Town of New Castle Supervisor’s Report August 9, 2017

 

Rob Greenstein
Supervisor, New Castle
 

Hunts Place Brownfield Remediation

The Town received many questions and complaints from residents this week about the strong chemical odors emanating from the Chappaqua Station Apartments project site at 54 Hunts Place. The developer of the project, Conifer Realty, has been excavating and removing contaminated soil from the site pursuant to a Brownfields Remediation Plan that was approved by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”). The project itself was approved – SEQRA, rezoning and special permit – by a prior Town Board in 2013. Since then, Conifer has obtained all other necessary permits and approvals from the regulatory agencies that have jurisdiction – over the Town’s objections. This brownfield remediation was part of the approval.The odor from the excavation is being addressed through two measures: (1) a biosolve solution is sprayed directly onto the soil during excavation and loading, and (2) odor controlling foam is sprayed onto the excavation pit and sidewalls during times the excavation is left open and no excavation is taking place.

Despite these measures, on Wednesday, August 2, 2017, at approximately 9:15 a.m, NYSDEC directed the contractor not to perform any additional excavation associated with the remediation due to the presence of unacceptably strong odors. NYSDEC directed the contractor to apply odor-suppressing foam and cover the excavation with non-contaminated material. The trucking of contaminated material from the site was also stopped. Unfortunately, heavy rains in the afternoon dissipated the odor-suppressing foam. NYSDEC’s inspector ordered the contractor to cover the excavation with polyethylene sheeting. Additional backfill was deposited to further reduce the potential for odors.

NYSDEC has advised the Town that it will develop a revised odor control plan to address the unacceptable odors being caused by the remediation. NYSDEC has ordered the contractor not to perform any additional excavation of contaminated soil until the revised odor control plan is approved by NYSDEC.

This project site stinks, in every sense of the word. Every member of the current Town Board has expressed our negative opinion about its poor location and unsuitability for residential housing. Our outspokenness angered the Federal Housing Monitor and the United States Attorney’s Office, which criticized the Town Board for simply expressing negative opinions about the project site. The Federal Monitor even directed the Town to “cease and desist” from expressing concerns about the project site, which we refused to do. We will continue to exercise our 1st Amendment right to express our opinion about this project.

Many residents, including every member of this Town Board, are concerned about potential health risks associated with the strong odors, not just the odor itself. Please keep in mind that NYSDEC approved the remediation plan. NYSDEC is overseeing and monitoring the process. Our building inspector is visiting the site on a regular basis. Air quality at the site is being continually sampled and monitored by the contractor and NYSDEC for potential health hazards. There are four air quality sensors in use. I’ve been communicating with the Albany office of NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, as well as the Director for the Westchester regional office. I even invited the Director for the Westchester regional office to attend last night’s Town Board meeting but she could not. Our Building Inspector is also communicating with NYSDEC. But, it’s now apparent that we need to do more.

Today, the Town formally retained our own environmental consultant, WCD Group, LLC. I spoke with them today. I also spoke with NYSDEC who agreed to allow our environmental consultant the opportunity to review and comment on the air monitoring plan and revised odor control plan before the developer’s contractor is allowed to resume additional excavation associated with the remediation. We requested, and NYSDEC agreed to provide, their investigation report & remediation work plan. We also requested that the air sensor reports be provided to us. We have requested that the NYS Department of Health review the air sensor reports on a daily basis. We will also be sampling the air, and reviewing the sensor reports. We are seeking assistance from other agencies, such as the EPA and the Westchester County Department of Health.

Today, we are constrained to making the project as safe as possible. We will continue to do everything in our power to protect residents from any health hazards.

 

Chappaqua Downtown Revitalization

Downtown work began in July. ELQ, our contractor, has installed the temporary water main, which was already approved for use by the Westchester County Department of Health. Crews are now tying downtown water service into the temporary water main and then underground construction will begin replacing the 80 year old water mains. Our project manager, Boswell Engineering, has rented office space in Bank of America. We expect this downtown office to be functioning as of 8/7. We have requested signage on the front of the office so it is visible to the public. 

Westchester Airport

For 32 years there has been a Voluntary Restraint From Flying policy at Westchester Airport. The policy – which keeps planes from taking off or leaving between midnight and 6:30 a.m. each morning – has no enforcement mechanism. The measure is meant to keep the airport a good neighbor but the curfew is routinely broken. Many residents are noticing an increased number of flights, and low altitudes. I have brought this issue to the attention of Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett, as well as Westchester County Board Chairman Michael Kaplowitz, our county representative. I look forward to working with concerned residents on this issue, and making those concerns known to our County Executive, all Westchester County legislators, our state representatives and other municipalities. 

Paris Climate Change Accord Resolution

In December, 2015, 195 countries including the United States, vowed to address climate change in a landmark agreement reached in Paris (the “Paris Agreement”). Here in New Castle, we have been recognized in New York as a leader in reducing expenses for the municipality, residents, and businesses by implementing sustainability initiatives. Here in New Castle, we were proud to be recognized as a Clean Energy Community by the State of New York. And, here in New Castle, pursuant to the Paris Accord, we are committing to working toward reducing our greenhouse gas’ emissions by at least 26% by 2025 compared with 2005 levels. This is not a symbolic gesture. Over the past several months, our Sustainability Advisory Board has been working on developing actual strategies to achieve this goal. I want to thank our incredible Sustainability Advisory Board for their hard work and dedication to protecting our planet for future generations. 

Distracted Driving

Gov. Cuomo has directed his Traffic Safety Committee to examine the “textalyzer” technology. I’m incredibly proud that 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, and has been recognized at the National level. But, we need to give our police departments the tools they need to collect data and hold drivers accountable. I look forward to the day when New York enables police to examine phones at an accident site using the “Textalyzer”. Read more here

Double Poles

Con Edison reviewed our proposed “Double Utility Poles” legislation. They requested a meeting, along with the other utility companies, to address our concerns. That meeting was held on July 27th. Turns out there are 338 double poles!! 14 poles were identified as safety issues by our police department There was an agreement that within 30 days of that meeting, there would be an assessment of those 14 poles and recommendation as to resolution of identified problems. Our next meeting is scheduled for October 5, 2017. We’re looking forward to hearing the plan for removal of the 338 identified double wood utility poles. This is a safety, and aesthetic issue. Please check our list of double poles, and report any additional double poles at 2poles@mynewcastle.org.Read more here.

 

Paving List

The paving list is being finalized as DPW finishes work on some drainage issues. We plan to pave approximately 5.5 miles of road this year, about the same as last year. Over the last 3 budgets, my only budgets, we were able to spend an average of $942,311 per year on paving. While that’s a huge increase from prior years, many residents are still waiting for their own roads to be paved. There’s no doubt we have a lot of catching up to do. For the past three years we’ve been concentrating our paving efforts on our major roads. This year we also need to work around Con Ed, who is replacing their gas mains. We don’t want to pave a road only to have Con Ed rip it up.We also plan on paving approximately the same number of parking spaces in the south commuter lot (skateboard park end) as we paved last year in the north Commuter lot – about 500 spaces. We’re preparing the south commuter lot for paving which entails repairing the concrete curbing, installing shim coating of asphalt and crack sealing. We’re also paving & striping the skateboard park and expect to gain about 10 parking spaces. We are also installing a better drainage structure & concrete curbing in the skateboard park.

 

Horace Greeley High School / Roaring Brook Road

Summit Greenfield is moving full steam ahead with both the Horace Greeley High School entrance improvement work and the preparation for the paving of the lower section of Roaring Brook Road as requested. Their schedule for paving these two areas are as follows:

Lower Roaring Brook Road: Mon., August 14 & Tues., August 15
Horace Greely High School: Week of August 21

 

Sidewalks

Beginning next month, we expect to begin the long anticipated replacement work on the Route 120 sidewalk from Grafflin School to Ridgewood Terrace. The Town will begin its portion of the sidewalk replacement after Con Ed completes its gas main replacement project between Ridgewood Terrace and Old Lyme Road which is expected to be completed by August 28, 2017. This segment of sidewalk replacement project is expected to last through mid-November. During this time, the sidewalk will be closed. The Town expects to continue the last segment of the Route 120 sidewalk replacement project in the Spring/Summer of 2018. This project is also expected to be constructed in conjunction with the continuation of the Con Ed gas main replacements in this area. The hours of operation will be during 8:00 am through 8:00 pm Monday through Friday.We’re issuing an RFP for engineering services for design and construction for the Millwood sidewalk.

As part of the Comprehensive Plan, we have included smart growth principles in the development of hamlet design guidelines to create an active pedestrian environment. We have also included action plans to develop a comprehensive sidewalk plan, which includes identification of priority areas for new sidewalk construction and rehabilitation of existing sidewalks. Focus will be placed on commercial areas and outlying neighborhoods. We will also examine the feasibility of sidewalks within and between neighborhoods that do not border commercial areas, as well as sidewalks on all major routes including Rt. 117, 100, 120, 133, 128. This must be a priority, and it will be!

 

Route 120 Paving

Route 120 paving will either be the week of August 14-18 or August 21-25. 

Proposed Local Law – Regulation of Vape Shops

Pleasantville recently opened a vape shop. Many parents are understandably concerned, as are we. Thank you to Councilman Jeremy Saland for raising this issue with the Town Board. Tonight we’ll be discussing a proposed local law that prohibits the location of vape shops and lounges within 500 feet of any park, playground, religious institution, or school. To address the concerns about vape shops in residential districts, as opposed to commercial areas, the law prohibits such shops in all residential districts and does not allow a vape shop in any mixed use building. 

Town Hall Basketball Court

The Town Board decided on a location of the basketball court & Town Hall Playground at last night’s meeting. 

Millwood DOT Yard

We are working with the NYSDOT landscape architect. Pursuant to our suggestions, the revised landscaping plan will be planted this Fall, sometime between 9/15 and 11/15. The garage doors are being painted dark brown & the fence will be painted black – both by the end of September. The driveway will be paved in less than 2 weeks. Stockade fence will be installed by the end of September. 

Millwood Community Garden

The drainage issues are more extensive than we realized. That together with a rainier than usual spring has made the site preparation extremely difficult. Once the leveling is finished, we plan on putting a first layer of gravel down. At that point – based on the drainage – we’ll be able to see if we need more gravel. The money raised so far will be used for site prep, lumber, soil and fencing. We are also funding a water system, backflow preventer and the necessary plumbing equipment. We look forward to working this fall to ensure that the garden infrastructure is built, and that we can build the raised beds and fill them with soil before winter so we are ready to roll in the spring of 2018. 

Millwood 200 Year Anniversary

We’re having a big celebration for Millwood’s 200 Year Anniversary on Sat., October 28, 12-5p, Gedney Park (back). We’re having a big stage and band. We’re also planning on having food trucks, as well as rides/bouncy castles, face painting, pumpkin painting, and other fun activities for kids – admission to event is free – pay for food & beverages. We will have a shuttle bus to get people from the parking in the front field and overflow parking at WestOrchard school to the back of Gedney. I would like to thank Ike Kuzio, our new Superintendent of Recreation & Parks, e Millwood West End Advisory Board, Councilwoman Hala Makowska, Town Administrator Jill Shapiro & Ciara Gannon for their work on planning this event. 

Millwood Train Station

We are in continuous discussions with the County and the State regarding transfer of the property from the State to the County. As of now the current lease is set to expire on 12/31/2018. The State is trying to expedite the approval project, as the County is hoping to secure $8 million through a 15 year bond to pay for the trailway improvements. The bonding cannot be approved without the lease. The County was hoping to start the improvement project this fall. We were asked for a cost estimate of our replica train station project. Our Town Enginner Bob Cioli has created three scenarios based on three different locations. 

Green Community Roundtable

I’m working with our Sustainability Advisory Board to put together a Roundtable Discussion about how being a Green Community can &/or should help draw new people to our community (especially some Millenniums). It’ll be held on Wed., October 4th, 7p, Chappaqua Library Auditorium. We’ll discuss how our sustainability initiatives make our residents more environmentally responsible, and saves them money! This will be a nice follow-up to our previous roundtable discussion. What Prospective Home buyers are looking for video

Community Sign – working with CCSD

Last month 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. We’re currently working on the purchase order for the sign and hope to have it installed soon. 

Chickens

The public hearing on chickens will be held on Wednesday 9/6.