Tonight, despite the swirling skies, we are still on track for some great fun in Ossining! At 5:30PM, the Town and Village will join the Ossining School District in an end of the year celebration of the Ossining Basics Program. This event was originally scheduled to take place at Louis Engel Park, but the decision was made late yesterday to switch to an indoor venue-- I hope you will join us at the Park School Gymnasium tonight (Friday, June 16th) at 5:30PM to celebrate another successful year of learning with our youngest residents.
Then at 7:30PM, the Ossining PBA will be hosting "Finding Dory" as part of their "Movies in the Park" program-- however, due to the weather, it has been decided to re-locate the event to the Joseph G. Caputo Community Center. A big thanks to our local PBA for providing this great family event to kick off the weekend.
Speaking of Parks, our crew has continued to work at a fever pitch to get Ryder pavilion and fields ready for the start of camp (today is the last day to register-- call the Recreation Office at 941-3189 or check out the information pamphlet here.) The drainage work to prepare for next week's gutter installation at the Pavilion will be completed on Monday (they have laid all but 60 feet of box drain) and everything (the area around the concrete Pavilion floor and the path up to the comfort station) is ready to be paved.
The new clay has been applied to the Briarcliff field at Ryder, and boy, what a difference some new clay can make! Our Foreman has shared with us that he is getting very positive feedback on the new play surface (funded by a donation from Briarcliff Little League)-- thank you to Greg DeMilia from the Briarcliff Little League for working with us so closely on this project.
We also received the final three new grills-- these ones, which are a bit smaller, will be placed down at Louis Engel Park in designated Picnic Areas, along with our new ADA-compliant picnic benches. We are also waiting for our new Hot Ash Cans, which will be placed in all three Engel Park picnic areas and at each of our three pavilions- those, along with the picnic benches, will be delivered on Monday and installed shortly thereafter.
This past Monday evening, I was joined by many of our community members at the Ossining Public Library for their Annual Meeting. Library Director Karen LaRocca-Fels gave a compelling presentation on the statistics from the last filed Annual Report, covering 2015-2016, and it didn't surprise me to hear that the Library is reaching many of our community members with their exceptional programming and educational resources. (Do you or someone you know need a library card? Signing up is easy and free!) Aside from the statistics, Karen and the OPL Trustees honored Barbara Henninger from the Friends of the Ossining Public Library as their Volunteer of the Year, and also Janessa Yan as the Riley Elmore Saper Voracious Reader of the Year. One of the coolest parts, though, was recognizing the students and staff member who submitted the winning entry to the New York State Teen Video Challenge for 2017. We are so fortunate to have such incredible staff and resources at the OPL encouraging our young adults to challenge themselves and think creatively.
The meeting ended with a presentation from Nate Hill with the Metropolitan New York Library Council who gave a presentation on thinking outside the box and the Library's role as providing "access to tools." We learned about some of the ideas that Nate implemented during his time with the Chattanooga Library, including 3D printing, civic "hacking" (not as scary as it sounds, it's a way to teach folks about local government statistics), and some really innovative art installations, many of which could be replicated in Ossining. As the Ossining Public Library has just completed their long range plan, I am positive that the OPL leadership will be able to re-think some of the building spaces and make way for some new and different technology, art and maker space in the near future.
On Tuesday evening at the Town Board meeting, we heard from our Superintendent of Recreation for the Town, Chris Soi, which led to some heated discussions about our Summer Concert Series. We have found a solution to one of the more pressing problems: we added two dates to the series, Saturday, August 5 when the ever popular Mike Risko Band will perform from 7-9, as well as Labor Day weekend Friday, September 1st when the Old Mill Singers will perform their Vinyl Revival sets. We will be working hard to make the selection of performers process more transparent for next year. Also, we are still working on figuring out the best configuration for Ryder Park near the pavilion as our Parks Department continues their work there, and have looped in the Recreation Advisory Board to seek their input, as that is exactly what they were appointed to do. We are optimistic that we will have a usable basketball court for the start of summer camp and still give ourselves some time to solidify the best use of the space that was a basketball court adjacent to the pavilion. For those who have shared their thoughts, thank you! The full concert series line-up is below to help make your summer planning easier.
Also on Tuesday evening, I made the following statement about Diego Puma’s pick up by ICE:
"As most of you have likely heard, officers from the federal bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement came to Ossining last week and left with two of our residents. One of them, Diego Puma is a 19 year old student at Ossining High School, along with his mother. Neither, from the reports we have received, had committed any serious crime that would put the public in danger. It is our understanding that they had applied for political asylum and were here pending that decision. Last year that application was denied.
Until this point, it was our understanding that ICE visits were triggered by serious crimes being committed by a person who was also on a list for deportation. This does not seem to have been the case in last week’s events.
In fact, ICE’s actions last week, have had unintended but nevertheless real effect. Their actions have made it exceedingly difficult for our local government and our schools to do their jobs. Our job as elected officials and the job of the Ossining Police Department is, first and foremost, to protect the safety and well-being of our residents. We know that the actions that took place have fostered fear and uncertainty, and may have undermined the trust many had in our local police as well as us as your elected leaders.
I am saddened by the fact that many of our residents, regardless of their immigration status, walk down the street quite differently than they did only a week ago. Our Village Fair last week was such a wonderful example of how we all can come together to support our community.
It is our sincere hope that our government can pass comprehensive immigration reform to restore the quality of life for some of our most vulnerable neighbors and friends who add to the quality of our lives.
In the meantime, we hope that Diego can come back to finish his school year and graduate in Ossining."
Leadership from the Town, Village of Ossining, Ossining School District and Ossining Police met with some of the leaders in the Hispanic Community to discuss moving forward positively as well as proactive planning should events like these happen again. We came up with a plan that involves reaching out as soon as possible with facts of a situation that can be made public to stem the tide of potential misinformation that can go viral on social media. At the same time, meeting of this group of stakeholders as soon as possible after an incident could make it easier to make sure all support systems are in place to keep our community safe and to reduce fear. We are hopeful that we can continue to work collaboratively with our community members to instill trust and understanding so that our local police as well as all of us can make sure our community thrives as does not retreat from the protective forces we have in place.
On Thursday, I participated in and facilitated at the Plan4Health Creating Healthy Communities Roundtable, which was a project of the American Planning Association. Over 85 planners, architects, public healthcare workers, and municipal officials or other interested stakeholders came together to discuss best practices as well as success stories around planning for healthy communities. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear some solutions to tricky problems, as well as to share some of the ideas we have been working on here in Ossining, including our preparation for the creation of connections for the Village of Ossining to the North County Trailway for cyclists. We also learned about not for profits who set up outside not for profit entities for the purpose of fundraising to achieve goals, creative ways to engage multi-cultural communities to build relationships that foster education around healthy living habits, ideas for tackling fear by sharing success stories, best practices, and educational techniques, as well as some of the obstacles and challenges that all stakeholders share to build health-centric communities. Soon we will have access to a toolbox created by Planners4 Health NY Metro to increase our ability to address some of these challenges moving forward. Then hope is that we will have an easier time improving some of the tools that will allow our built out spaces and open spaces to be as conducive as possible to access to healthy food and healthy activities and a clean environment. I was proud to have been asked to serve on the task force for this initiative and am hopeful it will bear positive fruit for the Town in the near future.
Also this week, the Town Tax Office has finalized the information for the 2017 foreclosure auction, which will take place at 16 Croton Avenue on July 25th at 1PM. While we certainly do not relish foreclosing on property, it is necessary in order to keep things fair to our other taxpayers. Please see the flyer below-- if you are interested in bidding on any of the properties, you can download the appropriate documents here.
I also want to be sure to invite you to the retirement party for Gloria Fried, our Receiver of Taxes, which is scheduled for Thursday, June 29th. Gloria has served the Town since 1994 and we are so very grateful for her contributions. I do hope you will join us to congratulate Gloria on her well deserved retirement!
There is so much going on around Ossining this weekend, starting with the Ossining Historic Cemeteries Conservancy's gravestone cleaning tomorrow morning (Saturday, June 17th) at Sparta Cemetery. No experience is required, just a willingness to work hard and get a little dirty and/or damp while learning about Ossining's rich history. The group will get started at 9AM.
Also tomorrow, Westchester Collaborative Theater will be hosting "A Taste of WCT" at the Ossining Public Library's Budarz Theater. Stop by this free event to hear monologues and scenes from some of the past year's most popular WCT productions, including "The Maltese Babka," "Lot's Wife," and so much more. This event begins at 2PM on Saturday, June 17th.
Finally, consider attending "Food Changes Everything," a free presentation at the Ossining Public Library that will examine how our food choices can affect our health, and discuss the benefits of a plant-based diet, how our immune systems work, and so much more. This presentation by certified health coach Shanti Urreta and gourmet chef Kenneth Goldfarb will begin at 10:30AM on Saturday, June 17th in the Second Floor Conference Room, and healthy snacks will be provided.
Spanning Saturday and Sunday (June 17th and 18th), you can also check out the annual Portuguese Festival in Downtown Ossining, as well as the Clearwater Festival at Croton Point Park. Both events will feature music and delicious food-- what more could you ask for this time of year? (Or ever, really.)
On Monday and Tuesday of next week (June 19th and 20th), we will open a Casting Call for folks who wish to be part of the Forest O' Fears Hayride on October 27th and 28th, which this year will be a Town event. Take a look at the descriptions below and head here to sign up.
This coming week, The Mike Risko Music School will be bringing "Make Music Day" to Ossining on Wednesday, June 21st. This is Ossining's third time celebrating this day of community-wide music on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.
Next Saturday (June 24th) will also be a big day in Ossining, so mark your calendar now! Green Ossining's first ever Repair Cafe will set up shop at the Joseph G. Caputo Center. Let their experts give your gently used items a new life-- for free!
You can then head over to Ossining's Relay for Life Event, which begins at 12 Noon on Saturday, June 24th and goes until midnight. Have you joined a team yet? There is still time to get involved and raise money to fight an illness that affects so many of our Ossining friends and neighbors.
If the Night Owl lifestyle is not for you, you could leave the Relay event a tad early and still wind down your day with something exciting-- Les Hommes des Caves will be performing at WCT's 23 Water Street theater at 8PM.
The Town Board will be meeting on Tuesday evening (June 20th) for our Work Session at the Court House (86-88 Spring Street), since our Board of Assessment Review will be using the First Floor Board Room at 16 Croton Avenue for Grievance Day (as a reminder, June 20th is the last day you can grieve your assessment for the 2017 roll.) We will have a few special presentations, so I hope you will join us at the Court House or live through our website or on TV.
Wishing everyone a great weekend and a special Happy Father's Day to all of our dads, granddads, surrogate dads, dads of fur children, and all those who fill this important role in our lives. May you have a restful, peaceful weekend and enjoy time with your families and friends!