Citizens for an Informed Yorktown


Town Board

April 22, 2014





1. Spectra Energy

Representatives of Spectra Energy, operators of the Algonquin gas line that crosses Yorktown, outlined the pipeline upgrade project.  (See Town Board, March 25, 2014 for opposition to the project.)


The focus of the discussion was Spectra’s need for a temporary easement from the town along the existing gas line during the two year construction period, a 10 acre staging area to be used during construction, and a permanent easement for approximately one acre of land to house some above ground equipment. The project would involve both the Sylvan Glen Nature Preserve and the Granite Knolls park site. In return for the easements and staging area, after the construction is completed, Spectra would redevelop the disturbed staging area into a recreational facility that would include two lacrosse fields, a baseball field, an access road from Stoney Street, and a parking area. (Note: the staging area is where the town has created two athletic fields just south of Phoenix House. The town’s existing trail system linking several park sites runs through the site.) 


As explained by Supervisor Grace, the proposal would benefit both parties and would provide Yorktown with recreational facilities that it would otherwise not be in a position to afford.  He said he had had several meetings with Spectra to discuss what he called a “consideration” for granting them the easements. While not all the details of the “consideration” have been worked out, such as possible monetary compensation for giving up one acre of parkland, Supervisor Grace said that negotiations should not be done in public. Councilman Bianco wanted to make sure that the town wasn’t giving Spectra one acre of land for $1.00.


One of the key issues that remains to be resolved will be the need for the state legislature, acting on the town’s request, to approve the “alienation” of the parkland, both for the temporary and permanent easements.  Explaining that time was a factor because the legislature only deals with alienation requests  in June, the Spectra representatives were hoping for a resolution approving their request that evening and both  Supervisor Grace and Councilman Murphy were ready to act, seeing the plan as a “no brainer.”


However, Councilman Bianco expressed some concern over the permanent alienation of the one acre site; he had no problem with supporting the temporary easements that would facilitate the construction project.  He also wanted the Recreation Commission to weigh in on the alienation issue.  Deputy Town Clerk Diana Quast, who is also the chairperson of the Commission, advised the board that while the Commission has reviewed the overall development plan for the Granite Knolls site, it has never discussed the Spectra plan and was not aware of the request to alienate the one acre parcel.  She said that the Commission will review the plan at its upcoming May 1 meeting which should enable the Town Board to act on a resolution at its May 6 meeting.  Spectra was not clear on exactly where the one acre parcel would be located.


Councilman Bianco also wanted to give residents who live in the area an opportunity to comment on the proposal.


2. Update on parks projects

Diana Quast, chairperson of the Recreation Commission, along with Parks & Recreation Superintendent Brian Gray, gave the board an update on the following projects.


In line skating rink. The Commission is requesting $15,000 to prepare design and bid spec documents for the repair. The project will be funded, in part, with the $150,000 state grant, but the town has to lay out the money.


Route 202 ballfields.  The Commission is requesting $16,000 to prepare design and bid spec documents for the repair. The project will be funded, in part, with the $150,000 state grant, but the town has to lay out the money.


Hunterbrook multi purpose field.  The Commission will be getting three quotes to conduct soil tests on the mounds of dirt currently on the field. The soil was tested in 2007 but no one can find copies of the results. Ms. Quast explained where the proposed field would be located in relation to the existing field.


Holland Sporting Club. She said the Commission would work with the DEC to rectify the violation.


Downing Park. A  Master Plan for the park based on the proposed relocation of the Parks garage to Greenwood Street is being prepared . The plan includes eliminating the upper tennis courts (currently not in use), constructing an indoor basketball court, areas for summer camp use, a general clean up of the site, and other plans.


Shallow Creek. The Commission wants the town attorney to draft three agreements with the non-profit entity that submitted a proposal for the site in 2011 in response to an RFP. The agreements would include:  to operate the golf course, to operate a restaurant, and  for a golf pro shop (this last part was not clear to the public).  Councilman Bianco said he wanted to know if the group had submitted any updated information as he remembered that there were questions about the proposal in 2011. Ms. Quast said she would provide him with an updated submission.  She added that the 2011 Kevin Chin plan for the site fell through because the project’s financial backers would not accept a revocable license but that the new proposed user did not have  any problem with this arrangement.


Granite Knolls barn;  The Commission wants the board to prepare bid specs for its removal.


In general comments, Councilman Bianco that the plans were “a lot to do” and asked Ms. Quast to submit a written report. Councilman Murphy asked if a partial cover could be placed over the in line rink.  And Councilman Patel asked about the status of the current closed tennis courts in Downing Park and Shrub Oak Park.  In response to Councilman Patel, Ms. Quast said that there were usable courts at Blackberry, that the lower three courts at Downing were still usable even though they had cracks, and that three new courts were going to be built as part of the Catucci subdivision (Note:  See Fieldstone Manor development.)Overall, she said, there will be a gain, not loss, in the number of tennis courts.


Councilman Patel also wanted to know who maintains the Patriot Garden site, adding that the plants need to be watered.


3. Tax office software

Councilman Patel again stated that that the problem was caused by the department’s outdated hardware. When he said he was ready to donate a new computer, he was advised that a new one was already on order.


For reasons that were not explained, no one in town made any contact with Tarrytown (as suggested at the previous meeting) and no one followed up with Cortlandt.


Comptroller Caporale stated that if the tax office changes over to SCA software, her department will have to enter tax collection records manually, something she did not see as a problem. (Her office is also scheduled to get a new server and computer.)


Tax Receiver Korsak stated that many towns have given up using KVS. And both she and Tax Assessor Penner noted the time element and the need to get this resolved before the school tax bills had to go out in September.


Supervisor Grace explained that the heart of the problem was the SCA carries out assessment figures to four decimal points but that KVS, as a financial software\ used for billing, uses only two digits.


Supervisor Grace, indicated that he supported the changeover to SCA because he wanted to give his staff the tools they said they needed to work efficiently and comfortably. He agreed, however, to give Councilman Patel two weeks, until the May 6 meeting, to test out his theory that the problem was due to the age of the computer.  To facilitate the test, he will arrange with Sullivan Data, the town’s IT consultant, to give Mr. Patel a loaner of a new, higher speed machine. 


Note: The cost of the new software was not clear (prices ranging from $26,000 to $40,000 were stated) but it was said that the cost was worth it, and that the money would come from not having filled the vacant full time position in the tax office. (A part timer is currently working in the office.)


4. Textile recycling program

Refuse and Recycling Coordinator Kim Angliss Gage presented a plan for the town to pick up  waste textiles as part of the bulk pickup program in town supplied  clear plastic 30 gallon bags. Once picked up, the bags would be stored on pods behind the R&R office, and would be emptied on a weekly basis by a vendor who would be selected via a bid process.  The bags could also be dropped off at the R&R site during the e-waste scheduled days. Other than the cost of the bags (it was not clear if the town would charge for the bags), there would be no additional costs to the town.


Ms. Gage explained that the only “legal” collection boxes in the town  date back to a 1995 agreement with a company that pays the town a yearly fee based on what it collects. Last year, based on 8,000 lbs., the town received $529 from the company.


Councilman Murphy said that the owners of some private sites are receiving $75/bin/month  to allow for-profit companies to place bins on their sites.


Supervisor Grace appeared to have no problem with the town pickup plan but left the door open to eventually some type of licensing system for for-profit companies.


There did not appear to be a formal vote to set up the program, so it remained unclear what the end result of the discussion was.


5. Daily yard waste permits

In order to accommodate residents, the board voted to set up a permit system allowing residents with pick up trucks that have commercial licenses to obtain daily permits to dispose of yard waste (Cost: $20). Daily permits will also be available for larger trucks (Cost: $40 or $50)  used by commercial companies hired by Yorktown residents.


The program will go into effect next week and residents will have to obtain the permit at the Refuse & Recyclnig office located behind the police station BEFORE bringing the waste to the hill.


The move was seen as a temporary measure while the board resolves the long term issue of the hill recycling operation. See discussion below.


6. Organic Waste site (Greenwood Street facility)

Highway Superintendent Paganelli said he had received three quotes for dealing with the backlog ranging from $80,000-$160,000.  The town could also dispose of the backlog by using a county IMA (Intermunicipal Agreement) that he estimated would cost the town about $90,000 and would take about five weeks to complete.  Councilman Patel said that the town could use some of the money it received for Hurricane Sandy to pay some of the cost.


Complicating the issue is the fact that the town’s existing DEC permit to operate the facility is due to expire in July and that the site has to be in tip top shape by June for a DEC inspection.


The future of the town’s grinder machine, aka “the beast,” and when it might be available to handle the backlog remained unknown as Mr. Paganelli explained that the future repair issue was still tied up with insurance issues. He added that he was in the process of pulling together numbers on what it cost to operate the machine.


Much of the discussion focused on a draft revocable license agreement that had been prepared R&S Waste Services that included clauses that the license could be revoked after 90 days without cause or 30 days with cause. When Councilman Bianco said that any such agreement should be subject to an RFP so that other contractors had an opportunity to submit a proposal, R&S chairman, Joseph Spiezio said that if the town didn’t move forward on his proposal that night, he would withdraw his offer. When Councilman Bianco said he didn’t like threats, Mr. Spiezio said it wasn’t a threat but dealt with the reality of where he had to locate his machines.  Town Attorney Koster also said she had issues with the draft agreement but would not discuss them in an open session.


Also at issue was how much mulch material would be stored on the site, and whether it would be below the key 10,000 cubic yard threshold, the dividing line between whether a certain DEC solid waste permit was required or whether the permit could be handled magisterially. It was understood that any private operator would be operating under the town’s permit.


Mr. Paganelli repeated what he had said at the previous meeting about the devil (of the R&S proposal) being in the details, adding that based on calls he had gotten from other companies, there were different business models for such an operation. He also wanted clarification on how much material R &S was planning to bring in and truck out and whether the 10,000 cubic yard limit was sufficient to make the operation profitable. Mr. Spiezio said the limit was no problem.


At one point, Mr. Spiezio was asked if he would agree to a 30 day trial period. His answer was no; he wanted at least a 60 day license.


With the discussion going no where, and Supervisor Grace clearly frustrated, the board went into executive session.  When the board returned, Councilman Bianco suggested that R&S be given a 90 day license during which time he will clear up the town’s backlog. At the same time, the town will do an RFP for a long term solution. The R&S license would be renewable for an additional 90 days but only based on a majority vote of the board; it would not renew automatically.  The agreement would include a 30 day cancelation clause for cause and it will specify the hours of operation.  Mr. Spiezo also agreed to use only 60 yard  dump trucks instead of  100 yard trucks.


The board voted 4-0 for the 90 day license that will be drafted by the Town Attorney and to issue an RFP. It was not clear if the RFP would be ready by the board’s May 6 meeting or within 90 days.


7. Special election legislation

The board was satisfied with a revised draft of the special election law that clarified that the winner of the election would serve to the end of the unexpired term and that the law would include vacancies in the town justice position. The board voted 3-1, with Supervisor Grace voting no, to advertise the public hearing on the law  on May 6 for a May 20 public hearing.


8. Town Board vacancy

Supervisor Grace nominated former town justice Ilan (Lanny) Gilbert, a democrat, to fill the vacancy. The nomination was seconded by Councilman Murphy, but the vote was 2-2 where 3 affirmative votes are needed for the measure to pass.


9. Financial update

Comptroller Pat Caporale briefly reviewed first quarter revenue and expense reports.


Councilman Bianco raised the issue of the $972,000 budget transfer approved April 1, 2014 to cover shortfalls in what had been budgeted for 2013 pension payments. He said  the town still has to straighten out why this shortfall happened and the comptroller said she will be reviewing vouchers with the state retirement system in an effort to clarify the siutation. It was explained that the state’s notices about the required payments are sent via email only and Ms. Caporale said that the town hadn’t received any emails.  Councilman Bianco said it was a learning curve to get a heads up when the email notices didn’t come, but he questioned why the state would send out a $2.6 million bill only by email.  Ms. Caporale added that representatives of the retirement system had been more cooperative responding to the councilmen’s questions than to hers.


In response to Councilman Bianco’s comment that perhaps more help was needed in the Finance Department, Supervisor Grace said that he that were qualification issues surrounding the person who he was considering for an upgraded position.


10.Auction for town owned properties

In an item not on the agenda, the board voted to pay former town assessor Bob Killeen (who currently works as a part time consultant in the tax assessor’s office) $2,000 to auction off the 12 town owned properties. A date for the auction has not been set.


11. Personnel

The board approved a job title upgrade to senor account clerk for Maria DeRubeis in the Water Department at a salary of $59,290.


12. Selected resolutions passed unanimously

Water Department. Awarded bids for maintenance materials

Sewer Department. Extended a bid for lab testing

Sprinkler testing: Authorized re-bidding

JV Mall: authorized the supervisor to sign a stormwater maintainence agreement


Note: The JV Mall development sign issue was pulled from the agenda as the applicant was “not ready.”