Town's tiny villages have visions of unity
The talk of the town — Pelham town, that is — is about the possible merging of two separate but intertwined villages.
In the southeast corner of Westchester, Pelham's 2.1 square miles is made up of two villages, Pelham and Pelham Manor, each with its own mayor, police force, fire department, building inspector and attorney. The town government consists of a town board, a supervisor, a clerk and an engineer. The town handles recreation, tax collection and property assessment. The two villages also share a school system.
Some Pelham village leaders are trying to shift toward a single municipality by consolidating services. As they see it, the two villages could save money by merging their police departments in the town. Each village has a police force of just fewer than 30 officers, and some feel the two could run more efficiently as one medium-size agency.
Leaders in the posher Pelham Manor are less warm to the idea of sharing police officers and say they doubt they'll see that much in savings, if any. The debate goes on.
Until the 1970s, Pelham contained three villages, not two. The villages of Pelham and North Pelham merged June 1, 1975, to become the current Pelham village. Pelham Manor was incorporated July 6, 1891.
The town's origin dates to 1654 when a Connecticut physician, Thomas Pell, bought the land from the Siwanoy Indians and named it in honor of his tutor, Pelham Burton. Pell's purchase included all of what now is the Bronx and land along Long Island Sound up to current-day Rye, according to the town's Web site.
To outsiders, Pelham and Pelham Manor are nearly indistinguishable from each other. Each is a quaint, well-to-do village with prosperous, educated residents.
The town has a sliver of waterfront on Long Island Sound and a downtown strip of small shops. It is a quick half-hour train commute to midtown Manhattan.

(Original publication: October 30, 2005)
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