We are ending another short week here in Ossining, and Town offices will be closed tomorrow in honor of Veteran's Day. I do hope you will join me at one or all of the events planned around Ossining tomorrow, November 11th. The Central Committee of Organized War Veterans will host a 10AM memorial mass at St. Augustine's Church, followed by an 11AM memorial ceremony at Nelson Park. The Village of Briarcliff Manor will also hold a ceremony honoring the late Lieutenant John Kelvin Koelsch, who was killed in Korea in 1951; all will gather at the Briarcliff Community Center at 11:30AM and will proceed to Law Park at Noon for the ceremony honoring Lt. Koelsch's heroism. If you are unable to join us, I hope you will take some time to thank the veterans in your own life, whether they be a family member, friend or neighbor. We must never forget that our freedoms have a price, and we are fortunate to have those who are willing to sacrifice so that we can enjoy our families, our safety, our nation.

I want to share with you that along with many Town and Village friends, I attended the Sing Sing Swing cruise this past Sunday, where we all travelled "up the river" from Yonkers to raise money for the Sing Sing Prison Museum project. Between the fantastic swing band, the dance lessons, and some great presentations, a fun time was had by all and Historic Hudson River Towns raised a lot of money for a very worthy cause. 

 

 

Special thanks are due to Stephanie Lynn for organizing the event, HHRT's Executive Director Jerry Faiella, Dana White and Art Wolpinksy (pictured below), Henry Welt, Tracey Corbitt, Mark Sarazen, Rochelle Udell, Hornblower Cruises, GE, and so many others who made this event possible. I am looking forward to continuing to work with you in the future to include more interested folks in making this dream a reality for Ossining and the Hudson Valley as a whole.

 

 

Councilwomen Jeffrey, D’Attore, Feldman and I, along with many Town and Village officials, attended the Ossining Rotary’s Byington Scholarship Fundraiser on Monday night, where we were offered a chance to nominate a Town Employee of the Year. We were hard pressed to choose just one, so the Rotary generously allowed us to nominate our incredible Father/Son team, Matteo and Mario Velardo. Matteo has worked for the Town Highway Department for almost 23 years, and Mario for the Town Parks Department since 2001. If you know these two gentlemen, you will understand how very deserving they are of this recognition, and I was thrilled to join the Rotary in celebrating their hard work and commitment. 

 

 

Our Town staff was hard at work this week on a variety of projects. The Town Board met with three more department heads on Monday to discuss the 2017 budget, and I am pleased to say we are generally seeing eye to eye about how department needs should be addressed this year. We also had a discussion in Work Session last night about moving a portion of the Mortgage Recording Tax, currently applied to the Town General Fund, to the Unincorporated Area fund, which is a conversation that has been ongoing for some time. We took the opportunity to revisit this going into the 2017 budget, when we could deliberately plan this shift rather than try to make it work midyear. The effects of making this move are relatively minor, resulting in a roughly $7 total increase for the average Ossining household over what they would have paid in the Tentative 2017 budget ($22 instead of $15). The Board is aligned to move this forward for the sake of fairness, and we will be passing a resolution requesting the appropriate Home Rule legislation at our November 22nd meeting.

Our Town Highway, Parks and Cemetery staff have also been hard at work on two different paving projects in the Town. We had shared with you at the end of October that the Town and Village were both out on Grandview Avenue preparing the road to be re-paved. After a few days of milling and shimming the road, and working together to install new curbs, the road has been paved and is looking great! A big thanks is due to our Highway Superintendent Michael G. O'Connor and Village Engineer/ Interim Village Manager Paul Fraioli for working so collaboratively to getting this shared road in better shape for all of our residents.

The Town guys have also been doing some extensive drainage work in Dale Cemetery's Section 9 over the past month, and sections of the road were re-paved by our annual bidder earlier this week. We are so glad to get this work done before the winter season, and want to thank our Superintendent of Cemeteries Pete Connolly for coordinating this work, and of course, to our Highway and Parks staff who built the drainage swale to keep our new road dry, and as a result, hopefully much safer. Great job, everyone!

 

There are a few great events going on tonight in Ossining that I want to share with you. The Ossining Documentary and Discussion Series will be hosting "Consuming Kids" in the Budarz Theater at the Ossining Library, which is a hard look into the marketing machine that has been built to advertise to our children. You can catch this screening tonight, November 10th, at 6:30PM, seating starts at 6:15PM.

 

 

Also tonight, our very own Ossining Police Captain Scott Craven will be offering a presentation on lighthouses along the Hudson River. Come check out this great lecture at the Briarcliff Library at 7PM. Captain Craven is an engaging and enthusiastic presenter, and you are not going to want to miss this lecture about these significant pieces of nautical history.

 

 

Tomorrow evening, November 11th, the Ossining Boat and Canoe Club will be hosting a talk about eels at 7:30PM. You may be surprised by what you learn about these slippery, special creatures in our rivers and oceans.

 

 

I want to close with some words about the election results from this past Tuesday, as I am sure it has been on your mind as much as it has been mine. At the Town Board Meeting on Wednesday evening, I shared some of my thoughts from the past several days. No matter who you hoped would be our country's next leader, I think the most important work ahead of us is rooted in supporting one another, in being kind to one another, in pointing out disparities where they exist and working collectively to fix them. 

 

 

Many of us have very strong feelings today as the results of the presidential election come into sharp focus.  Much of what people are processing continues to be, in my opinion, fear.  I do not feel like we can start tonight’s meeting without acknowledging these feelings and discussing some potential ways to address them. As I am a person that tends to see a glass as half full rather than half empty, I believe we need to look for silver linings.

 

 

 

 First, I believe, as we have heard from many, it is critically important to analyze not just what the results are, but why they are what they are.  It is clear that, of those who voted, many were calling out for a change to the way government operates.  Government needs to be more agile, more responsive, and more willing to get into the trenches to find real solutions to our everyday problems of living in safe, supportive, affordable, healthy, and happy environments. 

 

 

 

Both of the slogans that were used in the presidential races, are important to consider:  Making America Great Again as well as Stronger Together.  Making America Great Again holds the promise of a return to lost ideals.  As we decide to roll up our sleeves to figure out just what might have made us great in the past but is somehow not making us great today, we need to look to the founding fathers (and mothers). I have had the songs from the musical Hamilton coursing through my head since last night.  Hamilton, the musical, turned history on its side by casting almost all people of color to represent the early immigrant experience of making a new country and rallying against the establishment to do so.  These early immigrants who founded this country used their talents to survive and build on their skills and experiences to create a new norm that could serve as a template for others to come and pursue life, liberty and happiness. 

 

 

 

While many hear messages of hatred, again, I think these have been caused by fear. We need to help extinguish that fear.  To do so, I propose forming a Kindness group, one that helps us, as a local government, support those most in need of kindness as well as recognize those who have the easiest time performing small acts of kindness for others on a regular basis without normally receiving any recognition.  I am a strong believer that recognizing people for their positive actions perpetuates a yearning for others to do good, for each of us to do more good.  I would like to call this group the Lemonade Brigade, and find people who both work for and volunteer with government to help identify a plan to turn lemons into lemonade every day to strengthen the core supports in our community, and to indeed realize the American Dream for all here in Ossining.  I hope you will apply. 

 

 

 

Today, I had the opportunity to think really hard about my own family history.  My mother was hidden on a farm in Holland during the Second World War.  As a Jewish child, she was “temporarily adopted” by righteous Christians who risked their lives to hide and raise my mother as if she were their own. She went to school with the other children from when she was 5 until 7 years old, hiding from the Nazis under haystacks when they came by. When the war ended, she was reunited with her parents, who had been hidden by other equally brave and kind and righteous Christians.  During this time of fear of the unknown, good, hard-working people reached out to help strangers, because they did not believe that this type of person with a particular label or that type of person with another label was the cause of their demise.  They serve as exemplars for all of us that we must believe in our fellow humans, support and cherish them, so we can all succeed.  Other’s dreams do not threaten our dreams.  We must show kindness to one another no matter what. That is how we will become much Stronger Together.

 

 

As we deconstruct the messages from this campaign, we must work hard to remember that love not hate, courage not fear, and kindness and hope are what make us human, what make our everydays worth living.  We must help one another by showing our strength, our resilience, and work just that much harder to achieve our collective ideals. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. Let’s grab it and let the goodness in us take hold at the local level so we can do our part to make this Town and this Country all that it can be.

 

--Dana

Town Board Contacts

Town Supervisor: Dana Levenberg - phone (914) 762-6001 - fax (914) 762-0833

Council Members: Karen D'Attore, Elizabeth Feldman, Jackie Shaw, Northern Wilcher Jr.