March 18, 2014
Note: The location for the April 1 board meeting has been changed to Town Hal in order to accommodate the anticipated crowd for the continuation of the convalescent home public hearing.
1. Commerce Street Beautification/Garden Club Presentation
Denise Farrell of the Garden Club explained the joint 2013 efforts of the Town, Chamber of Commerce and Garden that led to four seasonal plantings in the street planters along Commerce Street. Each partner contributed $2,000, with an additional $2,000 coming from private donations. The plantings were done by a local outside contractor, Natural Greenscapes, and maintenance and watering is shared between the company and the town. Ms. Farrell said that the Club will need additional funds this year to complete the plantings, which will begin in April. In response to her plea for funds, Councilman Bianco said he would see if additional funds from the town could be made available. Contributions can be sent to the supervisor’s office. In response to a question about the hanging planters, Ms. Farrell said she hoped that the town could eventually resume that effort once the funding is in place for the street planters, which she added, will need to be replaced in the next few years.
The Garden Club also does the plantings at the Railroad Park and at the intersections of Route 118 and Unerhaill Avenue and Baldwin Road at Route 202/
2. County taxes
County Legislator Kaplowitz reported that Yorktown’s county tax rate for 2014 will go down 1.28%.
3. Courtesy of the Floor
Ed Ciffone asked for updates on the following issues
a. Town Board vacancy. He wanted to know the status of the proposed local law regarding special elections, and in a separate courtesy comment, Dan Lefkowitz wanted to know the status of any possible appointments. In response, Supervisor Grace said that the law was being drafted but that if the board failed to reach an agreement on an appointment, there would be a special election in November to fill the vacant seat. He acknowledged that some councilmen had submitted names although there was no consensus on them, but he thought the board could reach a consensus on an appointment, adding, “the sooner the better.” Noting that the board’s business has been proceeding without any problems, Councilman Patel reiterated his position that the vacancy should be filled by a special election.
b. Sultana pool. In response to Mr. Ciffone’s question about the status of the pool and the $60,000+ owed in back taxes, Supervisor Grace said that the pool would not open this year because there were no funds. He added that because the property was considered “toxic,” it would become a liability for the town if the town foreclosed.
c. Holland Sporting Club. In response to Mr. Ciffone’s question about the status of last year’s DEC violation notice, Supervisor Grace said that the property had been cleaned up and that there were no current violations. However, Councilman Patel challenged that statement and said that as recently as last week he had been told that there was still an open violation.
d. Trump Park building
Supervisor Grace said that several arts groups, including one in the Town of Cortlandt and the Westchester Arts Council had expressed interest in the 8,000 sq. ft. building which he said should not be demolished. Calling the building an asset to the community, he said the town should look at how the building could be used. He said that because conditions have changed since the site plan was approved 10 years, the conservation easement issue should be reconsidered.
Responding to the supervisor’s comments, Councilman Bianco said that Cortlandt had rescinded its request and he questioned what would happen in the future if conditions associated with site plan approvals could be changed by future boards.
e. Granite Knolls barn. There was no response to Mr. Ciffone’s comments about what was being done about the deteriorating condition of the barn.
f. Shallow Creek. Supervisor Grace said that someone was looking into creating a new Par 3 course on the site and had been in discussions with the Recreation Commission.
g. Emergency generators. Supervisor Grace said that the generator for the YCCC has been delivered and the town is working on plans for its installation. He said the town would not purchase the generator for town hall until after the gas line was put in along Underhill Ave. He said that Con Ed was looking into problems associated with extending the line.
Open and transparent government
Susan Siegel (the person writing this summary) read a statement questioning why the board was voting on so many resolutions at work sessions which are not televised and when the public is not given the full text of the resolutions. She also questioned the inaccuracy of resolutions that are passed on what she called the “spur of the moment” when board members did not have written copies of the resolution to review before their vote.
In response, Supervisor Grace and Councilmen Bianco and Murphy said that the board was not trying to hide anything but that the town’s business had to proceed and that some resolutions were passed at work sessions out of necessity. He said that the town passed many resolutions at the Feb 25 work session in order not to bog down the March 4 meeting at which a lengthy public hearing was anticipated. Councilman Bianco added, “perhaps we could do better.”
a. The board appointed a new police officer , a Mr. Fortunato.
b. Constance Fox resigned from the Landmarks Preservation Commission
5. Selected resolutions passed unanimously
Highway garage Phase II study. Approved a budget transfer of $14,139 to pay for the study that was done in 2013. Councilman Patel said he had technical questions about the report and about how some of the work was done. In response, Councilman Murphy said that if Councilman Patel had any questions about how the study was to be conducted, he should have raised them when the company was being hired.
Citing an email from Bob Spadaccia, the town’s insurance broker, that he would only attend a board meeting to discuss the town’s insurance policies if he was requested to do so by Supervisor Grace, Councilman Patel requested that the supervisor arrange for such a meeting.