New Castle Supervisor Quarterly Update: Q1 2019
Supervisor, New CastleI have said it again and again: it is truly an honor to serve the citizens of New Castle. From the start, I have believed that your Town Supervisor should be guided by rights and obligations. The rights of the community to be heard and to be informed are critical to a responsive Town Government. And we must always be conscious of our obligations to listen and communicate effectively as we work to address current concerns and problems while at the same time improving our Town and planning for the future.
- Chappaqua – The Best Place to Buy a House in New York!
- Three And Done
- Mike Kaplowitz
- Downtown Chappaqua Infrastructure and Streetscape Project Update
- Downtown Chappaqua
- Chappaqua Crossing
- Chappaqua Performing Arts Center
- Every Person Is Connected (“EPIC”) – ChappPAC
- Con Ed Gas Moratorium
- Cut in Aim Funding
- Community Sign
- Gun Violence – Chappaqua Interfaith Council for an Interfaith Vigil
- School Safety
- Joan Corwin Way
- Pooper Scooper Law
- Recreational Marijuana
- Resolution Granting a Temporary Extension for Payment of Real Property Taxes for Furloughed Federal Employees
- 91 Bedford Road
- North County Trailway – Millwood Replica Train Station
- Sunshine Children’s Home
- Seasonal Limitations on Motorized Leaf Blowers
Chappaqua – The Best Place to Buy a House in New York!
Chappaqua was determined to be the #1 best place in all of New York State to buy a home!
Three And Done
It has been truly an honor to serve the citizens of New Castle, and I’m very proud of the progress we’ve made over the years. But I will not be seeking a fourth term. I always planned that the last election would be my last, and I’m sticking to the plan. This is a promise I made to my family. My wife and children have, in their own way, served side by side with me and it’s time for me to focus on other obligations. We have done so much together. With the updated Comprehensive Plan, infrastructure & streetcape improvements & zoning changes that we are currently working on, we have positioned downtown Chappaqua & Millwood to grow & prosper. I am proud of what we accomplished at Chappaqua Crossing. I will admit that it will be hard to walk away. I enjoy getting things done and I do feel like there’s more to do. I would encourage all residents to get involved.
As many know, our Westchester County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz, who has represented New Castle for more than 18 years, will not seek reelection this coming November. I want to thank Mike for his public service. On a personal level, I very much appreciated Mike’s bipartisan approach to governing. I think Mike said it best a few years back in an interview with The Somers Record. 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 agree 100%. Thank you for your service, Mike.
Downtown Chappaqua Infrastructure and Streetscape Project Update
Operations were ceased for the winter. We made the sidewalk by Ibiza Kitchen, Family Britches & Petticoat Lane smaller to restore the 4 parking spots restored. The sidewalk will be reduced further in the spring. We will also be addressing the cut out on Senter Street. The general time frame of this project was 24 months. This summer we will be approaching the 2 year mark. Water main improvements have been completed. The sanitary sewer improvements have been be completed. The storm sewer improvements have also been completed. Now the part that residents can see – the streetscape improvements! Work resumed on 03/19/19. We are currently installing new curbing, footings & electrical conduits for the new decorative light poles & sidewalks from Town Hall to the Shell Station (on the town hall side). We are studying converting lower King into a 2-way street. Keep in mind a traffic light at the corner of King & Greeley (by Starbucks) is coming later this year. Sam Schwartz Engineering, our traffic and transportation planning and engineering firm, has already determined that two-way traffic on lower King Street is geometrically feasible. We also know that with 2-way traffic on both lower King & Allen Place would result in no loss of parking spots – the loss of ten (10) spots on lower King would be offset by gaining (10) additional spaces around the corner on Allen Place. We are now doing an operational feasibility analysis. Sam Schwartz Engineering will perform the following tasks:
- Analyze trip generation and distribution to determine added demand to lower King Street eastbound
- Perform operational Analysis of King Street (NY 120) / Lower King Street / Greeley Avenue and Woodburn Avenue / Greeley Avenue intersections
- Revise traffic signal plans and timing for King Street (NY 120) / Lower King Street / Greeley Avenue Intersection; recommendations for Woodburn Avenue / Greeley Avenue intersection
- Evaluate traffic circulation for the retail / Metro North Station parking sites
- Conduct public and stakeholder meetings
There’s a lot of precedent for changing a one-way street into two-way streets to help revitalize downtowns. Please remember to check the Town of New Castle website for all updates.
As I mentioned several months ago, we issued a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) to update our zoning so it’s consistent with the 2017 Comprehensive Plan – which calls for a new and more vibrant mix of retail and residential uses within the hamlets. We received 4 responses. We held interviews on March 15th, March 19th & March 29th.
Both the Town Board & Planning Board voted to authorize the Temporary Certificates of Occupancy which allowed Whole Foods, Life Time Fitness, Chase, Pet Valu & Fidelity Investments to open at Chappaqua Crossing. Our Maintenance and Protection of Traffic (MPT) plan is operating efficiently, and has increased safety. Traffic continues to flow well. Summit Greenfield has also been working collaboratively with both boards, New Castle Police, town staff & our traffic consultant to minimize the disruption during road construction on 117. Summit Development has agreed to concentrate much of their road work during the February & April school breaks. They will be maintaining north and south bound traffic lanes for much of the construction.
Chappaqua Performing Arts Center
I am thrilled to announce that Friends of Chappaqua Performing Arts Center has obtained their federal 501(c)(3) non-profit status! Friends of ChappPAC will now begin in earnest their efforts to bring programming to the theater and to raise money for some of the needed capital improvements. In the coming weeks, Friends of ChappPAC will reach out to residents and businesses to become part of their Founding members team (Founding donors will be forever memorialized in a Founding members plaque in the beautiful ChappPAC). Friends of ChappPAC is ambitiously hoping to raise enough money to kick-off their first season in Fall 2019. If you are interested in hearing more about donation levels or to become a volunteer for one of their many committees, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every Person Is Connected (“EPIC”) – ChappPAC
Back in 2015, the Town of New Castle created the EPIC Committee. EPIC stands for “Every Person Is Connected”. Our EPIC committee is trying to find ways to improve the lives of people in our town who have special needs. Our Together in Music concert was a great example of the incredible work they are doing. Our EPIC Committee, along with David Restivo & The Chappaqua Orchestra did an incredible job organizing this. Members of the special needs community played with the orchestra & helped usher. It was a huge success! As far as providing employment opportunities for those with disabilities, many of us had the honor of watching 25 Prospect Street, the documentary about the Prospector Theater. It’s the story of Valerie Jensen, a former school teacher, who transformed an abandoned bank into the Prospector Theater, a movie theater that provides employment opportunities for people with disabilities. I look forward to working with our EPIC Committee to do the same here at ChappPAC. I want to thank our EPIC Committee for the important work they are doing here in New Castle. For those on Facebook – check out the EPIC Facebook page.
We issued a Request for Proposals “RFP” for a feasibility study for the “ChapLine – a proposed multi-use pedestrian trail between downtown Chappaqua and Roaring Brook Road. The great news is that this path already exists! Less than a decade ago a dirt roadway was built to allow for truck access for the installation of a new sewer line extending from North Greeley Avenue north to Roaring Brook Road. This trail remains in decent shape and could hopefully be upgraded cost-effectively to a public pedestrian/bicycle path that would help revitalize downtown Chappaqua. We are soliciting services of qualified engineering and landscape architectural firms with considerable experience for multi-use trail design and construction. The requested phased services shall encompass all phases of a comprehensive multi-use trail design and construction plans, including conceptual plans, construction plans, bid documents, implementation, and construction administration, as well as funding opportunities to identify appropriate grants and assist submitting a successful grant application. The ChapLine would connect over 400 households to downtown Chappaqua. It’s 100% consistent with the updated 2017 Comprehensive Plan.
Con Ed Gas Moratorium
On January 18, 2019, Con Edison announced the demand for natural gas is outpacing their ability to meet that demand. Infrastructure improvements (i.e. additional pipeline) would be needed to expand their ability to deliver natural gas. Instead of investing in pipelines – which is a significant long term investment – alternative sources of efficiency and renewable energy are actively being pursued. As a result, Con Edison announced that beginning March 15, 2019, it will no longer be accepting applications for new customers. More information can be found on Con Ed’s website. We held an information session with Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals & Architectural Review Board to discuss the gas moratorium. Click here for the Keane & Beane presentation. We also invited Christine Cummings, Con Ed Gas General Manager, Christopher Raup, Director of Smart Solutions Program & Jane Solnik, Director, Westchester Public Affairs, to appear before the Town Board to answer questions about the moratorium & Con Ed’s Smart Solutions. Con Ed’s Smart Solutions Program, which was recently approved by the NYS Public Service Commission, will increase supply by implementing a host of non-pipeline and renewable programs.
Cut in Aim Funding
The Town Board wrote a letter to Senator Peter Harckham & Assemblyman David Buchwald thanking them for their your support in fighting against the $59 million cut to the AIM program which, if enacted, would take $87,471 in critical resources away from the Town of New Castle. We asked that State Legislature not only restore the $59 million in AIM funding but also provide an increase in municipal aid for the first time in a decade.
Our new electronic message boards across from the Shell Station in downtown Chappaqua is operating! Thank you to local architects Keiko & Bill Spade for their design. This was a great collaborative effort on the part of the Town of New Castle, Chappaqua Central School District & Greeley Sports Boosters for the benefit of the community.
Gun Violence – Chappaqua Interfaith Council for an Interfaith Vigil
I was honored to speak at the Chappaqua Interfaith Council community-wide vigil last Wednesday. Here are my remarks:
This is not the first time that we gathered to mourn victims of senseless violence. This is not the first time that we that we gathered to offer up our sympathies. Today, we are here because our thoughts and sympathies go out to the victims of the violence in New Zealand. Innocent people murdered simply because of their faith. And, I’m afraid, that it is inevitable that it won’t be the last time I say these things. It won’t be the last time we gather for a vigil. It won’t be the last time we send our thoughts and sympathies to the victims. And it won’t be the last time we have to cope with these types of loses. We must do more to prevent these senseless tragedies. We must take a stand to unite against gun violence. I commend New Zealand for having a strong leader willing to make the necessary changes. I commend New York State leaders for recently passing common-sense gun safety legislation. We must make our voices heard and demand that all of our national leaders focus on real national emergencies like gun violence. We also must take local action. Let’s be honest with each other, our conversations are mostly inspired by tragedy. When we gather to mourn. Every day we must follow the lead and actions of the Chappaqua Interfaith Council. The very existence of the Chappaqua Interfaith Council should inspire us & make us proud. We must practice and talk to each other about tolerance. We must teach our children about respect of those who may not share their religious beliefs or sexual orientation. We must live and create a culture and atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance. We must embrace these themes, every day, not just when these outrages are committed. We all have a role to play. We must take a stand against hatred, prejudice, rage and gun violence – and the tragedy it brings. Those are our national emergencies. Our voices must be heard, and we cannot stop until they are.
You can read more about the event here.
We continue to have a New Castle Police Officer stationed at Horace Greeley High School. New Castle Police visit each school daily and increase patrols during times of heightened concern. I agree with the sentiments expressed by Superintendent Christine Ackerman. New Castle Police has a strong partnership with CCSD. We are all laser focused on keeping our students & faculty safe.
Joan Corwin Way
Over the past several months, the Town Board has been thinking of a way to honor Joan Corwin. It was suggested that we rename Hunt’s Lane – Joan Corwin Way. Thank you Nancy Laun for bringing this incredible suggestion to our attention. On March 26th, the Town Board approved the following resolution:
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that in appreciation and recognition of her service to the children and greater community of New Castle, the Town hereby renames Hunts Lane to Joan Corwin Way effective September 3, 2019.
The reason for the September effective date is to give time for all businesses and property owners on Hunts Lane, the Town emergency services, all Town Departments, Westchester County 911, the NYS Police, mapping companies to prepare for the street name change.
Pooper Scooper Law
New Castle now has a Pooper Scooper Law! This law applies to any common thoroughfare. sidewalk, passageway, bypath, play area, park or any other property. These restriction shall also apply to private property (for other people’s dogs, not your own). It’s unfortunate that it’s necessary but hopefully this will encourage people to clean up after their dogs.
We previously passed a new rule prohibiting smoking in our public parks. We also passed a local law raising the age to purchase tobacco & vape product from 18 to 21. As well, we passed a local law regulating the location of vape shop. We prohibited vape shops within 2,000 feet of the lot line of any school, 500 feet of any park, playground, library or religious institution & no more than one vape shall be located on any lot or within 1,000 feet of any other vape shop. We are now considering amending our vape law to include the same restrictions for the retail distribution, sale or offer for consumption of recreation marijuana. On March 26th, we opened our public hearing, and adjourned it to April 30th. We also wrote a letter to Senator Peter Harckham & Assemblyman David Buchwald expressing our concerns re: recreational marijuana .
Resolution Granting a Temporary Extension for Payment of Real Property Taxes for Furloughed Federal Employees
On February 1, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed into law authorizing the extension for payment of property taxes by furloughed or designated non-paid federal employees municipal corporation. The law requires a local resolution authorizing such an extension. The Town Board passed the resolution.
91 Bedford Road
Demolition work has started at 91 Bedford Road, the former location of Whispering Pines Flower Shop. Construction will then start on a new, three-story building which includes 14 market-rate apartments above 3 retail spaces. This project is consistent with 2017 Comprehensive Plan which encourages more diverse housing in downtown Chappaqua.
North County Trailway – Millwood Replica Train Station
I was happy to read that Westchester County approved a $8.7M capital improvement project for the North County Trailway. For years, we have been working on building a replica of the former Millwood train station on the North County Trailway. NYS owns the North County Trailway, and they lease it to Westchester County. That lease expired on December 31, 2018. Neither NYS nor Westchester County wanted to approve our replica train station until the lease was extended. As well, Westchester County could not proceed with their planned capital project to rehabilitate and reconstruct major portions of the North County Trailway until the lease was extended. Well, it appears that the lease was extended. Westchester County is now undertaking the needed improvements to the North County Trailway. As well, we will, once again, try to obtain permission to build our replica train station!
Sunshine Children’s Home
Sunshine Children’s Home is currently expanding their facility to accommodate an increased number of sick children. Sunshine Children’s Home is located on a 33-acre property in Ossining, on the west side of the Town of New Castle. Sunshine presently provides pediatric care for children with the most serious, and often terminal, medical conditions. Their patients are literally the sickest of the sick. A public information session was held on March 6, 2019 regarding the status/progress of the Offsite Well Monitoring Program being conducted by the Sunshine Children’s Home. The Town’s consulting hydrogeologist, William Canavan, PG, LSRP, was in attendance. Here’s the video of the information session.
For construction updates, please visit the Sunshine Children’s Home website.
Seasonal Limitations on Motorized Leaf Blowers
As I mentioned several times since June, our Sustainability Advisory Board (“SAB”) has proposed legislation setting forth seasonal limitations regarding the use of motorized leaf blowers. Like many other towns, our SAB is recommending prohibiting the use of motorized blowers from May 15 through September 30. After hearing lots of great feedback from residents and landscapers during our 2 public hearings, and in written comments, the SAB has requested that we adjourn our next public hearing so they can rework the legislation. On January 23 the SAB held a working session to hear and document additional community input on the proposed ordinance.
These are the highlights of the matters of Town-wide concern that we have been addressing recently. As I noted at the beginning, a responsive Town government listens, responds and communicates. We work for you, our fellow residents! As we look ahead, I will continue to work hard and get things done that benefit our entire community.