Earth Week starts tomorrow and as usual, Green Ossining, led by Suzie Ross, has gone above and beyond. This year the festival has adapted due to COVID-19 regulations, switching from our annual gathering at the waterfront to a weeklong collection of 95 unique events dedicated to sustainability.
On Monday, April 19 at 12noon, the Town and Village will be hosting a Lunch and Learn on the Cornell University Climate-adaptive Design studio. The studio was originally 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. Check out the Facebook event for more information, and on Monday, you can join the Zoom via this link. The webinar ID is 810 9256 1546, and the passcode is 962174. We also plan on live streaming the presentation to Facebook and recording to view on YouTube afterwards. Hope to see you there!
If you would prefer to learn more about the Ossining CaD studio in person, before your morning walk on the riverfront, you can visit the Ossining Train Station from 5am to 10am to view summary boards on the Ossining semester. Grab some coffee from our friends Ashoke and Priti while you are there, then walk along the Hudson to vision the future of our waterfront yourself!
On Tuesday and Thursday, the Town is partnering with Sustainable Westchester and other communities for Lunch and Learn webinars about Community Solar, EnergySmart Homes, and the Grid Rewards program. Community Solar can save you 10% on your monthly utility bills. EnergySmart Homes can raise the value of your home, while lowering your energy bills and increasing year-round comfort with cleaner air temperature controlled heating and cooling. The Grid Rewards program uses an app to help you earn cash back from your utility company.
This Saturday, April 17 and next Saturday, April 24, visit the Ossining Farmers Market to get your food composting kit, if you haven’t done so already! Marcus DaSilva, our very own food waste warrior, will be at the Farmers Market with Green Ossining volunteers selling kits for Ossining residents. The composting kits include a small bin for collecting food scraps on your counter, a larger bin to transport your food scraps to our collection sites at Cedar Lane Park and/or the Farmers Market, and a roll of compostable bags for your small bin. You can also pre-order your kit at the program website, www.OssiningComposts.org. It is too late to pre-order your kit for tomorrow morning, but you can either buy one on the spot at the Farmers Market tomorrow, pre-order for pick-up at Cedar Lane Park during the week, or pick-up at the Farmers Market next Saturday. Marcus was recently featured on Teatown’s Facebook page, here is Marcus showing the contents of the kits!
The Lunch and Learn webinars and Ossining Composts are not the only exciting opportunities to get involved during Earth Week. Green Ossining’s celebration is a 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.
Join Elisha Fernandes Simpson of Crossover Yoga Project (CYP) for a grounding yoga practice to show gratitude for the support the Earth provides us through this time of challenge and instability. Meet at Louis Engel Park on the stage overlooking the waterfront tomorrow at 9am. Due to social distancing requirements, spaces on the stage are limited, but residents are welcome to share the experience from the grass too. Bring your own mat and some water to stay hydrated. Register online through Community Pass and keep an eye on the sky – the class will be cancelled if temperatures dip too low.
The Ossining Parks Habitat Stewards are celebrating Earth Day by planting a variety of native trees, shrubs, and grasses with high wildlife value in Ryder Park. Join them tomorrow from 10 to noon wearing sturdy shoes, and be sure to bring your gardening gloves, shovels, and hand towels. Meet at the Ryder Park pond located on the northeast side behind the baseball fields. Masks are required. Social distancing guidelines will be enforced. Register through Community Pass.
A special Stash the Trash event is planned for Sunday 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-registration. Check out the Green Ossining calendar to register.
The Town unveiled its newest Little Free Library today at Gerlach Park, which was donated by volunteers organized by local residents Melanie Carnsew and Antonia Simao. In addition to Melanie, who cut the ribbon, I was joined by NYS Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, Westchester County Legislator Catherine Borgia, Town Councilmember Liz Feldman, Ossining PTA President Miriam Risko, Anne M. Dorner Middle School PTA representative Rene McCormack, Ossining Community School Leader Megan Mastrogiacomo, local volunteer Jill Greenstein, and the Ossining Book Mobile. This newest LFL joins eight others in the Town, including in public parks, on residential streets, and on school grounds. Read our Press Release to learn more about today's event and the Little Free Library initiative.
This week, I also had the opportunity to join the Ossining School District staff and family advocates, alongside our State and County legislators for a press conference to acknowledge the $5.8 million increase over last year in total State aid to the Ossining School District included in the 2021 State budget. These additional funds are game changing for the Ossining Schools, and long fought for and much needed. We are so grateful to our Legislators Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick for their advocacy on behalf of the Ossining community.
The restoration of Sally Swope Sitting Park is coming along nicely. Special thanks to our Parks Foreman Mario Velardo and his team for working so hard on this project. Walking paths were flattened and expanded, dead trees and invasive vines were removed, and the town received a Buffer in a Bag grant of native plants to add to the natural landscape. The new plantings will arrive in a few weeks. It is exciting to see the pieces of this restoration all coming together.
The Caretaker’s House at Dale Cemetery is nearing completion of a much-needed restoration project. We have a phenomenal team of Stephanie Reinert from Stephen Tilly Architects and Tom Clemments from Clemco Construction working on this, with oversight from Highway Superintendent Pete Connolly and Andy Tiess. I couldn’t resist grabbing a pic with the magnolia tree in full bloom! Work included a new roof and repair to the chimney and porch as well as new windows, which began last year. We look forward to cutting the ribbon on this project very soon.
This week we presented a proclamation to our Deputy Town Clerk Martha Quituisaca. Martha’s dedication was recognized as an honoree as part of Diligent’s Inaugural Modern Governance 100 for Community Board program! Martha is known by community members as being very helpful and kind in her role. We are proud to see her hard work being recognized.
Unfortunately, as we all know, COVID remains a pressing issue for all of us. The Federal Government is continuing to explore relief options for those who have suffered due the Coronavirus Crisis. If you lost a loved one to the disease, FEMA can reimburse you for funeral costs up $9,000 per funeral and $35,500 per application. Families that lost more than one member to COVID-19 are encouraged to submit all of their funeral expenses included in one application. More information about this program is available on the FEMA website. Phone lines are often tied up right now, but remember there is no deadline to apply for this assistance.
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. Also 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 can 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 recently held an event 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.
Vaccines are available to all New York residents age 16 and older. Local pharmacies are stocking Moderna and Pfizer vaccines as the Johnson & Johnson supply is still on hold. The Westchester County Health Department released a helpful FAQ to help anyone looking for information about the J&J pause or if you had an appointment scheduled. I am receiving my second dose of the Moderna vaccine this weekend and it is certainly such a relief!
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 made to local businesses each week. You can also schedule appointments through the New York State Coronavirus webpage by reviewing the sites and clicking “Get Started.” Please remember that vaccines take approximately two weeks from your latest dose to be fully effective.
There are a lot of great events planned for this upcoming week. As a reminder, Green Ossining has compiled a calendar showing 95 unique events, activities, and participating businesses.
Tomorrow at 10am, the Ossining Public Library will host Scott Craven, our Town Historian. The presentation will focus on the tradition of immigration in Ossining. You can register for this event through the Library website.
Town Historian Scott Craven will be back, virtually, to host a special Wildlife in the Hudson Valley presentation in honor of Earth Day. This presentation, through the Ossining Public Library, is planned for Wednesday, April 28 at 7pm. To register for this event, visit the Library website.
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 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.
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!
Registration for the 2021 Ossining & Briarcliff Community-Wide Tag Sale is required by April 24. This annual event, planned by Green Ossining, is the perfect opportunity to declutter. For the $25 registration fee, you receive a double-sided sign to post on your lawn three days before the sale; additional signs to hang around your neighborhood; a link to your home and items for sale on our Google map; and promotion in the Pennysaver, local press, bulletins, and assorted social media outlets. For more information and to sign up visit the Green Ossining website. For previews of the items on sale, check out their official Tag Sale Facebook Group.
The Ossining Community Equity Task Force is preparing a Town Hall event for the end of April to discuss inequity in the time of COVID, so save the date for Monday, April 26th in the evening. 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 on Sunday, April 25th 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.
Mark your calendars and save the date for Gullotta House’s 5th Annual Charity Duck Race on Saturday, May 29th from 10:00am - 12:00 noon at Dale Avenue Park in Ossining, NY. There will be a top prize of $1,500, a second prize of $250, and $100 gift cards for the third, fourth, and fifth prizes.
For more information about this year's event or to purchase a duckie for the race, please click here. Gullotta House has continued to provide free prepared meals to local families, and has even stepped in and delivered food to our seniors when we needed some help! Thank you for your support and we hope to see many of you or your ducks there!
The next Town of Ossining Board Meeting will be a Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, April 20 at 7:30pm on Zoom. This Tuesday’s Town Hall Meeting will stick with the Earth Week theme, so we will be hearing from Sustainable Westchester on the Energy Smart Homes and Grid Rewards Programs, and Green Ossining and Ossining 100 Chair Suzie Ross will be joining to share a brief overview of the Earth Week programming. We also will welcome an Ossining Eagle Scout to hear about his proposal for a project at Sally Swope Park, and our Town Planner, Valerie Monastra, for a planning discussion for this season of State and Federal grants. Town Hall Meetings take on a bit of a different format than our usual Work Sessions, as we open up the meeting to members of the public for comments and questions throughout the meeting. Join us with Meeting ID 857 0228 3681 and passcode 347484. Read the Meeting Agenda here. Meetings are recorded and uploaded to Facebook and YouTube every week.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began on Monday. It is the holiest month of the year for those in the Islamic faith, and I wish all those who celebrate many blessings. Ramadan Kareem!