Dana Levenberg, Town Supervisor
phone (914) 762-6001
fax (914) 762-0833
16 Croton Avenue
Ossining, NY 10562
The Supervisor's Office is located on the third floor of the Town offices. Office hours are Monday - Friday, 9:00 am - 2:30 pm due to COVID restrictions.
- Last Updated: 10 April 2020 10 April 2020
I would like to start out with some good wishes -- I hope all those that celebrate Passover had a nice first few nights and those that celebrate Easter are taking the time to recognize a solemn Holy Week, and are looking forward to a happy Easter. This week, I had participated in a couple of Zoom seders with my family, and it was certainly bittersweet. While we were not together in person, it did offer us a chance to include family members from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Albany, Ossining, Park Slope, Mexico, California, Connecticut, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida, so I guess that is a bit of a silver lining. It is difficult, especially during these typically celebratory times, to be without our friends, families, and faith communities. And yet, thanks to the technologies available to us, we are able to celebrate this year with family near and far, which has certainly been a much needed respite from these difficult days. Thank you to Ossining's faith leaders for developing creative ways for people to celebrate their faith traditions safely this year. Also, you may notice we are sending out this message a little earlier than normal -- today Town staff are working a half day in observance of Good Friday. We will all be back Monday morning, and will respond to your inquiries then.
This week, we saw the number of Coronavirus cases in the Unincorporated Town raise to 68 and in the Village of Ossining to 363. Throughout the State, we have seen over 700 deaths per day this week, and as Governor Cuomo reminds us, it is important to remember that each one of those people represent families and communities of New Yorkers experiencing the worst outcome of the pandemic. In response to Governor Cuomo and County Executive Latimer's call, all flags flying at Town and Village buildings have been lowered to half staff until we start to see an end to the deaths caused by this pandemic. I hope this helps us all pause for a moment, and align our thoughts with the families and friends of those that have passed. However, we have also seen some positive figures regarding the number of hospitalizations across the State, which indicate that our efforts to stay at home as much as possible and exercise social distancing when we do need to go out, are in fact helping to stop the spread. Of course, we need to balance the good news with the bad, and continue to remain vigilant in our efforts to slow the growth of positive cases and ultimately prevent deaths from this illness.
It is easy to get caught up in the overflow of information these days. I am proud to see our community making constant efforts to help good news outshine the bad. This week we participated in calls with State and County officials to learn about relief options being rolled out for individuals and businesses. We are expecting to be able to share details of this relief sometime next week – including resources for those with questions. There are currently teams of qualified volunteers being trained to navigate the federal relief packages offered through the CARES ACT and US Small Business Administration.
There is also positive news for individuals facing financial hardships. Unemployment in New York has been extended from 26 weeks to 39 weeks and claims will be honored retroactive to the date of lost employment. We know the website and call line have been overwhelmed but the Governor’s office has switched services to help accommodate the influx of site/phone traffic as of last night, and will call people back within 72 hours instead of having applicants call them. Further, an additional $600 will be incoming from the State on each claim. We know people have been trying to get through to the unemployment office for weeks, we are hopeful the backlog will be clearing up within the next week.
I would like to remind you that the US Census has begun! If you have not received this information, you will be able to respond to the Census online, by phone in one of 13 languages, or by mail. Ensuring an accurate count is more important than ever right now, did you know that the Census responses are invaluable in planning for and responding to crises like the Coronavirus pandemic? The Census bureau produces timely local data that are critical to emergency planning, preparedness, and recovery efforts for all types of emergencies. Data on businesses assist in measuring the economic impact of disasters, and statistics from the American Community Survey can help identify vulnerable populations like the elderly. Learn more by reading this article from the Census Bureau. We have learned that the Town of Ossining is at a response rate that is good, but not great, so check your mailboxes for your code to respond today. We are seriously behind some of our neighbors like the Villages of Briarcliff and Croton, and the Town of New Castle (not that we are competitive or anything) -- we need to get those responses in! I promise it is painless, it only takes about 10 minutes to complete.
I held a Facebook live Q&A this week, at the normal time of our Work Session, to answer some of your questions about how Town services are adapting to the outbreak. Thank you to everyone who participated! There were two topics at top of mind for many. The first was concern with the number of local cases. Nationwide, the number of Coronavirus cases continues to rise. New York’s case number appears to be especially high and our Q&A discussed how the number of test kits acquired by the Governor had made widespread testing more possible during the first few weeks of the outbreak. The shortage of tests is still being felt, but the tests available in New York outnumber other states’ considerably. Our Open Door Medical Clinic has been conducting tests as well and had early access to testing. This means that Ossining residents who felt sick were more likely to know that they were positive. It does not necessarily mean that more people are sick in Ossining than other towns. It is the same principle as the state numbers, testing is available here, so the numbers appear higher here. As a reminder, please visit the Coronavirus Page on the Town's website, which contains helpful resources as well as detailed information about how to reach Town departments and conduct business online while many of our staff members work from home and our offices remain closed to the public.
The second topic of our Q&A was the April Property Tax deadline. As discussed, the Town of Ossining does not have the authority to extend the deadline or stagger payments. Changes to property tax deadlines can only be made by the State. However, the County Board of Legislators has introduced a resolution allowing Towns to reduce the penalty structure for the months of May, June, and July significantly. This legislation will maintain the April 30 deadline, to help us to continue operations you expect, while still providing much needed relief to our taxpayers that are experiencing financial or medical hardship at this time. We also learned this week that the Village of Ossining has extended the deadline for this quarter's water bills to June 5. Thank you to our colleagues on the Village Board of Trustees for taking this action which will hopefully provide some relief to residents of the Town and Village of Ossining.
Next Tuesday, April 14, we will be resuming our normal Town Board meeting schedule via Zoom. On Tuesday, we will hold a Legislative Session in order to pay bills and conduct other essential business of the Town. In addition to our legislative matters, we will also be conducting a Work Session discussion about the proposed legislation from the Westchester County Board of Legislators, with support from all Town Supervisors in the county, regarding property tax relief. I hope you will tune in to learn more about the proposed legislation as we discuss the potential implications for the Town and its constituents, as well as a possible letter of support from the Town Board for the legislation.
As you may be aware, Town and County taxes are due by April 30. If payment is not made by April 30, the current penalty for payment in May is 2%, for payment in June or July is 5%, and for payment in August or September is 7%. The new legislation from the Westchester County Board of Legislators as currently drafted reduces these penalties significantly to one-half of 1% if taxes are paid in May, 1% if taxes are paid between June 1 and July 15, and 5% if the taxes are paid between July 16 and July 31. At this time, there is no reduction in penalties for paying in August or September. This legislation is the product of thoughtful collaboration that all believe would provide relief to taxpayers while ensuring that the County and Westchester's Towns could continue to provide the essential services that we all depend upon, even more so in these difficult times. In fact, we feel this solution is preferable to an extension of the deadline by the State, which can only be for a period of 21 days, or until May 21. This legislation effectively extends the deadline through July 15, and still significantly reduces the financial burden of paying your taxes late through the end of July. I would still like to encourage any of our taxpayers that are fortunate enough to not be facing extreme hardships at this time to please pay your taxes in a timely fashion. Doing so will help your neighbors who cannot, and ensure our public services remain intact during these tough times. Hopefully, during Tuesday's meeting, we can provide a more thorough explanation of the collaborative path to this proposal and why Towns throughout Westchester are supportive. If you cannot join us live, the meeting will be recorded and posted to the Town's YouTube page on Wednesday.
I encourage everyone to sign up for Coronavirus updates from New York State. Getting current and accurate information will help us continue to flatten the curve in New York – and by extension across the rest of the country. Governor Cuomo and his team also tend to share some fun and interesting news, as well, so these e-mails are certainly filled with the kind of news you want to hear right now! This week, Governor Cuomo shared through this mailing list that the company Headspace has created free content accessible to all New Yorkers. If you or your child are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or maybe just need some help calming your mind while you fall asleep, I encourage you to check out the "NY State of Mind" exclusive content from Headspace for a much needed relaxing and quiet meditation.
There continue to be opportunities for those that may be food insecure at this time to access meals and food supplies. The Village of Ossining has partnered with Feeding Westchester for food distribution weekly. There will be a distribution on Tuesday, April 14, with specific times and locations to come early next week. The Gullotta House has been able to provide thousands of meals across Westchester to those in need, and will have a meal distribution this evening, see below for details. The Ossining Food Pantry, although currently closed, has continued to provide clients with financial assistance for groceries. The Food Pantry at the Community Center of Northern Westchester remains a resource for all Westchester residents to obtain assistance. Thank you to all the volunteers helping to keep everyone happy, healthy, and fed during this difficult time!
The Ossining Farmers Market will be open this Saturday, April 11. See below special guidelines for this weekend to help keep shoppers and vendors safe and healthy.
For those of you entering your fourth week of staying home to slow the spread, I am happy to share that virtual classes abound! We all told ourselves that we would love to learn to play piano/write a book/learn to dance/get fit if we only had the time – well there’s no time like quaranTIME. If you did not know about some of these amazing Ossining businesses – now is the time to learn something new. For all of us looking for some activities while we are stuck at home, Ossining businesses have come to the rescue!
Dragonfly Yoga Studio is reminding us to breathe and take in this like-no-other moment. Their virtual yoga classes and sound baths are here to help you destress and stabilize. They have shifted their meditations and lessons online – visit their Facebook page for class details.
The Mike Risko Music school is offering virtual store tours and delivery of purchases. You can also take guided piano or guitar lessons. Check out their Facebook page for videos and more info! Who doesn’t secretly wish their parents had taught them piano years ago?
UMAC Briarcliff has channeled its martial arts lessons into powerful energy bites! Their website has schedule information for virtual lessons and video sign up info is on Facebook. Join their points program to play along and check out their YouTube page for classes you may have missed.
Logrea Dance Academy is hosting online dance classes for those who want to learn ballet, tap, jazz, Zumba, or fitness conditioning. No need to be a current student, you can join in on the fun via Zoom or livestreamed classes on their Facebook page! Check out the Logrea website for a schedule of their available classes.
To expand your acting range check out Theater O’s monologue coaching and acting classes. Take a look at some of the amazing options – including scheduled classes for kids home from school.
Westchester Dance Artists is using the tag #stilldancing to help spread the love! They are regularly posting videos and online classes with mini-classes and videos on how to stretch and warm up. Check out their YouTube page and Facebook for more info.
Club Fit has also risen to the challenge of these new home-bound times. Visit their Facebook page for their instructor-guided workouts, fitness prompts, yoga, cardio, Zumba, and more! There are introductory videos and full classes available.
A Maze in Pottery is offering free doorstep delivery of Easter kits and other goodies! The ceramic projects are adapted for home use and give kids a chance to dive into creative projects.
Following our success with our restaurants list, we've been asked to help create a central list of businesses that have adapted to offer their services remotely. With traditional modes of communication (and visitation!) disrupted, we want to make sure businesses in the Town aren't forgotten. Help us add to this list by emailing me or calling my office.
The Ossining PTA knows every parent needs an extra hand these days. They have put together a list of home classes and activities specifically for your littlest ones.
It is easy to feel alone when you’re home all day. We’re happy to share some virtual events taking place this week! The Ossining Public Library has curated a mind-blowing list of events, concerts, music, kids story time readings, museum tours. Check out the list and their other resources here! Much love to our dedicated Library Staff for this work.
We encourage you to continue to support restaurants if you can. We know times are tough and we are happy to see so many trying to help our favorite eateries open.
If you feel you have developed flu-like symptoms please call your medical provider or a hospital before appearing for testing. Mobile testing centers are by-appointment-only and must be scheduled through the hotline. If you have trouble breathing (including bluish fingertips or lips) or chest pains call 911 immediately. As a reminder, most cases of Coronavirus do not present with severe symptoms. For questions regarding COVID-19, please call the New York State Coronavirus Hotline 1-888-364-3065 or dial 211 for information. The CDC website is an excellent resource for information. As a reminder, please refer only to official sources of information to the dangerous effects of misinformation at this crucial point.
Happy Passover and Happy Easter to all who celebrate! I hope you find this week's holidays a restful time with family and friends, even if you can only visit via your computer screen.
- Last Updated: 03 April 2020 03 April 2020
As we finish our third week of our new reality amidst the Coronavirus outbreak, I would like to start by thanking the people in our community that are truly on the front lines -- healthcare workers and first responders. I am so grateful as these essential workers bravely continue to do their jobs and work to save lives, and even to those who may have stepped out of retirement and stepped up for this cause. I would also like to thank the essential workers on our own staff, our Senior Nutrition department who continues to deliver fresh food to our seniors, our Highway and Parks employees, our Clerk, Building Department, and others we work with, including the staff at Suburban Carting and the Villages of Ossining and Briarcliff sanitation crews, for working to protect the safety and welfare of our community and doing a lot of the "behind the scenes" jobs that keep our community running. Please do your part to make their jobs easier -- bring your garbage out on time, and please clean up after yourselves if you do have to go out for grocery shopping or other essential tasks. We have received some anecdotal complaints of increased litter from used gloves or protective equipment in shopping center parking lots. If you do choose to use our parks for solitary exercise, please clean up any garbage you may generate before you leave. Thank you for your cooperation!
We continue to ask everyone to do their part, also, to stop the spread. As health care systems get more and more strained, either because their workers get sick or because the caseload exceeds capacity, we must do all we can to SLOW. IT. DOWN. When you leave your house, cover your nose and mouth. Even if you have not been sick, it's possible you may have been infected but not yet know it. The best thing we can do to slow the spread is cover up, wash our hands frequently, not touch our noses, mouths, or eyes, and be vigilant. There are many groups that are making masks, including a Facebook group of our neighbors in Croton, and we urge anyone who sews to help out, but also to learn what you can do with supplies in your own home to be protected and protect others.
We have seen the numbers of positive cases in the Ossining community continue to grow this week, to just about 250 cases across the Town and Village. We know part of the reason for the increased number of positive cases is early and increased testing at the Ossining location of Open Door Family Medical Centers. However, we also know that New York is not yet at the peak of this pandemic, so it remains as important as ever to stay home as much as you can, and if you do need to go out for essential services or work, to exercise social distancing and wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer. I strongly encourage you to sign up for daily updates from New York State -- the efforts to fight this pandemic continue to develop and change on a daily basis, so it is best to keep yourself informed with accurate information direct from the source. My staff, the Town Board, and I have found these updates extremely informative and helpful as we make difficult decisions on behalf of the Ossining community through this pandemic. Thank you, Governor Cuomo, for keeping New Yorkers informed. We also continue to coordinate on an almost daily basis with Westchester County Executive George Latimer and his team, and we thank them for their strong leadership at this time.
You may have heard in the media that Westchester County is currently considering options that may be available to provide relief to taxpayers facing hardship as a result of this pandemic on their Town/County tax bill, due on April 30. This is an unprecedented situation, so we are working together with the County and our fellow Westchester municipalities on this important issue. Please stay tuned for communications from our offices and the Receiver of Taxes if any legislation from the County or directive from New York State has been implemented to assist our taxpayers. Please know that we recognize this is a difficult time for so many in our community, and also are mindful of the need to continue to provide essential municipal services to our residents and the need for our municipalities to remain fiscally stable. I would also like to encourage any of our taxpayers that are fortunate enough to not be facing extreme hardships at this time to please pay your taxes in a timely fashion. Doing so will help your neighbors who cannot, and ensure our public services remain intact during these tough times. Thank you for your patience as we have to make some difficult decisions on behalf of all of our constituents.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides services during times of national hardship, like Superstorm Sandy or times of severe weather. FEMA typically coordinates with state, county, and municipal governments to help manage disasters and guide them through reimbursement opportunities. We participated in a webinar with FEMA officials this week about the challenges being faced in our community. For the first time ever, the federal government has declared a national emergency based on a health related epidemic so that FEMA can step in to provide assistance similar to how it does for other disasters. Right now, the FEMA assistance is only available to state agencies, municipal governments, and non-profits, but there are also many resources available to small businesses that I will discuss a little later in my update. If you know of a non-profit that may be on the front lines of this crisis and potentially benefit from FEMA assistance, please contact my office and we will direct them to resources from the state and federal governments that may be applicable to their situation. Most importantly, regardless of current eligibility, it is extremely important for all non-profits and small businesses to track their losses and expenses related to the pandemic, as they may qualify for assistance in the future. The Executive Orders signed at the state level allow for suspension of certain types of payments or loans under the condition that COVID-19 has caused "financial hardship." This phrase has not been legally defined at this time but for businesses and households as well, having records can be an important resource when claims can be entered and losses recouped.
Wednesday, April 1 was Census Day! By now, you should have received an invitation in the mail to participate in the 2020 US Census. Your invitation in the mail provides you with a special code specific to your housing unit, but you can still reply online without that information. Learn more and respond on the 2020 US Census website. As we have shared many times before, an accurate count in the US Census is so important for many reasons -- our representation in Congress, allocations of County, State, and Federal funding, and much more are determined by the Census count. We learned today that the Town of Ossining response rate is at 42% as of yesterday. That's good, but not great, so be sure to check your mailbox and fill out your questionnaire! It's really easy! I did mine the first day I received it.
While hard times can bring the best out in people it also sometimes brings out scammers. Beware people knocking on doors pretending to be census workers or calls from people posing as government officials in connection with the $2 trillion relief bill. We have not heard reports of this in our community but we're asking everyone to be wary. Census workers are not currently going door to door or calling households. Census workers and government workers will not ask for your social security number or any personal health/financial information. We have also heard about scammers targeting people on the phone or via e-mail, so please be wary of anything that might seem fishy. You can call the Ossining Police Department to report any scams you might be targeted with.
This week, we started a dedicated page on our website for community members to receive up to date information about current Town services and offerings for the week. I encourage you to check this page on a weekly basis (we will update every Monday) so you can access contact information for our various departments, learn about Town services that are being provided remotely, and hopefully answer your frequently asked questions. As a reminder, all Town offices remain closed to the public and Town parks remain closed for group activities until further notice. If we missed anything, or you have any challenges contacting a Town department, please do not hesitate to contact the Town Supervisor's office at (914) 762-6001.
I would like to highlight some of the great work that has been done by our Town Clerk, Sue Donnelly, this week admidst a lot of uncertainty. With many of our departments working staggered shifts, or primarily from home, Sue has been in the office daily to serve as our "gatekeeper" -- taking in the mail, helping residents that may not have been aware that the offices are currently closed, and continuing to issue the vital licenses and records the Clerk's office produces. This has included marriage licenses and also unfortunately death certifiates. Sue and her team launched an online marriage license application, which will help streamline the process so people can continue to mark important life events, while remaining safe and healthy. The Clerk's office will continue to explore other online permit applications, but for now you can also submit a FOIL request or renew your dog license online. Stay tuned for new offerings coming up soon. Sue would also like to remind everyone that you can get your fishing license online through the New York State DEC. Fishing can be a great solitary outdoor activity that you can enjoy now -- I believe it is striped bass season! Thank you, Sue, for all you have been doing for the Town and Village during this difficult time!
Also this week, we were able to introduce a new "remote" offering to keep our Food Scraps Recycling Program up and running. With the Cedar Lane Arts Center closed to the public, we were struggling with finding a solution to continue to sell residential starter kits for Town residents to begin participating in this program. This week, we introduced an online payment and curbside pick-up option for purchasing your residential kit! Visit the Ossining Composts Page to place your order. If your order is placed before 5pm, it will be ready for pick-up the following morning from 10am to 12noon. We are excited to be able to offer this new program every day, except for Sundays. If you have young children at home, why not make composting part of your remote learning science curriculum?
Now let's focus on some good news -- I have been encouraged to see so many Ossining community organizations pitching in to help one another and our healthcare workers.
There continues to be some good news coming out of Washington, DC with resources for small businesses that may be struggling to remain afloat right now. The Greater Ossining Chamber of Commerce is a wealth of information on these opportunities for small businesses in the Ossining and Briarcliff community, and they have a video to help guide your potential SBA application posted to the homepage of their website. The Ossining Business Alliance was also kind enough to compile some helpful information for small businesses regarding these new programs that are currently being offered through the Federal Government.
I have also been receiving updates from a few websites that I think you would also enjoy. Sign up for newsletters from Westchester Magazine or New York Metro Parents for fun resources, ideas, and projects for families with children -- my sons are probably a little too old to share their artwork with NY Parent's "Cabin Fever Candids," but we did love learning about the take out options from local businesses via Westchester Magazine this week!
Speaking of take out, there are many local Ossining businesses that continue to remain open for take out or curbside pick up. Here are some we are aware of, but definitely give a call in advance, check their Facebook page or website to confirm availability of these offerings. Consider supporting one of our local businesses for dinner tonight!
There are also some events scheduled tonight, including meal distribution care of the Gullotta House and a virtual happy hour.
The Ossining Farmers Market will be open this Saturday, April 4. See below special guidelines for this weekend to help keep shoppers and vendors safe and healthy.
We may not be able to enjoy all of our favorite spring activities this year, but mark your calendars for Green Ossining's 10th Annual Earth Day Festival which has been rescheduled for Saturday, September 26. Stay tuned for some remote ways we can celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day as a community this year, both are coming up in the month of April!
This upcoming week will mark important holidays for many, with Easter and Passover set to begin next week. I know this will be an unusual holiday for those that celebrate, without being able to gather with their families, friends, and faith communities, and without a school break. However, many of our faith communities have scheduled virtual services and resources for these important holidays, so I encourage you to reach out to your place of worship to see what their plans are this week. As a reminder, Good Friday remains a half-day holiday for Town staff, so if you need to reach a Town department next Friday, please do so before 12noon.
Finally, it is looking like we will have some nice weather this weekend! I hope you will find a safe way to get outside and enjoy the beautiful beginning of Spring. Please remember to exercise social distancing if you do go outside for exercise and either go solo, or with the members of your immediate family that you are home with on a regular basis. These simple steps can help us slow the spread of this virus, while still enjoying Ossining's beautiful parks and open spaces. Here's a picture from one of my walks around the block this past week. We truly live in a place with breathtaking views and now more than ever we get a few moments to pause and really take them in and appreciate our glorious spot in the Hudson Valley.
For those who celebrate, enjoy your first nights of Passover, which begins on Wednesday, April 8!
- Last Updated: 27 March 2020 27 March 2020
Coronavirus continues to be the number one focus in the Town. This week the number of cases in Ossining rose past 90 and applying for unemployment claims are reaching unprecedented levels in New York State and across the country. As businesses are feeling the pain, and all of us are holed up, to the greatest extent possible, in our homes, we are also seeing a tremendous outpouring of people wanting to help, and innovations taking place. While many of us are increasingly stressed out about when the virus will hit home, there are a tremendous number of resources now being offered for food distribution, mental health support, social networking, municipal service alternatives, and so much more. Additionally, check out the Town Website for FAQs from many of our departments. Many of these resources will also be listed on our website for easy reference. Before jumping into those, I want to encourage you again to only trust information from official sources. Be wary of scammers selling tests or requesting private information. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to maintain social distances, wash your hands often, and avoid communal surfaces/spaces. Policies, mandates, and guidance from the Federal Government, plus our State and County partners have been changing by the day, and sometimes even by the hour. I encourage you to sign up for updates from New York State so you can remain informed with current and accurate information and check out the Westchester County website as well.
I want to give a HUGE shout out to all our volunteer and professional first responders who have been working on the front lines of this pandemic, and to our healthcare workers. We cannot thank you enough for being there for all of us. You are our heroes!
The leadership from the County and State remains unwavering. Governor Cuomo sent out a call to therapists and social workers to volunteer their services, and has since established a FREE mental health hotline! Call (844) 863-9314 to schedule an appointment. The County has started a Q&A hotline for those with questions about Coronavirus: (866) 588-0195. The Federal Government has announced an income relief package that will allow independent contractors and gig-workers to be eligible for unemployment. Small businesses will be issued grants on the condition they retain their employees. Households will be receiving money by direct deposit or check in the upcoming weeks. New York State residents who are homeowners can contact their mortgage lenders for flexibility in payments. Information regarding deferment of payment for tenants has not been outlined yet, however evictions have been halted completely. The Westchester County Bee Line Bus system has moved to only allow rear-door boarding and exiting all buses. This means that no fares are currently being collected on Bee Line Buses to avoid close contact with the bus driver. Metro North Railroad will also be moving to an amended Saturday schedule on the Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven Lines starting today, Friday, March 27, until further notice. If you are still using Metro-North for commuting, be sure to check the schedule before arriving for your "usual" train.
This week Governor Cuomo arranged for personal protective equipment (PPE -- now we all know what this acronym means!) to be distributed to hospitals and medical professionals to help combat the ongoing crisis. However, there is a worldwide shortage of supplies and we already find community resources that are short, and this bound to get worse before it gets better. Right now, our local first responders have the equipment they need, but we want to ensure there is no gap in protection for them or our local health clinics. We are overwhelmed with the generosity of everyone who has donated supplies so far. For any household or business that wants to donate gloves, masks, or other personal protective equipment, we have established a drop off point at OVAC headquarters at 8 Clinton Avenue in Ossining. The donations will be distributed to our first responders and local clinics in this crisis.
Town and Village offices continue to be closed to the public – but we are online and available by phone! All offices, with the exception of the Justice Court, remain fully operational. If we do not already have a remote solution set up for a specific function, each Department is ready, willing, and able to find a solution to provide all services either via mail, e-mail, or over the phone. Contact information for each department is available on each individual department's page of the Town website. Online services include dog license renewals, tax payments, FOIL requests, assessment records, and your refuse/recycling schedule (if you live in the unincorporated Town you can even download an app that lets you check your schedule daily on your phone, specific to your address!). If you have any difficulty contacting a Town department, please contact the Town Supervisor’s office at (914) 762-6001.
We know this is an extremely tough time for many who have had to put businesses and pay checks "on pause." We are working hard with the State, County, and other Westchester Municipalities to find a way to make it easier for those who may have trouble paying their taxes on time. We will keep you posted.
In an effort to reduce the spread of the virus, all playgrounds, courts, ball fields, dog parks, and gathering areas remain closed for public gatherings, congregate sports, etc. Dale Cemetery and Sparta Cemetery are also closed, except for burials which are limited by the State's Executive Order, to very few people. You can continue to enjoy our parks and public spaces for individual activities like walking, hiking, visiting the gravesite of a loved one, or just enjoying the fresh air. Social distancing is a must! Our Food Scraps at the Cedar Lane Park drop off site is also still open. We are currently looking into options to resume residential kit sales for the Food Scraps program with an option to pick up your pre-packaged, sanitized kit curbside at Cedar Lane Arts Center. Stay tuned!
We are thrilled to see so many people practicing safe social distancing practices while enjoying the improving weather! We’re looking forward to the summer months when hopefully we can once again all hang out together again. We greatly appreciate your patience and understanding as we make difficult decisions during this very challenging time.
I also have a message to share from our Highway Superintendent, Pete Connolly. Please only flush toilet paper down the toilet! Wipes are NOT flushable -- yes that also includes the wipes that are commonly labeled as "flushable!" These items clog not only our sewer pump stations and infrastructure, but could also wreak havoc on your home's waste lines and pipes. That is a mess none of us want to deal with right now. Thank you for your cooperation, your Highway Department thanks you!
Our Ossining Community always rises to the occasion and we’re proud to say a global pandemic has not been an exception. Feeding Westchester and Gullotta House are distributing meals at sites around Ossining. We will continue to provide updates on the dates, times, and locations of the Feeding Westchester drives -- huge thanks to the Village of Ossining for helping to coordinate this effort! Please refer to the Gullotta House website to donate and view the food giveaway dates they are sponsoring. Our beloved restaurants are trying to adapt to these new challenges – and we appreciate their efforts. Below is a list of restaurants still open for take out/delivery, though we ask that you check their websites and Facebook pages to confirm their hours. If you know a senior or isolated person/family in need of food or supplies please contact us and we will do our best to help coordinate needed materials for them. Also, we continue to provide nutritious meals to homebound seniors – call our Senior Nutrition Program at (914) 762-1350 to sign up. Seniors can also receive daily RUOK calls from our program staff, again, just call (914) 762-1350 to sign up. Please also share this information with any of your neighbors, friends, or family that may greatly benefit from these services.
After a couple of weeks of basically no fun announcements, we are excited to share some virtual events and community resources emerging in Ossining this week!
The Ossining Public Library has curated a mind-blowing list of events, concerts, music, kids story time readings, museum tours. You can even still check out eBooks, Audiobooks, TV shows, and movies from OPL remotely. Check out the list and their other resources here! Much love to our dedicated Library Staff for this work.
The Ossining CAP is collecting school supplies for students who may be in need, now that they are learning remotely. Please be generous, if you can.
Sing Sing Kill Brewery is hosting a Virtual Happy Hour with Matt & Eric TONIGHT at 6pm via Facebook Live. The owners of SSKB will talk about their process in opening up a NY Farm Brewery in the lower Hudson Valley, and answer viewers' questions!
Many local businesses are also offering some of their services or programs virtually. Here are just a few we have learned about recently. In addition to those listed below, our friends at UMAC Briarcliff on North State Road have also been offering classes via Zoom. Check out their Facebook page for more information! If you are a small business that would like to share your new virtual offerings, please let us know. Hopefully, through these virtual connections we can start to feel like we have reached some version of normal.
You may have heard that certain internal restrictions were enacted in Census offices to protect workers, but US Census has not been postponed and many of you might have received your invitation to participate within the past week. If you haven’t received this information, you will be able to respond to the Census online, by phone in one of 13 languages, or by mail. Census data directly affect how more than $400 billion per year in federal and state funding is allocated to communities for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, transportation, and much more. That's more than $4 trillion over a 10-year period. Spending just a few minutes to fill out your census form will help ensure Ossining gets its fair share of federal and state funding. We have been informed by Westchester County that local field offices for the US Census have been closed for the next two weeks. For more information, visit the Ossining Counts page.
The deadline to submit a request for an Absentee Ballot is April 3rd. Upcoming elections for New York State Residents include the Democratic Presidential Primary election date on April 28th and Congressional and Local primaries on June 23rd. So far, we have not heard of any changes to these dates. We hope we can all go to the polls those days, but absentee ballots can be used to vote by mail for all. Residents are permitted to request a ballot under the “temporary illness or disability” allowance.
If you feel you have developed flu-like symptoms please call your medical provider or a hospital before appearing for testing. Mobile testing centers are by-appointment-only and must be scheduled through the hotline. If you have trouble breathing (including bluish fingertips or lips) or chest pains call 911 immediately. As a reminder, most cases of Coronavirus do not present with severe symptoms. For questions regarding COVID-19, please call the New York State Coronavirus Hotline 1-888-364-3065 or dial 211 for information. The CDC website is an excellent resource for information. As a reminder, please refer only to official sources of information to avoid the dangerous effects of misinformation at this crucial point.
- Last Updated: 27 March 2020 27 March 2020
News of COVID-19 continues to dominate the news, this week we learned that Ossining has its first confirmed cases of the virus. As we begin to see growing positive cases, and unfortunately deaths, my thoughts are constantly with the families impacted by this virus. Of course, in addition to the spread of this disease happening rapidly, one of the main reasons we have been seeing increased numbers of positive cases is that testing has increased across the State so maybe those who weren't previously identified as positive, now are. This has certainly been an extremely challenging time for not just our own community, but also our state, country, and even the world as a whole. We know that the best way to protect yourself and your neighbors is to practice social distancing and avoid communal surfaces, as well as communal gatherings.
We have been coordinating with State and County officials to address our needs in the community. I have been encouraged by Governor Cuomo and County Executive Latimer’s leadership at this time as they make sound, yet difficult, policy decisions to attempt to contain the spread of this virus. Policies, mandates, and guidance from our State and County partners have been changing by the day, and sometimes even by the hour, as they continue to assess the developing situation and determine what steps need to be taken in response. As you read the rest of my update, please bear in mind that this is an evolving situation and I am doing my best along with my staff to provide the most accurate and most current information as possible. I encourage you to sign up for updates from New York State so you can remain informed with up to date and accurate information. Also, what is published by the State provides Spanish translation resources. As of this afternoon, the latest directive from Governor Cuomo is that all businesses and non-profits reduce their in-person, non-essential workforce to zero and no in person, non-essential gatherings of any size be held. We also learned that evictions for commercial and residential properties are prohibited for 90 days. We are still waiting for the Executive Order relating to today's press conference to be released in writing, at which point we will hopefully have a better understanding about what exactly this means for our community.
The latest guidance we have received regarding municipal staff, is that we should decrease our in-person, workforce to 50% or less. To that end, I have been working closely with our Department Heads to coordinate work from home arrangements or staggered schedules in most Town Departments to ensure the highest degree of safety and security for our staff as possible. Additionally, earlier this week, we announced in collaboration with our partners in the Village of Ossining that all Town and Village offices closed to the public effective this past Tuesday, March 17.
However, even if we aren’t in our usual work locations, or you can’t visit us in person – we are still very much here for you! All offices, with the exception of the Justice Court, remain fully operational. There are many services that are now available online, including dog license renewals, tax payments, FOIL requests, assessment records, and your garbage/recycling schedule (if you live in the unincorporated Town you can even download an app that lets you check your schedule daily on your phone, specific to your address!). If we do not already have a remote solution set up for a specific function, each Department is ready, willing, and able to find a solution to provide all services either via mail, e-mail, or over the phone. Contact information for each department is available on each individual department's page of the Town website. Even though we have experienced changes in our staffing levels at our offices, rest assured, we continue to be available via phone and e-mail. If you have any difficulty contacting a Town department, please contact the Town Supervisor’s office at (914) 762-6001. We are in the process of re-focusing our COVID-19 Resources page to be a dedicated space for residents to access up to date status of Town services, so you can remain informed in real time.
Next Tuesday will be a first for the Town of Ossining, as we have scheduled our first video conferenced Town Board Meeting. This method for public meetings was recently authorized by Governor Cuomo in an Executive Order temporarily modifying laws governing meetings of public bodies in an effort to reduce in-person meetings that could cause the virus to spread. Members of the public will be able to view the meeting live online, or listen by telephone if they choose. Please visit the meeting notice for specific information about how to join. Please note that if you do choose to join via phone to listen in, the host, participants, and attendees will be able to view your telephone number. The meeting will be recorded and posted to the Town's YouTube page later next week.
- Last Updated: 17 March 2020 17 March 2020
We have spent significant time this week coordinating with officials at the County and State level to help address the growing concerns of Coronavirus (COVID-19). As I am sure many of you are aware, on Saturday, March 7 Governor Cuomo declared a State of Emergency and began a series of week-long conferences to provide updates on the status of the virus. As of this email we want to assure residents that we have not yet been informed of any positive cases for any residents of the Town of Ossining. We ask you to continue to make your best efforts to stay healthy and prevent the spread of the virus. The Town and County have each dedicated a section of their website to current Coronavirus information. The CDC website also continues to be a good resource. We ask that you please refer only to official sources of information to prevent unnecessary fear and panic. As a reminder, if you feel you have developed flu-like symptoms please call your medical provider or a hospital before appearing for testing. For questions regarding COVID-19, please call the New York State Coronavirus Hotline 1-888-364-3065 or dial 211 for information.
We understand the Coronavirus has placed a strain on many. We are making every effort to keep disruption to a minimum while balancing the health of our residents. We continue to be impressed by people attempting to help during this process. Our local not-for-profits and faith based organizations have been working around the clock, coordinating with both the Village and Town of Ossining, to collaborate on efforts to provide necessary food and other resources to those in need. Con Ed is temporarily suspending any electric and gas service shutoffs involving customers having payment difficulties. Any service terminations will be limited to safety precautions such as a gas leak. Credit card companies and banks should be contacted directly by customers with questions. Unfortunately, price gouging has been reported in the state. To report price gouging on any items (including cleaning supplies, toilet paper, or soap) please call the New York State Department of Consumer Protection. They have launched a toll-free hotline 1-800-697-1220 and will investigate. Additionally, we ask our residents to please consider the impact of social isolation on seniors. Though it may seem like a small effort, Facetime and phone calls can go a long way. Avoid visiting in person, as you may be exposing them to the virus even if you are asymptomatic. Most importantly, bear in mind that Westchester County and Ossining are wonderful tapestries of people from many different backgrounds, religions, and languages. Events like this outbreak can cause stress and anxiety which can lead to biases against those of specific ethnicities or countries of origin, or religious background. Please remember that we are all co-workers, neighbors, schoolmates, fellow community members, and be kind to one another. We are all in this together!
Due to these rapidly escalating concerns, the Village of Ossining announced that all Village buildings will be deep cleaned in the coming days. To facilitate this, the Joseph G. Caputo Community Center will be closed on Sunday, March 15 and Monday, March 16. Consequently, all Ossining Village Recreation classes, lap swim, activities, and events are also canceled on those days. The Cedar Lane Arts Center will also be closed on those days for cleaning. The collection site for the Food Scraps Recycling program will remain open, but kits will not be available for purchase on Monday.
We have been working with our department heads to ensure continuity of Town services, given the strain this situation has put on our staff and constituents. Please stay tuned for updates early next week about potential changes in public access to Town offices. In the meantime, online services always remain available for public use, including dog license renewals, tax payments, FOIL requests, assessment records, and your garbage/recycling schedule (if you live in the unincorporated Town you can even download an app that lets you check your schedule daily on your phone, specific to your address!). We are also happy to work with you via e-mail or over the phone. Contact information for each department is available on each individual department's page of the Town website. We encourage everyone to consider reaching out via phone or e-mail prior to visiting our offices.