Ian Murtaugh: A History Lesson

Dear Neighbors:ian2019

There were a pair of letters published in the Gazette in the March 28th edition. One was sent by Ms. Roseann Schuyler and concerned several issues, among which was the Municipal Place Gateway and the North Riverside Ave. public input session held by the Village Board the week before. A companion letter, by Mr. Paul Steinberg, dealt with the same subject.

Several years ago, I was moved to run for the Board of Trustees, largely because of the proposed Harmon Redevelopment rezoning plan that was under discussion. Like the rezoning questions that are currently in the earliest stages of discussion, a similar examination of the best way forward in Harmon was undertaken by the Village Board and staff, with substantial input from the community.

Once elected, I was involved in many discussions, officially and privately, with friends and neighbors who had questions and concerns about what might ultimately be approved as a rezoning plan for the Harmon business district along South Riverside Ave. The questions were generally good and, initially quite measured and respectful.

However, before long I found myself in the middle of a storm of claims, accusations and dire predictions about what the adoption of “the plan” would be. Even before there was an agreed upon “plan”. And then it devolved into a series of wild accusations being hurled at the Mayor and the Trustees, and residents being whipped into a frenzy over misinformation and fear-mongering.

Of course, once a prolonged process of careful consideration had finally run its course (and the filing of a series of unnecessary law suits, all of which failed to stop the rezoning process), the Harmon Business District plan was enacted and the rebuilding began.

I am a lifetime resident of Croton and have lived in Harmon for many years. I well remember the “way Croton used to be” and in my opinion, the changes enabled by the rezoning plan have been a marked improvement for our Village and the neighborhood in which I live. None of the dire predictions made by those opposed to the Harmon plan (which included Ms. Schuyler quite prominently) came to pass.

As we embark on this next phase of change, I hope that we do not have to follow that same game plan. These two letters reminded me of the early stages of the Harmon process, and that concerns me. I hope we do not have to repeat the mistakes of the past, but instead can have reasoned, thoughtful discussions and civil disagreements, and then move forward together as a community.


Ian Murtaugh, Former Trustee

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 447

ann2016Dear neighbor, Here is the 447th 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 – April 15, 2019

Regular Meeting of the Village Board

8:00 pm

(Open to Public – Televised)




PUBLIC HEARING:  Public Hearing to consider adoption of Local Law Introductory No. 4 of 2019, repealing Local Law 2 of 2019, the prior tax cap override



  1. Email from Jo Ann Fannon, Chair of the Croton Community Blood Committee, announcing the date of the next Croton Community Blood Drive will be May 5.
  2. Email from Joe Martinelli, Adjutant/Treasurer of American Legion Fox-Eklof Post 505, regarding the use of Senasqua Park for a centennial celebration.



  1. Consider adoption of the 2019-2020 Village Budget for the fiscal year commencing June 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020.  The FY 2019/2020 General Fund budget is for $19427,655 of which $11,656,141 would be subject to the Tax Levy.  The percentage tax increase is 0.46%.  Under the NYS Tax Levy Cap law a 2% increase was allowed.  The Tentative Budget which the Board of Trustees has been reviewing for the past several weeks, called for 1.09% increase.  The increase in dollars, if this budget is approved, would be $1.179/$1000 of assessed valuation.
  2. Consider the addition of past due receivables to the tax bills for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.  This allows certain categories of unpaid bills to be added to property tax bills.
  3. Consider adoption of the Master Fee Schedule for 2019-20.  Fees pertaining to all departments are established in one section of the law and updated periodically.  This resolution establishes the most recent updates to the various fees. 
  4. Consider authorizing the Mayor to sign the Tax Warrant for the collection of taxes for the period commencing June 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020.  This resolution authorizes the Village to send out the tax bills for the fiscal year 2019/2020.
  5. Consider acknowledging receipt of Local Law Introductory 5 of 2019 to amend Section 230, Zoning, of the Village Code to permit day-care uses by special permit in the C-2 Zoning District, declaring the Village as Lead Agent under SEQRA, issuing the EAF and CAF and referring the draft law and other documentation to the Village Planning Board, Waterfront Advisory Committee and Westchester County Planning Board in accordance with Village and County law.  This begins the process of amending the zoning law as it pertains to permitted uses in C-2 zones to allow Day Care centers to apply for a special permit. The resolution forwards the proposal to multiple boards and the County to review it and make recommendations.  This must be done before the zoning amendment can move ahead.
  6. Consider adoption of a resolution in observance of Arbor Day on April 26, 2019.  The Village is a Tree City recognized by The National Arbor Society in recognition of its tree planting and its annual Arbor Day observance.

Richard Masur: Who is responsible for the delay with CPA?

To the Editor,Richard Masur Picture

The Village of Croton Board rejected the bids for the Croton Point Avenue project as only two contractors bid on the job and both bids were well above the independent engineer’s estimate. Now the project must once again be delayed, or possibly cancelled unless the grant funding for this project can be rolled over and the project rebid. It is vital that Croton residents understand that the previous Croton United majority campaigned against the project, they bear significant responsibility for the anticipated cost increases for CPA and its possible cancellation.

In the lead up to the 2015 Village election, I wrote a Letter to the Editor in which I said, “The Village has procured $1.7 million in federal and county funds that will cut the cost to the Village of the Croton Point Ave. project by nearly two-thirds.” I continued, “But we’ll only receive those funds if we actually make improvements. It would be foolish, indeed, to throw away that kind of money, especially for such a vitally necessary project. But that is precisely what our opponents in this election have said they will do.”

And that’s exactly what Croton United did. As soon as that election was over and they had gained a majority on the Village Board, they tried to stop the CPA.

Only after staff had repeatedly told them, did they finally grasp that stopping CPA would cost the Village almost two million dollars in lost grants. Only then did they start talking about “possibly” moving forward with “selective parts” of the CPA plan. And only after it had again been explained to them that doing so would still threaten the grant money did they reluctantly begin to slow-walk CPA forward.

The grant funding for the Croton Point Avenue improvements was secured during one of the lowest construction cost periods in recent memory, and those costs have been rising steadily ever since. The delays, dithering and ill-considered decisions by the former Village administration are the key factors that have resulted in these increased costs for the CPA project.

I hope that the Department of Transportation does rollover the grant for Village and we have the opportunity to proceed with the Croton Point Avenue project next year. But if they do not and we cannot go forward, residents of the Village of Croton should remember the role Croton United played in costing our community a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve the commutes of thousands of residents.

Richard Masur
Chair, Croton Democratic Committee

Brian Pugh: Zoning Update Study-is Community Driven and Locally Focused

brian-pugh-group-croppedTo The Editor:

The current zoning update study for the North Riverside Avenue area is intended to put policy meat on the figurative bones of that Comprehensive Plan (a strategic guide for land use actions of our community that was adopted on a bipartisan basis in 2017) and to help to meet the needs discussed by residents in 2018’s housing charette. Both the Comprehensive Plan and the housing charette identified creating new housing options and expanding our tax base as important issues.

The zoning update study is a community driven and locally focused effort to achieve these goals.

Currently, our consultant BFJ is helping the Village to assess residents’ desires, market conditions and how the current zoning in the areas described above fits with the needs of residents and the market. No specific plan has been proposed. I encourage all residents to participate in the survey for this study on the Village’s web site: crotononhudson-ny.gov

Residents at March’s public Zoning Study Workshop raised questions about parking, impacts on infrastructure, effects on neighboring properties (especially in regards to views) and affordability. These are legitimate concerns and ones that I believe the process will address.

Sadly but not surprisingly, the usual suspects attempt to demagogue the issue by seeking to scare residents with the boogeyman of “affordable housing” and “urbanization”. I hope residents will ignore these dog whistles and remember that we already have affordable housing developments and rental housing in our community and which is home to Village workers and volunteers, seniors and families.

While homeownership is the American Dream it’s not the right fit for everyone all the time–more than a quarter of the current residents of the Village are tenants. Some live in the Bari Manor complex (rent stabilized since 2003), others live in the many 2-4 family homes that dot our community.

We’ve been home to affordable housing develops organized by the Croton Housing Network located at Bank Street, Mt. Airy Woods, West Wind, Brook Street, Discovery Cove and Symphony Knoll for decades. They are home to family, friends and neighbors–people that might work at the Montrose VA or be retirees or people living with disabilities surviving on a fixed income.

When people inveigh against affordable housing and apartments they are inveighing against our current and future neighbors.

Some 10 years ago, the Village had a similar debate in regards to Harmon Rezoning–the outcome are the eagerly anticipated new mixed use buildings on Riverside Avenue that will soon be home to local businesses and residents. I encourage those concerned by the Zoning Study to reserve judgment, trust the process and remember our recent experiences as a Village before making up their minds on this issue.


Brian Pugh, Mayor

Ann Gallelli: Update on the Anchorage Issue

To the Editor,ann2016

A little over two years ago communities along the Hudson River were alarmed to learn of a proposal under consideration by the Coast Guard to designate ten locations with space for 43 commercial boats to be anchored in the Hudson River between the GW bridge and Albany.

Public comment resulted in over 10,000 responses to the Coast Guard and the convening of two Port and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) workshops to which 45 people were invited of which I was one.  The invitees represented municipalities, commercial fishmen, recreational boating organizations, environmentalists, and the maritime industry. Their reports resulted in the Coast Guard discontinuing the proposed anchorage locations.

This does not mean, however, that no anchorages will be designated in the Hudson River.  Rather, the Coast Guard organized another group to further study aspects of the question including whether such anchorages are needed, safety factors to put in place for anchorages, environmental aspects, managing traffic on the Hudson and a myriad of issues related to commercial boating on the river.  This Steering Committee is comprised of representatives from the same interest groups as the earlier PAWSA workshops. Historic Hudson River Towns (HHRT), a group representing municipalities along the Hudson River, has a presence on the steering committee. Within HHRT, a sub group of people of which I am one, have been strongly advocating a thorough study of all the implications of anchorages before a final decision is made.  The Coast Guard is considering the recommendations of this committee and how to move forward.

Additional anchorages are still a real possibility as the river is a commercial water way which is likely to continue in the future.  A final decision on this is not likely anytime soon as the parameters to be studied are just taking shape. As the interests of Croton are directly related to its location as a Hudson River town, we need to stay engaged with the Coast Guard’s ongoing consideration of designated anchorages.

Ann Gallelli,

Deputy Mayor, Village of Croton


Ann Gallelli



John Habib, Mayor Brian Pugh, Trustee Sherry Horowitz, and County Executive George Latimer, who has endorsed the slate. 

Incumbent Mayor Brian Pugh and Trustee Sherry Horowitz are Joined by Newcomer John Habib on the Democratic, Independence & Working Families Party Lines

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, NY– Mayor Brian Pugh, Trustee Sherry Horowitz and political newcomer John Habib, have won the support of the Democratic Party, Independence Party, and the Working Families Party. The Pugh-Horowitz-Habib slate filed nominating petitions last Tuesday. Party nominations became official on Monday, April 8th after no objections were made to their petitions.

Mayor Brian Pugh said, “Since joining the Board in 2014 and while serving as Mayor of the Village of Croton, I have worked with my colleagues to produce responsible budgets with tax increases averaging less than one percent–well below the tax cap and rate of inflation. This record of low taxes is delivered with balanced budgets and surpluses every year. At the same time, we’ve continued to make important investments in capital projects to move our village forward: improvements to our water system, new firefighting vehicles & equipment, and repairs to our roads. We owe it to our local property taxpayers to be mindful of the property tax burden, while still investing in infrastructure, green energy goals, programs for senior citizens, and village recreation that thinks toward the future.”

Trustee Sherry Horowitz said, “I am honored to be endorsed by the Democratic Party, the Working Families Party and the Independence Party. As a teacher of young children, I am committed to creating and pursuing environmentally friendly initiatives in the Village. It has been my great good fortune to work alongside Mayor Pugh, the Board of Trustees and the Sustainability Committee to bring affordable electricity from 100% renewable sources to Croton residents through the Community Choice Aggregation program, to begin the gradual electrification of our municipal vehicle fleet, to provide local charging stations, to promote solar energy and energy efficiency through the Solarize and Energize campaigns and to embark on a food waste pilot program for the village.”

Newcomer Trustee candidate John Habib said, “I grew up in the Village of Croton, and I am impressed by the many positive changes that have taken place here over the years since my family first moved here. Many of these improvements have been the result of initiatives spearheaded by the Croton Democrats such as Croton Landing, Gouveia Park, and the purchase of the Croton-Harmon train station parking lot by former Democratic Mayor Robert Elliottt which eases the burden on local property taxpayers by generating substantial revenue for the village each year. I look forward to contributing to that progress and using my experience with the American Chamber of Commerce to support Croton’s local business growth. Mayor Brian Pugh, Trustee Sherry Horowitz and I love the Village of Croton, and I look forward to working with them as we move the village forward.”

Mayor Brian Pugh is seeking a 2nd term having first been elected in 2017 and previously served as a Trustee since 2014.  Pugh is a labor lawyer and a native of the Village of Croton.

Trustee Sherry Horowitz, is also running for a 2nd term, having first been elected in 2017. Horowitz is a longtime resident and small business owner in Croton who founded and directs the Childrenspace preschool, an well-known institution  in the village for 40 years.

John Habib, a first time candidate, is running for Village Trustee. Habib and his wife own and operate a law firm on Riverside Avenue. Previously, he served as Chairman and Board Member for U.S. and Foreign Trade Associations/Chambers of Commerce.

The Croton Democrats are longtime proponents of responsible budgeting, environmental sustainability, and open government. They have overcome the resistance of opposing political parties in Croton to: purchase the Croton-Harmon train station parking, which is now the village’s second largest source of revenue after property taxes; develop the Hudson River waterfront and create Croton Landing, a village focal point for recreational and community activities; and promote mixed-use development in the Harmon area, giving small business owners the opportunity to create new revenue streams with the addition of rental apartments. Since their founding, the Croton Democrats have operated under the firm belief that government, with the active support of the community, can be a powerful force for good. The agenda pursued by the Democrats, which is one of progressive values guided by fiscal responsibility, reflects that conviction.

John Habib, Mayor Brian Pugh, Trustee Sherry Horowitz, and County Executive George Latimer, who has endorsed the slate. 

Brian Pugh: Update on the Croton Point Avenue Improvement Project

Dear Neighbors:brian-pugh-group-cropped

At the bid opening for the Croton Point Avenue Project on Friday, March 29th, the Village received two bids for the project. Therefore, the Village will not be moving forward with the Croton Point Avenue Project in 2019.  The Board intends to analyze its various options and potentially rebid the project for a spring 2020 start time.

The Board of Trustees believes that for a project of this size and complexity, it is important to receive more than two bids.  Further, both of these bids were significantly above the Engineering and Design Consultant’s estimate.

Such challenges are not without precedent when it comes to large infrastructure investments. In 2016, the Village received two bids for the Elliott Way project both of which came in far in excess of the Village’s good faith estimate as to the cost of the project, leading the Board to reject both bids and reassess the project.  Ultimately, the project was modified and rebid and was completed last year.

The Croton Point Avenue Project includes many traffic-calming improvements meant to provide a better, safer commute for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.  It would widen the Route 9 South ramp to provide an exclusive right turn lane, add traffic signal installations at Veterans Plaza, the Route 9 ramps and widen Veterans Plaza to accommodate four-lanes for reversible traffic flow.  In addition, it would add bicycle lanes to both sides of Croton Point Avenue and a sidewalk to the south side of Croton Point Avenue to protect pedestrians and cyclists.

The Croton Point Avenue Improvement Project, originated in 2008 and received a $1.2 million federal grant. It has spanned several mayoral administrations.   At the June 6, 2016 Village Board meeting, the previous Mayor stated that the Croton Point Avenue Project has “long been in the hopper” and with modern technology and proper traffic signaling we can move traffic through this area more safely.

It is my hope that after the Village’s Board and staff have a chance to reevaluate the bid documents and results, we will be able to move forward on this long-awaited project.



Brian Pugh


Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 442

ann2016Dear neighbor, Here is the 442nd 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 – April 1, 2019

Regular Meeting of the Village Board

7:30 pm

(Open to Public – Televised)


NOTE:  This meeting will begin at 7:30.




PRESENTATION/OTHER:  Presentation of Certificate of Recognition to Ms. Jeanine Hall, teacher at Hendrick-Hudson High School, on being named Biomedical Teacher of the Year by Project Lead the Way (PLTW).

PUBLIC HEARING:  Public Hearing on the adoption of the 2019-2020 Tentative Village Budget.   This public hearing is an opportunity for residents to comment on the proposed budget.  The Board is also reviewing each of the departmental budgets at ongoing work sessions.   As proposed, the FY 2019/2020 budget is in compliance with the NYS Property Tax Cap legislation.  The proposed budget calls for in increase of $160,011 from the prior year which is $277,916 less than the allowable limit. The proposed levy is for $11,721,287 and a 1.09% increase in the tax rate.   The final budget is scheduled for adoption on April 15 and will likely be slightly different than the proposed budget after the reviews and comments are evaluated.



  1. Request from Phyllis Bock, Director of Education at Teatown, to run a trout release program at Silver Lake on May 8 and May 14.  This is an annual request from Teatown which the Village has agreed to in past years.
  2. Letter from Valerie Leis, Croton Council on the Arts President, and Jim Christenson, Croton Council on the Arts Director of Photography, requesting to host an Outdoor Arts Festival this fall.   The Croton Council on the Arts would like to resume its Fall Arts event.  In the past, 2015 and 2016, it was held at Senasqua Park.  They would like to consider moving it to Croton Landing park and would like it to be on a Saturday in September or early October. 
  3. Letter from Daniel Boglioli, Treasurer of the Croton Caring Committee, acknowledging the Village’s contribution to the committee, and the February 2019 Croton Caring Committee Newsletter.  



  1. Consider scheduling a Public Hearing on April 15, 2019 at 7:30 PM in the Georgianna Grant Meeting Room of the Stanley H. Kellerhouse Municipal Building to consider Local Law Introductory No. 4 of 2019, repealing Local Law 2 of 2019, the prior tax cap override.  The Board previously passed on Override Law to avoid penalties if the Property Tax exceeded the NYS Tax Levy Cap.  As the budget for FY 2019/2020 will not exceed the Tax Cap, it is necessary to rescind the law which requires a public hearing.
  2. Consider scheduling a public hearing for Monday, May 20, 2019, at 8 PM in the Georgianna Grant Meeting Room of the Stanley H. Kellerhouse Municipal Building to  issue an expansion of the special permit for Happy Hearts Take Two, located at 365 South Riverside Avenue.  The application calls for a special permit to operate an additional ten daycare classrooms at the location.  The Planning Board has reviewed it and recommended positively.  A public hearing is necessary for the issuance of this special permit which this resolution schedules.
  3. Consider authorizing the Village Manager to execute an agreement with Zoja Nrecaj for the use of the parking area located at 358 South Riverside Ave. for the period beginning June 1, 2019, continuing through May 31, 2023, at a cost of $1,320 per year.   This extends an existing 4-year agreement for the 11 parking spaces at this location, 8 of which are available for the public, at no increase in the annual amount.
  4. Consider authorizing the Village Treasurer to amend the 2018-2019 General Fund Budget in the amount of $4,112.10 for monies received from insurance recovery.   This pertains to a fallen tree which damaged fencing and bleachers at Manes Field.
  1. Consider authorizing the Village Treasurer to make an interfund transfer from the General Fund to the Capital Fund in the amount of $10,535.04 for expenses related to the installation of electric vehicle chargers. This expense was previously discussed at a March work session.  The project is being moved to a Capital Account by this resolution.


  1. Consider rejection of the bids received on March 29, 2019, for the Croton Point Avenue Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements Project.   The Village received only two bids for this project. Both were higher than anticipated. The project was designed by CHA consultants and approved by the NYSDOT.  The rejection is based on two bids being inadequate.