I am heading to Teatown's PlantFest for First Picks-- this event is going on tonight until 7PM; the $20 admission buys you first dibs on the incredible selection of plants, along with some small bites from Rivermarket Kitchen, local craft beer and wine. Not able to attend tonight? Be sure not to miss it tomorrow from 9AM to 3PM, admission is free! Before I leave for PlantFest, I want to share some information with you about what we've been up to this week, and what lies ahead in Ossining in the coming days.
May is the fifth month of the Ossining Basics Program, a collective impact campaign aimed at getting children aged 0-3 as ready to learn as possible. and this month's principle is "Read and Discuss Books." This week I attended a meeting to discuss how to promote this principle throughout Ossining. Encouraging parents to engage in behavior s that promote literacy for our youngest community members is essential a child's growth and development, and one of the best ways to do this is to read and discuss books with our young children, grandchildren, family members, and neighbors. Check out this video for more information about this priniciple, and take a trip to the Ossining Public Library for books to share with the children in your life. The Ossining Basics program has highlighted the importance of community support to raising the next generation, and ensuring their future success in school. Thank you to Ossining Schools' Superintendent Ray Sanchez and Carrieann Sipos, Director of Elementary Teaching & Learning, for spearheading this campaign. There will be an end of year Ossining Basics celebration on Friday, June 16th from 5:30PM to 7:30PM at Louis Engel Park. All families are invited, and there will be music, raffles, prizes, games, books, and so much more. Pack up a picnic dinner for your family, and join in the fun at the riverfront!
Also, please don't forget to vote in the 2017-2018 Ossining School District and Ossining Public Library Budget Vote/ Board of Education and Ossining Public Library Board of Trustees Election on Tuesday, May 16th. The vote will be held in the Ossining High School Gym between 7AM and 9PM. Also, for residents of the Village of Briarcliff Manor, the Briarcliff School District Budget Vote is also on Tuesday, May 16th, and will be held in the cafeteria at the Todd School.
Another important opportunity to voice your opinion next week is at a public hearing on the request from the management company of Maple House here in Ossining to secure financing from the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency. The public hearing will be held at 16 Croton Avenue at 2PM on Tuesday, May 16th.
This week, we received word that two of the Zero-Emissions Vehicles rebates we applied for have been secured. This over $20,000 in funding will contribute to the lease agreement of a Nissan Leaf and the purchase and installation of a charging station at Cedar Lane Park, helping to contribute greatly to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of our community. The Nissan Leaf arrived last week, and it is a smooth and quiet riding car that gets a range of about 105 miles on one charge! Our Building Inspector John Hamilton will soon be driving this car around town, and we can’t wait to get it officially in commission. Thank you to Ron Kamen with Sustainable Westchester for helping us add a clean vehicle to our fleet, and at a great price too!
One important announcement I made at Tuesday's board meeting, and would like to reiterate: we have received word from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection that next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (May 16th, 17th and 18th), new valves on the Croton Dam which affect the Croton River will be tested, and they are strongly recommending that folks DO NOT enter the river for any purpose. We will be posting the notice with more details on the Town of Ossining website, but the DEP will also be posting signage at various access points, including Gerlach Park, Old Albany Post Road, the Crossining Bridge, etc., and they will also be posting it on Facebook. For your safety and the safety of our first responders, please take heed of this request and keep your distance from the Croton River next week, for activities such as wade fishing, kayaking, or anything else that would negatively impact the safety of those in the river.
Speaking of our water sources, this past week, we had Mike Ritchie, one of our stormwater consultants from Dolph Rotfeld Engineering, visited the Town Board meeting on Tuesday evening to review this year's report with us, and he highlighted some of the many ways we commmunicate with our residents about the impact we all can have on our stormwater system. To learn more about how you can help the Town (and our planet!) by keeping stormwater clean, check out the Stormwater page on the Town's website (you can also find our pdf 2016-17 MS-4 report (1022 KB) , which we will submit shortly to New York State.) You can also check out "Green Lawns and Gardens: Raising Healthy Families with a Pesticide-Free Backyard" at the Briarcliff Library on Thursday, May 18th at 6:30PM; Patti Wood, a leader in natural lawn care education, will be sharing information on how to keep your yard green while keeping it safe for children, pets and other animals, not to mention preventing dangerous runoff into our stormwater system.
We have multiple groups in Ossining who are always on the front lines of work like this that protects our environment. Green Ossining is a committee of Ossining residents who meet regularly to (among other things) design and implement community events to raise awareness of the environment. Aside from their outstanding work on the annual Earth Day festival and their bi-annual Community Tag Sale (which took place last weekend), Suzie and the gang also regularly participate in outreach events around the Town and Village, and helped us all sign a pledge for the Great Healthy Yard Project at last year's Village Fair. We also have a great friend in Riverkeeper, who advocates for policies and programs to keep our Hudson healthy. These two organizations have something else in common-- Suzie Ross!
Suzie Ross, Ossining's Chief Lorax, led a clean-up event through Riverkeeper at Engel Park last weekend, and what they found was pretty shocking. In all of the cleanup events along the Hudson last Saturday, 1700 volunteers cleaned up 35000 pounds of debris, 4300 pounds of recycling and 113 tires. Without all of this junk clogging up our waterway, the Hudson River is a safer and healthier place for us and for the fish, birds and mammals who call the river home. If you want to be like Suzie Ross (and let's be honest, who doesn't?), sign up to be a Volunteer, Member or Ambassador with Riverkeeper, and learn more about their "Trash Free Hudson" campaign.
We also had so many residents come out last weekend to celebrate "I Love My Park Day." We had folks working hard at Richard Wishnie Park, and another group working alongside the Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct last Saturday to clear the trail of invasive plants as park of "I Love My Park Day." I want to give a big shout out to our Recreation and Parks Superintendent Chris Soi, our Recreation Advisory Commitee, and resident extraordinaire Diane Alden for working so tirelessly to protect and enhance these important resources in our community.
This weekend marks the kickoff of the second year of the Town’s Mind, Body, Spirit – Ossining Program. In an effort to foster economic development and encourage residents to utilize our parks and learn how they can get and stay healthy, the Town began offering free classes last year, hosted by local fitness and wellness experts on the weekends. This program was well received, and we are happy to offer classes for everyone in the community again this season. This afternoon, the AmeriCorps members at Open Door Family Wellness Centers held the first official session, with a demonstration of their “Recess Rocks” program for kids at Nelson Park after school. This fun, dynamic movement program for elementary school children was a perfect way to start the season. On Saturday, kick off Mother’s Day weekend with a workout designed for moms and caregivers with Enrique Rosario of ICU Fit Training at Louis Engel Park at 9:30am. No experience is necessary to try out Enrique’s signature 30-minute workout, just bring water. Don’t miss the first of many classes to come this summer and follow the Town’s Facebook page for more details about Mind, Body, Spirit – Ossining 2017.
Another event to which I'd like to draw your attention: last year, the Ossining community unexpectedly lost a beloved resident. Phil Ishmael, aside from being an all around lovely man, was also a coach, and had an impact on countless Ossining families through his dedicated work with the athletes of all ages in our community. Tomorrow (Saturday, May 13th), all are invited to gather at Nelson Park to commemorate the one year anniversary of his passing with a short remembrance ceremony at 4PM. All are welcome to come celebrate the life of this wonderful man who touched so many lives in Ossining.
If you're looking for another great cause to support tonight, stop by the St. Ann's Church "Turn Up the Heat" Benefit Concert, featuring many local talents. The boiler at the St. Ann's school, which is home to the Peas and Karrots Nursery School, the Ossining School District's First Steps Program, BOCES ESL classes, and so many other community resources, broke this winter and is need of repairs that will cost up to $100,000. The concert starts tonight, Friday, May 12th, at 6pm and suggested donations are $10, which includes a pizza dinner. Come, and bring family and friends, to help support this urgent need.
And of course, I would be remiss if I didn't wish all the moms and grandmas out there a most happy Mother's Day. I certainly hope everyone has a chance to relax, unwind, spend some time with family and friends or do whatever makes you feel great. You deserve it!