Brian Pugh: CHOOSE to Energize Croton!

To the Editor:brian-pugh-group-cropped

A graduating Croton-Harmon High School senior presented his CHOOSE project on improving energy efficiency in our community at Monday’s Village Board Meeting. That CHHS student’s presentation detailed his work to further Energize Croton’s goals of energy efficiency and environmental protection.

The presentation explained the process of performing a home energy efficiency upgrade through Energize NY, the parent organization for Energize Croton, which arranges for free or reduced cost Home Energy Assessments, helps homeowners find an energy efficiency contractor and guides them through the upgrade process.

Energize has prevented 114,000 tons in CO2 emissions, resulted in annual energy savings of 731,125 kilowatt-hours (the typical US home consumes about 10,800 kWh annually) and saves homeowners millions of dollars a year in energy costs.

The Village has partnered with Energize for many years to help residents cut their energy consumption. I appreciate the efforts of this senior to further educate our community on the initiative (including preparing 5 new informational videos for Energize) and am grateful that CHHS’ Dan Delaney helped him select Energize for his CHOOSE project.

The student’s entire presentation can be viewed on the Village web site as part of the recording of the 6/19/17 Board Meeting. Interested residents can also reach out to Energize directly at 914-302-7300 ext. 8102 to discuss getting an energy audit for their home.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh

Brian Pugh: 125 Years of the VFD

To The Editor:brian-pugh-group-cropped

This weekend I was honored to be invited to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Croton Fire Department. The inspiring sight of the many fire companies from across Westchester County that had joined us in recognizing this historic anniversary reminds me of something that one of my favorite authors once wrote:

“When the alarm goes off [firefighters] are almost the only examples of enthusiastic unselfishness to be seen in this land. They rush to the rescue of any human being, and count not the cost….There we have people treasuring people as people.”

Our fire department is all-volunteer–but professional or volunteer, all firefighters are committed to protecting the life and limb of their neighbors–at the risk of their own.

Thank you for all that you do and all you have done for the last 125 years.

Ann Gallelli: Capital Ideas

To the editor,ann2016
The Village’s Capital Fund budgeting is always about long-term planning. It looks ahead for ten years to identify known and expected large expenses as well as routine ones. These are usually for equipment, or buildings or for infrastructure. The idea is to not have several big ticket items come in the same year. Occasionally something comes up that, anticipated or not, must be paid for immediately. Such a circumstance occurred this year as we acted on an important opportunity, the acquisition of the property for the new DPW building. It can also happen if some piece of equipment or infrastructure breaks down and requires immediate replacement.
When major expenditures occur outside the 10-year plan, the plan must be adjusted. Sometimes this means pushing a planned expenditure out to a later year. This approach has its downfalls, however, pushing them off tends to force bigger expenditures in later years. This is because several big items may require financing in a single year but also because the cost of borrowing is going up as well as the actual costs of the equipment or the proposed work.
This year at its June 5 meeting, the Village Board approved its Capital budget for the current 2017/2018 fiscal year. For the General Fund Capital budget, it calls for $1 585,000 to be bonded, $1,900,000 to be spent from the Fund Balance, and an additional $203,000 to be paid for with Bond Anticipation Notes (BANs( 5-year notes)). The items to be BANed are primarily vehicles or small equipment purchases.
The major portion is to pay for the acquisition and costs associated with a new building to be used for the DPW and Water Department headquarters. At the same time, it has the result of pushing off some large expenditures into coming years. These include, with estimated costs, the replacement of Engine 118 ($700,000), three large DPW trucks (each at $250,000), postponing the Croton Point Avenue Improvements (while at the same time adding parking spaces and traffic at the train lot), improvements to the HMB bridge, and an Ambulance replacement ($200,000).
While we are fortunate this year to have a considerable amount of Fund Balance money available to help with the purchase and reduce this year’s bond costs, this will not be the case in the coming years for the above-mentioned items and any unforeseen items.

Ann Gallelli

Adam Decker: Meet Sherry Horowitz

To Editor:

Sherry Horowitz was one of the very first people I met when I moved back to our area in 2017. We went to Sherry because we wanted a school for our youngest son where he would learn both the traditional preschool curriculum and, more importantly, to socialize and be part of a community. I and other parents have been impressed with Sherry’s ability to get young minds to begin thinking outside themselves and to start embracing their shared community.

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Sherry is now ready to take her community building skills outside of Childrenspace, the school she established in Croton in 1979, where she has helped raise three generations of Croton’s children. Her disappointment in our current leadership, particularly their refusal to engage in community based solutions to many of the problems facing Croton and our country, convinced her that Croton needs a change. She believes that it can be the village we all want it to be: a community that works to build a better tomorrow for ourselves and our children, not one that is resistant to change.

Many of you already know Sherry as a fixture in our community, as a tireless advocate for our children and for justice, and as a friend. I hope you will join with me in welcoming her decision to run for Village Trustee and voting for Sherry Horowitz in November.

Adam Decker

 

Meet Our Slate!

To the Editor:slateannouncement

This November, Croton residents will have the opportunity to elect a majority of our Village officers. I am pleased to announce the candidates that the Croton Democratic Committee has endorsed for this year’s election:

Brian Pugh for Mayor. Brian is a life-long Croton resident, attorney and activist, who has demonstrated consistent leadership and vision. He is currently serving his second term as Village Trustee, though his service to our community predated his election to the Village Board: Brian helped spearhead the campaign which moved our Village elections to November, in order to encourage greater voter participation. During his tenure on the Board, Brian has been actively engaged in all aspects of Village business. He has also consistently supported and fought for Croton’s inclusion in the Community Choice Aggregation electrical power purchasing program (CCA), from which thousands of our neighbors in over 20 Westchester municipalities are currently deriving savings and increased energy choice. He continues to lead the way in outreach for the very important Energize Croton initiative. And he was instrumental in creating a Freedom of Information page on the Village website, securing enhanced transparency from local government.

Amy Attias for Trustee. Amy is a long-time Croton resident, having seen all three of her kids through the Croton school system as a single mother, while practicing civil rights and criminal law. In addition to her work as a defense attorney, she is an accomplished musician who has performed at many venues throughout Westchester County and lent her talents as a violinist, guitarist and singer in support of fundraisers for numerous charities and worthwhile causes. Recently, Amy was one of the headliners at the “Croton Speaks Up” event at Croton Point Park that raised funds for Planned Parenthood, Sandy Hook Promise, Southern Poverty Law Center and Riverkeeper.

Sherry Horowitz for Trustee. Sherry is a well-known figure in Croton. She is an educator and small-business owner who has established and directs the much-loved Childrenspace program in Croton for over 35 years. During that time, hundreds of children and their families have become part of the ever-growing Childrenspace community. In addition to her dedication to children and quality early childhood education, Sherry has been a long-time activist and advocate for women’s rights, environmental issues, prison reform, humanitarian causes and independent media.

The Croton Dems believe that the variety and depth of knowledge, experience and vision these candidates bring to the table make each of them uniquely qualified for the offices for which they are running. And we believe that, as a team, they make an unbeatable combination.

We hope you will join thousands of Croton residents at the polls this November 7th to cast your ballot in these important local races – races in which our votes can make a real difference to the future of our village.

Richard Masur,
Chair, The Croton Democratic Committee

Brian Pugh: To Boot or Not To Boot?

To the Editor,brian-pugh-group-cropped

The Village Board has voted to hold a Public Hearing to consider Introductory Local Law 4 of 2017 that would enable the Village to tow or boot vehicles which are found to have three or more outstanding parking violations. The meeting will be on Monday, June 19, 2017 at 8PM at Municipal Building.

A Towing & Booting Local Law was first discussed at a 2016 Village work session. At the time, it was confirmed that administratively it would not be possible to recover a towed car or remove a boot “after hours”. Literally, a resident could return home via the Metro North to find their car removed or immobilized and be unable to get it back until the next day–even if s/he had money in hand to pay their fines and fees.

For better or worse, in Westchester County access to an automobile is a virtual necessity for the typical family. A car is often essential employment, for childcare and for access to other necessary services (e.g. medical appointments).

Depriving someone of their car, over three parking violations, seems like too harsh a punishment. A punishment that could lead to widely disparate and unfair outcomes. For some, having a car booted or towed overnight might be a minor inconvenience–for others, it might result in the loss of a job or worse.

Last year, I requested information to help determine the efficacy of current collection methods for overdue parking violations. To this date, that has not been provided to me.

The Village has gotten by many years without a Towing & Booting Local Law. I am not aware of any unaddressed crisis that would necessitate such a precipitous response. In the absence of more compelling arguments and information, I remain skeptical about this proposal.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 370

Decoding Village Agendas – June 5, 2017
Regular Meeting of the Village Boardann2016
8:00 pm
(Open to Public – Televised)

PRESENTATION/OTHER:
Josh Holder, Croton-Harmon student, to present his CHOOSE project about opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of our community. Josh will present a power point on his Choose project during which he conducted phone outreach to residents, created a video helping to conduct residents through the Energize Croton process, and researched already existing programs offered by local utilizes.
Village Board to review the Village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program policies to determine consistency with regard to the decommissioning of the current DPW facility to surface parking. The current Village Department of Public Works facility is located in a flood plain, is adjacent to the Croton River Estuary, and is housed in a deteriorated and undersized building. The Village Board is considering the purchase of a building and adjoining vacant piece of property which would allow it to upgrade its operations and centralize all public works staff in one location. Relocating to a new facility would allow for a more efficient DPW operation, ensure a longer life for Village vehicles and equipment, and create a safer environment for its workers. The proposal to decommission the existing DPW municipal garage in the train station parking lot is anaction that requires the Village to make a determination that it is consistent with our Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP). The Board will go through the criteria used in making that determination. The action would include demolition of the building and addressing the underground oil tanks.
The Village Board to review Part 2 of the Environmental Assessment Form in order to determine the environmental significance of the purchase of the properties on 129 for the new Department of Public Works facility and the decommissioning of the existing property. The purchase of the properties on Route 129 require a determination as to whether it has environmental significance along with the decommissioning of the current facility.
PUBLIC HEARING:

Public Hearing regarding the Special Use Permit application from Desiree Drapala to operate a child care center located at 365 South Riverside Avenue. The Board will also consider issuing the Special Use Permit. This application has been under review by the Planning Board for its recommendation to the Village Board. After some initial concerns which were addressed by the applicant, the Planning Board is recommending in favor of the application. These had to do with ventilation, air quality, and parking and traffic. The applicant provided an inspection report from the NYS Office of Children and Family Services which found it to be in compliance. The Board also recommends that an existing oil tank be removed, that the existing permit allowing for Used Car sales be revoked for the site, and that bollards be installed for the drop off area. If the Village Board grants the Special Permit, the applicant must return to the Planning Board for approval of the details of the plans.

CORRESPONDENCE:
Dan Ahouse, Area Director of Government Affairs, Altice; re: Notification that as of May 15, 2017 Eleven Sports is no longer available to subscribers of Optimum Japanese, Korean and Chinese international packages or as an a la carte offering.

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS:

Village Board of Trustees considers approving the Capital Budget Appropriation Schedule for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 and directs the Treasurer to bring the consideration of the bond resolutions for the authorized funding to the next Village Board meeting. The resolution calls for bonding of $1,585,000 which includes general road repairs, sidewalks and curbing, roof replacement of Washington Engine Company, part of the purchase price of the new DPW building and adjacent lot, and for the renovations required in that building. $1,900,000 is also proposed to be taken from the General Fund Fund Balance account for the purchase of the building. Additionally, Bond Anticipation Notes (BANs) would come to $203,000 for the purchase of various items of equipment. The Board will continue to evaluate capital expenditures for the future years in the Capital Budget out to 2021-2022.
The Village Board of Trustees schedules a Public Hearing on June 19, 2017 at 8PM in the meeting room of the Stanley H Kellerhouse Municipal Building to consider Local Law Introductory 4 of 2017 that would enable the Village to tow or boot vehicles which are found to have three or more outstanding parking violations. Some 30+ vehicles have several outstanding fines totally about $19,510 in a list provided as of September 2016. Most are at the train station with 13 being located on Village streets. The stated intention of the proposal is to address persistent violators who fail to respond to notices, etc.
Board of Trustees authorizes Village Attorney to execute the Tax Certiorari Settlement with Sharma, Devendra & Kanwal for property located at 387-89 S. Riverside Avenue. The resolution would authorize a settlement of $3,572.29 for the years of 2010 through 2016.
The Village Board of Trustees schedules a Public Hearing on July 10, 2017 at 8PM in the meeting room of the Stanley H Kellerhouse Municipal Building to consider the special use permit request to operate a smoke shop at 50 Maple Street. The proposed smoke shop is located in the plaza nest to CVS. This is a C-2 district where retail requires a special use permit. The Planning Board has reviewed the application and, while several members has concerns about the appropriateness of the use, the Board found that it meets the requirements as to traffic, closeness to emergency services, parking, etc. that they are required to review. They recommend granting the permit.
The Village Board considers authorizing the creation of a separate application fee for an area variance for fences at a cost of $100. The Zoning Code was recently modified to provide for additional restrictions regarding the installation of fences. A property owner requesting to install a fence, not in compliance with the zoning code, is required to apply for a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals. The neighbor notification requirements for a fence variance have been reduced from all properties within 200 feet of the subject property to only the properties immediately abutting, and directly across the street from, the exterior boundaries of the land involved in such applications. The application fee for area variances is $300.00 and the Village Engineer is recommending a separate application fee for an area variance for fences of $100.00 based on the limited neighbor notification requirements and scope of the review being limited to a fence, As stated, the recent adoption of new requirements for fences which may require a variance, the fee for such should be $100 rather than $300 as for most such variances, due to smaller notification requirements and a more limited review.
Authorizing the Village Manager to accept the quote from Precision Built Fences of Peekskill, NY in the amount of $9,875 to place fencing to fully enclose the Dog Park at Black Rock. Three quotes were received of which the above was the lowest.

Ann Gallelli: Westchester Sustainability

To the Editor,ann2016
Last week, County residents who are interested in pursuing green initiatives and renewable energy in our future, received the good news that Westchester County has joined Sustainable Westchester. This brings the number of municipalities participating in the consortium to 42 but the, County, of course, encompasses us all. It brings a new layer of government to the organization which includes cities, towns and villages as well.
Sustainable Westchester supports the Community Solar, Community Choice Aggregation, and Solarize Westchester Programs. Westchester County now is joining with other municipalities in a commitment to renewable energy.
This commitment by the County is good news for us all.
Ann Gallelli

Brian Pugh: Prioritizing Public Safety

To the Editor:brian-pugh-group-cropped

Last week’s Village Board Work Session some intense discussion regarding the replacement of the Croton Fire Department’s Engine 118. To me, the matter is fairly straightforward: the weight of expert opinion favors timely replacement and common sense dictates that equipment necessary for public safety be prioritized for our Village’s capital budget.

“Accepted [fire] apparatus maintenance cycles have typically been an annual cycle and the lifespan of apparatus has traditionally been 20 years for an engine (pumper) or rescue,” according to a report the Village received from East West Fire Apparatus Consultants Inc. in 2016. Engine 118, a pump truck, is some 24 years old at this point–well past the standard lifespan.

“Keeping apparatus past expected life expectancies, except as spare, is rarely a good idea, often more costly than municipalities estimate, and can lead to increased replacement costs. Keeping older apparatus also usually delays replacement, this negatively affects replacement cycles and usually costs more in the long-term,” warns the 2016 Consultant’s report.

In addition to the outside expert, our own Volunteer Fire Department, which includes some residents that are professional firefigthers in their day job, has been zealous in its advocacy for a replacement for the 20+ year old truck.

Last year, the Board unanimously approved a capital budget that anticipated the replacement of Engine 118 AND the replacement of the DPW garage. Therefore, I find it hard to understand the objection by some on the Board that Engine 118’s replacement needs to be deferred in the name of fiscal discipline–particularly when the Village Manager acknowledge last Monday that Engine 118 could be replaced without increasing overall debt.

The discussion around Engine 118 highlights the need to govern on the basis of facts and not rhetoric. With these precepts in mind, I hope the Board majority will make a reasoned decision on this issue.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh