Town of New Castle Supervisor’s Report November 23, 2016

Town of New Castle Supervisor’s Report November 23, 2016

Rob Greenstein
Town Supervisor, New Castle

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and to be grateful for all that we enjoyed over the past year. As a community, we have much to be grateful for this holiday season. As we pause, think about all we have and let’s remember those who are in need. And let’s also take a moment to recognize the many residents whose generosity and charitable work throughout the years has made us the caring community that we’ve all grown to love.

This past Sunday, I attended the Chappaqua Interfaith Council Annual Thanksgiving Worship and Dinner at the First Congregational Church. Rev. Dr. Martha Jacobs & Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe stated in their announcement that “we are a community that not only tolerates religious differences, but welcomes and celebrates them.”

The Chappaqua Interfaith Council is comprised of 8 groups – Baha’is of New Castle, Chappaqua Friends Meeting, Church of St. John and St. Mary, Church of St. Mary the Virgin, First Congregational Church, Lutheran Church of our Redeemer, Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester & Upper Westchester Muslim Society. We have so much to be thankful of here in New Castle, and the Chappaqua Interfaith Council is a great example! 

New Castle Statement in Support of Diversity, Equity & Inclusiveness

On November 18, 2016, the Governor and Governor-elect of the State of Vermont, together with a number of Vermont education and business leaders, released a joint statement reaffirming their longstanding and unwavering commitment to diversity, equity and inclusiveness.

Last night, the Town Board expressed our support for the Vermont Joint Statement and reaffirmed our own commitment to the principles expressed therein. The Town Board issued the following statement:

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. New Castle is committed to fostering welcoming communities and an equitable, diverse, and inclusive society.

Community Inclusion & Diversity Committee

Last night the Town of New Castle established the Inclusion and Diversity Committee. The resolution set forth that the town seeks to celebrate diversity and the value of a diverse community through meaningful visible strategies rooted in education, understanding and respect. The Town of New Castle finds that there is a need for the organization of an Inclusion and Diversity Committee to highlight the beauty and benefits of appreciating different backgrounds, interests and sexual orientations.

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. The Committee will work to promote the diversity goals of the town – to understand and respond to the needs of an increasingly diverse community – and encourage respect and tolerance for those individual differences that enrich our community.

The term is 12 months. If you are interested in serving on this committee, please email Town Administrator, Jill Shapiro – jshapiro@mynewcastle.org.

Bridge

bridge drawingAs many know, we have been strongly advocating for a bridge since the fatal grade crossing accident at Valhalla’s Commerce Street in February 2015. Not only would a bridge reduce or eliminate congestion, it would eliminate two extremely dangerous conditions: a grade railroad crossing on Roaring Brook Road and a traffic light on the Saw Mill River Parkway.

Last week, WSP made a presentation to the Town Board, which included potential traffic flow improvements at the Saw Mill River Parkway & Roaring Brook Road intersection. We reviewed preliminary layout and circulation designs for a bridge. We discussed feasibility, public safety, environmental benefits and reviewed a traffic analysis. No doubt, a bridge would be the best traffic & safety improvement – by far! We discussed working with WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff, the national bridge consultant who handles all major NYSDOT contracts & specializes in obtaining federal appropriations for state projects.

We are looking to have The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) support this, get it back on the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) list, and obtain funding from the Federal Transportation Authority, Metro North, Federal Highway Administration Money, NYS DOT, etc.

Read more here.

Budget

The public hearing on the budget was held last night. The Town Board vote is scheduled for December 13th.

Some facts about the 2017 Preliminary Budget:

For the sixth straight year, Comptroller Rob Deary has crafted a budget that balances the provision of essential municipal services with fiscal responsibility.

For the sixth straight year, New Castle will stay with,in the 2% tax cap – more accurately, a 0.68% tax cap.

For the 3rd straight year, the Town Board has reaffirmed our commitment to critical infrastructure projects while maintaining staffing levels which enables us to provide critical services for our residents – all while keeping taxes essentially flat. This budget proposes a 1.75% increase in the tax rate which translates into 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, we have allocated $25,000 for downtown beautification of our hamlets. We also hired a hamlets caretaker.

For the 3rd straight year, we have reaffirmed our commitment to the restoration of our town roads. 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. This amount does not include paving the commuter lot, which is being funded from the increased parking permit fees.

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!

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. We will continue to pursue measures to reduce our costs as we try to increase the services provided to our residents.

I believe this preliminary 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.

On November 16, 2016, the League of Women Voters of New Castle held a 2017 Town Budget forum at Town Hall. In case you missed it, you can watch the video here. Copies of the proposed budget are available upon request at Town Hall or can be viewed online.

Top 10 Reasons to Shop Local

small biz saturdayThe Saturday after Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday, a day dedicated to supporting small businesses. Local merchants need a robust holiday season! A very large percentage of a merchant’s sales are made in the next month. There are so many reasons to support our merchants. Here are my Top 10 Reasons to Shop Local!

Distracted Driving

Yesterday Chief Charles Ferry, Police Officer Chad Golanec, Ben Lieberman & myself met with Michael Geraci from the US DOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA 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”.

Community Preparedness Committee

Last night, the Town Board established the Community Preparedness Committee.

There are many emergencies that can impact the Town of New Castle. The most common are severe weather, power outages and flooding. Although these emergencies cannot be eliminated, we can reduce the risk of injuries, property damage and economic impact through individual and community preparedness.

The New Castle Town Board is committed to ensuring that the community is prepared for any community emergency. The Committee will make recommendations to the Town Board on matters pertaining to the town’s emergency preparedness and coordination with neighboring jurisdictions, and with county, state and federal agencies. The recommendations are as follows:

  • Educate residents on preparing their households for emergencies.
  • Create citizen training programs for resident volunteers and Committee members.
  • Form volunteer neighborhood emergency teams that would assist the Town in carrying out emergency activities when called upon.
  • Prepare an Animal Emergency Preparedness Plan to address the evacuation, care and shelter of our animals during an emergency situation by ensuring the effective evacuation and care of pets in the Town and applying for grants to assist the Town in improving its emergency preparedness.

The term is 12 months. If you are interested in serving on this committee, please email Town Administrator, Jill Shapiro – jshapiro@mynewcastle.org.

Seniors

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

Handicap Playground Swing

swing setThank you Suzanne Lodge and Exceptional People in New Castle Committee (EPIC) for the new heavy duty 2 bay handicap playground swing!

New Castle Police Department – Vacant House Check

vacant house check
Another service offered by our Police Department…request to have the New Castle Police check on your home while you are away.

Hudson Valley Greenway Grant Award

I am happy to report that Ossining and New Castle secured funding to establish new trailway linkages between our communities.

The Greenway Conservancy for the Hudson River Valley, Inc. voted to award the partnership of the Town of Ossining, Westchester County, Village of Ossining, and Town of New Castle $30,000 for planning and design of an open space/bike lane/commerce connectivity corridor in the Ossining and New Castle community. Working with the Town of Ossining and the Village of Ossining, we will enhance the quality of life for all of our residents by increasing the connectivity between our parks, commercial areas, public transportation and residential areas. Thank you to Town Board member Hala Makowska for her work on this initiative.

 

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