisor’s position, but he’s not new to the inner workings of Town Hall or politics. “I first served as a town councilman in Lloyd back in 1977,” he said. “I then served on the County Legislature, worked for three senators,” as well as several positions on Dutchess County political boards and committees when he worked across the river as a mortgage banker.
Most recently, Pizzuto has served the Town of Lloyd as its Planning Board chair, but resigned that post after the board’s last workshop meeting in December. After casting a net for a confidential secretary and reading through several résumés, he has chosen Margaret O’Halloran for the position. “Her résumé was superior, and she is not wedded to any political party. She worked in New York City for many years, and is now in Highland taking care of her mother and was looking for a job. So it was the perfect storm,” he said. The supervisor also named Michael Guerriero as his deputy supervisor. “Michael was just elected to his fourth term, and he’s always here in case I am not available and there is a situation or crisis. He knows the job.”
As far as the job goes, Pizzuto said that, due to Hansut opening the doors and helping him with the transition these past couple of weeks, “I feel comfortable in the office. I’ve met all of the department heads and most of the employees and I’m ready to serve the town as their full-time supervisor.”
At the top of his agenda once he takes office is to try to harness the “economic potential of the one million people that come to visit the Walkway Over the Hudson each year.” Pizzuto pointed out that “All of the parking is on the Highland side, and we need to capture these visitors and bring them into our hamlet, into our restaurants and shops and farms to help boost our local economy. The Walkway is a diamond in the rough.”
To this end, he also pointed out that recently the town has received a $650,000 grant toward sidewalk creation and improvement, and that simultaneously the Walkway Over the Hudson, a state park, has “received two $250,000 grants: one for lights along the Walkway and one for road and parking improvements, which is phenomenal.”
While Pizzuto is excited about working with the Town Board to try to generate a greater connection between the Walkway visitors and Highland businesses, as the recent chair of the Planning Board he is also focused on trying to get a moratorium in place so that the town can best plan for the half-dozen large residential/commercial developments that are slated for a “postage-stamp-sized area between the ramp to the bridge and Chapel Hill Road off 9W. We’re talking about proposals that would increase our population by ten percent, and with that, the traffic and the required infrastructure. And we need to plan for this, so that in ten years we’re not kicking ourselves.”
He was quick to assert that “No one wants to stop development. We need development and growth to keep our taxes down and to move forward. But there needs to be a plan in place, and we need to get our Comprehensive Plan updated and our zoning reflective of how we want to grow.” As the chair of the Planning Board, Pizzuto put together a Comprehensive Master Plan Review Committee that has been working for the past several months on proposed updates.
Although he is a registered Independent and was voted in on the Democratic and Conservative lines, Pizzuto said that at heart, “I’m the type of person that likes to unify people and get everyone working together and find that middle of the road where we can best agree.”
His swearing-in ceremony took place at the fire station on New Year’s Day.