New Castle Supervisor Quarterly Update: Q3 2018
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. I also recognize that while town-wide issues are my focus, no individual matter is too small for a responsive town government. I welcome those opportunities for more personal contact with residents. As we look ahead, there remains much work to be done, and I will continue to work hard for the entire community. It is my pleasure, then, as Supervisor to provide a quarterly report – 3rd Quarter of 2018 – to the community about current Town projects and initiatives.
- Downtown Chappaqua Infrastructure and Streetscape Project Update
- Downtown Chappaqua
- Chappaqua Crossing
- Chappaqua Performing Arts Center
- Traffic Light timing at the intersection of Roaring Brook Road and the Saw Mill Parkway
- Federal Limitations State and Local Tax (SALT) Deductions
- Westchester County Airport
- School Safety
- Pedestrian Safety
- Taxi contract
- Black Bear Sightings
- Community Sign
- Basketball Court / Pickleball
- Millwood – Cell Tower
- Millwood – Train Trestle Banner
- Habitat for Humanity Update
- 2019 Budget Meetings
- Face of America Liberty cycling challenge
Downtown Chappaqua Infrastructure and Streetscape Project Update
Sewer installation was completed. Drainage works continues on North Greeley from Lower King to Maple Avenue. Storm drainage improvements will be completed by the end of the month and patching will be finished by Thanksgiving. Curbing and sidewalk work has started on North Greeley.
Brand new sidewalks will then be installed on North Greeley from Bischoff Avenue to Maple Avenue. Curbing work will soon start on South Greeley by Washington Avenue to Woodburn Avenue. Unfortunately, the onset of winter will put curb & sidewalk installation on hold. Con Ed has installed their new utility poles. The new poles are higher and will be neater. The old poles will be removed once Con Ed, Altice (cable) & Verizon move their wires to the new poles.
Besides the overhead wire work, there are many utility conduits underground that are creating issues that need to be addressed. Merchants and residents will not be inconvenienced for a second consecutive holiday shopping season – we are shutting down most of the operation from Thanksgiving until after the first of the year. Underground electrical work will be done in January. The installation of new street lighting is set for March.
Plantings will be done in the Spring. Permanent road paving will be done in the spring when the asphalt plants open. Please remember to check the Town of New Castle website for all updates. If you would like to receive daily updates, please email me at RGreenstein@MyNewCastle.org.
A few updates regarding some vacant space in downtown Chappaqua. As I previously reported, Ibiza Kitchen https://ibizakitchen.net/ is coming to the old Chappaqua Tavern space. The broker who handled the old Chappaqua Tavern space is also handling the Hall of Scoops vacancy. Lots of interest in the Hall of Scoop space. There is an application pending to put a taco place in the old Dunkin Donuts. As well, the Shell Station has an application pending to renovate their gas station & add a convenience store.
William Raveis is moving into the former sherry b space. Over the past several months, we have met several times with the Planning Board to discuss creating a sustainable mix of commercial and residential uses in downtown Chappaqua pursuant to our 2017 Comprehensive Plan. It is clear that we need to change the zoning in downtown Chappaqua to encourage more housing. We took the 1st step by approving the issuance of a Request For Proposals (“RFP”) for Chappaqua Hamlet Zoning Revisions. After the RFP responses are received, the Town Board & Planning Board will review the proposals.
As far as Roaring Brook Road, the road has been significantly widened by Horace Greeley High School. The traffic light is installed & should be operational soon. As many have likely noticed, there are two utility poles in the middle of the widened roadway on Roaring Brook Road. Rest assured, these poles will be removed. Con Ed has installed the new utility poles. Con Ed, Altice (cable) & Verizon are currently moving their wires to the new poles. It’s not simply a process of moving wires to the new poles, they won’t reach. They need to run new cables. This process should be completed over the next several weeks & then the poles will be removed. Summit Greenfield hopes to start the improvements to 117 this month.
Chappaqua Performing Arts Center
We received a $24,425 grant to sponsor senior programming & capital improvements. We approved the installation of acoustic equipment to improve sound quality at the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center & the installation of a new screen. We thank the generosity of our donor. Here’s our Fall lineup.
Traffic Light timing at the intersection of Roaring Brook Road and the Saw Mill Parkway
As I mentioned over the last several months, many have noticed the change in the timing of the traffic lights that affect the grade crossing at the intersection of Roaring Brook Road and the Saw Mill Parkway. In short, on June 20, 2018 the New York State Department of Transportation (“NYSDOT”) and Metro North activated railroad preemption on the traffic signal at the Saw Mill River Parkway @ Roaring Brook Road.
To summarize the preemption operation, when a train is detected, the signal is prevented from giving a green signal to traffic heading east towards the train tracks. We wrote to NYSDOT voicing our concerns. A meeting was held with NYSDOT on September 13, 2018. They agreed that mitigation measures should be studied. We authorized an RFP for a traffic consultant to study possible mitigation measures. Ever since the accident in Valhalla, the Town of New Castle has been advocating for a bridge over the grade crossing and SMRP. We even commissioned WSP to investigate a bridge.
We have also advocated for inclusion of this project in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) so we can receive Federal funding. There is no doubt that construction of a bridge to eliminate the railroad crossing is the most effective way to address safety, traffic, and air quality concerns at the intersection. Rest assured, we will continue to advocate for a bridge to eliminate the grade crossing entirely and replacement with a bridge over both the MNRR Harlem Line and Saw Mill River Parkway.
We appointed members to the ChapLine Committee. The ChapLine is essentially a “pathway” that connects downtown Chappaqua with Chappaqua Crossing. This path would connect over 400 households to downtown Chappaqua. It’s 100% consistent with the 2017 Comprehensive Plan.
Federal Limitations State and Local Tax (SALT) Deductions
As many are well aware, in response to the new $10,000 cap on State and Local Tax (SALT) imposed by the federal government, NYS enacted legislation that authorizes counties, local governments, and school districts to establish a charitable gifts reserve fund that may be used to defray some of the costs related to public education, healthcare, or other public service provided by that entity. Unfortunately, on September 5, 2018 the IRS proposed an amendment to limit these charitable contributions.
This proposed IRS amendment would disallow states’ attempts to work around the $10,000 cap. A number of tax law experts believe that this proposed IRS amendment constitutes an arbitrary and capricious interpretation of federal tax law. We approved participation a coalition that will submit objections to the proposed IRS amendment.
Westchester County Airport
On August 14th Westchester County Legislator Nancy Barr, Rye Town Supervisor Gary Zuckerman, Harrison Town Councilman Frank Gordon & Citizens for a Responsible County Airport Executive Director Jonathan Wang & myself attended a very productive meeting with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office. Very happy to report that U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced the Quiet Communities Act, legislation that would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reestablish an Office of Noise Abatement and Control. This legislation would empower the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to oversee airplane noise issues across the country. We are currently trying to schedule a meeting with Nita Lowey’s office
You will continue to see an increased New Castle police presence at Horace Greeley High School, as well as our other schools.
In order to improve pedestrian safety in downtown Chappaqua, we will be purchasing pedestrian crossing signs with flashing beacons. We are also looking to install a similar sign in Millwood on Route 133 / North County Trailway.
Our Electric Shuttle is ready to roll! As far as composting, you can pick up a composting kit at the Recycling Center. The kits cost $25 and consist of a kitchen collection bin, a locking transportation bin to take the waste to the Recycling Center and compostable bags for both bins. For more information email Composting@MyNewCastle.org. As I mentioned back in June, our Sustainability Advisory Board (“SAB”) has proposed legislation setting forth seasonal limitations regarding the use of motorized leaf blowers. The noise, emissions of gases, and blowing of dust particles and other airborne pollutants into the air, and health hazards caused by leaf blowers, especially gas-powered, mandate some sort of action. Like many other towns, our SAB is recommending prohibiting the use of motorized blowers from May 15 through September 30. We will soon be scheduling our 1st public hearing. We are installing charging stations @ Gedney Park, 2 behind Chappaqua Village Market & 2 behind Villarina’s.
As I mentioned last month, we awarded our train station taxi contract to Pleasantville Taxi (914-610-8668). One of the conditions of our approval was the use of hybrid vehicles.
As far as the Route 120 sidewalk, Con Ed completed their gas main replacement from Ridgewood Terrace to Elm Street. The 2nd phase of our 120 sidewalk replacement project will soon be completed. We are currently trying to get NYSDOT to repave this 1/2 mile stretch of Route 120 from the intersection of Route 117 to the intersection with South Place.
Our total paving budget for 2018 was $1,016,024! This year we paved the following roads:
- Cardinal Place
- Croton Lake Road
- Little Lakes Road
- Dawning Lane
- Quaker Ridge Road
- Quaker Bridge Road
- West end of Glendale.
- Ridge Road
- White Oak
- Tall Timber
We also paved the northern section of the south commuter lot. Next summer we plan on repaving the exit road, Woodburn and the parking spots along Memorial Circle. The commuter lot paving is funded by commuter parking fees.
Black Bear Sightings
Many have noticed black bear sightings in New Castle. The Town of New Castle hosted a well-attended lecture titled “Bears in Our Backyard”. For those who missed it, here’s the video. As a reminder, NYS Department of Environmental is the only agency who can remove a bear, and they will only do so if the bear creates a public disturbance, acts aggressively towards a human or pet, attempts to enter a home, or is injured and cannot move freely to escape. According to the DEC proper storage of garbage and the removal of bird feeders during periods when bears are active are the two most important steps you can take to drastically reduce nuisance bear problems in your area.
According to NYDEC, if you see a bear:
- Don’t panic. Bears are more likely to be afraid of you than you are of them. Know that you have the privilege of seeing a magnificent wild creature close-up, but don’t lose sight of the fact that bears are powerful animals that may defend themselves if they feel threatened.
- Never approach, surround, or attempt to touch a bear.
- Always leave a clear escape route for the bear. If you feel threatened by a bear, back away slowly, but do not run. If the bear keeps coming back or will not leave, make loud noises—yell, clap, blow car horns or air horns, or drum on nearby objects. More information can be found here.
The foundation for our new community sign was completed. Our two electronic message boards will be situated across from the Shell station in downtown Chappaqua. This is a great example of working with Chappaqua Central School District for the benefit of the community. Thank you again to Keiko & Bill Spade for designing the base.
Basketball Court / Pickleball
As many know, we are planning to install a new playground and brand new basketball court behind Town Hall. Following Bedford’s lead, we are looking to use new basketball for pickleball as well. Ike Kuzio, our Superintendent of Recreation & Parks, has reached out to the Bedford to get some info/feedback on their pickleball program.
Millwood – Cell Tower
The lease has been executed to allow a cell tower at the water treatment plant in Millwood. This will improve cell service in Millwood! The tower will be near the Millwood electric towers. Their application now goes before the Planning Board for a Special Permit. The Planning Board will review the proposed site location, height limitations, visual impacts, as well as structural and safety concerns. With revenues from the cell tower, we will make improvements to Millwood including the construction of a salt dome tower at the water treatment plant in Millwood. This salt dome would benefit Millwood & the West End by reducing travel time for our snow plows to restock salt.
Millwood – Train Trestle Banner
As I previously mentioned, we have received permission from Westchester County to hang a “Welcome to Millwood” banner over the rusted train trestle on Route 100! We now need a permit from NYS DOT, and we expect that in the very near future.
Habitat for Humanity Update
As far as King Street, the building had a stream underneath it and was sitting on loose bricks and stones for a foundation. It finally has a real foundation. The beams are now level and water lines installed. They are currently framing, paneled & siding will then be installed. Lots of volunteers over the next few months will expedite a great amount of work and visible progress. As far as Millwood, they are currently working with NYS DOT to run their water lines. A few softball teams have been helping with the build – more are welcome! A few construction companies will be helping in November.
2019 Budget Meeting
Our Town Board budget meetings with department heads will start at the beginning of October.
Face of America Liberty Cycling Challenge
I had the great honor to meet Col. Gregory Gadson (US Army, Ret.) at the Face of America Liberty cycling challenge. Col. Gregory Gadson is the Army’s first double amputee to take over as commander of an Army Base – Fort Belvoir, Va., a military post of 47,000. Col Gadson was serving in Iraq in 2007 when an improvised explosive device hit his vehicle. He lost both legs above the knee and severely injured his arm. Col Gadson got fitted with the latest prosthetics and chose to stay on active duty.
Also in the picture is Blip. Blip is a service/therapy dog owned by Chappaqua residents Barbara & Paul Jenkel. Blip works with sick children, at-risk youth and veterans throughout the region. Barbara & Paul Jenkel are major supporters of East Coast Assistance Dogs (ECAD), which enable people with disabilities to gain greater independence and mobility through the use of specially educated dogs. Thank you to Captain James P. Mccauley, Jr for being the event chair for this inspiring event. Read more about some of the other athletes who took part in this incredible event.
For More News
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.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.