NEW CITY — Rudolph Yacyshyn served on Clarkstown’s Planning Board for 55 years. The New City resident had a hand in shaping and approving countless projects, including the Palisades Center.
“One cannot stress enough the impact he has had as he literally planned the building of Clarkstown and Rockland from 1966 until this year,” Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann, who served on the board with Yacyshyn, said in a Facebook post.
Yacyshyn, known as Rudy, died on Dec. 13 at home at the age of 92.
A Clarkstown resident since 1961, Yacyshyn served on the Planning Board from 1966 to 2021, leading the board as chair for 18 years and vice-chair for 25 years. He also chaired the Rockland County Planning Board from 1993-1996.
Yacyshyn played a key role in formulating Clarkstown’s comprehensive plans for development, helping to develop the town from a farming to a suburban landscape.
He was considered the driving force behind the creation of the Rockland Municipal Planning Federation, which requires that all land use board members of all municipalities are trained and certified annually.
For all his accomplishments in planning, Yacyshyn will likely be forever tied to the Palisades Center, where the builder named a community room in his honor.
Remembered for mall, more
Yacyshyn led the Clarkstown Planning board through the approval process for the Palisades Center in West Nyack, built on landfills and one of the nation’s largest malls when it opened in 1998.
The 875,000-square-foot mall’s planning spanned close to 16 years before getting approvals, as the project drew voracious support and opposition. At times hundreds of residents packed raucous Planning Board and Town Board meetings, during which yelling and chanting became common.
The Shops at Nanuet, the former Nanuet Mall, and various other commercial centers, such as the Atria Assisted Living Center, received approvals during his tenure.
“He was a professionally trained urban planner and dedicated citizen public servant who day after day, week after week, year in and year out gave his heart and soul in service,” Hoehmann said.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day paid tribute to Yacyshyn and his professional accomplishment for the county. Day recalled discussing development proposals with Yacyshyn and the Planning Board.
“Rudy devoted 55 years to the critical task of ensuring that Clarkstown grew appropriately and with respect to all.” Day said. “I remember many times as the president of the Little Tor Neighborhood Association making my case for the residents in my community before Rudy and the Planning Board and while we had some awesome debates, I always walked away knowing he genuinely cared and ensured that a balance was found in the final outcome.”
‘A great man indeed’
Born Dec. 29, 1928, to Michael and Emilia (Proski) Yacyshyn on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Yacyshyn and his family moved to Rockland in 1961, settling in Chestnut Grove Estates development just six years after the opening of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
A graduate of Long Island City High School in Queens, in 1946. he had a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from New York University and a Master’s in Urban Planning degree from NYU’s Graduate School of Public Administration
He had worked as a claims manager for Nationwide and Geico Insurance Companies in 1952 before being appointed NYU’s assistant provost at NYU in 1968. He also worked as the deputy executive director of the International Council of Shopping Centers
Yacyshyn’s public service career took off in 1964 as a member of the Rockland County Transportation Advisory Board, He also served as president of the New City Civic Association.
One of his grandchildren, John Swartzwelder, said Yacyshyn “belonged to one of the greatest generations of men and women and he was a great man indeed.
“All who knew Rudy described him as a true gentleman, patriot, man of faith, dutiful servant to his community and a loving, compassionate, always considerate, father, grandfather, great-grandfather,” Swartzwelder said.
Steve Lieberman covers government, breaking news, courts, police, and investigations. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @lohudlegal. Read more articles and bio. Our local coverage is only possible with support from our readers.