- 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.
- Last Updated: 12 October 2016 12 October 2016
Although our friends in the south seem to be taking a hard hit from Hurricane Matthew, it looks as though Ossining is out of the path. Our thoughts are very much with our friends, family and loved ones in Florida, the Carolinas and Haiti.
This past week in Ossining, we dedicated considerable efforts to preparing for Organ Donor Enrollment Day, which took place yesterday, October 6th, throughout not only the Town and Village of Ossining, but in all of the New York metropolitan area including all five boroughs, and all of Long Island. In 2015, LiveOnNY and their teams unofficially broke the national record of organ donor enrollments in a single day with 3100 enrollments. This year, we tried our hardest to help beat that number! We had volunteers from the Lions Club, OVAC, and Phelps scattered throughout Ossining all day yesterday, including an early drive at the Ossining Train Station and later posts at Wobble Cafe and Club Fit. We only have preliminary numbers at this time, but it is safe to say that Team Ossining helped nearly 50 residents of Ossining enroll to be organ donors, and we are so very proud of being part of this campaign to lift New York State out of last place for percentage of residents on the registry.
We officially "kicked off" the day with a press conference in front of 16 Croton Avenue, where I was joined by a "Who's Who" of greater Ossining, as well as a representative from LiveOnNY and Phelps Hospital.
Group Picture, Left to Right:
Front Row: Ossining Village Mayor Victoria Gearity, Ossining Town Supervisor Dana Levenberg, District Representative for New York State Senator David Carlucci and Ossining Town Councilwoman Kim Jeffrey, State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, LiveOnNY Director of Hospital and Donor Family Services Natalie Benavides, local organ donor advocate Vicki Goldberg, Westchester County Legislator Catherine Borgia, Confidential Secretary to the Town Supervisor Victoria Cafarelli.
Back Row: Vice President for Development and External Relations for Phelps Memorial Hospital-Northwell Robert Lane, Ossining Public Library Programming and Events Coordinator James Trapasso, Ossining Lions Club President Don Saccente, Ossining Police Chief Kevin Sylvester, Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps Chief Nick Franzoso.
We also had forms and information here at Town/ Village Hall, and I am glad to say that several members of the Town and Village staff got training and helped us throughout the day. Even Interim Village Manager Paul Fraioli got in on Donor Day, here we are getting him signed up! Thanks, Paul!
A very special thanks goes out to Victoria Cafarelli and Maddi Zachacz in my office, who really dug into this project the past couple of weeks and helped us to galvanize the community for this very important day, especially coordinating volunteer sites, volunteers and communications. We also have to thank Wobble Cafe, DD's Diner, the Landmark Diner, Walgreens, Club Fit and the Ossining Public Library for hosting our volunteers, Town Parks Foreman Mario Velardo for his assistance with our press conference, and OVAC Chief Nick Franzoso for spending his birthday getting the word out about the cause! Awesome job, everyone-- Happy birthday, Nick! Tomorrow is Maddi's birthday. I would be remiss if I didn't tell you what a wonderful asset she is to our town. If you see her at Club Fit over the weekend, please wish her a Happy Birthday and thank her for making sure we are always running smoothly!
We continue to work on the Town budget, and we are nearing the release of the Tentative, or Supervisor's Budget, by Friday, October 28th. It is certainly a challenge to maintain the good services, infrastructure, recreation and parks you have come to expect from the Town within the state mandated cap, but I remain confident that with the help of our department heads and staff, we can continue to live within our means and produce a respsonsible budget, capable of delivering these superior services for a reasonable cost. We will be sure to keep you posted as we get closer to the finish line.
The Ossining Historic Cemeteries Conservancy is also hard at work getting the Forest O' Fears Haunted Hayride ready for Saturday, October 29th! Cedar Lane Park will be transformed into a seriously spooky scene full of witches, zombies, monsters, carnival games and even a fortune teller! All proceeds go to benefit the OHCC, which supports Ossining's Dale and Sparta Cemeteries, and tickets are only available online, so make sure to plan your Halloween Weekend today!
- Last Updated: 05 October 2016 05 October 2016
Happy Fall! Even as we officially move into the season of pumpkin spice, crunchy leaves and apple picking, the weather is warm and the humidity is high. Enjoy the last remains of summer, but I am looking forward, personally, to the fall weather that is promised for this weekend!
My office has spent the majority of our week in budget meetings with all nine of our department heads. This is the end of the first step in our budget process where we are able to review each department, line by line, and clarify any changes that have been requested. Once this process ends and we update all of the numbers, the hard work really begins. As you know, 2017 will be the 6th year where the Town will be operating under the constraints of the New York State tax cap, which will be less than 1% for the Town of Ossining this year. I believe I speak for all of my colleagues on the Board when I say that we understand the high tax burden in our community, but the fact remains it is extremely challenging to continue to keep the lights on, keep our parks and infrastructure in shape and up to date, and keep our employees healthy so they can provide the services that our residents need. Many of these costs outpace the confines of this 1%, and the longer we remain in this structure, the harder it becomes to find balance without making significant sacrifices. Nevertheless, as always, we have been working hard with our department heads to work on creative solutions to provide additional revenue outside of taxes, and will continue to try and find efficiencies to help lower costs from last year.
The next step in the process is that with the help of the Budget Officer and our Finance Team, I will work on preparing the tentative, or Supervisor's Budget, which will be submitted to the Town Clerk no later than October 28th. It will also be published on the Town website for the public's review. The Town Board will also have a chance to meet with Department Heads to get their questions answered and make whatever changes they see fit and then we will hold a Public Hearing. Once the public has been heard and all changes are finalized, the Town Board will adopt the 2017 budget the second week in December. This has been an exciting process so far and I look forward to keeping you updated on our progress in the coming weeks.
On Tuesday evening, we held a Town Hall Meeting at the Ossining Public Library on a variety of topics, beginning with a presentation by Superintendent of Ossining Schools Ray Sanchez and Director of Elementary Teaching and Learning Carrieann Sipos on the Ossining Basics. This program, derived from the Boston Basics, is a community-wide initiative to prepare children ages birth to three for a lifetime of learning in five specific ways:
- Maximize Love, Manage Stress
- Talk, Sing and Point
- Count, Group and Compare
- Explore Through Movement and Play
- Read and Discuss Stories
These activities can take place anywhere, and have been proven to be solid building blocks really creating a community of learners and getting children as prepared as they can be and on board to success with everyone's help. We are so pleased to be part of this campaign in Ossining. If you'd like to learn more, you can check out this video of the Boston Basics to get an idea of what we have planned for Ossining.
We also had a short presentation from Victoria Cafarelli in my office about a project for which we've applied for several grants: an open space corridor connecting various parts of Ossining and beyond in an walkable and bikeable way. We have gotten a lot of local support for this project and we are hopeful that some grant funding will come through to help us get started on the design work later this year. Take a look at the map below: the yellow stars indicate cultural sites in our community, the green are recreation sites, and the purple stars represent our commercial districts. Being able to connect these resources through a system of trails and paths would not only add to the desirability of our community from a lifestyle perspective, but would allow for more job opportunities and open the door for economic growth that our region needs.
- Last Updated: 05 October 2016 05 October 2016
On a dreary day like this, what I could really go for is a nice, strong cappuccino... have you been to First Village Coffee yet? Budget Officer Maddi Zachacz, Town Comptroller Tom Warren and I walked down on Monday afternoon and celebrated Opening Day with the Corena family, and I am glad to report back that our reconnaissance mission was a success: the coffee was top-notch, as was the service. I hope you will go visit longtime Ossining residents Luis and Kathryn in their new space, and enjoy a nice, warm caffeine boost or some delightful locally sourced baked goods this weekend.
There were two other businesses who celebrated "Grand Openings" in the Village last night. Hudson Link celebrated their move to a new space at 23 State Street (I'm sure you know the building, it's the beautiful and historically significant former Mount Pleasant Military Academy Library)--so appropriate for this amazing organization that is making monumental inroads into reducing recidivism and increasing the ability for formerly incarcerated men and women to turn their lives around and be successful in society. Also, OHS graduates Paul and Suzanne Klainbard celebrated the opening of Family Veterinary Care at 320 North Highland Avenue. We are so pleased to see Ossining residents setting up shop within the community, and we are wishing our new businesses the best of luck!
We also celebrated National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday. November's election is going to be a close one, and every vote counts! Are you registered to vote? Have you recently moved to Ossining and have not yet updated your address? Will you be out of town for the election and need an absentee ballot? You can find help with all of these things at NationalVoterRegistrationDay.org. Even though the day itself is over, you have until the third week in October to register (you can do it online here until October 14th, or mailed registrations must be postmarked by October 14th), and until November 1st (postmarked) to submit an absentee ballot. We have copies of many of these forms at 16 Croton Avenue as well-- come to the Office of the Town Clerk on the first floor and our staff can help you find what you need.
The Town Board will meet on Tuesday, October 4th at 7:30PM for a Work Session, during which we will be discussing some fee changes suggested by our department heads and also to meet with our Planning Consultant, David Stolman, to discuss his progress on our new local law. As you may recall, David visited us last month and went over his work thus far, and he will be joining us to walk through the additional changes he recommends in connection with the analysis he prepared this past summer. It seems we may have been overly optimistic when discussing a 4 month moratorium, as it looks as though we have at least 4 more months of work ahead of us. Counsel is in the process of drafting an additional local law which will extend the moratorium in order to allow us space to take all the necessary steps to complete the process; that law will be posted shortly, and we will hold the Public Hearing on that law during a Special Meeting at our October 18th Work Session.
Don't forget, Organ Donor Enrollment Day is this Thursday, October 6th. The Town and Village have partnered with LiveOnNY, Phelps-Northwell and many local Ossining groups to form Team Ossining, and we will be hitting the streets on Thursday to inform folks about the organ donation crisis in New York and get our residents signed to the national registry. We have volunteers from Phelps-Northwell, the Ossining Public Library, the Ossining Fire Department, Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and the offices of Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, State Senator David Carlucci and County Legislator Catherine Borgia who will be posted around the community to get you signed up! We owe a special thanks to our friends at Walgreen's, DD's Diner, Landmark Diner, The Wobble Cafe, and Club Fit, all of whom will be lending us space for our volunteers. You will also be able to find us at the Ossining Community Center, the Ossining Public Library, and of course, at 16 Croton Avenue. To learn more about last year's Organ Donor Enrollment Day, take a look at this great video. LiveOnNY broke the national record last year with 3,100 registrations in one day-- let's help our fellow New Yorkers and work to break that record too!
Finally, please don't wait to get your tickets for the 2016 Haunted Hayride at the Forest Of Fears, held in our very own Cedar Lane Park on Saturday, October 29th. The fun will kick off at 7PM, and it's not just a hayride-- new this year will be old-fashioned carnival games, a fortune teller, food for purchase from Gyro Uno and the Wobble Cafe, and DJ Johnny G spinning some scary good tunes. Tickets to this event are only available online (you can find them here) and if last year was any indication, they are going to go quickly! Make sure to pick some up for your family today, and don't forget to add on a few limited edition t-shirts before you check out. All proceeds go to benefit the Ossining Historic Cemeteries Conservancy, a group that is doing an outstanding job to preserve the beautiful and important features in Ossining cemeteries. You can also help them this weekend: OHCC will be holding another gravestone cleaning at Sparta Cemetery from 9AM to Noon tomorrow, October 1st. No experience is required, just a willingness to get a little dirty!
Even though the weather is looking a little drippy for the weekend, we have a lot planned! For those who celebrate, have a very sweet New Year and enjoy the holiday.
- Last Updated: 23 September 2016 23 September 2016
Hard to believe that another week has passed, but what a beautiful week it has been. The drop in the temperature has given everything a bit more energy, and I am grateful for some sunny days after that wild wind storm on Wednesday!
At our Town Board Meeting on Tuesday evening, we were able to offer our thanks to Eagle Scout Chris Krajca for his outstanding service project at Gerlach Park. In case you missed the ceremony on Sunday, Chris built and dedicated a lovely sitting area in remembrance of his friend's father, Gary Haag, and three other Ossining and Briarcliff residents who tragically lost their lives on September 11th, 2001. It was an incredibly moving gesture, and we were glad to have Chris and his parents be recognized by the Town Board. Way to go, Chris!
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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.