Amy Attias: Standing Up For A Civil Discourse

Sep. 14th LTEs -- AA.pngTo the Editor:

 

In the fifteen years I have lived in Croton, I have assiduously avoided local political involvement. Now I am running for office here in the Village, and I am full into the local political “scene.” I did not fully know what I was walking into, and this letter may be the most important one I write.

 

Words have power, and to me, those involved in politics are supposed to be “leaders.” We must model ways to express ourselves, both verbally and in writing. We must show people how to respectfully disagree. 

 

In the last few years there has been public expression, in the name of politics, that has caused hurt and distrust between people in this village. Because I am a first-time candidate, I know the history, but I did not personally live through it and was not personally affected by it. Therefore, it’s easier for me to say: Our opponents are not our enemies, but our neighbors. Whatever we have to say, the most important thing is the way in which we express it.

 

I have been a criminal defense attorney for 35 years. If I can find respectful ways to defend murder cases and speak to juries and judges, then I figure we can find ways to discuss taking care of this village.

 

Nonetheless, we also have a duty to tell the truth to the voters. We can disagree without being disagreeable, but we must be able to clearly articulate and discuss our differences on the issues. And truth must be spoken. I ask for more thought, more waiting before responding, less reacting and more leading. This is the only way our Village can have the level of discourse that it deserves. 

 

Sincerely,

Amy Attias

Advertisements

Brian Pugh: Why Village is moving the DPW

brian-pugh-group-croppedDear Neighbors:
In a unanimous and bipartisan vote, the Croton Village Board of Trustees  approved the acquisition of two properties on Route 129 to serve as the future combined home of the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Water Department.
The new facility will provide our DPW with the space needed to store vehicles indoors, and to perform maintenance and repairs more efficiently and quickly. Critically, it will allow the Village to remove the Water Department (currently on Pumphouse Road) and the DPW (currently located at the train station) out of known flood plains.
No other site we reviewed could have done all of the above. Successive administrations and boards have researched how to best house the DPW. The new site represents the best of a limited range of options for a community like our, with constrained boundaries and limited developable space.
The Village is acquiring the Route 129 property at below the appraised value. In addition, moving the DPW to the new site will free up over 100 parking spaces at the train station parking lot. With a waitlist of some 300 names needing parking, there is little doubt that these spaces will be snatched up and produce new revenue for the Village. Furthermore, with the expiration of some older bonds, the Village will be able to finance the new DPW site without increasing the overall Village debt.
Every decision has its pros and cons–and this one is no exception. The Route 129 property is located a little over a mile from the Village border–subjecting it to property taxes to the Town of Cortlandt and the Croton-Harmon School District, increasing travel time, and raising questions of emergency response.
Thankfully, the Village staff has succeeded in anticipating and mitigating many of these issues. The Village has successfully negotiated for an 80% reduction in the tax assessment for the property. And the Superintendent of Public Works will direct equipment to be prepositioned within the Village in advance of a storm or other forecasted natural disaster.
There have been some high-profile criticism of the new DPW site.  But as officials elected to make decisions on behalf of all of us, we cannot shy away from controversial choices. We must think of the long-term interests of the community, make the decision we think is best and be held accountable.
As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points…where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds.”
Brian Pugh

Pugh, Attias & Horowitz Named Top Local Progressive Champions

top150Dear Neighbors:

Some very exciting news!  Not only has the Working Families Party endorsed the Democratic Team of Pugh – Attias – Horowitz, it has also nominated and selected the three of us as members of a group of 150 Local Progressive Champions of 2017!  Needless to say, we are thrilled and honored with the designation!  We are also eager to bring our strong commitment to progressive values to the Croton community.  With your enthusiastic support in November, we can make that a reality!

Sincerely, Sherry Horowitz

Brian Pugh: We Are > Fossil Fuels

To the Editorbrian-pugh-group-cropped

Did you know that scientists at ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil and gas company,  have been aware of the threat of climate change since 1979?

ExxonMobil acknowledged in research and internal communications that climate change is real and caused by human activity. In contrast to what Exxon knew to be true, two Harvard researchers found that roughly 80 percent of Exxon’s ads expressed doubt about climate change.

Many may not be aware that as taxpayers in New York State we are simultaneously supporting and being victimized by Exxon’s actions.

The Village of Croton, along with its workforce, makes contributions to the New York State Common Retirement Fund (NYS CRF). These funds are then invested and the proceeds of these investments are used to pay for the retirement of current and future government workers.

According to its most recent asset listing, the NYS Common Retirement Fund has over $1 billion invested in ExxonMobil stock and bonds.

Earlier this year, New York’s Attorney General accused ExxonMobil of misleading investors on the impact and risks of climate change. NYS has also joined several other states in setting ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Why do we continue to invest in firms that are harming the public interest? Investments where our public policy works at cross-purposes?

Indeed, increasingly, investing in fossil fuels doesn’t even make short-term economic sense. In the last fiscal year, the NYS CRF reported 11% returns–meanwhile, ExxonMobil’s stock price actually fell during the same period.

It’s time that we put our money where our mouth is on climate change and demand that the Common Retirement Fund divest from ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel firms. That’s why I support the Village Board taking up the Croton Climate Initiative’s request, submitted in October of 2016, to adopt a resolution calling for the divestment of our pension funds from the fossil fuel sector.

Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 378

ann2016Dear neighbor, Here is the 378th 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 –  September 5, 2017

Regular Meeting of the Village Board

8:0 pm

 (Open to Public  – Televised)

 

NOTE: This meeting is on TUESDAY due to Labor Day holiday.

 

PRESENTATION/OTHER:  Frank Balbi, Village Superintendent of Public Works, to present floor plan, space utilization plan and timeline for the proposed Department of Public Works facility on Route 129.     Under the plans to be presented, the DPW would be moved into the new facility, after some renovations, by July 2018.  Also, the current DPW facility would be begin being demolished around that time with new parking spaces being established by mid to late fall of 2018.

 

 

CORRESPONDENCE:

 

  • Laura McLean, New York State Department of State; re: Request for the Village to perform a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) consistency review for Metro North’s proposal to install 3 elevated equipment platforms adjacent to the track between the trestle bridge over the Croton River and Crawbuckie Point.   Proposed work in this area requires a review by the Village’s Waterfront Advisory Committee to  ensure it is consistent with Croton’s LWRP.  The actual plans are not available in the agenda package.

 

 

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS:

 

  • Village Board of Trustees to make a final decision regarding moving forward with the purchase of the properties at 435 and 439 Yorktown Road for the new Department of Public Works facility pursuant to the Contracts of Sale previously authorized.   After completing its due diligence, this resolution authorizes moving forward with the purchase of 435 and 439 Yorktown Road for a new DPW facility. The Town of Cortlandt has granted an 80% tax assessment exemption.  The purchase cost of the lots ($2,250,000 and $460,000) totals $2,710,000.

 

    1. Village Board acknowledges that the required Village Justice Court audit was conducted and authorizes the Village Clerk to forward a copy of report and copy of resolution to the NYS Office of Court Administration.  This is an annual requirement for Village Courts to conduct an audit and report on it.

 

  • Authorizing the Village Manager to sign the amended 2016-2017 Municipal Snow and Ice Agreement with the New York State Department of Transportation. This amendment changes the estimated expenditure from $18,369.98 to $27,499.86 to reflect the additional lane miles of state roads that were plowed/treated during the past winter season.  This reflects additional monies due to the Village from the state as a result of plowing more snow than had been estimated  in the original agreement.
  • Authorizing the Village Treasurer to issue a tax refunds to property owners as a result of tax grievances filed and settled in the State Supreme Court.   The assessment for 3 Hixson Court was successfully challenged in Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR) court resulting in the Village returning $853.38 to the applicant.
  • Authorizing the appointment of an additional Police Lieutenant.   Police Chief Tramaglini has recommended that John Nikotopolis be promoted to Lieutenant at $139,560.
  • The Village Board declares its intent to be the Lead Agency for SEQRA purposes in connection with a special permit application for 425 South Riverside Avenue; directs the Village staff to circulate the EAF, CAF, and other application documents to involved and interested agencies of such intent;  and, also refers the application to the Village Planning Board for its review and recommendation in accordance with law. The applicant is proposing to construct a new 2nd and 3rd story on an existing commercial building in a C-2 mixed occupancy zone. This proposal would include 6-dwelling units with lofts on the 2nd and part of the 3rd floors and 4-dwelling units behind the existing commercial use at the street level.   The Village Board is starting the process for reviewing the proposed application.  The proposal is for the property where ET Equipment is located, across from ShopRite.  The Board is stating its intent to be Lead Agency under SEQRA for the review of this project.

 

 

Brian Pugh: Honor Labor Day with Principled Policies

To the Editor:brian-pugh-group-cropped
 
As we prepare for the Labor Day weekend, it seems appropriate to the reflect on our community’s labor standards.
 
“It seems to me..plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By “business” I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living,” said President Franklin Roosevelt in 1933.
 
Yet the Village of Croton falls far short of this standard. At the start of this year, the NYS minimum wage increased to $10 (and will now gradually rise to $15/hour by 2021).  The Village of Croton, as a local government is not required to pay the state minimum wage due to a loophole in state labor law.   
 
Virtually every other employer in our Village is required to pay the NYS minimum wage. And almost every parent I know pays their sitters well in excess of the $10 state minimum wage. 
 
The some $13,000 needed to raise wages for Village seasonal workers to $10/hour is less than the cost of the recent raises for departments heads and de minimis compared to our overall $19M budget.
 
The administration has made it clear that as a matter of principle they believe in paying camp counselors and other seasonal workers less than the $10/hour state minimum wage.  
 
This is not a question of cost, but of values: Aren’t the seasonal Village workers, who are largely from our own community, deserving of better than this?   
 
Sincerely,
 
Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli: Thank you to our Village Volunteers

To the Editor,ann2016

Last week it was my misfortune to miss the annual picnic to recognize our volunteers.  My thanks go to all the people in our community who work on our behalf and who participate on Croton boards and committees to make Croton such a wonderful place to live.

Our volunteers spend countless hours in areas of their interest and knowledge, all of which benefits you and I as residents.  From carrying out the mandates of the law, encouraging new ideas to save money and improve our Village experience, developing plans for the future, putting in hours of physical work to enable gardens and trails to exist, organizing Village-wide events, to making presentations to enlighten us all, I say a big THANK YOU.

 

Ann Gallelli

Holding Local Government Accountable

2nd Mailer FB Image.png

Dear Neighbor:

We hope your summer is going well.

We know it is early in the season to speak about Village elections, but we have much to say that is important and affects this Village. We feel very strongly about conducting a positive, respectful campaign, but we do have to review the record of Croton United and show you how they have not lived up to their campaign goals and promises. This is not a personal attack, but rather a frank review of the Croton United government.

    1. Fiscal Responsibility. In 2015 Croton United stated, “It will take some time to get Croton’s financial house in order, and it will not be easy. But it must be done. And we pledge to do it as quickly and painlessly as possible.”  The Croton United majority has been so focused on not borrowing more money that it has stalled important capital projects like the planned upgrades to Croton Point Avenue and the approach to the train station, and the replacement of two fire department vehicles that are over 20 years old. We would not let our homes fall into disrepair, and we would not have our family members drive 20 year-old cars. Let’s take care of our responsibilities and do it wisely.
    2. Transparency & Ethics in Government. Croton United pledged, “When we take office, we will keep you informed, in a timely manner, regarding the actions your village board is taking in your name. We will institute a policy of proactive disclosure of public documents.”  Instead of doing this, the Mayor cancelled the monthly newsletter, on his own, and made it more difficult to obtain Village documents.  In addition, the current majority approved a payment of taxpayer dollars to their largest donor as “settlement” for a claim rejected by our insurer. Now, Croton United has even go so far as to nominated the spouse of the Associate Village Justice as a candidate for Trustee in this year’s election.

 

  • Economic Development: In their 2015 campaign, Croton United stated, “We will revive the Business Development Committee…developing new relationships and nurturing the existing ones.”  The Business Development Committee was never reconvened nor has the Croton United majority developed a plan to attract new businesses to Croton, support existing ones, or capitalize on the influx of visitors we have for events like the Blaze. Meanwhile, Croton has numerous empty storefronts and continues to miss opportunities. The Village should also work creatively with entrepreneurs to turn unused spaces into viable businesses that will benefit the entire community.

 

In our next letter, we will talk about some specific ideas for improving our wonderful Village.

Candidate for Mayor Amy Attias for Trustee   Sherry Horowitz for Trustee

 

Brian Pugh: Planning for our renewable energy future.

To the Editor:

brian-pugh-group-cropped

Over the summer, the Village has received two proposals for “community solar” projects (one of these was discussed at the 6/12/17 work session at length).  At last week’s Work Session our Village Board of Trustees began the discussion about adopting a local law for governing community, commercial and utility-scale solar projects within the Village.

 

A community solar project—sometimes referred to as a solar garden or shared renewable energy plant—is a solar power plant shared by more than one household.

 

Only about half of the country’s homes and businesses can host solar on their own roofs, because of shade and other limiting factors, according to the US Department of Energy. In 2015, NY joined the growing number of states allowing for community shared solar.

 

Some experts predict by 2020, the US can install between 5.5 and 11 gigawatts of shared solar, enough to power between 900,000 and 1.8 million homes.  This will make solar much more accessible for those living in multifamily housing, tenants and homes that are not physically suited to host solar power.

 

Traditional rooftop mounted residential solar power systems are already permitted in our Village as an “accessory use” to residential property.  By adopting a local law on larger solar power systems, our Village can provide regulatory certainty for property owners and installers and facilitate the generation of more renewable power while ensuring that these projects do not  cause undue burdens on the community.

 

As concerns about greenhouse gas emissions increase, electricity prices rise (especially with the planned closure of Indian Point) and renewable energy technology further matures, community shared solar power projects and other green power initiatives will grow in importance.  Local government should work proactively to ensure that this energy revolution serves the public interest.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brian Pugh

 

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 377

ann2016Dear neighbor, Here is the 377th 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 –  August 21,, 2017

Regular Meeting of the Village Board

7:30 pm

 (Open to Public  – Televised)

 

NOTE:  An Executive Session will be requested at 7:30 pm and held, if approved.  The regular meeting will start at 8 pm.

 

 

PRESENTATION/OTHER:  Request by Village Manager to enter into an Executive Session for personnel matters related to a specific individual.  If the request is granted, an Executive Session will be held at 7:30 pm.

 

 

CORRESPONDENCE:

 

  • Town of Cortlandt resolution dated August 15, 2017, authorizing an 80% reduction of assessment for 435 and 439 Yorktown Road.  After meetings and consultation between the Village  and Town, the Town has agreed to reduce the assessment from 80% from their previous proposed reduction of 60%.
  • Dr. Gregory Schmidt, President, Rotary Club of Croton-on-Hudson; re: requesting use of Section F in the train station parking lot for the Rotary Annual Car Show on Sunday, September 24, 2017 from approximately 10 am to 3 pm.  The Board has regularly granted this request for many years.
  • Jud Ramaker, Race Director, 36th Annual Harry Chapin Run Against Hunger; re: Requesting Village support for the 5k and 10k races scheduled for Sunday, October 15, 2017. The races will begin at 9:30 am and 11:00 am and will be held over the normal routes, unchanged from 2016, starting at various points close to Veterans Corner and finishing at Croton Harmon High School.    The Village Board has endorsed and supported this event over its 36 years.
  • Dan Ahouse, Area Director of Government Affairs, Altice; re: Notification that as of August 22, 2017, MTV2 and Nick Jr. will be re-tiered in the Hudson Valley Systems for residential and commercial customers.  In addition, Optimum has removed their Enlish Premier League  suite of channels as of August 2, 2017.
  • Dan Ahouse, Area Director of Government Affairs, Altice; re: Notification that as of August 25, 2017, NickMusic and BET Soul will no longer be available to residents and commercial customers.

 

 

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS:

 

  • Village Board declares its intent to be the Lead Agency for SEQRA purposes in connection with the proposed action, directs the Village staff to circulate the EAF, CAF, and other application documents to involved and interested agencies of such intent and also refers the application to the Village Planning Board for its review and recommendation in accordance with law.   An application for an enhanced garden center at 1360 Albany Post Road has been received.  It requires a special permit and may require a zoning variance.  This resolution refers the application to the Planning Board for a recommendation and also is a declaration of Intent to Serve as Lead Agency under SEQRA by the Village Board.  This is the site of the current Croton Country Gardens.
  • Authorizing the Village Manager to award the emergency generator maintenance contract to FM Generator of Canton, MA in the amount of $6,275 for a period of one year.   There were 6 bids for the contract.  When emergency service is required, FM Generator will be the provider.
  • Authorizing the Village Manager to accept the quote from Precision Built Fences in the amount of $9,400 to place fencing at Sunset Park. The funding for the fencing will be taken from the Recreation Trust.  Two bids were returned for this project which calls for 425 feet of 4 foot high fence of black steel core wire.
  • Authorizing the Village Manager to accept the quote from Playground Medic in the amount of $13,700 to replace the swing set at Dobbs Park. The new swing set will provide a total of 4 swings (2 infants & 2 toddlers swings) and build a border in order to keep the woodchips within the area. This funding will come from the Recreation Trust.   Three bids were received for this work.  The base of the set will be wood chips surrounded by wooden timbers.
  • Authorizing the Village Manager to approve the proposal from Dvirka & Bartilucci in an amount not to exceed $16,000 for design and bidding services for the Hillside Avenue Drainage Project.  D&B has been working with the Village since spring to determine the optimal plan for dealing with drainage issues in this area.  It has been determined that proceeding with implementing a drainage solution along Hillside will also alleviate problems on Hunter.  This authorizes D&B to proceed with design for that solution.
  • Authorizing the Village Manager to approve the proposal from the Chazen Companies in the amount of $800 for technical assistance to the Planning Board in its review of the safety of the stone wall, subject to the Village setting up an escrow account funded by the applicant.  The Planning Board has been reviewing an existing stone wall.  To determine  if it is safe, they are requesting an engineering review. The applicant is funding the $800 escrow account to pay for the review by Chazen.
  • Authorizing the Village Court Office to apply for the 2017-2018 Justice Court Assistance Program.  The Court applies for funding under this grant on a yearly basis.  It is for funding of some office or procedural improvement in the Court office.  If granted, the court office will use it for a new copy machine.
  • The Village of Croton on Hudson considers the establishment of standard work days, as detailed in the attached resolution, for elected and appointed officials, and will report the following days worked to the New York State and Local Employees’ Retirement System based on the record of activities maintained and submitted to the Village Clerk.  This is required reporting to NYS.  It establishes 7 hour work day as the standard work day for elected and appointed officials of the village.
  • Authorizing the Village Treasurer make budget transfer, as detailed in the attached schedule, to the 2016/17 General, Water, and Sewer Fund budgets. The onsite audit visit has been completed for the 2016/17 budget and these budget transfers are required.  As stated, following an audit by the NYS Comptroller’s Office, these transfers are required housekeeping.
  • Authorizing the Village Treasurer to amend the 2017/18 General Fund Budget in the amount of $1,000.36 for monies received from the NBC/ UNIVERSAL for Village employee personnel costs related to a filming at Black Rock Park.  Police, Recreation and Parking personnel were used during a filming by NBC/Universal.  This is a reimbursement for these costs over and above the permit fees paid.  The filming took place in July at Black Rock Park.
  • Authorizing the Village Treasurer to amend the 2017/18 General Fund Budget in the amount of $ 9,796.44 for monies received for the Clearwater festival reimbursement.   This is reimbursement for Police and Recreation personnel costs during the Clearwater Festival.

 

 

OTHER:  Request by the Village Manager to enter into an executive session to discuss contract issues regarding the purchase of 435-439 Yorktown Road. If the request is granted, an executive session will be held.