Happy almost weekend, everyone!
First things first. I want to acknowledge all of the community who came out to vote in this year’s election, whether via our newly inaugurated early voting process or to your regularly polling places yesterday. In this off, off year election with no celebrity seats at the top of the ticket, it isn’t always easy to get people motivated to vote. This year, we did get out a little over 4,000 voters to the polls of which approximately 900 were early voters. In coming years we anticipate that by making it more convenient for people to vote, we will see higher totals—at least we can hope! I would like to thank the community for coming out to support me for another two years in office. As many of you know by now, the three propositions to enact Local Laws 4, 5 and 6 of 2019 did not pass. I was disappointed by this outcome which was put forth to the community to save money, professionalize and modernize offices and offer a better customer experience when people pay taxes, use clerk services or have their roadways managed. Because this was a ballot initiative, the board and I had to be careful how we communicated with the public on these issues. We could explain why we put them forth to the public, but really could not take on the misinformation campaign and tactics used to convince people they were somehow being put forth for other reasons. I believe this “no” vote will ultimately work against the best interests of the taxpayers of Ossining. However I can assure you, we will continue to work hard to find ways to save money in areas where we are not hamstrung by laws that were put into place hundreds of years ago. I am very much looking forward to partnering with our residents and the Board as we move forward, (and offer congratulations to my colleagues Councilwoman Liz Feldman and Greg Meyer!), to continue to make our Ossining an even more wonderful place to live, work, play and enjoy.
And we only took a short break for Election Day. Otherwise, we have been hard at work this week on a variety of exciting projects, so let's get to it!
At Tuesday's Work Session, we heard presentations from Sophia Rodwell from Davey Resource Group and Donna Sharrett (on behalf of Green Ossining) to wrap up our town-wide tree inventory, which was funded by a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Urban and Community Forestry Program. Both of their presentations can be found here. The tree inventory yielded such interesting data that we anticipate utilizing when making decisions about future tree planting and maintenance, and to share with the planning board for development. Donna's presentation was chock full of great resources for all residents in Ossining about how best to care for the trees throughout our community. Trees, especially native trees, contribute so much to the health of our environment, from filtering stormwater and converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, to serving as habitats for species of birds, bugs, and many other tiny creatures. We learned how great poison ivy is for the birds (as long as it's deep in the forest!). We are currently looking for more funding opportunities to implement some of the maintenance and planting recommendations made by the team at Davey Resource Group. I hope you will check out Donna's presentation and look for ways you can best care for the trees in your yard.
Also, we shared with you a few weeks ago that the Recreation Advisory Board supported the purchase of several pieces of new adult fitness and playground equipment to be placed at Engel, Buck Johnson and Gerlach Parks. Some of the pieces that were currently in the park have outlived their useful lives, were broken, or had been removed some time ago. We were lucky to have had an opportunity to purchase pieces from a great playground company at reduced cost because of specials that were offered at the end of the season. We met with the representatives from Kompan last week to visit the sites and make sure that our Parks staff would have everything ready for installation day.
Engel is ready to roll next week-- the swings were in sorry shape so they got removed a few months back. Between today and Tuesday, the old mulch will be excavated and then the installers from Kompan will be on their way with a new swing set, several pieces of adult fitness equipment, and a whole lot of new, mushy, safe engineered wood fiber. But right now, it does look a little lonely down there.
Gerlach Park will be getting a MUGA (multi use gaming area) that is going to be great for soccer and basketball, but that installation is going to take a bit longer. We need to pave the surface underneath, which means it will likely not be ready to play on until springtime (but really, who is going to want to play soccer in the snow? It's all good.) The equipment at Buck Johnson should also be installed within the next two weeks-- similar process to Engel (excavation of old wood chips and mulch). Our Parks guys were out yesterday dismantling the the old playground equipment (which has served us well but... it was time.) We are SO excited to be able to get these items into operation and help our community get moving-- Kompan equipment is beautifully made, and was a steal (not only on the US Communities website, but most of the pieces we chose happened to also be on sale!) Keep your eyes peeled for the ribbon cutting-- meet you at the kettlebells!
Today, I am travelling with Councilwoman Liz Feldman, Mayor Victoria Gearity, and Village Manager Karen D'Attore to Ithaca to participate in the midterm presentations of the students participating in the Ossining semester of the Climate-adaptive Design Studio from Cornell University's Department of Landscape Architecture. If you haven't heard already, Ossining was selected to host this innovative program for the Fall 2019 semester and so far, it has been an excellent experience. With support from the Hudson River Estuary Program and the NYS Water Resource Institute, these graduate students have been studying the Ossining waterfront and helping us vision what our future can look like, despite the expected devastating effects of climate change, including flooding and sea-level rise. We got the chance to see some of their preliminary designs when the students and their professor, Josh Cerra, came for their second site visit in October to present to a variety of community stakeholders, and I am so excited to see how they have incorporated our feedback as they develop their design concepts further.
There are so many concerns -- as well as opportunities -- when we look at some of the flooding and sea level rise projections for the Hudson Valley, and participating in this program has really been a humbling experience. Climate change is truly the greatest threat facing our world today and it is imperative that we take steps on a local level to combat climate change, but also to be more prepared to adapt and grow given the constraints it will cause in our environment. We will also be bringing with us comment cards and maps with feedback from the Ossining community, that we collected at the Ossining Public Library and the Community Center since the site visit in October. The students are enthusiastically learning the ins and outs of our community so they can present to us designs that fit within how we all currently enjoy what the Hudson has to offer and what our hopes for the future are in terms of the waterfront. Save the Date: Monday, December 16th for their third and final site visit which will be open to the community at large to learn more about their ideas and designs. These presentations will be at the Ossining Public Library (in the theater and gallery area). Stay tuned for more information to come!
We have quite a few events coming up this weekend, starting with the Rotary Club of Ossining's annual scholarship fundraiser tonight at the Ossining Public Library, at 6PM. Instead of their usual Employee of the Year recognition ceremony, this year the Rotary has planned what is sure to be a compelling inspirational talk by Gian Paul Gonzalez. There will be a silent auction, music, 50/50 raffle, wine, and hors d'oeuvres, all to support scholarships for Ossining High School students.
We were a little bummed about not having the opportunity to nominate an Employee of the Year, since we had a great one picked out already! So, we will tell you a little about him anyway. Mark Gallagher was hired last April as a Park Groundskeeper, and has quickly taken on an enormous amount of responsibility in our Parks Department. Mark grew up in Ossining, and came to us with more than 10 years of municipal experience. He has proven himself to be responsible, dependable, and always willing to pitch in when needed. Not to mention, you will never catch him without a smile on his face (evidence below).
We will be recognizing Mark as our Employee of the Year for 2019 at our annual Volunteer Recognition Celebration for our volunteer boards early next month. If you see him, wish him a congratulations and tell him to keep up the good work! We are lucky to have him on the Town team.
Beginning tonight and lasting through this weekend, Theater O presents “And a Child Shall Lead” by Michael Slade, featuring middle school actors. This is a heroic and true story of children coming of age in Terezin, the “Jewish city” established by the Nazis near Prague as a way station before the death camps. In the face of unspeakable horror, these children use their determination and creativity to build lives filled with hope and beauty--playing, studying, making art, and writing an underground newspaper—all while at risk of being executed. Their actual poems and stories are woven into a fast-paced drama, evoking the universality of children caught in the insanity of war. Please be mindful of the subject matter before having young children attend, the performance is appropriate for most children 9 years old and up, but you know your children best. This is sure to be a compelling performance. Tickets are available at Theater O's website for $10 each-- all performances begin at 7PM at the Bethany Arts Community on Somerstown Road.
Students from Ossining High School will also be putting on their Fall Drama this weekend, "She Kills Monsters" by Qui Nguyen. OHS always has really talented performers so I'm sure this is yet another excellent performance, and it's free so don't miss out. I'm hoping to catch it Saturday night, so maybe I'll see you there!
Also this weekend, make sure to catch the Hudson River Potters Pottery Show and Sale, also at Bethany Arts Community, featuring our very own friend and Cedar Lane Arts Center Instructor, Keith Gordon!
Project Greenway's annual Re-Fashion show is always a wonderful time. The designers get super creative with upcycled materials to produce Paris quality fashion for the runway. Just imagine bubble wrap turned into wedding gowns, plastic tabs from bread bags turned into jeans, and so much more. This is not only amazingly creative, but it also supports a great cause, so check it out!
I have the pleasure of working alongside Village Manager Karen D'Attore on a regular basis, so I recommend you don't miss the opportunity to hang out with her next Tuesday, November 12th over an amazing breakfast at The Tasty Table on Campwoods Road. The focus of this discussion will be economic development, initiatives relating to the Croton Avenue "Uptown" corridor, and a Q&A about beautification of business districts in the Village.
We are very lucky that our state (and local) elected representatives recognize the importance of addressing climate change head on. Assemblywoman Sandy Galef will be hosting a community conversation next Wednesday, November 13th at Cortlandt Town Hall. Assemblywoman Galef has lined up an excellent group of speakers with a wealth of information about how we can all do our part to make a difference.
While the Town and Village are going through our budgeting process for 2020, so is Westchester County. Check out a Q&A with our County Executive on Wednesday morning at 8:30AM and learn about what's new at the County level for next year.
Feeling a little worn down after a rough election season? I know I am. Check out "How to Bounce Back," a program focused on the healing and encouragement of laughter yoga and physical movement. $25 gets you two hours of coaching in mindfulness and bringing your happy back-- Saturday November 16th at Mariandale. Visit their website to learn more.
New York State Senator David Carlucci and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef are hosting their annual Senior Fair on Thursday, November 19th. This event is always extremely informative for our community's seniors and their families, so I encourage you to consider attending. The Town of Ossining will be represented by staff from our Receiver of Taxes and Assessors offices (and of course our Senior Nutrition staff will be on hand right down the hall to encourage our seniors to take full advantage of this program right in their backyard!) Be sure to stop by and say hi!
Last but not least, yesterday I was invited to participate in the Veterans Day Celebration at the Montrose VA. They had a dynamic program with singers, a speaker, and a color guard, and Port Chester middle school students came to help! It was a wonderful way to recognize our Veterans and the sacrifices they have made for our freedoms. I salute all our Veterans and our servicemen and women as we prepare to remember we have because of them!
As a reminder, Town and Village offices will be closed on Monday, November 11th in observance of Veterans Day. On Monday, there will be a few events around town to commemorate this important day, starting with a mass at St. Augustine's Church at 10AM. The mass will be followed by a ceremony at Nelson Park, scheduled to start at 11AM.
We will be back to serve you on Tuesday morning, bright and early!