With all the weather ups and downs this week, it's hard to believe that we are closing out the month of February! If you're like me, the heat wave earlier this week was a happy reminder that spring is on its way. Since we last spoke, I participated in the "Escape from Sing Sing Polar Plunge" this past Saturday at Louis Engel Park. This great event, organized by Gullotta House, raised several thousand dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and we had a blast too! Special thanks to Matt Gullotta and his team for bringing such a cool (yes) event to our community, to Dr. Gareth Hougham PhD of Hudson Valley Arts and Sciences for lending his expertise to Gullotta House and assisting with logistics, and to 6 Degrees of Separation for a warm (yes) reception after the "plunge" was complete!
Several of us spent the first two days of this week in New York City for the Association of Towns Annual Meeting, which has been held for the past several years at the Times Square Marriott Marquis. I was joined by Councilwomen Liz Feldman and Jackie Shaw, Receiver of Taxes Holly Perlowitz, Town Justices Michael Tawil and Mark Reisman, Budget Officer Maddi Zachacz and Court Clerk Ann Carroll Malone, and I am pleased to say that all parties agreed that this was a worthwhile conference to have attended. We were greeted by the Association on Monday morning with a special address from State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, and some of us attended the Association Breakfast on Tuesday morning, where the group was addressed by Senator Chuck Schumer and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
As per our usual strategy, we split up the sessions with a "divide and conquer" mentality and are looking forward to de-briefing with you at the March 6th Work Session. It is so exciting to see how our neighbors are reacting to challenges like ours, and I know I returned to Ossining with a renewed enthusiasm for tackling some of our projects in new and creative ways.
Unfortunately, one common theme among many of our sessions was the influx of unfunded mandates that, while well intentioned, have the unintended consequence of hamstringing local governments. While we continue to be constrained by the tax cap, our state and federal governments continue to demand more from municipalities in the form of tracking, documenting, and reporting the details of our operations and efforts. The result? A smaller workforce doing an awful lot of paperwork. The AOT has been a strong advocate for mandate relief, and I am proud to support that effort. We all work hard to give our communities the very best, but after a time, doing more with less becomes impossible and our services will begin to show strain. We are fortunate in Ossining that we have an incredibly dedicated staff and have been budgeting conservatively for many years, but I am hopeful that some mandate relief is coming in the near future to alleviate some of this burden from local governments.
On to more positive news! Yesterday, Victoria from my office and I met with the Millwood-Ossining Go! (MOGO) task force to discuss next steps in developing a bike/pedestrian friendly transportation network in our community. Following public sessions in the fall, Tracey Corbitt from the Westchester County Planning Department brought together all of our work thus far and public input from the forums to begin drafting a plan for the MOGO trail network. At the same time, the New York State Department of Transportation had been working on a feasibility evaluation for designating Route 133 in Ossining as a State Bike Route. With our partners in the Village of Ossining, Town of New Castle, and Village of Briarcliff Manor, we learned more about NYSDOT’s findings and discussed some potential routes to further engineering for bike lanes. It was very encouraging to hear that the State and our municipal partners see how important developing east-west bike/pedestrian connections are, especially right here in Ossining.
This week, the Town Parks department started prepping Engel Park for the installation of an electric car charging station. With the help of the New York State ZEV Rebate program, we hope to have electric car charging available at the Ossining waterfront by Earth Day (April 21st)-- the theme this year is "Our Sustainable Community," how fitting! Over the next few weeks, the Parks department will be finishing up the installation at Engel Park, followed by completed stations at Ryder and Cedar Lane Parks. It is very exciting that soon you will be able to charge up your electric car all over Ossining.
Speaking of our parks, remember this?
I hope you will join us for the unveiling of our new sign for the Cedar Lane Arts Center, which is a beautiful collaboration between local artist and contest winner Brian Sheridan, our CLAC Building Manager and Program Director Keith Gordon, and our talented Town Parks staff, using upcycled materials from our parks. Wednesday will be the first chance to see the new sign and we are excited to share our efforts with you.
There is not a heck of a lot going on around Ossining this weekend (last weekend was a circus!) but the events that are going on are worth catching for sure. Tomorrow (Saturday, February 24th), the Silver Fox Trio will be performing as part of the Second Saturday Jazz Series at the Elks Lodge, 118 Croton Avenue. The show starts at 7:30PM-- be sure to bring some cash along for a $10 door fee (all proceeds go to the band!) and for some pub food and the cash bar.
You also may want to check out one of the last Sugaring Sundays (only three left this season!) at Teatown between 1PM an 4PM on Sunday the 25th. Learn from Teatown's naturalists what it takes(boiling, bottling and beyond!) to make that delicious elixir known as maple syrup, and if you're lucky, you can take some home with you for a batch of homemade waffles. Breakfast for dinner, all the cool kids are doing it. Learn more here.
There are also two awesome new programs starting at Westchester Collaborative Theater this coming week. On Monday the 26th, actor and director Bob Rogerson begins his multi-week Scene/Monologue Study course, which lasts through April. Also exciting is the locally-produced web series that will be incorporated as part of Acting for the Camera I-- learn about initial scene rehearsal, on-camera technique, self-taping auditions and more. Check out WCT's website to learn more about these fun opportunities to expand your special skills right here in Town.
Finally, do you know a band who wants to participate in this year's Summer Concert Series at Louis Engel Park? The deadline to submit an application is March 1st, which is this coming Thursday! We have had a lot of interest so far, but we are always looking to bring exciting new acts to Ossining. Learn about what information is required here, and then hit send! The Ossining Arts Project will be in touch about next steps.
Listening only? Fret not. There is plenty of live music around Ossining to spell you through July. 6 Degrees of Separation at 35 Main Street has live music every Tuesday and Thursday night between 7PM and 10PM-- come for the tunes, stay for the wings. And have you visited them on Wednesday night for trivia? Be prepared to get schooled, and if you hit a tie, be prepared to play Rock em' Sock em' Robots too.