Independent Since 1893
As a community, Rockville Centre was settled for 200 years when its citizens voted for incorporation in 1893. They were dissatisfied with county services and wanted better roads and public safety, so they opted for independent status.
The first action of the new village government was naming a constable and a road-repair crew, precursors of the current Police and Public Works Departments. At that time the Village had 2,000 people and was about one-third its current size. Other early decisions included the 1895 start of the water utility and the 1898 decision to generate electricity.
The independent fire companies that existed prior to incorporation combined into the Fire Department, which now has seven companies. During the first 40 years the Village population grew as more land was added to the north side and the business district developed into a regional retail and banking center. It also was the time for the first traffic lights, sewers, the first apartment building and the expansion of Mercy Hospital from a small wooden structure to the core of the medical center that it is today.
Development accelerated after World War II, defining Rockville Centre as "The Village of Homes" with a variety of architecture for single-family homes and co-ops and condos. During the last half of the 20th century, the expansion of services has kept pace with the needs of the community. Parking, road improvement and urban renewal were defining events.
Today, Rockville Centre is diversified in housing stock, population, income, interests and even religious affiliations. The decision to go-it-alone with government "of, by and for the people" has made it one of the region's most progressive and financially sound municipalities.
Village Government Overview
The titles have changed and duties have expanded, yet the basic structure of Rockville Centre municipal government has been constant since its 1893 incorporation. Originally, the elected chief executive carried the title of President and the residents voted for two trustees, a treasurer and a tax collector. It required a majority vote of the five part-time officials to enact local laws, set policy and adopt budgets and tax rates.
Today's part-time Board of Trustees is the mayor and four trustees, elected on a rotating basis to four year terms. The duties of treasurer and tax collector have been assigned to the Village Administrator, a professional full-time manager charged with implementing policies and local laws adopted by the Board of Trustees. His staff consists of ten men and women who serve as the directors or superintendents of the operating departments.
The Board members devote many hours each month to public meetings, staff briefings, department visits, research and fact finding. Historically, Board members are as diversified as the community, including local business people, professionals, NYC commuters, retirees.
The other elected officials are two part-time justices for the Village Court, which handles offenses involving violations of local laws and the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law.
Citizen participation extends to a variety of boards and committees, including three mandated by New York State law:
- The Board of Zoning Appeals decides on applications for variances and interprets the Zoning Code.
- The Planning Board reviews land use to assure it is consistent with the character of the community.
- The Architectural Control Board reviews plans for new construction and major renovations to determine its suitability to the neighborhood.
Residents are appointed to boards and committees by the Mayor with the concurrence of the Trustees.