First off -- mark your calendars for the 2020 Town and Village of Ossining Inauguration of Elected Officials. The Town has many officials being sworn into office for the New Year, including myself and my Board colleagues Greg Meyer and Liz Feldman plus Justices Reisman and Leavitt, Town Clerk Sue Donnelly and Town Highway Superintendent Pete Connolly. I look forward to being sworn in for my third term in office and sharing our priorities for 2020. Please join us!
It has been quite a busy week as we all prepare to celebrate the holidays with our family and friends. Before I get into the week at a glance, I want to share a few events I participated in this past weekend.
On Saturday, IFCA's offices on Spring Street had their grand re-opening. IFCA manages an affordable housing portfolio in Ossining as well as providing a local Thrift Store, truly a hidden gem in our community, and the redesign of their entry and office space makes much beter use of their footprint to serve their clients. Also, if you are looking for a gift for a loved one, check out their great secondhand stock, or if you're doing some year end clean up and want to donate your used items locally, this is a great place to consider. Buying secondhand and donating clothing are some of the best ways to reduce your impact on the environment and give back. I picked up a great piece that day in the store for under $5 and wore it later that night to rave reviews! Congratulations to the entire team at IFCA, including our very own Jackie Shaw, who is finishing up her first few months as Executive Director.
Later that night, Gullotta House had a wonderful holiday celebration, thanking their volunteers and showcasing some great talents. We helped to recognize honoree, Bobby Nolan of AAA Nolan’s Auto, as Gullotta House Volunteer of the Year as well, for going above and beyond for anyone who needs a helping hand.
Then on Sunday, I joined the Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps for their annual celebration and installation of officers. Congratulations to Honorable Bill Hanauer for being sworn in as OVAC's new president, and thank you to the many dedicated men and women of OVAC that serve our community daily.
On Monday morning, I joined my fellow elected officials from across Westchester to review and vote on the Westchester County Shared Services plan. The County has put forth some innovative ideas to help us all collaborate more effectively, ultimately saving taxpayer dollars. I was excited to join in as we voted unanimously to approve the plan. I look forward to using this plan as a roadmap in 2020 to help us work better together and discover costsaving tools to govern more efficiently.
Monday afternoon was the open house for the Climate-adaptive Design Studio semester in Ossining. If you haven't been following the exciting news, the Town and Village of Ossining were selected in June to be the host community for Cornell University's Climate-adaptive Design Studio. In partnership with the New York State DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program, graduate students in landscape architecture from Cornell get paired with Hudson riverfront communities to explore design solutions to be more resilient against the impacts of climate change. As we have all experienced living in Ossining, increased flooding during storm events can be catastrophic for our riverfront properties. We also know that over the next several decades, we will experience sea level rise that will only worsen the effects of flooding in the future. Participating in this program with these amazing students and their professor Josh Cerra has been very eye opening and I have truly learned so much.
During the open house, it was great to see many community members and stakeholders come out to see the students' presentations. We also recorded most of the presentations and are working on compiling a video that will be shared on the Town's YouTube page shortly. Fortunately, the CaD studio in Ossining will not end just because the semester is over! We will be meeting with the CaD leadership team, including Professor Cerra, Libby Zemaitis from the DEC, and Community Coordinator Liz LoGiudice to review the students' designs once more, develop ways to gather additional community feedback on the designs, and brainstorm strategies for bringing some of our collective favorites to fruition. Stay tuned for more updates to come on how we can all plan better for Ossining's future.
Once again, huge thank you to Victoria Cafarelli from my office and Jaimie Hoffman from the Village Manager's office for coordinating all the behind the scenes work, including three site visits from the students, additional community input exercises at the library and community center, a trip to Ithaca for key Town/Village stakeholders, and the competitive letter of interest that resulted in our selection. And of course, thank you to Professor Cerra, Libby Zemaitis and Fran Dunwell from the DEC, and Liz LoGiudice for choosing Ossining. We had been following the great work of the CaD studio for a few years now, so it was very fulfilling to see this initial process come to a close, knowing there is still lots more work ahead.
We did a lot of celebrating this week. This past Tuesday was our last evening meeting of 2019. It was a short one, but we did get to honor some very special guests. The DeMarchis family of Westerly Marina joined us to celebrate their 60th anniversary of doing business in Ossining. The Town Board, along with the Village Mayor, presented the family with proclamations and even named days in their honor-- December 31st is Westerly Marina Day in the Town of Ossining!
Then on Wednesday, we held our final 2019 staff meeting for the Town. I brought some treats to share, and we all got a chance to reflect on what we achieved in 2019. An added treat-- Victoria, Maddi and I all chipped in to buy each department head a special coffee mug so they can stay fueled going into 2020!
Then yesterday, the Town Tax Office held their annual Chili Party for Town and Village staff (as well as whatever residents happen to stop in!). This is a longstanding annual tradition in the Tax Office, and Holly, Patti and Angela pulled it off beautifully this year (and yes, they "sold out", no leftovers!)
There will be a little more celebrating next week, I'm sure, but don't forget that we are on a different schedule coming up. The Board will be meeting Monday morning, December 23rd at 8AM in the 3rd Floor Conference Room at 16 Croton Avenue to pay bills and take care of any other pressing business before the New Year. Otherwise, our next work session will take place on January 7th, our first meeting of 2020. Also of note, Town Offices will be closing at 12:30PM on Tuesday, December 24th and will be closed all day on Wednesday, December 25th. We will also be closing at 12:30PM on Tuesday, December 31st and closed all day on Wednesday, January 1st. However, feel free to come visit us on any of the other weekdays-- we will be glad to help you out and perhaps share some candy too.
This week, the Village of Ossining shared an important update on complaints they have received about an upleasant odor from tap water. If you did not receive their press release, I would like to share the following message with you:
"Some people have noticed that their water has undesirable aesthetic quality/taste recently. The reason is that NYC's Croton Reservoir, where Ossining gets most of our water from, is experiencing excessive mixing of bottom nutrients due to the erratic weather conditions of late.
We have recently conducted numerous chemical and microbiological tests in our water system, including at the homes of several residents. The results of all tests have been in the normal range, assuring that our drinking water remains safe. We have been fine-tuning our treatment process in a responsible way to overcome this issue and have already gotten responses from residents that there has been some improvement.
We appreciate your concern and patience during this event. If you have any questions, please call 914-941-3554."
Thank you to Water Superintendent Andy Tiess and Village Manager Karen D'Attore for addressing these concerns.
Even as most of us slow down these next few weeks to celebrate the holiday season, there is quite a bit going on around Ossining.
Have you gotten a little overzealous with your reading material and racked up some fines with the Ossining Public Library? OPL is offering a very cool program this holiday season -- for one donated non-perishable food item you bring from December 8th through the 21st, one dollar will be wiped from your overdue fines. What a great way to give back -- and clear up those fines before the New Year. That sound you hear is my entire office stampeding to C-Town to stock up -- tomorrow is the last day!
Tonight, Friday, December 20th, join the Greater Ossining Chamber of Commerce for their holiday celebration starting at 8PM at the Boathouse Restaurant. With a DJ, Karaoke, and a basket of cheer (you have to go to find out what that is!), this is sure to be a fun way to ring in the holiday season with Ossining’s small business owners.
Head to the Ossining Farmers Market tomorrow, Saturday, December 21st to stock up before the holidays. Yes -- the Farmers Market continues through the winter here in Ossining at Market Square and although the fresh fruits and veggies aren't as plentiful as they are in July, there are still plenty of local producers to support on a weekly basis. Bundle up, and grab an olive platter for your holiday potluck from Picklicious, or cookies from Meredith's Bread for a cookie swap -- no one will know you didn't bake them yourself!
Save the date for the Ossining and Briarcliff Community Menorah Lightings on Thursday, December 26th starting at Ossining’s Market Square at 3:30PM and moving to Briarcliff Pocket Park at 4:45PM. In Ossining, don’t miss the opportunity to catch the raining chocolate gelt (much better than ice, rain, and sleet in my opinion) and watch a fire juggling show in Briarcliff. There will be latkes, donuts, hot cider, and more, making this a wonderful family event.
Received some not-so-perfect gifts this holiday season? Come swap one of them out at Sing Sing Kill Brewery’s white elephant re-gift exchange! On Friday, December 27th, come on down to the taproom at 6:30PM with a wrapped present (please note that re-gifted items must be unused and unopened). Have a drink, mingle, and scope out the pile. The gift exchange will begin promptly at 7:30PM. They will follow the official rules, and trust me, they are no joke so study up!
Partygoers at Sing Sing Kill Brewery will ring in 2020 with Brew Year’s Eve. The night includes entertainment, games, prizes, a Taste of Ossining buffet style dinner, and midnight toast, plus a hands-on brewing experience with commemorative keepsakes. A $60 ticket includes hands-on brewing experience, A Taste of Ossining buffet style dinner, entertainment, games and prizes, complimentary NY farm sparkling wine toast at midnight, brewer’s breakfast in the wee hours of the New Year, and commemorative keepsakes to take home. Get your tickets now!
If you survive Brew Year's Eve, Sing Sing Kill Brewery continues the fun on New Year's Day, too, with karaoke! Check out their website to see all that’s going on there.
During the holidays, the Community Center will have special hours for the game room and gym. If you have teenagers home on holiday break, this is a great way for them to spend quality time with their friends in a safe space (but only if they finish their break homework packets first!).
One of our main priorities in 2020 is ensuring everyone gets counted in the upcoming Census. To that end, I encourage you to mark your calendars for an informational meeting being scheduled by the Ossining School District in early January. Come to get the facts so you can be more informed. And yes, the Census does have a huge impact on school funding!
Senator David Carlucci has a Senior Advisory Meeting coming up in January at the Ossining Public Library. This meeting is sure to provide lots of helpful information for our seniors -- I encourage you to attend.
County Legislator Borgia recently shared with me this opportunity. I hope those who would benefit from taking advantage of this financial assistance will do so, especially if they have young children or pregnant women living in their homes.
Happy Holidays to all!