Town Board Meeting
April 17, 2012
1. Supervisor’s Report
a. Special Town Board meeting, Wednesday, April 25th, 4:30pm, at Town Hall to discuss recreational facilities and fields. One issue to be discussed is how the Town can accommodate the needs of the Yorktown School District while the district’s turf field is being rehabilitated and will be out of commission for 5-6 months . Supervisor Grace said that the Town wants to cooperate with the district and that the meeting will also help the Town do an inventory of its facilities. During Courtesy of the Floor, County Legislator Kaplowitz said that at the request of YAC president Rick Campanaro, he has asked the county executive’s office to check whether the Town’s IMA (intermunicipal agreement) with the county for the Legacy Ballfields will permit the school district to use the fields.
b. Highway garage. In response to comments he has received regarding his earlier statements about relocating the highway garage to the “Hill” on Greenwood Street, Mr. Grace said that he would be his hope that the Town would be able to recoup the cost of the new building from the proceeds of the sale of the current site, and then some. He said the “Hill” site has little to no market value but can serve a municipal use. The project, he added, needs lots of discussion and is a “long way off.” During Courtesy of the Floor, Ray Arnold took exception one of the Supervisor’s reasons for the relocation, namely, the need for indoor storage in order to protect the Town’s investment in its vehicles and equipment. Pointing out that the school buses are parked outside and that they look okay, what was needed, he said, was better maintenance and supervision.
2. Councilmen’s Reports
a. Closed bridge. Councilman Murphy announced that the pedestrian (aka “tressle”) bridge over the reservoir will be closed this Wed. and Thurs. from 9am-3:30pm.
b. Shrub Oak swimming pool. Councilman Paganelli reported that tiles at the Shrub Oak swimming pool will have to be replaced. The Parks & Recreation Department is in the process of getting prices for the work and will try to get the pools open on time.
c. Water supply (fluoridation). Councilman Paganelli reported that new EPA regulations may require the Town to send $100,000-$150,000 in the near future on new equipment in order to continue adding fluoride to the Town’s water supply. Yorktown is the only member of the Northern Westchester Joint Water Works that fluoridates its water. He said the “jury was still out” on the value of fluoridation but that this will have to be reviewed before the Town commits to the expenses. During Courtesy of the Floor, Susan Siegel (the person writing these notes) told the board that she had learned last year that the decision to fluoridate the Town’s water dates back to a referendum in the 1970s but that she didn’t know if there would have to be another referendum to discontinue the fluoridation. Supervisor Grace said he thought the law had been changed.
3. Battle of Yorktown. Kim Angliss Gage, interim head of the Environmental Conservation Department, said that more volunteers were needed for this year’s Battle of Yorktown town-wide cleanup which will be held this coming Saturday. Volunteers interested in helping to pick up litter along the Town’s streets and roads can sign up at the Conservation Department office behind the police station.
She also informed that Board that in 2011, the county’s recycling effort generated $7.4 million in revenue and that Yorktown’s $321,000 share helped offset the Town’s garbage collection costs. She also pointed out that the more the Town collects in recyclables, the lower its garbage dumping costs.
3. Resolutions from 4/10/2012 meeting. Resolutions passed at the untelevised April 10, 2010 meeting were reaffirmed, although the specific resolutions were not identified or discussed.
4. Courtesy of the Floor (This lasted just over two hours)
a. Trees. Several residents spoke in support of trees and tree related subjects. Bill Kellner, chairman of the Tree Conservation Advisory Commission, along with TCAC member Ron Buehl, presented the Voard with a plaque commemorating Yorktown’s designation as a Tree City USA. The Town was one of six towns in NYS to receive the designation last year.
Dale Saltzman, another member of TCAC , explained that the Town had to meet four criteria in order to qualify as a Tree City.
1. We had to spend at least $2 per capita for tree care
2. We had to have a tree commission or advisory board
3. We needed to have an Arbor Day celebration
4. We needed to have a tree ordinance
Patty Peckham thanked the Town for the work that led up to the adoption of the Tree City USA designation and also spoke about the importance of trees.
Ann Kutter reminded the Board that the recently completed forest management plan for Turkey Mountain that was praised by Supervisor Grace was done to comply with the Tree Ordinance which requires that these types of plans be developed for all Town owned lands. Under the Ordinance, if large private landowners voluntarily have similar plans prepared for their properties, they would be exempt from the Ordinance. She added that the Turkey Mountain plan was more than an inventory; it was a 15 year best practices management plan. The plan was done at no cost to the Town by the Watershed Agricultural Council.
b. Backflow. Reminding the Board that they raised the issue two months ago, David Goldberg and Joe Bonano of J&J Backflow asked how long it would take for the Town to address their concerns about the Town’s backflow program. Supervisor Grace said he anticipated having a response within the coming month. He said he doesn’t want the fee to be arbitrary. Mr. Bonano repeated his request for a copy of the Town’s list of users who require backflow inspections.
c. I Love My Parks Day. Calling Yorktown’s parks the Town’s “jewels,” Jane Daniels invited residents to participate in the many events planned for Saturday, May 5th, including the dedication of the pedestrian bridge over the Taconic and walks through many of the Town’s parks and nature preserves. Additional information is available at www.Ilovemyparksyorktown.org.
d. Yorktown Land Trust. John Schroeder talked about the work of the 26 year old Trust to protect the Town’s open spaces and educate residents about their importance. Free copies of the Trust’s Yorktown Walks book were given out. The book illustrates a matrix of about 20 miles of trails through the Town’s public and private lands that have been developed in conjunction with the NY/NJ Trail Conference and the Westchester Mountain Bike Association.
e. Household cleanup. County Legislator Kaplowitz reminded residents about the county’s new facility in Grasslands where they can bring toxic household chemicals for recycling. The new facility, open Tue, Thurs and Sat by appointment and replaces the “traveling” pick-up days.
f. IBM Helistop. Mike Byrnes took issue with the pending request from IBM for a special permit to construct a helistop at its Route 134 facility on safety grounds and also expressed concern that residents of the area had not been notified of the pending public hearing on the application. He said they should have been mailed a notice about the May 1st hearing date. Supervisor Grace explained that IBM believes that the proposed new helistop will be a better operation than their current use of the ballfield on the other side of Route 134. He advised Mr. Bynes to express his concerns at the upcoming hearing.
Councilman Bianco noted that there were two parts to the May 1st hearing: the establishment of a special permit for a helistop in an OB zone, and shifting site plan approval for OB zones to the Town Board from the Planning Board.
g. Landmarks Preservation Commission. Mark Michaels objected to the fact that the proposed appointments to the Landmarks Preservation Commission weren’t on the Board’s tentative agenda released on last Friday but appeared on the final agenda at about 5pm today. He said that if other former members of the Commission had known about the pending appointments, they might have attended tonight’s meeting. While Councilman Bianco agreed with him that items shouldn’t be added to the agenda at the last minute, Supervisor Grace defended the practice explaining that sometimes things come up at the last minute.
Explaining that he was one of the former members of the Commission who resigned in 2007 over the proposed landmarking of the Old Stone Church, Mr. Michaels said he thought it inappropriate for Tom DeChiaro, the church’s owner, to become a member of the Commission as it was Mr. DeChiaro who “scuttled” the Commission’s recommendation to the Town Board that the church building be landmarked when he objected to the landmark status.
Bill Primiavera, one of the proposed new members of the Commission, supported Mr. DeChiaro’s appointment and didn’t understand why Mr. Michaels was opposed to it.
Responding to earlier comments, Mr. DeChiaro explained that the church has already received state landmark status and that it was close to getting national landmark status. Unlike the Town’s law, he said that the state and national programs were not excessively restrictive on the owner.
Supervisor Grace and Councilmen Murphy and Paganelli said that they disagree with a provision in the Town’s current Landmark Preservation Law that permits the Town Board to designate a structure a landmark without the owner’s consent. Supervisor Grace said that private owners are the best custodians of their property. When it was pointed out that without that provision, the Town would not be eligible for grant funds, Councilman Paganelli said that he was willing to forego the funds.
Later in the meeting, after it was pointed out that some of the proposed new members might not want to serve on the Commission if the “owner consent” issue was deleted from the law and the Commission became “toothless,” the Board decided to table the appointments until it resolved how it wanted to proceed on amending the law. Councilman Bianco, however, said he would have had no problem appointing the members that night.
h. Open Space. Walt Daniels, co-chairman of the Advisory Committee on Open Space, advised the Board that based on a meeting he had with Town Clerk Alice Roker and Lorraine DeSisto of the Planning Department, it was apparent that the process of designating open space lands as parkland had not always been followed in the past when the Town acquired open space. He specifically noted the confusion surrounding the “Ardizzone” property to the west of the Old Stone Church and the shopping center to the right of the church. In the latter case, a portion of the site was to be deeded to the Town, but the Town never accepted the deed. In the former case, when the Town condemned the “Ardizzone” property, the intent was to create a wetlands park but the Town never passed a resolution designating the parcel as parkland. The “final step,” was not done, he said. (See related discussion about the Winery that took place at the conclusion of the regular agenda.)
Supervisor Grace agreed that what was needed was an audit and inventory of the Town’s open spaces. He said he wasn’t against open space, but that the Town needed to do long term planning to assess the purpose and intent of acquiring any new open space so that it would not become a long term liability to the Town. Councilman Bianco said that it was buildings, not open space that caused flooding.
Supervisor Grace said he would work with the ACOS on the inventory.
i. Traffic. Don Roberts commented on traffic issues on Route 202 in the vicinity of Granite Springs Road and suggested that one way to address the backup problem would be to remove the guardrail blocking off the entrance to Old Granite Springs Road. Supervisor Grace noted that because Route 202 is a state road, the modification would have to be approved with the DOT.
j. Gas service. Noting that natural gas was cheaper than oil, Don Roberts asked the Town to contact Con Ed to see what could be done to get the utility to extend gas service within Yorktown. Recounting her own neighborhood’s contacts with Con Ed over the same issue, Ann Kutter said it would be more helpful to residents to have the Town contact the utility on their behalf rather than have individual homeowners or neighbors approach the utility on an individual basis.
k. Courtesy of the Floor. Noting that he had been listening to Courtesy of the Floor complaints for 1 ˝ hours, Ray Arnold suggested that the Board return to the three minute limit for Courtesy of the Floor. He said that the issues, which were “all over the place,” were better discussed with the Board on a one-on-one basis. When Supervisor Grace said he never said that the public couldn’t speak at work sessions, Mr. Arnold said he didn’t think that members of the public had the right to raise their hands during work session meetings.
l. Cablevision boxes. Ray Arnold asked the Board to publicize the fact that Cablevision customers have until April 24th to get digital boxes for their television sets.
m. Senior Nutrition Center. Gil Kaufmann, chairman of the Senior Advisory Committee asked, for a second time, when the nutrition center would be ready for occupancy. Supervisor Grace said, “we’re at the finish line,” and Councilman Paganelli said that as soon as all safety issues had been satisfied, the Town could issue a temporary CO. Two of the unfinished issues involve ADA compliance and a fire rated door.
n. Senior buses. Gil Kaumann, chairman of the Senior Advisory Committee said that he hadn’t gotten a response to his request two weeks ago regarding what the plan was to provide the senior clubs with additional transportation this year. In response, Supervisor Grace said that there would be about 14 hours of overtime to operate the existing vans and that the additional cost would be ”nominal.”
Explaining that she had been approached by many seniors who were still confused about the bus issue, Jennie Menton reviewed the history of the issue and how, she said, the Town Board agreed to provide the transportation this year even though the clubs had been told last year that there would be no out-of-town transportation for lunches this year. She added that when the Senior Advisory Committee was told last year that there were no funds for supplies for the senior computer room, the Committee accepted that decision and looked for outside money. But now, she said, maybe we should ask again.
Rhoda Sussman repeated the need for continuing the bus service.
a. Resignations. The Board accepted the resignations of Christine Piatelli, a librarian at the John C. Hart Memorial Library and Anthony Romano, ABACA (Advisory Board on Architecture and Community Appearance) chairman and board member for 20 years.
b. Promotions and reassignments (not on agenda).
1) Andrew Cerrato and Alfred Pisano to Maintenance Mechanic (pool), at salaries of $53,942 and $61,556 respectively. Mr. Cerrato was formerly a laborer, and Mr. Pisano as a Park Groundsman.
2) Anthony Cuccovia , currently a Heavy Motor Equipment Operator in the Highway Department, to the Sewer Department in the same job title and at the same salary
3) Jane Castellucci Preston, to Deputy Court Clerk, at a salary of $68.000, from Assistant Court Clerk.
c. Appointments (not on agenda)
1) Charles Hall, as a laborer in the Water Department, at a salary of $38,866.
2) Erin Ridel, as Recreation Supervisor, at $69,729.
6. Advertising (passed unanimously)
a. IBM: Public hearing May 1st, to add helistops as an accessory use by special permit in OB districts and granting the Town Board approval authority of development in OB districts.
b.RFP to market the sale of the Bernstein House
c. Baptist Church Road Pipe Relining Project
7. Bid awards (passed unanimously)
a. T-shirts for the summer camps to Sonic Sports and Vision Designs.
b. Laboratory services for the Water Pollution Control Plant to EnviroTest Laboratories
8. Resolutions (passed unanimously)
a. Reserve Fund: To create an Employee Benefit Accrued Liability Reserve Fund. Councilman Bianco explained that the Town had a $1.3 million liability to pay departing employees for their accrued vacation and sick time. Even though it was unlikely that all employees would leave at the same time, the Town’s auditors had recommended setting aside these funds. (Note: It was not clear if the Town was putting $1.3 million into the fund or only $800,000, a figure stated by Mr. Bianco.) Mr. Bianco said that after setting aside these funds , about $4.2 million would be left in the fund balance.
b. Workers' Compensation: Authorized the Supervisor to sign a 3-year agreement with USA/TPA for third party administration of the Town’s workers’ compensation program. The resolution noted that two bids had been received and that the USA/TPA bid was the lower of the two. (The cost was not identified in the resolution.)
c. Budget transfers. A series of transfers were approved to fund the Town’s workers’ compensation and liability funds.
d. Pay increases of 1.5%, effective April `12, 2012, were approved for 14 part time employees. The increases are similar to the increase approved in the CSEA contract for full time employees. However, part time employees are not entitled to the retroactive payments that full time employee received. Pay increases provided in the CSEA contract were approved for Anne Anderson, Secretary to the Highway Superintendent and Diana Quast, Deputy Town Clerk.
e. Disputed Cablevision Franchise Fees. An additional payment of up to $1,000 to the accounting firm that did an audit of the disputed fees.
f. Holland Sporting Club. Authorized the Supervisor to sign a contract with Geo Environmental for air sampling, PCM analysis and project monitor final inspections for a total of $10,000. Supervisor Grace explained the history of the problems with the abatement bid and why this contract was necessary. (See previous meeting summaries.) Susan Siegel , the person writing these notes, thanked the Board for moving the project forward, but stated that the contract did not comply with the Town’s procurement policy that required an RFP or three written quotes. She asked why, after voting to advertise an RFP for the monitoring service on April 3rd, the Board decided not to advertise and instead give the contract to Geo Environmental. Supervisor Grace said the contract complied with the procurement policy as Geo Environmental had done the original asbestos survey for the buildings and that because he knew the firm, he felt comfortable knowing that it would do a good job.
The regular meeting was adjourned and the Board went into closed session to discuss a personnel issue with Highway Superintendent DiBartolo and an unidentified legal issue. Leaving the closed session, Mr. DiBartolo said the Board gave him permission “to hire a new driver.”
The board then went into a work session mode to discuss the Winery. There was also a brief discussion about the Sparkle Lake lifeguards.
(Note: Councilmen Patel and Bianco did not attend the work session. After the executive session, Mr. Bianco said he objected to the last minute placement of the Winery on the agenda when the public had not been given sufficient notice that the topic was going to be discussed.)
Supervisor Grace said the reason for the work session was to “move the project along.” One of the key issues was whether the rezoning should be to the C-2 zone or the transitional zone. He noted that Councilman Bianco favored the transitional zone because under a C-2 zoning, the property owner could demolish the church. Also, under a transitional zone, the Town Board would have site plan approval.
Mr. DeChiaro said he had no problem with the transitional zone.
Once the appropriate zone was agreed to, the discussion focused on two issues: whether the property had been designated parkland by a previous Town Board and the proposed site plan and the extent to which it would encroach into the wetland buffer.
Jeff Econom, engineer for the project, showed the Board a sketch of a revised site plan that realigned the parking lot on the “Ardizzone” parcel and the adjoining state property abutting Route 6. The new plan eliminates five parking spaces and moves the parking lot further away from the wetlands.
Tony Grasso objected to the abruptly scheduled work session discussion as well as the plan to allow parking on the “Ardizonne” parcel. The latter objection was based on his belief that the site was always intended to be parkland and also to the fact that there should be no additional incursion into the wetland buffer. While he acknowledged that there were other developments in the area that were in the wetland buffer, he said “why make it worse by adding more.” He was concerned that runoff from oil and gasoline would make its way into the Peekskill water supply.
Parkland issue: Picking up from the earlier discussion during Courtesy of the Floor, Councilman Paganelli noted that there hasn’t been a determination yet whether the town-owned “Ardizzone” parcel was parkland. Deputy Town Clerk Quast said that Town Clerk Roker had determined that it wasn’t. Supervisor Grace said that town designated parklands had to be registered with the state, adding that he didn’t think this was ever done and that the Town assumed that resolutions were sufficient. Town Attorney Koster said she would have to research this issue. (Supervisor Grace said that Shallow Creek had also not been properly designated parkland.) If the land is not parkland, she said, the Town could license it to Mr. DeChairo. Alternately, someone suggested that the site could be sold to Mr. DeChiaro. Supervisor Grace said the Town could create a Town parking lot on it. Supervisor Grace said he did not favor the previously discussed “swap” option as it didn’t make sense for the Town to take the vacant land on the west side of the property as this would require the Town to maintain an existing culvert on the property.
Wetland buffer issue: Supervisor Grace said that the most recent memo from the Conservation Board that questioned the incursion into the buffer area lacked specifics and was “useless. “ Planning Board member Ann Kutter who previously served on the Conservation Board said that the CB didn’t have any updated information about the plan and therefore could not comment on it. In response, Mr. DeChiaro said that he would attend the next CB meeting, scheduled for the following evening, and provide the group with updated information about the proposed mitigation plan, including what Mr. Econom described as several filters where none currently existed, in addition to cleaning up the degraded wetlands
Site plan. Ms. Kutter said that the revised site plan appeared to address some of the safety concerns the Planning Board had with the original site plan.
In the end, Supervisor Grace said that the incursion into the buffer area was nominal and that by permitting the additional parking, it made the site viable. He also noted that Mr. DeChiaro would be cleaning up the wetlands, something that everyone agreed needed to be done. Councilman Paganelli pointed out, however, that the wetlands could be cleaned up anytime by the Highway Department so that the issue really boiled down to making the site viable.
Ms. Kutter said she saw no reason why both objectives couldn’t be realized, adding that the planned filters would be an improvement that could possibly address Mr. Grasso’s concerns.
Because the Town Board will want feedback from the Planning Board on the revised site plan before voting on the rezoning, Supervisor Grace advised Mr. DeChiaro to meet with the Planning Board, in addition to the Conservation Board, before the rezoning application is advertised for a public hearing.
Sparkle Lake lifeguards
While the Board did not want to vote on the issue in Councilman Bianco’s absence, Councilman Paganelli said that he was more concerned about the need to replace the damaged tiles at the Shrub Oak pool than the lifeguard. He wanted to make sure that there was money for both items. Deputy Town Clerk Quast. who is also chairman of the Recreation Commission, advised the Board that based on preliminary cost estimates, the tile replacement would cost in the $17,000-$19,000 range and that the funds could possibly come from the maintenance line in this year’s Parks Department budget. As for the lifeguards, after she told the Board that she would bring the issue to the next Recreation Commission meeting, Supervisor Grace said he would postpone taking any action until the Board heard back from the Commission.