Town of New Castle Supervisor’s Report March 28, 2017

Town of New Castle Supervisor’s Report March 28, 2017

New Castle Supervisor’s Report – 3/28/2017

Rob Greenstein
Town Supervisor, New Castle


Three Year Anniversary of eNewsletter!

We’ve sent 243 eNewsletters! The first one was March 11, 2014. The newsletter just had its 3 year anniversary!

All Are Welcome Here
A new addition to the lobby of the New Castle Town Hall! I hope that the new banner will make our residents proud to be part of a community that celebrates diversity and the value of a diverse community. As the Town Board stated last November: We, as a Town Board, condemn any acts of unlawful discrimination, violence, and intimidation that target differences in national origin, race, sex, gender, religion, disability, or political viewpoint across our nation. Such acts run counter to the rights and freedoms upon which our country was founded and to the core values of the Town of New Castle. Like I said last month when we held the “We are all Immigrants” demonstration, we are a community that doesn’t just tolerate diversity, we embrace. We believe in highlighting the beauty and benefits of appreciating different backgrounds, interests and sexual orientations. We encourage respect and tolerance for those individual differences that enrich our community. It’s the reason we started the Inclusion & Diversity Committee last November. In the near future, we will be inviting our Chief of Police to a Town Board work session to discuss what, if anything, New Castle Police Department currently does re: immigration and suggest ways that the Town Board could reaffirm our policies. There is great value in reassuring residents and communicating our policies and practices.

Chappaqua Crossing
Summit Greenfield (“SG”) finally received their NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approval. They now have all their approvals from the various regulatory agencies. Preparatory site work has begun! One building (the “100 building”) is already being demolished. Some houses on Roaring Brook Road – which are owned by SG and on their property – will soon be demolished. Due the delay caused by DEP, Whole Foods has pushed their store opening date to the Spring/Summer of 2018. SG anticipates completion of all core and shell work (which is essentially an empty building) to be completed in the 4th quarter of 2017 which would then allow tenants – such as Whole Foods – to start their individual store build outs. 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, SG was required to pay for improvements to the Horace Greeley High School entrance drive, estimated at $1,300,000. NYS Department of Education has approved the improvements. This work will be done this Summer. We also persuaded SG to pay $1,500,000 on a mitigation measure that will help mitigate the impacts of their proposed development. When this mitigation measure was negotiated, it was earmarked for the Chap Line. However, our feasibility studied revealed a price tag of $10,000,000 – thanks to extensive wetlands that would require a 1.5 mile raised platform. Planning for contingencies, we negotiated language that gave the Town some flexibility in case the ChapLine could not be built for some reason (like a $10,000.000 price tag!). Although we don’t have a blank check, since we have maintained a positive working relationship with SG, I feel confident they will accommodate our requests to use the money as we see fit. My suggestions are:

  • Economic analysis of the re-disposition of Town held property in downtown Chappaqua to meet the needs of millennium & seniors as stated in the comp plan
  • Create a maintenance district for downtown Chappaqua for post streetscape – sidewalk maintenance, snow cleaning, garbage, tree trimming, watering, etc.
  • Millwood sewer study

Comprehensive Plan Final Draft
The public hearing is scheduled for April 18, 2017 at 7:45 p.m. Kevin Dwarka will be present on that day to discuss the environmental review and the EAF part 1 that was prepared and circulated with draft comp plan that was referred to the Westchester County Planning Board and the New Castle Planning Board. Please click here to view the document.

Millwood – Sewers
The Town of New Castle has contracted with Woodard & Curran Engineering to undertake the Millwood Sanitary Sewer District Feasibility Study. The project is intended to occur over a four month timeframe and is intended to study the technical and financial feasibility of providing sewers to the Millwood Study Area. The Town’s consultant will prepare a preliminary engineering report and engineer’s cost estimate, prepare a preliminary sanitary sewer layout and pump station design, and determine the estimated costs for all permits and approvals.

As far as our diversion project, this has been going on since 1997 when the town secured $16 million in funding for a new sewer line that would connect three communities in the Croton Watershed – Riverwoods, Random Farms and Yeshiva – to the Saw Mill Valley Trunk Sewer line. This project is about clean drinking water. It’s about protecting NYC’s drinking water supply – $9 million users – $1 million people in Westchester County and 8 million in NYC.

On November 23, 2015, 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 that $16 million in East of Hudson funds for this sewer diversion. The legislation was promptly signed by County Executive Rob Astorino’s office. Unfortunately, what began as a $16 million project has grown to an approximately $24.5 million project. The Town has gone to great lengths to try and secure grant funding to offset the costs to the local taxpayers, however to date no additional funding has been received.

We’re now thinking outside the box! We looked into a number of options, which includes bifurcating the project. The sewer diversion for Riverwoods & Yeshiva would go to Mt Kisco. The sewer diversion for Random Farms would go to Briarcliff. After several meetings with Westchester County, we received a firm commitment that they support diversion of Fox Hollow (Riverwoods / Yeshiva) to Mt. Kisco. This is also good news for Random Farms & ultimately Millwood. By bifurcating this project, we save $4.5MM! By bifurcating this project, it gets the project moving forward. By bifurcating this project, we could ultimately bring sewers to Millwood Business District. Diversion of Random Farms to the county trunk Line in Briarcliff would involve laying a sewer pipe in Route 100. We would work to connect Millwood Business District to that sewer pipe in Route 100!

Millwood Sidewalk Improvement Project
We are currently seeking proposals for a professional Land Surveyor to prepare acquisition survey maps for the Millwood Sidewalk Improvement Project. As many residents know, we received $500,000 grant, thanks to Senator Terrence Murphy, to install ADA compliant sidewalks and curbing along the intersection of Route 100 and Station Road. In addition, decorative lighting improvements along Station Road will also be included in the project. A second component will install 474 feet of sidewalk improvements including a crosswalk and decorative lighting along NYS Route 100 in proximity to Millwood Park. Based upon previous discussions with the NYSDOT, permanent easements are no longer allowed for new sidewalk improvements that encroach over and across private property along a state road. The NYSDOT now requires that the property, which is impacted by the new sidewalk improvements, to be acquired from the adjacent property owners. So, we now need acquisition maps.

Millwood Replica Train Station
For years, there has been talk of building a replica of the former Millwood train station. I have been working on it for 4 years! We are making progress! The major problem was that the North County Trailway (“NCT”) was in a legal state of limbo. NYS owns the NCT. They lease it to Westchester County. That lease expires on December 31, 2018. For years, there has been talk of NYS turning over ownership of major portions of the NCT to Westchester County. The problem is that neither NYS nor Westchester County wanted to approve our replica train station until the acquisition was completed. As well, Westchester County has a capital project to rehabilitate and reconstruct major portions of the NCT but they cannot go out to bond until the acquisition was completed. A few weeks ago, a conference call was held with Senator Terrence Murphy, Rob Astorino’s office, as well as numerous representative from NYS DOT and Westchester County, to discuss the transfer of ownership. While NYS DOT is still interested in turning over ownership of major portions of the NCT to Westchester County, it was acknowledged that the process for that transfer is involved & will take time. On the call, it was decided that Westchester County & NYS would work on the steps necessary to acquire the property but they also agreed that – in the interim – NYS would renew the current lease for another 25 years. By renewing the lease now, NYS would allow Westchester County to undertake the needed rehabilitation – and we can build our replica train station! NYS & Westchester County have already started working on the lease renewal. We’ll be working on full construction drawings, including engineering, drainage and utilities. BOCES previously offered to build this for us, and they are still interested! We’re looking to secure funding from Westchester County.

Millwood Community Garden
We continue to make progress with the Millwood Community Garden. We have compiled anticipated expenses for the garden. We are currently exploring whether we want to put in a pump at the pond or use town water. They are planning their first meeting with the gardeners, to be held in March.

Clean Energy Community
We received a $100,000 grant! We were first community of our size in the state and first of all municipalities in Westchester County to receive the Clean Energy Community (CEC) designation. Since the Town was notified of its CEC designation, Town staff and the SAB have worked diligently to develop potential projects to implement using the CEC funding. We plan on installing solar panels on the roof of the New Castle Water Treatment Plant. This will result in a reduction of GHG emissions and reduce municipal energy costs while increasing the Town’s local and renewable energy supply.

Some are concerned that the Federal budget being proposed could have a negative local impact. The proposed Federal budget should have limited budgetary impact on us. We typically don’t get much in the way of CDBG grants. Meals on Wheels (SNAP) reimbursement comes through the county (from the state) and comes in about $20,000 to $30,000 per year. Our 4th quarters number are in. Here are some final numbers from the 2016 Budget Information:

  • Remained under the tax cap
  • Average tax increase per household $20
  • 3 of 4 major funds projected to have operating surpluses (General, Highway, Refuse)
  • Total road paving near $1,000,000 again (3 year total $2.8MM, average of $946,938 per year (2014-2016)
  • Building Permits +$500,501 (62.6%)
  • Commuter Parking Fees +$146,197 (18.2%)
  • Fines & Forfeited Bail +$134,848 (60.0%) – Distracted Driving
  • Total Legal Fees decreased $91,885 over 2015.

Mandate Committee
New Castle Mandate Relief Committee sent letters to Senator Terrence Murphy and Assemblyman David Buchwald requesting an update on whatever efforts they have made, or are currently contemplating, to provide mandate relief to New Castle residents. In 2014, the New Castle Town Board established a Mandate Relief Committee based on the belief that certain New York State Mandates have and continue to impose significant financial restrictions on our Town, restrictions that must be addressed in order to ensure the stability and sustainability of local services to residents. In September 2015, the Committee presented a formal report to the Town Board detailing the dramatic negative economic impact of various mandates on the Town and providing a series of recommendations. The Report may be found online here.

On March 3, 2016, New Castle hosted “The Coming Storm: Unfunded Mandates and Their Rising Impact”. A video of this roundtable may be found here. The committee is committed to securing meaningful mandate reform from Albany and seeks to keep residents informed of the progress of their elected State officials on a regular basis. More information available here.

Thank you to Senator Terrence Murphy for sponsoring the Mandate Relief Bill which prevents local governments and taxpayers from being burdened by unfunded mandates. This legislation passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support. Information on the mandate is available here. The bill has been sent to the Assembly. Our mandate committee sent a letter to our Assemblyman, David Buchwald, asking him for his full support in the Assembly.

Distracted Driving
New Castle Police Chief Charles Ferry, Police Officer Chad Golanec and Ben Lieberman will be presenting “Advances in Combating Distracted Driving” at the 2017 Empire State Law Enforcement Traffic Safety Conference on April 6th. During this session, they will discuss “textalyzer” technology that can detect illegal touching and swiping of a device – without revealing any private content. Also, this presentation will discuss how police, politicians and advocates teamed up in New Castle to develop a comprehensive distracted driving enforcement program called “Hands Off the Phone and On the Wheel.” The program notes that our initiative is being duplicated in other communities. For more information, please clickhere.

Exceptional People Committee: Light It Up Blue
Every year on April 2, Autism Speaks celebrates its international “Light It Up Blue” campaign to raise awareness of autism. Individuals everywhere are encouraged to wear blue on that day. Here in New Castle, since April 2nd falls on a Sunday, we’re celebrating all weekend! As always, our local merchants are incredibly supportive and generous. Thank you to New Castle Police Department and New Castle PBA for supporting this important initiative.

Keeping of Poultry
Over the past 4 years, many residents have expressed interest in having backyard chicken. We currently only allow chickens in New Castle on lots of at least 10 acres. Those same residents have provided laws from neighboring municipalities towns which are much less restrictive than our legislation. We reviewed laws from Briarcliff Manor, Croton-on-Hudson, Ossining & Yorktown. I reached out to my colleagues on the Westchester Putnam Association of Town Supervisors, and we heard from North Salem, North Castle, Pound Ridge & even Rosendale (Ulster County). We are considering various issues such as restriction on number of chickens (no roosters), lot size, distance of coop from lot line, appropriate containers for food, cleanliness issues, wildlife issues, enforcement issues. We are also consulting with our environmental coordinator.

Mike Kaplowitz
Mike Kaplowitz, Chair, Westchester County Board of Legislators, appeared before the Town Board last night. Mike discussed closing Indian Point, immigration, county finances, airport privatization and the proposed $25,000,000 county skating rink. In an interview recently, Mike said “This legislature is a bi-partisan legislature and I would hope that other governmental bodies would look to us as a model and how to bring people of different political persuasions together. And yes, we all get pressure from the extremes in our respective parties to be more strident and not work together, but we have resisted and I believe the end result is a legislature that has worked well for the people of Westchester County”. I could not agree more!

Thank you to our First Responders!
After the tragedy of March 18th involving a FDNY emergency medical technician, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the sacrifices made by our volunteer emergency first responders and thank them, once again, for their service to our community.

  • Chappaqua Volunteer Ambulance Corp
  • Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corp
  • Mount Kisco Volunteer Ambulance Corp
  • Chappaqua Fire Department
  • Millwood Fire Department

For those on Facebook, please follow my Supervisor’s Page, which can be found here. This is just another avenue to interact with the community, as well as share news, events and updates.