Supervisor's Report

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Town of New Castle Supervisor's Report 1/14/15

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By Rob Greenstein

 

Master Plan Update

On January 14, 2015 the Town Board agreed to endorse the Master Plan Steering Committee's recommendation to hire the Pace Land Use Law Center to facilitate the Master Plan Steering Committee. Pace will help with the next several phases of the Master Plan Update Process which include identification of goals, objectives and identification of planning strategies and implementation tools. They will also help with compiling the draft Master Plan Update document, expected by October 2015. Pace's proposal included a strong recommendation to integrate a downtown Transit Oriented Development ("TOD") strategy into the Master Plan Update Process. On January 20th the Town Board will be meeting with the Master Plan Steering Committee and the Land Use Law Center to discuss the value of an downtown TOD and economic development strategy.

Downtown Streetscape / Infrastructure Improvements

In October 2014 Town Staff met with WSP Sells to review and comment on the 30% design plans on the Downtown Chappaqua Infrastructure and Streetscape Project. As we begin the New Year, WSP is heading towards their 60% design goal regarding the infrastructure improvements (water, sewer and stormwater). They have some great ideas regarding streetscape improvements, including traffic circulation and pedestrian safety. WSP will be presenting some of their preliminary designs to the New Castle Town Board in February so that we can begin to comment on the direction they are heading in before the 60% design goal is surpassed.

RFP for ChapLine and Basketball Court at Town Hall

The Town Board approved the issuance of Request for Proposal ("RFP") for engineering services for a possible basketball court at Town Hall. The Town Board also approved the issuance of RFP for engineering services for the Chap Line, a new, functional recreation path connecting downtown Chappaqua to Horace Greeley High School and to Chappaqua Crossing. The engineering services will include preparations for bid specifications, plans & construction estimates for both potential projects.

Chappaqua Train Station Lease

The Chases have proposed a number of significant changes to their response to the Town's RFP, and our town attorneys and town staff are working hard to determine whether those changes can be accommodated. I will keep residents informed of our progress as we address these changes with the Chases.

Hunt's Place - Conifer

As far as the Hunt's Place affordable housing project, last July, the New York State Board of Review denied Conifer's request for six (6) separate variances from certain New York State fire and building code requirements. Conifer has since submitted revised building plans and variance petition to the Board of Review. Conifer is still seeking variances for various building and fire code requirements. Their petition is on the agenda of the Board of Review for Jan. 22, 9am, at Cortlandt Town Hall. The public has the right to attend the meeting.

Chappaqua Crossing

At a special meeting held on Thursday, December 18, 2014, by a 4-1 vote, the Town Board adopted a Retail Local Law that is intended to allow a grocer, health/fitness uses, restaurants and retail stores to be built at Chappaqua Crossing.
Copies of the Town Board's resolutions and other related documents are posted on the Town's website.

  

Town Supervisor's Report 1/14/15 from New Castle Media Center on Vimeo.

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Rob Greenstein Statement: 2014 in Review

With my first year as Supervisor in the books, it's time to reflect on what we've done and where we are going as a community. I've said it again and again: it is truly an honor to serve the citizens of New Castle. Over the past year, I have brought residents into the process and engaged them, listened to your concerns and ideas, and governed in a transparent fashion. I have tried to bring vision and fresh ideas to the table; even if those ideas come from others. And, most important, I have acted in the best interests of the entire community. I am very proud of the progress made throughout the year, and I will mention a few highlights:

Communication

The theme for communication has been dialogue. You should hear from your town government and your town government should be able to hear from you. We've done so much in this area:

We started a new communication staple for the community - the New Castle eNewsletter! The eNewsletter is emailed to residents every week.

We did a town wide mailing asking residents for feedback.

We simplified our email addresses to both communicate with town employees and board members, as well as report problems to town hall.

We are in the process of revamping the town's web site.

Fiscal Responsibility

We successfully reduced our costs as we increased the services provided to our residents and businesses. The tax rate will increase 1.53%--- just $9 for the average homeowner. This is the lowest tax increase - by far - in 6 years!

We had an aggressive approach with renewal of the workers compensation and garbage contracts. Workers Compensation Renewal resulted in a $222,525.00 savings per year for 2 years. This is a 29.00% savings! The garbage Contract resulted in a $477,980 savings per year. Over the course of the seven (7) year garbage contract, we are saving over $3,000,000.00.

New policies

We adopted several new policies:

  • A new vehicle use policy
  • Anew town policy against harassment and discrimination.
  • A new equal employment opportunity policy and procedure.
  • A new code of ethics
  • A new non-union employee compensation policy.

Transparency

After a two year hiatus, I reintroduced the Supervisor's Report to keep residents updated on the Town Board activities and status of various land use applications.

At Town Board meetings, I engaged residents and answered questions. Some have said that I allowed too much public comment, but when issues are so important to our residents they need to be heard.

I communicated my views about the critical issues that face us, including the Master Plan and Chappaqua Crossing.

New Boards

We established several new boards:

  • Ethics Board, Mandate Relief Committee
  • Downtown Business Development Committee
  • Emergency Planning Committee
  • Coyote Management Task Force
  • Coyote Awareness and Safety Advisory Committee
  • Millwood-West End Advisory Committee.

Commercial Growth

The Downtown Business Development Committee ("DBDC") was established to assist the long-term economic stability of the Town's downtown business districts.

We changed the free parking in town from two hours to three hours.

We reviewed preliminary designs for new water and sewer lines, as well as streetscape and traffic improvements.

Safety

New Castle now has zero tolerance for distracted driving. We introduced distracted driving banners throughout town, and gave out thousands of car magnets.

We approved a resolution requesting NYSDOT to reduce the speed in downtown Chappaqua generate significant pedestrian traffic of middle school children.

We have also installed safety ski netting for sledding at Gedney Park.

Master Plan

It has been 26 years since the Town's Master Plan was last updated. The Master Plan update is finally underway and progressing nicely! Pace Land Use Law Center conducted seven (7) public outreach meetings. We retained Penn Schoen Berland (PSB), the company that conducted the Chappaqua school district survey, to conduct a survey for the town master plan process. We added a 2015 budget line to hire a Master Plan Consultant.

Emergency Preparedness

We are committed to ensuring that our community is prepared. In order to prepare for a community emergency, we are in the process of forming the Emergency Planning Committee. We will continue to communicate effectively and have increased subscribers to CodeRED.

Rosehill

After meeting with residents and hearing their concerns, the developer of the Legionaries property decided to abandon his commercial plans for a spa & restaurant and change it to a residential development. Sixty condos, a clubhouse, indoor-outdoor pool, health club, tennis, a theatre. No commercial use at all.

Sewer diversion project

The Town is aggressively seeking additional funding from the state and the county to further defray the cost of this project. We have also explored state, federal and county grants that may be available to the Town for this project and have filed a number of state grants. We are hopeful that one of those applications will be granted.

Take It or Leave it Shop

We relocated Take it or Leave it Shop to the station parking lot behind the Shell station. The new wood shed is larger and in a much better location than the old one. The drop off area is easier to use, and parking at the train station is plentiful. It also generates lots of cross-traffic on Saturday with the Farmer's Market.

Cooperation with Chappaqua Central School District

We have worked to grow a greater and more positive relationships with the Chappaqua Central School District. We had a joint school and town board meeting. We worked with the school Finance Committee and are working together on initiatives such as mandate relief and putting an end to distracted driving.

Chappaqua Crossing

We did all this while bringing to a resolution the longest and most controversial land use application in our Town's history – Chappaqua Crossing. After ten (10) public hearings over an eight-month period, in a 4-1 vote, Town Board members approved approve retail zoning at Chappaqua Crossing. A review of my statement on Chappaqua Crossing can be found here.

http://www.mynewcastle.org/index.php/chappaqua-news/latest-news/1139-rob-greenstein-chappaqua-crossing-statement

While we accomplished a lot, I truly believe that much of this could not be accomplished without our dedicated full time employees. Jill Shapiro, the former Town Clerk and Receiver of Taxes, has shone as our Town Administrator, as has Gerry Moerschell, our Deputy Commissioner of Public Works. We started the year with three new board members, including myself, new town attorneys and a new Town Clerk. Jill held many hands and wore many hats, yet still managed to keep town hall running smoothly while Gerry has kept our infrastructure in great shape.

 

As we look ahead to the New Year, let's look forward not as individuals, but as a community. Together we can make New Castle an even better place to live, work and raise a family. Progress means that with each turn, more needs to be done, and I will continue to work hard for the community. I look forward to another year of progress ahead of us.

Rob Greenstein
Town Supervisor

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Town of New Castle Supervisor's Report 12/9/14

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By Rob Greenstein

Chappaqua Crossing

We continued our Chappaqua Crossing public hearings. The three public hearings addressed the Town Development Plan amendments, Retail Local Law and the Preliminary Development Concept Plan. This is our tenth (10) public hearing since the revised Preliminary Development Concept Plan was introduced in April, 2014.

I would like to point out some of the highlights of Draft Local Law.

  • 162,000 SF will be either decommissioned (i.e. taken out of use) or demolished
  • No lower level/basement space can be counted towards this 162,000 SF
  • Fitness-related use(s) is now mandated and must occupy at least 25,000 SF
  • Maximum office space will be capped at 500,000 SF
  • Fast food is not permitted

Please keep in mind that prohibiting a restaurant that is part of a national chain would be unprecedented in Westchester County. We're unaware of any municipality in Westchester that has banned or restricted full-service chain restaurants. The legality of a ban on full-service chain restaurants would likely be subject to challenge. On the other hand, many municipalities, including New Castle, restrict "fast food" restaurants to certain zoning districts. In the proposed local zoning law, fast-food restaurants would be prohibited at Chappaqua Crossing.

At the conclusion of Tuesday's meeting, the public hearings were closed. Written comments will be accepted until December 12, 2014 at 4:00pm . The Chappaqua Crossing vote is currently scheduled for Thursday, December 18th.

Conifer

A few weeks back, Conifer's project began showing new signs of activity. As you probably heard, Westchester County Board Chairman Michael Kaplowitz announced that the County legislature intended to conditionally approve funding for Conifer's project, subject to issuance of the necessary building and fire code variances. Conifer was on the New York State Board of Review's agenda on December 9, 2014 with a revised application.

Conifer's revised plans do not shrink or materially change the footprint of Conifer's proposed building. In other words, Conifer still proposes to build from property line to property line. Conifer is now proposing the use of nonflammable building materials in upper portions of the building and adding additional sprinklers. The matter was heard and then adjourned without a decision. The hearing will resume in February, 2015.

 

Town Supervisor's Report 12/9/14 from New Castle Media Center on Vimeo.

 

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Town of New Castle Supervisor's Report 12/15/14

supervisorreport

By Rob Greenstein

Chappaqua Crossing

The Chappaqua Crossing vote will take place on Thursday, December 18, 7:30pm, at the Chappaqua Library Auditorium, 195 South Greeley Avenue, Chappaqua, NY. The vote involves the following:

  1. Amendment to Supplemental Findings Statement for Chappaqua Crossing Project
  2. Amendments to 1989 Town Development Plan in Relation to the Chappaqua Crossing Project
  3. Local Law to amend Chapter 60 of the New Castle Town Code to allow retail uses in a research and office business district under certain conditions

Transparency

In an effort to increase transparency, the Town Board approved the purchase of OpenGov budget software and Virtual Emergency Operation Center program software. OpenGov is a program to share financial data with residents. Residents can see where revenue is generated, how funds are distributed, and the goods and services provided for the community. Virtual Emergency Operation Center program software allows residents to see reported problems and see the progress of the response over the course of an incident.

Sledding at Gedney Park

In an effort to increase safety of sledding at Gedney Park, we will be installing ski netting around the perimeter of the hill next to the playground.

 

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Town of New Castle Supervisor's Report 11/25/14

supervisorreport

By Rob Greenstein

 

Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday, a day dedicated to supporting small businesses. Local merchants need a robust holiday season! A very large percentage of a merchant's sales are made in the next month. There are so many reasons to support our merchants. Here is my top 10 reasons to Shop Local!

  1. Vibrant business districts help maintain high residential property values. Research shows that a healthy and vibrant business districts boosts the economic health and quality of life in a community. So, by shopping locally you're actually benefiting yourself.
  2. Vibrant business districts help defray the residential share of the property tax. Much of their taxes goes directly to help fund our great schools.
  3. Small businesses contribute more to local causes and community groups. They support school and charitable causes year-round.
  4. Small businesses are more invested in the community's future as many are owned by our neighbors.
  5. Small businesses offer superior customer service and a local touch.
  6. Our New Castle small businesses sell unique products and quickly meet the needs of their local customers.
  7. Shopping Local keeps money in New Castle. The 3/50 Project asks consumers what 3 businesses they would miss if they closed and to commit to spending a total of $50 a month in one or more of those three establishments. For every $50 spent in locally owned stores, $34 returns to the community through payroll, other expenditures and taxes. If you spend $50 in a national chain, only $22 stays here. If you spend it online, $0 stays here.
  8. Shopping Local helps to sustain vibrant and walkable town centers in Millwood and Chappaqua.
  9. Shopping Local is an easy way for you to join New Castle's environmental efforts . Save money, save gas, save the environment!
  10. Finally: do you remember what traffic is like Thanksgiving Weekend? Shop Local in New Castle and avoid the chaos!

American Express card members can get a $10 statement credit from American Express after they spend $10+ at any qualifying merchant on Small Business Saturday. You can take advantage of this offer up to three times, for a total of up to $30 in statement credits. You can register more than one American Express card, but you must register your card in advance! Register your card here.

VEOCI emergency management software

This week the Town Board watched a demonstration of the VEOCI emergency management software. During an emergency, this program will allow our emergency responders to see an aggregate of tasks, resources, assets, and personnel on a single map so they can visualize an emergency's impact, construct a plan of attack, and monitor the response.