Citizens for an Informed Yorktown


Town Board Work Session

March 13, 2012


Closed session

Litigation, Personnel, Volunteer board resumes


Open session

1. Energy Grant

Jerry Robock, the town’s energy consultant, together with Lorraine DeSisto of the Planning Department and Paul Moskowitz, a member of the Energy Advisory Committee, reviewed a revised list of potential projects for the remaining funds in the original $158,000 federal energy stimulus grant.


Supervisor Grace and Councilman Paganelli both rejected the idea of three battery charging terminals for electric cars that the board was supportive of at an earlier meeting. Mr. Paganelli cited the problems with the Chevy Volt as one reason not to go ahead with this  type of project.


As a substitute project, the board asked Ms. DeSisto to check whether the funds could be used to finance the purchase of a new gasboy system. (See Gasboy notes) Ms. DeSisto explained that one reason why the system might be eligible would be that it would enable the town to collect valuable data on gasoline consumption and car usage which could be used as justification for future energy saving projects for future grant requests.


Mr. Robock said that plans to replace lighting in three town buildings have been reduced to one, the library. He did not explain the reason for dropping the two other buildings. The revised list still includes $90,000 for a possible demonstration solar energy project although there was no agreement where the installation would be; all agreed that, for a variety of reasons, Town Hall would not be an appropriate location. Supervisor Grace asked about the potential savings from a solar installation, but there was no clear response to his question.


If the gasboy project is deemed not eligible for funding, the board will revisit the allocation of funds.


2. KVS Purchase Order software

The board unanimously approved a resolution to enter into a $40,000 contract to purchase the software that will enable all town departments to utilize the purchase order software. Comptroller Goldberg explained that upon further review, it turned out that installing the software in two phases would be more costly because of the additional training time required.


Councilman Bianco said that the introduction of the new software might lead to changes in the town’s procurement policy.


3. Holland Sporting Club

Supervisor Grace explained that two related issues had arisen with the contract for the asbestos removal at the site. The first was that the contractor could not lawfully fulfill the terms of the contract because, by state law, he could not do the required site monitoring that should be contracted out. The second program was that if the contractor couldn’t do the monitoring, then it would cost the town an additional $10,000-$15,000  to hire a separate contractor to do the monitoring.


Bob Violante, an asbestos inspector, said that the contractor had anticipated not doing the monitoring and found a way to “drive a truck thru the bid specs.”  It was his cost estimate that Supervisor Grace used covered the three required monitorings:  interior , interior and exterior, and visual.


Councilman Paganelli asked why the town would “eat” the additional monitoring cost if it was in the bid and Supervisor Grace asked the town attorney how the town could get out of the contract. “I’m glad I’m the supervisor, not the attorney,” he said. Town Attorney Koster said she would have an answer for him by next Tuesday.


In the meantime, Supervisor Grace asked Mr. Violante to prepare a scope of work for the monitoring with the specs. There was some additional discussion of whether this should be a bid or an RFP used for professional services. Comptroller Joan Goldberg said that the town’s procurement policy would require 3 RFP responses but that a bid would be okay if it only had 1 response.


If the asbestos removal is to be rebid, Supervisor Grace said that it should include a time frame for the work, and possibly include longer days so that the number of days is reduced as the cost of the monitoring is related to the number of days the monitoring is required.


4. Creative Living (Navajo Fields)

CJ Diven, owner of Creative Living discussed plans for the addition of three new recreational components to the Navajo Fields project: a volleyball and basketball court and a climbing wall. He said that these components were on the plans the board reviewed at the earlier meeting when the board discussed the changes for the dugout, although the plans were not discussed at that time, Councilman Paganelli said that there was no mention at the last meeting of these additional facilities and that there was no indication of them on the plans. Acting Town Engineer Sharon Robinson said that the plans with the additional components was not the plans that the board saw when it discussed and approved the dugout change.


After some discussion, the board agreed with Building Inspector John Winter’s opinion that the climbing wall constituted a “structure” that would require a building permit. Mr. Winter said he wanted to make sure that the wall could withstand winds and that he wanted more details on how the wall would be constructed.


Al Capellini, attorney for the project, said that because the fields were a recreational use on private property, the original plans did not require a site plan and that these additional enhancements would similarly not require site plan review. Also, because the enhancements are not in a wetlands, there was no need to revisit the project’s original wetlands permit.


In response to Councilman Bianco’s question whether the three additions had already been constructed, Mr. Capellini said, “no,” but that didn’t mean that construction might not start while the board was still reviewing the issue.


5. Shallow Creek

Kevin Chin, the “applicant” the Town Board chose last year to create a recreational facility at Shallow Creek under a license from the town, appeared before the board with his attorney, Al Capellini.


Supervisor Grace said that he might have “thrown a monkey wrench into the thing” when he was working out the terms of the agreement with Mr. Chin and when many issues were raised including the town’s liability for the site, its involvement in setting fees and hours, what would happen is the facility ran at a deficit, the fact that work on town property would involve public works contracts, and exclusive use. Once we started to put pen to paper, he said, the problems surfaced.


By far, the most serious issue, and the one that led to a heated and contentious discussion, focused on the fact that the proposed license the town would be giving Mr. Chin would be revocable at any time by the town. Mr. Capellini explained that it didn’t make sense for Mr. Chin to put in $400,000 worth of capital improvements on the site if the town could yank the license at any time.  Mr. Chin’s proposal was for a 10 year license with no rent so that he could recoup his investment, plus two options to renew for 10 years each.   Mr. Chin said he couldn’t raise the money for the improvements if the license was revocable.


The way out of the problem, Mr. Capellini said, was to “depark” the land so that it could be sold outright. It was explained that “deparking” (aka “alienation of parkland”) required an act of the state legislature and Councilman Paganelli added that two consecutive legislatures had to pass the bill and that this would mean a minimum four year process.


Councilman Bianco  termed any discussion of the “deparking” a “sweetheart deal, ” a  term Supervisor Grace took strong exception to.  Councilman Bianco said that “deparking” was not going to happen and that leaving the land as open space brought in revenue to the town. Councilman Murphy also said that the “deparking” was not a sweetheart deal and but that the town couldn’t go through with the original proposal.  Councilman Bianco later apologized for use of the term “sweetheart deal”  but said that was what it sounded like to him.


The discussion ended without any resolution of the issue but with the suggestion that Mr. Chin and his attorney work with Councilman Bianco to see what could be worked out.


6. Recycling facility

Al Capellini, representing Brian Amico who wants to establish a recycling business headquartered in the Oseola Industrial park on Route 6, presented the board with a suggested change in the town’s zoning code that would add a definition of the term “recycling facility” and permit recycling facilities in the industrial I-1 zone.  Mr. Amico explained that the facility would accept a variety of materials but not typical household garbage and that he was looking to offer the service to commercial users.


Supervisor Grace added that in addition to the definition and usage, the town would have to develop a series of bulk regulations covering the size of the operation, hours of operation, location, etc.


Reminding Mr. Amico that the previous Town Board was not interested in his concept last October, Councilman Bianco asked Mr. Amico what had changed since his last presentation. Mr. Amico responded that last year, he was seeking town approval first before going to the county and state for licenses. When that didn’t happen, he reversed his strategy and went to the county and state and secured the required licenses, and was now coming back to the town for approval.


Supervisor Grace explained that the existing IMA that the town has with the county for residential recycling only required that any recyclables the town collected had to go to the county facility and did not preclude a private recycler from opening for business in Yorktown.


In response to Councilman Bianco’s question about his current business operations, Mr. Amico said that he had sold his Dutchess County garbage business to raise money for his proposed recycling business and that he currently stored his trucks in rented space in the Oseola industrial park.  You can’t ask him about his current recycling business, Supervisor Grace said, because he hasn’t been allowed to set it up yet.


Councilman Paganelli expressed concern that added a recycling facility to the I-1 zone could open the door to as many as six such facilities. He also expressed concern about the truck traffic that would be generated by such a use, pointing out that the Navajo Fields was also located in the Oseola Park. That led to a discussion of the width of the road in the industrial park and Supervisor Grace said that the town could not deny the use of the property if the public infrastructure was inadequate; it was the town’s responsibility to improve the infrastructure.


The discussion ended with the understanding that the town attorney would work with Mr. Capellini to draw up draft bulk regulations that would be circulated for review.


7. Granite Knolls barn

Tim O’Connell from the Westschester Mountain Bike Association, joined by Walt Daniels who has been actively involved with the expansion of Yorktown’s trail system, repeated his request that the town do something to demolish the Granite Knolls barn so that it could be used as a parking area for hikers using the trails. He said the trails were used by hikers, mountain bikers, running, cross country skiers and snow shoers.


His first idea was that the town could include the barn in the Holland Sporting club project but that idea didn’t appear to go anywhere. Based on previous figures he had gotten, he estimated the demolition cost at between $10,000-$15,000  but that the entire project, which involved establishing the parking lot, would cost $30,000-$40,000 and that an earlier grant application was rejected because it did not include the full completion of the project but only the barn removal.


Councilman Murphy questioned why the $5 million open space acquisition bond issue that financed the Granite Knolls acquisition couldn’t also be used to demolish the barn, which led to a contentious exchange between Supervisor Grace who appeared to disagree with the bond issue and Councilman Bianco who said that 85% of the residents had approved it.


Councilman Paganelli expressed concern that the place is and/or will become a hangout, especially once the Holland Sporting Club buildings are demolished.


No decisions were made and Supervisor Grace said he would visit the site.


8. Affordable Housing local law.

The board discussed two changes in the existing law that governs affordable housing units built under the provisions of prior laws that are no longer in effect. Both changes are required in order to comply with the terms of the settlement the town signed that ended the Section 8 lawsuit.


a. Preferences. The town will eliminate the local preferences in the current code. While the town attorney had drafted a short version of the changes that only dealt with the preferences, the board agreed to proceed with a longer version of the changes prepared by the Housing Board that updated other provisions of the code that were now out of date.  According to Housing Board chairman Ken Belfer, as long as the town needed to make one change in the law, it made sense to look at the other issues at the same time.  Most of the additional changes would substitute old indices used to calculate affordability with the newer county standards that the town incorporated into its new affordable housing law.


Supervisor Grace said he had no problem with the proposed changes but that when the issue arose to apply the new affordable housing law, he would move to repeal the law which he said was unconstitutional and illegal.


Because the settlement agreement set up a timetable for the town adopting the preferences change, the board unanimously approved a resolution to refer out the draft language for review in order to expedite the process.


B. Housing discrimination. Without discussion, the board unanimously voted to adopt a housing non-discrimination statement and policy.


9. Bernstein property

The board voted to advertise an RFP soliciting proposals to market the property. Acting on the suggestion of local realtor Bill Primavera, the board will select a broker rather than do an open listing.

When Deputy Town Clerk Quast said that she could not advertise the RFP until she had something in writing, Supervisor Grace said there was basically nothing to write; that it was just two sentences. Town Attorney Koster said she needed at least a week to draft the RFP but hoped she could do it faster.


10. Croton Overlook legal fees

Saying that the subject required more than a five minute discussion, Supervisor Grace suggested, and the rest of the board agreed, to postpone the discussion to a future date.  Councilman Paganelli agreed with the Supervisor but Councilman Bianco said that he had reviewed the bills and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.  When he said he had also received an email on the issue from the town’s outside counsel, Supervisor Grace said that he hadn’t gotten the email and Town Attorney Koster said she had received it but hadn’t read it.


Supervisor Grace said that when the board was ready to discuss the issue in executive session, it should also be ready to discuss repealing the Master Fee law.


11. Treetop Rehabilitation Center

In response to the confusion and uncertainty as to why this item was on the board’s agenda and what needed to be done, Building Inspector John Winter explained that the rehab facility had submitted an application for a slight addition to its existing facility and that because the Town Board was the approval authority for the Center’s special permit, the application had come to the Town Board, which, following procedures, the Town Board had referred to the Planning Board for review. 


During the Planning Board review, it was determined that a variance was needed so the application was referred to the ZBA. And, as part of its procedures, the ZBA was now asking the Town Board if it wanted to comment on the variance application.


As the Board had no problem with the application, it unanimously voted on a verbal resolution stating that it has no objection to the variance.


12. Towing bid

Initially listed on the agenda to “extend” the towing bid, Councilman Paganelli stated that based on some checking he had done, the prices in the existing bid (which dated to 2009) were outdated and he suggested that a new bid be done instead of extending the existing one.


Councilman Murphy said that the last time the bid was extended it was pointed out that there were major problems with the specs and that the specs needed to be redone.  Supervisor Grace said that the looser the specs, the better the price was likely to get.


Councilman Paganelli will follow through and report back to the board.


13. Auto body bid

Supervisor Grace said that at next week’s meeting, he would ask the board to extend the auto body bid that was put on hold after Fred Gulitz raised questions about the bid at the last board meeting.


13. Contract agreements

Without any discussion, the board voted unanimously to extend the existing contracts for Mike Dubovsky as Environmental Inspector, Lynstaar Engineering for engineering services (for Sharon Robinson to serve as Acting Town Engineer) and Fred Koelsch to provide GIS mapping services through December 31, 2013.


14. Proposed purchase of two trucks for the Sewer Department.

In response to questions and concerns raised by Supervisor Grace, the board held off voting on a resolution to authorize the purchase of two new trucks for the Sewer Department.


Comptroller Goldberg explained while initially only one purchase was contemplated this year, a second truck became unexpectedly needed to be replaced. She added that the 2012 budget for the sewer district  included $55,000 for the purchase of the vehicles but that the department would be $10,000 short for the anticipated $65,000 expense. She said the sewer district had the additional funds. Acting Town Engineer Robinson said that the department hadn’t purchased a new truck in 25 years.


Supervisor Grace asked why the department needed two trucks with extended cabs when a cab costs $5,000-$6,000 additional dollars. 


This led to a lengthier discussion about fleet management in general and Supervisor Grace saying he was “uncomfortable” with some issues involves the town’s fleet although he did not elaborate, other than to question why a DEC truck with 114,000 miles needed some repair work.  Councilman Murphy revisited an issue from a previous meeting when an agenda item to approve selling four police cars at auction was put on hold because no one on the board had the specs for the cars to be sold.  Councilman Paganelli questioned whether Supervisor Grace, who had been given details on the mainienance of the town’s vehicles, wanted to micromanage fleet issues. 


15. Laboratory services for the sewer plant

In a change of plans, the board decided not to authorize the Supervisor to sign a contract with Yorktown Medical Lab to provide lab services to the sewer plant for some required testing but instead go out to bid for the service.  While Town Attorney Koster said that the contract could be awarded as a “sole source” contract, Comptroller Goldberg said that the Northern Westchester Joint Water Works had used an RFP process. When purchasing services, she said that the town had to follow the Corrective Action Plan that it had submitted to the state Comptroller’s office.


Staff will review its options and in the meantime, the sewer department will use the Yorktown Medical lab on a month to month basis.


15. Legal services for Highway Superintendent

In an item not on the agenda, the board voted 4-1 with Councilman Patel voting no, to have the town pay for an outside attorney to represent Highway Superintendent Eric DiBartolo in the lawsuit filed against him by a town resident. The resolution allows Mr. DiBartolo to select the attorney but the board must approve the selection. The resolution did not include any cost information.


16. Other resolutions passed unanimously

a. A deed conveyance of properties at Gay Ridge Road back to VS Construction Corp. to “correct” an earlier mistake that was not explained.

b. Extended the bid to Peckham Materials for highway supplies for one year ending March 31, 2013.

c. Two bond releases

d. Extended the one year contract for sprinkler Inspection to Simplex Grinnell