October 20, 2015
1. Highway garage/Revitalization project
Although not on the agenda, the first 1½ hours of the meeting was devoted to a presentation, by Supervisor Grace and Planning Director Tegeder, of Supervisor Grace’s Revitalization Plan. (As this topic has been covered extensively elsewhere, this summary will not repeat the details.) The Supervisor’s rationale for the presentation was that there needed to be more clarification about the project.
The only new information in the Supervisor’s presentation was that he has been approached by an unnamed source who has offered to build the new garage at approximately $50/SF. Also, that initially a smaller garage could be built with the ability to “add on” over time. And in a change from the past, he also said it was always the plan’s intention that the current highway garage site would be sold before the new one was built.
After Supervisor Grace concluded his remarks and said he was going to open the meeting open to comments from the audience, I said that if there was going to be a community meeting to discuss and ask questions about the plan, it should have been advertised so that interested residents would know in advance and could attend. I asked the Supervisor to schedule such a meeting; there was no response. After stating that I did not think it appropriate to spend 1½ hours of a board meeting on the topic, I went on to give a brief explanation of why I was opposed to the project at this time. I also advised residents that because Supervisor Grace had refused to upload my article in opposition to the project on the town’s web site, they could read the article on my personal web site, or watch a video about the project on the town’s public access channels.
2. Open Space fee
As part of his revitalization presentation, Supervisor Grace also spoke about the need to end the $30/year open space fee that is used to generate revenue to pay off $5 million worth of bonding authority that is used, on an as needed basis, to purchase open space.
3. Courtesy of the floor
Assessment issue. In response to the question raised at the previous meeting by Ms. Witkowitch asking why the Grace Building at 360 Underhill Avenue was assessed as a residence, I read an email I had sent her with the response from the assessor: the assessor said she would look into whether there was a residential component to the building, in addition to its office use. She would also use the income approach to determine the assessment. The review would be done by next June 1, 2016. Supervisor Grace stated that the assessor had advised him that the building was fairly and reasonable assessed. Mr. Witkowitch stated that there are unpaid taxes on the property.
4. Consumer energy consortium
I brought to the board’s attention a program being offered by the non-profit group Sustainable Westchester to form a consortium of municipalities that would offer residents the ability to purchase their electricity at a lower rate through an ESCo. Using the price advantage of buying in large quantities, the program would seek bids from ESCos using the aggregate households of multiple municipalities. A total of 21 municipalities have already signed up for the program that is scheduled to begin in 2016.
While Supervisor Grace said he thought the town had already signed up for the program, I reminded him that the board had signed up for the town to purchase its electricity as part of a different consortium but that the Sustainable Westchester program was for homeowners and small businesses. The board agreed to have Sustainable Westchester make a presentation at the next board meeting.