We have hit the ground running this year with presentations from the County Planning Commissioner on Census 2020 (at our first work session of the year), and follow up meetings with the Cornell and Hudson River Estuary folks to discuss next steps from the work we did with the Climate Adaptive Design Studio with the Village of Ossining. We have also had changes in our staffing including a new addition to our Parks Department (Alban Sylaj), a new Judge (Benjamin Felcher Leavitt), new Town Clerk (Susanne Donnelly), new Town Prosecutor (Stephen Dewey), officially elected Highway Superintendent (Pete Connolly), and in the Supervisor’s office, new Budget Director (Victoria Cafarelli). We have one more change that we are hoping to make at our Special Meeting on Tuesday regarding our planning consultant. The Town Board will be considering a resolution on Tuesday, January 21st to appoint Nelson, Pope, & Voorhis, LLC. as the Town's planning consultant for 2020. We will be saying goodbye to FP Clark Associates, and David Stolman, who have served the town for decades. David has been such an asset to the Town, and certainly a familiar face to many. We thank David for his decades of service to the Ossining community and all of the incredible work he has done on projects ranging from simple two-lot subdivisions to Comprehensive Plans; he has touched nearly all of our existing polices on planning and zoning in the Town.
We are also excited for the future with Nelson, Pope, & Voorhis, LLC. with Valerie Monastra who will serve as the primary contact for the Town. Valerie is also a familiar face around Ossining as she lives in the Village with her family, and served as the Village of Ossining's planner for ten years before entering private practice. Valerie has the best combination of institutional knowledge of our community and innovative thinking for this role. I am confident Valerie will do an excellent job helping us navigate all of the projects on our horizon, including assisting us with the Comprehensive Plan as we bring our Steering Committee on board and look to select another planning firm to take the lead on the Plan. Valerie will be joining us for her first Town Board meeting on Tuesday evening, when she will be discussing with us recommendations for the size and composition of the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee. This decision will help us select the right candidates to be appointed to this important committee as we complete interviews will all applicants next week. Welcome Valerie!
On Monday, we finally held the bid opening for the Dale Cemetery Cottage Renovations. This project has been in the planning stages for several years, and it was very fulfilling to reach this stage! This historic building requires a good amount of work and has a lot of potential. We formatted the bid to include several "add/alternates" in order to scale the renovation within the Town's budget during the bidding phase. We are now going to review the bid submission in detail with our architect, engineering staff, and Cemetery Superintendent Pete Connolly and present to the board our recommendations for the full scope of the renovation.
On Tuesday, we had our debriefing meeting with the team from the Cornell University Climate-adaptive Design studio. Along with the Village of Ossining and a few key stakeholders, including state and county representatives, and significantly, Metro North representatives, we reviewed the designs completed by Cornell landscape architecture graduate students for our waterfront. Participating in this program has been an eye-opening experience -- as we consider the impacts climate change will have on our waterfront in the next few decades. Although the designs produced are still at student level, this debriefing meeting with Professor Josh Cerra, Libby Zemaitis from the Hudson River Estuary Program, and their community coordinator Liz LoGiudice will help us navigate next steps. This will help inform and buttress future grant opportunities, some of which are made available only as a result of our participation in this program. As we move forward and help bring the lessons learned from this experience into our community, we know we need to keep the impacts of climate change front and center and consider incorporating the designs and ideas of the students into our Comprehensive Plan Process.
This week, the Town Parks Department was hard at work getting us ready for spring. These warm days in January let us finish up installing our new mulch around our new equipment at Louis Engel and Buck Johnson Parks. Although it's a little too cold outside for outdoor workouts, you definitely need to check out these latest additions to our parks when it warms back up a bit! At both Engel and Buck Johnson, the outdoor adult fitness equipment can help you incorporate some cross fit training into your outdoor walks or runs. Here's Engel Park:
Pro-tip: each of the pieces of equipment have QR codes that you can scan to help learn some new workouts! And here is the finished product at Buck Johnson:
Both parks also have upgrades for our younger parkgoers -- at Buck Johnson there is a super cute playground piece and at Engel, we have installed new swings. The old swings broke last season, so we are very excited to get this piece of equipment back in place. Note: one of the swings is ADA accessible. Shout out to our newest Parks Groundskeeper, Alban -- he definitely approves!
Dale Cemetery Superintendent Pete Connolly would like to remind everyone to please pick up any seasonal decorations from Dale Cemetery or Sparta Cemetery by Monday, January 27th. Otherwise, the decorations will be removed and disposed of by our Cemetery Staff. If you have any questions, please call the Cemetery office at (914) 941-1155.
Neighbor's Link is offering free English tutoring at their offices in Ossining on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. They can accommodate up to 30 participants per session. Thank you to Neighbor's Link for all the good work they do for Ossining, helping people learn English, and growing the community.
The fight for Foundation Aid continues for the Ossining School District as the New York State legislature comes back into session for 2020. Join the Ossining schools for an Educational Equity Rally this Saturday, January 18th, as they continue to encourage our state legislators to address discrepancies in Foundation Aid funding. The rally will take place from 9:30 - 10:30 a.m. at the Westchester County Daronco Courthouse located at 111 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., White Plains. This rally will focus on the fight for the “Harmed Suburban Five” school districts, which receive some of the lowest percentages of Foundation Aid funding in New York State - including Ossining, Glen Cove City School District, Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District, Riverhead Central School District, and Westbury School District.
A book discussion group focusing on African-American, African, and Afro-Caribbean authors meets at the Ossining Public Library on the 3rd Saturday of each month. This month's book is Americanah by Chimandanda Ngozi Adiche, and the next meeting is January 18th at 3pm. Next month's book is The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead -- get your copy reserved now at OPL!
The Ossining School District's Saturday Explore and Learn series continues this Saturday. Check out the many fun offerings they have for the whole family!
This weekend, we can honor Dr. King by attending the Cooperative Scholarship Fund Celebration and Tribute to Dr. King, to be held on Saturday, January 18th at 3pm at the Ossining High School Theater. Donations will support the Cooperative Scholarship Fund, which goes directly to OHS students heading to college. This year, the celebration will feature KJ Denhert -- one of my favorite local performers, and Sarah White will be speaking, another of my new faves -- she is a great storyteller!
Have you tried West African Dance yet? Not to be missed, work off calories while dancing to the tune of some phenomenal drumming! Then enjoy some craft brews at SSKB. It is invigorating to say the least.
Plan on joining the Briarcliff-Ossining Ministerial Alliance for a service remembering the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Sunday, January 19th at 7:30pm at Star of Bethlehem Church. This annual service will feature the theme of Renewal and Reconciliation with speaker Reverend Dr. William Shaw. Reverend Shaw has experienced the power of renewal and reconciliation advocating for peace and acceptance through sectarian conflicts in Northern Ireland. This is always an inspiring evening honoring the life and legacy of Dr. King.
In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Ossining Library will be presenting this performance which promises to be both fascinating and entertaining, about the woman who hid the Frank family in Holland. As a child of a hidden child myself, my mother was also born in Amsterdam, I plan to be there, and am hoping to see many of you as well.
Assemblywoman Sandy Galef has her annual Town Meetings lined up for January and February, starting on January 25th at the Desmond Fish Library in Garrison at 10am and the Field Library in Peekskill at 1pm. Assemblywoman Galef will also be more local to us at the Briarcliff Manor Library on Thursday, February 6th at 7pm.
Starting February 3rd and ending April 15th, IFCA Housing Network will be providing free income tax preparation services at their offices on Spring Street and at Ossining High School. This program is for New York State residents, who work in New York State, have incomes less than $56,000 per year, and who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. You can start making appointments now by calling (914) 941-5252 for sessions at IFCA's headquarters at 138 Spring Street and appointments are available Monday (12pm-3pm), Tuesday (10am-3pm), Wednesday (1pm-5pm), Thursday (10am-3pm), Friday (1:30pm-3:30pm), and Saturday (12:30pm-3:30pm). There will also be walk-in hours on Mondays from February 3rd through April 6th at Ossining High School (Room 202) from 4pm through 8pm. Please note the walk-in hours at OHS will not be held on February 17th, April 6th, and April 13th. This program is sponsored by Wells Fargo Foundation.
Save the date, Saturday, February 15th, for Gullotta House's 3rd annual Escape from Sing Sing Plunge! Register now, or become a sponsor -- the proceeds fund the Gullotta House's many deserving causes. You know I will be plunging. Brrrrr!
If you haven't been checking your weather app, we just wanted you to know that there is a Winter Weather Advisory in our area starting at 10am on Saturday, January 18th and ending 1am on Sunday. There is a high potential for light accumulating snow in our area starting late tomorrow morning and ending tomorrow evening. As of right now, it looks like we could get around four to five inches, with snow falling at a rate of one inch per hour, so please remember to be safe and try to stay off the roads if you can. On this long weekend, it sounds like a good plan to stay inside with a good book and wait until the snow clears. As always during snow events, please do not shovel or plow snow from your driveway onto the street, stay out of the way of the snow plows, and we should be good to go by Sunday!