This is the first update of 2021. While I would love to be able to write about how exciting it is for us to have a fresh start, the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has overshadowed the glow of the new year. Ossining Mayor Rika Levin, Ossining School Superintendent Dr. Raymond Sanchez, and I released a statement condemning Wednesday’s violence. You can read that statement here. The DC Capitol Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation are requesting help from the public to identify those involved. If you recognize someone in the crowds, you can submit an anonymous tip here. Since Wednesday, when we issued our statement, we have learned that five people have died as result of the violence, including Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick. We mourn the loss of life and hope those who organized and incited Wednesday’s events understand the weight of this tragic outcome. I join Federal lawmakers and elected officials across the country in calling for a full investigation into Wednesday’s events so that nothing like this can ever happen again.
I know it has been hard to focus on much this week, with chaos unfolding in our nation’s capital. But, your leaders in the Town continue to focus locally to do good work on behalf of our constituents.
The Town of Ossining accomplished quite a bit in 2020. We oversaw the distribution of 17,000 masks to emergency service personnel, local businesses, and vulnerable populations. We also distributed hand sanitizer and coordinated our social media pages to share updated info about resources available to residents. Now in 2021 as we see increases in cases, we are helping out yet again with some of these items. In 2020 we launched our Food Scraps Recycling program to transform organic material into compost. The program currently fills 12 toters every week – each individual toter being 64 gallons. Homebound residents are becoming increasingly green-minded. We saw over 2700+ views of our Recyclopedia page on the Town of Ossining website. The Town hosted virtual events, including a popular Summer Concert Series on FB Live, and an Organ Donor Enrollment Day Zoom-a-thon with lots of special guests. We also hosted NY Presbyterian Hospital Administrators and Doctors to give us an up to date assessment of the COVID situation from inside hospitals as the vaccine was just about to start rolling out.
We have a lot of plans for 2021. The Ossining Community Equity Task Force is preparing a meeting schedule for the year. Residents can participate in meetings to discuss the future of equity in Ossining. The Town will also continue its work on a new Comprehensive Plan - Sustainable Ossining - which will guide land use decisions for the next ten years or so. The Ossining Parks Stewardship group will launch a plan to visit our Town parks in need of TLC to help clear invasive species and teach residents about them as well as friendly native plants. We will be embarking on a major rehabilitation of McCarthy Drive. And, we will continue to do all we can to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, forging ahead with live-saving vaccines for essential workers and vulnerable populations first, and other protective measures. Our annual reorganization meeting is scheduled for this coming Tuesday, January 12th at 7:30 PM via zoom. In addition to all of our annual beginning of the year resolutions, we will also be appointing and reappointing a number of people to our various volunteer boards. We are so grateful for the many application we received when we put out a call for them at the end of 2020. We really are the Volunteer-Spirited Town.
Government is coordinating across many levels to make 2021 a better year for residents. Assemblywoman Sandy Galef published a list of new resources available to residents, including additional unemployment, rent relief, a moratorium on utility shut offs, and paid sick leave. Senator Gillibrand’s office shared with us that the Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will re-open the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. To promote access to capital, initially only community financial institutions will be able to make First Draw PPP Loans on Monday, January 11, and Second Draw PPP Loans on Wednesday, January 13. The PPP will open to all participating lenders shortly thereafter. Updated PPP guidance outlining Program changes to enhance its effectiveness and accessibility was released on January 6 in accordance with the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Non-Profits, and Venues Act. This round of the PPP continues to prioritize millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $284 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses through March 31, 2021, and by allowing certain existing PPP borrowers to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan. For more information, visit the Small Business Administration Website.
Living room spread continues to be the largest contributor to new cases in New York. These cases are contracted when people from multiple households gather in private settings, unintentionally spreading the virus to our family and friends. Positivity rates have climbed since Thanksgiving. If you participated in a gathering, please get a test – even if you don’t have any symptoms. Drive through and walk up testing is available at Star of Bethlehem Church on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. You can reserve an appointment for a test at the Ossining Community Center through Westchester Medical Center. Testing through CVS, Open Door, and other sites can be scheduled through the New York State Find a Test Site Near You feature on their website.
The second half of 2020/2021 School Tax Bills are due by February 1, 2021 (as January 31st is a Sunday). As a reminder, there is no bill mailed for the second half school taxes. In an effort to keep residents safe, the Tax Office is offering multiple options for payment:
- Online at townofossining.com by e-check for a cost of $1.50 charged by our service provider (XpressPay).
- At a dedicated mail slot in the Ossining Post Office Lobby (Open 24/7). You must place a stamp on your envelope. It will be postmarked by 5 pm that day. After 5 pm will be postmarked the next day.
- By mail from any other mailbox – just make sure your payment envelope is postmarked before 2/1/2021.
- At the Town’s Municipal Building LOBBY at 16 Croton Ave during the hours of 9:00 to 2:30 (protocols are in place to keep everyone safe).
*There is a fee of 2.8% for credit cards and $1.50 for using eChecks. NY State Law requires municipalities to pass these fees on to the consumer for tax payments. The amount of the fee will be stated separately for your review before you pay the bill.
Our Highway department is reminding residents that Christmas trees should be left at your curb on your bulk pick-up day. Please remove all ornaments from the tree, as well as wires, lights, and nails. Do not place trees in plastic. Collection will continue until the end of the month.
It’s that time of year when people forget to pick up after their pets. We love that Town residents are walking with their furry friends, but make sure you leave the path clear for the next person.
Our dedicated Cemetery team reminds residents that seasonal decorations should be removed from gravesites by January 17th.
You may have noticed a major restoration project underway at Sally Swope Sitting Park. Thank you to our Parks Foreman Mario Velardo and his team for working in the cold over the past few weeks to get this park ready for the spring. This week, the team added drainage systems. The Town is coordinating with Teatown Reservation to identify and remove invasive species, and protect the beautiful native species. The restoration is expected to be complete when the warmer weather rolls around.
The Village of Ossining is mailing train station permit renewals. The return address is a processing center in Elmsford, so be on the lookout, and be sure not to miss the deadline for renewal (January 15, 2021). Renew online at www.buymypermit.com/ossining, you will need your current account number and permit number to complete the renewal.
As vaccines become more widely available, beware potential scams. Medicare or Social Security (or other government agencies) are not calling people to get them vaccines. The vaccine is free and you do not need to provide your social security number, credit card number, or any bank info to qualify.
New York State is overseeing the distribution of vaccines, which are being further distributed to healthcare “hubs” across the state. The Governor’s office is making it available to nursing homes, their staff, and healthcare workers first. Starting Monday, distribution will expand to teachers, first responders, public safety workers, public transit workers, and residents who are 75 and older. Find out if you are eligible for a vaccine here. New York State plans to launch a portal on Monday to help residents find healthcare sites administering the vaccine. Please be aware that the number of people eligible for vaccines far outweighs the number of doses currently available. This means appointments to get the vaccine will be scheduled across the next few months. The vaccine is not yet available to the general public and anyone attempting to receive the vaccine before they are eligible can be prosecuted by the State Attorney General.
The Westchester Women's Advisory Board is hosting a panel discussion on Issues Facing Immigrant Women on Tuesday, January 12. The event will run from 7-8:30pm via zoom and livestreamed on the Westchester Women's Agenda’s Facebook Page. The program will be in English and Spanish.
Teatown is preparing for its 17th annual Eaglefest, which celebrates the migration of bald eagles to our beautiful Hudson River. The weeklong event starts on Saturday, January 30 and extends until February 7. There will be no programs at Croton Point Park this year, but other in-person locations have been adapted. Virtual presentations will also offered. You can learn more about Eaglefest on the Teatown website.