It sure is quiet the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend! Please consider joining us for the ceremonies scheduled in our community on Monday to honor those that have given everything in service to our country. In Ossining, the Memorial Day Parade will step off at 9:30AM in front of Melrose Lumber on Croton Avenue, ending with a service at Nelson Park at the other end of the parade route. In Briarcliff Manor, we will gather at the Briarcliff Fire Department on Pleasantville Road beginning at 11:30AM, then take a short walk to Law Park Pavilion for a ceremony at 12:15PM.
We partnered again with the Ossining Girl Scouts to make wreaths representing Ossining's Veterans and Community Organizations at the Memorial Day Ceremony at Nelson Park. Thank you to Troops #2353, 1470, 2587, 2600, 2034, 2205, 2226, 1215, 2237, 2233, 2347, and 2648 for their hard work honoring these important organizations. Here is a sneak peek of what we received -- be sure to make your way over to Nelson Park to see all of the beautiful wreaths!
We kicked off Memorial Day in Ossining this past week by unveiling the installation of flags on street poles of streets named after Ossining’s fallen war heroes, from conflicts dating back to the Civil War. Alongside Town Councilman Northern Wilcher and myself, we joined American Legion Post 506 Commander Frank Faiella, Jr. and former Highway Superintendent and Vietnam Veteran Michael G. O’Connor, Ossining Police Lieutenant Rich Damiano, Ossining Police Captain Jeff Giorgio, Highway Superintendent Pete Connolly, Village Mayor Victoria Gearity, and the Town’s very own Highway Department Motor Equipment Operator and National Guard Veteran John Orlando, as we unveiled the first installation at Incognito Lane.
In the Unincorporated Town, Bayden Road (Nathan Bayden- WWII), Bracken Road (William A. Bracken- WWII), Decker Road (Warren L. Decker- WWII), Downey Road (Edward J. Downey Jr.- WWII), Feeney Road (Mary F. Feeney- WWII), Ganung Drive (Leroy W. Ganung- WWI), Gualtiere Lane (Daniel P. Gualtiere- Korean War), Kelly Court (Joseph P. Kelly- WWI), Incognito Lane (Anthony Incognito- WWII), Mancuso Drive (Salvatore Mancuso- Vietnam War), McCarthy Drive (Timothy J. McCarthy- Vietnam), McCord Road (Charles McCord- WWII), Parker Drive (Charles W. Parker- WWII), Peugeot Drive (Charles A. Peugeot- Korean War), Robin Drive (Ralph M. Robin- WWII), Roosa Lane (Elting W. Roosa- WWI), Sleator Drive (Robert Sleator- WWII), Tavano Road (Frank J. Tavano- WWII), Thornton Hill (William D. Thornton- Vietnam War), Tuttle Drive (Theodore B. Tuttle- WWI), and Wyche Way (Craig Louis Wyche- Beirut 1983) also had flag markers installed. Thank you to Post 506 Commander Frank Faiella for spearheading this effort and our highway department for mounting the attachments for the poles. We hope that as you drive around Town this Memorial Day, you will pause and think about those in our community who truly made the ultimate sacrifice for our safety, security, and our freedom.
In our staff meeting this week, it was brought to my attention by both our Assessor and Receiver of Taxes that they have received many phone calls and inquiries from people who are confused about changes New York State has made to the STAR program this year. I asked our Assessor, Fernando Gonzalez, if he could prepare something that might easily sum up what those who receive Basic STAR need to know and here’s what he offered:
CHANGES TO STAR
Reduces the income limit for the Basic STAR exemption credit on your property tax bill to $250,000.
Anyone earning between $250,000 and $500,000 a year will receive a check for their STAR instead of the exemption on the school tax bill.
Homeowners receiving the STAR credit in the form of a check will have the possibility of seeing their credit increase up to 2% annually, whereas those who decide to stay in the exemption credit program will have that exemption frozen at this year’s levels. The income limit for the Basic STAR credit remains at $500,000.
Enhanced STAR (over 65 yrs.) recipients should have already enrolled in the income verification program with the State.
The state is trying to incentivize property owners to move to receive the credit check instead of the tax bill exemption by floating the possibility of receiving up to a 2% annual increase in your STAR credit check (versus no increase in your exemption).
In order to move to the check, homeowners must:
2- Register for the STAR credit with the NYS Dept. of Taxation and Finance @ 518-457-2036 or online at www.tax.ny.gov/star/
The Louis Engel Park Spray Park is officially open for the season! This weekend, come down to Engel Park to cool off from 12PM to 7PM. It's going to be close to 90 degrees on Sunday -- perfect spray park weather! This season, we are debuting our new splash pad thanks to a $100,000 grant from Senator David Carlucci.
Our Parks staff has been working hard getting the waterfront cleaned up, as this weekend is when it starts to get busy! They installed a small display case at each picnic area, which will show who has rented the area for the day.
They also outfitted the flag by the picnic area with a solar light, so it can be seen even after the sun goes down.
If you are looking to host a picnic or family function this summer, why not rent one of the Town Parks? Check out the complete list here-- you can put a hold on the site of your choice in real time.
Last night, I was joined by Councilwomen Feldman and Shaw to celebrate the 10 Year Anniversary of the Mid Hudson Ambulance District, a tremendously successful shared service model of emergency medicine delivery that started right here in Ossining. Currently, MHAD is comprised of all of the Village of Ossining and the Unincorporated Town, as well as a portion of New Castle-- residents of the District pay for services directly through their taxes. The District also provides per diem service to the Villages of Croton and Sleepy Hollow.
Dan Blum, president and CEO of Phelps Northwell, was kind enough to host us at the historic James House, and we had a wonderful time celebrating the District's accomplishments as well as the folks who made it all possible. It was a full house-- we were joined by emergency responders from many of our surrounding communities, as well as Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, Assemblyman David Buchwald, Assemblyman Thomas J. Abinanti, Westchester County Executive's Chief of Staff Andrew Ferris (also an Ossining resident!), County Legislator Catherine Borgia, Ossining Village Mayor Victoria Gearity and Briarcliff Village Manager Phil Zegarelli, all of whom got a glimpse of the fantastic work happening in the District. We were also joined by the Honorable Sue Donnelly, former Town Supervisor and Bill McCabe, Croton EMS Captain, who both sit on the MHAD Board, and former Village of Ossining Mayor Bill Hanauer, who for many years served on the Board of OVAC.
The evening began with an awesome video of footage and interviews complied by OVAC's Chief Nick Franzoso and OVAC member Jim Drohan. (You have to see it to believe it! We will post it here as soon as its ready.)
I was then joined by Legislator Borgia, who was instrumental in running the District for the first several years, joined me at the podium to present four awards-- the Mentorship, Heart, Acumen and Direction awards. The Mentorship Award went to Ossining's very own Richard G. Wishnie, who served as an Ossining Town Councilman, Ossining Town Supervisor and a Westchester County Legislator. Richard has always been a mover and shaker in Westchester, which was to the District’s benefit when he got to work on its development. In all levels of his public service career, Richard has had a particular focus on our first responders—his knowledge of what was required to form a taxing district from his time as Supervisor and Legislator, coupled with his connections throughout the County and his diplomatic approach, has helped the District to grow and help more residents receive quality, affordable emergency healthcare. I have been fortunate enough to have worked with Richard on a variety of projects over the years, and I often find that when I need a fresh set of eyes on something, or some guidance to walk through a complicated issue, Richard is the first person I call, and I know that is true for many people in our community. The Ambulance District, and Ossining as a whole, are both very lucky to benefit from his knowledge and talents.
Next up was the Heart Award, which went to Dr. Emil Nigro of Phelps Northwell. Dr. Nigro has been on the staff at Phelps since 1979, where he quickly ascended from an ER Attending to Director of the Emergency Department, a role that he held for more than twenty years. Under the watchful eye of Dr. Nigro, the Emergency Department saw a total transformation—he oversaw the installation of a formal triage system as well as the establishment of The Hoch Center, a top-of-the-line training center for emergency medical providers. Moreover, Dr. Nigro led the Emergency Department through the recent, state-of-the-art upgrade completed in 2008. Dr. Nigro’s expansive knowledge of emergency medicine was a critical component to the development of the Mid Hudson Ambulance District—aside from his technical savvy and knowledge of best practices, Dr. Nigro is an advocate for a better patient experience—his kindness, temperament and passion for his work shines through in every interaction, and we are truly fortunate for his involvement in the formation, and continued development, of the Mid Hudson Ambulance District. The District is incredibly fortunate to be the benefactor of not just his knowledge, but also his kindness and generosity of spirit.
Dr. J. Robert Seebacher, also of Phelps Northwell, was the recipient of the Acumen Award. Dr. Seebacher is a renowned and recognized orthopedic specialist who has performed more than 4,000 hip and knee replacements since joining the team at Phelps Hospital. Dr. Seebacher, who is a resident of New Castle, was on the Board of the Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps, which is how we were fortunate enough to get his brain buzzing on how to form this District and what technical components could not be ignored. As MHAD Chair, Dr. Seebacher runs our meetings and regularly asks thought provoking questions of the group based on his clinical experience, which no doubt has continued to push the District to deliver even better service and discover innovative methods to diagnose, track and predict patient outcomes. We are so thankful to get to work with Dr. Seebacher to strengthen the emergency service delivery in our District.
The final award, The Direction Award, went to Ossining’s very own OVAC Chief Nick Franzoso. Nick was born and raised in Ossining, and has spent many of the years since volunteering for OVAC. When tragedy struck OVAC in 2015 and Chief Sam Lubin could no longer serve, Nick eagerly stepped up to take on what was truly a yeoman’s job. While still working his full time job to provide for his family, Nick did double duty as OVAC’s acting Chief, working a nearly full time schedule on a volunteer’s salary for more than a year. While the District itself was headed in a positive direction, Nick took the reins at OVAC and transformed the organization itself. Setting very clear goals for both service provision and internal operations (no pun intended), Nick has been able to mobilize his staff and motivate volunteers in a way unprecedented in OVAC’s long history. The way in which he delivers statistics to the Board, as well as the way he collects them, allows the organization to be more agile, more responsive to the immediate needs of the community, and better able to measure agency progress. We are so incredibly proud of Nick for how he has grown the organization, but even more than that, we are appreciative that he and his wife Lauren chose to make their home here in Ossining and Nick has chosen to devote so much of his time to the care and health of Ossining’s residents.
OVAC had commemorative coins made for the occasion, which we passed out to guests as they left The James House. We are hopeful that, after having seen the success of the Mid Hudson model, even more communities consider joining the District to save money for their constituents while providing first rate emergency service.
A heads up for next week-- in the Town and Village of Ossining, leaf blower legislation was passed last year, and will go into effect on May 31st, 2019. Below, please find a "snapshot" of the law (in English and Spanish) provided to us by Green Ossining (thanks, Green Ossining!) For the entire text of the Town law, click here (130-7.1).
Please keep in mind that the regulations below affect ONLY properties in the Unincorporated Town-- the Village of Ossining's law is written in a similar spirit but slightly different, and can be found here.
Aside from the parades, there is not a whole lot going on in Town this weekend. If you are out and about this weekend, please remember to "Buckle Up!" Our OPD officers are promoting "Click it or Ticket" this week-- even though I have no doubt that everyone reading this wouldn't shift their car out of Park without making sure their seatbelt is securely fastened, please pay extra attention this weekend. You can't say you weren't warned!
There is one event in particular that we are excited about for this weekend. Our friend (and Ossining resident) KJ Denhert will be performing at the Westchester Collaborative Theater! Tomorrow night (Saturday, May 25th) one of our faves, KJ Denhert spins her tales and sings her great jazz infused songs right here at home. Buy your tickets now -- this show is sure to sell out!
Did you know that Babe Ruth once played baseball in Ossining? In 1929, Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees played an exhibition game against the prison baseball team, the Black Sheep, and hit three home runs, one of which just might be the longest homerun ever hit, according to baseball lore (and Westchester Magazine). On Thursday night, learn more about this fascinating piece of Ossining history with the showing of the new documentary, "Babe Ruth at Sing Sing."
Next weekend, there will be quite a few opportunities to catch some great music, with an open mic night at Mike Risko Music on Thursday evening, May 30th and local favorite, the Old Mill Singers, Friday, May 31st and Saturday, June 1st at the Clear View School.
Get your tickets now for next Saturday's continuation of Westchester Collaborative Theater's Jazz Master Series with internationally known and Grammy-nominated musician Enrique Haneine. His unique jazz style, influenced by Latin and Lebanese traditions, is sure to bring a crowd to both sets at 7:30pm and 9pm. Enrique Haneine has performed alongside some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time -- thank you to WCT for bringing him to Ossining! Buy your tickets in advance!
Be sure to check out Theater O's elementary school production of the play based on the classic children's novel "A Wrinkle in Time." We know Theater O always helps kids bring their own special touch to all their productions, so you won't want to miss this. Performances begin on Thursday, May 30th and continue on 5/31 and 6/1, and will take place at the Bethany Arts Community on Somerstown Road at 7PM-- tickets are only $10 each. Purchase your tickets ahead of time here.
The Ossining Documentary and Discussion Series' June offering will be "Transmilitary," a look into the lives of four transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military who must conceal their gender identity in order to serve their nation. Make sure not to miss this thoughtful program which will include an expert panel after the film.
Save the date for the 39th Annual Ossining Village Fair -- just a few weeks away on Saturday, June 8th from 10AM to 4PM. The Town will be represented well by our Environmental Advisory Committee, Green Ossining, the Cedar Lane Arts Center, and Forest O Fears Haunted Attraction, each with their own booth this year.
Interested in learning a new way to enjoy the Hudson River this summer? Consider registering for one of the kayaking programs offered by the Ossining Recreation and Hudson Valley Guides launching from Louis Engel Park starting June 21st. Check out the Recreation Catalog to register for one of the offerings and learn more! And don't worry -- kayaks and gear will be provided to participants.
Finally, as a reminder -- Town offices will be closed on Monday, May 27th in observation of Memorial Day. Enjoy the long weekend, but please also take some time to reflect on the sacrifices made by our veterans which are so significant in helping to preserve our freedom, this weekend and all year around.