Rob Greenstein Statement: 2016 IN REVIEW

Rob Greenstein Statement: 2016 IN REVIEW

Rob Greenstein Statement: 2016 IN REVIEW

Rob Greenstein
Supervisor, New Castle

It is again time to reflect on our accomplishments over the past year. As always, we have been busy this year with ongoing projects and new projects that will help to improve the town. 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:

Downtown Streetscape / Infrastructure Improvements
Beautification
Millwood
Chappaqua Crossing
Wallace Auditorium – Arts & Culture Committee
Comprehensive Plan Update
Distracted Driving
Railroad Crossing
Co-Existing with Coyotes
Recreation
Sustainability
My New Castle 311
2017 Budget
New Initiatives
Exceptional People of New Castle
Task Force on Health and Wellness
Community Preparedness Committee
Community Inclusion & Diversity Committee
Volunteer Appreciation Dinner
Affordable Housing
Paving
Commuter Lot – Railroad Parking Permit Fees
120 Sidewalk
Sewage Diversion Project
First Responders
Gun Violence
Coalition for Youth
Rosehill
Sunshine Children’s Home and Rehab Center
Upper Westchester Muslim Society
Ban the Barges

Downtown Streetscape / Infrastructure Improvements
The New Castle Town Board approved the implementation of WSP’s recommendations relating to vehicular parking, turning movements and traffic flow in the Chappaqua business hamlet. Residents can look forward to seeing new, wider sidewalks, attractive new public spaces, and charming details throughout. Most importantly, the streetscape work will include new crosswalks and traffic/parking improvements that will make it safer for residents (and especially our young kids on Friday afternoons) to walk around our downtown. NYS DOT did not support the temporary or permanent installation of a stop sign King Street/Greeley Avenue intersection. They indicated that a better solution could be the installation of a traffic signal. How are we paying for this and remaining under the tax cap? It is intended that the entire project, both infrastructure and streetscape improvements, will be funded by a bond issuance. Despite the budgetary pressures this will represent, the Town intends to remain under the tax cap for the foreseeable future. It is anticipated that any debt costs for the project that cannot be absorbed within the tax cap will be funded by appropriations from the Town’s fund balance. The use of fund balance to help pay for capital costs is recognized as an appropriate use of these funds. Over the past 3 years, Comptroller Rob Deary has replenished our depleted fund balance. Through his stewardship, the Town has been able to secure its top bond rating and restore its fund balance to a healthy 31%. After years of studies and planning, this project is slated to go out to bid in March 2017 and award contracts in April 2017, which is the preferred time to get the best pricing from vendors. Some work in the downtown will begin as early as March 2017, as Con Ed starts replacing gas mains. We are preparing a RFP to hire a project manager. I want to thank Deputy Supervisor Adam Brodsky and the Downtown Streetscape Committee for their work on this massive and complex project.

Beautification
We had 96 hanging baskets – 25 in Millwood and the rest were scattered throughout Chappaqua, including the train station, Susan Lawrence parking, bridge & downtown. Thank you to Beth Hundgen from Whispering Pines for our Fall decorations – in both Chappaqua & Millwood. For the holiday season, we have new beautiful tree wraps in downtown Chappaqua. We also purchased 20 new snowflakes this year so we could decorate all of the poles in Millwood, go up King Street as much as possible, and do every pole on the Quaker Street bridge. Thank you to the Chappaqua Garden Club and our Beautification Advisory Board!

Millwood
The new DeCicco & Sons, located on the site of the former A&P in the Millwood Plaza, is open! Their 20,000 square ft. store is a sparkling beauty, with a wide selection of the very best quality food and products, complete with a beer & wine tasting bar, a multi-level Cafe, rotating selections of world-renowned craft beers on tap, a full-service sushi counter, hot seafood selections …and more. Their store incorporates intelligent, energy-efficiency, clean and green renewable energy. Our reusable bag initiative is 100% consistent with their long-standing commitment to the environment. DeCicco’s will be a real community partner! They have agreed to sponsor 2,000 reusable bags. They are already establishing partnerships with our schools and the Millwood Community Garden. Their café will be another community-gathering place. Like I said when this deal was announced, DeCicco’s will be incredible for the Millwood Plaza, incredible for Millwood and incredible for our entire community! For more information, visit their website. Also, be sure to follow them on their new Facebook page.

Preliminary plans were developed for new sidewalks in Millwood. To further the design, we requested additional survey details of the area. The project is moving forward and once the survey results are received we will be able to further the design and submit to NYSDOT for approval. Town Staff will be verifying the wetlands and preparing the DEC wetland permit application this winter. Town Staff are working on the design plans (30/50% plans expected in January 2017). Once we have the 50% plans we can submit to DOT and start the acquisition process.

We issued a Request for Proposals for a feasibility study for sewers in Millwood. The commercial vitality and development potential of the hamlet is severely limited by the lack of sewers. The RFP was sent out and three (3) responses have been received by the Town. We are also working with NYS DOT on increasing bicycle & pedestrian safety where the North County Trail Way crosses over Route 100.

The Millwood Community Garden is moving forward! We decided that it’s best for the Town to retain ownership and work with InterGenerate to help run it. The Town has removed trees, mowed and removed the old pump in anticipation of the creation of raised beds for the gardens.  Steve Coleman, our Environmental Coordinator, is working with the group to secure the permits they need in order to get the garden up and running. We have secured a list of materials in order to create a budget for the garden, as well as estimates for the irrigation system’s materials and labor, and gravel. I’m happy to report that DeCicco’s will sponsor four of those raised beds dedicated to growing food for those who don’t have the funds or the opportunity to purchase food at our farmer’s markets.

Chappaqua Crossing
This project was delayed due to the fact that NYS Department of Transportation (“DOT”) decided that it wanted Summit Greenfield to build a roundabout (“RAB”) at that intersection. Both Summit Greenfield & the Town spent a year studying and designing a RAB. Unfortunately, NYC Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) would not grant a necessary variance for the RAB. The Town tried to persuade DEP to reconsider its position but we were not successful. So, one year later, we reapproved the T-intersection – with two turning lanes – at the intersection of Route 117 and Roaring Brook Road. The same T-intersection which was previously approved by a prior Town Board in the October 2013 Findings Statement. Summit Greenfield also received the necessary re-approval from the New Castle Planning Board for the T-intersection. We also approved a zoning amendment for Chappaqua Crossing that will create a procedure for allowing Lifetime Fitness to sublease its 40,000 square foot in the hopefully unlikely event that its club is not successful and is forced to close after 3 years of operation. Summit Greenfield has said that Lifetime will not commit to a long term lease unless they have this sublease protection. Looking ahead, Summit Greenfield is expected to receive permits and approvals from various regulatory agencies over the upcoming months. Residents may start to see some preparatory activity on the site as Summit Greenfield gets ready. Whole Foods recently agreed to an extension, and they have pushed their store opening date to 2018. We anticipate completion of all core and shell work (which is done by the developer) to be completed in 2017 which would then allow tenants – such as Whole Foods – to start their individual store build outs. The goal is for Whole Foods to open by the Spring of 2018. The rest of the stores – including Lifetime Fitness – are planned to open by the fall of 2018. As part of the approval of retail at Chappaqua Crossing, Summit Greenfield was required to pay for improvements to the Horace Greeley High School entrance drive. NYS Department of Education has approved the improvements. This work will be done next Summer.

Wallace Auditorium – Arts & Culture Committee
The Town Board voted to accept the Offer of Dedication of the Wallace Auditorium! Our Arts & Culture Committee is now working to make this venue a unique and fabulous amenity for our community. They adopted rental guidelines and have posted a virtual tour of Wallace created for potential renters.  NCCMC purchased a video projector and is installing a new sound sysytem. They issued Request For Proposals for lighting equipment. The Town also issued an RFP to hire a theatre manager for the facility, and we are currently negotiating a contract with one of the five applicants. The theater manager will handle day to day operations at Wallace, including booking events, marketing and promotion. Friends of the Arts in New Castle is forming a 501(c)(3) corporation to support the arts in our Town, including at the Wallace Auditorium. The Arts & Culture Committee continues its work, and not just at the Wallace Auditorium. They sponsored LawnChair Theater, Movies in Millwood, “SCREENAGERS: Growing Up in the Digital Age”, Hamilton’s America and the Chappaqua Orchestra’s children’s concert with Paul Schaffer. I would like to thank Councilwoman Lisa Katz and the Arts & Culture Committee for bringing more arts and culture to New Castle and working hard to make the Wallace the incredible venue that New Castle deserves! Check out their new Facebook page.

Comprehensive Plan Update
We’re on track to complete our updated Comprehensive Plan during the second quarter of 2017. Our Comprehensive Plan, which dates back to 1989, guides the Town’s long range land use and development policies and goals. Over the past year, the draft 2016 Comprehensive Plan was released and Town Staff and members of the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee met with the various boards and committees. The Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee also held a public hearing on the Draft Plan. Feedback was then incorporated into the draft document. As part of the adoption process, the Town Board will undertake an environmental review of the document. Funds have been allocated in the 2017 budget for this environmental review. Once the environmental review is completed and Final Draft Plan has been produced it will be presented to the Town Board for review. A second public hearing will be held. The Town Board will then consider adoption. I encourage residents to follow the Town’s e-Newsletter and website for upcoming announcements, as well as links to the draft document and other important information.

Distracted Driving
Since we started in October of 2014 there have been over 1,000 tickets issued for distracted driving offences! I was proud to be in Albany on April 5th with Ben Lieberman when NYS Senator Terrence Murphy and Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz, introduced a bipartisan state bill, making New York the first state to attempt a distracted driving policy solution that enables police to examine phones at an accident site in a way that, notably, completely avoids drivers’ personal data. The proposed law would be called “Evan’s Law” named after Ben’s 19-year-old son, Evan, who they lost in a 2011 collision caused by a distracted driver. Since introducing Evan’s Law, the “Textalyzer” has received National media attention including coverage on CNN, NY Times, Washington Post, Daily News, NBC and CBS News. We introduced our distracted driving video. The video documents the heartbreaking story of Evan Lieberman and our effort to change habits and laws regarding distracted driving. Thank you to Linda Kallner & Lyle Anderson of Get Reel Productions for producing an incredibly powerful video!

The New Castle Police Department was asked to do a presentation about our “Hands Off the Phone and On the Wheel” initiative at the NY Safety Highway Symposium. We also received an award for our work on this critical safety initiative. Based on the success of our program, other communities were encouraged to implement similar programs – and many will be doing just that! As well, the United States Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has expressed their support for our distracted driving initiative, and our “demonstrated leadership on this critical highway safety issue”. They plan on highlighting our activities to other jurisdictions as a “Promising Practice”.

Railroad Crossing Safety
As I mentioned late last year, the MTA announced that it is planning on analyzing all 437 grade crossings within its purview. I joined Senator Terrence Murphy in writing a letter to the MTA requesting that the Roaring Brook Road crossings be made a priority. Roaring Brook Road grade crossing was in fact analyzed as part of their initial phase of this work. New York will be getting a fifth of the $25 million – $5.2 million in grants – to improve grade crossing signals and conditions between highway and rail traffic, and to install closed-circuit TV cameras to record incidents at the crossings. I was honored to take part in a press conference with Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Senator Terrence Murphy & Assemblyman David Buchwald announcing this funding. Some of this funding has already been used for safety improvements on Roaring Brook Road. Residents will notice new lights, signage and pavement markings at the Roaring Brook Road grade crossing. We continue our efforts to obtain support & funding for a bridge over the Roaring Brook Road railroad grade crossing. WSP made a presentation to the Town Board which included preliminary layout and circulation designs for a bridge. We discussed feasibility, public safety, environmental benefits and traffic issues. We also discussed working with WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff, a national bridge consulting firm that handles all major NYSDOT contracts and specializes in obtaining federal appropriations for state projects. We are looking to have the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) support a bridge project, have the proposal reinstated on the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) list, and obtain funding from the Federal Transportation Authority, Metro North, Federal Highway Administration Money and NYS DOT. I was very happy to hear that Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill that will lead to a review of all grade crossings and prioritizing the most dangerous ones for new safety measures. Roaring Brook Road should be a priority! A bridge over the Roaring Brook Road grade crossing and the Saw Mill River Parkway would be the best safety measure since it would eliminate two dangerous conditions – an on-grade railroad crossing and a traffic light on a busy highway. This is especially important due to the proximity to our high school with young drivers.

Co-Existing with Coyotes
Last year, the Town Board unanimously adopted a Coyote Response Plan that recommends a measured, balanced approach to coyote encounters. The Humane Society, which is the nation’s largest animal rights organization, has praised our Coyote Response Plan and called it a model for communities across the country. Since adopting the Coyote Management Plan last year we have implemented the mapping feature on the website and included the S.M.A.R.T. flyer in a town-wide mailing. We are also had a 2nd town-wide mailing. In the weekly eNewsletter, we also have included links to our Coyote Response Plan, Coyote Map, Coyote Sightings Form, Coyote Incident Classification and Recommended Responses Chart and the Suggested Annual Homeowner’s Yard Audit to Discourage Coyotes. We have set up an email – Coyote@MyNewCastle.org – for residents to ask questions &/or report sightings. Sightings can also be reported on the home page of the Town’s web site. We also have air horns which are available in Town Hall and at the police station.

Recreation
We replaced the playground equipment in Gedney Park. There is also a new fence around the playground at Gedney. This fence will keep the kids in and dogs out. We have also made sledding safer at Gedney Park! Last year, the New Castle Town Board approved an amendment to the Town’s Park and Recreation rules that now requires minor children to wear a helmet when sledding at Gedney Park. Children must wear a bicycle helmet, skiing/snowboard helmet or equivalent when sledding. The hill at Gedney Park was also regraded so it no longer slopes towards the woods. The sledding surface was fenced in to prevent sledders from entering the wooded area. A fence was also installed to shorten the hill’s incline. We have also installed barriers at the bottom of the hill. We also introduced a new 5K run. Both Ossining and New Castle secured $30,000.00 in funding to establish new trailway linkages between our communities. We also received a $50,000 grant to be used for a basketball court &/or new playground at Town Hall. Thank you to Senator Terrence Murphy! Our brand new event SundayScramble was a big success! So many kids came out and had fun while exercising with their family and friends. Check out somephotos.

Sustainability
The Solarize Somers-New Castle initiative was a huge success. More than 400 residents have signed up for a free, no-obligation site assessment and more than 60 homeowners signed contracts thereby helping the program reach its lowest possible price.

Westchester Power: New Castle teamed up with 19 other Westchester municipalities to aggregate demand for electricity and then get the least expensive price for electricity. New Castle helped lead this effort in the county and became the first municipality in New York State to have green, renewable energy (solar & wind) as our default (not fossil fuel or nuclear based energy). Following our example, 13 other municipalities adopted green as their default.

Reusable Bag Initiative (RBI) was passed. This will limit the number of single-use plastic and paper bags in New Castle. This new ordinance – which took effect on January 1, 2017 – will promote the use of eco-friendly, multi-use, reusable shopping bags. The legislation will ban plastic bags in supermarkets, pharmacies, and a few other categories of businesses, and also include a 10-cent fee for paper bags to encourage more reusable bags. The ordinance would still allow plastic bags to be used for meat and produce, dry cleaners and newspapers. Prescription drug and greeting card bags would also remain in use. The 10-cent charge for a paper bag, which would be kept by the merchants, would not apply to restaurants, delis or liquor stores. Stores that provide decorative paper bags, such as jewelers and gift shops, could also continue to give those bags away without a charge. Like all their other initiatives, our Sustainability Advisory Board (“SAB”) has done an incredible job getting this done. Not a small feat considering we’re the 1st town in New York State to implement a real, comprehensive Reusable Bag law! Our SAB also did an incredible job with the business transition issues, reusable bag sponsorships and communication pieces for residents. You can now see the lamp post banners around town. For additional information, please go here.

We were recently designated by New York State as a Clean Energy Community and will receive a $100,000 grant!

My New Castle 311
We released our new mobile app – My New Castle 311. This mobile app allows residents to report community issues such as potholes, downed trees, streetlights in need of repair, etc. Residents can pinpoint the location of the issue with GPS and attach photos right from their mobile device. Residents will receive status updates as the issues are resolved. Residents can visit the Town’s website and Facebook page, view the Town’s News & Calendar of Events, and even view local points of interest. Residents can also use the App to sign-up for CodeRED and Nixle alerts, and receive the Town’s eNewsletter. We also established one number to reach all departments – 914-238-4-311.
iTunes
Google Play

2017 Budget
We approved the budget on December 13th. Once again, New Castle will stay within the 2% tax cap. For the 3rd straight year, we’ve put together a budget that essentially has no tax increase. This budget proposes a $28 annual increase for the average homeowner. The tax increase for 2015 was $9 increase. The tax increase for 2016 was $14.

For the 3rd straight year, the Town Board has reaffirmed our commitment to critical infrastructure projects. Over the past two years we have spent approximately $1.75 million dollars to reclaim our damaged roads. This year’s budget contains an additional $100,000 in funding for paving for a total of $822,452 up from $722,786 in 2016. This amount does not include paving the commuter lot, which is being funded from the increased parking permit fees.

For the 3rd straight year, we have allocated $25,000 for downtown beautification of our hamlets.

Over the past 3 years, Comptroller Rob Deary has replenished our depleted fund balance. On December 31, 2012 our fund balance was at 7% (and we still retained our AAA bond rating). Through his stewardship, the town has been able to restore our fund balance to a healthy 31%. The standard benchmark is typically around 15%. A significant component of funding for our infrastructure & streetscape improvements will come from this fund balance.

We continue to save money! Our legal expenses, which hit an astronomical high of $1.5 million in 2012, have been kept under control during my administrations. For the past 3 years, we froze the rates that the Town pays for legal services. Next year, we are allowing a 2% increase in the amount we pay for general legal services, and a 6% increase for hourly rates on specialized work, such as litigation and land use review. At the same time, however, we also negotiated a very favorable retainer arrangement for legal services on labor matters, where the Town will pay a discounted rate and is expected to save money. We’ve been proactive and smart in terms of dealing with employment matters, so we’ve avoided the kind of costly and embarrassing lawsuits that the Town was hit with under prior administrations. Since 2014 we have saved $3,500,000 in our garbage contract (over 7 years), almost $500,000 on our workers compensation renewal and $40,000 in liability insurance renewal.

I believe this budget sets forth a fiscally responsible road map for the Town for 2017 and beyond. It anticipates and provides for contingencies with an eye to the bottom line and holding tax increases to modest levels without exceeding the tax cap. It provides the services our residents expect and continues our efforts to restore our infrastructure to conditions our residents deserve. Please remember to check out our Fiscal Transparency Portal, introduced last year, which makes all of the Town’s revenue, expense and budget information available to the public online and makes our budget process more transparent than ever before.

New Initiatives
Radar Speed Sign Program: The goal of the Residential Radar Speed Sign Program is to help residents feel safer in their neighborhoods by lowering the speed that vehicles are traveling. One of the tools we use to lower speeds is the radar speed sign. The New Castle Police Department will deploy radar speed signs on local residential streets that meet the minimum measurable criteria. To request a radar speed sign in your neighborhood contact the New Castle Police Department at 914-238-4422.

“Do Not Knock” initiative: Residents can register for the “Do Not Knock” list to prohibit commercial solicitors and peddlers from coming to your door. Under the program, we have created an online form for residents to sign up for the Do Not Knock list. We have also created Frequently Asked Questions. Sign decals will be available, during regular business hours, at Town Hall. You must be signed up on the “Do Not Knock Registry” prior to receiving a sign decal. If you would like to be added to the Do Not Knock List, please complete this form.

If You Love Me, License Me: Your dog’s license shows the community that your pet is a loved member of your family. It is also proof that your pooch has been vaccinated against rabies. Fill out an application here.

I Want You To Know: The New Castle Police Department worked with the Town’s Exceptional Persons Committee to create the I Want You To Know form. Having this information quickly available to officers can help with effective communication in an emergency. The form is available at the police station or downloaded here.

Exceptional People of New Castle
We appointed members to the Exceptional People of New Castle Committee. This Committee will support the needs of residents with special needs. Besides sport programs, the committee would focus on organized recreational, educational, social and skill building activities, and also raise general awareness about the needs and rights of persons with disabilities. The committee would also work to provide educational, employment & theatrical opportunities. The town took part in the Autism Speaks “Light It Up Blue” campaign to raise awareness of autism. The New Castle Police Department worked with the Town’s Exceptional People Committee to create the “I Want You To Know” form.

The Exceptional People Committee hosted a Safety Meet and Greet with the New Castle Police, Fire and EMS Departments. As well, the New Castle Police Department is now offering residents an “Occupant With Autism” static cling decals that can be placed on a car, window, door, or inside of an autistic person’s home to make police aware of the individual’s communication needs in case of an emergency. We also now have a new handicap playground swing at Gedney. They also have a new Facebook page.

Health and Wellness Committee
We created and appointed members to the Task Force on Health and Wellness. The mission of this task force will include informing and educating our community on the best ways to prevent Vector-borne diseases, early symptoms, as well as connecting patients to each other and to essential support services throughout their illness. In addition, the mission will include providing education and information about other public health matters affecting the community.

Community Preparedness Committee
We created and appointed members to the Community Preparedness Committee. The members of this committee will assist with emergency preparedness at the Town, neighborhood and individual level.

Community Inclusion & Diversity Committee
We created and appointed members to the Inclusion and Diversity Committee. The Committee will work to effectively create community awareness about differences in others as related to race, religion, cultural differences, sexual preferences and gender identity. The Committee will work to develop and implement programs designed to create a spirit of diversity and inclusion of all that live and work in the Town of New Castle as part of “one” unified community. We have a very diverse committee, which is great!

Volunteer Appreciation Dinner
We held our 1st Annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner! The goal of this new tradition is very simple: To say thank you to all our volunteers. We also recognized the work of Gabriel “Gabby” Rosenfeld (1925-2014) who served on the Zoning Board of Appeals for 34 years, serving as chairman for 30. His legacy is an inspiration to all of us.

Affordable Housing
As we all know, on September 10, 2013, a prior Town Board adopted a resolution granting a Special Permit for the construction of a 4-story residential building with 28 units of workforce housing on Hunts Place. As I’ve said many times before, we cannot rewrite history. The Special Permit has numerous conditions that must be complied with before a building permit can be issued. Conifer has been complying with those conditions. Last year, over the objections of a new Town Board, the Town Building Inspector, the Chappaqua Fire Department and many concerned residents, an independent New York State Board granted Conifer the fire and building code variances that it needed for the project. This year, Conifer has secured easements and agreements from NYS DOT & MTA that are also necessary for the project. As well, Westchester County purchased the land for this project. On May 24, 2016 United State District Judge Denise Cote issued a 61-page Opinion and Order which, among other things, affirms the Magistrate Judge’s earlier finding that the Town “hindered” this project. We disagree. We have merely insisted that the proposed building be safe and as attractive as possible, notwithstanding the challenges of the project site. The Town will not cut corners with safety, even when its efforts are being scrutinized and second-guessed by the federal government.

Habitat for Humanity has started work at 300 King Street, where an old church will be transformed into two affordable housing units. These units will cost a little more than 1/2 of the cost of the Conifer project, and will be part of a residential neighborhood. They will also be building these with highly energy-efficient passive house methods. Utility costs will be 1/3 of a similarly-sized code-compliant unit. Habitat for Humanity also purchased an existing 1-story, 3-BR house on Saw Mill River Rd in Millwood that’s in dilapidated condition. The plan is to renovate the building and add a new 2nd floor, to convert it into a 2-family house under the Town’s AFFH ordinance. Also like 300 King, they’ll build it out to passive house principles to produce highly energy-efficient, low-operating cost residences. They’re also looking to add solar panels to it through the solarize program.

As far as housing units in in the Cupola Building, there will be a full residential build-out of the cupola building – 10 workforce and 26 market rate units, together with the 28 AFFH units. A building permit was issued in December 2015. Construction has commenced with interior demolition work. Completion is expected to take 16 to 18 months, with an anticipated opening in the spring of 2018. The affordable units will be integrated throughout the building. All residents will have access to the common elements that will include a gym, kitchen, great room looking out to the two courtyards, library and outdoor play area. The workforce units will be marketed with a preference for Town employees and first responders. This project exemplifies how new and affordable housing options can be woven into the fabric of a community. This is affordable housing we can be proud of!

Paving
Once again, this Board reaffirms its commitment to our infrastructure by continuing the funding for paving our roads. Over the past two years we have spent approximately $1.75 million dollars to reclaim our damaged roads. The 2017 budget contains an additional $100,000 in funding for paving for a total of $822,452. We also paved 1/3 of the commuter lot. Paving on the remaining 2/3 will take place over the next 2 years so that adequate commuter parking is maintained at all times during repaving. Funding for the commuter lot paving will come from the increased parking permit fees.

120 Sidewalk
The 120 sidewalk on Route 120 between Mobil Station/Route 117 and Grafflin Elementary School is in terrible shape, and we are working with NYS on the approval process to replace it. For our part, we approved the Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for engineering services & survey work. After months of delay, NYS finally gave us permission to conduct a video inspection for the drainage pipes that run beneath the sidewalk. Plans for the sidewalk can now be finalized, and submitted to NYS. We are disappointed that this process has taken so long as the sidewalk is in obvious disrepair and needs to be replaced.  Construction is slated for 2017.

Sewage Diversion Project
Last November, the Westchester Board of Legislators voted 12-5 to enter into an Inter-Municipal Agreement with New Castle and New York City Department of Environmental Protection to distribute $16 million in East of Hudson funds for sewer diversion. The Town of New Castle has been working on this much-needed capital improvement project since 1997. Unfortunately, after years of delay, current construction estimates now project that this project will cost between $24 to $26 million dollars. This leaves the town with a $10 million shortfall! Like we did last year, we completed & submitted a grant application to secure additional funding. We are also looking at other options to lower the cost. We are working with the Village of Mount Kisco to discuss an opportunity for our governments to work together to reduce the $10 million gap by an estimated $3 to $4 million by sending the through the Village of Mt. Kisco’s pumping station. While we know that there are legal agreements and other limitations that will need to be addressed, the Town received a solid commitment from both NYC DEP and Westchester County to explore the possibility of the “new” route.

Website
We continue to work on the website to make it more user friendly. We’ve added links on our home page for “Do Not Knock”, “Storm Central”, “Community Calendar”, “New Castle First Responders” & “New Castle Committee News”. We’re also working to make the eNewsletter more closely aligned with the website in terms of look and color scheme. Each board and committee now has their own page on the town’s web site. We added contact information, as well as the name of all board & committee members. The committee can also post their latest news on their respective pages. We also introduced our new Burbio Community Calendar. Residents can find local community, school, sports, activity and event calendars – all in one place. You can also sync events from the Burbio Community Calendar to your personal digital calendar. And the best part – it’s free.

It’s now easier to find the senior programs on the town’s website.

For those New Castle seniors out there, don’t forget to like the New Castle Seniors Facebook page and use it as another way to stay informed.

First Responders


Our first responders give generously of their time and talents serving our community. Our volunteer first responders also save local governments lots of money. As a way to show our appreciation, we are offered members in good standing the Chappaqua & Millwood Fire Departments, Chappaqua Volunteer Ambulance Corp who have 3 years or more of service offering restricted annual parking permits at a reduced rate of $100 ($500 is the actual fee for the resident annual permit). It’s a beginning and a small-town thank you to show how much we appreciate them. We will continue to explore benefits to extend to members of our volunteer ambulance corps and fire departments. We marked the fifteenth anniversary of 9-11 with memorial service, honoring and remembering all those affected and the thousands who lost their lives, including three New Castle residents. We paid tribute to the immediate response and contributions from our first responders and New Castle residents on that day and in the days the followed. With the Millwood Fire Company, we co-sponsored a reception after our 9-11 service.

Gun Violence
We gathered once again to mourn of life due to gun violence. This time we mourned the death of five Dallas police officers killed in the line of duty. At that gathering, I thanked our New Castle Police Officers for risking their lives protecting us. Less than 2 months later, we were reminded that no town is immune from gun violence. We had a shooting in Chappaqua outside of Lange’s Little Store & Delicatessen on August 29th. I would, again, like to commend the New Castle Police Department for apprehending the shooter so quickly and without further incident. As I said then, it was far from a routine call but everyday our officers put their lives on the line to protect us and they deserve our thanks and support. Thank you to Rev. Dr. Martha Jacobs for hosting and putting together a great program for The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence on September 25th.

Coalition for Youth
I’m very happy to report that New Castle United for Youth, a subgroup of Coalition for Youth (“CFY”), will receive $125,000 in Drug Free Communities Support Program (DFC) grant annually for five years. This new funding will allow the coalition to work with parents, agencies, schools, businesses, faith groups, civic groups to increase awareness, advocate for our youth, provide resources to support alcohol and drug free youth, help place more young people on the path toward success and enable them to live healthier and safer lives. Another subgroup, Subcommittee for Community Healing, was formed to address the student abuse allegations. From the time of Christopher Schraufnagel’s arrest, I expressed my concerns about this tragedy and its impact on the victims and their families. The Town does not have any involvement in running our schools – and we certainly don’t have the authority to control the insurance company lawyers for the district – but it is clear that this tragedy has left an open wound in our community that the judicial process alone is not going to heal. Today, as we strive to have a better understanding of what happened, we as a community must do what we can to address the risks that our children may face. We must support the victims and work together to ensure that all areas of our community are safe. The group will identify tangible ways for the community to move forward.

Rosehill
The developer has indicated that they are going to be working on a new concept plan and associated visuals which is more consistent with the Comprehensive Plan policies. They plan on discussing this with the Town Board in February (which is after the Town Board will be workshopping the Comp Plan in January).

Sunshine Children’s Home and Rehab Center
The New Castle Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously to allow Sunshine Children’s Home and Rehab Center’s expansion to move forward, granting a special use permit and two variances, and voted for a negative declaration under the state Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), This expansion will increase its bed count from 54 to a maximum allowable of 122 – increase the size of the facility from about 19,000 to 147,000 square feet – on its 33-acre site on Spring Valley Road near the New Castle-Ossining border. The applicant did all of the analysis that would be required in an EIS as part of their project review, County Department of Health is the regulatory authority on water supply, and Sunshine has proposed a monitoring program of surrounding groundwater wells to further alleviate any concerns regarding groundwater. Sunshine still must go before the New Castle Planning Board for environmental permits pertaining to wetlands, trees and steep slopes, and then must apply for building permits to begin construction.  Article 78 Proceedings have been commenced by concerned neighbors.

Upper Westchester Muslim Society
The Article 78 dismissed. The Applicant is working towards the satisfaction of their conditions of approval from both the Special Permit Approval and the environmental permits.

Ban the Barges
The Town Board has joined the numerous state, county and local public officials who are fighting to Ban the Barges on the Hudson River so we can preserve our beautiful waterfront. We approved a resolution expressing our concerns and opposition to the Coast Guard’s proposal to create new anchorage grounds on the Hudson River. New information released by the Pace University Environmental Clinic has revealed the U.S. Coast Guard violated its own protocol by proposing the establishment of 43 special anchorages in 10 locations on the Hudson river between Yonkers and Kingston. Communities along the Hudson River deserve a transparent process. We stand with those communities who are working to preserve our beautiful Hudson River waterfront. I would hope that the Coast Guard will scrap the current plan, listen to the numerous concerns raised and work with the waterfront communities to find an acceptable solution.

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.