Legislator John G. Testa (R-Peekskill/Cortlandt/Yorktown) was appointed to the Westchester County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Board at the Board of Legislators (BOL) regular meeting on Monday. Legislator Testa will replace Legislator Peter Harckham who had been the BOL’s previous representative on the citizen-led Parks Board. Legislator Testa, who’s appointment was affirmed by a unanimous, 17-0 vote of his colleagues, has long been an ardent supporter and advocate for parks, conservation and the preservation of historic sites.
“I am very gratified to have been appointed as the Board of Legislators representative to this very important and dedicated panel of citizens.” Testa said following the vote. “I believe that Westchester County’s open spaces, parks and historic sites are one of the true treasures that we have been blessed with and I am honored by the opportunity to help in the stewardship of those resources.”
Legislator Peter Harckham (D-Katonah), the previous BOL representative on the Parks board said, “I thoroughly enjoyed my two years on the Parks board representing the BOL and I am thrilled that Legislator Testa is succeeding me. Legislator Testa is devoted to the county and to our park system. He will be a great addition to the Parks board.”
Legislator Testa is a lifelong resident of Peekskill who first entered public service as a member of the Peekskill Common Council in 1999 and then served three terms as Mayor. Throughout his tenure as Mayor, Testa worked diligently to balance Peekskill’s need for economic development while maintaining a steadfast commitment to improving, expanding and protecting Peekskill’s parks, open spaces and historic sites. In addition to his public service, Legislator Testa is a teacher at Peekskill High School and an expert on local history.
Legislator Testa (then Mayor of Peekskill) unveiling the Lincoln Statue at the Depot site in 2007 along with former NY Governor Pataki and renowned Lincoln Scholar Harold Holzer.
One of the great accomplishments thus far, of Legislator Testa’s public service was the purchase and rehabilitation of the “Lincoln Depot” in Peekskill. On February 19, 1861, President-Elect Lincoln made his only visit to Westchester when he stopped to address the residents of Peekskill during his train trip from Illinois to take the oath of office in Washington. Legislator Testa worked tirelessly, for years to raise the funds and coordinate the efforts to rehab the train depot, establish a museum on the original site and erect a statue of Lincoln to commemorate that historic day in 1861. Those goals were realized in 2007 and are now recognized as one of the great historic resources in the Hudson Valley. You can learn more about the Lincoln Depot at http://www.johngtesta.com/lincoln.html and http://www.lincolndepotmuseum.org.
In addition to the Lincoln Depot, Mayor Testa also worked to create new public spaces and parks like, the 40-acre historic Fort Hill Park and the Annsville Trail Preserve along the Hudson River. Testa also oversaw the renovations of Franklin Park, Depew Park, Lepore Park, Riverfront Green, Tompkins Ball field and the historic restoration of the Paramount Center for the Arts.
As a County Legislator, Testa has fought for funding to improve County Parks like Blue Mountain Preserve in Peekskill/Cortlandt and George’s Island in Montrose.
About John G. Testa
Former District 1 County Legislator, John G. Testa is served five terms at the Westchester County Board of Legislators, spending the last 3 terms as BOL Minority Leader.
John G. Testa is a lifelong resident of Peekskill who first entered elected public service as a member of the Peekskill Common Council in 1998 and then served three terms as Mayor. He previously served on the Conservation and Parks Advisory Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. John became an elected official eager to improve the City in which his family has lived for more than a century and quickly earned a reputation as a strong, independent, nonpartisan voice for fiscal responsibility.
John received a BS degree in Technology from SUNY Oswego, where his academic achievements gained him induction into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Fraternity of Technology. He earned his MS degree in Technology from the City College of New York. He began his teaching career in 1980 at Peekskill High School, his alma mater, as an instructor in Technology and Social Studies, retiring in 2013 after 33 years teaching.
John has been a leader in support for the Arts Community in Westchester. He presided over the construction of the Peekskill Art Lofts, the establishment of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and the complete restoration of the Paramount Center for the Arts, originally a 1930’s movie house and helped bring critical funding to many Westchester programs. Legislator Testa received the “Advancing the Arts in Westchester Award” by ArtsWestchester.
John has a been a leader on environmental issues for two decades and has a long record of initiatives he has supported and spearheaded. His active involvement in developing and promoting environmentally friendly policies began as mayor and continued throughout his time as Westchester County Legislator. His efforts consistently earned John the endorsement of the NY League of Conservation Voters.
John’s most recognizable accomplishment has been his promotion and preservation of local history and historic landmarks, bringing an unprecedented focus on the region’s rich history, and its legacy of historic Victorian architecture. His roots in historical preservation stem from his experience as a Revolutionary War re-enactor and member of The Brigade of the American Revolution for 50 years.
John was instrumental in securing the preservation of the Lincoln Depot, now the Lincoln Depot Museum, where he now serves as President. The museum was recognized in 2015 as one of The Best Museums in Westchester. He also secured the preservation of historic Fort Hill as parkland, a 40-acre parcel that was originally a Revolutionary War encampment site. Under his leadership, the United States Dept. of the Interior declared Peekskill a “Preserve America Community.”
John was able to establish a record number of National Register designations of local structures, including the first Downtown and Neighborhood Historic Districts and supported the preservation of the historic Miller House in North White Plains. In 2017 John was named a “Champion of History” by the Lincoln Society in Peekskill.
John and his wife of 37 years, Nancy, live in Peekskill and have two adult children, John, Jr. (fiancé Courtney Kelly) and Katy (husband Mike Mearon). John and Nancy recently welcomed the arrival of their first grandchild, Lacey Mae, in 2019.