Sherry Horowitz: Croton is a Village where voices do count

sherry2017This past week, 3 important Village-wide meetings were held in Croton, and all of them were very well attended.  The first one was a continuation of the Village discussion on the future development, if any, in both the Municipal Place and North Riverside Gateway areas.  The second one was a Listening Session organized by the recently created Village Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. The third was the Care for Creation’s program featuring a film about climate change, “Paris to Pittsburgh”, which was followed by a group discussion.

I thought all 3 meetings were informative, and I was heartened by the obvious interest and enthusiasm of the participants.  I was also gratified to see that so many of my friends and neighbors came out to listen, to learn, and to add their voices to the communal conversations that will help to determine future action. The issues that are being discussed in the Village will affect all of us, and I believe it is right and good that (1) we are given the opportunity to participate and (2) that so many folks are availing themselves of the chance to be heard.

In my opinion, Croton is a Village where voices do count.  Our input as citizens is critical to the creation of the kind of community we want to live in, now and in the future. Please continue to participate, to write letters, to attend meetings, to organize and to advocate.

The future is ours!

Sincerely, Sherry Horowitz, Trustee, Village Board

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Brian Pugh: What do taxes pay for?

Dear Neighbors:brian-pugh-group-cropped

As June draws to a close, the June 30 deadline for the payment of Village taxes approaches.  Few people enjoy paying taxes, which is why Croton’s Board of Trustees worked with the staff to keep the tax increase in the 2019 budget to 0.46% (for the median homeowner that’s an increase of approximately $26 for the year) and $343,062 below the property tax levy limit.

At the same time, I believe it’s important for the public to understand how their tax dollars are used.  That’s why at my recommendation, the Village Departments now issue quarterly reports that are posted to each Department’s page on www.crotononhudson-ny.gov.

Below is a brief sample of the work that the Village’s departments are doing on your behalf, from their most recent quarterly reports, which were issued last week:

From March 1 to May 31, the Department of Public Works cleared 14 inches of snow, 277 miles of roadway, 485 catch basins, 880 tons of refuse. In the same period, our Village engineer issued 41 new buildings permits. Our Police Department responded to 84 motor vehicle accidents, 169 fire and ambulance calls and responded to 1,176 calls overall, from January 1 to April 30.

Overseeing all of these operations is our Village Manager, Janine King–with the support of her confidential secretary, Bryan Healy.

Manager King, a Village resident since 1989, earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BA from Columbia and has worked for the Village for almost 30 years.  Mr. Healy, previously worked for the Town of Bedford, has been with us since 2018 and has proven to be a valuable addition to the team.

Every day, our Village benefits from their experience and expertise.

Over the last two budgets, the Board of Trustees and I have worked with the staff to keep tax levy growth to a total of less than 1%.  We have been able to reduce village indebtedness. We have continued to run budget surpluses. We have have maintained a robust Aa2 credit rating.  In their last statement credit analysis of the Village of Croton, Moody’s observed the Village’s “[s]trong and stable financial position supported by conservative fiscal policies.”

We have been able to grow our fiscal health in the face of economic headwinds: inflation that has been running at approximately 2% per year from 2016 to present, state aid that has remained flat since 2011 (in contrast to the billion dollar increase in state aid to local school districts in the 2019-20 state budget) and unfunded mandates from Albany (e.g. the Village, unlike school districts, must pay the MTA payroll tax–even though almost by definition the Village’s workforce does not really use the MTA).

Our Village Board of Trustees, with the guidance and support of our professional staff, is committed to controlling property taxes to keep the Village of Croton a community where middle class families can afford to live.  At the same time, we will continue to work to give our Village’s workforce the tools they need to keep delivering the level of services residents expect and preserve our community’s quality of life.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh, Mayor

Rick Olver: Sizing up policing in Croton

rick-olver-croton-on-hudson.jpgOur Croton police headquarters is cramped and woefully inadequate. It is also potentially dangerous. We’ve known this for a long time, but the cost of a modern, stand-alone facility is just too high. So, earlier this year the Croton Village Board approved a Village staff concept for a renovation that would consolidate and rationalize police operations in a segregated, secure space on the entire first floor of the Municipal Building.

Last week the Board agreed to hire a specialist firm to design and cost the schematics for this possible renovation of the police department. Their work will show us what our needs would cost. And we can then decide whether or not to go ahead.

The police do much work in the service of the community, although for privacy reasons details are often not released to the public via the Blotter. They respond to every fire and auto accident. This is a safe community: Croton had a violent crime rate of just 48 per 100,000 residents in 2017, way lower than the national rate of 383 per 100,000. But these days that is not something that can be taken for granted. We need to be prepared. Ever more professional crime prevention and response capacities are essential in this age of random violence.

Our department is cost-effective and has police numbers comparable to similar communities in Westchester. For example, Hastings has a population of 7,500 and a force of 21 officers while Pleasantville, pop. 7,000, has a force of 22 officers. Our Village of 8,200 has a budget for 21 officers.

Having a local police force with officers who are truly knowledgeable and sensitive to the community requires extra emphasis on training and discipline. The Croton police are now operating on modern professional standards. They have adopted community policing approaches and have increased their training. Now we want to give them the professional facilities that would support these improvements.

Sherry Horowitz: Will your next car be electric?

More good news for prospective new car buyers!sherry2017

Sustainable Westchester has announced that the $5,000 discount on 3 models of the 2019 All Electric Nissan Leaf has been extended to July 1st.  That discount, available to everyone who lives, works or goes to school in Westchester County, is made possible through the enhanced buying power of Sustainable Westchester’s consumer aggregation model.  Besides the $5,000 Sustainable Westchester discount, other incentives also apply: the New York State instant rebate of $2,000 and the federal tax credit of $7,500. Taken all together, the cost of a new Leaf is reduced by $14,500!

An electric vehicle is a financially prudent and environmentally sustainable choice.  The Leaf gets 150 miles per charge, requires minimal maintenance, produces no emissions, uses no dirty gas and leads to less greenhouse gases. There are currently 5 million EVs on the road, and more than 185 EV charging stations in the County, including 2 installed and operational right here in Croton, with more to come!

If you would like to pursue this opportunity, and/or have questions, please visit sustainablewestchester.org or email:cleantransportation@sustainablewestchester.org

Respectfully, Sherry Horowitz, Trustee, Croton Village Board

Richard Masur: When Ex-Trustees Attack

Dear Neighbors,Richard Masur Picture

 

I want to start by acknowledging that Mr. Joel Gingold did an admirable job in his letter published in the Gazette two weeks ago.  He made what I thought were thoughtful and reasonable suggestions to the Village Board about how to avoid potential problems with possible zoning plan changes being studied by the Village.  Even though I believe that most of the things Mr. Gingold suggested were already being done, his suggestions seemed to be constructive.

 

Last week Mr. Bob Anderson added his voice to the conversation by posing a list of “10 questions for the Croton Board of Trustees regarding rezoning”.  The questions in and of themselves were potentially productive. However, there are some things that suggest that may not be the case.

 

Mr. Anderson starts from the premise that a current draft proposal exists.  That is just not true. As Mr. Paul Doyle, the Chair of the working group conducting the current Zoning Study made clear in last week’s Gazette, the working group is still in the process of considering possible zoning changes in the Municipal Place Gateway and North Riverside areas.  Mr. Doyle further made clear that this process is far from complete. And he forthrightly stated that the decisions about what recommendations the working group will be making to the Board will take into account many factors, including the Comprehensive Plan.  

 

In fact, the Zoning Study grew directly out of the Village’s Comprehensive Plan, which is a legal document adopted by the Village while Mr. Anderson was serving on the Board as Deputy Mayor.  What he voted to approve included the following: “Adapting housing, transit, recreation and buildings and public spaces will help a vibrant and engaged senior population to securely age in place and contribute to a vibrant community. At the same time, the Village must provide the services and quality of life that will attract and retain the new Village immigrants and younger workforce needed to replace a labor force that is shrinking as the population ages.”

 

According to NY State law, once a Comprehensive Plan is adopted, all land use regulations must be in accordance with it. In other words, the working group has no option but to take the Comprehensive Plan into account when developing their recommendations about zoning in the Village. 

 

This raises the question – What did Mr. Anderson and his colleagues on the Board think they were voting for when they approved the adoption of the Plan?  It also raises the question (given his intimate knowledge of the Comprehensive Plan) of why a former Deputy Mayor wouldn’t understand that each of the questions included on his list would already be part of the Zoning Study, and will certainly be taken into account in developing the work group’s recommendations and the Village Board’s eventual rezoning decisions.  

 

But before that happens, as we can assume Mr. Anderson must already know, the work group has more work to do.  And before the Board takes any action, it will certainly solicit much more public discussion and input.  

 

If Mr. Anderson’s questions were published in an effort to further that process, then I for one, think they are productive.  If, on the other hand, they are an effort to simply raise provocative issues which Mr. Anderson should know have no clear answers at this time, then I for one think they are decidedly unproductive.

 

Richard Masur

Chair, Croton Democratic Committee

 

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 454

ann2016Dear neighbor, Here is the 454th 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 – June 17, 2019

Regular Meeting of the Village Board

8:00 pm

(Open to Public – Televised)

 

 

 

PRESENTATION/OTHER:

  1. Presentation by Mario Garcia, U.S. Census Partnership Specialist, on the 2020 Census.   The Village formed a Census Count committee about a year ago at the behest of the Census Bureau which requested all municipalities to do so.    Mr. Garcia will report on the activities that local groups will be undertaking to ensure a complete count in the 2020 Census.
  2. The Village Board will consider a motion to enter into an executive session to discuss a personnel matter related to a particular individual.  If the motion is passed an executive session will be held.

 

PUBLIC HEARING:

  1. Public Hearing to consider the expansion of the special permit for Happy Hearts Take Two, located at 365 South Riverside Avenue.    The Board will hear comments on the application for the special use permit expansion.  The proposed expansion is for ten additional classrooms at their existing location.  The automotive use will be eliminated.

 

CORRECSPONDENCE:

  1. Letter from Toni Senecal Shea, owner of the Croton Tapsmith, requesting use of one parking space in front of their establishment for a monthly pizza trailer event.  Based on their Summerfest experience, Tapsmith would like to have a pizza popup on the first Sunday of each month using a trailer in front of the store.  This requires approval of use of this parking space by the Board.
  2. Request from Daniel O’Connor, Village Engineer, for a building permit extension at 10 Newton Court.  The contractor has requested an extension for 6 months.  The Village Engineer approves it being granted.

 

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS:

  1. Consider authorizing the Village Manager to execute a contract for EMT services with the Mid-Hudson Ambulance District for a period of one year from June 1, 2019, through May 31, 2020.  The Village has been contracting with Mid-Hudson for supplemental EMT services since 2011.  The hourly rate is $23/hour.
  2. Consider scheduling a Public Hearing to amend Chapter 197 of the Village Code, Streets and Sidewalks, to prohibit signage in the Village’s right-of-way for Monday, July 1, 2019, at 8 PM in the Georgianna Grant Meeting Room of the Stanley H. Kellerhouse Municipal Building.  The proposed amended law would clarify the Village’s signage prohibitions in public areas.  This resolution calls for a public hearing on it.
  3. Consider adoption of the Village’s Social Media and Email Blast Policy.  The Board has been considering aspects of such a policy over several work sessions. The intent is to  set parameters for the implementation and use of social media, such as Facebook, and public email blasts for the dissemination of official Village information and as a means of assisting not-for-profits and other organizations in the Village.
  4. Consider authorizing the Village Manager to sign Change Order A with Hendrickson Fire Rescue Equipment of Islandia, New York, for changes made to the design of the 2018 Triple Combination Pumper, for a credit amount of $5,391.00.  This is a reduction in the total cost anticipated for Engine 118.
  5. Consider authorizing the Village Manager to sign a five-year lease agreement with Fleetwood Finance Leasing, LLC, of Cranford, New Jersey, for the use of a voice recorder for the police telephone lines in the amount of $35,680.  Due to its aging recording equipment, the Police Dept. has requested replace equipment. Leasing appears to be the best financial option for replacing and updating the equipment which is necessary for recording incoming and placing out going conversations.
  6. Consider authorizing the inclusion of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson in the North Westchester WQIP Consortium and the grant application for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) Mapping.  This resolution would allow the Village to join other Towns  and Villages in Northern Westchester in applying for a new DEC grant that would result in storm sewer mapping across the entire area.  The other participants in this application are the Towns of Bedford, Cortlandt, Lewisboro, New Castle, North Castle, North Salem, Somers, Yorktown and the Villages of Buchanan and Croton-on-Hudson.
  7. Consider authorizing the Village Manager to execute a stipulation of agreement with the Croton Police Association.  The Village Manager needs authorization to enter into an agreement with the Police Association.
  8. Consider approving the proposal from Ecogy Energy to install a solar array on the roof of the DPW Garage at 435 Yorktown Road for the purpose of community solar.  The proposal would provide about 250 kW of solar panels on the DPW roof which would first undergo a repair.  The result would be $754,899 in lease payments to the Village over 27 years with no out-of-pocket costs.  It would provide discounted power to Croton residents under community solar.  The Village’s Sustainability Committee, after evaluating some 20 companies sent RFP’s to 8 and ultimately received 2 proposals of which Ecogy Energy was selected.  This resolution directs the Village Manager to develop a lease agreement with Ecogy which will require subsequent approval by the Board.
  9. Consider authorizing the Village Manager to sign the proposal from RPL Architects of Toronto, Canada, in the amount of $6,000 for design and layout services during the schematic design of the renovations for the Police Department.  RPL would provide architectural design input for areas that are police specialty requirements.  They would be working with Peter Gisolfi Associates on the overall schematic design of a Police Dept. renovation.
  10. Consider authorizing the Village Manager to extend the tree trimming and removal services contract to Golden’s Tree Service of Montrose, New York, at the rate of $1,605.60 per day, for a total of $48,168.00, for the period beginning June 1, 2019, until May 31, 2020.  This is an extension of one year, at the existing rates, of Village’s contract with Golden’s Tree Service.
  11. Consider authorizing the Village Manager to extend the contract for welding services with Santella Welding at the rate of $94/hour for the welder and $89/hour for the welder’s helper, for a total of $25,620, for the period beginning December 5, 2018 until December 5, 2019.  This is an extension of the existing contract with Santella at existing rates.
  12. Consider authorizing the Village Manager to extend the lawn maintenance contract with Errico Landscaping Corp. of Hartsdale, New York, in the amount of $46,400, for the period beginning May 1, 2019 until April 30, 2020.  This is an extension of the existing contract with Errico for an additional  year at the same rates.

Richard Olver: Is that how we unite Croton?

rick-olver-croton-on-hudson.jpgCroton United just makes stuff up. Last week Roseann Schuyler wrote in the Gazette that the Village is run by people who “make public policy in secret while sitting in their mansions behind stone walls” in the part of town where they will never face the results of their zoning decisions.
Well, the Village Board makes those decisions.  We have no secrets, and here is where we Board members actually live:  a small ranch on Whelan in Harmon, above a business on Maple Street, a raised ranch on Briggs near Albany Post Road, another raised ranch at Old Post Road North and Stevenson and a walkup apartment on Benedict Blvd.
We on the Board are a cross section of our community. And we are doing what we honestly believe is needed for the Village to thrive in future.
We have no precooked plan but are gathering citizen inputs before debating and deciding whether and what to do.   The point of the Zoning Study for the North Riverside and Municipal Place area is to make sure that whether we decide on any rezoning or make no changes, our decision will be consistent with market conditions and responsive to residents.
Me, I believe it’s important to encourage new investment in our community to broaden the tax base so that we can control property taxes, and increase our moderate-priced housing stock.  The Village applied this concept in Harmon through rezoning several years ago, over the objections of the same people attacking the Board now. Contrary to those critics, we are now seeing positive results in Harmon with new business and market rate housing opportunities for our community.
If Croton United has ideas, we want to listen, and will listen.  If they want to propose and attempt to implement a program of their own, they can run candidates for the Board.  But they don’t.  So far, all I hear from them is negative nonsense – an unfortunate amalgam of conspiracy theories, personal attacks and inflammatory and misleading statements.  Is this how we unite Croton?
Rick Olver, Trustee

Brian Pugh: Save our sidewalks!

Dear Neighbors:brian-pugh-group-cropped

The Village of Croton’s new sidewalk replacement program began last week. Under the sidewalk improvement program, the Village will contribute 40% of the cost of the replacement of a property owner’s sidewalk.
Cost-sharing programs for sidewalks have been offered by the Village from time to time. This latest version was unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees on March 4th and funded in the capital budget adopted in April.
The Board believes that the latest program can be done more efficiently thanks to the increasing capacity of our Department of Public Works. The DPW will now do the sidewalk work in-house without having to hire an outside contractor.
The program is open to owners with existing sidewalks. Residents who no longer have a sidewalk that can document that a sidewalk existed on their property may also participate.

Residents interested in the sidewalk replacement program should contact the Village Engineer’s Office at 914-271-478.

Brian Pugh, Mayor

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 453

ann2016Dear neighbor, Here is the 453rd 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 –   June 10, 2019

Work Session of the Village Board

7: 30 p.m.

 (Open to Public and Televised

 

a.      Update from Carrie Sena, Executive Director, on the activities of the Croton Caring Committee.  The activities of the Caring Committee over the past year will be reviewed as well as their direction going forward.  This is the anniversary of Ms. Sena’s first year as Executive Director.

b.      Review revised draft of the Village’s Social Media and Email Blast Policy.  This policy has been developed and reviewed over several years and administrations.  The updates currently being discussed regard public comments on Village posts to not permit advocacy of unlawful activities, discrimination, profanity and political advocacy.  The Village’s proposed social media policy applies to the Village’s use of social media and email blasts.

c.       Further discussion of the enforcement of Section 197-8 of the Village Code-Posting notices, distributing handbills.  The Board will consider the following language regarding posting notices and handbills in the Village:

No person shall post, affix or otherwise put up any written, printed or painted sign, notice (except legal notice), advertisement or showbill of any concert, entertainment or other performance on any of the trees, poles, walls, fences or buildings on or along any of the streets or public places in said Village or distribute, scatter or throw any handbills, dodgers or notices or cause the same to be scattered or thrown along any of the public streets, avenues or alleys in said Village.

d.  Review of proposed stickers and magnets from Diversity Committee.   

The diversity Committee is proposing two designs for use on stickers and magnets at events sponsored by the committee. The images are available on the Village website, click on Minutes and Agendas.

Ann Gallelli: Village of Croton Honored with Westchester Municipal Planning Federation (WMPF) Award

Dear Neighborsann2016,

Last week, the Village of Croton was honored to receive a Planning Achievement Award from the Westchester Municipal Planning Federation (WMPF).  The Elliott Way Elevated Walkway Project was the specific achievement being honored.

After the opening of Croton Landing Park in 2009, its popularity made access to it increasingly precarious.  Limited by a stretch of road only 15’ wide and bordered on each side by railroad tracks and the Hudson River, respectively, the road was filled with two-way traffic of vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.

Work on possible designs for an improved access began as early as 2015 and occurred over several administrations.  An elevated walkway design provided a unique solution. Work on the new walkway required permits from the Army Corps of Engineers and the NYSDEC as well agreements with the MTA.  

The elevated walkway opened in 2018. It eliminated the prior unsafe conditions by using helical piles to cantilever a new roadway and a separate pedestrian walkway out over the Hudson River, thereby effectively widening the road and the usable space.

Separately, but also part of the work effort, was the installation of a new drainage culvert from the Brook Street drainage area which will help alleviate future flooding conditions.

Croton’s Hudson River waterfront is a notable asset of our Village.  This project’s award by WMPF is recognition of the success of Croton’s many waterfront improvements which provide unprecedented access to the Hudson River waterfront.

 

Ann Gallelli, Trustee