Town Board Work Session
February 26, 2013
Subject matter not shown on agenda
1. Stormwater retrofit projects
Rahul Verma, the director of the East of Hudson Corp., reviewed plans for four projects: 1 at the police site, one at Railroad Park, and two at Sparkle Lake. While the construction of each project will be funded by the Corporation, Supervisor Grace asked about the ongoing operation and maintenance costs as one specific project will require filters to be changed, approximately once every two years. Mr. Verma did not have the specific cost information and Bruce Barber, the Town’s stormwater consultant explained that the Corporation will pay for the O&M during years 1-5 of the retrofit plan but that there is no plan in place now for how future costs will be covered. He said that the members of the Corporation will be negotiating with DEP at the end of this year for funding for years 6-10 for the ongoing retrofit program that is mandated by DEC.
Brian Gray, Superintendent of Parks & Recreation asked that the projects at Sparkle Lake be scheduled so as not to interfere with the June thru mid-August swimming season. In response, Mr. Verma said he would review the phasing and scheduling plan for the four projects in order not to interfere with the use of the lake.
2. Events Sign
Brian Gray, Superintendent of Parks & Recreation, would like to erect two additional events-type signs some place in town where his department’s programs can be promoted. The underlying issue is that between spring and fall, there is a strong demand for the existing signs by community groups, crowding out the Town’s ability to use the signs to promote its own programs. Although the Board had a document with some suggested locations, it was difficult for the audience to hear what they were; it sounded like somewhere around BJs and also at Route 202 and Granite Springs Road. A third location was not clear. The sign would be about the same size as the existing “double” events sign on Route 6 at the Taconic.
Councilman Bianco said that Town events should take precedence for placement on the existing signs, but it was pointed out that this create problems for community groups. He also objected to a sign at Granite Springs Road and Route 202, noting that the location was the gateway to a residential community. He said he considered the sign at Route 6 and the Taconic “offensive.”
Councilman Murphy suggested that those who use the existing signs to promote their events should be asked to pay some of the expense for maintaining the sign. And Supervisor Grace , citing the visual clutter of the existing signs, suggested that someone design a new, more aesthetic sign.
Town Attorney Koster said she had some legal advice to give the Board in closed session, but instead the Board asked her to put her thoughts in writing.
No decisions were reached and Mr. Gray will revisit the idea and return to the Board.
Boniello rezoning (Route 202)
The Board decided that since the original 1991 rezoning was done by resolution as opposed to a local law, the current Board could vacant the two conditions of the rezoning (the affordable housing requirement and the sewer connection) also by resolution and the rezoning to R-2 would stand. The town attorney will draft an appropriate resolution. The site will contain three 2-family houses. Two will be on sewers and one on septic.
4. Group Home
The Richmond Agency has informally let the Town know of its plans to construct a building for a new group home for six residentswith physical disabilities on a 1.15 acre vacant lot on East Main Street in Shrub Oak, near the Contractor’s Register/Lois Chiropractic office site. The parcel is sewered. The agency currently operates a group home on Lexington Avenue and was the original owner of the group home on Brookside Avenue.
Dan Luckett, chairman of the Town’s Group Home Committee explained that once the Town receives a formal notice from the agency it has 40 days to agree to the plan, suggest an alternate site, or object to the plan and begin a legal process of review.
Both Councilman Bianco and Supervisor Grace said they had no reservations about the location or the plan. A representative of the agency explained that given the physical needs of its clients, it was more cost effective to build a house from scratch than buy one and renovate it to meet its needs. The state will give the agency $145,000 for each of the six residents.
Mr. Luckett explained that the next step in the process, which is optional, would be for the Group Home Committee to arrange for a meeting with area residents so that they could learn more about the proposed project. It was pointed out that there are very few “neighbors” in the area; basically two homes and some commercial sites. Supervisor Grace said that the meeting was not necessarily limited to only immediate residents of the neighborhood. The Town will assist Mr. Luckett in identifying the neighborhood people who should receive notification of the meeting. Once the meeting has been scheduled, the agency will send out the formal notification which will start the 40 day clock.
Recalling with he described as the “disgusting” display that took place at the library when an earlier group home was proposed, Supervisor Grace noted that the Town has very little to say when a group home wants to come into Yorktown. He was concerned that people who attend a meeting about the plan not get the impression that the Town can do anything about it. Councilman Bianco said the community meetings were a good idea that gave people the opportunity to vent. “That’s democracy,” he said.
5. Senior Advisory Committee/”Are You Okay Program”
Gil Kaufmann, chairman of the Senior Advisory Committee, and other committee members, asked the Board to investigate programs that could monitor the well-being of seniors. Mr. Kaufmann explained that the “Are you Okay Program” that the Town had many years ago was a failure. The program called for police department personnel to make regular calls to those enrolled in the program. Problems occurred, however, when seniors went away and failed to notify that PD. That, in turn, led to PD breaking down the door or windows to gain entry to see if the senior citizen was okay. Mr. Kaufmann said he also didn’t like the idea of lock boxes, a program for seniors that is starting in Mr. Kisco and Supervisor Grace suggested that perhaps the police department could hold the keys. He also noted that some seniors who may actually need assistance do not want to participate in any programs because of privacy concerns. Committee member Rosemarie Panio asked to Town to look into a program in Pelham, but didn’t explain what the program was.
The group also discussed the county’s notification program for people with special needs. People who meet certain criteria can register with the county, but the Town makes the calls to the people on the list during times of emergency.
Town Clerk Roker said she would contact other town clerks to learn about what programs they had to assist seniors.
The Committee expects the Town’s state representatives to attend its March 15 meeting to discuss the current state of the STAR program.
6. Water Department issues
a. Cars. The Board gave the okay for the department to purchase two cars. Money is in the budget. The department's older vehicles will be "sold" to other Town departments. Instead of buying off county bid, at the request of Supervisor Grace, the department will prepare specs and go out to bid and then select the best price. Councilman Paganelli advised the Board that based on a separate conversation he had with Water Superintendent Rambo during a break, the department will look at purchasing smaller hybrid cars as they will typically be used for meter readers.
b. Water meter billing: Mr. Rambo advised the Board that he will return in a few weeks to discuss taking water billing in-house instead of continuing to rely on the Joint Water Works. He said the Town already has the equipment to handle this additional function.
c. Quinlan Street problem. Mr. Rambo said that the “sinking” road conditions on Quinlan are not related to a water main break but is a Highway Department issue.
d. Training. The Board authorized Mr. Rambo attending a three day management training class at a costy of $655.
7. Police dry cleaning bid
Town Clerk Roker advised the Board that after consulting the Police Department, she is recommending to the Board that the existing bid be extended for another year. Historically, only one company has submitted a bid. (Note: as per the union contract, the Town pays for uniform cleaning.)
8. Electronic filing law
At next week’s meeting, the Board expects to refer out to department heads a proposed law that would require that applications for building permits, subdivisions, site plans and Zoning Board actions be submitted electronically. Supervisor Grace said the legislation would be the first step in digitizing the Town’s records. The law will include provisions to accept submissions if the applicant does not have the capability to submit the documents in an acceptable electronic format.
There was some discussion about the state Education Department requirement that plans from architects and engineers include their stamp and how this certification would work with electronic copies. The Town Attorney will research options.
9. Biometric time clocks
Supervisor Grace said the Town is exploring a pilot program in the Highway Department that would use biometric punch (time) clocks for employees. The system, which costs $300 per location, would transmit the employee’s time records directly to the Finance Department and eliminate the need for bi-weekly paper time sheets. He said there is some resistance from the CSEA to the idea but did not elaborate.
10. Hurricane Sandy
The Board voted 5-0 to pay a Hickory Street homeowner approximately $600 for damage to his house when a tree on town property hit his house. For a reason not clear at the time, the homeowner was not/could not be reimbursed for the expense by FEMA. The homeowner had filed a Notice of Claim against the Town.
11. Police Department consultant
The Board postponed voting on a resolution to appoint Margaret Guinan, a former Yorktown police officer, as a consultant to the department at the rate of $25/hour beginning February 11, 2013 pending additional information. Supervisor Grace explained that the money, which was in the budget, is for a replacement for the civilian staffer who recently retired. Councilman Bianco wanted to know how the proposed $25/hour compared with what the retired staff had been earning.