Town of New Castle Supervisor’s Report May 9, 2017
New Castle Supervisor’s Report – 5/9/2017
National Police Week
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week to honor those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Every day, our officers here in New Castle put their lives on the line to protect us. They deserve our thanks and support every week, but especially next week. Thank them for everything they do to keep our community safe.
The Passing of former New Castle Town Justice Larry Lenihan
Justice Larry Lenihan loved the Town, and served it with distinction as Town Justice from 1977 until his retirement at the conclusion of his last term on December 31, 2007, having prevailed in nine consecutive elections to the position.
As Judge, Douglas Kraus stated Justice Larry Lenihan “embodied all the characteristics of the very best judges – great knowledge of, and respect for, law and procedure; exceptional judgment and patience; uncommon common sense; and an unwavering commitment to the truth, fairness and just results. He was loved by all who knew him, and was admired and respected by all who had dealings with him as a lawyer and judge. In the field of community service he and Kathie have few peers”. Flags have been flown to half-mast in honor of Larry and his service to the Town.
Thank you to our Mandate Relief Committee for their continue work and for another informative presentation last week. 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:
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 is meeting with Assemblyman David Buchwald on Friday, May 12 to discuss our letter and Mandate issues.
We have received many complaints about the Jersey barriers outside of Chappaqua Station. I would like to explain why they’re still there. At this point, they have nothing to do with the construction & painting – that ended last Fall. Although outdoor seating will soon be coming under the portico – they are not there for that. 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 were painted. The good news is that outside seating will soon be coming under the portico.
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, even though the opinions expressed by Town officials had not actually hindered the project in any discernable way. On April 28, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a Summary Order affirming the District Court’s decision.
Community Based Comprehensive Plan
We continued our public hearing on the Comprehensive Plan last night. This was our 3rd public hearing. At every hearing, I try to highlight some components of the plan. Tonight I’m focusing on Sustainable Tax Base, as well as Environmental Sustainability. As a community we must try to preserve what’s important from the past, enjoy what we have today and move ahead to meet the needs of our future.
As far as a Sustainable Tax Base, our property taxes make our community unaffordable to many young families, drive-out our seniors and empty nesters, and ultimately will drive down our property values. Recognizing commercial development is only 3% of our tax base, we must look to the type of development that will not only add additional commercial development but will meet other needs of the community as well. The Comprehensive Plan includes action items to undertake an economic analysis of development and infill opportunities in the hamlets consistent with community needs, public vision, and environmental and infrastructural constraints. This analysis would consider the economic benefits of mixed use development and associated tax revenue forecasts of various land use scenarios. For the first time the Town Board will be positioning the Millwood Business District for sewers, the first step in moving development of the Millwood Hamlet forward.
The Comprehensive Plan also focuses on Environmental Sustainability. This means the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources. It also includes simple actions like amending the Town’s tree replacement requirements to incorporate the use of shrubs and redefining the Clearing and Grading Limit line.
We have added a day time public hearing for those who cannot make out evening meetings. May 17th, 9-10:30 am
Chappaqua Crossing – Cupola Building
Our agenda included a resolution referring a zoning text amendment to the Westchester Co. and New Castle Planning Boards that adds “Westchester County employees” to the group of applicants entitled to a preference for workforce housing units in the cupola building. NYS Homes and Community Renewal (“HCR”), which provided funding for the AFFH units, would only allow our preference for first responders and town / school employees on the workforce units if we approved this change to ensure that the preference does not have a “disparate impact” upon any protected class of applicants.. The issue is demographics: the pool of potentially eligible Town employees is approx. 91% white, and the school district’s workforce is 92% white. A preference for these groups will have a disparate impact on minority groups. This change will sufficiently balance out the demographics. Housing in the cupola building is progressing nicely. This is the way affordable housing should be – integrated – 10 Work Force, 25 Market Rate & 28 Affordables. This is affordable housing we can be proud of!
We had a joint meeting with the Ethics Board to discuss potential changes to the Ethic’s Law. After adopting a new Ethics Code in 2014, in October, 2015, 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’s resolution 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 has provided us with a memo dated June 29, 2016 with their recommendations. I’m glad we were finally able to schedule this joint meeting. The Ethics Board have recommended making only a single change, which involves their ability to receive ethics complaints directly from residents. I personally support that change.
Distracted Driver Diversion Program
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. We will be offering the course on 5/23, 7/10, 8/29, 10/23 and 12/21. 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) except for the December 21st session which will be at the Chappaqua Library. Register here.
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. Staff has reviewed the proposals and last night we awarded the contract to Eberlin & Eberlin. That’s the same company who designed the basketball Court in Bedford Hills Memorial Park. A few weeks back 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.
Millwood – NYSDOT Yard
Last Tuesday, a meeting was held 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.
Purchase of Electric Community Sign
A few weeks back 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.
Bring your best friend on a short, 1/2 mile walk while the 10K/5K is running! The Paws Walk will start and end at Town Hall. All members of the family are welcome to join! This is a FREE event! Walk will start at 8:20am. Event is sponsored by “Wags & Whiskers”. 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.
Theater Camp at Chappaqua Performing Arts Center – Summer on Stage
Introducing Summer Stage – Theater Camp at Chappaqua Performing Arts Center. Learn and grow through the sounds of musical theater. Eight different Broadway themed weeks ending in a showcase where everyone shines! Summer on Stage is open to youth ages 5-15. Each week will run from 9am-3pm Monday – Friday at the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center. Click here to register.
New Castle Committee for Diversity and Inclusion Logo Contest
Calling all Student Artists and Designers! Enter our Logo Art and Design Contest! We’d love to see your ideas and help create our official logo for the New Castle Committee for Diversity & Inclusion. What does diversity and inclusion look like to you? See details here to enter: https://goo.gl/forms/rBb2Ho3rLKGhgBsz1
New Castle Health and Wellness Committee: Ticks and Lyme Disease Presentation
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Please join us at 11:30am on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at the Chappaqua Library for an educational presentation on tick and Lyme Disease prevention and awareness. 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.
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. Here are some helpful links:
Click here to view the Coyote Incident Classification and Recommended Responses Chart.
Click here to view the Suggested Annual Homeowner’s Yard Audit to Discourage Coyotes.
Click here to view the Coyote Response Plan.
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. As well, please like the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center Facebook page.