Remembering Congressman John Lewis – An American Icon

To the Editor:

There are many lessons from the life of the late Congressman John Lewis – from courage on the Edmund Pettus Bridge to 15 years of tenacity to create the National Museum of African American History Culture and Heritage. But for those of us interested in local government, there’s a great John Lewis story that teaches a lesson about commitment and principle.

Before he was Congressman Lewis, he was Atlanta Councilman Lewis from 1981-1986. When he ran in 1981, he opposed a four-lane super-highway in downtown Atlanta to connect with the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. Councilman Lewis believed it would increase traffic, cause middle-class and business exits, and hurt Black neighborhoods.

Jimmy Carter wanted the project badly. As President, he’d named Lewis Associate Director of the ACTION Agency, responsible for VISTA and other programs. The new Mayor of Atlanta, Andrew Young was also strongly for the project. He’d been John Lewis’ partner in the civil rights struggle for two decades.

President Carter and Mayor Young worked relentlessly but unsuccessfully to change Councilman Lewis’ position. The project passed but because of the opposition from Councilman Lewis and others, a compromise turned it into a two lane road.

Lewis’ stance on the highway hurt him politically. He never served on an important committee or chaired any committee on the Atlanta City Council in the next five years. But the feared devastation of the original project was avoided by the compromise version. He took a firm stand to protect the people he served and was unconcerned about what it meant to him personally. But that was no surprise – it is who John Lewis was as a civil rights leader, Councilman, Congressman and American icon.

The Carter Library and the road were built. That road, originally named Presidential Parkway, was renamed Freedom Parkway years later. But since August 2018, it has been the John Lewis Freedom Parkway.

Thanks, John Lewis, for your enduring lifetime of lessons, which should always guide us here at home.

Len Simon

Democratic Candidate for

Croton-on-Hudson Board of Trustees

Len Simon, Democratic Candidate for Croton-on-Hudson Board of Trustees

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 502

Deputy Mayor Ann Gallelli

Dear neighbor, Here is the 502ndinstallment of Decoding Village Agendas to keep Croton residents informed of the actions of the Village Board at their meetings.  I continue to add recipients to this email update on agendas so you may be receiving it for the first time. I enjoy getting your feedback and hope to continue to hear from you.  If you do not wish to receive these periodic email updates from me, please reply to this email and your name will be removed from the email list.

Ann Gallelli

Decoding Village Agendas – August 3, 2020

Regular Meeting of the Village Board

5:30 pm

(Zoom )

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NOTE:  This meeting will start with an Executive Session at 5:30 pm.  The Call to Order for the Regular Meeting will begin, via Zoom, at 6:30 pm.

Executive Session:  Consider a request from the Village Manager to hold an Executive Session to discuss matters of personnel and matters regarding the lease of real property.

PUBLIC HEARING:

  1.  Public Hearing on Local Law Introductory 6 of 2020 to amend Chapter 168 of the Village Code, Parks and Recreation Areas, to prohibit the use of remote-controlled aircraft in Village-owned parks.   This law would prohibit drones, as well as other remote-controlled aircraft, being launched in Village parks, excepting Gouveia Park.

CORRESPONDENCE:

a. Email from John Munson, Fire Council Secretary, regarding fire department membership changes.  Secretary Munson notes the change in status of several members as well as the addition of several new members of the Fire Department.

  1. Letter from Jud Ramaker, Race Director for the Harry Chapin Memorial Run Against Hunger, regarding this year’s virtual event.   Mr. Ramaker notifies us that the 40th Annual Run Against Hunger will be virtual event this year.  During the period of October 10 – 18, participants will be able to take part in any of three events – the 1 mile Fun Run, 5K Run and Walk and the 10K Run – at any time in the period listed above and at any location of their choosing – track, trail, road or even a distant state.   The Village Police and the Village DPW will not be as involved as in past years.
  2. Report from the Municipal Place Advisory Task Force on the draft request for proposals (RFP) for the development of a Village-owned parcel (“The Katz Property”) at 41-51 Maple Street.  The Task Force  appointed by Mayor Pugh met twice and reviewed the draft RFP.  The Board of Trustees will discuss the RFP and Task Force comments at a work session later in August.
  3. Compilation of energy data from municipal buildings for 2019 in accordance with the Village’s Benchmarking Policy.  The report shows the monthly usage of natural gas and electricity for all Village-owned buildings.  

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS:

  1.   Consider authorizing the Village Manager to execute an inter-municipal agreement with Westchester County for use of the firing range at the county police academy for firearms training purposes at a cost of $630 per visit for the period ending July 31, 2025.  This IMA is a 5-year agreement, allowing Croton Police to utilize the County training facility.
  1. Consider authorizing the Village Treasurer to make an interfund transfer in the amount of $9,675 for costs related to equipment repairs at the Skyview Pump Station.  This repair was an emergency repair and not included in the annual budget.  The money will be transferred from the Contingency Account.
  1. Consider authorizing the Village Manager to execute an easement agreement providing a right-of-way ingress and egress easement for the property located at 41 Harrison Street.   The Board reviewed this proposed easement at several work sessions.  This resolution finds the proposed easement to be in the best interests of the Village.  It will facilitate off-street parking in the area.
  1. Consider accepting the letter of resignation for retirement purposes from Chief of Police Russel H. Harper effective August 29, 2020. Chief Harper thanks the Village for the opportunity to serve as Chief of Police.  Chief Harper has served on the Croton Police force for 40 years.

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 501

ann2016Dear neighbor, Here is the 501st installment of Decoding Village Agendas to keep Croton residents informed of the actions of the Village Board at their meetings.  I continue to add recipients to this email update on agendas so you may be receiving it for the first time. I enjoy getting your feedback and hope to continue to hear from you.  If you do not wish to receive these periodic email updates from me, please reply to this email and your name will be removed from the email list.

Ann Gallelli

Decoding Village Agendas –   July 27, 2020

Work Session of the Village Board

6:00 p.m.

 

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  1. An Executive Session has been scheduled to discuss matters of public safety.   This will occur before the start of the public session, at 5:45 pm.
  2. Review of the proposal by the Conservation Advisory Council to limit the use of leaf blowers within the Village.  The CAC proposal calls for a ban of gasoline leaf blowers beginning January 1, 2021 with an exemption for Hudson National Golf Course.  The CAC would also encourage increased education by the Village on matters of air quality, the environment and noise.
  3. Discussion on moving the dog park currently located at Black Rock Park to another location in the Village.  As a result of several neighbor complaints about the existing dog park, the Village will consider the desirability of relocating it to an area of Croton Landing Park.
  4. Discussion on the reopening of Village playgrounds.  The discussion will focus on the  considerations and steps required to make and keep playgrounds safe during the current Covid pandemic and whether the Village can meet these requirements on an ongoing basis.
  5. Discussion on New York State Executive Order 203 regarding police reform.  Police Chief Harper will join the discussion regarding the requirements outlines in the Governor’s Executive Order.  The order requires that each municipality with a police department perform a comprehensive review of it s current policing operations and develop a plan to improve these strategies to address community needs.  The plan, which requires community input, must be submitted to NYS for review and approved by April 1, 2021.

Brian Pugh: Croton’s Community Census Campaign

Dear Neighbors:brian-pugh-group-cropped

I am writing to thank the volunteers that came out last Thursday and went door-to-door to help remind their neighbors to complete the US Census.  These volunteers, wearing masks and using hand sanitizer supplied by the Village, delivered door hangers to remind residents about the Census at a safe distance.

 

We’re already seeing the fruits of this contactless canvass.  Friday,  Croton-on-Hudson who was the only Westchester municipality with a .2% increase in Census completion. All of the other increases in today’s report are .1%.

 

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Crotonites have shown great community spirit and civic patriotism.

 

Already, 77% of the residents of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, as of this writing, have completed the 2020 Census.  That’s an increase of 4.4 percentage points over 2010, making Croton-on-Hudson the most improved community in Westchester County for Census completion.

 

However, hundreds of households have yet to complete the Census.

 

The Census Bureau estimates that every person that is not counted equals a loss of approximately $2,500 per year to local municipalities in direct and indirect federal aid.

 

Did you know that you can respond to the Census over the phone? Operators are standing by from 7am to 2am every day. The toll free numbers are as follows: 844-330-2020 (English) & 844-468-2020 (Spanish)

 

Please do your part and make sure Croton counts and remind your friends and neighbors to do the same.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brian Pugh, Mayor

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 500

ann2016Dear neighbor, Here is the 500th installment of Decoding Village Agendas to keep Croton residents informed of the actions of the Village Board at their meetings.  I continue to add recipients to this email update on agendas so you may be receiving it for the first time. I enjoy getting your feedback and hope to continue to hear from you.  If you do not wish to receive these periodic email updates from me, please reply to this email and your name will be removed from the email list.

Ann Gallelli

Decoding Village Agendas – July 20, 2020

Regular Meeting of the Village Board

6:00 pm

(Zoom )

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CORRESPONDENCE:

  1. Letter from Vincent Sapienza, Commissioner of the New York City Dept. of Environmental Protection, regarding the water temperatures in the Croton River.  Commissioner Sapienza is responding to a letter from Mayor Pugh and Supervisor Puglisi regarding the cold temperatures of water in the Croton river.  The Commissioner  recounts the history of the NYC DEP’s mandate to release a certain amount of water into the Croton River and why it must come from the bottom of the dam (coldest water) rather than over the top of the dam.  He also relates the flow to the current NYSDEC Hydrilla treatments ongoing in the Croton River.

 

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS:

  1. Consider affirmation of an executed agreement with Northwind Kennel of Bedford, New York, for the purposes of providing shelter for lost dogs at a cost of $1,500 for the period of July 2, 2020, through July 1, 2021.  The Village is required to have either an agreement with an animal shelter or maintain its own shelter for housing stray dogs.  This agreement is for one year.
  2. Consider scheduling a public hearing on Local Law Introductory 6 of 2020 to amend Chapter 168 of the Village Code, Parks and Recreation Areas, to prohibit the use of remote-controlled aircraft in Village-owned parks for August 3, 2020, at 6 PM via Zoom Videoconference.    The amendment would add a new section to the code that reads as follows: “No person shall launch or land any remote-controlled aircraft, including but not limited to model airplanes, model helicopters, drones, rockets, or gliders in any public recreational facilities, except for Gouveia Park.”
  3. Consider authorizing the Village Treasurer to amend the 2019-20 General Fund Budget in the amount of $76,662.68 with respect to grant funding received to cover the costs of the Croton Coalition.  This reflects receipt of federal grant money received for reimbursement of Croton Coalition  expenses in the2019/2020 fiscal year.
  4. Consider authorizing the Village Manager to accept a proposal for safety and security improvements for the Municipal Building offices from Mancon, LLC, of Yorktown Heights, New York, in the amount of $8,500.  This proposal is for the labor costs associated with enhancing the security of offices in the Municipal Building where public access is required. The work will begin in the Recreation Department and will include the Engineering Office and the Main office.

Brian Pugh: Community Solar Array is the Latest Village Green Initiative

Dear Neighbors:brian-pugh-group-cropped

As reported in last week’s Gazette, sign-ups for the Community Solar array at the new DPW garage have opened.  The array, which is owned and operated by a private developer, will provide discounted electric power to those who wish to subscribe AND make lease payments to the Village of Croton totaling over $700,000. 

 

This is just one of the steps the Village government has taken in recent years to support renewable energy and environmental conservation–and we continue to work on more. 

 

Since taking office in December 2017, the Democratic majority on the Board of Trustees has:

 

  1. Enrolled the Village in 100% renewable power through Sustainable Westchester’s Westchester Power Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program;
  2. Installed electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lots of the Croton-Harmon train station and Municipal Building; 
  3. Started to replace older vehicles in our fleet with electric ones through attrition;
  4. Enrolled in Sustainable Westchester’s Drive Electric program, giving the Village and residents access to discounts on electric vehicles;
  5. Launched a new Solarize campaign that has added dozens of new solar energy systems to our community;
  6. Developed a Living Lighting Laboratory in the Municipal Building to demonstrate energy efficient lighting;
  7. Organized seminars on home energy efficiency from the Cornell Cooperative Extension for the Seniors’ Club and other community groups;
  8. Relaunched a new and improved Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) to create new financing options for commercial renewable energy projects;
  9. Adopted a local law to allow for carport solar & certain commercial systems and regulate the installation of solar energy arrays;
  10. Empowered the local police to ticket vehicles for excessive idling; and
  11. Secured grant funding for a pilot food waste recycling program;

 

In light of the great need to prepare for a fossil fuel free future, the Board of Trustees continues to explore new green initiatives.  The Board had a discussion of possible solar projects at the Croton-Harmon Train Station in June and, in May, discussed the possible installation of solar carports at other parking lots in the Village.

 

I look forward to continuing to work with the Democrati majority on the Village of Croton-on-Hudson’s Board of Trustees to build a more sustainable future for our community. And my Board of Trustees colleagues and I are grateful to hear regularly from Croton residents of all parties and independents that support renewable energy and environmental conservation,  all of which make for a better tomorrow for Croton .

Sincerely,

 

Brian Pugh, Mayor

Brian Pugh: Croton Police Complete New Anti-Bias & De-Escalation Training

Dear Neighbors:brian-pugh-group-cropped

Members of the Croton Police Department have completed Anti-Bias and De-Escalation training.  This welcome news was reported to the Board of Trustees at Monday’s meeting by the Village Manager on behalf of the Chief of Police.

 

The Anti-Bias and De-Escalation training was provided by New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal (NYMIR). The NYMIR courses provide lessons on identifying biases, avoiding biased policing, maintaining an unbiased and respectful culture and strategies for resolving conflicts peacefully.

 

This training was just the latest of the progressive steps taken by Chief Russel Harper since he was appointed by the Board of Trustees and I in 2018.  In the last few years, the Village has also added our first two bilingual officers and the first woman in uniform in nearly a decade.

 

This is all only part of an ongoing process to make sure that the public gets the protection it deserves. Last month, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order requiring local police agencies–with input from stakeholders–to engage in a public and open process to develop a plan to promote policing that provides for equal treatment and the protection of civil rights.

 

The Village Board of Trustees and I will continue to work with our police to ensure that our Croton-on-Hudson progresses towards this goal.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brian Pugh, Mayor

Brian Pugh: Celebrating Independence Day!

Dear Neighbors:

pugh2016I am writing to wish all the residents of our Village a happy Independence Day.  This July 4th is unlike any that we’ve observed in living memory–nevertheless, we have much to be grateful for, much to celebrate and much to fight for.

 

We should draw inspiration from our country’s triumph over the British Empire led by the tyrannical King George III and the perseverance of the American experiment in self-government.

 

The preservation of democracy was the result of tremendous sacrifice.

 

As always, we should remember our veterans and those on the frontlines today.  Our freedoms depend on the men and women in uniform who look out for us every day.

 

We should also remember that we owe many of our freedoms to those that engaged in heroic unarmed struggle at home in the Civil Rights, Women’s Suffrage and other freedom movements.  This includes historical figures with local connections such as Doris Stevens, who was jailed for her protests for womens’ suffrage.

 

That rich tradition of protest and debate is still alive and well in the United States and the Village of Croton-on-Hudson.

 

 As we celebrate a socially distanced Independence Day, let’s reflect on how we can fulfill and build on the bold claim of our Declaration of Independence:

 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

 

Sincerely,

 

Brain Pugh, Mayor

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 499

ann2016Dear neighbor, Here is the 499th installment of Decoding Village Agendas to keep Croton residents informed of the actions of the Village Board at their meetings.  I continue to add recipients to this email update on agendas so you may be receiving it for the first time. I enjoy getting your feedback and hope to continue to hear from you.  If you do not wish to receive these periodic email updates from me, please reply to this email and your name will be removed from the email list.

Ann Gallelli

Decoding Village Agendas – July 6, 2020

Regular Meeting of the Village Board

6:00 pm

(Zoom )

 

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PRESENTATIONS AND OTHER:

  1. Presentation by Jasmine Graham, Program Manager for Westchester Power, on the current Community Choice Aggregation program and its upcoming renewal.

 

CORRESPONDENCE:

  1. Letter from Mayor Robert T. Kennedy, President of NYCOM, regarding changes to discovery requirements and CARES Act funding.  Mr. Kennedy  addresses two topics, the changes in Criminal discovery requirements in NYS and, he urges municipalities to advocate US Senators in favor of stimulus help for municipalities.

 

APPROVED RESOLUTIONS:

  1. Affirmation of a resolution adopted on June 22, 2020, regarding a revision to the Village’s Street Vendor License Policy.   The Village Board approved street vendor licenses to be allowed for extra hours for June 25 and June 26 for graduation activities.
  2. Affirmation of a resolution adopted on June 22, 2020, to add a fee for food vendors in Village parks to the master fee schedule.   The Village Board approved the inclusion of a fee of $100/day for food vendors in Village Parks to be added to the Master Fee schedule.  Such Vendors are limited to the period between May 1 and September 30.

 

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS:

  1. Consider authorizing the Village Treasurer to make necessary transfers in the 2019-2020 General, Water and Sewer Fund budgets.  In anticipation of the up-coming onsite audit, these transfers reflect the end of the fiscal year 2019/2020.
  2. Consider adopting a resolution of support for a residential parking permit system on Young Avenue and Hastings Avenue.  In December 2019, the Board discussed a residential parking permit system be instituted for Young and Hastings Avenues.  This requires NYS approval.  Assemblywoman Galef and Senator Harckham have introduced such legislation for this parking and require a formal Home Rule resolution asking for such from the Village Board.
  3. Consider authorizing Village personnel to perform a cleanup of the property located at 11 Lounsbury Road and to place the cost for such cleanup as a lien upon the property.  After officla notices to the property owner, the condition of this property requires the Village to take over the clean up.  The costs of this will be added to the property taxes.
  4. Consider authorizing the Village Manager to execute an amendment to the deed restriction in place for 40 Prospect Place to permit the construction of two additions to the residence.  A deed restriction, dating from 1972, required that construction be limited to the buildings shown in drawings at that time.  Current owners submitted a Minor Site Plan amendment to the Planning Board for two additions.  The Planning Board, after consideration, is recommending that the deed restriction be lifted.
  5. Consider authorizing the Village Manager to execute a license and service agreement with CivicPlus of Boxborough, Mass., in the amount of $4,368 for the period between July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021.  CivicPlus is the new owner of VTS which has hosted the Village website since 2000.  This is the yearly contract renewal.
  6. Consider authorizing the Village Treasurer to close various capital project accounts as of May 31, 2020.  This would close out 13 capital accounts where the projects have been completed.

Rick Olver: C’mon, Croton United, really?

olver2C’mon, Croton United, really?  You keep beating that tired old drum, falsely claiming extreme Democratic fiscal irresponsibility.  The latest post claims “even Bernie Madoff’s accountant would know better” than our excellent, non-partisan Village Manager.

You point to Croton Point Avenue cost overruns, the “disappearance” of the Gouveia Park endowment, and the ballooning cost of the DPW building.  Here are the facts:

  1. New York State increased its contribution to the Croton Point Avenue project so Crotonites don’t pay more.
  2. The Gouevia endowment still has plenty of money.
  3. The new DPW building was a Croton United administration initiative.

The Village is actually in strong financial shape, closing Fiscal Year 2019-20 at the end of this June with a surplus, despite the fact that Q4 (April-June 2020) included the unprecedented and totally unexpected COVID-19 lockdown that hammered sales tax and parking lot revenues.

We have plenty of severe problems right now.  In such times, why does Croton United insist on making personal insults and distorted claims?  You haven’t run candidates since 2017.  If you have an alternative, give the people a choice. That would be much more productive than exaggerated sniping.

 

Rick Olver

Former Croton Trustee