New Castle Supervisor Quarterly Update – 2nd Quarter – 2017
Town Supervisor, New Castle
I have said it again and again: it is truly an honor to serve the citizens of New Castle. From the start, I have believed that your Town Supervisor should be guided by rights and obligations. The rights of the community to be heard and to be informed are critical to a responsive Town Government. And we must always be conscious of our obligations to listen and communicate effectively as we work to address current concerns and problems while at the same time improving our Town and planning for the future. I also recognize that while town-wide issues are my focus, no individual matter is too small for a responsive town government. I welcome those opportunities for more personal contact with residents. As we look ahead, there remains much work to be done, and I will continue to work hard for the entire community. It is my pleasure, then, as Supervisor to provide a quarterly report – 2nd Quarter of 2017 – to the community about current Town projects and initiatives.
- Downtown Infrastructure/Streetscape
- Chappaqua Performing Arts Center
- 2017 Comprehensive Plan
- Chappaqua Crossing
- Mandate Relief
- More Workers Compensation Savings
- 120 Sidewalk
- Railroad Crossing Safety – We Need a Bridge!
- Distracted Driving
- Neighborhood Speed Awareness Campaign
- National Police Week
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Millwood InterGenerate Community Garden
- Millwood – Habitat for Humanity
- Millwood – NYSDOT Yard
- Millwood West End Advisory Board
- Youth Community Action Committee
- Basketball Court & Playground at Town Hall / Rec Department
- New Castle 5K / 10K / Family Fun Run / PAWS Walk
- New Castle Health and Wellness Committee: Ticks and Lyme Disease Presentation
- Backyard Chickens
- Chappaqua Station
- Hunts Place
- Electric Community Sign
- Coyote Awareness Workshop
On May 9, 2017, the Town Board voted to award the Downtown Infrastructure/Streetscape Project to ELQ Industries, Inc. This project will accomplish the much-needed repair, replacement and upgrading of critical infrastructure systems in our downtown business hamlet, including sanitary sewer, stormwater, water mains and roadways. The project also includes streetscape improvements: new lighting, sidewalks, curbing and landscaping. Residents can look forward to new wider sidewalks, attractive new public spaces, new crosswalks and traffic/parking improvements. In short, the project will make it safer and more enjoyable to walk around our downtown, and finally provide us with an infrastructure platform that allows our downtown to grow and prosper. An overview of the process that resulted in the contract being awarded to ELQ, together with links to relevant documentation about the project can be found at www.DowntownStrong.com. You can also sign-up for project updates. The total amount of the contract is $11.6 million. The streetscape portion of the project is 22% of the total project costs. Our Town Comptroller has expressed confidence that at $11.6 million, the Town can complete the project without breaking the tax cap. I would like to thank Deputy Town Supervisor Adam Brodsky for chairing the Streetscape Committee and leading this massive effort. I would also like to thank the members of the Streetscape Committee: Robert Schenkel, Beth Hundgen, Phyllis Furnari, Dana Berk and Monica De Janosi. I would also like to thank our incredible Town staff for their help. Town Administrator Jill Shapiro, Comptroller Rob Deary, Robert Cioli, our Town Engineer, Sabrina Charney Hull, our Director of Planning and Steve Coleman, our Environmental Coordinator. All permits have been issued – these include New York State Department of Transportation Highway Permit, Westchester County Department of Health Highway Permit, Westchester County Department of Health Water Permit & Con Ed Gas Permit. Please join us for the groundbreaking ceremony on Thurs., July 13th, 10a, in front of Town Hall.
2017 Comprehensive Plan
The Town Board adopted the 2017 Comprehensive Plan, and we did it the right way – with community participation! It’s been 28 years since the Town’s Comprehensive Plan was last updated. Over the past few years, residents and volunteers, planning consultants and advisory board members, Town staff and officials have worked collaboratively to develop our new Comprehensive Plan. Our Comprehensive Plan combines resident input with best planning practice to establish policies that will guide New Castle’s growth and governance over the next fifteen to twenty years. This process involved an unprecedented amount of community input. The desires, hopes and opinions about New Castle form the basis of the document. The Town held seven public outreach sessions to encourage public participation and gather public input as to the priority issues, assets and challenges facing the Town in relation to its land use pattern. Our Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee met with all of the Town’s Advisory Boards and Committees.
We held five public hearings. The Town Board received and incorporated multiple comments and suggestions from the New Castle Planning Board, and we thank them for their incredibly helpful input. The Town Board also received and considered the comments of the Westchester County Department of Planning. They noted that the proposed Comprehensive Plan is organized according to plan principles put forth by the American Planning Association. They noted that our proposed Comprehensive Plan is consistent with the County Planning Board’s long-range planning policies. They noted that our plan is more succinct than a traditional comprehensive plan, and acknowledged that this approach has allowed our plan to focus on the issues that matter most to our Town and allowed for the creation of a more user-friendly multi-disciplinary compressive plan. They commended the town for recommending that future growth to be directed towards the Town’s hamlet centers to create mixed-use environments containing housing at a range of price points. They commended the Town for placing a large emphasis on increasing the walkability of the hamlet centers through better pedestrian connections to transit. They also commended the Town for wanting to increase access between housing units and retail storefronts, which is highly consistent with Westchester 2025. We received a letter from The League of Women Voters of New Castle which notes that they support the process followed in developing the draft Comprehensive Plan and recognizes that APA best practices were used to structure the Plan. Pace Land Use Law Center, known for fostering collaborative decision-making techniques, has already started highlighting our comp plan. In fact, Pace is using our Comp Plan as a model approach in all of their discussions engagements. Other communities have already reached out to us for guidance. This is a document we can all be proud of. This is truly a community based comprehensive plan! I would like to thank Sabrina Charney Hull, our Director of Planning, Samantha Leroy, our Assistant Town Planner, and our entire Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee – Maud Bailey, Gregg Sanzari, Bob Lewis & Chris Roberta – for their commitment, dedication & hard work on this massive undertaking. I would also like to thank our entire Town staff and PACE Land Use Law Center.
Chappaqua Performing Arts Center
We had a fantastic fundraiser to support our beautiful 425 seat Chappaqua Performing Arts Center. Thank you to Frank Shiner and his all-star band for donating 100% of ticket sale profits go to the Friends of the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center. Besides being a talented artist, Frank volunteers his time on the Town’s Arts and Culture Committee, which Lisa Katz chairs. We had another great event at the Chappaqua Performing Arts when The Chappaqua Orchestra performed an encore presentation of Peter and the Wolf. We had performances of Into the Woods and Beauty and the Beast. This year we introduced Summer Stage, a Theater Camp at Chappaqua Performing Arts Center.
Summit Development closed on their $68 million construction loan. The building permit for Chappaqua Crossing has been issued. Site work has started. As part of the approval of retail at Chappaqua Crossing, Summit Greenfield (“SG”) was required to pay for improvements to the Horace Greeley High School entrance drive. That work has also started. Roaring Brook Road paving is scheduled to be completed by September 1, 2017.
We also brought to an official close a pair of lawsuits that filed against the Town back in 2011. Specifically, SG filed a federal action alleging that the Town had violated SG’s rights under the Fair Housing Act and other federal laws. SG also filed a state action alleging that the Town’s delays and other actions had deprived SG of all economically viable use of the property and prevented the construction of affordable housing on the site. Back in December, 2012, a prior Town Board and SG reached a settlement. What broke the impasse? Retail zoning. Specifically, the prior Town Board decided to invite SG to pursue the conversion of 120,000 square feet of commercial office space to retail space that would include a Whole Foods as the anchor tenant. The lawsuits were suspended while the Town Board studied the traffic, safety and other impacts that might be created by the conversion to retail. In October 2013, a prior Town Board adopted a SEQRA Findings Statement, which is a legally binding document that closes the book on the Town’s ability to review a project’s impacts on things like traffic, and explore possible mitigation measures. The Town’s Findings Statement determined, among other things, that the adverse traffic, safety and other impacts from having retail at Chappaqua Crossing would be minimal after road improvements were done to Route 117 and Roaring Brook Road. The Findings Statement, adopted by a prior Town Board, resolved all of those questions in favor of SG and retail zoning. Given the binding effect of the Findings Statement, going back to court with SG was a very risky and expensive option. Instead, my administration decided to make the project as good as it could be, with the best amenities, best aesthetics, and the tax dollars we need. With input from our Planning Board, we persuaded Summit Greenfield to move away from its original proposal to build big box stores, and instead to design a more community-oriented, walkable retail development. We also negotiated with SG on additional improvements and benefits for the Town, including the following:
- We required that 20% of the total retail space on the property be dedicated to health and fitness-related uses. Life Time Fitness is now coming to Chappaqua Crossing. Lifetime will be utilizing 1/3 of the retail space. The remaining retail space will include a mix of new restaurants and small stores that will compliment, not destabilize, our existing merchants.
- We persuaded Summit Greenfield to pay the Town $1.5 million, which will be used to create other recreational opportunities and further mitigate impacts associated with the development.
- The townhouses on the site will be taxed as individual, fee-simple properties, not as condominiums. This will ensure that townhouse owners pay their fair share of property taxes.
- We persuaded Summit Greenfield to widen and approve the driveway entrance into Horace Greeley High School to alleviate the traffic congestion that occurs there every weekday morning.
- We saved the Wallace Auditorium from destruction. We persuaded Summit Greenfield to transfer ownership of the facility to the Town, for free, so it can be used and enjoyed by our residents, civic groups and other organizations.
- We created new open space by persuading Summit Greenfield to remove the houses it owns along Roaring Brook Road and transfer those properties to the Town, for free, so the land can be forever preserved as a natural buffer between the development and surrounding neighborhood.
- The cupola building is being redeveloped for market rate, workforce and affordable rental housing. The renovation is already underway, and I’ve walked through the building. It’s awesome. It’s a project we can all be proud of.
Here we are in 2017. All of the Town approvals have been granted for retail. As a result, the lawsuits that SG filed are being dismissed once and for all. It’s been a long road. Given the cards we were dealt in 2014, I’m proud of what my administrations have accomplished at Chappaqua Crossing.
In regard to Amazon buying Whole Foods, please keep in mind that Whole Foods is under contract at Chappaqua Crossing. I asked the developer if this has any impact on Chap Crossing and his response was….”No, good news, stronger credit now”. Whole Foods will continue to operate stores under its brand.
As far as the Cupola Building, as I mentioned, the iconic Cupola building at Chappaqua Crossing is being adaptively reused for 28 units of affordable housing, 10 work force, 25 market rate units. These units will exemplify how new and affordable housing options should be integrated. When completed, the Cupola Building will offer affordable, market rate and workforce housing options in a beautiful, vibrant location. Check out this virtual tour!!! Now this is affordable housing we can be proud of!!!
Our Mandate Relief Committee continues their great work. They appeared before the Town Board and provided an informative presentation. As they indicated in their presentation, more work needs to be done & unfunded mandate relief must remain a top priority. I could not agree more. Here are a few recommendations:
New Castle Must Help Governor Cuomo Ensure Value of 2% Tax Cap By Pushing For Mandate Relief From The Bottom Up
New Castle must continue elevating interests of residents above party politics
New Castle must continue educating residents about impact of mandates
New Castle must insist elected officials work proactively with Town officials in formulating and championing legislation to provide genuine mandate relief
New Castle must aggressively negotiate all contracts
The Mandate Relief Committee Update Report to Town Board from May 2, 2017 can be read here.
All letters to our elected officials can be found here
The Mandate Relief Committee also met with Assemblyman David Buchwald to discuss our letter and Mandate issues. The purpose of the meeting was to review the work of the New Castle Mandate Relief Committee and to gain Assemblyman Buchwald’s perspective on the issue generally and with regard to the specific recommendations of the Committee. Here is their summary.
Deputy Supervisor Adam Brodsky & myself attended a discussion regarding the Governor’s Shared Service Property Tax Savings Pan. Essentially the initiative requires counties to assemble local governments, hold public hearings and vote on a plan to share services such as trash pickup, information technology & purchasing. I think it’s fair to say that all local officials support municipalities sharing services and saving tax dollars. But, if we really want to help localities save money, we need to provide municipalities and school districts we must significantly reduce the burden of unfunded mandates. Unfunded Mandates from Washington and Albany cost Westchester County $1 billion dollars a year!
More Workers Compensation Savings
I’m happy to report that we continue to save money on our workers compensation premium. In 2014, we started working with a new insurance broker, Foa & Son. We switched our workers compensation carrier and immediately saved $222,565. Besides saving money on our premium, Foa & Son offered safety training programs to town employees. As a result of this commitment to safety, we have drastically reduced our workers compensation claims. In fact, based on our safety record, we are now eligible for a program that provides an additional premium reduction. Although the full amount of our savings won’t be known until the end of the policy term we expect savings of $145,00.00 this year. Based on our premium in 2013-4 which was $772,967, over the past 4 years we have saved over $1,000,000!
- 2014-15: $550,402
- 2015-16: $520,672
- 2016-17: $560,178
- 2017-18: $415,021
We learned that New Castle is getting $315,833.07 in CHIPS (Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program Funding) – that’s $93,000 more than we expected. I want to thank Senator Terrence Murphy for his help in securing these funds for New Castle. This brings our total budget for paving & road improvements for 2017 to $915,452. Our Department of Public Works will soon be releasing the road paving list. I’m very happy to report that NYS DOT will be milling and paving a section of Route 120 beginning approximately at the Route 133/120 traffic signal and proceeding south on Route 120 for 1.6 miles. Work is starting soon. The paving should take 4-5 days.
We finally received the NYSDOT work permit for sidewalk replacement for the 120 sidewalk up by Grafflin. With permit in hand, we issued an RFP on the work. Since Con Ed is in the process of replacing their gas mains and we don’t want them ripping up our brand new sidewalk, we plan on proceeding in two phases.
Phase 1: Grafflin to Old Lyme – to be completed this year 2017
Phase 2: Old Lyme down to elm street – to be completed Spring 2018
Railroad Crossing Safety – We Need a Bridge!
We wrote a letter to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, and, once again, reiterated our request to be added to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) list. We pointed out the need for design and construction of a bridge over the Metro-North Railroad grade crossing at Roaring Brook Road and its intersection with the Saw Mill River Parkway, less than a quarter mile from Horace Greeley High School, NYS Route 117 (Truck Route) and the multi-use Chappaqua Crossing. This letter was sent to: U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Congress Woman Nita Lowey, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Senator Terrence Murphy, NYS Assemblyman David Buchwald, County Executive Robert P. Astorino, Westchester County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz, New York State Department of Transportation, MTA & Federal Railroad Administration Region. In response to our letter, I have received a call from Senator Charles Schumer’s office. They are willing to help with our efforts. Our efforts were recognized on the front cover of the Journal News
We had our first two Distracted Driving Diversion Courses. The course is offered to persons ticketed for distracted driving offenses in the Town of New Castle. However, a few residents have expressed interest in attending this course, especially with their teenage drivers. This course is now open to anyone who wants to watch an impactful presentation that can change attitudes and cause drivers to make a decision to stop using electronic devices while driving. The course starts at 7pm and lasts about one hour. All of the sessions are at the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center (formerly known as Wallace Auditorium) Click here for more information.
Representatives from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be attending our distracted driving diversion course on July 10th. We are then meeting the following day to discuss our efforts here in New Castle. Representatives from their Washington DC office who oversee their national distracted driving program will be attending.
We received some nice recognition by American Automobile Association. Their report stated “Suburban communities could look to the town of New Castle in Westchester County. New Castle’s intense publicity campaign and strategic deployment of officers allowed its police department to issue more texting summonses than the Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse police departments combined”. https://blog.northeast.aaa.com/strategies-curb-distracted-driving/
Lastly, I was proud to be in Albany for 2017 Distracted Driving Awareness Lobby Day. Advocates from across the State joined NYS Senator Terrence Murphy, Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz and Ben Lieberman to educate legislators about “Evan’s Law”, named after Ben’s 19-year-old son who was killed in a distracted driving accident. This legislation has bi-partisan support and would make New York the first state to attempt a distracted driving policy that enables police to examine phones at an accident site using the “Textalyzer”. Thank you to Assemblyman David Buchwald for stepping up and adding his name to the sponsorship at the press conference. Special thanks to Chief Ferry and Officer Golenac for making the trip and helping us educate lawmakers about this dangerous epidemic. New Castle is leading the effort to combat this dangerous epidemic on our roads. Our education and enforcement efforts are being used as a model across the state. But, we need to give our police departments the tools they need to collect data and hold drivers accountable. I look forward to a distracted driving policy in New York that enables police to examine phones at an accident site using the textalyzer.
Neighborhood Speed Awareness Campaign
Problems with speeding vehicles often involve local drivers who are daily roadway users and live in or nearby the affected neighborhood. In addition to selective traffic enforcement, radar speed signs & additional signage (curves, hidden driveways, etc), our police department is introducing our Speed Awareness Campaign. A Speed Awareness Campaign is an effective way to remind local drivers to lower their speeds and be extra cautious in residential neighborhoods. Our police department has 25 “Drive Like Your Kids Live Here” lawn signs & 4 “Keep Kids Alive, Drive 25” metal street signs. If you’re interested in bringing a speed awareness campaign to your neighborhood, please contact the office of the Chief of Police – firstname.lastname@example.org or call 914-238-7292. These campaigns are a great way for New Castle residents and police to work together to make the neighborhood safer!
National Police Week
We honored our police officers during police week. Every day, our officers here in New Castle put their lives on the line to protect us. Last year, our police officers responded to over twenty calls a day from our community. They do their job with courtesy and respect. Keep in mind, that every call that involves a possible crime in a residence or in a business brings with it the fear of the unknown and of potential danger. Every vehicle stop must be and is conducted professionally but with caution. Our officers do their job, regardless of the risk. We see our police officers at community events, at Town functions and at school events. We are safer because they are prepared. We value their efforts, their training, their patience. They deserve our thanks and support every week. Please thank them for everything they do to keep our community safe.
Our Sustainability Advisory Board is currently formulating a concrete plan so New Castle can honor the goals of the Paris Accord. To do so, New Castle must reduce our emissions 26 percent by 2025, based on 2005 levels. I look forward to hearing their recommendations. Our Electric vehicle has arrived! The New Castle SAB has been studying our current streetlights and looking into the environmental and financial benefits of converting to LEDs. They are working with Scarsdale and the Westchester lighting consortium. Their plan is to have the new lamps up for 3 – 4 weeks and communicate it broadly to the town and ask for opinions. After that, assuming feedback is positive, they’ll select the lamps that work the best and work with the DPW to replace the old lamps (when they need replacing) with an LED. We’ll be saving greenhouse gases and money. Greener in every sense of the word!
Our Sustainability Advisory Board is also working on a composting program where residents drop their food scraps off at the recycling center, at no charge, which are then collected by Sanipro and delivered to a central composter. We are leveraging a program developed by Scarsdale that has been very successful. The cost of the program are offset by the savings on tipping fees. Food scraps account for approximately 15% of municipal solid waste. Composting is an important waste reduction strategy. Many school districts, including Chappaqua Central School District, are already doing it. We should follow the lead of our children! Lastly, over the years some residents have asked the Town Board to impose a ban on leaf blowers. Many communities already have ordinances to safeguard their residents from the negative impacts of the devices. Besides noises, leaf blowers generate large amounts of airborne dust, allergens, animal waste, pesticides, and fertilizer that impact all individuals, but especially those with allergy and respiratory conditions. The gas-powered models emit carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and other volatile compounds. Over 15 Westchester communities have ordinances restricting the use of leaf blowers: New Rochelle, White Plains, Pelham, Village Scarsdale, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Greenburgh, Bronxville, Pelham Manor, Yonkers, Rye, Hastings, Tarrytown, Dobbs Ferry, Sleepy Hollow & Tuckahoe. Our Sustainability Advisory Board is going to begin working on the leaf blower issue. They will study pro/cons, what other towns have done, and if there are any special considerations for New Castle.
We had a joint meeting with the Ethics Board to discuss potential changes to the Ethic’s Law. We adopted a new Ethics Code in 2014. We then appointed a new Ethics Board. The next year, we requested that the Ethics Board study and make recommendations on whether the Town’s Code of Ethics could be amended to improve and clarify its provisions. The Town Board had suggested a number of specific subjects for the Ethics Board to consider, and further requested that the Ethics Board consider any other areas that might merit review. The Ethics Board only recommended a single change, which involves their ability to receive ethics complaints directly from residents. I personally support that change.
Diversity and Inclusion
I’m very proud to introduce our new “Build Trust – Reduce Crime” flyer. These flyers were distributed around town and the message will also be printed on business cards for our officers to carry with them. The New Castle Police Department wants all people – regardless of their immigration status—to feel comfortable talking to its officers. They will not ask about someone’s immigration status! They want witnesses and crime victims to know they are here to help you. Their message is simple: Crime victims should feel comfortable reporting crimes. Witnesses should feel comfortable reporting crimes. This initiative is about building trust. Building trust to keep our community safe. We are one community! Read article in The Examiner
As well, Chappaqua Coalition for Youth, Chappaqua Central School District and the Town of New Castle presented “Diversity and Inclusion in America Today: A Conversation” at The Chappaqua Performing Arts Center.
Look for our All Are Welcome Here banners coming to a light pole near you soon.
Millwood InterGenerate Garden
Despite lots of rain and wet conditions, we’re working on grading /leveling the garden area Gravel was delivered. We have secured a 550 gallon tank. We will soon order wood and start building the raised beds. The soil will then get delivered and the gardeners can fill the beds. We will also build a fence. I would like to thank a few local merchants who have agreed to sponsor the Millwood InterGenerate Community Garden. We are still looking for more sponsors.
- DeCicco & Sons
- Rocky’s Millwood Deli
- Drug Mart of Millwood
- Tazza Cafe
- Matero Fine Jewelry & Design Inc
- Dodd’s Wine Shop
- Rotta Family
- Sari Shaw, Platinum Drive Realty
- William Raveis Chappaqua
- New Castle Physical Therapy & Personal Training
- Sunshine Children’s Home & Rehab Center
- Spaccarelli’s Ristorante
- Millwood-West End Advisory Board
Habitat for Humanity – Millwood
I was proud to attend a great Habitat for Humanity fundraiser at their house located at 437 Saw Mill River Road, Millwood. Nice story……….Jim Killoran, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Westchester, was buying food at DeCicco’s for the fundraiser and started speaking to the woman in line behind him. The woman, who wants to remain anonymous, picked up the $750 tab! Incredible gesture! Special thanks also to Le Jardin for donating delicious pulled pork and corn salad.
Kudos to our Town Prosecutor Stu Miller and Jim Killoran. Stu was involved in the prosecution of a homeowner who ran into some hard times. His wife has been injured and two kids have muscular dystrophy. Rather than just prosecuting him, he helped him. Both Stu & Jim cleaned up his house. They helped his family and his neighbors will be happier. To support Habitat for Humanity, click here.
Millwood – NYSDOT Yard
We held a meeting with NYSDOT officials to discuss landscaping at the DOT yard to ensure proper screening (especially for the metal fuel tanks). DOT assured Town officials that they would work with the Town to address our concerns. We suggested plantings along the Route 100 entrance for a more complete green screen. We discussed positioning a stockade fence around the metal fuel tanks to provide a complete sight barrier for the tanks. We also talked about switching out the garage doors to the dark contrasting brown which was included in the initial drawings provided to the Town before the project was started. In addition, we are requesting that the shiny chain link fence be switched to a black vinyl wrapped chain link fence which was also included in the initial drawings provided to the Town. The yellow stone building in the rear of the property is scheduled to be demolished. We also received a commitment from DOT to clean up and continued maintenance of the area across Route 100 from the DOT yard (by the entrance to the Taconic) which contains large downed trees and debris. We appreciate the commitment of the Millwood West Advisory Board members to this project.
Millwood West End Advisory Board
Last week Suzanne Kavic & Jim Pinto were unanimously appointed as co-chairs of the Millwood West End Advisory Board. I would like to thank Dianne Kleinmann & Mike Stern for their service, and wish them well in the next chapter of their lives. The Millwood-West End Advisory Board (“MWEAB”) monitors events in and represents the interest of Millwood and the West End of Town. If interested in joining, please complete this form and submit to Town Administrator Jill Shapiro at JShapiro@MyNewCastle.org
Youth Community Action Committee
We had our first meeting of the New Castle Youth Civics Action (“YCA”) Committee. We have over 30 kids express interest, and many were able to attend our first meeting. The goal of YCA is to increase youth participation in local government. Young people should be informed and engaged. They should have an active “voice” for important issues that concern them. They are valuable stakeholders, capable of contributing to the vibrancy of our community. They can identify and represent the needs of the youth community. And here in New Castle, they will!
Basketball Court & Playground at Town Hall / Rec Department
Eight (8) consultants submitted engineering proposals regarding the proposed lighted basketball court, playground area and parking lot improvements for Town Hall. We awarded the contract to Eberlin & Eberlin. That’s the same company who designed the basketball Court in Bedford Hills Memorial Park.
We had a productive joint meeting with our rec commission. A number of topics were discussed including a dog park, promoting town camp & Town Hall basketball court & playground. Thank you to Jeremy Saland for volunteering to be the Town Board liaison to the rec commission.
New Castle 5K / 10K / Family Fun Run / PAWS Walk
Last year we added a 5K run as another option to our challenging 10K. With the help of our friends at World Cup Gymnastics, this year we added a Kids Fun Run to challenge our youngest runner’s agility, balance and endurance as they ran through an obstacle course that included two giant inflatables. Chappaqua Paint & Hardware cooked up some delicacies on The Big Green Egg. We also added a Paws Walk. The Paws Walk started and ended at Town Hall. And don’t forget about our “It’s Too Hot” campaign. We are committed to protecting our pets! The Town of New Castle started an educational campaign to increase awareness about never leaving pets in a parked car. Not even for a minute. Leaving a pet in a hot vehicle will put your pet at risk of serious illness or death.
New Castle Health and Wellness Committee
May was Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and our New Castle Health and Wellness Committee hosted a very informative educational presentation on tick and Lyme Disease prevention and awareness. It was taped and can be viewed on New Castle Community Media Center. Ticks are out in force this year, especially in our area. Learn how to protect yourself from tick bites, what to do when you find a tick, and what symptoms to look for with Lyme and other tick-borne diseases found in Westchester County. Lots resources have been updated to the Town’s website.
We are in the process of updating our zoning code in regard to backyard chickens. Thank you to Councilwoman Hala Makowska for preparing a matrix that allows us to review and compare how various municipalities handle how the eggs are used, permitting, gender, quantity limitations, set-backs, sanitation, coop/building, predator/nuisance, noise & animal welfare.
We have received many complaints about the Jersey barriers outside of Chappaqua Station. The Jersey barriers are there to protect people exiting the restaurant and not realizing they are stepping into a lane of travel. Many cars speeding past the station under the portico. It’s a public safety issue. The Chief feels that the lane of travel under the portico must permanently be closed for traffic. We are looking into installing permanent, nice looking bollards. Depending on the price, we will do it this year or next year as part of the streetscape. They are expensive due to installation. We looked into heavy planters but they don’t comply with Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. There are a lot of regulations involved in keeping people protected from speeding cars. In the interim, the Jersey barriers have been painted and reflective material added
Like so many others, I was appalled when a prior Town administration approved a 28-unit affordable housing project at 54 Hunts Place. The project site is a vacant 1/4 acre lot that is sandwiched between the Quaker Street Bridge (Route 120), the Metro North Railroad tracks and the Chappaqua exit off ramp on the Saw Mill River Parkway. The location is not suitable for residential housing of any kind. Nevertheless, in 2013, the Town rezoned the property and granted approval for Conifer Realty, LLC to erect a 4-story residential apartment building that will rise alongside the Quaker Street Bridge. Conifer’s affordable housing project on Hunts Place raised serious questions about public safety, housing stigmatization and the astronomical cost of developing this particular site for residential housing. In my view, these were legitimate questions which Town officials had a right to raise and discuss openly, without fear of reprisal from the federal government. So that’s precisely what we did. We expressed our opinions about this project and even tried to persuade Conifer to relocate the project to a more suitable location. Our Town Building Inspector expressed his concerns about public safety, particularly with respect to the ability of fire trucks to access such a cramped location. Unfortunately, the Federal Monitor overseeing HUD’s affordable housing settlement with Westchester County took the position that Town officials did not have the right to speak negatively about Conifer’s project. In May 2016, a United States District Judge agreed that the Town had “hindered” the project. On April 28, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a Summary Order affirming the District Court’s decision.
Purchase of Electric Community Sign
We approved a resolution to approve the purchase of an electronic sign to replace the existing Greeley Booster sign across from the Shell station in downtown Chappaqua. This is a great example of the Chappaqua Central School District, Town of New Castle & Greeley Boosters working together for the benefit of the community. This new electronic sign will be placed on school property where the current booster sign is presently sited. Thank you to Bill & Keiko Spade for designing the base.
Thank you to the Beautification Advisory Board & Chappaqua Garden Club for our beautiful hanging baskets.
Coyote Awareness Workshop
We held a Coyote Awareness workshop in May. Thank you to Dr. Daniel Bogan for hosting a great forum tonight on coyotes. Thank you also to Chief Charles Ferry & Lieutenant James Carroll for organizing it. Free coyote air horns are available in the New Castle Police Department.
For More News
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These are the highlights of the matters of Town-wide concern that we have been addressing recently. As I noted at the beginning, a responsive Town government listens, responds and communicates. We work for you, our fellow residents! As we look ahead, I will continue to work hard and get things done that benefit our entire community.