- Last Updated: 08 December 2016 08 December 2016
We are ending another short week here in Ossining, and Town offices will be closed tomorrow in honor of Veteran's Day. I do hope you will join me at one or all of the events planned around Ossining tomorrow, November 11th. The Central Committee of Organized War Veterans will host a 10AM memorial mass at St. Augustine's Church, followed by an 11AM memorial ceremony at Nelson Park. The Village of Briarcliff Manor will also hold a ceremony honoring the late Lieutenant John Kelvin Koelsch, who was killed in Korea in 1951; all will gather at the Briarcliff Community Center at 11:30AM and will proceed to Law Park at Noon for the ceremony honoring Lt. Koelsch's heroism. If you are unable to join us, I hope you will take some time to thank the veterans in your own life, whether they be a family member, friend or neighbor. We must never forget that our freedoms have a price, and we are fortunate to have those who are willing to sacrifice so that we can enjoy our families, our safety, our nation.
I want to share with you that along with many Town and Village friends, I attended the Sing Sing Swing cruise this past Sunday, where we all travelled "up the river" from Yonkers to raise money for the Sing Sing Prison Museum project. Between the fantastic swing band, the dance lessons, and some great presentations, a fun time was had by all and Historic Hudson River Towns raised a lot of money for a very worthy cause.
Special thanks are due to Stephanie Lynn for organizing the event, HHRT's Executive Director Jerry Faiella, Dana White and Art Wolpinksy (pictured below), Henry Welt, Tracey Corbitt, Mark Sarazen, Rochelle Udell, Hornblower Cruises, GE, and so many others who made this event possible. I am looking forward to continuing to work with you in the future to include more interested folks in making this dream a reality for Ossining and the Hudson Valley as a whole.
Councilwomen Jeffrey, D’Attore, Feldman and I, along with many Town and Village officials, attended the Ossining Rotary’s Byington Scholarship Fundraiser on Monday night, where we were offered a chance to nominate a Town Employee of the Year. We were hard pressed to choose just one, so the Rotary generously allowed us to nominate our incredible Father/Son team, Matteo and Mario Velardo. Matteo has worked for the Town Highway Department for almost 23 years, and Mario for the Town Parks Department since 2001. If you know these two gentlemen, you will understand how very deserving they are of this recognition, and I was thrilled to join the Rotary in celebrating their hard work and commitment.
Our Town staff was hard at work this week on a variety of projects. The Town Board met with three more department heads on Monday to discuss the 2017 budget, and I am pleased to say we are generally seeing eye to eye about how department needs should be addressed this year. We also had a discussion in Work Session last night about moving a portion of the Mortgage Recording Tax, currently applied to the Town General Fund, to the Unincorporated Area fund, which is a conversation that has been ongoing for some time. We took the opportunity to revisit this going into the 2017 budget, when we could deliberately plan this shift rather than try to make it work midyear. The effects of making this move are relatively minor, resulting in a roughly $7 total increase for the average Ossining household over what they would have paid in the Tentative 2017 budget ($22 instead of $15). The Board is aligned to move this forward for the sake of fairness, and we will be passing a resolution requesting the appropriate Home Rule legislation at our November 22nd meeting.
Our Town Highway, Parks and Cemetery staff have also been hard at work on two different paving projects in the Town. We had shared with you at the end of October that the Town and Village were both out on Grandview Avenue preparing the road to be re-paved. After a few days of milling and shimming the road, and working together to install new curbs, the road has been paved and is looking great! A big thanks is due to our Highway Superintendent Michael G. O'Connor and Village Engineer/ Interim Village Manager Paul Fraioli for working so collaboratively to getting this shared road in better shape for all of our residents.
The Town guys have also been doing some extensive drainage work in Dale Cemetery's Section 9 over the past month, and sections of the road were re-paved by our annual bidder earlier this week. We are so glad to get this work done before the winter season, and want to thank our Superintendent of Cemeteries Pete Connolly for coordinating this work, and of course, to our Highway and Parks staff who built the drainage swale to keep our new road dry, and as a result, hopefully much safer. Great job, everyone!
There are a few great events going on tonight in Ossining that I want to share with you. The Ossining Documentary and Discussion Series will be hosting "Consuming Kids" in the Budarz Theater at the Ossining Library, which is a hard look into the marketing machine that has been built to advertise to our children. You can catch this screening tonight, November 10th, at 6:30PM, seating starts at 6:15PM.
- Last Updated: 18 November 2016 18 November 2016
The last I spoke with you, we were heading into Halloween weekend and the Town Parks Department was making last-minute preparations for the Forest O'Fears at Cedar Lane Park.
I am so glad to share that this was an incredibly successful event. I bought my ticket for the first ride of the night and boy, was it scary! I want to extend a special thanks to Fern Quezada and the Ossining Historic Cemeteries Conservancy, who spent countless hours planning the scenes, coordinating volunteers and props, and getting the word out about the hayride-- thank you, Fern! I also want to give a shout out to the Town employees who helped with the design and implementation of what I am sure is now becoming an Ossining tradition.
Councilwoman Liz Feldman and I kept the celebration going on Monday night at the Halloween Spooktacular celebration in Market Square, which replaced the annual Halloween DARE celebration at the Recreation Center. Our first responders and other Town/Village staff helped to plan a "Trunk or Treat," and local business owners as well as all of Ossining's adorable ghosts and goblins came out in full force for some safe Halloween entertainment and trick or treating. Congratulations to the Ossining Police and Ossining Recreation on a job well done.
We were also fortunate enough to check out the Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps' new four wheel drive ambulance on Monday, when Chief Nick Franzoso gave us an exclusive tour. OVAC will be retiring one of their ambulances that has been out of service more than on the road over the past year, and the new ambulance was paid for entirely by donations to the organization. OVAC has decided to name the new ambulance in honor of former Ossining Town Supervisor Martha Dodge, who was responsible for much of the legwork behind creating the Mid Hudson Ambulance District. We are touched at this testament to all of Martha's good work for Ossining, and we are so glad for her to be remembered in this way.
Earlier today, we had our first round of budget meetings with the Town Board and three of our department heads. A line by line review of the budget is especially beneficial for our new Board Members. These meetings will resume at 9AM on Monday morning in the 3rd Floor Conference Room at 16 Croton Avenue.
- Last Updated: 18 November 2016 18 November 2016
The Ossining community lost another great asset this past week-- Bob Minzesheimer, who besides serving the Ossining Public Library as a former Trustee and President of the Friends of the Ossining Public Library organization, was also an acclaimed journalist who enjoyed a decades-long career most could only dream of. Bob was a devoted champion of libraries, especially our own, and he contributed considerably to our community. Our hearts are with Bob's wife, Mary, and their two children, during this difficult time.
The Town Board will be meeting on Tuesday evening at the Courthouse for our regularly scheduled Legislative Session, which will mark the (hopeful) adoption of Local Law #9 of 2016, to extend the development moratorium in the Unincorporated Town of Ossining for an additional four months. Just this past week, our Planning Consultant David Stolman joined the Board at a Work Session to update us on the progress he has made since we met last-- you can see the updated local law here. David is scheduled to join us again at our November 15th Work Session, where we will hopefully review the final iteration of the local law and move into the Public Hearing process. We are confident that this four month extension will give the Board and the public ample time to discuss and deliberate over these suggested changes, and we expect that we will be able to lift the moratorium in time for this new deadline. Thanks to everyone for their patience throughout this important process.
Last week, I participated in a number of interesting forums and conferences with regional leaders. On Tuesday I sat at a roundtable discussion with NYS Secretary of State Rosanna Rosado and other Mayors and Supervisors in the Hudson Valley to share with each other what has worked in terms of sharing and consolidation of services and what challenges we still face in that area. With some help and guidance from the Department of State’s Division of Local Government Efficiency, we plan to continue to work on ways to approach additional efficiencies with the intent of leading to long term savings. On Wednesday, the Governor’s office hosted the Hudson Valley Sustainable Development Summit at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. What a treat to experience all that the talented students and staff produced as well as get a taste of the regional delights this area has to offer. We also learned about some amazing progress many communities are making in the area of development and how approaches are changing to adapt to 21st century reality and also be forward-thinking. These events continue to inform our processes and progress. We were also invited to attend the Hudson Valley Greenway Board meeting next Wednesday, so we are hopeful we will hear some positive announcement about our grant application for the biking and walking planning study we would like to undertake to connect our open space and business assets. We will keep you posted.
Additionally, Regional Plan Association (RPA) the not-for-profit that is on their fourth plan for the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Metropolitan region, paid a visit to Ossining on Thursday to get community input for their plan. They specifically asked for feedback on transportation and housing. Four Town Council Members were in attendance and we actively participated with Village Board Members as well as community members to share our challenges today and our hopes for tomorrow. I was also asked to participate on Teatown Lake Reservation’s Advisory Board. Teatown has grown so much over the years in terms of the programmatic offerings they have for all age levels. As they have become more ambitious, they continue to look for ways to sustain their growth as well as expand their reach. I was pleased to be involved with this brainstorming effort with so many knowledgeable community members, educators, and Teatown lovers to figure out how to meet the goals of this organization that offers so much to Ossining. I look forward to a continued strong partnership with them.
We are also preparing to release the 2017 Supervisor's Budget, which will trigger our Board's first opportunity to get their hands on the work product we've been working on for the past three months. After they receive their copies, we will continue to work, right away, on fleshing out each department's budget. Meetings are scheduled with our Department Heads the first three weeks of November, and then we will be ready to bring the budget to a Public Hearing and it will be your turn to weigh in. I am pleased to share that the budget process, while difficult and full of hard choices, really demonstrates to me the hard work being done by our staff. The amount of work that gets done in the Town continues to amaze me given the tight budget constaints. That said, I invite you to check the Town website a week from today, when we expect to have the Supervisor's Budget posted for your review; hard copies will be available in the Clerk's Office at 16 Croton Avenue, and also at the Ossining Public Library.
As we move into the weekend, I wanted to share with you the incredible experience I had this past weekend at the Ossining Arts Council exhibition at the Steamer Firehouse. "Fishing on Henry's Hudson" is an exciting peek into the life of Henry Gourdine, a fisherman and boat builder, who contributed substantially to our community's economy and relationship with the Hudson River. I urge you to check this out in its final weekend-- tonight and tomorrow night (Friday & Saturday) at 8PM and Sunday at 3PM at the OAC Steamer Firehouse Gallery at 117 Main Street.
- Last Updated: 18 November 2016 18 November 2016
Today at 2PM the Town Clerk's Office received the Town of Ossining's 2017 Supervisor's Budget, which I am proud to report is few days early, thanks to the excellent support staff of Budget Director Maddi Zachacz and Deputy Town Comptroller Dale Ferreira. With our allowable levy increase shrinking every year due to the New York State Property Tax Cap, staying under that ceiling was a tall order. However, we managed to assemble what I believe is a responsible and smart budget that ensures our residents are getting the services they need affordably. To learn more about the 2017 Supervisor's (or Tentative) Budget, check out the Budget Office page here. We will be presenting the Tentative Budget at our Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, November 1st at 7:30PM. Please join us at the Ossining Public Library for this presentation, as well as an exciting update on the Sing Sing Museum Project presented by our very own Jerry Faiella, Executive Director of Historic Hudson River Towns. If the project really strikes a chord with you, you can also learn more about the "Sing Sing Swing," a cruise up the Hudson River being held on the afternoon of Sunday, November 6th to support the Museum project. More information can be found on the HHRT website here.
The next few weeks will require the Town Board to jump in and get their hands dirty-- we have several blocks of time scheduled over the coming weeks during which the Town Board will be sitting down with each of our department heads and reviewing their individual budget submissions. These meetings will be held in the 3rd Floor Conference Room of 16 Croton Avenue during the following times:
- Friday, November 4th: 9AM- 12PM
- Monday, November 7th: 9AM- 12PM
- Friday, November 18th, 2PM- 5PM
These meetings are open to the public, but even if you are unable to attend, I encourage you to take a look at all of the posted budget documents and let us know your thoughts. We will hold the Public Hearing on Tuesday, November 22nd at 7:30PM at the Birdsall-Fagan Police/Court Facility, but if you are not able to join us there, feel very free to submit comments to me via email, and I will be sure to include them in the record.
While putting the final touches on the budget took up much of this week, I wanted to share some short announcements with you in preparation for our big Halloween weekend in Ossining, especially the Forest O' Fears Haunted Hayride at Cedar Lane Park on the evening of Saturday, October 29th. Get your tickets online by tonight if you plan to attend tomorrow's event! (See the flyer below with all the details.)
However, I am sad to say that we received some very sad news this past weekend, when we learned that the husband of our Town Clerk Mary Ann Roberts, passed away. Fred "Freddy" Roberts was a kind, gentle man who adored his wife, his two daughters, his four beautiful grandchildren, and his beloved dog, Derf. Fred was a life-long resident of Ossining; he sat on the Board of Directors for both the Ossining Historical Society and the Ossining Historical Review Commission for many years, and his passing is an incredible loss to his Town family and the community at large. Our thoughts are with Mary Ann, Kim, Sarah, and their families during this incredibly difficult time.
In addition to the events below, don't forget about Briarcliff's Ragamuffin Parade tomorrow morning, Saturday, October 29th co-sponsored by the Briarcliff Manor Recreation and Fire Departments. The parade will kick off in front of the Operating Engineer's Building located at 1360 Pleasantville Road, between Bella Maiya Day Spa and St. Theresa's Church, at 9:30AM. Costumed marchers will proceed down Pleasantville Road through the Village, ending in the parking lot next to firehouse where, according to Village Manager Phil Zegarelli, everyone will be treated to entertainment, refreshments and goody bags!
For the rest of the exciting events this weekend, see individual flyers below.
- Last Updated: 21 October 2016 21 October 2016
We had another short week in the Town of Ossining, but we are picking up speed as we approach the deadline for the Supervisor's Budget to be submitted. We spent some more time this week looking through the requests of our department heads, and are getting closer each day to having a balanced budget that is tax-cap compliant. We look forward to sharing this budget with the Town Board and with you during the last week of October.
On Tuesday, I was fortunate to get a tour of some exciting facilities improvements at our Ossining Schools from Superintendent Ray Sanchez. As you probably know, the Ossining School District is one of only eight in New York State with growing enrollment and frozen Foundation Aid -- as other schools around New York and even Westchester are closing their doors, we are looking for ways to expand capacity to meet our needs. Although the schools are doing their very best to implement creative solutions to finding space, the truth is that an infusion of state funds due the District would help us solve this problem. If you are unfamiliar with Foundation Aid, it has to do with monies the state agreed to pay to school districts to provide a sound basic education to every child as a result of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit New York City brought against New York State. The funding levels prescribed by the lawsuit were frozen by the state in 2008 due to the financial crisis. The Foundation Aid given to the Ossining Schools has been based on 2008 enrollment ever since the freeze, despite our increasing enrollment, and it is safe to say that our schools are due several million dollars as a result. Stay tuned for more information regarding a petition to sign to share your opinion regarding Foundation Aid as an Ossining community member. In the meantime, check out this video to learn about how the Ossining School District is taking action to ensure sufficient funding to support important programs for all of our students.
Yesterday, the Town Board met for a short Legislative meeting in place of our regular Tuesday night meeting, which we moved in honor of the Yom Kippur holiday. Aside from accepting the minutes and paying the bills, we only had one resolution, which was to open the Capital Project for paving on Grandview Avenue. The road is split between Village and Town (and so is the cost), and that work is scheduled to begin on or about Monday, October 24th. Thanks to our Highway Superintendent Michael G. O'Connor and our Engineer Paul Fraioli for their work on this project, we look forward to some smoother sailing as we cruise around Town this fall.
Last week, I shared with you the preliminary numbers for Organ Donor Enrollment Day in Ossining, but I am pleased to share that we actually got 91 registrations between the Team Ossining and Phelps volunteers. I want to offer a special thanks to everyone who signed up to give the gift of life to those who depend on these transplants, and of course to all of our volunteers. We already know we beat last year's figure of 3,100 enrollments by at least 25%, now we are watiing to see if it was higher. I have a great feeling about our chances thanks to the generosity of all the New Yorkers that participated or registered on Organ Donor Enrollment Day.
One very special event this weekend is a blood drive at the Joseph G. Caputo Community Center for Giovanni Toribio. Do you know Gio? Even if you haven't had the pleasure of meeting this sweet, funny 4 year old, you probably know his parents, Juan and Lauren-- Juan is an employee of the Town Parks Department. Gio got a difficult diagnosis this past summer, and between 9AM and 3PM this Saturday, October 15th, you can join your neighbors in donating blood to help Gio and others like him.
Tomorrow, October 15th is the last day of Fire Prevention Week. The Ossining Fire Department has been visiting our schools to educate students about fire safety, so take the time yourself to learn more about how to keep yourself and your family safe. The National Fire Protection Association has made this year's Fire Prevention Week Theme, "Don't Wait -- Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years." Smoke alarms save lives, but the public has a lot of misconceptions about smoke alarms. To combat these misconceptions, the National Fire Protection Association offers the following tips, and you can learn more about this initiative at their website:
- Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years.
- Make sure you know how old all the smoke alarms are in your home.
- To find out how old a smoke alarm is, look at the date of manufacture on the back of the alarm; the alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date.
Here are some other events coming up this weekend and through the end of the month. October is a happening time in our community, especially towards the end of the month-- we have lots of Halloween events coming up, so be sure to mark your calendars for some of the season's best festivities, right here in our backyard.
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Dana Levenberg, Town Supervisor
phone (914) 762-6001
fax (914) 762-0833
16 Croton Avenue
Ossining, NY 10562
The Supervisor's Office is located on the third floor of the Town offices. Office hours are Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm.