We received some sad news a few weeks ago. Ossining lost a dear friend to COVID-19: Albert Rivera, who worked for the Town for over 30 years, and retired as the foreman of our parks department in 2014. In retirement, Albert was able to spend time with his family, including his several grandchildren, who we know he treasured greatly. He was also a member of Cataract Hose Co. #2 on Waller Ave in the Village. Albert’s wife, Teri, and children Amanda, Danny, and Ryan will celebrate his life tomorrow with a low-key drop in event at the Ryder Park Pavilion from 11am-8pm. For anyone who knew what a sweetheart Albert was, you will surely want to stop by.
Residents went to the polls this past Tuesday to weigh in on school and library boards, budgets, bonds, and other issues. Briarcliff School District voters elected Michael Haberman and Swaroop Reddy to their Board of Education, and approved the school district budget and bond referendum. Ossining School District voters approved their school budget, and referendum to purchase the church property adjacent to Ossining High School, the Ossining Public Library budget, Shandi Speller and Alice Joselow for reelection to the Library Board, and Katherin Crossling and Roger Battacharia for the Ossining School Board. Congratulations to the winners, thank you to all the candidates and to everyone who came out to vote.
The Town is revving up for the summer. The Spray Park at Louis Engel Park will reopen on Saturday, May 29 (weather permitting). A summer favorite, the Spray Park will be open from noon to 7pm until the end of the summer season.
The best way to take advantage of great summer events is to get vaccinated. Luckily, there are a lot of convenient places to get the vaccine! Grand Central Station is hosting a pop-up vaccine clinic tomorrow from 8am to 1pm, if you are also looking for a quick day trip to NYC. Many of our local pharmacies also have the vaccine in stock, if you prefer to stay close to home.
The Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps (OVAC) is administering Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at its headquarters on 8 Croton Avenue. Walk-ins are welcome but scheduled appointments are preferred. Get an appointment here. Speaking of OVAC, this week is National EMS week. Chief Nick Franzoso and his team have gone above and beyond this past year. We are so thankful for their service and we are excited to extend special congratulations this week to OVAC on their purchase of a new ambulance! OVAC responds to about 4000 ambulance calls each year in Ossining and neighboring communities. Not to mention their presence at fairs and firework shows, to make sure help is nearby in case of an emergency.
Town Offices will be increasing our office hours to 9am to 4:30pm starting June 1st. Visitors and employees are still required to wear masks in shared spaces like hallways, restrooms, and counters. CDC and NYS Department of Health guidance recommend that in settings where vaccination status cannot be confirmed, like a public municipal building, mask wearing for all individuals is still recommended. As a reminder, kids and the immunocompromised cannot get vaccinated yet. By law, you must continue to wear a mask and social distance if you are not vaccinated. While it is exciting to venture out again without masks, it is important that we respect the health and safety needs of our friends, family, and neighbors. Businesses may require patrons to wear masks and events may also have this requirement. Be kind, it feels like we are finally rounding a corner on this virus.
Summer heat made an early appearance this week. As we crank up the air conditioning in our cars and offices, our electricity usage is going up. You can use the GridRewards app to lower your carbon footprint by using electricity during off-peak hours. One benefit of all this sunny weather: local solar farms are soaking up the sunlight to convert into electricity. You can use clean electricity generated by the sun without putting solar panels on your home. Sign up for Community Solar, a guaranteed savings program that can reduce your electric bill by up to 10%. Sustainable Westchester can help you sign up or answer any questions you might have. Visit the Sustainable Westchester website or call Sustainable Westchester's Claire Kokoska at 914-242-4725 ext. 112.
May is National Biking Month and TravelStorys is ready to help you combine cycling with history. With help from local partners, Historic Hudson RiverTowns created historic audio tours for drivers, walkers, and cyclists. Use the free TravelStorys app to learn about Ossining, Briarcliff, the Bear Mountain Bridge, or more than 15 other local sites. Bike lanes have been added to a number of local roads and we are happy to see residents explore this eco-friendly hobby.
The Ossining pre-kindergarten program has openings for 2021-2022. Learn about the process and register on the Ossining Union Free School District website. The Ossining Basics program is hosting a series of Countdown to Pre-K workshops with virtual lessons for families on how to kickstart their child’s early literacy learning before starting pre-K in the fall. Incoming pre-K families have been divided into groups for these virtual lessons, featuring educators and community members like Jessica Irons of Theater O and Ossining Public Library children’s librarian Ignayra Lopez. It is so important that our youngest learners start school with the “basics” to enhance early literacy and the Ossining schools community always steps up to help all our children start school on the right foot. Learn more about the Ossining Basics program here.
Wildflower Island is a two-acre refuge within the greater Teatown preserve, home to roughly 280 species of wildflowers, trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, sedges, and rushes. Join experienced guides on weekends in May and June to explore this natural paradise. Sign up on the Teatown website.
ConnexRX Texter is designed to help residents access behavioral health care, medical care and other social supports such as housing, employment, education, childcare, and transportation. The “Texter” asks an individual a short series of questions that will assist with identifying challenges they may be experiencing due to the impact COVID-19 has had on their lives. Based on the texts received, CBHS Care Coordinators will contact individuals to connect them with services and supports.
Ossining Innovates and WEDC are launching Cohort 3 of their Inclusive Entrepreneurship Accelerator. This program is designed for residents considering opening their own business or non-profit. The free, year-long program includes 20 weeks of entrepreneurship training (Thursday evenings 6-9pm) as well as coaching, mentoring, and community support. Seats are limited, so fill out an application sooner rather than later. Learn more at ossininginnovates.com
Westchester Collaborative Theater is presenting Gen Z Outloud, until June 20. These virtual readings of plays written by young playwrights (ages 13 – 20) are the first part of WCT’s inaugural Hudson Valley New Voices (HVNV) Festival. HVNV continues June 4-6 with Vintage Voices, featuring dramatic works by seniors. The festival concludes June 18 – 20 with Voices of Color, featuring original plays by writers who identify as People of Color. All tickets are $15 and can be purchased online or by calling (914) 263-4953.
Artis Senior Living of Briarcliff Manor is hosting a free educational webinar to help people navigate this newest phase of the pandemic. Project Hope is a great resource and I encourage anyone who needs some support to reach out. Registration for this event is requested by Monday. Sign up here.
Gullotta House’s 5th Annual Charity Duck Race will take place next Saturday from 10:00am - 12:00 noon at Dale Avenue Park! 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.
Bethany Arts Center is hosting a nature walk as its closing event for its exhibit (s)mother 2.0 care in (a time of) crisis. The exhibit launched on Mother’s Day as an exploration of mothering and motherhood. The nature walk will begin at 2pm on Saturday, May 29 but you can catch the exhibit beforehand too. Visit the Bethany Arts Center website to learn more.
On Wednesday, June 2 you can join Amanda Bayley to learn about native plants in your backyard. The Jug Tavern is hosting the event on Zoom, starting at 7:30. Pop in and for helpful information on gardening, our eco-region, and how to “rewild” your backyard.
The Town of Ossining is hosting its very first Compost Give Back Days on June 4th and 5th. Our Food Scrap Recycling program used to haul full toters to Ulster County to be converted to compost, but now they only have to travel to Sustainable Materials Management, Inc. in Cortlandt Manor, which is even better news for the environment. We are excited to be illustrating the full circle of food scrap recycling by providing compost from this facility. So, yes, the compost at this event really will be from Ossining’s food scraps and from other neighboring Westchester municipalities as well! Pick up some local compost and bring healthy nutrients back to your garden. We ask that people sign up in advance so we can be sure we have enough compost to go around. Learn more about Food Scrap Recycling and the Ossining Composts program here.
The Ossining Fire Department Venturing Crew 467 will be hosting Propane Tank Drop-Off Day on Sunday, June 6 from noon to 3. If you have some old empty propane tanks sitting around that cannot be refilled or exchanged, here’s your chance to safely get rid of them.
The next Historic Sparta Walking Tour is scheduled for June 20 at 1pm. Join Dr. Alan M. Stahl, Sparta historian, resident, and vice-president of Jug Tavern of Sparta, Inc., for the fascinating 200 year history of The Jug Tavern as well as Sparta's homes and residents. The tours are outdoors, masked, and socially distanced. Sign up for the June tour here.
Juneteenth is celebrated across the country every June 19th in honor of the day Union soldiers reached Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and free enslaved peoples. The day has taken on different names over the years (Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day) and was only formally recognized by New York State for the first time last year. I am excited New York State recognizes the importance of this event in US History, and even more excited that for the second year, we will be celebrating it here in Ossining. We will raise the Juneteenth flag at Market Square on June 2nd, and then the Juneteenth Council of Ossining will host a separate Juneteenth celebration on Juneteenth itself, Saturday, June 19 at Louis Engel Park at the Ossining waterfront.
The next Town of Ossining Board Meeting will be a Regular Meeting on Tuesday, May 25 at 7:30pm on Zoom. Join us with Meeting ID 850 4012 8639 and passcode 558579. Read the Meeting Agenda here. Meetings are recorded and uploaded to Facebook and YouTube every week.
Next week, there will actually be two Town Board meetings to attend, we are partnering with our friends on the Village of Ossining Board of Trustees to hold a joint meeting for non-profit organizations to present their CDBG grant requests. Under the CDBG, or Community Development Block Grant program, non-profits are required to satisfy public engagement requirements by presenting their proposed grant requests at a public meeting of the municipal board of the community in which they operate. We want the collective Ossining community to be as successful as possible obtaining grants through this program, so we are very excited to be jointly holding this meeting to help our non-profits further their grant requests.
I hope everyone enjoys the summer-like weather this weekend – stay cool!