By Allison Collins
SIDNEY – Former longtime Sidney mayor James Warren died Feb. 11 at the age of 81. Having retired from his 12-year post as mayor in 2011, memories of his impact on the community remain strong in the minds of today’s local officials.
Sidney Mayor Andy Matviak, who worked alongside Warren as deputy mayor throughout his mayoral tenure (1999-2011), said Warren was “instrumental” in charting Sidney’s course.
Matviak counted Warren’s flood preparedness efforts and revitalization of the Sherwood Heights area as highlights of his mayorship. Before being elected in 1999, Warren served as a village trustee for eight years.
“One of the major things he did when mayor,” Matviak said, “was Sherwood Heights. It had 10 to 12 dilapidated buildings, all falling down and vacated, and he was instrumental in acquiring those buildings, tearing them down and working to build new homes there.”
He added, “That was over about three or four years.” Throughout that time, Matviak noted, Warren worked closely with the Greater Sidney Development Group.
Following the flood of 2006, Matviak said, Warren not only navigated the village through recovery efforts, but also implemented pre-emptive plans in the event of another, similar natural disaster.
“He was there during the first flood,” Matviak said, “and he provided the leadership to help us rebuild. He worked with residents and various government agencies to rebuild our community after that horrific event.”
Matviak explained, “He came up with a plan of action, so that if we were hit with another flood, we’d be better prepared and able to … operate more efficiently.” He added, “And that worked. When the next flood hit in 2011, we had a game plan in place. It was his leadership that developed that emergency preparedness.”
Overall, Matviak said, Warren “laid the groundwork” for long-term village vitality when, between 2001 and 2002, he created a “comprehensive master plan.”
“It was everything – housing and the business community,” Matviak said. “It was a plan of where we are and where we should strive to be.”
That plan, though somewhat outdated, Matviak said, remains a valuable resource. “We still refer to it from time to time,” he said. “Whenever we’re doing work, we look at that and see if were moving where we should be.”
Beyond Warren’s practical contributions to the community, Matviak credited his guidance with helping to shape the next generation of village leadership.
“I learned a lot from Jim,” Matviak said. “I learned how government works and that things just don’t happen overnight—you have to work to get what you want and have a plan to get where you want to be. He was very, very good.”
Warren requested no funeral services, but instead encouraged memorial donations to the Delaware Valley Humane Society, 101 E. Main St., Sidney, N.Y.
More memories of Warren, or his full obituary, can be viewed at landersfh.com.