It is again time to reflect on our accomplishments over the past year. As always, we have been busy this year with ongoing projects and new projects that will help to improve the town. I’ve said it again and again; it is truly an honor to serve the citizens of New Castle. I am very proud of the progress made throughout the year, and I will mention a few highlights:
- Downtown Chappaqua Infrastructure and Streetscape Project Update
- Downtown Chappaqua
- Electronic Message Board
- Discover Chappaqua
- Millwood Sewers
- Sidewalk Improvements Project
- Cell Tower
- Train Trestle Banner
- Chappaqua Crossing
- Chappaqua Performing Arts Center
- 2019 Budget
- Federal Limitations State and Local Tax (SALT) Deductions
- Electric Shuttle Bus
- Charging Stations
- RBI Summit
- Seasonal Limitations on Motorized Leaf Blowers
- Dual Stream Recycling
- School Safety
- Railroad Crossing Safety
- Distracted Driving
- Westchester County Airport
- Town Hall Basketball Court / Playground Project
- Internet Purchase Exchange Location
- 120 Sidewalk
- Advertising on Fences in Certain Town Parks
- Town Code Concerning Tree Preservation
- Taxi Service
- Workers Comp Savings
- Black Bear Sightings
- New Diverse Housing – 91 Bedford Road
Downtown Chappaqua Infrastructure and Streetscape Project Update
Moody’s Investors Service assigned a AAA rating to our $17.1mm bond offering. This reduced our borrowing costs. Con Ed finally completed their gas main replacement! We completed our water main replacement. We completed our sewer installation. We completed our storm drainage installation. Con Ed moved 18 utility poles to make way for wider sidewalks which are ADA complaint. These new poles are higher & will raise the wires! We received a $459,802 grant for our water infrastructure improvements! Granite curbing & brand new sidewalks were installed on North Greeley from Bischoff to the post office. Granite curbing was also installed on South Greeley from Washington to Woodburn (library side). Sidewalks were installed also. New trees were planted. Granite curbing on King Street from Greeley to the project limit was installed. The sidewalk by Ibiza Kitchen, Family Britches & Petticoat Lane is too big!! It looked good on paper, not so much in reality (engineers tell me this happens). In early January, we will be making this sidewalk smaller to restore the 4 parking spots. We will also be addressing the cut out on Senter Street. We know this has been a long process. Construction started in mid-June, 2017 and will likely be done at the 2 year mark. It was supposed to be completed by November, 2018. Unfortunately, weather, underground utility conflicts & a heavy dependence on utility companies caused delays. Winter has now arrived. The sidewalk work, plantings & final paving cannot be done in the winter. Operations have ceased until April 1st. This project will improve the overall aesthetic of our Chappaqua Hamlet and finally provide us with an infrastructure platform that will allow our downtown to grow and prosper. We appreciate your patience, and hope that the finished product was worth the inconvenience.
In 2017, the Town Board adopted an updated Comprehensive Plan. In 2018, the Town Board & Planning Board began executing the Comprehensive Plan. We are exploring increased housing opportunities in the hamlets. We took 2 important steps. First, we issued a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) to update our zoning so it’s consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. The second step is we approved a moratorium. The moratorium will allow us to maintain the status quo in the Chappaqua hamlet while we study and implement new retail and commercial zoning legislation. The moratorium prevents the issuance of a building permit & sign permit. The moratorium only applies to spaces > 3,000 SF. As well, applications that were received on or before 10/30/18 will be able to proceed.
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 moved into the former sherry b space. Ibiza Kitchen opened on Dec. 18th. Good luck to them!
Electronic Message Board
Our new electronic message boards across from the Shell Station in downtown Chappaqua have been installed! Thank you to local architects Keiko & Bill Spade for their design. (http://www.sasakispadearchitects.com/). I would also like to thank our incredible DPW crew – Walter Quast,
Terry Rowe & Dan Rubino – as well as the Greeley Boosters, CSSD School Board & Superintendent Christine Ackerman. This is a great collaborative effort for the benefit of the community.
We approved a proposal for “Discover Chappaqua”. No doubt, the downtown construction has been tough for our merchants. This initiative will include a website that will highlight all that Chappaqua has to offer – a great place to shop, eat & live. The web site will also highlight the streetscape improvements. The web site launch will coincide with a ribbon cutting celebration in downtown Chappaqua when the streetscape improvements are completed. This is being funded by a very small portion of the mitigation money from Chappaqua Crossing.
Woodard and Curran presented their Millwood Hamlet Sewer Feasibility Study to the Town Board last week. This is the first step in the process of bringing sewers into that Millwood Hamlet. Their presentation can be found here.
Millwood Sidewalk Improvements Project
We continue to work on the proposed Millwood Sidewalk Improvement Project. The plans for the Millwood sidewalk project are 90% complete. As soon as the State permits and approvals are secured, we’ll go out to bid. We have slated this project for 2019 construction.
The Town Board approved a lease with Homeland Towers to allow a cell tower at the water treatment plant in Millwood. Their application will require a special permit from the Planning Board. 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 plan on building a salt dometower at the water treatment plant in Millwood. Homeland agreed to build the access road. This salt dome would benefit Millwood & the West End by reducing travel time for our snow plows to restock salt.
Millwood – Train Trestle Banner
We have received permission from Westchester County to hang a Welcome to Millwood Banner over the rusted train trestle on Route 100! We are waiting for a permit from NYS DOT.
There is now housing in the Cupola Building! This is how affordable housing should be – integrated with work force and market rates units – and woven into the fabric of our community. The three houses on Roaring Brook Road have been demolished. Those houses were owned by Chappaqua Crossing and vacant for years. As part of the approval process, title of the 4 parcels of land – which are currently owned by Summit Greenfield – will be conveyed to the Town. The property would be deed restricted and remain as open space – a buffer for residents who live near the site. The Town received the $1,500,000 payment from Summit Greenfield which is to be used to help mitigate the impacts associated with this retail and residential development.
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. This Preemption was causing excessive delays for E/B traffic. We wrote to DOT requesting observation of the above intersection and implementing possible mitigation measures. DOT listened! DOT approved timing changes to the traffic light on the SMRP. As well, Summit Greenfield will be making improvements to SMRP & RBR intersection. Preliminary plans have been developed. Work will include a widening & additional travel lines for both the eastbound and westbound approaches to the SMRP. Changes also include installation of a new traffic signal system, pavement resurfacing and signage. DOT wants the SMRP/RBR work to be completed by Labor Day.
The Town hired a traffic consultant to review the proposed improvements to SMRP & RBR intersection.
Both the Town Board & Planning Board voted to approve the necessary changes that allowed Whole Foods to open on December 15th. Both boards were laser focused on safety. Together, we prepared a Maintenance and Protection of Traffic (MPT) plan that made the intersection safer! Safer now for both drivers & pedestrians, and safer in the future when permanent measures – that we are mandating – are implemented. Our MPT plan has 3 phases, Only Whole Foods & Chase Bank can open in the 1st Phase. In the 2nd phase, other retail can open, including Life Time Fitness. Summit Greenfield has also voluntarily agreed to study & improve the site line on 117 to the north of Whippoorwill Road. Whole Foods will be a member of our community for years to come. I fully expect them to be a generous member of our community. I welcome them and wish them good luck!
Chappaqua Performing Arts Center
We received a $24,425 grant to sponsor senior programming & capital improvements. As far as capital improvements, & 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.
The Town Board created a ChapLine Committee. The ChapLine is essentially a “pathway” that connects downtown with “Chappaqua Crossing”. This path would connect over 400 households to downtown Chappaqua. It’s 100% consistent with the comp plan. Our ChapLine Committee started working on a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for the design, engineering and construction services for the Chapline. Thank you to our ChapLine Committee for their work on this potential project.
We approved the 2019 Budget. This marks the 8th straight year that New Castle will stay within the 2% tax cap. We are staying within the cap while managing the $14.1 million borrowing necessary to replace water, sanitary sewer and storm water infrastructure in our downtown Chappaqua Hamlet. With carry-overs from prior years, the law allows us to raise taxes by more than one million dollars. Our 2019 has a tax increase of $484,336. This amounts to a $62 increase to the average resident. We have maintained almost a million dollars for our paving budget.
Federal Limitations State and Local Tax (SALT) Deductions
There is no doubt that the new limitations by the federal government to State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions on federal income tax returns will have significant negative consequences for our residents. In response to the new limitations, NYS enacted legislation that authorizes charitable contributions to the state and local governments. Unfortunately, the IRS proposed an amendment to limit these charitable contributions. New Castle joined the newly-formed Coalition for the Charitable Contribution Deduction to challenge the proposed regulation.
Electric Shuttle Bus
Our Electric Shuttle is ready to roll! In December 2016, the Town of New Castle became the first community in New York State in its size range to receive the designation of a Clean Energy Community. As a result, we received a $100,000 grant! The grant and a state rebate covered the entire cost of the electric shuttle. In fact, we had $12,000 left over for LED street lights. The electric shuttle bus will be handicapped accessible and have a 145 mile capacity on a single charge. I look forward to seeing our electric shuttle on the roads of New Castle.
We started a food scrap composting pilot program! Food scraps are one of the largest components of trash sent to landfills and incinerators. A drop-off site located at the Town Recycling Center on Hunts Lane. The program is only for New Castle residents. For more information email Composting@MyNewCastle.org.
We are installed multiple charging stations @ Gedney Park, 2 behind Chappaqua Village Market & 2 behind Villarina’s.
Seasonal Limitations on Motorized Leaf Blowers
Our Sustainability Advisory Board (“SAB”) proposed legislation setting forth seasonal limitations regarding the use of motorized leaf blowers. Motorized blowers create noise, emit gases and blow dust particles and other airborne pollutants into the air and onto neighboring properties. After hearing lots of great feedback from residents and landscapers, the SAB has requested that we adjourn our next public hearing so they can rework the legislation. I would like to thank the SAB for their work on this initiative and their commitment to addressing environmental concerns
Dual Stream Recycling
On January 1, 2019, we went back back to dual-stream recycling. The United States used to export much of its recycling waste to China. Unfortunately, China recently stopped taking this foreign recycled waste. This change has dramatically increased the cost to accept single stream recycling causing municipalities across the country to go back to dual-stream recycling. Dual stream means that recycling must be separated for curbside pickup: paper and cardboard in one container, and clean glass, metal, and plastics numbered 1-6 in another. These rules also apply to items dropped off at the recycling center.
New Castle Police have had an increased visual police presence at Horace Greeley High School, as well as our other schools.
Raising the Age for Tobacco & Vape Product Purchases
The Town Board adopted a local law to prohibit the sale of tobacco, liquid nicotine products and electronic cigarettes to persons under the age of 21. Our new law will complement our previously passed local law which regulates the location of vape shops. We are committed to protecting young people from all nicotine delivery systems.
Railroad Crossing Safety
I contacted County Executive Latimer to request his help as a member of the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Council. We are encouraging the council to sponsor a bridge over the Metro-North Railroad grade crossing at Roaring Brook Road and its intersection with the Saw Mill River Parkway.
Kudos to Ben Lieberman on being selected to receive the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration/Lifesavers Award for Public Service. His dedication to reducing distracted driving deaths and injuries and his commitment to keeping families safe on our roadways is being acknowledged.
Westchester County Airport
Robert Fleisher was appointed to the Westchester County Airport Advisory Board. We created a New Castle Airport Advisory Committee & appointed 13 members to our newly formed committee. Westchester County conducted three community input meetings. All 3 meetings were well attended by New Castle residents. Residents spoke eloquently about the noise, the environment, property values, and health impacts, just to name a few. Once again, I encourage residents to report airport noise using the following link. New Castle now has a new noise monitor on Hamilton Drive.
Town Hall Basketball Court / Playground Project
We created the capital account for the town hall basketball court / playground project. As many are aware, with assistance from New York State Senator Terrence Murphy, the Town has secured a $200,000.00 SAM Grant (State and Municipal Facilities Program) towards the funding for this project. In addition, due to the efforts of New York State Assemblyman David Buchwald, the Town will be receiving $125,000.00 towards the playground area. Following Bedford’s lead, we are looking to use new basketball for pickleball as well.
Internet Purchase Exchange Location
We want residents purchasing items on Craigslist, eBay and other online exchange sites to feel safe when making the exchange. We established a safe exchange location outside the police headquarters which is under 24 hour surveillance. Video cameras have been installed that will record activity in the lobby. Anyone interested in using the Internet Exchange Location can simply show up and conduct the transaction. This offers residents a safe alternative from the obvious risks of meeting a stranger for an online sale.
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.
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 was also completed.
Home Rule Legislation To Allow the Leasing of Space on Sports Field Fences in Certain Town Parks
New Castle is now allowed to lease space on its sports field fences at Gedney Park, Millwood Park and, the Recreation Field for the purpose of advertising. The revenues derived will be used solely for maintaining these and other Town parks, as well as supporting recreational activities and programming therein.
Town Code Concerning Tree Preservation
We amended our local law concerning tree preservation. Our amendments strengthens and clarifies our tree removal permit requirements/procedures, our tree replacement requirements and use of the Tree Bank Fund. As far as education, the Town will create a user-friendly guide to help residents understand the Tree Preservation Law & we’ll create a web page to encourage healthy yard practices and tree preservation.
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. The Town &/or the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce will also use the taxi stand to promote the town business districts.
Workers Comp Savings
We approved a renewal for the 2018-2019. We are savings another $42,533 over last year’s premium
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.
New Diverse Housing – 91 Bedford Road
New housing is coming to the former location of the Whispering Pines flower shop, just north of Quaker Tavern. The new building is proposed to be 3 stories, with retail on the ground floor, 14 rental apartments on the 2nd & 3rd floors above, and basement-level parking below, all connected by elevator.
For More News
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As we look ahead to the New Year, let’s look forward not as individuals, but as a community. Together we can make New Castle an even better place to live, work and raise a family. Progress means that with each turn, more needs to be done, and I will continue to work hard for the community. I look forward to another year of progress ahead of us.