Tomorrow we are celebrating a holiday across the country, recognizing the United States declaring its independence from England. Each year, Independence Day is an opportunity to celebrate the United States’ promise of liberty, equality, and justice for all as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. The events of this year have given us pause, forcing us to reckon with the fact that these promises have not been extended equally “for all” throughout our country’s history. This year, we think it is important we recognize Independence Day as a humbling experience, and definitely a call to action that we can all do better in the future. Our Town offices will be closed tomorrow, July 3, in observance of the holiday. We will be back on Monday, July 6, ready to continue all our hard work on behalf of you, our constituents!
We know many people were disappointed to hear that the Town will not be hosting our annual fireworks show this year. We certainly miss seeing everyone in person, but we cannot justify bringing thousands of people together during this pandemic, as mentioned at our meetings and in past updates. Our annual celebration has drawn close to 4,000 attendees in the past, far beyond the gatherings of 25 currently allowed by New York State. As your Town government, we recognize we need to be a leader on this issue and do whatever we can to prevent large gatherings of people, continue to contain the spread of COVID-19, and protect public health. We know this event is a community favorite, so please rest assured you can mark your calendars for a great 2021 fireworks show.
To celebrate, we have adjusted our Summer Concert Series to a virtual show each Friday in July, and we may possibly extend into August, depending on how popular they are. The Zoom concerts will be streamed on Facebook live starting tomorrow, with Mike Risko as our emcee! The line-up will feature super talented musicians performing from their own homes so there will be no in-person viewing of the shows.
You are NOT going to want to miss this Friday’s concert, featuring Marc Von Em, starting at 6pm on Facebook Live via the Town’s Facebook Page. Marc is not only a veteran performer from our Waterfront Summer Concert Series, but he has toured with Rob Thomas and performed with Santana! We are so grateful he has agreed to join us this week to officially kick off our Virtual Concert Series. If you just cannot wait, check out our page for a surprise dress rehearsal featuring Marc from yesterday afternoon – trust me, it will just leave you wanting more!
We encourage the community to support our local restaurants during these virtual concerts. We will be highlighting some of the amazing local dishes available, so instead of getting jealous, get yourself some take-out before the show starts and keep track of all the amazing food choices you have available right here in your own backyard. We have been sharing a restaurants list since the PAUSE orders started in March. As you probably noticed by now, the list changes color every time there is a new addition. There are two new restaurants on the list this week, and we are happy to have them back.
The Town and Village will also be co-hosting a patriotic House Decorating Contest. Register here for your house to be considered! The deadline for participating has been extended to Sunday, July 5. We can’t wait to see creative Ossining on display this weekend! We hope this will be a small, but impactful way to remind us all that even if we cannot be together in person, we are certainly all in this together.
Before we jump into some of the other great events happening around town (and virtually) I would like to remind everyone that Ossining is currently on track to enter Phase 4 on Tuesday. Ossining is part of the Mid-Hudson region, which had a slight rise in cases due to a graduation related event in a nearby town. It is important to recognize that we are not in the clear yet. Phase 4 is not a full return to normal. As we see other states deal with increasing cases we must remain vigilant in our hand washing, mask wearing, and social distancing. We have come so far, we do not want to go backward! The spikes in cases across the country have largely been tied back to unsafe gatherings in various settings from Memorial Day weekend. As we look at another long weekend, please remember lives are at stake when we let down our safety guard. It is not just “you” at risk, but many, many others.
Phase 4 will allow gatherings of up to 50 and the reopening of aquariums, zoos, and botanical gardens with limited capacity. Religious institutions can resume operation with limited capacity as well. Many people hoped malls, gyms, and movie theaters would reopen with Phase 4, but the Governor has indicated we are not quite there yet. There is no Phase 5, 6, 7 etc. but the NYS Health Department will continue to issue guidance regarding reopening procedures. As a reminder, we are still in Phase 3.
We have also heard that people who have been contacted by contact tracers have not been honest and/or if exposed to COVID-19, have not been isolating according to safety protocols. Again, this is not just one’s self at risk, but tens, hundreds, then thousands of others if you do not comply. Be smart, be safe, be considerate. If you receive a call from NYS Contact Tracing please pick up the phone. The calls are being made by individuals trained to contact you if you have been exposed to the virus. They can help you get food, manage childcare/eldercare responsibilities, and connect you with healthcare experts. They can also get you the necessary paperwork for your employer to allow you time off. As cases rise in other states, New York is expecting clusters to surface. You can prevent the spread by picking up the phone.
A lot of people are skeptical of callers asking for personal information – as we all should be these days. Here is some helpful information to help everyone stay safe. Official contact tracers will ONLY call you from the official state Caller ID “NYS Contact Tracing”. If your phone does not allow caller ID features, the call will come from (518) 387-9993.
We have been bombarded with calls about our parks facilities and have been working round the clock to get them ready for Phases 3 and 4. We believe everything is in place for the Spray Park at Louis Engel to open on Monday, 7/6 from 12-7. Here are the protocols that will be in place so please read and share and be prepared!
We have also gotten a lot of questions about our Dog Park. Our Park’s team has been working to get the final touches finished on some updates. The park is not quite ready yet, but we hope to have an opening date to announce for you soon.
Right now, we believe our baseball and softball fields will be open for organized team play starting next week. Our very, very busy Parks department has been getting them ready, so, as long as there are no further restrictions announced, they should be operating for team sports next week.
We will also be accepting permit applications again for our pavilions and picnic areas starting July 11th. Gatherings are still limited and masks are required when you cannot maintain 6 foot distancing, but these open air venues might be just the thing for a safe, small party as long as you can, actually, maintain it.
Largely, the burden is on all of us to look out for each other. If you see something, say something. Feel free to call our community partners and enforcement agency, the Ossining Police Department, at 941-4099, if you believe there are unsafe practices in our Public Spaces. If you wait to get home or post to Facebook, it will be difficult to help with enforcement. This is a challenging time for us to ask our Police to “be tough on crime,” especially mask enforcement or safety protocols. Nevertheless, they will certainly come to check on unsafe activities and remind people about the rules.
Here is your weekly reminder to complete your Census. I know this information looks familiar (we share it every week) but we’re still not reaching everyone. Help us get the word out! It only takes about 10 minutes to complete. You can fill it out online or by phone, in your preferred language. The specific links and numbers for some of the languages are copied below. If you know someone who probably hasn’t filled out the Census (grandma? Great Aunt Sally? Cousin Luke?) help us get this information out to them.
English: https://my2020census.gov/ or 844-330-2020
TDD (Telephone Display Device): 844-467-2020
Portuguese: https://2020census.gov/pt.html or 844-474-2020
Spanish: https://my2020census.gov/ or 844-468-2020
Chinese: https://2020census.gov/zh-hans.html or 844-391-2020 (Mandarin) 844-398-2020 (Cantonese)
Vietnamese: https://2020census.gov/vi.html or 844-461-2020
Korean: https://2020census.gov/ko.html or 844-392-2020
Russian: https://2020census.gov/ru.html or 844-417-2020
Arabic: https://2020census.gov/ar.html or 844-416-2020
Tagalog: https://2020census.gov/tl.html or 844-478-2020
Polish: https://2020census.gov/pl.html or 844-479-2020
French: https://2020census.gov/fr.html or 844-494-2020
Haitian Creole: https://2020census.gov/ht.html or 844-477-2020
Japanese: https://2020census.gov/ja.html or 844-460-2020
For more language options, visit the US 2020 Census website’s language center: https://2020census.gov/en/languages.html. The Census is a new concept for many people. Remember: it is a count of each resident and is completely confidential by law.
Due to the Independence Day holiday, curbside sales of kits and compostable bags for the Food Scrap Recycling program will not be available tomorrow, Friday, July 3 or Saturday, July 4. Any kits ordered during this timeframe will be available for pick-up on Monday, July 6. Please also stay tuned for an exciting new addition to this program – kit pick-ups and a secondary collection site at the Ossining Farmers Market! Thanks to volunteers from Green Ossining and help from our friends at Teatown Lake Reservation, we hope to begin this new offering as early as July 11th. You can sign up for the Food Scraps mailing list at the Ossining Composts website.
Now for some events – some near, some far, and most virtual!
After the virtual concert tomorrow you will probably be in a very musical mindset. If you have Disney+ you can celebrate Independence Day with a lesson in US History. The streaming service is airing the Tony award winning play Hamilton on July 3. The release date for this event was originally scheduled for 2021 but was moved up as fireworks and other crowd-based celebrations were cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The performance was filmed in 2016 with the original cast. My family and I (and yes, my staff too!) have been singing these songs for a few years now, so we definitely cannot wait!
On July 4, we hope you take advantage of the holiday and enjoy your time off. Please do not set off fireworks on your own, as they can cause serious injury. Our healthcare workers have a lot on their plates right now and we do not want to see an unnecessary rise in emergency room visits. Also, remember that unplanned firework events of any kind can be triggering for Veterans suffering from PTSD, who are not expecting the displays, not to mention the stress the noise can place on some of your furry friends as well. For anyone who absolutely cannot celebrate 4th of July without fireworks, I am excited to share Macy’s fireworks show will air on television from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST on July 4. New York City has specifically stated that it will not share the location the fireworks will be launched from that night, so please do not visit the city in an attempt to watch them live.
Early morning on Sunday, July 5 the USS Slater will pass Ossining on its way from Albany to a repair dock in Staten Island. The USS Slater is a floating museum now, but was used in WWII as a destroyer to combat U-boats (submarines). The exact time the ship will pass Ossining will depend on a lot of factors that morning, so you can keep tabs on the projected times on the ship’s Facebook page.
At 11am on Sunday, July 5, Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church will host a parking lot service with the sermon airing over FM radio and streamed online. Members and guests should sign up in advance on the church website. All attendees will stay in their cars for the entirety of the one hour Park and Praise service. We are pleased to see that our houses of worship are finding innovative ways to observe. Star has been an excellent partner in helping provide food to families in need, we are grateful for their community partnership.
Additionally, on Saturday, July 18 from 9am - 3pm, Star of Bethlehem Church is partnering with Open Door Medical Center to provide free COVID-19 testing in the church parking lot at 304 Spring Street in Ossining. Walk-ups are welcome but making an appointment is encouraged. No insurance is required to get tested and the event is not limited to parishioners. You can sign up for an appointment at www.starbethbc.org under the events tab.
Books on the brain? Ossining students can request “book bundles” as part of an innovative solution to these trying times. Students or guardians can fill out the book bundle application to get a head start on their summer reading – and their new favorite stories.
If your child borrowed a book before student were sent home in March it is important to return it. Books should be brought back to your child’s school. Call the school building for drop off times.
Did you miss the Members Show from the Ossining Art’s Council? Check out their Virtual Gallery and learn more about the pieces and their creators.
Our Cedar Lane Arts Center is getting ready to reopen its doors. Health guidelines for New York State have made our popular classes even more exclusive so sign up now to get a spot! More detailed class descriptions are available on the Ossining Parks and Recreation website.
Information about what’s available right now to help people is included in our easy-to-access COVID-19 Resources Document. This is a joint effort by the Town and Village to organize information during this hectic time. The document lists information on legal assistance, WiFi access, services for seniors, and much more. If you cannot find what you need in this doc, you are welcome to reach out to the Town offices. Our Town staff is responding to all calls and emails.
Food distribution has continued throughout the Ossining, though it may change locations in the upcoming week so continue to look carefully. Check out the schedule below for the upcoming week. The food distributed is done in collaboration with multiple local agencies, so please see below for all those working hard to feed Ossining.
I would like to take this moment to congratulate the staff of the Ossining Public Library for their awards as the “Best Library” and “Best Children’s Library” in Westchester Magazine’s Best of Westchester. These vote-driven merits show how much residents love our library. It is also a testament to the dedication of the library’s staff. Please join me in congratulating them! To see some of the amazing programs they have continued, adapted, or rolled out for us during these past few months, visit the Ossining Public Library website.
Historic Hudson River Towns and all its member communities, which include the Villages of Briarcliff, Ossining, and the Town of Ossining, worked with the company Travel Story to develop a driving tour of communities along the Hudson, north of the Mario Cuomo Bridge. The tour app is available for free via the TravelStorys app. Big shout out to Dana White and Scott Craven, Town and Village of Ossining Historians for their hard work writing and in some cases recording copy for our special local sites. We are excited to be a part of this program and hopefully with more families planning road trips this summer, we can highlight all the best Ossining has to offer virtually.
I hope everyone has a chance to enjoy the holiday weekend. I know this year is atypical, but there is a silver lining to all dark clouds. I am happy to see so many families introducing themselves to our beautiful parks. The Town has over 130 acres of parks, walking trails, and nature preserve space. Due to the increased use of our parks, we are maintaining the carry-in-carry-out policy to reduce garbage left behind. Our Parks team has worked tirelessly to keep everything in ship-shape. If you see garbage carried out of cans by the wind or night-time animals, please do not kick it into waterways or sewers.
Please continue to be safe out there and I hope you enjoy a restful Independence Day weekend!