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.
Although the weather outside was frightful (special thanks to the Town crew and the Village DPW for making sure the parking lot at 16 Croton was thoroughly salted!), our Town Board met on Tuesday night for a Special Meeting and Work Session, which included the continuance of the Public Hearing on Local Law #1 of 2017. Our Planning Consulant David Stolman walked us through a pdf presentation (1.44 MB) that clearly outlined the proposed changes contained in the law. After a few short resolutions, we moved into a Work Session to discuss the comments entered into the Public Hearing record thus far, and gave Mr. Stolman a bit of direction as to how we intend to proceed. As the Town Board will not be meeting on Tuesday, January 31st, our next meeting will be Tuesday, February 7th, where we will begin with a Special Meeting to continue this Public Hearing with some new information from Mr. Stolman.
We will also hold several other Public Hearings that night, including two Cabaret license renewals (one at Maya Riviera and one at Ballroom Studio of Westchester, both on North State Road), and on proposed Local Law #2, which would extend the development moratorium in order to allow for completion of the dialogue related to Local Law #1 as described earlier. Once we move into Work Session, we will have several department heads join us for a discussion of Alarm Billing in the Town of Ossining, and our Building Inspector will discuss some fee schedule items related to Certificates of Occupancy. Next, Recreation Superintendent Chris Soi and Town Parks Foreman Mario Velardo will speak with us about some questions from the Board on the new Pavilion and Picnic Area Rental application, and will stay to discuss the 2017 Capital Project for our open spaces. It is sure to be a jam packed meeting, so I hope you will join us at 16 Croton Avenue or tune in live to hear what we've been working on lately.
This has been another short week in the Town of Ossining, as our employees enjoyed a long weekend in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday. It was wonderful to hear from so many of you who participated in the National Day of Service and contributed to making our community, and our world, a brighter place.
The Town Board held our Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, January 17th at the Ossining Public Library, where we hosted Samantha Epstein from the Hudson Valley Sloop Clearwater, who introduced us to the Watercraft Inspection Steward program. This initiative is meant to prevent the spread of invasive species, specifically the aquatic plant hydrilla, from entering the Hudson River and surrounding waterways by installing a steward at our boat ramp and beach to inspect boats entering and leaving the river. The Stewards will also be able to speak with boaters and raise awareness of the potential for invasive species “hitchhikers." 2017 will be the third year that this program will run in our area, and for the first time, Ossining has been chosen to participate. The Town Board is pleased to introduce this program to the Ossining waterfront for the 2017, and has added a resolution to our next agenda to formally agree to proceed. If you are interested in learning about the origins of the program or the invasive species problem in the Hudson Valley, you can view Samantha’s presentation here (begins around the 5:15 mark).
The Town Hall Meeting will be mainly dedicated to the continuation of the Public Hearing I mentioned above, but we will start with a short Work Session to include a presentation from Samantha Epstein from Clearwater, who will provide a brief introduction to the Watercraft Inspection Steward Program. As we have discussed before, the widespread infiltration of the invasive species hydrilla in the Croton River has raised concerns about the protection of our local water bodies, and Clearwater is prepared to offer a program to inspect boats before they enter the water, free of charge to the Town and to boaters. I am hopeful that the Town Board will support this initiative and that Clearwater will join us on the Ossining waterfront this summer.
Happy New Year!
Although the Town offices were closed on Monday, we had an action-packed week in the Town of Ossining.
Before I get into the week’s activities, I want to congratulate Mayor Victoria Gearity, Village Trustees John Codman and Rika Levin, Senator David Carlucci and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef on their re-election, made official at the swearing in at the Joseph G. Caputo Community Center on January 1st, 2017. It was a beautiful ceremony, and a testament to the incredible work being done by those who represent Ossining.
On Wednesday and Thursday this week, we were visited by our independent auditors, who began the preliminary work for the audit of 2016 financials, which will commence in early spring. We, too, are taking a hard look at our finances, as we are preparing a submission to the Town Board for part one of a three part bond for equipment and facilities work at our Town Parks and at Dale Cemetery. We are hoping to have the Board vote on this at the end of January, so that we can begin work in late March. The plan for phase one? Besides the purchase of some equipment that our departments have gone without for too long, we also plan to restore all three pavilions (Ryder, Gerlach and Cedar Lane), do substantial repairs to the restrooms in Cedar Lane and Gerlach Park, repave the service road at Gerlach Park, and have the stone wall at Dale Cemetery re-pointed and restored. Because of the nature of these improvements, borrowing the money at a low interest rate and paying it back over several years makes much more sense than trying to do it piecemeal out of the operating budget. We look forward to sharing more about this project later in January.
Looking back on this time last year, I was just preparing to take office this weekend—the year has truly flown past by here the Town of Ossining! This year's Elected Officials Inauguration will take place on New Year's Day, Sunday, January 1st at 12 Noon at the Community Center—we had no elections in the Town this year, but I hope you will join me in celebrating the election of our Village and State representatives who were re-elected for 2017, including Ossining Village Mayor Victoria Gearity, Village Trustees Rika Levin and John Codman, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and Senator David Carlucci. A Community Reception will be held following the ceremony, and all are welcome to attend. It will be a Happy New Year indeed.
We have another short week this week in the Town—the offices were closed on Monday in observance of the Christmas holiday, and our offices will be closing at Noon today for the New Year’s holiday. We will also be closed on Monday, January 2nd. We look forward to returning to work on Tuesday, January 3rd, rested and ready to take on 2017.
(If you are a resident of the Unincorporated Area and have not yet received your 2017 Sanitation Schedule in the mail, do not fear-- we have it posted pdf here (391 KB) ! A hard copy should reach your mailbox this weekend.)
A big part of this week was spent reflecting on 2016 and looking at where we need to go in 2017. The Town has undergone some significant changes this year in a lot of areas, ranging from the budget structure to department staffing to technological upgrades and of course, our Town-wide revaluation of properties.
We will also have a new memory care facility-- Artis Senior Living--, an arts community-- Bethanny--, and 53 rental units including affordable ones-- Parth Knolls--, under construction in 2017, as these projects were approved by the Planning Board at the end of the year. We hope they will bring additional opportunities for housing across the spectrum of housing needs and care, as well as recreation, gallery space, arts classes and more to our community, as well as opportunities for our local tradespeople and businesses to secure work locally, and to provide jobs and create demand for supporting businesses as well.
However, our work is never done and we know we still have a lot yet to do.
As we looked at all of the primary goals we have identified, we found that the thread tying them all together is economic development. How do we get people to come to Ossining to start families, open businesses, and spend their spare time (and money) in our Town?
One way? Making Ossining a more affordable place to live would go a long way to bring families and businesses here. We are holding down taxes to the best of our ability, but there is always room to improve, and we are ready to focus on finding more shared service efficiencies with our Villages and other municipalities. We provide so many similar services to those provided by our neighbors, and we must find ways to join forces for everyone's sake. It will be a tough road to hoe, but the savings we could realize will be well worth it. I look forward to working with our partners in the Villages of Ossining and Briarcliff Manor to make some more headway on this goal in 2017.
Another way we can building our local economy is through environmental improvements. Ossining is already at the forefront of all things "green:" we participate in Community Choice Aggregation with 100% renewable energy sources, we have had dozens of homeowners participate in the Energize and Solarize programs, we have installed LED streetlights, we allow businesses to pay for energy upgrades on their Town tax bill through PACE financing. We are ready to take things to the next level in 2017 through a series of grant-funded initiatives-- we will start working on adding electric vehicles to our fleet, placing electric charging stations and solar car ports, installing solar panels on our municipal buildings, and working with our Building Department to make solar power a more accessible option for homeowners. We have already been awarded a $30,000 grant to design a bike/walking path to connect our open spaces with our retail throughout the Village of Ossining, Town of Ossining and Town of New Castle, which will help to reduce the need for automobiles on our streets while having the added benefit of connecting residents with economic opportunities not previously reachable for them. Combining all of these projects will not only lessen our dependence on fossil fuels and lower our energy bills, but will also help us to brand Ossining as a "green" place to live and serve as a model for our neighbors, all while saving taxpayer money and moving towards cleaner, safer air and water.
Our final major priority in 2017 will be widespread work in our Town Parks and in Dale Cemetery. While we have secured grant funding to complete a lot of work in our Town Parks, including the restoration of electricity to our Cedar Lane Pavilion and rebuilding the docks and path around the pond at Cedar Lane, we have taken an inventory of the unavoidable repair necessary in our public spaces and have concluded that borrowing is the only way to get this work done in a timely fashion and return our parks to the quality that our residents deserve. We have presented our ideas to the Board and the public throughout 2016, and we are preparing to take a final account of the project costs and start work with bond counsel to structure a borrow. In case you missed it, the plan is to break the project into three phases: the first will address our Park pavilions, restrooms, and the office building at Dale Cemetery, along with some equipment purchases that are long overdue, while the second and third phases will address our recreation facilities (such as sport fields and tennis courts) and extensive paving work in the parks. We do not take these expenses lightly—this will be a large project that will take some time to pay off and the borrowing will be staggered-- but investing in our Parks and public spaces is something that this Board, and our residents, have indicated should be a top priority for our Town. Our open spaces are perhaps our greatest asset, and with a little TLC, we know they will bring more added value to Ossining for visitors and residents alike, and dramatically improve the recreational experiences of those who call Ossining home.
Speaking of parks, we had a chance to visit the Shine House on Wednesday with our Parks Foreman, Mario Velardo, and I am pleased to share that we are nearing the finish line—the building is nearly ready to open! We have floated a late April date for the grand re-opening, and we are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to make it happen. The final steps are to finish the floors, install door handles and bathroom fixtures, and the final electrical inspection… and then we will be off to the races! We are looking forward to turning over the reins to Superintendent of Recreation Chris Soi, who will be incorporating the site into his activity calendar with pottery classes for children and adults. There is a bit of work yet to do at the Ice House, the building just across the street, which will hold our kilns, but you will not believe your eyes once we get up and running. Special thanks to our Parks and Highway staff for all their dedication and expertise-- they have saved us money by allowing us to tackle so much of this project with our in house staff--, along with our Engineering Team, Paul Fraioli and Andy Tiess, for all of their advice and collective knowledge that has gotten us to see the light at the end of what has been a very (very) long tunnel.
As we move into January, I have a few quick reminders to share. The Ossining Basics program is off to a great start, and the first five months of 2017 will each be assigned one of the five tenets of the program. January will be "Maximize Love, Manage Stress" Month; this principle of the program is meant to encourage adults to find ways to manage the stressors in their own lives so as to be more present around little ones. Young children, whether we realize it or not, can sense the stress we may be experiencing, so it is important we find ways to express affection, establish routines, and demonstrate love to help them feel safer, loved and supported, and therefore ready to learn. Wondering how you can reflect this behavior at home or with the small children in your life? Check out the Boston Basics video to learn about this important facet of the Ossining Basics program.
I would also like to call your attention to an event on January 10th, 2017 at the Ossining Public Library, where the New York State Department of Health and the United Way will be partnering to host a community forum about what works, and what doesn't, in healthcare. It promises to be an interesting event, and an opportunity to have some input in a system that impacts all of us.
Finally, I want to mention that the Town Board will be holding a Work Session on Tuesday, January 3rd in the 1st Floor Boardroom at 16 Croton Avenue, where we will be preparing for the 2017 Re-Organizational Meeting on January 10th. I hope you will tune in or join us in person for our first meeting of 2017.
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year,