May 6, 2014
1. Sober House (Compass Westchester)
In a 3-1 vote, the board adjourned the public hearing to a future date to be determined. In voting no, Supervisor Grace said he thought the hearing could have been reconvened that evening.
During Courtesy of the Floor a resident called attention to what he said were deficiencies in the site plan as well as code enforcement issues, but he was advised that his comments should be made when the public hearing reconvenes. Supervisor Grace said he would look into the issue.
2. 2013 Pension Shortfall
A representative from O’Connor Davies, the town’s auditor, joined by Town Comptroller Patricia Caporale, addressed the issue of the 2013 pension shortfall. The auditor attributed the shortfall, which he said was considerably less (possibly about $300,000), to the fact that the state and the town used different fiscal years, as well as the retroactive payments to employees based on negotiated salary increases. He said the issue was a matter of timing and not a mistake and an explanation will be included in the 2013 audit which has not been completed. He said that what was in the budget at the time was correct because of the salary lag is the retirement system.
In response to Councilman Patel’s question why it took so long to notify the board about the additional payment, Ms. Caporale said that she had told the board about the issue during the budget (2014) meetings, although neither Councilmen Patel or Bianco recalled having heard anything about the 2013 payment at that time. Ms. Caporale said that for the 2013 budget, the town did get the pension rates.
3. Personnel appointments
(the resolutions were not included in the published agenda)
Lori Rotunno as a tax aide in the tax receiver’s office
Carl DeLuca as a water maintenance II worker in the water department
And, a new police officer
4. Volunteer Boards
Ron Cabriele was appointed to the Stormwater Advisory Committee and Ken Belfer was reappointed to the same committee.
5. Tax Office Software
In a 3-1 vote, with Councilman Patel voting no, the board approved the purchase of the SCA software for the tax office. The resolution shows the cost as $28,700, plus a one year maintenance and support contract for $4,380.
6. Courtesy of the Floor
Sultana Pool. In response to Ed Ciffone’s request for an update on the Sultana Pool issue, Supervisor Grace said it was being “looked at” but he did not elaborate.
7. Spectra/Granite Knolls plan
After several people addressed the issue during Courtesy of the Floor, the board voted 4-0 to send a Home Rule Message to the state legislature requesting the alienation of the parkland for both a temporary and permanent easement.
During Courtesy, Bill Kellner, chairman of the Tree Advisory Commission, said that a survey of the trees to be removed needed to be done as well as a mitigation plan that should include a monetary contribution into the Yorktown Forest Management Fund. He added that the primary use of the Granite Knolls park was for passive recreation, such as hiking, and open space and he expressed concern about the proposed larger footprint for active recreation and suggested that the size of the proposed parking field be reduced.
Walt Daniels, speaking on behalf of the Advisory Committee for Open Space, said that the group supported the plan, with restrictions but wanted to see no net loss of parkland and some compensation for the loss of some of the trail system.
Other speakers who opposed or questioned aspects of the plan included Paul Moskowitz who said he did not support the alienation and wanted to see something in writing from Spectra about what they would be giving the town; John Schroeder of the Yorktown Land Trust who suggested the town look into the text of the bonding resolution that funded the Granite Knolls acquisition; and Lisa Mackay who questioned why Supervisor Grace hadn’t keep the board informed about the status of the Spectra plan despite having talked about it a year earlier.
John Parker, a lawyer speaking on behalf of the Kopple family that owns property on Stoney Street, also spoke in opposition to the alienation plan as well as to the overall plan to create an active recreation facility with multiple fields on the site.
Other residents, including Patrick Cumisky, a member of the Recreation Commission, Rick Romanski of Yorktown Youth Soccer Club and Bob Kohl and Tom Regan of the Yorktown Athletic Club and others spoke in favor of the plan, citing the need for more athletic fields.
In response to all the comments, Supervisor Grace said that nothing had been hidden about the Spectra plan and that everyone who was paying attention knew that the park was planned for active recreation; that the plan had been discussed at the Rec Commission for at least five months (he didn’t actually distinguish between the park master plan and the Spectra alienation plan); and that all the details and a negotiated agreement with Spectra would be worked out after the state legislature gave the town permission to alienate the property if and when FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) approved the permit. He said that if the town didn’t give Spectra the staging area, the company would go someplace else. The supervisor also raised the issue that alienation might not even be needed.
Repeating the improvements Spectra would be making, the supervisor said this would give the town added recreational facilities at little or no cost to the town. He said Spectra would provide funding for the build out of the recreational facilities, although no dollar amount was noted. He rejected the idea that he was rushing to approve the resolution, adding that “delay is death” and that sometimes the town didn’t have the luxury of delay but had to act.
Councilman Murphy reaffirmed his commitment to bring more athletic fields to town to “keep our kids out of trouble” and said the Spectra plan was a win-win for the town, for the kids and the athletic clubs.
Councilman Bianco said he supported the alienation because it was for a public purpose and emphasized that the resolution the board would be voting on was only to give the town the permission to alienate and that “we’ll get a second bite at the apple” when additional negotiations take place with Spectra. He said Spectra had advised the board that they were almost 99.99% certain that they would not need to additional one acre of land. He stressed his concern that there be no net loss of open space, and that the requirements of the town’s wetlands and tree ordinances needed to addressed.
8. Tax Installment Legislation public hearing (Chapter 260 of Town Code)
The hearing on proposed changes to the legislation was never held as the legislation has been redrafted to take into account the recommendation from the tax assessor’s office that the reduction in the required down payment be applied to all delinquent taxpayers and not just senior citizens.
The revised law, which has already been drafted, will be advertised for a public hearing on June 3.
9. Future public hearings
The board set May 20 for a public hearing on revised legislation for filling vacancies in elected positions, and for a special use permit for the Sunoco gas station on Lee Blvd. Supervisor Grace voted against holding the public hearing on filling the vacancies.
10. Bid awards
For Refuse & Recycling: a F 550 truck, at a cost of $46,390
For Parks & Recreation: T shirts and uniforms
11. Miscellaneous resolutions – approved unanimously
Granite Knolls Barn: go out to bid for specs on demolition and removal
Inline hockey rink: $15,900 for resurfacing
Route 202 ball fields: Site Design Consultants to draft a site plan to fix drainage issues at the fields. Cost not given.
Summer camps: $2,000 to rent space at the Yorktown Grange for a five week summer camp program.
Foreclosure: The foreclosed property at 1360 New Road was conveyed to the Mahope Family Limited Partnership based on the submission of new documents.
Eviction proceeding: Authorized the town attorney to begin eviction proceedings for the occupied property on French Hill Rd that the town took in foreclosure. The resident was given notice to vacant the property but hasn’t. The board felt it would be easier to sell the house, which is on the list to be auctioned, if it was vacant.
12. Resolution on state bills involving equal pay for women
The board rescinded a resolution it passed on April 8 lending its support to a Senate bill calling for equal pay for women because when the resolution, prepared by the town attorney, was sent to Albany, it said the support was for a related, but slightly different version of the bill; the Assembly version included support for abortion. Because Supervisor Grace and Councilman Murphy are opposed to abortion and did not want to be on record as supporting abortion, the board voted for a new resolution that made it clear it was supporting only the Senate bill. Councilman Patel voted against the new resolution because he supports abortion.