Rabbit Rabbit. Yes, if you can believe it, it is actually already April first! I am pleased to report we are off to an excellent start. There are lots of fun upcoming events planned for this month and many focused on sustainability, as Earth Day has become Earth Month during the pandemic. We kicked it off today with a half day sustainability conference hosted by Westchester County, Sustainable Westchester, and Federated Conservationists of Westchester County. It was, indeed, humbling to hear how much good work is going on in this county, including right here in our own backyard! Big shout outs to all our partners, Green Ossining, the Town and Village EACs, and the Briarcliff Sustainability Committee.
There is also good news on the vaccine front. As a reminder, Town offices will be closed tomorrow in observance of Good Friday. We will be back in the offices on Monday, April 5. Refuse collection will not be impacted tomorrow, Friday, April 2.
And, speaking of sustainability, before I jump into sharing more details, I ask all residents to please place an important event on your calendars – it is just one week away! The Town of Ossining is holding a Comprehensive Plan workshop on Thursday, April 8 from 7:30pm to 9pm. This workshop is another opportunity for residents to share thoughts about the future of land use in the Town of Ossining. Draft goals have been developed based on past workshops, surveys, and input from the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee. Residents can review these goals and share more input at the workshop. Join us via Zoom on your computer (rather than a smartphone or tablet), so your interactive participation can be enhanced. And for those of you without access to Zoom, there will be more opportunities to provide feedback via non-virtual methods following this public workshop, which we will announce next Friday. For e-mail updates specific to the Comprehensive Plan process, please subscribe on our website.
The Village of Ossining is hiring lifeguards and counselors for its Summer Recreation programs. The Rec Department is hosting a job readiness program related to these positions. You can check out this program on the Community Pass website.
The Town of Ossining is hiring a Seasonal Parks Groundskeeper. The full job description and application are available on the Town of Ossining website. Applications can be returned in person at 16 Croton Avenue or emailed to Victoria Cafarelli in my office. All applications must be received by April 9th at 2:30pm.
We got some great news about vaccines this week. All New York residents 30 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Eligibility will further expand to all residents 16 and older on April 6th at 8am. Navigating the scheduling process can be challenging, but I encourage you to make an appointment. The WCC campus in Valhalla is offering appointments through the Westchester County Department of Health website. Appointments at Open Door, the Prescription Center of Ossining, and other local sites can be made directly through the local business. Westchester County publishes a list of local allocations each week, which the Town shares on our Facebook Page. You can also schedule appointments through the New York State Coronavirus webpage by reviewing the sites and clicking “Get Started”.
The country is seeing a rise in case numbers as the warm weather brings people together. We are all excited by the increase in vaccine eligibility, but we are not out of the woods. Highly contagious strains of the virus are circulating across the country. Please remain vigilant; wear your mask, wash your hands, and social distance. We do not want to get this far, only to have to backtrack into further shut downs. After mitigation strategies, our best defense is testing. Appointments for COVID tests continue to be available at a number of sites in Ossining and Briarcliff, including many local pharmacies. You can use the Find a Test Site Near You feature on the New York State website to find other locations.
The Ossining Community Equity Task Force held its April meeting today. The Task Force is preparing a Town Hall event to discuss inequity in the time of COVID. This event will take place toward the end of April and I will share more details as the date approaches. The Task Force is also co-sponsoring a book club discussion organized by the Coalition for Understanding Race through Education (CURE). The group will read Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and be joined by the author to further discuss issues of institutional inequity. Hard copies and digital copies of the book can be requested through the Ossining Public Library.
April is also National Donate Life Month – a nationally recognized month focused on raising awareness for organ, eye, and tissue donation. Organ and tissue donation is such an important issue, and signing up to be a donor during this month will help give hope to the thousands of individuals waiting for a lifesaving transplant, as well as their families and friends who love and care for them. If you don’t already have a heart… on your driver’s license…now is the time to sign up! This year’s theme is Garden of Life, which symbolizes hope, courage, and transformation. I think anyone who has ever experienced the donation journey in any way can find deep meaning in these themes. If you got to watch our Organ Donation Zoomathon back in October, but still haven’t gotten around to signing up, now is the time! Join us this month as we plant the seeds of donation by providing education and raising awareness about this important issue. Follow @LiveOnNewYork on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram this month to learn more about donation and hear the compelling stories of those impacted by organ and tissue donation, sign up yourself or help inspire a friend or family member to do the same.
The IFCA thrift store is accepting spring and summer items. Make an appointment to drop off your donations at 138 Spring Street between the hours of 10:30am and 4pm. The store will open for shopping on Wednesday, April 7th.
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act has provisions specific to small businesses and hard-hit industries. A Restaurant Revitalization Fund was created to issue grants (not loans) starting soon. The grants can be used to cover payroll costs, mortgage payments, rent, utilities, outdoor dining construction costs, PPE, operational expenses, and more. I will share more information about this Fund as it is published. The Business Council of Westchester is hosting an event on April 8th to help restaurants get a better understanding of this program. You can find information about this event on the Business Council of Westchester Facebook page.
Additionally, the Paycheck Protection Program provides loans to help businesses keep their workforce employed (borrowers may be eligible for PPP loan forgiveness). Starting the week of April 6, 2021, the U.S. Small Business Association is raising the loan limit for the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program from 6-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $150,000 to up to 24-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $500,000. The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal will begin accepting applications on April 8th. For more information you are also welcome to contact my office at 914-762-6001, or you can also directly contact U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s local office at (914) 734-1532. They can help walk you through the process to get the aid you need.
And of course, you have heard that local municipalities stand to receive direct federal funding to help offset revenue shortfalls, help pay for water and sewer infrastructure, broadband access and more. We are anxiously awaiting the details so we understand how the money will be distributed and how we are permitted to spend it so we can collectively determine how to best use it to support our community.
The Ossining High School PTSA is expanding their Takeout Tuesday Fundraiser with a Food Truck event. Sign up is required, so register here to secure your spot.
Ossining High School students are offering income tax help! The Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board (WPWDB) program runs until April 15th. Customers must make an appointment by calling 211 or (800) 899-1479 to schedule a drop-off time at OHS or the Mount Vernon Career Center. You must make an appointment to participate. Once an appointment is made, tax filers will drop off their documents at their preferred location. Remember, the IRS has extended this year’s income tax filing deadline until May 17th.
The Briarcliff Police Department is hosting a Books & Badges event on Saturday, April 10th from 10am to 1pm. Kids can get a free book, bag, and snack by visiting the drive through event at the Briarcliff Manor Youth Center.
Green Ossining is celebrating our planet with a week-long Earth Day Festival. Due to COVID restriction, we will not be gathering at the waterfront for this year’s activities. Instead, the events will be spread out across Town, with collaborations between small businesses, our Park’s Department, and even some local experts. Check out the Green Ossining website to learn about hikes, special deals, craft beer, and open houses. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
As part of this special month with a focus on our Earth, the Town and Village will be hosting a Lunch and Learn on the Cornell University Climate-adaptive Design studio that was hosted in Ossining during the 2019 fall semester. The student-developed designs which reimagined our waterfront to be more resilient to climate change will hopefully be good jumping off points for us as we consider improvements to our assets along the Hudson. Join us to learn more – the Zoom details are available on the Green Ossining events page.
The Recreation Department has shared their spring programming and announced their plans for summer camp. There are some great in-person and virtual programs, including esports, pickle ball, stained glass class, LEGO programs, oil painting, and so much more. Click here to learn more about the programs.
The next Town of Ossining Board Meeting will be a Work Session on Tuesday, April 6 at 7:30 on Zoom. Join us with Meeting ID 845 1036 6498 and passcode 046947. Read the Meeting Agenda here – we have a lot on our plate for Tuesday including a few new proposed local laws relating to our boat ramp passes/trailer parking and events policy. Meetings are recorded and uploaded to Facebook and YouTube every week.
This week was Spring Break for most families, and an opportunity to celebrate the holidays of Passover and Easter. I hope for those who celebrate, you are able to enjoy these important days with your family and friends, both near, far, and over Zoom!