Supervisor's Report

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Town of New Castle Supervisor's Report 2/10/15

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By Rob Greenstein

Metro North Accident

On behalf of the Town of New Castle, we want to express our sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of Joseph Nadol of Ossining, Robert Dirks of Chappaqua and Ellen Brody, who worked at a local jewelry store.

Joseph Nadol, 42, of Ossining, is survived by his wife Jen and his three young sons. Robert Dirks, 36, of Chappaqua is survived by his wife Christine and his two young children, ages 2 and 5. Ellen Brody, 49, is survived by her husband Alan and three daughters in their teens and 20s.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to these three as well as to all victims and all affected by this tragedy. I would like to thank all first responders and emergency workers for their response and assistance in dealing with this tragic incident. The flag at town hall will remain at half-staff until Friday to honor of the victims of this tragic accident.

Metro North Service

In the aftermath of the accident, Town Administrator Jill Shapiro and I did our best to persuade Metro North to provide shuttle service to North White Plains. We spoke to every politician we could. Special thanks to Mike Kaplowitz, Terrence Murphy, George Oros and Mark Mannix, MTA Director of Government & Community Relations, for their assistance and understanding! After coming to the realization that Metro North shuttle service would not be forthcoming, we developed a plan to provide our own shuttle buses with Chappaqua Transportation. We also decided it would be best to shuttle residents to/from the Ossining Metro North station, instead of North White Plains or White Plains. Special thanks to Joan and Seth Corwin of Chappaqua Transportation for working with the town, and being so understanding when we cancelled at the last minute because service on Metro North resumed. Lastly, special thanks to Jill for making TONS of calls and setting up the bus service, and New Castle Comptroller Rob Deary for suggesting Ossining as station of choice.

Train Overpass

Over this past week, we sent letters to U.S Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Representative Nita M. Lowey requesting the Federal Government to construct the Roaring Brook Road Railway and Parkway Overpass to eliminate the railroad grade crossing in the Town of New Castle located within half a mile of Horace Greeley High School. The benefit of constructing a bridge at this crossing to the safety of the public - travelling by car or train – is clear. There is sufficient land. The need to build is clear. The time has come to build the Roaring Brook Road overpass, which in addition to alleviating a dangerous train crossing, will also remove a traffic lighted intersection on the Saw Mill River Parkway and will ease traffic congestion. It is beyond the Town's resources to construct this bridge and federal aid should immediately be made available for the design and construction of the overpass. You can read the full letter here. If you support this effort, I would encourage you to send an email or write a letter to The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand, The Honorable Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Representative Nita M. Lowey. Click here for contact info.

Sledding

Speaking of safety, I am happy to report that our recreation commission unanimously voted to mandate helmets at our town parks for sledding. The Town Board will soon be confirming this requirement. We are working on signage for the parks. Our liability insurance carrier certainly supports the idea. We have already placed over thirty more hay bales at Gedney Park. Click here to see our sledding tips.

Coyotes

I would like to remind residents why the Town Board formed the advisory committees. Last year, we received reports from residents and our Police Department that coyote sightings and interactions were on the rise. Some residents reported having their pets taken by coyotes, and others expressed safety concerns abut their children and pets. Based on this feedback, I encouraged several residents to form an advisory committee to help the Town Board gather information about best practices for dealing with coyotes.

In attempting to form an advisory committee, it quickly became apparent that individuals would approach the task with very strong views about conservation and coexisting with wildlife. For that reason, the Town Board took the somewhat unconventional step of forming two advisory committees. The resolutions forming both coyote committees recognized that coyote sightings have markedly increased in the Town, and our residents have reported having their dogs attacked and killed by coyotes.

Starting with that premise, both committees were asked to study and make recommendations to the Town Board on ways to increase community awareness about coyotes and minimize the risk of coyote attacks on pets. Both committees were asked to develop strategies and information relating to coyote hazing, conflict deterrents, behavior modification, what to do when sightings occur, and when trapping may be necessary. Both committees worked incredibly hard, and I would like to thank the members for their time and effort.

I anticipate that the Town Board will set aside time at a future work session to discuss the information and recommendations we receive from our advisory committees. After that step, we will adopt a plan – most likely with contributions from each committee. This wasn't a competition and should not be viewed as such. The winners will be the residents of New Castle who will take comfort in the fact that their elected officials are looking out for the safety, the safety of their pets and quality of life. You can read my full statement here.

Master Plan

I am happy to report that the Town Board appointed Gregg Sanzari to the Master Plan Steering Committee. Gregg is a West End resident, and member of the Millwood-West End Advisory Committee. We thank Dick Brownell for his prior service.

 

 

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Town of New Castle Supervisor's Report 1/28/15

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By Rob Greenstein

Nixle Alerts

Sign up for Nixle Alerts from the New Castle Police Department. Over the past two weeks, there have been 380 new subscriptions for Nixle! If you have not already done so, please register as soon as possible. Signing up is easy! For Nixle text alerts, simply text your zip code to 888777. You can also register for Nixle emails and register for the town's emergency notification system - codeRED system - at the town website www.MyNewCastle.org. Links to register are also included at the bottom of every enewsletter.

Master Plan

The Town Board recently hired the Pace Land Use Law Center as a consultant to facilitate the Master Plan update process. On Wednesday night, the Town Board voted to approve Pace's proposal to complete an economic analysis for both the Chappaqua and Millwood Hamlets. Below is a summary of the New Castle Master Plan update:

  • October 2012- Town Request to the Westchester County Department of Planning to Develop the Town's Background Studies
  • December 2012- Westchester County Confirmation that they will develop New Castle's Background Studies
  • March 19, 2013- Master Plan Steering Committee begins to meet monthly (Steering Committee Meetings held on 3/19/13, 4/9/13, 4/21/13, 5/6/13, 6/18/13, 7/9/13, 7/25/13, 8/8/13, 12/8/13, 3/4/14, 4/1/14, and 6/24/14
  • May 6, 2013- Town Visioning Meeting (approximately 20 public participants)
  • June 2013- Town Board Resolution appointing members of the Master Plan Steering Committee
  • July 30, 2013- MindMixer (Social Media, LLC.) services engaged
  • October 2013- Request for Work Group participants
  • December 2013- Mindmixer (Social Media, LLC.) services cancelled
  • December 2013- Westchester County delivered draft background studies
  • January 2014- Master Plan Steering Committee review of Draft Westchester County Background Studies
  • March 2014- Pace Land Use Law Center Outreach Program contract approved
  • April 2014- Pace worked with staff and MPSC to prepare for planned public meetings
  • April 2014- MPSC members began working with their work groups to assess Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats ("SWOT" Analysis) of the 1989 Town Development Plan
  • May 2014- June 2014- Outreach Workshops Held
  • July 2014- Final edits to Background Studies submitted to Westchester County
  • August 2014- Pace LULC Outreach Report released
  • August 2014- PSB survey services contract approved
  • October 2014- Master Plan Steering Committee request to delay PSB survey until after goals and objectives have been formed (Winter/Spring 2015)
  • October 2014- Master Plan Steering Committee review of RFP for Master Plan Consultant to facilitate Steering Committee and compile draft plan
  • November 2014- RFP issued
  • December 2014- MPSC representatives met with Town Planner to review response to RFP and issued memo regarding preferred consultant
  • January 2015- Town Board approved Pace University Land Use Law Center as Master Plan Consultant
  • January 2015- Town Board approved Pace's proposal to complete an economic analysis for both the Chappaqua and Millwood Hamlets

Hunts Place

As has been widely reported, on January 22, 2015, Conifer received the building and fire code variances it had requested from the New York State Board of Review for its workforce housing project on Hunts Place. I remain concerned about the issues I raised about this project in 2013, namely, the safety of putting an apartment building at that location, and what that location says about our community. I want residents to know that I previously offered to work with Conifer to find a larger and more attractive location, and I remain willing to do so.

Dog Park at Gedney

On Wednesday night the Town Board voted to approve the hiring of a consultant to study the creation of a dog park in Gedney Park. The consultant will study the pros and cons of two areas under consideration - one adjacent to the pond near the front of the park and one in the rear. A site for a pet memorial near to the park would be identified as well. The pet memorial would be funded by private donations.

Snow Storm

To keep residents informed and to ensure that our community is prepared during a snow storm, I have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Town Supervisor's Report 1/28/15 from New Castle Media Center on Vimeo.

 

 

 

 

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Rob Greenstein Statement: 2014 in Review

With my first year as Supervisor in the books, it's time to reflect on what we've done and where we are going as a community. I've said it again and again: it is truly an honor to serve the citizens of New Castle. Over the past year, I have brought residents into the process and engaged them, listened to your concerns and ideas, and governed in a transparent fashion. I have tried to bring vision and fresh ideas to the table; even if those ideas come from others. And, most important, I have acted in the best interests of the entire community. I am very proud of the progress made throughout the year, and I will mention a few highlights:

Communication

The theme for communication has been dialogue. You should hear from your town government and your town government should be able to hear from you. We've done so much in this area:

We started a new communication staple for the community - the New Castle eNewsletter! The eNewsletter is emailed to residents every week.

We did a town wide mailing asking residents for feedback.

We simplified our email addresses to both communicate with town employees and board members, as well as report problems to town hall.

We are in the process of revamping the town's web site.

Fiscal Responsibility

We successfully reduced our costs as we increased the services provided to our residents and businesses. The tax rate will increase 1.53%--- just $9 for the average homeowner. This is the lowest tax increase - by far - in 6 years!

We had an aggressive approach with renewal of the workers compensation and garbage contracts. Workers Compensation Renewal resulted in a $222,525.00 savings per year for 2 years. This is a 29.00% savings! The garbage Contract resulted in a $477,980 savings per year. Over the course of the seven (7) year garbage contract, we are saving over $3,000,000.00.

New policies

We adopted several new policies:

  • A new vehicle use policy
  • Anew town policy against harassment and discrimination.
  • A new equal employment opportunity policy and procedure.
  • A new code of ethics
  • A new non-union employee compensation policy.

Transparency

After a two year hiatus, I reintroduced the Supervisor's Report to keep residents updated on the Town Board activities and status of various land use applications.

At Town Board meetings, I engaged residents and answered questions. Some have said that I allowed too much public comment, but when issues are so important to our residents they need to be heard.

I communicated my views about the critical issues that face us, including the Master Plan and Chappaqua Crossing.

New Boards

We established several new boards:

  • Ethics Board, Mandate Relief Committee
  • Downtown Business Development Committee
  • Emergency Planning Committee
  • Coyote Management Task Force
  • Coyote Awareness and Safety Advisory Committee
  • Millwood-West End Advisory Committee.

Commercial Growth

The Downtown Business Development Committee ("DBDC") was established to assist the long-term economic stability of the Town's downtown business districts.

We changed the free parking in town from two hours to three hours.

We reviewed preliminary designs for new water and sewer lines, as well as streetscape and traffic improvements.

Safety

New Castle now has zero tolerance for distracted driving. We introduced distracted driving banners throughout town, and gave out thousands of car magnets.

We approved a resolution requesting NYSDOT to reduce the speed in downtown Chappaqua generate significant pedestrian traffic of middle school children.

We have also installed safety ski netting for sledding at Gedney Park.

Master Plan

It has been 26 years since the Town's Master Plan was last updated. The Master Plan update is finally underway and progressing nicely! Pace Land Use Law Center conducted seven (7) public outreach meetings. We retained Penn Schoen Berland (PSB), the company that conducted the Chappaqua school district survey, to conduct a survey for the town master plan process. We added a 2015 budget line to hire a Master Plan Consultant.

Emergency Preparedness

We are committed to ensuring that our community is prepared. In order to prepare for a community emergency, we are in the process of forming the Emergency Planning Committee. We will continue to communicate effectively and have increased subscribers to CodeRED.

Rosehill

After meeting with residents and hearing their concerns, the developer of the Legionaries property decided to abandon his commercial plans for a spa & restaurant and change it to a residential development. Sixty condos, a clubhouse, indoor-outdoor pool, health club, tennis, a theatre. No commercial use at all.

Sewer diversion project

The Town is aggressively seeking additional funding from the state and the county to further defray the cost of this project. We have also explored state, federal and county grants that may be available to the Town for this project and have filed a number of state grants. We are hopeful that one of those applications will be granted.

Take It or Leave it Shop

We relocated Take it or Leave it Shop to the station parking lot behind the Shell station. The new wood shed is larger and in a much better location than the old one. The drop off area is easier to use, and parking at the train station is plentiful. It also generates lots of cross-traffic on Saturday with the Farmer's Market.

Cooperation with Chappaqua Central School District

We have worked to grow a greater and more positive relationships with the Chappaqua Central School District. We had a joint school and town board meeting. We worked with the school Finance Committee and are working together on initiatives such as mandate relief and putting an end to distracted driving.

Chappaqua Crossing

We did all this while bringing to a resolution the longest and most controversial land use application in our Town's history – Chappaqua Crossing. After ten (10) public hearings over an eight-month period, in a 4-1 vote, Town Board members approved approve retail zoning at Chappaqua Crossing. A review of my statement on Chappaqua Crossing can be found here.

http://www.mynewcastle.org/index.php/chappaqua-news/latest-news/1139-rob-greenstein-chappaqua-crossing-statement

While we accomplished a lot, I truly believe that much of this could not be accomplished without our dedicated full time employees. Jill Shapiro, the former Town Clerk and Receiver of Taxes, has shone as our Town Administrator, as has Gerry Moerschell, our Deputy Commissioner of Public Works. We started the year with three new board members, including myself, new town attorneys and a new Town Clerk. Jill held many hands and wore many hats, yet still managed to keep town hall running smoothly while Gerry has kept our infrastructure in great shape.

 

As we look ahead to the New Year, let's look forward not as individuals, but as a community. Together we can make New Castle an even better place to live, work and raise a family. Progress means that with each turn, more needs to be done, and I will continue to work hard for the community. I look forward to another year of progress ahead of us.

Rob Greenstein
Town Supervisor

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Town of New Castle Supervisor's Report 1/14/15

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By Rob Greenstein

 

Master Plan Update

On January 14, 2015 the Town Board agreed to endorse the Master Plan Steering Committee's recommendation to hire the Pace Land Use Law Center to facilitate the Master Plan Steering Committee. Pace will help with the next several phases of the Master Plan Update Process which include identification of goals, objectives and identification of planning strategies and implementation tools. They will also help with compiling the draft Master Plan Update document, expected by October 2015. Pace's proposal included a strong recommendation to integrate a downtown Transit Oriented Development ("TOD") strategy into the Master Plan Update Process. On January 20th the Town Board will be meeting with the Master Plan Steering Committee and the Land Use Law Center to discuss the value of an downtown TOD and economic development strategy.

Downtown Streetscape / Infrastructure Improvements

In October 2014 Town Staff met with WSP Sells to review and comment on the 30% design plans on the Downtown Chappaqua Infrastructure and Streetscape Project. As we begin the New Year, WSP is heading towards their 60% design goal regarding the infrastructure improvements (water, sewer and stormwater). They have some great ideas regarding streetscape improvements, including traffic circulation and pedestrian safety. WSP will be presenting some of their preliminary designs to the New Castle Town Board in February so that we can begin to comment on the direction they are heading in before the 60% design goal is surpassed.

RFP for ChapLine and Basketball Court at Town Hall

The Town Board approved the issuance of Request for Proposal ("RFP") for engineering services for a possible basketball court at Town Hall. The Town Board also approved the issuance of RFP for engineering services for the Chap Line, a new, functional recreation path connecting downtown Chappaqua to Horace Greeley High School and to Chappaqua Crossing. The engineering services will include preparations for bid specifications, plans & construction estimates for both potential projects.

Chappaqua Train Station Lease

The Chases have proposed a number of significant changes to their response to the Town's RFP, and our town attorneys and town staff are working hard to determine whether those changes can be accommodated. I will keep residents informed of our progress as we address these changes with the Chases.

Hunt's Place - Conifer

As far as the Hunt's Place affordable housing project, last July, the New York State Board of Review denied Conifer's request for six (6) separate variances from certain New York State fire and building code requirements. Conifer has since submitted revised building plans and variance petition to the Board of Review. Conifer is still seeking variances for various building and fire code requirements. Their petition is on the agenda of the Board of Review for Jan. 22, 9am, at Cortlandt Town Hall. The public has the right to attend the meeting.

Chappaqua Crossing

At a special meeting held on Thursday, December 18, 2014, by a 4-1 vote, the Town Board adopted a Retail Local Law that is intended to allow a grocer, health/fitness uses, restaurants and retail stores to be built at Chappaqua Crossing.
Copies of the Town Board's resolutions and other related documents are posted on the Town's website.

  

Town Supervisor's Report 1/14/15 from New Castle Media Center on Vimeo.

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Town of New Castle Supervisor's Report 12/15/14

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By Rob Greenstein

Chappaqua Crossing

The Chappaqua Crossing vote will take place on Thursday, December 18, 7:30pm, at the Chappaqua Library Auditorium, 195 South Greeley Avenue, Chappaqua, NY. The vote involves the following:

  1. Amendment to Supplemental Findings Statement for Chappaqua Crossing Project
  2. Amendments to 1989 Town Development Plan in Relation to the Chappaqua Crossing Project
  3. Local Law to amend Chapter 60 of the New Castle Town Code to allow retail uses in a research and office business district under certain conditions

Transparency

In an effort to increase transparency, the Town Board approved the purchase of OpenGov budget software and Virtual Emergency Operation Center program software. OpenGov is a program to share financial data with residents. Residents can see where revenue is generated, how funds are distributed, and the goods and services provided for the community. Virtual Emergency Operation Center program software allows residents to see reported problems and see the progress of the response over the course of an incident.

Sledding at Gedney Park

In an effort to increase safety of sledding at Gedney Park, we will be installing ski netting around the perimeter of the hill next to the playground.