April is Earth Month and so far this warm, sunny weather has been accompanied by good news. This week, New York State expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to an additional two million people. All residents age 16 and older can now sign up for an appointment. The process can feel overwhelming, so I will go into more detail about appointments later in this update. Before we jump in to seemingly never-ending pandemic news, I would like to remind everyone to mark their calendars for the Green Ossining Earth Day festival. Due to coronavirus restrictions, the festival will not take place at the waterfront this year. However, the fun and education was expanded to a week-long collaboration between local businesses, volunteers, Town and Village Parks Departments, and some of our residential nature experts. The full calendar of events is posted on the Green Ossining website.
On April 19th 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 reimagined our waterfront to be more resilient to climate change. These designs will hopefully be good jumping off points for us as we consider improvements to our assets along the Hudson. The 45 minute Zoom session will start at noon. Join us to learn more – the Zoom details are available on the Green Ossining events page.
Yesterday, I also had the opportunity to join so many members of the Ossining community to say farewell to Neil Woolf, owner of Bob’s Army and Navy on Main Street. Neil was such a beloved member of the Ossining community, as a small business owner and friend to many local organizations and businesses. Bob’s Army and Navy was founded by Neil’s parents, Anita and Robert “Bob” Woolf in 1946, relocated to Ossining in 1973, and Neil took over the reins soon thereafter in 1978. The Town was just one of Neil’s many loyal customers, with our Highway Department, Parks Department, and Senior Nutrition Program staff relying on his store for uniforms and work clothes. Neil was always ready to help, and order what you needed if he did not have it in stock. In addition to his business, Neil was actively involved in the Greater Ossining Chamber of Commerce and served for many years on the board of the Ossining Children’s Center. Neil will truly be missed by so many in the Ossining community and beyond. As the hearse drove by the store yesterday, and his family followed, we all deeply felt the vacuum Neil’s loss has created. We know he was watching us all from above!
The Ossining Public Library will offer tax assistance until May 13th in light of the extended federal deadline for income tax payments. The assistance is available thanks to AARP's Tax Aide program. Appointments are required. Residents should call (914) 810-3384 to make an appointment for assistance with preparing and filing federal and state income taxes. When calling to make your appointment, please be sure to leave a message with your name and phone number, and a Tax Aide volunteer will be in touch to schedule your appointment with you, go over the required paperwork, and answer your questions.
Our Parks Department has been very busy these past few weeks as they prepare for our busiest season. Foreman Mario Velardo and his crew continued their restoration of Sally Swope Sitting Park. The Park is expected to reopen to the public later this spring. The Parks Department is doing increased clean ups and is preparing town ballfields for Baseball/Softball Opening Day next week. If you visit Louis Engel Park you will also see a true sign of Spring – the docks are back in the water!
As previously mentioned, vaccine eligibility expanded this week to all New York residents age 16 and older. Supply is slowly catching up with demand, as local pharmacies are now regularly offering vaccines. 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.”
Unfortunately this week, the UK variant of the virus became the most common strain in the United States. The variant is more contagious, though it is not inherently more dangerous to you. Case numbers are rising across the country, including in Westchester County. Please continue to social distance and wash your hands. Wear your masks in public and avoid gatherings. If you see an incoming call from “NYS Contact Tracing,” please pick up the phone.
If you are experiencing symptoms, please make an appointment for a COVID test. When in doubt, get a test. Appointments for COVID tests are available at a number of sites in Ossining and Briarcliff, including many local pharmacies. Use the Find a Test Site Near You feature on the New York State website to find other locations.
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act has provisions specific to small businesses and hard-hit industries. The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal began accepting applications yesterday. Also this week, the U.S. Small Business Association raised 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 Paycheck Protection Program can provide loans to help businesses keep their workforce employed (borrowers may be eligible for PPP loan forgiveness). For more information, business owners should contact U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s local office at (914) 734-1532. Office staff can help walk you through the process to get the aid you need.
A Restaurant Revitalization Fund was created to issue grants (not loans), but has not opened for applications yet. The grants can be used to cover payroll costs, mortgage payments, rent, utilities, outdoor dining construction costs, PPE, operational expenses, and more. The Business Council of Westchester held an event yesterday 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.
Teatown’s Plantfest has begun! This year, the shop will offer purchases of their curated herbs, annuals, and perennials through curbside pickups. The pre-sale runs until April 28th, so review their collections now and place your orders.
The IFCA thrift store is open for shopping! Stop by 138 Spring Street and check it out! IFCA is a local non-profit that provides a range of affordable rental housing, property management, and supportive services.
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 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.
The Briarcliff Police Department is hosting a Books & Badges event tomorrow 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.
A special Stash the Trash event is planned for Sunday, April 18th from 10am to noon as part of the Earth Week festivities. This clean-up will cover 10 locations, with 20 people each. The locations are Market Square, the corner of James and Spring, Snowden Park, Roosevelt School, Arcadian, OHS, Croton Avenue (Dale/Todd), Arthur Jones Park, Crawbuckie Nature Preserve, and North Highland/Snowden. Social distancing and masks are required, as is pre-regisration. Check out the Green Ossining calendar to register.
New York Presbyterian Hudson Valley is hosting a bilingual program for parents hoping to help their child manage pandemic-related anxiety. Register here for the April 22 evening discussion.
Saturday, April 24th, is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The Ossining Police Department allows residents to safely dispose of prescription and over-the-counter medications every day, but this national event is a good reminder for all of us. Proper disposal of these items prevents them from entering our drinking water, rivers, and streams. Clearing unneeded prescriptions from your medicine cabinet also reduces the likelihood of those medications being misused or abused. Call it an opportunity for some spring cleaning!
The Ossining Community Equity Task Force held its April meeting last week. 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. Pick up a copy and register here to participate in one of the book discussions.
In 2020 the #RiverkeeperSweep removed more than 16.6 tons of trash from local waterways, and over the past decade of Ossining-based clean-ups, has cleaned out over 4 tons of trash. Help make an even bigger impact this year by registering for the May 1st Riverkeeper event. A number of local site clean-ups are planned and over 100 similar projects will take place throughout NYC and the Hudson Valley. Register here on the Riverkeeper website.
Westchester Craft Crawl will return on May 15th and 16th this year. I will share more information as the date approaches, but this celebration of local business is sure to be exciting. This year’s Crawl will feature 56 regional professional craft artists from Westchester, NYC and the Hudson Valley region, with 10 tour stops between Tarrytown, Ossining, Croton, Cortlandt Manor, and Peekskill.
The next Town of Ossining Board Meeting will be a Regular Meeting on Tuesday, April 13 at 7:30 on Zoom. Join us with Meeting ID 837 4975 9569 and passcode 277959. Read the Meeting Agenda here. Meetings are recorded and uploaded to Facebook and YouTube every week.