Before I begin to share our week with you, I want to acknowledge the tragic news we received earlier this week-- 21 year old Ossining resident Gregory Jackson was involved in an incident of violence that later led to his passing. Almost a week after hearing the news of Greg's death, most of us are still without words and struggling to find meaning in this heinous act. The Ossining Police Department has been capably and professionally handling the investigation and announced last night that they have a suspect in custody, also unfortunate because he too, is from Ossining. I hope that we will all remember Greg as so many knew him-- a bright, energetic, happy young man, who was beloved by so many. We are all keeping his family and his many, many friends in our thoughts and prayers.
On Monday, I was joined by Budget Director Maddi Zachacz and Town Councilwoman/ Executive Director of IFCA Karen D'Attore at a Pattern for Progress event held on the SUNY Orange campus at Newburgh-- the view wasn't awful.
We learned about how the City of New Rochelle has managed to essentially rebuild its downtown core with private investment. We listened to three panelists who had been involved in the city's transformation, and most impressive to me was their Commissioner of Development Luiz Aragon. Luiz explained that, through the use of form based code and a standardized approval process, the city was able to get a win-win: ensuring that city residents had say over what sorts of development took place, while offering developers the sense of certainty they require to make the location attractive to them and to identify if they can acheive profitability.
It is interesting to consider how these ideas could be replicated here in Ossining. We have done many studies over the years which could certainly help us to begin to build a framework to help move in that direction.
On Tuesday evening, the Town Board had a Special Meeting followed by a Work Session, and boy, it was one of our longest (though most productive) meetings in a while! We covered a lot of territory-- in the Special Meeting, the Board approved five capital projects to purchase the trucks for which we will be bonding in August, and we also got to officially appoint our next Highway Foreman. After interviewing two internal candidates, the recommendation of Michael G. O'Connor was to promote Kevin Moore, a fifteen year employee of the Highway Department, and "Senior Man," into this title when our current Foreman Matteo Velardo hangs up his neon vest at the end of March.
Several of Kevin's family members joined him at the meeting to watch him be appointed, and Michael G. was there to photgraph.
We are very lucky to have Kevin stepping into this role-- he has gotten to work closely with Matteo and his predecessor John Martin, and he has been attending various classes and trainings to prepare him to take the top spot later this spring. We know our Unincorporated residents are in good hands with this team, and we wish Kevin all the best in his new position.
Also during the meeting, we heard Departmental Reports from our Chief of Police Kevin Sylvester and from our Receiver of Taxes Holly Perlowitz, before launching into a discussion about "next steps" for Project Forward. We have heard overwhelmingly positive feedback so far from our surveys and from our community conversations, and while we are still taking feedback, we need to move forward with drafting local laws for the referendums if we have any chance of getting this to a vote this year. Check out the video of our conversation HERE (start at the 58 minute mark).
We also talked about two new initiatives that the Board will be considering over the coming weeks, the first being PILOT programs for solar installations. The passage of Real Property Tax Law R487, which automatically applies in all municipalities unless they opt out, would make it so that solar installations would be non-taxable-- this is meant to keep solar energy creation affordable (for example, if you put solar panels on your home, they would not be considered a "taxable" addition in most cases, but the taxes on your home would not change). We are considering implementing a PILOT program in the Town so that, if someone were to create a community solar project or a solar farm, we could still collect "Payment in Lieu of Taxes" for the installation, so that the community still sees some tax revenue from the development, but the project still remains feasible for the developer.
I have also asked the Board to consider something else coming down the pike-- the seemingly inevitable passage of law allowing for recreational marijuana use in New York State. Some of our neighbors around Westchester have introduced pre-emptive legislation, either to effectively ban the sale of marijuana within their borders or to limit the sale to distinct corridors, and I wanted our Board to start thinking about what may be right for the Unincrporated Area of Ossining. As we discussed extensively in the Work Session, there are pros and cons to both sides of the issue in terms of public health and economics, and the enabling State legislation has not yet been passed, so we are not even positive what the parameters are yet, but we will be continuing the conversation at a later date once the Board has had a chance to review the options.
As I mentioned in my update last week, I have asked each of our departments to pick a week as part of our "Photo Project" and send along some snaps of what they've been up to out in the field. This week was assigned to the Town Highway Department, and you saw some photos of Kevin's appointment earlier in this Update. However, we have some other cool stuff to show you, courtesy of Michael G.
Due to the alternatively cold and cool conditions this time of year, our roads see some heaving and thawing, which can cause water to come up through the road. The guys were on Cedar Lane this week installing a drainage solution to prevent water runoff on several driveways that was freezing up and causing dangerous conditions.
They had a similar situation on Haymount Terrace-- water runoff coming up through the road causing icy conditions. Here's Matteo clearing the ice and getting the road cleaned up earlier this week.
Special thanks to all of our Highway employees: Matteo, Kevin, John, Mike, Jason, Juan, Vittorio, Gary and Chuck, not to mention Francine and Fern, the ladies behind the scenes in the Highway Office, for all of their hard work and exemplary customer service! We are lucky to have you, and so are our residents!
Can you believe we are already a week into February? Time flies! Before you know it, it'll be April 15th, and we all know what that means! We want to remind you that IFCA on Spring Street does offer free tax preparation services to qualified households-- call (914) 941-5252 to see if they can help you this year.
Also, we recognize that this can be a difficult time of year for a lot of folks-- people who have been furloughed or laid off can have trouble making ends meet, and the Ossining Food Pantry is here to help residents of Ossining and Briarcliff Manor. They are a 100% volunteer organization dedicated to helping our neighbors in need. If you and your family are in need of food assistance, please visit with the friendly volunteers at Trinity Church in downtown Ossining (7 South Highland Avenue)-- they distribute non-perishable food items on Thursday evenings (6:30-8PM) and Friday mornings (10AM-Noon) in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. For more information, please visit https://ossiningfoodpantry.org/ or call the Food Pantry office at (914) 762-5510. You are not alone, and that is what a community is all about.
Lots going on this weekend-- live theater, outdoor events, and plenty to eat! There's always something to do here in Ossining.
Tomorrow, Eaglefest comes back to Croton! They have some new stuff planned for this year, so check out the schedule and get your tickets here. Our Town Historian, and dear friend, Scott Craven, will be doing his famous eagle tours this year, so don't let this one slip through your talons!
Our friend (and amazing photographer) Steven Kowalczyk stumbled upon an Ossining version of Eaglefest just this week-- check out these incredible shots he got of the eagles at Engel Park earlier this week!
Thanks so much for sharing these with us, Steve! It's a great preview for the big show in Croton tomorrow!
After you work up a sweat spotting eagles around town and sampling bowls of chili, leave room for the "Friends of 49" Annual Pasta Dinner and Basket Raffle, sponsoring Boy Scouts of America Troop 49, between 6 and 8PM. On February 9th and held at St. Augustine's School on Route 9, enjoy a pasta dinner and great conversation for just $10 per adult and $6 per child, and don't forget to participate in the raffle! Proceeds go to benefit the scouting program-- call Jack Reilly at 941-7407 with questions.
Then on Sunday, February 10th between 4 and 7PM, come down to Demeter’s Tavern & Sports Bar in Tarrytown and test your knowledge against other teams (bring your own team or come ready to make some new friends!) Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door, and all proceeds go to benefit the Ossining Children’s Center. Click here to learn more and get your early bird tickets.
Don't miss the rescheduled Westchester County Public Forum on housing this Monday, February 11th at the Community Center with County Executive George Latimer. Co-sponsored by IFCA and Neighbors Link, the CE wants to hear what you think about the availability, accessibility and affordability of housing in Westchester County. This forum will take place between 6PM and 8PM. Be sure to come and make your voice heard by Westchester County as they draft their housing needs assessment.
While Thursday, February 14th is Valentine's Day, don't forget that February 13th is known to some as "Galentine's Day," a chance to give some love to the special ladies in your life! Looking for someplace to celebrate? Bella Maiya Day Spa in Briarcliff Manor has your back. For just $10 per person, come for chair massages, an eyebrow shape-up, collagen eye treatments, and even a smoky eye application while you snack on appetizers courtesy of The Tasty Table and sip wine. What could be better? Spoil yourself for a change, right here in town. Call 236-3711 to save your spot for this fun Girl's Night Out on Wednesday the 13th.
As for Valentine’s Day plans, go no further than North State Road for the fantastic restaurants right here in Ossining! Have a cozy supper with your sweetie at Terra Rustica or Flames, enjoy a hearty dinner at The Briars, or split a decadent fried ice cream at Maya Riviera—trust me on this one. There are so many wonderful options on Pleasantville Road in Briarcliff or in downtown Ossining, why not try someplace new? Wherever you plan to sidle up to your loved ones, be sure to make reservations ASAP, you will be in good company!
If you are an Ossining Senior, come celebrate with us at the Ossining Community Center on Thursday morning-- breakfast is on us!
I hope you will join me as I plunge into the mighty Hudson River on Sunday, February 16th for the Gullotta House 2nd Annual “Escape from Sing Sing” Polar Plunge. At 12PM, weather permitting, we will be running into the river to benefit local families in need and Scholarships for OHS students. Teams and individuals can register at www.gullottahouse.org.
Finally, I am excited to share that the Village of Ossining has invited the Town to take part in a water saving initiative that could help you buy a high-efficiency toilet with a $200 voucher. To see if your property is eligible, check here.
I hope everyone has a great weekend-- it looks like we may be in for some snow on Tuesday, so enjoy the dry skies while they last!