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Ossining Mayor Criticizes Violent Anti-Roundabout Rhetoric

A roundabout is being proposed for downtown Ossining
A roundabout is being proposed for downtown Ossining Photo Credit: Contributed

OSSINING, N.Y. -- Discussion about a roundabout in Ossining grew even more heated as Mayor Victoria Gearity condemned comments that veered into threats of gun violence.

The Village of Ossining is pursuing the roundabout, which would be funded via a $500,000 bond at the intersection of Main, Spring and Brandreth Streets and Central Avenue. The Greater Ossining Chamber of Commerce is opposed to the roundabout and has launched a petition drive to put the issue to voters. Construction is set to begin this summer. The chamber must get 2146 signatures by Friday to go forward with a referendum.

"The rhetoric has grown increasingly hostile," Gearity said last week. "The rhetoric, particularly on Facebook, has deteriorated to include misleading statements and false accusations. Those messages hit an all-time low."

Johnny Girolamo, who does public relations for the Ossining Chamber of Commerce, posted on Facebook that he was really angry that people in the village were afraid to sign the petition because of fears of retribution.

"NOT the kind of village I prefer!" Girolamo wrote. "SIGN THE PETITION!"

A man responded with, "Aren't you an ex-cop? Probably still have a pistol...take care of it," and another man replied, "Make em offer they can't refuse."

Gearity said she doesn't know the two men who made the comments, neither of whom live in Ossining, according to their Facebook pages. But Gearity was upset that no one in the thread spoke out against the comments.

"I do know most of the next nine people who commented on that thread. Some are local business owners; some are people I have called friends; in a couple of cases we’ve been to each other’s homes and our children have played together," Gearity said.  "We are talking about an infrastructure project."

Gearity said comments like that went too far, and people who are opposed should sign the petition.

"No one should feel intimidated either way," Gearity said. It diminishes this village if threats of violence are ignored and not challenged. Good government cannot be dictated by the loudest and angriest among us."

Girolamo, who declined comment, removed the post and said it was inappropriate. He apologized to Gearity at a board meeting, he said on his Facebook page.

"I was accused of 'spewing rhetoric' alluding to a post that I shared about my blood boiling," Girolamo said. "I explained to her that my heart was hurt regarding a conversation I had with a merchant but she was not hearing it. Apparently, it is all my fault. I will do my best to stick to the topic."

Chamber President Gayle Marchica said Gearity is trying to make herself bigger than the game.

"It's very important that an elected official does not take advantage of the pulpit," Marchica said. "She should stay on task and stick to the issue at hand. We have problems to solve other than making problems that don't exist."

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