Two Community Leaders Share ‘What you Need to Know’ about Briarcliff Manor
Briarcliff Manor is truly a wonderful community in which to live as well as visit. I spoke with Mayor Steven Vescio and Jim Domzalski, President of the Briarcliff Manor Chamber of Commerce, to find out what they believe makes Briarcliff Manor so special to both residents and visitors alike.
What would you like our readers to know about the Village of Briarcliff Manor?
Steven Vescio: I’ve grown up here; it has special meaning for me. A lot of people stay or move away and then come back. It just has a small town feel, you can’t help but see people you know when you go downtown. I may stop by somewhere for 5-10 minutes but be there for 30! You just never know who you’ll run into. It’s a tight knit community made up of dedicated volunteers–so well-run and well-maintained.
Briarcliff really feels like a good suburban space. There’s lots of trees and wooded areas, it’s very spacious. If you’re working in the city, you can come home, hear the birds; it’s very tranquil. We have a lot of green space. The village owns 600 acres of protected parkland, several trails, baseball, tennis, swimming, a big pavilion. It’s all the features you’d expect from suburban life. There’s always a park within a small distance.
Jim Domzalski: Briarcliff Manor is a wonderful, picturesque, small town with something always going on. People are drawn here for so many reasons–the incredible schools, the amazing recreation facilities, parks and all-age programming, the wide variety of local businesses. There really is something for everyone! And because it’s a small town, don’t be surprised if after visiting local shops and businesses a few times, you’re welcomed by name!
One thing I’m always hearing people talk about are the bike and hiking trails close to the downtown area. It’s pretty great to be able to go for a ride and then grab a bite to eat or a cup of coffee.
What are some of your favorite spaces? Any hidden gems?
SV: The trails are great hidden gems. I didn’t know about them until I became mayor. I went to the Pocantico Park trail–it was an unpolished gem that could use improvement, which they did, creating signage, parking, etc. Many of our trails are on the the Hiking Project App, where people can see different levels of difficulty before they go out on the trails.* I used the trails a lot during the pandemic to get out with my family.
The village is working on a project to tie into the North County trail and downtown. There will be a trailway behind the soccer field near the library, creation of a new dog park and the trail will come behind Village Hall and the police station. There’s no train station in town so there’s a limited way to bring people in. We want people to take advantage of bike trails and maybe create a bike repair station–helping bring people back to downtown.
JD: I don’t know if this is a hidden gem anymore, but the Briarcliff Summer Concert Series is incredible. It really felt like the whole village turned out for both shows last year. This year, we’re planning an additional two shows, so get ready to rock Briarcliff!
Some other hidden gems would be “Battle of the Bags,” an annual adult cornhole tournament hosted by the Rec Department; the new Pickleball Courts at Chilmark Park; and a revitalized jewel, Scarborough Park–Briarcliff’s own slice of the Hudson River and BMEF (Briarcliff Manor Education Foundation) events, those are always a great time!
What resources are available for new residents?
SV: We have instituted a New Resident Packet, on the Village website (www.briarcliffmanor.gov). It gives people information on recreation programs, dog licenses, train info, etc. We help get people involved. Once they see what Briarcliff is all about, they fall in love with it and want to stay and get involved in volunteering on different committees. It’s great to see the public so engaged.
JD: A great place to start is online. Some of the local Facebook pages have a ton of great information and connection opportunities including Briarcliff Moms, Briarcliff Community and Briarcliff Schools. These are a few that come to mind right off the bat.
In person, many programs available through the Rec Department are a fantastic way to meet fellow residents in the community. Also, the big annual events like Community Day, the Holiday Bonfire/Sing Along, Downtown Window Painting…so much of the village will be there for those.
And finally, I’ve heard that so many people make their closest friends at the town pool. It’s definitely one of the biggest social hubs in Briarcliff for much of the year…and it’s beautiful!
Any other important info you’d like readers to know about the Village?
SV: Recreation events in the community are a great way for new families and long-term residents to meet each other. We have a cornhole tournament, bingo family game night with lots of new families attending. When pool season comes, it’s a great way to meet people.
JD: These might fall more under the category of fun-facts, but Walter Law founded the Village, hence the name of the downtown park, Law Memorial Park.
On all the Briarcliff Manor Village signs you will see a beautiful rose. That’s because Law brought this “American Beauty Rose” from England and developed a more brightly colored one dubbed the “Briarcliff Rose.” He then sold these roses to upscale establishments in New York City.