This week the Town and Village celebrated its annual Tree Lighting ceremony, virtually. You can watch a video of the ceremony on the Village of Ossining YouTube page. We are excited to celebrate the holiday season with you in a healthy and safe way.
It’s hard to believe it, but we are winding down 2020 and looking ahead to 2021. We have a couple of very exciting projects on the horizon, including the McCarthy Drive rehabilitation project. This project has been a long time coming, since a few years ago when our attorneys confirmed that McCarthy Drive had become a Town-owned road. After having that information confirmed, the Town has focused on what is needed to bring the road up to public road standards, which requires a complete rehabilitation. This will include improving stormwater runoff and the water distribution will simultaneously be upgraded while the road is open. If you would like to learn more about this project, our Town/Village Engineer Paul Fraioli joined us at our Regular Meeting this past Tuesday to discus the status of this project – you can view the recording on YouTube. We are currently in the process of seeking competitive bids from contractors on this project, anticipating work to begin in early spring. Yesterday, was the mandatory walkthrough, where interested contractors were required to join the Town’s engineering team to learn more about the project and ask questions before submitting a proposal by the bid date of December 29. We had quite a few contractors participate, so we are hoping to receive some competitive pricing come the bid date.
We are also hoping to engage the community on a number of different projects now, and into the new year. Join us for our Town Hall Meeting next Tuesday to learn about a citizen-led group of neighbors in the area of Ryder Park who are interested in taking the lead on a stewardship program for Ryder open spaces, which can then be a used as a jumping off point for our other Town parks. Most of us know Ryder Park for its ball fields, children’s playground, tennis court, dog run and pavilion, but there are more “wooded” areas of the park that have walking trails and a small pond that is a tributary of the Pocantico River. These areas quickly become overgrown with invasive species and vines, and these neighbors are interested in putting in some work in the spring to plant some native plants to outcompete the invasives, trim away vines, and protect the more natural aspects of the park. We will also be hearing from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference to learn more about the good work they do in our area and will be receiving an update from the Stewardship program the Town helped underwrite this past year at the Unique Area on the Croton River. To cap off the night, we will be getting an update from the Sing Sing Prison Museum project, and learn about some ways the Town can potentially partner on this project in the future. I know we are all very excited to move past this pretty awful year and start fresh in 2021, and believe me, there are a lot of reasons to be excited for the new year.
The Comprehensive Plan process will also continue into 2021. The Town is looking for public input as it drafts its Comprehensive Plan. A Comp Plan is a blueprint for a municipality, laying out the next decade of planned projects and goals. We want your opinions, suggestions, and ideas for this new plan, which will be used as a guide in making future land use decisions. We will be holding workshops and forums to keep the ball rolling, but you can help us get started when you complete the survey here. The survey is also available in Spanish. The survey will be open through December 20. We have already received 200-plus responses! Thank you to those who have already participated.
The Town of Ossining and the Village of Ossining want to hear your opinions on policing. The Police Reform Collaborative Review Project is a response to the Governor’s Executive Order requiring all police departments to collaborate with their community about reforming and reimagining policing. A wide range of topics related to police services in Ossining will be discussed. The Spanish-language Zoom Session was held Thursday and the English-language Zoom session will be tomorrow.
Simultaneously to these new protocols being implemented in our Court, on Monday, December 7 we learned that an attorney who had attended Town Court proceedings and a small gathering in the courthouse on Tuesday, December 1 subsequently tested positive for Covid-19. As most of the Town Court staff were present for both the Court proceedings and the gathering, they were deemed to be in direct contact with a positive Covid-19 case and required to quarantine. Therefore, in addition to the reduction of in person proceedings due to the protocols of the Ninth Judicial District, we also had to close our parking window for payments. We look forward to getting our Court staff back as soon as it is safe to do so, which we anticipate being Wednesday, December 16. The Court will not penalize anyone for paying late as a result of the Court’s temporary closure.
This has been a reminder that now is not the time to let down our guard – it only takes one person at a small gathering to put everyone else at risk. The symptoms of Covid-19 range so much, it is easy to just want to power through the work day, keep an appointment with a friend or colleague, if you have a small cough or headache, but unfortunately, that could be much worse. So please, take it from us, avoid small gatherings if at all possible, stay home if you are not feeling well, your family, friends, loved ones, and co-workers will thank you.
This time of year can be very stressful for people – even in a year without a pandemic, mass calls for social justice reforms, an unemployment crisis, and the threat of giant hornets. Take a few moments to check in with yourself and those you care about. New York State is offering healthcare options that may be helpful during these next few weeks. Many services are free or can be coordinated for low fees, so reach out and get help if you need it.
The Governor spoke frankly this week about the rising cases across the State. New York has one of the lowest positivity rates in the country, but our hospital workers are facing burnout and PTSD from nine months of being on the frontlines. A state-wide call has gone out to retirees of the healthcare profession to return to the field. The State Health Department is managing daily reviews of hospital capacity to balance overwhelmed smaller hospitals with larger institutions. Additionally, the Governor announced today that indoor dining will no longer be allowed in New York City, and we continue to watch carefully for any further changes in restrictions affecting our region.
People who test positive today have a 70% chance of having contracting it at a small, private gathering. These cases are being called “Living Room Spread” because they come from people we trust, who did not yet know they were carrying the virus. Think twice before visiting friends and family indoors. If you must visit someone outside of our household, avoid eating or drinking together. Wear your mask the entire time you interact, socially distance the entire time, and do not touch your mask or face without washing your hands immediately before. Ossining has a lot of testing sites, so find an appointment if you suspect you have been exposed with the Find a Site Near Me feature on the New York State website. There will also be mobile testing in Ossining next week, see the flyer below.
Government offices at many different levels are offering resources for residents. New York State has launched a program to help New Yorkers find services and benefits. The Find Services Feature provides an easy-to-use starting point for community members in need of social services, including Paid Family Leave, tax relief, accessing addiction services, Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), COVID-19 Emotional Support Helpline, Mental Health Resources, Child Health Plus, COVID-19 resources for New Americans, NY State of Health (Official Healthcare Marketplace), Medicaid, and the NYS Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence Hotline. If you would like to reach out to a more local office for this information, you can use the County information hotline by dialing 211 or call my office at 914-762-6001.
The rise in case numbers will mean that more of our residents receive calls from Contact Tracers. These calls are confidential and you have the right to speak to a contact tracer in your preferred language. If you see an incoming call from NYS Contact Tracing, please pick up the phone.
If you have recovered from COVID-19 but are experiencing long-term symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider. The Westchester Medical Center has established a Post-COVID-19 Recovery Program at the WMC campus in Valhalla. There is an increase in evidence that the virus can result in lingering symptoms such as fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, headache, muscle weakness, and joint pain, as well as impact to the heart, lungs, brain, and blood cells. Some patients recovering from COVID-19 infection also continue to experience mental “fogginess,” confusion, anxiety, depression, and other psychological and emotional issues for months after initially becoming infected. You can contact the WMCHealth Post-COVID-19 Recovery Program at 1-833-329-0095 or visit them online for more information and to request an evaluation.
Valhalla American Legion Post 1038 is making food accessible to Veterans in need. On Mondays through early 2021, Veterans are welcome to stop by 27 Legion Drive in Valhalla for contactless drive-through and pick-up of grocery items. If you know a Veteran in need, please share this with them. If you have any questions, please call Commander John Creskey at 914-282-3169.
Teatown’s Holiday “Bundles of Joy” eStore is online just in time for holiday shopping. All proceeds support Teatown’s mission to inspire our community to lifelong environmental stewardship. Browse the entire selection on the Teatown website.
Let the festivities begin. From virtual celebrations to contact-less donation drop offs, the creativity is flowing. Let’s dive into some events.
Briarcliff High School Students are participating in the 12th Annual Westchester Polar Plunge to support Special Olympics New York. Embracing the theme of icy temp celebrations, Carvel in Chilmark Shopping Center has generously agreed to give a free ice cream cone to everyone who donates $30 or more (bring proof of donation)!
Westchester County is offering Black Friday deals on golf cards until the end of the year. Visit www.golf.westchestergov.com for more information.
Light shows are a fun way to remain socially distanced while still enjoying an event with others. The #lightsonjenkinscourt is returning for a fourth year to bring cheer to the neighborhood. Please see their Facebook event for the address and their requested rules. Remember, this a private residence, so be respectful of their home and the homes of others on this street.
Sing Sing Kill Brewery’s newest art exhibition features the works of Ossining artist Garrett Ball. The exhibition, titled Silent Songs, opens tonight and runs through the month of January. Ball moved to Ossining in 2015 and has painted backdrops and scenery for dozens of Broadway, major film, and TV productions. You can meet the artist on opening night from 6:30-8:00pm. The brewery will be following all COVID-19 health guidelines.
In the fall, the Daisy Jopling Music Mentorship Foundation collaborated with the Bannerman Castle Trust to create a series of five concerts on Bannerman Island in Dutchess County. The filmed result, titled Illuminance is a “Musical Salute to the Magic of Bannerman Castle” and is available to stream tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday.
Westchester Collaborative Theater (WCT), is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Join them for Cheers to 10 Years, a virtual celebration recognizing the company’s decade of success in developing new work for the theater. The production will stream live on Saturday, December 12 at 8 pm. For more information, visit http://www.wctheater.org/.
The Westchester Department of Social Services is accepting gift cards for the County’s foster children. Currently, Westchester County has over 500 children in foster care, ranging from infants to 21 years old. You can learn more about this Holiday Fund by calling 914-995-1937 or visiting the County website.
Whether you spell the holiday Hanukkah or Chanukah, you are invited to celebrate with a car parade. Starting at 3:30 on Sunday, December 13th, the parade will pass five long-term care centers and then meet at Market Square in the Village of Ossining for a menorah lighting. This is a free event. Register at through the Briarcliff Chabad website.
Briarcliff Police Department is holding their annual Coat Drive! New or gently used winter coats can be dropped off at police headquarters until December 18.
Gullotta House is holding a Charity Restaurant Raffle. Purchase your tickets at the Gullotta House website and the organization will email or test your raffle numbers. A live drawing of the winner will be done on Facebook Live December 20th.
Baker-Collyer is hosting a Cheer Fund to purchase food for local families in need. You can make a donation as part of this century old tradition at the Baker-Collyer Christmas website.
The Greater Ossining Chamber of Commerce is offering gift cards for free meals at food distribution locations in Ossining. The gift cards are available through the Chamber’s Virtuous Collective, which helps bridge the financial gap between local restaurant menus and residents with food insecurity. For more information or to donate to this program, go to the Virtuous Collective website.
Ossining Padres Hispanos is celebrating the season with their Adopt-A-Family giving program. The program supports families who are experiencing difficult times. Sponsors are asked to provide one new gift or one new clothing item per child or a combination of both. Sponsors are also asked to bring a basket of food or gift card for food. Sponsors can provide more if they wish. Reach out to Ossining Padres Hispanos to be assigned a family and receive a wish list. Contact Ana at OPH for more information.
The Marine Corps Reserve is hosting their annual Toys for Tots collection. New, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at the Municipal Building by the Clerk’s Office. The office is on the first floor and our screener will greet you at the front door. See the list of suggested items below and stop by between 9am – 2:30 pm (M-F) to drop them off.
Open Door Family Medical Center is hosting a Toy Drive with a goal to collect 5000 new, unwrapped toys and gift cards. The target age for toys ranges from newborn to 14 years and should be valued around $20. Check out their wish list below and help make the season magical for a local child.
The Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corp (OVAC) is hosting a Blood Drive on December 30th. Make an appointment online and stop by to help save a life.
The Town and Village of Ossining Inauguration of Local Elected Officials will be virtual this year. All are welcome to join this Zoom event on Friday, January 1 at noon. Click here for the Zoom link. The meeting ID is 942 7543 4613. To call into the meeting, you can dial 1-(929)-205-6099 and then enter the Meeting ID.
If you plan to make your home a festive escape, snap a few pictures and enter the Holiday House Decorating Contest hosted by the Ossining Families, Positively Ossining, or Ossining Moms Facebook groups. Be sure to post your photos with the caption #winterossining2020 by December 21st.
Lastly, I would like to encourage all residents to shop local. Small businesses are owned by your neighbors; when they succeed we all succeed. You may be surprised what you can buy locally, but if you aren’t sure where to start you can use our Small Business Bingo game to get started. Local businesses have had a tough year, let’s make sure to support them.
Happy Hanukkah, for all those who celebrate! Have a great weekend – and please, please, please stay safe!