Town (Miscellaneous Issues)
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Town Board, 3/26/2012
Supervisor Grace advised the board that the Yorktown School District is requesting that it be granted either a lease or a license for the commuter lot in order to control how cars park there (the lot is not striped) and also to control student behavior. The district would monitor the lot and pay the Town a nominal fee.The plan would not interfere with residents also using the lot.
Town Attorney Koster said she would draft an IMA (Inter Municipal Agreement) for the board to review.
Town Board, 2/7/2012
Supervisor Grace gave a report on recent meetings, including
a. Emergency preparedness. A tape of the meeting is being aired on Channels 20 and 33. The town is working on new emergency protocols to avoid certain communities such as Beaver Ridge from “falling through the cracks.” If the communities themselves don’t make an emergency plan, the supervisor said that the town may pass legislation requiring them to do so. The town also plans to reactivate a Citizen’s Emergency Response Team program.
b. Community outreach. A meeting of civic and charitable organizations. As a result of the meeting, the supervisor said that the United Way had contacted him and will make a database of volunteers available to the town. The supervisor called the meeting “awe inspiring” and said that many good ideas came out of the meeting. Future meetings are anticipated.
Town Board, 1/10/2012
1. Girl Scout Project: Street banner
Supervisor Grace explained that there was a request from a girl scout to erect a street banner in the town’s right of way and that there was an insurance issue. Highway Superintendent Eric DiBartolo spoke up and said that there shouldn’t be an insurance problem as Relay for Life always has a banner.
After Councilman Bianco suggested that the supervisor get more information, the mother of the girl scout, who was in the audience, approached the board an explained the nature of the project: a 30’ x 240’ banner that would be erected for one month as part of her daughter’s Gold Award project.
Mr.DiBartolo told the board that the Highway Department would put up the banner on Commerce Street by the gazebo during February.
The board passed a resolution unanimously approving the request.
2. Eagle Scout Project: Smoke alarms at Senior Citizens
When the agenda item was brought up, Supervisor Grace had no information about the project and no one in the audience stood up to speak about it. Eventually, Mary Capoccia, the Supervisor’s assistant came forward and explained to the board that according to some paperwork that had been provided by Mary DeSilva, the scout wanted to install smoke detectors in the homes of senior citizens. The board unanimously passed a resolution approving the project.
Town Board, 1/17/2012
Referring to the weekend death of a young Yorktown resident, Catherine D’Amato said that the town had to do more community outreach to help the 15-23 year old segment of our community’s population. One idea she had was for a professional crisis intervention program. She also made reference to better street lighting and said she had spoken to Highway Superintendent DiBartolo. Supervisor Grace agreed that our young people had to be given a purpose and that there was a lot more than could be done. Mr.Di Bartolo suggested that one way to deal with traffic safety issues would be to revive the town’s Traffic Safety Committee, a group, he said that had been effective in the past in identifying solutions to traffic issues. Councilman Bianco said that while the Committee had, in recent years, become the Town Board, he thought reviving the committee, as long as it didn’t involve itself in professional issues like speed bumps, might to a good idea.
Town Board, 2/7/2012
During Courtesy of the Floor, Gregory Krasov repeated comments made at earlier meetings about his plan to raise money for the museum and wanted to know when the board would act on his proposal. Supervisor Grace said that the topic would be put on a work session agenda, possibly at the end of February. Councilman Paganelli said that the board couldn’t just dismiss people who had been handling the museum for six years.
Town Board, 1/17/2012
During Courtesy of the Floor, Gregory Krasov again asked the board to consider working with a Taxpayer Subsidy Committee to raise funds for the museum, something, he said that previous supervisors and boards dating back to Linda Cooper have not done. He stated that there was grant money available from the Westchester Council. of the Arts that could replace the $70,000 the town spends on the museum. He said the Committee could do what Town Clerk Alice Roker was incapable of doing Supervisor Grace said he would talk to Ms. Roker about the issue.
Town Board, 1-20-2015
The project will move forward with the award of a $30,400 contract for the required plumbing work.
Town Board, 12-31-2014
The board rejected the sole bid for plumbing work at the YCCC associated with the installation of the new generator and agreed to rebid the job. Although there was no courtesy of the floor on the agenda, Ed Ciffone called out asking why it was taking so long for the generator to become operational. In response, Supervisor Grace said that the job could have been done a year ago if the generator was located in the front of the building where the electric and gas service come into the building. However, due to aesthetic concerns, the generator has been placed in the rear of the building, a location that has necessitated more work.
Town Board, 11-18-2014
The board awarded a bid to the A-AMP Electric Corp. for $47,361 for the installation of the emergency generator at the YCCC. (Bids for the installation’s plumbing work are still outstanding.)
Town Board, 8-5-2014
The board voted to advertise two separate bids for electrical work and plumbing work for the installation of the generators.
Town Board, 7-8-2014
Dan Ciarcia, the engineer hired to prepare specs for the installation of the generator, explained that because of different gas pressure issues involving the Nutrition Center kitchen, some adjustments will have to be made in the installation plan. He also explained that while one of the building’s three boilers can also run on gas, the boiler could not be used the same time the generator was being used. Once he works out some final details with Con Edison, Mr. Ciarcia will prepare two sets of bid specs: one for the electrical work and one for plumbing.
Town Board, 4-15-2014
In an item not on the agenda, the board approved, in a 3-0-1 vote with Supervisor Grace recusing himself, to award an $8,000 contract to Dan Ciarcia to do the design specs for the installation.
Town Board, 4-8-2014
Supervisor Grace advised the board that he has received a $9,500 proposal from Lynstaar Engineering, the company owned by Town Engineer Sharon Robinson, to develop specs for the installation of the generator, specially, the relocation of the building’s gas line from the front of the building to the rear where the “pad” for the generator has already been installed. He said that he did not want to have the generator placed in the front of the building. He added that the building inspector as well as town attorney were “gun shy” about doing the relocation without proper specs.
In response to Councilman Patel’s question about the town having received only one price quote, Supervisor Grace said he had asked another engineer who has done work for the town but the person declined saying that he did not need any new aggravation, which lead Supervisor Grace to say the town was “losing good people.” (Note; the reference was to a local engineers whose name was mentioned in local papers in connection with an ethics issue.) Councilman Bianco noted, however, that there was more of a conflict with the Lynstaar proposal.
Supervisor Grace said he would speak with Ms. Robinson about reducing the cost of the proposal as most of the work included in the scope of services had already been done.
Town Board, 3-18-2014
In response to a questiom durkng courtesy of the floor from Ed Ciffone 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.
Town Board, 3-4-2014
In response to a question from Councilman Patel, Supervisor Grace said that the emergency generator for the YCCC has been received and the town is reviewing who will install the equipment. No decision has been made about the emergency generator for town hall.
Town Board, 10-22-2013
Supervisor Grace informed the Board that the town could apply to FEMA for a hurricane related grant that would pay for 75% of the cost of the generators. He added, though, that it could take 1 to 1½ years before FEMA decided on the application and also that the grant program dealt mostly with land use issues.
In response, Councilman Bianco said that with a $5 million fund balance, the town should go ahead and purchase the generators. The Board then voted to spend up to $100,000 for the two generators which will be purchased off state contract.
Town Board, 10-1-2013
In response to a question from Councilman Patel on the status of the emergency generators for the YCCC and town hall, Supervisor Grace said that he plans to include the generator purchases in his proposed capital projects borrowing plan; he said that the cost should be paid out over the equipment’s useful life. (See below.) The pads on which the generators are to be placed have already been constructed. The Supervisor also said that the town engineer had resolved issues with Con Edison over the extension of the gas line to town hall.
Town Board, 5-21-2013
Supervisor Grace said that the pads for both generators were being prepared and that there was only one location for the YCCC pads. Regarding the YCCC pad where digging has already begun, Councilman Patel asked what had happened to the planting that had been removed and which were done in conjunction with the nursery school that rents space in the building. The bid for the generators has not been advertised yet, although the technical details have been agreed to. Councilman Patel also raised the issue of the need for a new transfer switch at Town Hall which activates the generator.
Town Board, 3-12-2013
Saying that the issue had been discussed “ad nauseam,” Supervisor Grace said it was time the Town went out to bid for the two generators, plus a third one for the Water Department.He asked local engineer Dan Ciarcia to work with Mike Dubovsky, the town’s electrical vendor, to work up the specs which will then be compared to the state bid prices. Supervisor Grace said he believed the Town could get a better price by doing its own bid.
The Board agreed that it will let Con Ed know of its intention to switch to natural gas for heating town hall when the existing boilers need to be replaced.Highway Superintendent DiBartolo said that all Con Ed needed before extending the gas line to town hall for free was a commitment for the future change. He added that only one of the building’s two boilers needed to be replaced now and the replacement could be a dual gas/oil burner.
Still to be decided was where the generator would be located at Town Hall.Supervisor Grace asked Mr.Ciarcia to work with Mr. Dubovsky on the possible location.One possible location suggested by Supervisor Grace was the extension of the rear parking lot, an idea he broached as part of the earlier discussion about potential uses for the Routee 202 fill. Mr. DiBartolo said that his department could do the required trenching and install the concrete for the pad.
Town Board, 10-23-2012
There was a brief discussion but it was not clear exactly what the Town would be doing and whether the discussion was limited to the generator for just the YCCC or also included one for Town Hall. Supervisor Grace said he didn’t want to spend money for a new Town Hall boiler.
At the end of the meeting, after the Board returned to open session from a second executive session, Supervisor Grace said that Con Ed wanted $5,900 to bring the gas line to Town Hall.
While no vote was taken, the Board appeared to have no problem with this expense.
Town Board, 10-9-2112
As part of the discussion of the YCCC bathroom renovation project, Supervisor Grace said he has learned that the generator for the YCCC would cost $80,000.
Town Board, 9-26-2012
While Supervisor Grace suggested that the generator projects be wrapped into the planned capital projects bond, Councilman Patel said that the Town should not wait any longer as the YCCC is advertised as a regional emergency shelter.It was noted while money was not set aside in a special line in the 2012 budget for the generators, the prior Town Board has agreed to fund the two generators from the fund balance.
After some back and forth discussion involving Mike Dubovsky of P&M Electric, the company that has the contract to do the Town’s electrical work, and former town engineer Dan Ciarcia who was acting in a volunteer capacity, it was decided that a 160KW generator was needed for the YCCC and a 100 KW generator for Town Hall. When Mr. Dubovsky explained that Con Ed would bring a gas line to Town Hall at no cost to the Town if the Town agreed to switch its heating system to gas. The Board agreed to do so but there was no discussion of what the cost of the change would be.
Pending the installation of the generator at Town Hall, Councilman Paganelli said he did not want to postpone the installation of a proper transfer switch at Town Hall in order to correct what he and Councilman Patel said was a potentially dangerous situation.The Board agreed to proceed with this work but when Councilman Paganelli asked for a timeline for the entire project, there was no response.
It was not clear who would proceed to put the specs together for the generators. Additional costs will involve plumbing, the installation of a slab on which the generators will rest (it was determined that the highway department could do this) and the installation of a super quiet enclosure for the generator.
As part of the discussion, Councilman Bianco advised the Board that Phoenix House has offered its facilities as an emergency shelter if and when needed.
Town Board, 9/18/2012
In response to a question from Councilman Patel on the status of the generators for the YCCC and Town Hall, Supervisor Grace said that he was holding off on proceeding with the project until budget time. Councilman Bianco reminded him, however, that the Board had already decided to expend the money for the generators and Councilman Patel called attention to the unsafe transfer switch situation at Town Hall.
Town Board, 6/12/2012
Using the Town’s past billing history, including demand charges, Yorktown resident Dan Ciarcia and Mike Dubovsky of P&M Electric, the Town’s outside electrical contractor, agreed that the Town needed a 100KW generator for Town Hall and as 200KW generator for the YCCC.
Mr. Dubovsky reported that in conversations he had with Con Edison, the utility was prepared to cover the $16,000 cost of extending the gas line to Town Hall IF the Town agreed to convert its two existing oil boilers to natural gas. (The YCCC already has gas service.)However, Supervisor Grace said that Highway Superintendent DiBartolo had told him that Con Ed was prepared to extend the line at no cost to the Town and without any requirement about changing service.Joining the discussion, Comptroller Joan Goldberg advised the board that the Town Hall boilers were beyond their useful life and she estimated that the Town would be able to recoup the conversion costs in a few years. (It was not clear if she meant the entire cost of the conversion or just the gas line costs.)
Adding another wrinkle to the discussion, Mr. Dubovsky advised the board that in order to minimize installation costs, the YCCC generator would have to be compatible with the existing transfer switch in the building and that the compatibility issue might determine exactly make generator what was bid and whether the Town purchased off the state contract or did its own bid.No decision was reached.
Mr. Ciarca estimated the cost of the two generators at about $60,000and Ms. Goldberg said that the previous board had earmarked $100,000 for both generators.The board will also have to decide whether the generators should be bonded or paid for out of fund balance.
Town Board, 5/29/2012
Although not on the agenda, Councilman Patel brought up the status of the purchase of the emergency generators at the YCCC and Town Hall.Supervisor Grace said he would put the topic on a future agenda. Highway Superintendent DiBartolo told the board that Con Ed has advised him that the utility company was willing to extend its gas line that currently ends at the highway garage to town hall at no cost. This would change the type of generator that would be needed for town hall.
Town Board, 3/26/2012
Although the impetus for the discussion was the immediate need to replace a transfer switch in Town Hall used when a generator is needed, the discussion expanded into a broader exploration of what size generators were needed for both buildings, plus generators for the sewer pump stations, who would spec them,and whether it made sense to replace the Town Hall transfer switch before the generator was selected.The agenda included a separate but related item for preparing an RFP for professional engineering services to the design the specs for the generators for the YCCC and Town Hall.
Supervisor Grace considered the YCCC to be the top priority as it is used as an emergency shelter and Town Hall is only used for “soft stuff.”
Mike Dubovsky of P&M Electric, the contractor who has the town contract for electrical work, explained that he has told successive supervisors about the broken transfer switch and that he would no longer have his men put in a dangerous position of having to make the connection manually.He also explained that the switch has to be compatible with the generator so that the two pieces have to be considered together.He reviewed with the board some specs for generators he had given to former Supervisor Siegel last November that were based on actual electric usage for each building. He is recommending a 70 KW generator for Town Hall and a 356 KW for the YCCC. Although the YCCC is a larger building, as it does not have air conditioning, its actual electric usage is considerably less than Town Hall’s.
Also at issue was whether Town Hall had access to a natural gas supply which would determine what type of generator was spec’d for that building; some thought gas was available while others said it wasn’t. The alternative to gas would be the installation of a propane tank.
Although it initially appeared that the board might proceed with ordering the new transfer switch and that Mr. Dubovsky would provide a cost estimate for both the switch and the labor to install it, by the time the discussion ended it appeared that Supervisor Grace would work with Dan Ciarcia (see below) to see what needed to be done and that the board would have to revisit the issue at a future meeting. He suggested that it would be better to wait a little longer and do it right.
Town Board, 2/14/2012
Dan Ciarcia, a local engineer, went over a plan he had drawn for the location of a generator at the YCCC. His suggested location was at the rear of the building near the garage entrance.He said the front of the building would not be a good location because of the noise from the generator.There was some discussion, but no definitive decision, about what size generator was needed.Councilman Patel raised several technical issues about the generator and said he was planning on having a meeting tomorrow regarding the generator although he did not indicate with who he would be meeting. There was also a discussion of whether the purchase would include the labor involved to install it, as well as the labor involved in bringing the gas and electrical lines to the generator location and which option would avoid the need to pay prevailing wage.
Supervisor Grace asked Mr. Ciarcia to prepare a proposal for his services for moving the project forward.
There was a brief discussion about also purchasing a generator for Town Hall but Supervisor Grace stated that the YCCC which acts as an emergency shelter should be given priority.
Emergency Managment Issues
Town Board, 5/`15/2012
Police Officer Larry Eidelman, the Town’s public safety officer, made a presentation about the new Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT) program explaining that although he was trained to coordinate the program in 2005, the program has struggled to get implemented. (See May 5, 2012 CIY notes for an explanation of the program.)Describing the program as “people of Yorktown helping the people of Yorktown,” he stressed that CERT volunteers would supplement, not replace, the Town’s existing first responders who are members of the fire departments and volunteer ambulance corps and that it was likely that they would be seldom utilized.Residents interested in learning more about the program and/or registering for training can contact Officer Eidelman at 962-4141, ext 163, or via email at email@example.com.He is hoping to have a kick off meeting in late May or June.
Town Board, 5/8/2012
CERT Program (Citizens Emergency Response Team)
Public Safety Officer Eidelman presented a plan to get community volunteers involved in helping to relieve the stress on the Town’s emergency responders during emergency situations. The two areas of assistance he cited were helping to operate the emergency shelter, e.g., distributing meals, and checking with residents who may need special assistance.While his initial plan was for volunteers age 18 and over, he said he had had some interest from younger people.Supervisor Grace said that he was concerned about providing assistance to people with chronic needs who weren’t necessarily on the Town’s radar.“Let’s crawl before we walk,” Officer Eidelman said.The volunteers will be covered by the Town’s workers’ compensation program, something that Town Attorney Koster said was done with all Town volunteers.The Board gave Officer Eidelman its blessing to go public with the program which may be at the next Board meeting or possibly the May 9th Community Outreach meeting.
Emergency Notification System
Town Board, 4-9-2013
The Board discussed the use of three possible systems: Code Red, Deltalert, the system used in 2011, and Nixtel, a free service that allows people to sign up for notifications that is operated by the Police Department. During Hurricane Sandy, the Town used the school system’s notification system (it was not clear if the Town used both Yorktown and Lakeland systems, or only one), but Councilman Paganelli noted that only households with children in the schools would be on the districts’ lists.
One option was whether the notification system should be based solely on people signing up for the service or whether the town should purchase the Verizon 911 emergency list and let people opt out of the system if they did not want to receive calls. There was confusion about the costs involved and no decisions were made.
(Note: During the discussion, former Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, clarified some information about the cost of the Deltalert system and provided information about the Verizon list. The day after the meeting, she emailed Board members a correction on the cost of purchasing the Verizon 911 list.)
Town Board, 2-19-2013
Susan Siegel (the person writing this summary) asked questions about the status of the Town’s emergency notification system that was used earlier in the month. The Supervisor did not respond to her questions.
Town Board, 9-18-2012
Susan Siegel(the person writing this summary) asked for an update on whether the Town was renewing the contract with Deltalert for the emergency notification system. Supervisor Grace said he knew that that contract was up for renewal but that before any decision was made he was waiting for the Emergency Management Committee to complete its review of the system’s value, adding that he expected a report from the Committee in about two weeks.
Town Board, 2/21/2012
During Courtesy of the Floor, Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, gave the town an analysis of how the Emergency Notication System had been used during lastyear’s October Halloween storm. In response, Supervisor Grace said that after discussing the issue with Police Officer Eidelman, the town had other uses for the balance of the Entergy grant funds. Ms.Siegel responded that the grant was given for one purpose and should not be used for another.
Town Board, 2/7/2012
During Courtesy of the Floor, Susan Siegel (the person writing this summary) asked the board a series of questions dealing with a pending contract to purchase the Verizon 911 phone list for the town’s Emergency Notification Program.The board did not respond to her questions but when Ms. Siegel asked about the 911 contract again in the second courtesy of the floor, Councilman Paganelli said that there were other ways to get information to the public during emergencies and that the board was considering other uses for the grant money that the town had received to set up the Emergency Notification System. Supervisor Grace said that there would be further discussions on the issue.
Chamber of Commerce Street Festival
Town Board, 7-24-2012
The Board approved the Chamber posting temporary banners to promote the festival on Route 6& the Taconic Parkway and in front of the Chase Bank at the intersection of Commerce Street and Route 118. The banners will be up from August 15 to October 15. Mr. Visconti explained that last year, P&M Electric made its bucket truck available to Parks personal to put up the banner; he wanted to know who would put it up this year as the Town no longer has a small bucket truck.
Town Board, 2-28-2012
The board agreed to the same terms as last year for the Chamber of Commerce October festival. The exact terms were not discussed, although Chamber president Joe Visconti said that if the town wanted additional money, that would mean the Chamber would have less money to donate to local charities.
He asked the board for permission to extend the fair along Veterans Road to Turcos. The Chamber will also do something different with the banners this year to avoid problems that have surfaced in previous years.
Town Board, 2-7-2017
Councilman Diana announced that the Jefferson Valley Mall is interested in helping to promote the planned Pines Bridge Monument project by hosting an exhibit about the monument on one of its vacant storefronts.
Town Board, 8-2-2016
In two separate votes, the board approved the transfer of $67,500 from the contingency line in the budget to the special projects line in the Planning Department budget for the construction and installation of the monument and authorized the supervisor the sign a commission agreement with the artist.
Town Board, 7-26-2016
Michael Kahn, the lead spokesman for the monument, and a second gentleman, requested town funds to get the long delayed project started. First conceived in 2009, Mr. Kahn explained that the winning design was selected in late 2011. The monument is expected to cost $225,000, Since then, the monument committee has raised $48,683 in donations and has a commitment for an additional $50,000 from the state.
After a brief discussion, the board gave its support to spend $67,500 from the fund balance to move the project forward. A resolution will be voted on at the next board meeting. Supervisor Grace said that the remaining funds would come either from pledged donations or additional fund raising once the project got started. He said that the project was not likely to happen without the infusion of town funds. Once built, the monument will be located in either Downing Park of somewhere in the revitalized downtown park area that is part of the supervisor’s overall downtown revitalization plan.
Update: 7/29/2016: The agenda for the 8/2/2106 board meeting indicates that the funds will be taken from the budget's "Contingency" line and transferred into the Planning Department's "Special Projects Line."
Town Board, 2/28/2012
Chamber of Commerce president Joe Visconti asked for the board’s support for a new car show to be held in Downing Park on a June Saturday with what he said would be a “substantial” amount of the proceeds being donated to the Pinesbridge Monument fundraising efforts ( the monument will be erected in Downing Park). Mr. Visconti said that there are 20 new car dealers in the Chamber and that each one will be permitted to display four cars. The event will take place between the bocce court and Route 202.
The board supported the plan and the Chamber will proceed to obtain the necessary permits.
Town Board, 2-7-2017
Mark Lieberman asked about the status of plans to rehabilitate the house on Route132. Supervisor Grace explained that Franzoso Contracting, the company that bought the property from the town, determined this past summer that the house was beyond repair and would likely be demolished at a future date and a new house built on the site.
Town Board, 4-11-2016
Mark Franzoso advised the board that his original plan to renovate and restore the house is no longer practical given the condition of the structure and its foundation, combined with the fact that in order to make the house conform to code, only 15% of the original structure would be saved. He said he had spent about $ 30,000 so far on the property. The stand alone garage has been restored.
Given the situation, Mr. Franzoso now plans to demolish the existing structure and build a new house that would almost duplicate the original structure. He said he has no intention of subdividing the property.
In response to Councilman Patel’s question whether anything of historic interest or value within the house could be saved, Mr. Franzoso said the answer was no.
Town Board, 3-12-2013
Supervisor Grace reported that a single resident who lives in the area has strong objections to the commercial sign in the residential neighborhood.
As there was general agreement to allow the sign, although it had to be relocated out of the right-of-way, the only issue was who in town government had the authority to approve the sign: the Planning Board or the building inspector. After considerable back and forth, it was decided that the building inspector has the authority to approve the sign. (It was not clear if or when the sign would need to be reviewed by ABACA.)
Planning Board, 2-25-2013
On a referral from the Town Board, the Planning Board discussed a proposed sign announcing the rehabilitation of the house. While Board members had no issue with the sign, per se, and thanked Mr. Franzoso for taking on the project to save the house, they did express concern that the proposed location, in the right of way along Route 132, was not safe. Mr. Franzoso said he had no problem relocating the sign closer to the house.The sign has also been redesigned to make it less commercial looking and more community oriented. It will list the vendors who will be involved in the rehabilitation efforts. The Planning Board will convey its comments to the Town Board.
Town Board, 2-12-2013
In response to some complaints about the content of the sign that has been placed on the Town’s right-of-way listing some of the companies who are providing materials for the rehabilitation of the house, the Board voted to refer the sign to ABACA, the building and planning departments and the Planning Board.Adjoining neighbors will also be notified. The Board will revisit the issue at the February 26 meeting and invite public comments on the sign at its March meeting.
Town Board, 8-7-2012
In an item not on the agenda, Supervisor Grace announced that Franzoso Contracting had increased its offer to $170,000 in order to match another offer. The Town accepted the offer and will proceed to finalize the transaction. The sale will be subject to a permissive referendum.
Town Board, 7-24-2012
The Board went into closed session to discuss the property. Participating in the discussion was realtor Bill Primavera and two members of the Town’s Community Housing Board. Town Attorney Koster explained that real estate negotiations were a permitted closed session discussion
Town Board, 7-17-2012
(See 7/17/2012 discussion at Landmarks Preservation Commission)
Town Board, 7/10/2012
An item not on the agenda.Bill Primavera, the realtor selected to market the property, reported that he had received two offers and that one of them, from Franzoso Contracting, was a plan that was in accord with his long held wish that the property be restored. (The details of the second offer were never discussed.)
The details of the Franzoso proposal were contained in documents that were not discussed, but as summarized by Mr. Primavera, they included:
·A cash payment to the town of $150,000
·The restoration of the barn and building using “green” materials
·The restored barn, with seating capacity, will be made available to small theater groups, school, senior and other non profit groups.
·The property would be subdivided to allow the contractor to build a second market rate house on the site
Town Attorney Koster explained that a proposed conservation easement had been mapped out for the site as part of the prior sale that fell through but that the actual legal paperwork had never been filed when the sale fell through. Supervisor Grace suggested that before a contract was drawn up, the contractor check out the property to see if the proposed easement would impact his plans for the subdivision. He also suggested that the town might want to wave the recreation fee for the subdivision.
Although initially concerned that he hadn’t seen the details of the proposal, when given a second document, Councilman Bianco said he had no problem with the proposal.
The town attorney was directed to draft a contract.The sale will be subject to a permissive referendum.
Town Board, 6/5/2012
Authorized the supervisor to a contract with William Primavera to market the property. It was noted that the sale will be subject to a roughly five acre conservation easement that will be placed on the parcel.
Town Board, 5/29/2012
Although not on the agenda, the board briefly discussed the standard broker contract that Supervisor Grace had signed with realtor Bill Primavera for marketing the parcel. Town Attorney Koster said that she had not had an opportunity to review the agreement prior to the Supervisor signing it and expressed concern that the standard document did not include what Mr. Primavera said he would do in the RFP that the board relied on when it selected Mr. Primavera.The agreement sets the listing price at $215,000. Although the overall site is 7+ acres, 5 acres have a conservation easement and the parcel can be subdivided into two lots.The board will vote on the contract at the June 5th meeting.
Town Board, 5/22/2012
Supervisor Grace reported that the town received only one response, from Bill Primavera, to its RFP for brokers interested in marketing the property.
Mr. Primavera said that his commission would be 5.5% if another broker was involved, 4.5% if he was the only broker, and 3% if a buyer approached the town on his or her own initiative. He suggested that the exclusive agreement run for nine months.He also wants to town to do some clean up of the property.
While Mr. Primavera said he thinks he has a buyer who’s interested in restoring the house, his contract would also include a sale that could subdivide the property.
The Supervisor and Mr. Primavera will work out the details of a final agreement to be voted on at the June 5th meeting.
Town Board, 4/17/2012
The board voted to advertise an RFP to market the property. Proposals are due May 14, 2012.
Town Board, 3/13/2012
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.
Town Board, 3/6/2011
Ed Ciffoneraised the issue of a realtor having been engaged to sell the Bernstein House. In response, Supervisor Grace said that the issue had been reported incorrectly and that there had been no board resolution to engage Mr. Primavera. “We were careful what we did. It was reported incorrectly.” During the second Courtesy of the Floor, Mr. Ciffone reminded the board that the proceeds from last year’s auction of the Bernstein House (when the high bidder reneged on his bid, he lost his deposit) were supposed to go to the museum and not into the general fund. Both Supervisor Grace and Town Attorney Koster disagreed with his legal interpretation of the deed that gave the property to the town.
Town Board, 2/28/2012
Local realtor Bill Primavera updated the board on plans he had had, dating back to 2003, to renovate the propertyp, but wich had fallen through for reasonos he did not detail. he said he was returhing to the board now in a last ditch effort to sell the property.
Councilman Bianco said that he had heard from someone who was interested in leasing the property, renovating it, and then advertising the house as a showcase for his company’s services. Supervisor Grace said, however, that there were issues involved in leasing the property to an individual and Mr. Primavera said that the person who had initially expressed interest in renovating the building hadn’t seen it and that when he did, decided that the building was too far gone to renovate.
The discussion then moved to selling the property which led to Councilman Paganelli to ask why, after all the efforts to save the houses at the High School and the Crompond Crossing site, was the town so anxious to “trash” the Bernstein house. In response, Mr. Primavera called the Bernstein house a “black pit.”
Supervisor Grace said the property should be marketed and not sold at auction and Mr. Primavera said he would take an exclusive to sell the property with a 6% broker’s fee. Councilman Bianco asked if the town should get bids from other brokers and Town Attorney Koster said that while this would be a professional service and the town could solicit proposals using the RFP (Request for Proposals) procedure, she said it wasn’t necessary. Mr. Primavera then said that he would prepare a contract for the Supervisor to sign. He estimated that the property could sell for over $200,000.
2/29/ Correction from Bill Primavera: "Susan, I didn't say the Bernstein House was beyond saving...not at all. I said that it was in deplorable shape but that I was hopeful that a buyer could be found who would tackle the job of renovating it, not restoring it (which indeed would be prohibitively expensive)."
Town Board, 6-14-2016
Saying that he “needed help,” Barry Liebman, owner of the Yorktown Stage, requested town funds to offset the $130,000 he said he had to borrow to pay to replace the theater’s sound and lighting system in April. He also provided the board with a list of repairs and improvements he said had to be made; some that are urgent, like new seats and upgrading the bathrooms, and others with a lower priority.
While he cited the spin off benefits of the theater to Yorktown businesses, he noted that his recent production of Gypsy had lost $20,000. He said that going forward he would focus on kids and family oriented shows. He said he was paying a lot of rent, plus the cost of overtime for YCCC maintenance staff when the building is closed.
Supervisor Grace repeated a vision he has had for many years of having the theater used more frequently, including his suggestion for free movie nights, e.g., like a “Casablanca Night.” (Note: In the 2014 and 2015 budgets, the town included $64,700 each year for the purchase of a movie projector. The money was never spent.) When he said that an ASK forum a year or so ago had used the theater’s screen to show a movie, Mr. Liebman said the theater did have one but he would check. And Supervisor Grace said he had some people ready to donate funds for the camera. Mr. Liebman added that the theater is “dark” about 20 weekends a year and that he had no problem with additional events as long as he didn’t have to cover the cost of overtime. All agreed that the theater was an asset to the community but that its size limited some of the possible future events.
On the subject of doing more marketing to attract customers, Mr. Liebman said he had tried a variety of programs but they had not been successful. Councilman Lachterman offered to meet with him to offer any help he could.
Supervisor Grace advised Mr. Liebman that he has received complaints about what some perceive to be the town subsidizing the theater because its square foot rental cost is much lower than rental rates for the other regular tenants. When Mr. Liebman said that the money he earns from his summer camp program helps defray the cost of what he loses on his productions, Supervisor Grace reminded him that that argument – his making money on the camp program – can be used to hurt him.
The discussion ended with the board giving no indication that it would help Mr. Liebman pay for any portion of the $130,000 already spent or that funds might be forthcoming to pay for new seats or bathroom upgrades. Mr. Liebman indicated that as he hasn’t fought his rent increases in 20 years, he wasn’t likely to be fighting the town on this issue.Supervisor Grace suggested that more work be done on a marketing plan to attract more customers.
Bathrooms/Rental and Usage Issues
(For earlier discussions about the bathrooms, see also Seniors page)
Town Board, 9-5-2017
The board increased the project cost by $4,650 for a total construction cost of $74,150.
Town Board, 8-1-2017
The board awarded a $69,500 bid to A.DeVito & Son, for the renovation of some of the YCCC bathrooms. During Courtesy of the Floor, Gil Kaufmann, a member of the Senior Advisory Group that has been lasking for the improvement for several years said, “Hallalujah.”
Town Board 7-11-2017
The board authorized advertising for bids for the project. There was a discussion of whether funds from an earlier Senator Leibell grant was still available.
Town Board, 6-27-2017
In an item not on the agenda, after Human Resources head Margaret Gspurning showed the board plans for the renovated bathrooms on the ground floor, the board gave her permission to move forward to prepare bidding specs. The work will be contracted out.
Town Board, 5-23-2017
The board waived the rental costs for two groups. In order to avoid having to approve these waivers one at a time, the town attorney was directed to draw up a policy statement that would waive rental costs for all non profit groups that meet certain criteria, e.g., a cap on the cost or number of times they use the YCCC and the community service that they provide.
Town Board, 5-16-2017
In an item not on the agenda, the board okayed spending $2,000 to hire an architect to develop plans to renovate the bathrooms in the YCCC.
Town Board, 2-21-2017
In response to Dan Strauss’s request for an update, Supervisor Grace said that the decision was made not to do the project in-house and that bid specs are being prepared.
Town Board, 9-6-2016
Gil Kaufmann, speaking for the Senior Advisory Committee, expressed the group’s frustration at the lack of action on using the $100,000 state grant to upgrade the bathrooms, adding, “please let’s get something done.“ In response, Supervisor Grace said that an August meeting with Planning Director Tegeder to discuss the issue had to be cancelled but that the issue would be taken up at the next committee meeting.
Town Board, 3-15-2016
Gil Kaufmann asked about the status of the plans to use a state grant of $100,000 to fix the bathrooms at the YCCC and also why only one van was available to transport seniors to the YCCC. In response, Supervisor Grace said he hoped the bathroom plans would move forward as soon as the new town engineer came on board. About the vans, he indicated that three vans were out of service and awaiting repairs. A new van is on order but will not be d3elivered for a couple of months
Town Board, 12-15-2015
The board approved 2016 leases for the building’s regular tenants. The leases are subject to a permissive referendum. (Note: although not mentioned in the resolutions, the rental rate was increased by 1.5% for many tenants, although the increase was waived for the Head Start program. Several community groups, such as the Teen Center, do not pay rent, and the Yorktown Stage has a separate multi year lease.)
Town Board, 11-17-2015
Bathrooms: In response to Gil Kaufmann’s question when the bathrooms at the YCCC will be renovated, Supervisor Grace said that the work will be done in 2016. Mr. Kaufmann also noted the improved maintenance at the YCCC.
Town Board, 2-10-2015
The discussion focused around whether the board should adopt a policy regarding rental fees for non profit groups and how to handle requests to waive the fees. (See previous discussions on the same issue.)
Margaret Gspurning, the department head in charge of the YCCC and Patty DeMarsh who manages the building, presented an analysis of rental fees showing that in 2014, the board had waived 45,905 in potential revenue, compared with rental receipts of $33,187 from paying non profits as well was users charged the full profit making rate. (The non profit rental rate is slightly more than half the regular rate.)
Supervisor Grace said the non profit groups whose rental fees were waived were performing a public service for the community and he saw no problem with waiving the rental fee. He felt the ability to waive the fee should be made on a case by case basis. I thought there should be more consistency in deciding which fees were waived and that the use should have a direct benefit to Yorktown residents. I also suggested that for the uses that are part of the town’s recreation program, the foregone revenue should really be shown in the Parks & Recreation budget.
After the discussion the board voted to waive the $1,670 fee for the Alliance of Safe Kids for its most recent Save A Life program, but in a 2-1 vote with me voting no, the request to waive the fee for the Taconic Postcard Club failed.
In a separate discussion, the board agreed in concept to develop a special rate for the non profit Yorktown Enrichment Center that wants to rent a room from 2-6pm throughout the school year beginning next September. It was agreed that for a long term use (185 days) , the hourly rate did not apply. Staff will work with the Center’s director to come up with some suggested year long rental fee and return to the board.
Town Board, 11-25-2014
The board waived rental fees for two users.
$1,450 rental fee for AARP to use a room to provide income tax assistance for seniors
$1,116 for Nor-West’s use of the gym
Yorktown Enrichment Center
In the event that the Center will not be able to operate at Crompond School for the 2015-2016 school year, Ms. Minard, the Center’s director has begun to explore the possible use of Room 16 in the YCCC from 2-6 pm. Two issues need to be ironed out: can the building’s current usage accommodate the added use, and if so, what the charge would be. All agreed that the current policy for determining rental rates, either per hour for occasional use or an annual square footage rate for yearly leases, would not be appropriate and that some new arrangement would have to be worked out in the event that Ms. Minard did need to find new space and if the YCCC could accommodate the program. Supervisor Grace suggested she explore the old Mercy College buildings on Strang Boulevard.
Town Board, 10-21-2014
. Approved a 1.5% rent increase for 2015, 1 3% increase for separate room rentals, and a 5% increase for gym rental.
Town Board, 9-23-2014
Rose Menes, owner of the Westchester Ballet Center which has been renting space in the YCCC for about 36 years, asked the board to reconsider the decision made a few years ago to close the building on Sunday. She was specifically interested in about seven Sundays needed for rehearsals. Tenants can use the building on Sunday but have to pay $75/hour (or more) to cover the cost of having a town building maintenance employee on the premises. Ms. Menes said that a recent Sunday use had cost her $700, adding that when the Yorktown Stage used the building on Sunday, it did not have to pay the fee. In response, Supervisor Grace pointed out that the Stage’s use of the building was limited to a specific area. Ms. Menes also told the board that she had a petition signed by sports group asking for the Sunday opening.
Supervisor Grace said that if the town opened the building for the ballet center, it would have to open it to all users. He said he would meet with her to discuss the issue.
Town Board, 3-25-2014
Yorktown Stage YCCC rental
Explaining that Get Fit, the dance studio that has leased Room 12 in the YCCC for many years was going out of business, Barry Liebman, owner of Yorktown Stage, requested use of the space, either on a license or lease basis.
Initially, the board agreed to grant him a lease through August 31 in order to allow the Recreation Commission time to review space needs in the building, including a request from the Teen Center for more room to accommodate its expanding programs. If the Commission has no problem with leasing out the space, the temporary lease could be renewed on a yearly basis. Initially Margaret Gspurning, the town department head in charge of the YCCC, said that as a not-for-profit organization, Mr. Liebman should pay the not-for-profit rental rate, but Mr. Liebman said he was willing to pay the for-profit rate that Get Fit paid. He will also cover custodial costs if his use incurs additional custodial time. The town attorney will draw up the lease agreement.
The board waived the fees for the ASK workshop scheduled for April 5. The amount of the fees was not disclosed.
Town Board, 3-11-2014
The board rejected a request from the Teen Center to revisit its earlier vote that rejected the group’s request to waive the rental fee for the group’s use of the gym for a Relay for Life event.
Town Board, 2-25-2014
The board voted 4-0, with Supervisor Grace abstaining, not to allow the Street Beatz Dance Studio, a for-profit company, to pay the not-for-profit rental rate, even though the proceeds from the event would go to the not-for-profit group that would be the beneficiary of the event. The difference in the fee was $52.
Stating that “we go through this all the time, Councilman Murphy said the town should have a law and apply it to everyone; we can’t make exceptions. It was pointed out that by reducing and/or waiving rental fees, in the aggregate, the town was losing a lot of money (an amount was not specified). Councilman Murphy also wanted to know why these requests kept coming to the board instead of being handled at the staff level. Both Councilmen Murphy and Bianco said that the town needed a rule, although it was not clear at the end of the discussion if one was adopted, other than a statement that for-profit and not-for-profit groups should pay their respective rates.
Town Board, 2-11-2014
Waived the room rental fee for the Taconic Post Card Club but held off making a decision to charge the not-for-profit room rental fee to the for-profit group, Street Beatz Dance Studio, pending more information about the group.
Town Board, 1-28-2014
Approved a 10 year lease for Yorktown Stage and annual leases for Bright Beginnngs and Head Start. The leases are subject to a permissive referendum.
Waived the room rental fee for the Nor-West and Spark . Both organizations provide recreational programs for people with special needs
Town Board, 12-17-2013
Approved 2014 leases, with a 3% increase for Westchester Ballet and Get Fit, and kept the rent at the 2013 level for Head Start.
Approved a 10-year lease for Yorktown Stage with 3% increases every two years. The resolution also allows the Stage to apply for a license to use additional space at the rate of $150 per month (Note: Yorktown Stage has been using this space without paying rent for it.)
Town Board, 11-29-2013
The brief discussion was not heard by the audience. However, after the meeting, the observer was told that the gist of the discussion was that the Board needs a policy on the rents it charges.
Town Board, 9-24-2013
Without any discussion, the Board voted to waive the YCCC rental fee for SPARC and Nor-West.
Town Board, 8-13-2013
The Board had a brief discussion on the request from SPARC and Nor-West, two agencies that use the YCCC to provide recreational activities for disabled people, to waive the rent requirements. The combined annual amount of the rent was about $5,300.
Councilmen Murphy noted that sometimes the town “took a bath” when it waived rent fees and suggested that possibly the town could split the rental fee 50/50. He wanted a fair deal for the organizations as well as the town. Councilman Paganelli said the town needed to work out a formula for non-profit groups.
Initially, Councilman Paganelli noted that the town had an IMA (intermunicipal agreement) with Nor-West that included annual support, plus the rental. However, further into the discussion, Town Attorney Koster said that the IMA had to be reviewed as the rent issue seemed less clear.
The Board decided to postpone taking any action until either the Nor-West issue was cleared up or until budget time.
Town Board, 6-11-2013
Waived a one-time fee of $337.44 for the Yorktown Historial Society for room rental at the YCCC, but declined to issue a continuing waiver for future use, preferring instead to approve waivers on a case-by-case basis. It was noted that a policy was needed regarding rental fees.
Town Board, 1-29-2013
An item not on the agenda. At the request of Town Clerk Roker, who explained that the Taconic Post Card Club was an important component of the Museum and should be considered a non-profit group, the Town Board voted unanimously to rescind its previous resolution and instead not to charge the group rent for use of a meeting room at the CCC.
Town Board, 1-15-2013
a. Bright Beginnings. (See November 27, 2012 meeting.) With no discussion, the Board voted unanimously not to increase pre-school center’s 2013 rent by 3%, the increase that is being paid by other tenants.
b. Head Start refund. A provision in the group’s 2012 lease said that it was entitled to a refund whenever the YCCC was used as an emergency shelter. After acknowledging that the lease provision was confusing and needed to be clarified, it was agreed that any refund would be calculated based on the yearly rent divided by 365 days. It was noted, however, that if a state of emergency existed and people were not supposed to be on the road, the facility should be closed and therefore not entitled to a refund.
c. Taconic Postcard Club. The issue was whether this group, an offshoot of the museum, should be charged $843 for the year to hold 12 meetings in the nutrition center.Councilman Bianco said that all non-profit (and not-for profit, as there was confusion as to whether there was a difference between the two terms) should be treated the same and that the Town should have a policy. It was decided that the group should pay.
d. Teen Center. At the request of the Teen Center, the group will be allowed to use Room 104 (at no charge) on Friday evenings during the school year subject to the Park & Recreation Department not needing the room for any of its programs.
e. AARP Tax Preparation Program. The issue was whether this volunteer group, which was used a room in the past, should be exempt from paying rent.Initially, it was thought that the group’s services were provided free, but based on last minute information, it appeared that it did charge a fee – which, in the minds of the Board, changed its eligibility for the rent exemption.Patty DeMarsh, the YCCC building manager, will check out the fee issue and report back to the Board.
f. BOCES evacuation plan. Ms. DeMarsh advised that Board that she had recently learned that the BOCES evacuation plan calls for sending its students to the YCCC. She said no one in Town had ever known about this.Supervisor Grace indicated that he would look into the issue.
Town Board, 10-2-2012
The Board voted to increase rents next year by 3%. This had been previously discussed at the 9/26 work session.
Town Board, 9-4-2012
In a brief discussion, Town Clerk Alice Roker raised the issue of whether the Taconic Postcard Club should be required to pay a fee when it rents a room at the YCCC for meetings. The issue, she suggested, should be broadened out to include all service clubs such as the Lions. No decision was made on the issue.
Town Board, 3/26/2012
The Teen Center has requested additional time to use the gym during summer hours. Town Attorney Koster said that this shouldn’t be a problem if Patty DeMarsh, the building’s manager was okay with the request. Mary Capoccia, Supervisor Grace’s assistant, said she had received an email from Ms. DeMarsh indicating that she had no problem with the request and Ms. Koster said she would prepare the resolution for the board’s approval at the next meeting.
Room Rental Rates
Town Board, 10-23-2012
Mara Zeidens, one of the co-owners of Bright Beginnings, a child care business that rents space in the YCCC objected to the planned 3% rent increase for 2013.
The company currently paysabout $5,700 a month for classrooms, or $22.19/sq ft, plus the use of the gym and two outdoor spaces.Ms. Zeidins objected to the fact that Headstart, a competing child care program, pays a lower rent ($10,000 a year less) because of its non-profit status; she felt that all tenants should be treated equally. She said that a new child care program at French Hill School will be paying $10/sq ft., a difference that Councilman Paganelli said was an “unfair advantage.”
Supervisor Grace said that the rent for every tenant should be based on its own merits and invited Ms. Zeidens to make a proposal to the Board.He said that the current $22.19/sq ft was under market and the rent structure was not one of equity.He also defended the lower $2.64/sq ft rental charge for Yorktown Stage saying that it was a “different animal.” If we don’t make the right deal with the theater, he said, we could lose it.
Town Board, 9-26-2012
Mary Capoccia, Executive Assistant to the Supervisor, presented the Board with a recommendation from Patty DeMarsh, the manager of the YCCC, that the town continue past practice of raising rental rates each year by 3%.Supervisor Grace initially thought the rates might be too high and lead to an exodus of tenants. He noted that he was charging less for space now in his office building than what he did 10 years ago. Councilman Paganelli asked what rates the school district was charging for French Hill School but no one offered any information.The Board voted unanimously to approve the 3% increase.
As part of the discussion, some comments were made about the Town’s recreation fees and Supervisor Grace noted that revenue might have been dropping off for the pools because of the increase in the pool permit fee.Councilman Paganelli said that if the fees were to be reduced, the loss of revenue would have to be made up somewhere else and both he and Councilman Bianco said they had no problem with allowing residents from neighboring communities to purchase permits for the pools.
See also the Finance page for a September 4, 2012 discussion about rental rates for a specific group
Town Board, 2/28/2012
Patricia DeMarsh, manager of the YCCC reviewed the rent rates for non-profit groups at the YCCC.
Hourly rental rates at the building vary by room. The senior club room opposite the gym rents for $27.30/hour for non-profits and $49/for profit making groups. The smaller Community Room 1 at the other end of the building rents for $15.80/hr or $27.30 for profit making groups.
Since 2010, all new non-profit groups renting space have paid the same rent. However, Ms. DeMarsh said, some groups that have used space prior to 2010 and were not charged are still not being charged, or are being different rates.
The board was in general agreement that all groups, no matter how “worthy” should be charged the same rate and that the town could always lower the non-profit rate if it wanted to and that the umbrella group that Supervisor Grace is talking about setting up should not be used to have other groups avoid paying whatever the going rate is for non-profit groups.Supervisor Grace said that some groups, such as Relay for Life which rents a room six times a year for meetings, have asked not to be charged. The board agreed that some non-profit groups should be treated differently. For example, Ms. DeMarsh pointed out that if the regular non-profit rate for use of the gym was applied to the Teen Center, the cost to the Center would be $12,000.
The board also discussed the use of a second floor room, between 600-700 sq. ft., that became vacant last year after the Westchester County Office of the Aging closed its office. (They shared space with the Beaver Conference Farm. Neither tenant paid any rent.)One possibility, Ms. DeMarsh said, was to set the room up as a conference room; she does get requests from small businesses using the room to hold meetings.Councilman Bianco asked if the room could be used for the merger of the Planning, Engineering and Building departments that had been discussed in previous years, but Ms. DeMarsh said she believed that that idea had been dropped because the building didn’t have adequate parking for the merged department.
Town Comptroller Joan Goldberg told the board that the building “loses” about a quarter million dollars a year. She said she will work with Ms. DeMarsh to allocate the costs of operating the building between town uses and space that is rented.
Town Board, 2/28/2012
Supervisor Grace said he wanted to see Community Day strengthened, but it was unclear what plans he had in mind. He mentioned something about the Alliance for Safe Kids (ASK) and also that the subject might be discussed at a March 22nd meeting community affairs meeting.
Town Board, 3/6/2012
During Courtesy of the Floor, representatives of Meadows Farm, Wilkens Farm and Stuart’s Farm expressed their concern about news reports that there would be a Farmers’ Market coming to Yorktown. They all said that no one had contacted them about the planned market. All stated that the market would hurt their local businesses. Randy Pratt of Wilkens farm said that his farm realized 85% of its yearly revenue in 18 days and that a Farmers’ Market that ran for 28 days would negatively impact on the farm’s revenue. Bob Stuart told the board that the vendors at these markets were truckers, not farmers , and that there was no way to enforce a rule that the vendors had to be farmers.
In response, Supervisor Grace explained that the idea for a Farmers’ Market came out of the first community affairs outreach meeting as a way to help local non-profit groups and charities and help recreate a sense of community and promote local businesses. The town, he said, is not involved in the implementation of the idea.Both he and Councilman Murphy said that the intent of the market was not to hurt local businesses.The farmers were urged to come to the next community affairs meeting on March 22nd.
Department of Public Works (DPW)
Town Board, 8-7-2012
Councilman Bianco read a short statement rejecting the call for a referendum on the DPW issue, citing the failure of the citizens group to “make their case” for either saving money or improving efficiency during the July 25 meeting. He repeated his concern about not wanting to jeopardize the Town’s snow removal services.
Councilman Paganelli repeated his opposition to the DPW referendum, stating that the Town Board acts as a DPW and can resolve interdepartmental squabbles and sharing issues. He said he was also concerned that a DPW could lead to diminished town services and that this would have a negative impact on property values and that he believed in keeping the elected status of the highway superintendent.
Councilman Patel said he supported the right of the public to vote on the issue.
During Courtesy of the Floor, Fred Gulitzsaid the real issue was the elected vs appointed status of the highway superintendent and that there should be a referendum on that issue. As a compromise, he suggested a referendum to return the term of office of the elected highway superintendent to two years. He also offered a series of potential money saving belt tightening initiatives, including eliminating take home vehicles for town employees, reducing overtime and having part time building inspectors do weekend inspections. He also gave the Board copies of a manual dealing with the latest techniques for asphalt paving and asked whether the highway superintendent was familiar with the publication.
Town Board, 7-25-2012
The Town Board held a special work session meeting to allow comments by Town staff members and the public on the proposal by Yorktown Citizens for a DPW to create a Department of Public Works (DPW).
Because the Citizens for an Informed Yorktown observer is a member of the Committee, it would not be appropriate for her to report on the meeting. Therefore, we are directing interested residents to view a video of the meeting on TV on the government channel, Channel 20 (Cablevision) or Channnel 33 (FIOS).
For a schedule of when the program is aired, visit the Town's web site, www.yorktownny.org, scroll down to the bottom of the page and under the Quick Links column, click "YGTV Program Guide."
The meetng can also be viewed online by clicking the "Meeting Videos" link under the Quick Links column
Town Board, 7-17-2012
Duiring Coutesy of the Floor, more than a half dozen people spoke urging the Board to set a public hearing for the DPW referendum for August 7.In response, Supervisor Grace said he was flattered that so many people had come out to speak on the issue. He said the Board had an open mind about the issue and that he did not like the shrill rhetoric that the DPW committee had been using. He said that the Board was not blocking democracy.He said he saw the issue as the abolishment of the highway superintendent position and that the town could generate savings without a DPW.
Councilman Bianco said he hadn’t yet seen the savings that a DPW could generate and that he was waiting until after the June 25 DPW informational meeting scheduled for 6:30pm at town hall. Councilman Patel said that no one on the Board had a P.E. (professional engineer) license and that this type of expertise was needed for many projects. He also said that the people had a right to vote on the issue. Councilman Murphy said the he was open minded and wanted to listen.
Town Board, 7-10-2012
An informational meeting on the DPW will be held on Thursday, July 25 at 6:30pm in town hall.
Town Board, 6/19/2012
Renee Rogarty and Jane Daniels of Yorktown Citizens for a DPW reported that in response to the Board’s requests at the June 12 work session, they had provided the Board with the following documents: a cost savings analysis, a conceptual organization chart, and a response to legal issues raised by the town attorney. The documents are available on the group’s web site, yorktowdpw.org. They said the group was disappointed that the Board had not agreed to meet with them to discuss their information in a work session mdoe after the regular meeting.
In response, Supervisor Grace said that the Board had been meeting since 5pm and that it was a long day. Commenting on the group’s information, he said that there were flaws in the number. He said that department heads had discussed the DPW concept at a staff meeting and had highlighted problems with the savings numbers. He said it was the Board’s fiduciary responsibility not to put the DPW issue up for a referendum until it was satisfied that a DPW would save money. He said he was willing to meet with the group in late July.
A third member of the group, Linda Miller, reminded the Board the the citizen’s group wasn’t saying that anything was broken; just that with a DPW, services could be delivered more efficiently and effectively.
(Note; the CIY observer is a member of Yorktown Citizens for a DPW..)
Town Board, 6/12/2012
(note the author of this summary is a member of Yorktown Citizens for a DPW)
Jane Daniels, the spokesperson for Yorktown Citizens for a DPW, asked the board to schedule a public hearing for July 17 on the proposed law that would start the referendum process and to hold an informational meeting for the public the week before.She said the purpose of the group’s presentation was to go over the process leading up the referendum and was not to debate the pros and cons of a DPW.
In response, members of the board, with the exception of Councilman Patel, said at different times that they were not prepared to hold a public hearing until more information about the potential DPW cost savings was available. Supervisor Grace said creating a DPW was a major structural change for the town and that he was not going to rush into changing 200 years of tradition. He said that before he was ready to schedule a public hearing he needed to know if a DPW would result in greater efficiency of service and lower the cost of service, a sentiment shared by Councilman Murphy, Bianco and Paganelli. Councilman Paganelli said that if the Town Board was doing its job, the board functioned as a DPW and Councilman Bianco wanted to know whether other towns with DPWs also had special districts.
In response to Supervisor Grace’s question about what departments the committee envisioned being included in a DPW, Ms. Daniels said that there were many possible options and that the committee had not planned to make a recommendation that evening but would at a future date. Going through a list of existing departments, the supervisor said he didn’t see how a DPW could provide the services currently being provided by existing departments and department heads without eliminating some upper management positions which he said he wasn’t prepared to do. In terms of the labor force, he said that there was no problem with the departments helping each other out. Councilman Paganelli added that the Town had a dedicated staff and that he wasn’t prepared to do away with any jobs.
Supervisor Grace, who along with Councilman Paganelli, did most of the talking, also said that having an elected highway superintendent provided the voters with a circuit breaker; appointed department heads, such as the comptroller can be institutionalized and fall victim to inertia.
Highway Superintendent DiBartolo questioned the savings that he said were being publicized by the committee, adding that it would take 7-9 years to save about $100,000. He said that the discussion should have taken place six months ago before two new department heads were appointed.
Ms. Daniels said the committee would get back to the board with the requested cost saving information and organizational chart and that she hoped the board would still schedule the public hearing in time to make the September 1st deadline to get the referendum question on the ballot.
Town Board, 6/5/2012
Aaron Bock, speaking on behalf of Yorktown Citizens for a DPW repeated his group’s request to meet with the Town Board to discuss the steps leading up to a November referendum that would give residents the opportunity to vote on whether they wanted to establish a DPW. He gave the Board copies of a petition signed by over 160 people who supported holding the referendum. In response, Supervisor Grace said “we’ll look at it.” During the second Courtesy of the Floor, when Jane Daniels, another member of the Committee, asked the Board to place the item on the June 12th work session agenda, both Supervisor Grace and Councilman Paganelli said that an afternoon informational meeting to which all the players could be invited, and similar to the Route 202 corridor meeting that had been held in January, would be more appropriate. Supervisor Grace said that Yorktown was different from other towns because it has sewer and water districts and that there were also issues as to whether the engineering department should be part of a DPW, adding that he had an “open mind” on the issue.William LaScala spoke against a DPW, saying that he never heard of a scheme that saved money. He said the people proposing the DPW had a personal agenda and were citing junk science.
Town Board, 5/15/2012
During Courtesy of the Floor, Renee Fogarty, speaking on behalf of a new group, Yorktown Citizen’s for a DPW, asked the board to put a referendum on the November ballot that would eliminate the position of highway superintendent and transfer the highway function to a newly created DPW which, she said, would save taxpayers’ money. The current method of delivering services, she noted, is” inefficient, duplicative, costly and outmoded.” She asked the board put the issue on a work session agenda. In response, Supervisor Grace said that, “I’d love to take a look” at the issue, adding that it was “not so simple. Steve Gardner said he supported keeping an elected highway superintendent because an elected official was more accountable, a point that was repeated during the second courtesy of the floor segment by Serafina Mastro. In response, Supervisor Grace and Councilman Paganelli said that the board was acting like a DPW and coordinating the work of different departments. Highway superintendent DiBartolo said, “When you work together, it works.” He thanked the board for its cooperation. (Note: The author of these CIY notes is a member of Yorktown Citizen’s for a DPW.)
Town Board, 6-18-2013
In an item not on the agenda, the Board voted to renew the lease for a cell tower (New Cingular/AT&T) at the Mohegan Water Tank for 20 years (10 years, plus two five year renewals). The lease is subject to a permissive referendum.
Town Board, 12-11-2012
AT&T cell tower
(This was discussed in closed session at the beginning of the meeting.)
Without any discussion or explanation of what was in the resolution, the Board passed a resolution dealing with the cell tower. The only comment from Supervisor Grace was that in future leases, there should be a bond dealing with the demolition of towers.
Town Board, 5/29/2012
Metro/PCS cell tower at Mohegan storage tank site
In a brief discussion, Town Attorney Koster advised the board that at a meeting she attended with the supervisor and representatives of the cell tower company, “everything had been taken care of” and that it was decided that existing equipment at the location did not have to be relocated and that the water department could find other ways to access the tanks. Also, the existing lease will be modified to allow the companies to raise the tower by 4-5 feet.
Town Board, 5/22/2012
30 Metro/PSC Cell Tower at Mohegan Storage Tank Site
The discussion with two representatives of cell tower companies focused on the relocation of an existing cell tower pad in order to provide the water department with needed access to the site’s storage tanks. When the lease was granted in 2009 to Crown Castle, there was only a three foot space between the tanks and the tower’s pad; the water department needs 10 feet. (During the somewhat confusing discussion, it appeared that although the lease was signed in 2009, it was only recently that the company wanted to do some work at the site.)
The cell tower company has no problem relocating the pad, but the discussion focused on who would pay for relocating the existing equipment and whether the cell tower company was entitled to a rebate to offset the relocation cost.Water Distribution Superintendent David Rambo said that the town could do some of the relocation work, but if that required the services of an electrician, that would be an outside expense.The cell tower company was asking for a rebate of $15,000 to cover four months rent. Mr. Rambo added that the relocation would be done much faster if the company did the work.
Supervisor Grace advised the company that its use of the site was subordinate to the town’s public use and that basically the original lease would be illegal.He said he would meet with the cell tower representatives before next Tuesday’s work session to see what could be worked out. “We don’t want to delay you,” he said, confident that the issue could be resolved.
For 2015 updates, see Legislation/Ethics
Town Board, 5-13-2014
An open discussion with the Ethics Board on “proposal for hiring of attorney to review Yorktown Code: 2013 disclosure forms” was on the agenda but didn't take place. But, there was a closed session discussion with the Ethics Board.
Town Board, 3-11-2014
After stating that the supervisor should recuse himself and leave the room (which he did), Councilman Murphy made a motion to ask the Ethics Board to investigate who leaked the Ethics Board’s recommendation that had been reported in the newspaper. He called the newspaper report a “breach of confidentiality” and wanted to know how the newspaper got the document.
Councilman Patel then said that he had given the report, which he said had no confidentiality stamp on it, to the newspaper and saw no problem with his action.
Councilman Bianco suggested that the matter be discussed in closed session as “advice of counsel” and it was unclear whether there was an actual vote to refer the matter to the Ethics Board.
Town Board, 2-4-2014
In an item not on the agenda, Councilman Murphy expressed disappointment that a Statement of Findings from the Ethics Board dealing with the member of the Town Board that was not supposed to be public knowledge had been leaked to the media, adding that what was reported in the newspaper was “just the opposite” of what was in the Ethics Board’s findings. The Town Board, with three members present, then voted for a verbal resolution that said the Town Board agreed with the Ethics Board’s finding that there had been no impropriety on the part of a Town Board member and that Board members would take the ethics training class recommended by the Ethics Board ini its findings that they had already done. The Board did not identify the board member referenced in the Ethics Board’s findings.
Town Board, 9-24-2013
a. Training session. The Board agreed to the Ethics Board’s recommendation that a mandatory training session be set November 20. It was not clear who would be required to attend. In response to Councilman Bianco’s question of what would happen to the people who didn’t attend, Supervisor Grace said that the town would deal with that later. At the suggestion of an Ethics Board member, the presentation may be taped so that copies could be available to non-attenders.
b. Meeting with Town Board members. The Ethics Board requested that members of the Town Board attend its October 9 meeting to answer questions regarding two pending investigations and also to ask two Town Board members some additional questions regarding their disclosure form. Due to what was called a “communications problem,” only one Town Board member responded to the Ethics Board’s earlier request to attend its September 11 meeting. Councilman Murphy said he wasn’t available on October 9 and the Ethics Board chairman asked him to give the group alternate dates when they could meet.
c. Disclosure Forms. The Ethics Board asked, and the Town Board agreed, that a reminder letter with a 30 day grace period should be sent by the town clerk to the people who haven’t submitted the annual disclosure forms that were due on May 15.
Town Board, 6-18-2013
Jay Miller said that some of the criticisms of the financial disclosure law made at the previous Board meeting were inaccurate and misrepresented the issue. He said that the disclosure form did not require a filer to give up his livelihood, that government had a right to set ethical standards, and that the people have a right to know about the business of their town officials.
Supervisor Grace stated that the four people who had not previously submitted the forms had submitted them.
Town Board, 6-4-2013
After a closed session discussion with members of the Ethics Board prior to the regular meeting, the Board voted, 4-0, for a resolution that gives the four town officials who have not submitted their 2012 Financial Disclosure forms 21 days to submit the forms or else be automatically suspended from their positions. The supervisor did not identify the four individuals or their positions.
The vote generated additional comments from the public and the Board during the second Courtesy of the Floor. Susan Siegel (the person writing this summary) thanked the Board for its action and for enforcing the provisions of the law, but Tony Grasso, who said he served on a prior Ethics Board, said he thought the requirement was intrusive and violated the rights of the individuals.
Supervisor Grace said he thought the current form was intrusive, adding that if a person chose not to submit the form, his reputation would be besmirched. Calling the law counterproductive, he added that the filing requirement could lead to people not wanting to work in Yorktown or volunteer to serve on boards. Also, that the law could lead to “snarky allegations.” When Councilman Patel said that the county’s disclosure form was more stringent than the town’s, Supervisor Grace disagreed.
Supervisor Grace said the existing law needed to be tweaked and that he had asked the newest member of the Ethics Board, an attorney, to look into possible revisions. Councilman Bianco, who was on the Board when the Disclosure Form was adopted, said that there had been considerable debate prior to its adoption, adding that although the form was not onerous but that it might need some tweaking. But right now, he said, it’s the law and it should be followed.
Town Board, 5-7-2013
Councilman Bianco disclosed that three people have failed to submit their 2012 annual financial disclosure forms that were due May 15, 2012. (The 2013 forms are due next week and the Town Clerk’s office has sent reminder letters to all those who haven’t submitted their forms yet.) He said that there was no enforcement mechanism in the Ethics Law and that it was up to the volunteer Ethics Board to make a recommendation to the Town Board as to what to do next. (See December 11, 2012 meeting notes.)
Supervisor Grace called the disclosure forms “onerous” and “intrusive” and of no value.
Town Board, 12/11/2012
Financial Disclosure Statements
(Initially listed on the agenda for a closed session, the discussion took place in an open session.)
Ethics Board members Richard Rubenstein and Laurie Noonan advised the Town Board that 16 people who were supposed to complete Financial Disclosure forms pursuant to the 2010 Town Ethics Law have not done so, despite reminders from the Town Clerk’s office. Twelve of the 16 are members of volunteer boards; the remaining four are employees. (Note: the law identifiesthe positions that are required to submit the form.)
The issue before the Town Board was whether it wanted to enforce the requirement, and if so, how. Mr. Rubenstein said that disclosure form was designed to identify potential conflicts and that if the Town doesn’t intend or want to enforce the requirement, then it should repeal it. He added that there was no purpose for having an Ethics Board if the Town was not going to enforce the requirement. Both he and Ms. Noonan said that the disclosure form was based on models used elsewhere and that it had been scaled back and was much less intrusive than forms used elsewhere.
Calling the requirement intrusive, Supervisor Grace said the law was the “cause de jure” and said it prevented nothing.He said that the Town shouldn’t have a kangaroo court and that like the current talk about the garbage contract, the disclosure form is subject to innuendo, adding that it a person didn’t want to complete the form, it would appear that he or she was unethical and “set the plate for criticism.” Councilman Paganelli said he took issue with only the two questions on the form that dealt with money owed or money owed to the person completing the form.
Supervisor Grace also said that he took exception to the “revolving door” provision in the Ethics Law that placed restrictions on former employees representing clients before town bodies. The problem isn’t the ex-employee, he said, but the board member who can’t muster the courage to do the right thing. The law puts the punishment in the wrong place, he said.
On the suggestion of Councilman Murphy, the Town Board will send a letter to the 16 people reminding them of the law’s requirement and giving them until January 15 to submit the disclosure forms.If they fail to submit the form, the recommendation of the Ethics Board to theTown Board would be to suspend anyone who is a town employee and remove any of the volunteers from their boards. (After reviewing the names of the people who hadn’t submitted the form, Supervisor Grace noted that all the members of one board were on the list, adding that he’d have no problem disbanding the entire board.)
The Town Board also gave its approval to a set of procedures the Ethics Board has developed and which will be posted online, and it asked the Ethics Board to proceed with its plans to bring in an outside person to conduct an ethics training session.Minutes of past Ethics Board meeting are also available online and more recent ones are slated to be uploaded.
Mr. Rubenstein also advised the Ethics Board that there is one vacancy on the Board. And, the Town Board said it wanted to reappoint Mr., Rubenstein whose term was expiring.
Town Board, 6/5/2012
Adopted the procedures developed by the Ethics Board for dealing with ethics complaints.
Town Board, 5/29/2012
Three members of the Ethics Board met with the board requesting its approval on a set of procedures that will govern the operation of the Ethics Board and explain to residents how they can file complaintsthat the group. As there were no comments on the procedures, the board agreed that it would adopt the documentby resolution at the June 5th meeting.
In a related issue, when the group asked the Town Board to fill a vacancy on the Ethics Board and Supervisor Grace said that the daughter of a former town justice had expressed interest in joining the group and that an interview with her should be set up, Richard Rubenstein, the group’s chairman said that one person shouldn’t be picked “out of the hat” for the opening but that resumes from other interested people should be reviewed. It was not clear whether other resumes had been submitted.
The Town Board briefly went into closed session to review the Ethic Board’s findings on a particular complaint. Returning to open session, and without any discussion, the Town Board voted to accept the Ethic Board’s recommendation.Joan Landzberg, a member of the Ethics Board, told the board that some issues that have come before the board didn’t actually fall within the board’s purview.
Water problem/Birch St.
Town Board, 6-18-2013
A husband and wife asked the Board to do something to correct water problem on their property that resulted from work the Highway Department did to correct a water pooling problem on Birch St. According to the couple, a highway department employee who visited their property acknowledged that the “correction” resulted in water pooling on the homeowner’s property. Supervisor Grace said he would look into the issue
Jefferson Valley Issues (see also Roads)
Town Board, 9-1-2015
During Courtesy of the Floor, Jefferson Valley residents Maria Donadio and Janice Donadio brought to the board’s attention several long standing issues they felt have been ignored by the town: parking along East Main Street, especially at the intersection with Wood St; the replacement of a damaged lamppost dating back to Hurricane Sandy; removal of the unsightly “Wet Willie” building; and the speeding problem along East Main Street.
While acknowledging the work the highway department had done to clean out the brush at Wood Street, they wanted to know when the site work would be finished so that it could be used, as planned, for parking. Highway Superintendent Paganelli said his department was planning to complete the job but that a question as to the ownership of the site had to be clarified first.
Supervisor Grace said that for constitutional reasons the town could not act to take down the derelict building and he said he hoped the owner of the former Osceola Beach property would take care of the issue.
In response to the residents’ request for stop signs, Supervisor Grace explained that whenever one traffic calming device is added, it can produce negative consequences elsewhere. He added that speed bumps were not a solution as they caused accidents. In response to his suggestion that sidewalks on both sides of the street can be a calming device, the question was asked: where would the money for that come from? (The existing sidewalks, installed several years ago, were funded, in part, with Community Development Block Grant funds.)
I suggested that Supervisor Grace schedule a work session discussion on the traffic issue and bring in the town’s professional traffic consultant to provide input. Councilman Diana said he would contact the police department about doing traffic enforcement in the area.
Town Board, 6-2-2015
Two residents called the board’s attention to problems in the hamlet. Denis Antonuccfi spoke about garbage flying off the backs of garbage trucks, missing guard rails on Wood St, hanging wires, speeding along East Main Street, and the derelict condition of the building known as “Wet Willies” Marie Donadio talked about speeding and parking problems. (See below for details on the parking issue.) In response, Supervisor Grace spoke about the problems dealing with the derelict building. I spoke about efforts during my term as supervisor to reduce the speed on Wood St but how the effort stalled in Putnam County.
Public Hearing/No Parking on East Main Street in Jefferson Valley
Without any comment, the hearing was opened and closed and the board voted unanimously to erect No Parking signs on East Main Street to the east and west of Wood St. However, Supervisor Grace said he would ask the Highway Department not to put up the signs until after the department had had time to work out the details of how the town owned lot on the east side of Wood St could be cleaned up and configured for up to about 14 possible parking spaces.
Town Board, 10-9-2012
Although a representative of Jefferson Valley homeowners did not appear at the meeting, Councilman Bianco advised the Board that the homeowners had issues regarding trees along Wood Street and parking along Wood St. and East Main Street, and that they had been told by the police department that, in the absence of any No Parking signs, the department could do nothing about the parking problem.
Councilman Paganelli said that he looked into the residents’ concerns and was told that the highway department had cut trees in the area 14 times since January. However, he added, some of the trees that residents are concerned about may not be on Town property.Regarding the parking issue, the Board referred the matter to the Public Safety Committee to consider whether No Parking signs were needed.
Town Board, 6/19/2012
Three residents from Cordial Rd. asked the Board to do something to correct a situation where eight cats belonging to their next door neighbor have been fouling their property and preventing them from enjoying their property. They said that they had approached the woman in a neighborly fashion but that the women told her that she was within her rights and there was nothing to Town could do to stop her. Police officers, the animal control officer and the code inspector have all visited the site but there is no local law limiting the number of cats a homeowner can have or requiring cats to be leashed.The homeowners asked the Board for something that could be done upon the filing of a complaint. When Councilman Paganelli and Town Attorney Koster suggested the possibility of regulating cats, Town Clerk Roker told them that only the state has authority to regulate cats. Supervisor Grace suggested to the homeowners that their recourse should be in civil court. He said he would get back to the residents if there was something the Town could do to assist them.
Town Board, 10-8-2013
Speaking on behalf of residents of Evergreen Street, Tom Diana asked what the town could do to remove the remains of the house that had been destroyed by fire about six months earlier. In response, and specifically referring to the burned out Maiden Lane property, Supervisor Grace said that dealing with unsafe structures presented problems for the town because of the expense involved and the need to check for asbestos prior to any demolition in older structures. He also noted that if the town did the work, there was a fiscal issue as the town would have to competitively bid the work which would involve paying prevailing wages and that the town might not recover the full cost. In the case of the Evergreen Street house, he said that issue was best left to the insurance company to deal with.This is page content.
1481 Maiden Lane
Town Board, 5-21-2013
Francesa Samel, whose property abuts the house that burned down 18 months ago, pleaded with the Board to take some action to demolish building’s remains which she said presents a fire and safety hazard as well as causing her a financial hardship as she can’t sell her house was long as the remnants of the old structure remain. She said she understands the problems associated with the task but she was still asking that something be done.
In response Supervisor Grace said efforts to put pressure on the owner to remove the building have, to date, not been successful but that “we’ll be vigilant about it.” It was unclear from the discussion whether an outside contractor had already been selected to demolish the structure or town staff would be used in the event the decision to proceed with the demolition was made. Supervisor Grace expressed concern that if the town demolished the building, it may not be able to recover its costs, adding that there was an asbestos issue which would affect the cost.
Town Board, 11-27-2012
The issue remains whether the Town should spend the money to take down the structure and then put a lien on the property to recoup its costs. Supervisor Grace appeared concerned that the Town might not be able to get repaid from the bank or could force the bank to take down the structure. (There appears to be a reverse mortgage on the property.) Town Clerk Roker raised the issue of whether, given the site’s proximity to the reservoir, a new house could be built on the property once the remains were removed. Town Attorney Koster said that all appropriate people/agencies had been notified about the Town’s intent to remove the structure.At the Supervisor’s request, she retrieved the file from her office, and after reviewing the papers, the Supervisor said he would visit the site with the building inspector. No decision on how to proceed was made.
Town Board, 9-14-2012
The discussion focused on where the money was to come from to demolish the structure.
Building Inspector John Winter advised the Board that a neighbor has been complaining about the site and that he continues to get no response from the property owner or her son who lives in the area. Town Attorney Koster said that the Town had been very careful to follow all the requirements leading up to the Town taking down the building but Supervisor Grace said the owner could still challenge the Town’s action and its lack of authority to demolish the structure.Ms. Koster noted that the taxes are still being paid on the property and her opinion was that if the Town took the building down and the cost was placed as a lien on the property, the mortgage company was likely to pay off the lien.
No decision was made.
Town Board, 7-17-2012
The Board opened and closed the hearing and voted to proceed to have the Town demolish the unsafe half burned-out structure and put a lien on the property to recover costs.The property was damaged in October, 2011 and the owner has disregarded numerous notices to take down the structure.
Town Board, 4-10-2012
On the recommendation of Building Inspector John Winter, the board authorized the Building Department to send a notice to a property owner informing him that he had to demolish his building immediately because it was unsafe and beyond repair. Under the existing Unsafe Structurelaw, if the property owner does not comply with the notice, after holding a public hearing, the Town can demolish the building and recoup the cost of the work by placing a lien on the property. The location of the building was not disclosed during the discussion.
Town Board, 10-17-2017
In an item not on the agenda, Supervisor Grace commented on the recent suspension of the addition of fluoride to the town’s water supply, adding that he had heard from at least one resident who was against fluoridation. He also took exception to comments in a newspaper that said the town had been negligent in not upgrading the fluoridation sooner. His comments left the impression that a decision whether to proceed with adding fluoride to the water would be made once the engineering plans for the new system were prepared and a budget for the projected arrived at. While there was talk of a public hearing, it was not clear if one would be convened.
In a separate action without any discussion, the board authorized the supervisor to sign a grant application for the addition of fluoride at the Catskill plant.
During Courtesy of the Floor, Susan Siegel, the person writing his summary, asked if a January 10, 2017 resolution authorizing the supervisor to sign an agreement with an outside engineering firm to study the fluoridation needs at the Catskill plant had been signed and implemented. There was no response.
October 6, 2017
The following edited notice was posted on the town's web site:
On or about October 3rd, 2017, the Northern Westchester Joint Water Works (NWJWW) will no longer add fluoride to its drinking water produced at the Amawalk Water Treatment Facility. When it is implemented, all Yorktown and Somers residents will not receive fluoride from drinking water. As a result, residents in affected areas may consider obtaining prescriptions for fluoride supplements, or contact their medical and/or dental health provider for alternative strategies to offset the loss of dental health protection.
In 2016, approximately 33% of Yorktown’s daily supply, and nearly 100% of Somers’ daily supply, was produced at the Amawalk Water Treatment Facility. The remainder of Yorktown’s supply was provided by our Catskill Water Treatment Facility.
The fluoride feed system at our Catskill Facility has been offline since January 2013, and under engineering review for an upgrade. The new chemical feed system is being relocated in order to provide critical redundancy within our transmission system. This project is presently in the design phase with construction beginning in 2018 and expected to be completed by 2019.
Due to hydraulics associated with Yorktown’s distribution system, we cannot provide an optimal level of fluoride to all residents unless fluoride is added at both facilities. Therefore, in consultation with Westchester and NYS Health Departments, as well as Yorktown and Somers officials, the decision was made to temporarily discontinue fluoridation at the Amawalk Facility. The NWJWW will resume adding fluoride at both Amawalk and Catskill facilities once the relocation project is completed.
Town Board, 6-20-2017
The board authorized the town to piggy back with Cortlandt on a water quality improvement grant Cortlandt was planning to do. The Yorktown part would be to construct the fluoridation sytem for Yorktown only. The rationale for the joint project was that by combining the two projects, Yorktown’s costs would be lower.
Town Board, 1-10-2017
Authorized the supervisor to sign a contract with Arcadis of NY to design a fluoridation system for the town’s Catskill water supply.
Town Board, 12-13-2016
In response to comments from Dr. Carl Tegtmeier regarding the status of the grant application for planning funds for a fluoride installation for the town’s Catskill system water supply, the town engineer indicated that the town had received $30,000. The money will be used to issue a Request for Proposal for an outside engineer to develop a plan for the new facility. (Note; the town gets its water from either the Amalwalk or Catskill facilities. The Catstkill system has not been fluoridated since 2012 when the old system was taken off line.)
Town Board, 8-2-2016
In response to Ms. Siegel’s question about the status of the needed installation of new fluoridation equipment at the Catskill plant and whether the town was applying for a $50,000 planning grant by the August 31st deadline, Supervisor Grace recounted the delays that have taken place with the project, adding that “sometimes, these things don’t happen overnight.” He said that the town engineer was now working on the application.
Town Board, 4-5-2016
Noting that the installation of new fluoride equipment at the Amawalk Water Treatment Plant had been completed, Dr. Carl Tegtmeier talked about the still not completed fluoride installation at the Catskill facility that was voted on three years earlier. He advised the board that there was money in the new state budget for grants for fluoridation.
Town Board, 11-12-2015 (2016 budget review meeting)
I raised the issue that no money is proposed in the 2016 budget for the installation of new equipment at the Catskill plant; the fluoride installation as the Amawalk plant that typically provides 95% of Yorktown water is complete, but the two systems are interchangeable and Yorktown does use Catskill water. In 2013, the board decided to replace the outdated Catskill equipment.
Design work for the Catskill project has been completed but the Joint Water Works which is taking the lead role in moving the project forward has been slow to act; Yorktown is the only municipality in the Joint Water Works that wants fluoridation. I suggested that since it is in Yorktown’s interest to get the job done, that we start taking a lead role to make it happen.
On the issue of financing, the comptroller said that given the $2.375,000 fund balance allocated in the 2015 budget and the $1,975,000 proposed in the 2016 budget, every available fund balance dollar was committed and that the current budget could not accommodate the additional fluoride expense because there was no offsetting revenue. Her suggestion was to wait until January, 1, 2016 to see how much fund balance was actually used in 2015 to cover any funds encumbered by 12/31/2015; any surplus would revert back to fund balance and could then be used to pay for the fluoride project. (In 2014, the district used $1.48 million of its fund balance to cover actual expenses.)
The fluoride discussion and the use of fund balance precipitated the following comment from me: In 2013, the board lowered the water tax to $11.68/$1,000 from $19.95/$1,000, resulting in a $904,150 drop in revenue and necessitated a reliance on fund balance. As the tax rate has gone up only a few pennies in 2014-2016, this has created the ongoing need to use fund balance to cover ongoing costs.
Town Board, 7-1-2014
The board approved an IMA with the Northern Westchester Joint Water Works to move forward with the design and development of a new fluoridation system at the Catskill treatment plant. The work will be carried out by the Water Works but Yorktown will pay for the work as it is the only member of the Water Works that will benefit from the project.
Town Board, 6-3-2014
Dr. Carl Tegtemeier asked about the delay in signing the IMA (Intermunicipal Agreement) with the Joint Water Works to proceed with the installation of the fluoride equipment at the Catskill plant. In response, Supervisor Grace explained that part of the delay was the draft provision requiring the town to prepay for the project but that the law prohibits towns from prepaying for a service or product. He said that although he didn’t have the “wisdom” to decide whether fluoridation was right or wrong, he was still working on getting the issue settled and that Yorktown was getting cooperation from the other members of the Joint Water Works. In a related issue, when Dr. Tegtemeirer asked what the $51,500 budget transfer for fluoridation equipment was for, Supervisor Grace said he did not know.
Town Board, 5-20-2014
Correction: During Courtesy of the Floor, Dr. Carl Tegtmeier asked why the resolution approving the IMA (Intermunicipal Agreement) with the Northern WestchesterJoint Water Works to proceed with fluoridation that was on the board agenda released the previous Friday was not on the agenda this evening. In response, he was told that the town attorney had not yet reviewed the document. Councilman Bianco asked that the documents we ready for a vote at next week’s meeting.
Town Board, 5-13-2014
Water Superintendent David Rambo reminded the board that it had voted back in January 22, 2013 to continue fluoridating water from both the Catskill and Amawalk treatment plants but that since that vote nothing has been done relating to the Catskill plant. He said that a draft IMA (Intermunicipal Agreement prepared by the Joint Water Works attorney nine months ago was weighted in favor the Joint Water Works and didn’t give Yorktown a say in what equipment would be installed. But after Town Attorney Koster said that she had been in touch with the attorney and that they agreed that an IMA would not be needed and that the town could proceed on its own, Mr. Rambo said that an IMA that could involve Yorktown was preferred. The IMA issue was left unresolved.
Mr. Rambo said that it would take approximately four months for Hazen Sawyer, the outside engineering consultant, to design the new equipment and prepare bid specs.
Asked why it was taking so long to get the fluoride issue resolved, Supervisor Grace, “There was a lot going on.”
Town Board, 2-11-2014
Mr. Rambo advised the Board that an official from the county Health Department wanted to know the status of the plan to install new fluoride equipment. In response to Councilman Patel’s question why the delay, it was explained that the Town Board had to pass a resolution authorizing the supervisor to sign an IMA (Intermunicipal Agreement) with the Joint Water Works before the NWJWW would proceed with the project. Town Clerk Roker added that her office had not been able to locate an original IMA with the NWJWW, although it was not clear to the listener what the “original” IMA had to do with the current one. Town attorney Koster indicated that the authorization resolution would be added to next week’s agenda.
Town Board, 10-1-2013
Councilman Paganelli advised the Board that he is working with the Joint Water Works to find an alternate site to install the fluoridation equipment at the Catkskill plant. Also, because Cortlandt and Montrose are now getting their water from the Amawalk plant while the Catskill system is shut down for repairs, and because both systems do not fluoridate their water, the Amawalk fluoridation system has been shut down.
Town Board, 9-24-2013
Water Distribution Superintendent Rambo advised the Board that there was an “issue” over the installation of new fluoride equipment and that he and Councilman Paganelli would be meeting on the issue. He did not elaborate on the problem.
Town Board, 5-21-2013
Susan Siegel (the person writing this summary) asked for an update on the status of the new fluoridation installation, specifically whether a contract for the design of the new facility had been signed. In response, Councilman Paganelli said that because he had concerns that that engineering firm that submitted a proposal to design the new facility had overlooked a ventilation system 10 years ago when the initial fluoride system was put in, he tried to get other engineers to quote on the job but that didn’t work out because they were not OSHA certified. He said that the Joint Water Works attorney was drafting an IMA (Intermunicipal agreement) that would state that Yorktown would cover the cost of the design engineering work which would be $51,000. He anticipated that once the town reviewed and approved the IMA, it would take 3-6 months to complete the design work. And, until he saw the IMA, he did not know whether the town or the Joint Water Works would actually advertise the bid for the work.
Town Board, 2-19-2013
Councilman Paganelli reported that he will be meeting with the consulting engineering firm to review options for the new fluoride system at the Catskill treatment plant.He said his goal was to install a new system that would last more than 10 years. He also expressed some concern that the new system would cost more money than originally thought, but he did not specify any numbers.Whether the new equipment will be housed in a separate building will be determined by the engineers.
Town Board, 1-29-2013
Mr. Rambo advised the Board that he would be meeting with the Joint Water Works to proceed with plans for the installation of the new equipment at the Catskill plant which he estimated would cost between $73,000-$93,000. According to the JWW, the work should be completed in about six months. He also said that the modifications at the Amawalk plant would be deferred until 2014.
Councilman Paganelli told the Board that because Cortlandt and Montrose do not fluoridate their water, in the future, when the Catskill plant goes off line for maintenance and the two districts draw their water from Amawalk (the primary source for Yorktown’s water), the fluoridation equipment would be shut off. He estimated that the Catskill closure would typically be for no more than a week at a time.
Town Board, 1-22-2013
Supervisor Grace opened the hearing by explaining that prior to expending capital funds to upgrade the fluoride injection equipment at both the Catkskill and Amawalk water treatment plants, Councilman Paganelli, who is the Town’s representative to the Northern Westchester Joint Water Works (NWJWW) felt that, in the spirit of open government, the Board should hear what the public had to say on the issue.
Under a Town law passed in 1965, the Town is obligated to add fluoride to its water supply.
Westchester County Commissioner of Health Sherlita Amler, several area dentists and residents spoke in support of the Town continuing to fluoridate its water. Only one person, a resident of Croton-on-Hudson, spoke against fluoridation. Several members of the Board and Town Clerk Roker also read or summarized correspondence, pro and con, that had been sent to the Board.
Matthew Geho, the operations director of the Northern Westchester Joint Water Works explained that based on estimates received from the district’s engineering consultant, the cost of upgrading the fluoride injection system at the Amawalk plant will be about $93,000.The cost for the equipment at the Catskill plant is still be determined, as additional work will be needed to deal with the building’s ventilation system.Councilman Paganelli estimated that the cost for both facilities could run between $150,000 - $250,000.
The annual cost of the fluoride chemical is about $23,000/year.
The Board closed the hearing and voted 3-1, with Councilman Paganelli voting no and Councilman Bianco not present, to continue to add fluoride to the Town’s water supply.
Town Board, 1-18-2013
The Board voted to advertise a public information meeting for January 22, 2013 to get public input on whether the Town should continue adding fluoride to its water supply.During the second Courtesy of the Floor, a dentist spoke in favor of fluoride and the need for the Town to be guided by scientific information. Councilman Paganelli suggested that the public could get information from Google.
Town Board, 10-2-2012
Councilman Paganelli gave a “heads up” that the system that injects fluoride into the Town’s water supply needs to be upgraded and that in 2002 the cost was estimated at between $75,000 - $150,000 which he assumed could mean a $250,000 cost in today’s dollars.He said that there were pros and cons about whether fluoride should be added to the water supply (Yorktown is the only member of the Northern Westchester Joint Water Works that adds fluoride) and that the Town needed to review legal issues and have public input before proceeding with any equipment upgrade.Councilman Patel said that in his judgment, he didn’t think fluoride was necessary.
Town Board, 2-26-2013
Brian Gray, Superintendent of Parks & Recreation, would like to erect two additional events-type signs some place in town where his department’s programs can be promoted.The underlying issue is that between spring and fall, there is a strong demand for the existing signs by community groups, crowding out the Town’s ability to use the signs to promote its own programs.Although the Board had a document with some suggested locations, it was difficult for the audience to hear what they were; it sounded like somewhere around BJs and also at Route 202 and Granite Springs Road. A third location was not clear. The sign would be about the same size as the existing “double” events sign on Route 6 at the Taconic.
Councilman Bianco said that Town events should take precedence for placement on the existing signs, but it was pointed out that this create problems for community groups. He also objected to a sign at Granite Springs Road and Route 202, noting that the location was the gateway to a residential community. He said he considered the sign at Route 6 and the Taconic “offensive.”
Councilman Murphy suggested that those who use the existing signs to promote their events should be asked to pay some of the expense for maintaining the sign.And Supervisor Grace , citing the visual clutter of the existing signs, suggested that someone design a new, more aesthetic sign.
Town Attorney Koster said she had some legal advice to give the Board in closed session, but instead the Board asked her to put her thoughts in writing.
No decisions were reached and Mr. Gray will revisit the idea and return to the Board.
Town Board, 2-26-2013
The Richmond Agency has informally let the Town know of its plans to construct a building for a new group home for six residentswith physical disabilities on a 1.15 acre vacant lot on East Main Street in Shrub Oak, near the Contractor’s Register/Lois Chiropractic office site. The parcel is sewered. The agency currently operates a group home on Lexington Avenue and was the original owner of the group home on Brookside Avenue.
Dan Luckett, chairman of the Town’s Group Home Committee explained that once the Town receives a formal notice from the agency it has 40 days to agree to the plan, suggest an alternate site, or object to the plan and begin a legal process of review.
Both Councilman Bianco and Supervisor Grace said they had no reservations about the location or the plan. A representative of the agency explained that given the physical needs of its clients, it was more cost effective to build a house from scratch than buy one and renovate it to meet its needs. The state will give the agency $145,000 for each of the six residents.
Mr. Luckett explained that the next step in the process, which is optional, would be for the Group Home Committee to arrange for a meeting with area residents so that they could learn more about the proposed project.It was pointed out that there are very few “neighbors” in the area; basically two homes and some commercial sites.Supervisor Grace said that the meeting was not necessarily limited to only immediate residents of the neighborhood. The Town will assist Mr. Luckett in identifying the neighborhood people who should receive notification of the meeting.Once the meeting has been scheduled, the agency will send out the formal notification which will start the 40 day clock.
Recalling with he described as the “disgusting” display that took place at the library when an earlier group home was proposed, Supervisor Grace noted that the Town has very little to say when a group home wants to come into Yorktown. He was concerned that people who attend a meeting about the plan not get the impression that the Town can do anything about it. Councilman Bianco said the community meetings were a good idea that gave people the opportunity to vent. “That’s democracy,” he said.
Town Board, 3-25-2014
A representative of SignsInk returned with a new concept for the proposed sign, this time horizontal instead of vertical and made of stone, not brick. How the sign will be lit has not yet been determinedll but there will be no back lighting.
While Supervisor Grace thought that the sign might not be compliant with town code, Building Inspector Winter, citing a precedent involving a boy scout sign on Quaker Church Road, said that because the sign was on town property, the board could, by resolution, override the code. (The sign will be on the grassed area at the intersection of Downing Drive and Commerce Street, in front of the existing tree.)
In general Supervisor Grace pointed to the problems with the existing sign requirements in the code that he said made the signs difficult to read from a distance and which he said were visual pollution.
At the beginning of the discussion, Councilman Murphy stated that he owns one of the stores in the shopping center. He recused himself. The board referred the design to ABACA.
Town Board, 6-25-2013
(See April 23, 2013 below.)
In an item not on the agenda, a representative of Signsink showed the Board sketches of a proposed monument sign. Supervisor Grace and Councilmen Murphy and Paganelli suggested various alternate configurations and the company will return with a revised sketch.
Town Board, 4-23-2013
The Board reviewed plans for a 12’ high by 8’ wide directory sign that would list the Plaza’s 18 tenants. The sign would be located on town owned land near the intersection of Commerce Street and Downing Drive. As presently designed, the sign does not meet Code requirements.
Town Board, 11-13-2013
Architect Heike Schneider, a member of ABACA, reviewed revised drawings for the proposed new entrance sign that consists of a curved brick wall with a “welcome to historic Yorktown” plaque embedded in the wall, plus 2-3 signs behind the wall (one that appeared to be the existing “Events” sign and may have included a sign for the Chamber of Commerce; the discussion was not always easy to follow) and a pole that would include separate signs for individual businesses.
Saying that the goal of the new sign was to eliminate the current “clutter” of signs, Supervisor Grace liked the plans for the brick wall and asked the architect if the other signs could possibly be consolidated. He also suggested that the sign could be digitized so that it could display the latest information about sales and events which could generate revenue and smart phone users could sign up to automatically receive the latest information.
Councilman Paganelli raised the question of whether the town could legally sell advertising, something that the Parks & Recreation Department had looked into for the Legacy Ball Fields but was told it could not do.
The cost for the initial brick wall will be absorbed by the owner of Signs Ink who said he was ready to start in about a week if the materials were available and once the town checked on the exact location of underground utility lines. Supervisor Grace said he also had to check with the state DOT to make sure the wall would not be in the state right of way. Since everyone liked the brick wall, it was agreed that work on the wall could proceed while the details of the other signs were revised.
Bill Primavera advised the board that he has locations and sponsors already lined up for six additional similar signs but he did not identify either the locations or names of sponsors and the extent to which the sponsors’ names would be on the signs.
Town Board, 6-11-2013
Concerned about the “garbage” of seeing left over, out dated temporary lawn signs, resident Al Morales proposed that the town adopt a law requiring people wishing to put up signs to register with the town, pay a fee (possibly not charged to non profit groups) and be given an expiration date for when the signs had to be removed. If the signs weren’t removed by the expiration date, the person would be fined. In response, Supervisor Grace said the town was looking into the issue and was trying to find a compromise on the sign issue. One possible approach, he said, was designing a uniform sign
During Courtesy of the Floor, Denise D’Amico expressed concern about the proliferation of signs throughout town, noting that the problem was getting worse. Why is it happening? she asked. She was particularly concerned about the small signs on metal posts stuck inro the ground. In response, Councilman Bianco said he had spoken to the code enforcement officer about the signs and Supervisor Grace said the town would keep an eye on the problem.
Town Board, 6-4-2013
Town Board, 4-23-2013
a. Tea Temptations
The Board granted the business permission for a 90 day temporary sign so that passing motorists along Route 6 would become aware of the existence of the business. Supervisor Grace advised the owner to “do whatever you have to do” and “we’ll keep the sign police off your back.”
b. Underhill Plaza
The Board reviewed plans for a 12’ high by 8’ wide directory sign that would list the Plaza’s 18 tenants. The sign would be located on town owned land near the intersection of Commerce Street and Downing Drive. As presently designed, the sign does not meet Code requirements.
While Board members agreed that the existing recessed signs on the building were difficult for passing motorists to see, Supervisor Grace suggested as an alternative a lower, wider sign on a stone base, similar to the Mobil sign. Representatives of the sign company will consider a new design and return to the Board.
At the beginning of the discussion, Councilman Murphy stated that he owns one of the businesses in the Plaza.
c. Amendments to sign law
As part of both discussions, Supervisor Grace talked about the need to for a committee to review the Town’s current sign law. It was not clear whether members of the committee have been or will be appointed.
Digitizing of Town Records
(See also, Electronic Submission of Applications)
Town Board, 7-5-2016
The board uthorized the supervisor to sign a contract for $419,102.31.
Town Board, 6-28-2016
Glenn Sullivan, the town’s IT specialist advised the board that after months of work, the contract with General Code has been revised to address terms and conditions that, in the initial draft, were not favorable to the town.
The project, which will be done in two phases (see February, 2016 meeting) will cost $500,000, but there will be an additional $60,000 for contingencies, primarily to cover some of the unknown variables involved with scanning costs.
As reported in February, $350,000 will be covered by the bond approved in 2015; depending on when the remaining funds will have to be paid out, the project may be funded overe two fiscal years. Over and above the installation costs, the project will cost $20,000 a year in software licensing fees plus $8,000 for Sullivan Data which will provide ongoing technical assistance.
Reference was made to a grant that the town has applied for but no details were discussed. The town expects to know in August whether it will receive the grant.
Mr. Sullivan estimated that the hardware and software installations would take about four months to install and that the scanning could take one year or more. While no decision has been made on what to do with the “paper” after it has been scanned. Mr. Sullivan noted that at least, going forward, the town would not generate more paper.
The board expects to vote to authorize the supervisor to sign the contract at its next meeting.
Town Board, 2-9-2016
Virtually the entire meeting dealt with this topic. Representatives of General Code, the vendor who will supply the software for the project made a presentation and answered questions on how the program would work, and Glenn Sullivan, the town’s IT consultant explained how the software would fit into the total picture and what the total cost would be. Mr. Sullivan explained that the General Code’s latest proposal was much more detailed than its earlier one (see below).
The board moved closer to implementing this long discussed project; Supervisor Grace hoped that all the documents would be in place to begin to move forward within 30 days,, roughly four years after he first proposed it.
The program will eliminate the need to use outdated microfilm and/or microfiche technologies to save records.
The project will eventually cost an estimated $577,000, plus $22,000 in subsequent yearly software licensing costs. Town Comptroller Caporale advised the board that the $3 million bond issue approved last year included $350,000 for the project; leaving only about $250,000 short. However, Phase I would only be about $350,000, the full amount would not have to be spent in 2016. In response to a question, former Town Clerk Alice Roker who was involved in developing the program, advised the board that no grants were available to help defray the cost.
The first part of the project would involve the use of new laserfiche software to digitize all incoming documents for six town departments: Police, Town Clerk, Building Department, Assessor, Engineering and Planning. Initially, Engineering and Planning were to be done as part of Phase 2, but at Supervisor Grace’s insistence, the Planning and Engineering departments were moved to Phase 1, at least for incoming documents. (Note: In 2013, the town adopted a law requiring submissions for building permits, subdivision and site plan approval and ZBA applications to be submitted electronically.)
The following departments would be included in Phase 2: Supervisor, Legal, Parks and Recreation, Human Resources, YCCC and Section 8.
Once digitized, other departments would have access to the documents, eliminating the need for each department to have its own copy of the same document. Other departments could also have “read only” access to the documents. The documents would also be available to the public in response to FOIL requests.
The second part of Phase I of the program involves scanning and digitizing the back files of the Police, Building, Assessor and Town Clerk’s office. These departments were selected, both for digitizing incoming documents as well as back files based on interviews with department heads, state requirements for permanent document retention and space needs. It was noted that the location where back records were kept in the Police Department were susceptible to flooding.
Mindful of the cost of the project, Supervisor Grace said he will have to make the public understand the need for the project and its long term benefits, including cost savings.
Over the next 30 days, the town attorney will review whether contracts with General Code and the proposed separate vendor who will scan the back files meet the requirements of the town’s Procurement Policy. Sullivan Data will also have to prepare bid specs for the two new servers that the town was planning to purchase in 2016 so that the hardware is available once the new software is installed. A payment schedule tied to delivery milestones will also have to be prepared.
It was noted that while many other Westchester municipalities use certain components of General Code’s laserfiche software, no municipality uses the complete digitization program that Yorktown is planning to embark on.
Town Board, 10-14-2014
Two representatives of General Code, the company the manages updates to the Town Code, made a presentation on a content management software program that uses laserfische and which would electronically capture and file incoming documents so that they could be shared and searched across departments. The cost savings implications of the system were highlighted, as well as the ability to make town documents available to the public without the need for FOIL requests (The software could restrict public access to certain documents and/or redact certain information from public searches.)
The software would be one phase of a larger project that would digitize existing town records. Based on discussions with members of a staff committee, the committee was recommending that the program be started with four departments: town clerk, assessor, police and building. (It was explained that the police department is running out of space in its basement, which is susceptible to weather issues. Also, it was important for the department to have quick access to building plans in the event of emergencies.)
Glenn Sullivan, the town’s IT consultant, advised the board that because the town had asked him to take on several other projects,he had not had time to do the RFP for the overall digitizing project that the board had requested. (See below.) He said that before the town proceeded to sign a contract with General Code, he should be given time to establish criteria for a digitization program to make sure that the General Code software was capable of accomplishing what the town wanted to accomplish. While General Code showed a list of other municipalities that used its software, Sullivan indicated that other software programs were available that accomplished the same objective.
Councilman Patel asked about the capacity of the town’s current computer server system and also the transmission capabilities for handling large files. Mr. Sullivan explained that the town had increased server capacity in anticipation of the digitization project but that there were issues with the underground public transmission lines between, for example, town hall and the planning department at the YCCC.
The proposed software package, which would allow 25 staff members to use the system, would cost $140,733 and could be bonded or purchased on a lease/buy program. Additional departments could be added to the system in phases. Supervisor Grace, however, said he would prefer to do the program as quickly as possible and not in steps. He wanted the public to understand that the cost was a long term investment that would save taxpayer money.
Both Ms. Roker and the supervisor expressed frustration that moving forward on the project has taken so long. The supervisor said that the town would need to do an RFP for digitizing existing records where there were several potential vendors but in general he said he had no patience for the RFP process. (The General Code presentation on the content management software was not based on an RFP.)
Town Board, 5-20-2014
Authorized a contract with Sullivan Data for $13,600, to be paid in three phases, related to preparing an RFP for digitizing town records and overseeing the installation and implementation of the project.
Town Board, 6-4-2013
Supervisor Grace announced that the Board has requested Sullivan Data, the town’s IT consultant, to prepare an RFP for the purchase of the software needed to digitize the town’s existing paper records. While he didn’t specify a cost figure, he said that the expense was “not insignificant” but that it would save money in the long run on personnel costs, increase interdepartmental efficiency and enable the town to free up space currently devoted to the storage of paper records. Eventually, he said, it would pay for itself.’’
Highway Garage /Depot Square/Downtown Revitalization
(As of 6-13-2016, the Town filed formal site plan applications with the Planning Board for the new highway garage and Front Street building. Going forward, meeting summaries dealing with site plan approval for both applications can be found in the Planning Development Summary portion of this page, or click here.)
Town Board 12-5-2017
The board scheduled a public hearing for December 19 to consider a $1 million application for a state grant for the project. Councilman Patel voted against the resolution.
Town Board, 9-5-21017
In a 4-1 vote that followed a heated exchange between Councilman Patel and other board members, the board voted to authorize two contracts for $18,000 and $18,450 for outside engineering services for additional planning for both projects. Councilman Patel said he opposed both projects. Supervisor Grace defended the need for both projects and Councilman Bernard said he took exception to what he called Councilman Patel’s innuendo that the town was giving away town land to a friend. Supervisor Grace said that when the time comes to sell the land, there will be an RFP process.
Supervisor Grace said that the town had $1.4 million of outside funding committed for the project.
During Courtesy of the Floor, Ed Ciffone, a frequent critic of the plan, said that the United Taxpayers of Yorktown would rather see town money spend on a new highway garage than on the Granite Knolls Sports Complex.
Town Board, 8-1-2017
In an item not on the agenda, Supervisor Grace said plans are progressing for the relocation of the highway garage and construction of Depot Square. He said that soil borings had been done at the existing highway garage site to test for its stormwater infiltration potential and that a site plan for the new highway garage was being prepared.
Town Board, 2-7-2017
Supervisor Grace announced that the town has received a Restore New York grant for the highway garage/Depot Square project. He did not state the amount of the grant. He said the town now has between $1.2-$1.5 million grant and other monies toward the Depot Square project. With the addition of the anticipated proceeds from the sale of the current highway garage he said the town would have between $3-$3.5 million to proceed with the project without any financial impact on taxpayers. He said that a site plan for the new highway garage/Parks Department garage has already been submitted to the Planning Board and he anticipated that passage of the plan would proceed fairly quickly.
Town Board, 11-22-2016
Ed Ciffone of the United Taxpayer of Yorktown went over the history of the changing plans and changing costs for the project and asked the board not to start the project until the town had firm monetary commitments to pay for the entire project. He referred to a comment from the Planning Board that the project should be done all at one time and not broken down into incremental segments as money become available. When Councilman Patel said that over 5,000 residents had signed a petition against the project, Supervisor Grace reminded Mr. Ciffone that the signed petitions had never been submitted to the town. Then, when Mr. Ciffone responded that he had not submitted the signatures because, based on past experience, he anticipated that there would be retaliation against the signers, the supervisor advised Mr. Ciffone that he had “crossed the line” and ordered the police officer in attendance at the meeting to escort Mr. Ciffone out of the room. Councilman Bernard accused Mr. Ciffone of making accusations against the board’s integrity and Councilman Diana said that Mr. Ciffone’s license and privilege to address the Town Board had been revoked. The supervisor advised Mr. Ciffone that when he understood the inappropriateness of his comment, he could return to the board meeting.
Town Board, 10-18-2016
Dan Straus asked for a “reasonable” cost estimate for the project. In response, Supervisor Grace explained that the project is a “moving target” that was subject to change based on the amount of outside funding the town received. He said he thought relocating the 13,000 square foot highway garage was doable at a $1 million to $1.5 million cost but if he had more money he’d like to build a bigger facility that would carry the town into the future.
Town Board, 10-4-2016
Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, spoke about the need for greater transparency regarding the application and asked the board to clarify what she said were inconsistencies in the grant application that had been submitted the previous day. Howard Frank and Tony Grasso spoke in favor of the grant and Ed Ciffone spoke against it.
After Courtesy was closed, Supervisor Grace spoke for more than 15 minutes about the grant and the overall project, repeating what he had said at last week’s hearing. He said he took umbrage at the criticism that there was a lack of transparency. He noted that last week the town had received $375,000 from the state Dormitory Authority to offset the cost of the foundations for the new buildings but that the town was still “exploring” the different size and types of buildings before coming up with a final plan. He said the plan would include a self contained wash facility for trucks and equipment that would cost $175,000.
Town Board, 9-27-2016
Restore NY Grant application
Mr. Tegeder explained that the $500,000 grant was to demolish the existing highway garage so that the property could be declared “surplus” and then repurposed for other uses that would rehabilitate downtown. The grant requires a 10% for the total project cost of $2 million.
In a lengthy statement, Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, accused the town of a lack of transparency in scheduling the public hearing on short notice and at a non-televised meeting even though the town knew in July when it submitted a “letter of intent” to file a formal grant application that a public hearing was required. She said the town was disingenuous in saying that the grant was just for the demolition of the highway garage when the letter of intent talked about building a new highway garage, a mixed used commercial building and other town amenities. She also said that based on the program guidelines, she did not think the town’s application was competitive and that, like last year’s CFA grant applications, this application was a waste of time. Many of her comments were repeated or amplified by Ed Ciffone.
Jay Kopstein and Ken Belfer spoke in favor of the grant saying that the town should go after any money that was available, although Mr, Befrer said he had an open mind to the underlying project. Dan Strauss said it was a good thing to go after $500,000 but he was concerned that he had no clue what the project would cost and what it might cost taxpayers. Tony Grasso, speaking for the Chamber, supported the highway garage relocation/Depot Square project, adding: Let’s get the project going.
Supervisor Grace said that he submitted the July Letter of Intent on his own and did not need the Town Board’s authorization. (It was not clear whether the other councilmen knew about the July letter.) He said after the Letter was submitted he heard back from the granting agency encouraging the town to apply for the grant by the October 3rd deadline. If they didn’t think we qualified, he said, they would have tossed out the application in a pre- screening process. He said that getting the money would make the project more feasible, adding that the town has preliminary approval for an MS4 stormwater project although he didn’t explain how that was related to the Depot Square project.
The supervisor said that the cost for the new highway/parks garage was still being explored as it would/could involve a combination of buildings (cold storage for trucks, pre fabs for offices, and a butler type building for mechanical use) and that each building type had a different square foot cost, with a range of $5/sq. ft to $100/sq. ft.
The supervisor said that there are people interested in buying the site but they don’t want to get bogged down in the approval process; hence his plan to have the town get approval for a building on the site and sell an approved plan with the purchaser being selected using an RFP process who would design the actual building and use of the site.
Councilman Patel raised the issue underground contamination at the site and said the land should be sold as is. Citing the previous environmental studies, the rest of the board challenged his statement about the possible contamination.
The board voted 5-0 to submit the application.
Town Board, 5-17-2016
Ed Ciffone asked for an update on the Supervisor’s plan to relocate the highway garage. There was no response.
Town Board, 2-24-2016
In response to questions from Supervisor Grace, Mr. Paganelli said that the current garage, with administrative space, is roughly 17,000 sf and that Parks Department currently has about 3,600 sf. (it was not clear of this space was just the Parks garage at Downing Park or if it also included the administration trailers at Sparkle Lake.) If highway had to share a new 20,000 sf building with Parks, he said that to provide sufficient space for his trucks and equipment, a second story might be needed for administration and/or storage. It was unclear was where the Parks trailers would go.
Town Board, 1-19-2016
During Courtesy of the Floor, Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, asked what grant the supervisor was talking about when he said on his January 6 Grace Notes program that the town had received a $400,000 grant and that the money would be put towards Depot Square.
When the supervisor did not address the comment, Councilman Patel had to ask the supervisor for an answer at least twice before the supervisor answered. He explained that he is currently working with Senator to obtain $300,000-$400,000 in state money to construct the foundation for the 17,000 SF steel building that the Crompond Terraces developer has agreed to donate to the town. (Note: it was not clear if the building was just for the Highway Department or also the Parks Department, although the supervisor said he was committed to reclaiming the Downing Park tennis courts.) Mr.Bernard expressed his support for continuing with the Depot Square project.
Town Board, 10-27-2015
(During a discussion of the Crompond Terraces rezoning request and the applicant's expanded EAF (Environmental Assessment Form), the following information was provided regarding the applicant's "contribution" to the town in exchange for the rezoning.)
The biggest change in the project was the “contribution” the developer was prepared to make to the town in exchange for the rezoning. This contribution would be in addition to the proposed 12,000 SF multi use building on the site that would be donated to the town as part of the project’s required recreation fee which , at $4,000 per unit, would total $320,000. The exact use of the building has not been finalized and awaits more feedback and direction from the town.
The changed contribution, a plan developed by Supervisor Grace, now consists of the developer building a 27,000 SF steel building on Greenwood Street to house the Highway and Parks departments, as well as a recreation center of an undisclosed size at Downing Park once the Parks Department is relocated to Greenwood St. According Ann Kutter, a member of the development team, there have been preliminary discussions about the building with the Superintendent of Parks & Recreation but no firm plans. Regarding the new highway garage, Supervisor Grace said that the town might incur some costs to “finish” the new building but that the funds would come from the sale of the current highway garage site. He added that a portion of the building could be for “dead storage” and that another part, or possibly a second floor, could be portioned off for other uses.
Supervisor Grace and Councilmen Bernard and Diana strongly supported this new “contribution” as a “great opportunity” that should be a “no brainer.” The Supervisor thanked the developer for his generosity and willingness to give something back to the town. In response to my questions whether a private developer would have to pay prevailing wage if he constructed a building on town property, Supervisor Grace said the answer was no and that a similar type contribution has been done in Dobbs Ferry.
Anticipating that the Planning Board will be able to review the expanded EAF at its November 9th meeting, the board voted 3-2 to reconvene the public hearing on the rezoning request for November 17 and advised the parties to start working on the rezoning approval resolution. Councilmen Patel and I voted no, preferring to have the Planning Board’s recommendations in hand before scheduling the hearing.
Town Board, 10-20-2015
Although not on the agenda, the first 1½ hours of the meeting was devoted to a presentation, by Supervisor Grace and Planning Director Tegeder, of Supervisor Grace’s Revitalization Plan. (As this topic has been covered extensively elsewhere, this summary will not repeat the details.) The Supervisor’s rationale for the presentation was that there needed to be more clarification about the project.
The only new information in the Supervisor’s presentation was that he has been approached by an unnamed source who has offered to build the new garage at approximately $50/SF. Also, that initially a smaller garage could be built with the ability to “add on” over time. And in a change from the past, he also said it was always the plan’s intention that the current highway garage site would be sold before the new one was built.
After Supervisor Grace concluded his remarks and said he was going to open the meeting open to comments from the audience, I said that if there was going to be a community meeting to discuss and ask questions about the plan, it should have been advertised so that interested residents would know in advance and could attend. I asked the Supervisor to schedule such a meeting; there was no response. After stating that I did not think it appropriate to spend 1½ hours of a board meeting on the topic, I went on to give a brief explanation of why I was opposed to the project at this time. I also advised residents that because Supervisor Grace had refused to upload my article in opposition to the project on the town’s web site, they could read the article on my personal web site, or watch a video about the project on the town’s public access channels.
Planning Board, 10-19-2015
Mr. Tegeder, Yorktown’s Director of Planning, gave a presentation. The project includes consolidating Parks and Recreation vehicle facilities and the Highway Department garage to two new buildings to Town property on Greenwood St. This site already holds the sewer treatment facility and highway sand/salt storage. These new buildings would allow more vehicles to be kept under cover, lengthening their life span and the consolidation on one site would improve efficiency. The then vacant Highway Department garage would be sold to a private developer for commercial use (zoned C-3 or C-4).
Urban renewal plans dating from the 1960s talked about removing the garage and converting the site from this light industrial use to a commercial use more appropriate to the center of Town. The Town Master Plan calls for moving the garage, but doesn’t specify to where. Mr. Tegeder showed some conceptual renderings of how the garage property could be developed, how a commercial building could be positioned. Drawings showed a multistory building with a 9,000 sf footprint on 1.7 ac. The goals would be to make this site a visually pleasing gateway to Yorktown, provide a commercial border to the light industrial uses on Front St., capture some of the North County Trailway traffic and encourage it to patronize Town businesses and provide a link between Railroad Park and Patriot Garden. The area could be “activated” by the inclusion of a gazebo or bandshell for outdoor performances. The Town has an interest in public access and use of a portion of the site, including a public parking component. This could be achieved through agreement with future owners, the use of a Town ROW (Richard Pl.) or by subdividing the site.
Planning Board Comments and Questions:
Greenwood St. Consolidation:
Mr. Fon emphasized repeatedly that it’s very important the new garages be built large enough to accommodate future needs, so that all vehicles could be stored inside. From his work experience, he knows this is crucial to prolong the useful life of machinery, and that once a building is built, it’s very difficult to go back and enlarge it. “There’s only one chance to do this right.” He pointed out that the proposed Greenwood plan shows a lot of car parking spaces which would be eliminated in favor of larger buildings and also that the existing yard waste site could be moved or reconfigured. He was in favor of consolidation to improve efficiency.
Question: What about increased truck traffic on Greenwood St., especially as it crosses the Trailway?
Answer: No traffic study has been done, but there is already considerable truck traffic, especially in
winter as the trucks load sand/salt in snow events.
Question: Who designed the buildings and were they designed for current needs or with expansion
Answer: The Parks and Rec building was designed by the current Parks and Rec Department head,
and it was designed only for current needs. The Highway Department building was
designed by the former Highway Superintendent and does include some expansion
Question: What will be the reaction of Greenwood St. residents to the increased truck traffic,
considering that in the past they objected to a neighbor merely parking two commercial
vehicles in his driveway?
Answer: So far they haven’t been heard from.
Question: Where’s the stormwater retention on the Greenwood site?
Answer: Underground. The buildings are on a plateau with a stream along the base.
Front St. Commercial Project:
Question: Has a market feasibility study been done? How realistic is it that the Town could get $1.5
million for the highway garage site?
Answer: No market feasibility study has been done, no market analysis, no appraisal, because there isn’t a highly developed plan on which to base these types of analyses. The $1.5 million estimate came from the Town assessor. However there has been interest from the business community.
Question: How would the presence of garbage trucks just down Front St. impact the aesthetics of
the site and/or its desirability to a commercial developer?
Answer: The garbage trucks use that property by special use permit which could be
The Planning Board will make a site visit.
Town Board, 10-6-2015
Supervisor Grace spoke for about 15 minutes in defense of his proposed highway garage project and stating that Councilman Patel’s information was incorrect. I responded, refuting some of the supervisor’s comments but added that the board meeting was not the time or place for a full discussion of the issue. (Note: this summary will not go into detail on the pros and cons of the issue or comments by residents during Courtesy of the Floor.)
Town Board, 9-15-2015
During Courtesy of the Floor, Roseanne Brackett, speaking on behalf of the United Taxpayers of Yorktown, advised the board that 1,806 residents had signed a petition against the highway garage project . In an accompanying statement, Ms. Brackett said the group believed that the town should address other infrastructure projects before proceeding with a speculative project that could put a burden on taxpayers.
Other speakers made the following comments about the project.
Nick Witkowitch wanted to know if any town officials and their friends and supporters had property in the area that would increase in value as a result of the project.
Ed Ciffone requested that the project be put on the ballot for a referendum vote. In response, I explained that a referendum would only be possible if and when the town decided to borrow money to finance the project and/or when the town was ready to actually sell the vacated highway garage site.
Bill Stoiber presented the board with photos of a parking lot covered with solar panels and suggested that this type of semi enclosed facility might be a less costly option than a fully enclosed garage for highway department vehicles and equipment.
Tony Grasso said he hadn’t heard any official cost figures for the project but that he knew the town would save money by storing highway department vehicles inside. He said people should not be “throwing numbers out” until they’re official.
Responding to the UTY petition, Supervisor Grace said that the petition wasn’t clear, that the project would be at no cost to taxpayers and that the impetus for the project wasn’t the need for a new highway garage but rather for the revitalization of the downtown Heights area, a project he said that would benefit all residents. He then went on to talk about the benefits of the project for about 10 minutes.
In response to Supervisor Grace’s comments, as well as those from Mr. Grasso who questioned where the UTY had gotten its cost figures, I said that the $4.8 million cost figure came directly from the town’s grant application: $4.1 million was for the construction of the new highway and parks department building/s and $750,000 was to prepare the vacated site, including constructing a new parking lot for the proposed new commercial building. The grant application also states that the town would be responsible for $2.7 million of the project cost (a total of $2.1 million was requested in grants), but that the application estimated that the town could recoup $1.5 million from the sale of the vacated garage site, leaving taxpayers to cover a portion of the total project cost. I noted that these figures had never been given to the Town Board. (For copies of the grant application’s budget, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Rather than take additional time from the board meeting to respond to all the supervisor’s comments, I said that a separate meeting was needed for a fuller discussion of the project.
Councilman Patel said that the town’s number one priority should be fixing its roads and drainage. When he also questioned the results of the Phase II environmental study that would have identified potential contamination issues with the site, Councilman Bernard assured him that the study was done by a reputable firm. Councilman Bernard added that all the work, to date, on the project had been done in house and had not cost any additional money.
Town Board, 7/21/2015
In a 3-2 vote, with Councilman Patel and myself voting no, the board authorized the submission of the Downtown Revitalization Project (aka highway relocation) grant.
In voting against the highway project, I noted that the grant applications (5 separate applications for a total of $2.265 million) carried a required town match of $667,000, even though residents had been told at previous meetings that the project would be “no cost” to the town. Also, that there was no guarantee, at least not at this time, that there would be a buyer for the garage site, what the buyer would actually build on the site and how much a buyer may actually pay for the site. My opposition was also based on the fact that there still was no firm plan for the “downtown revitalization” and that what was being submitted was still only a concept. Supervisor Grace disagreed, saying there was a “real plan.”
Town Board, 7-14-2015
John Tegeder presented preliminary information about the highway garage/downtaon revitalization grant (see below) and 3 other grants (See Town Board, 7/14/2015).
Yorktown Heights Downtown Revitalization (Highway garage/Depot Square): According to the proposed budget, the total project cost of $8.6 million ($4.1 million for garage and $4.5 million for new commercial building) would be offset by $4.5 million in private investment to construct the new commercial building, plus $1.5 million from the sale of the property. Two grant applications would be for the total of $2.6 million. (One has up to a 50%, with a 10% local match and the other apparently has no grant limitations.) Mr. Tegeder indicated that there might be other grant opportunities for the project in the event the first two applications were awarded only partial grants.
In commenting on the Heights Revitalization Project, I asked questions about how the applications would meet grant guidelines regarding phasing, budgets, matches as well as address the focus of both grant programs on job creation, regional needs and addressing the needs of targeted “depressed” communities.
Town Board, 4-7-2015
In response to comments by Ed Ciffone, Supervisor Grace explained that there would be no currents costs associated with proceeding with the plans to relocate the highway garage and prepare a site plan for a future commercial building. He said the size of the planned buildings was still not set and that more work had to be done before getting better estimates of site development costs. That information would be available, he said, if and when the project proved feasible. He reiterated his belief that it made sense to have plans for the buildings in order to take advantage of potential future grants (grants would not be available, he said, based on concepts) and also when other opportunities came up, such as an offer to buy some new steel buildings at a 50% discount, or pay nothing for used steel buildings he said were available in Peekskill. He also defended his statement that the new commercial building would create a walkable Yorktown, although he acknowledged that his comment about there being no reason to come to Yorktown now as being “rhetoric.”
Supervisor Grace added that there were errors in an article I had written about the project and which appeared in the local newspaper. He did not explain what the error/s were. (Click here for a copy of the article.)
Town Board, 3-24-2015
In a 3-2 vote, with myself and Councilman Patel voting no, the board approved moving ahead with the Supervisor’s plan to relocate the highway garage and Parks Department building in Downing Park to Greenwood Street and, after demolishing the current highway garage, sell the property to a developer who would erect a mixed used commercial building. (Click here for a description of the project and for conceptual rendings of the commercial building.)
Based on a report prepared by the Planning Department, the new highway garage/parks building would cost $4.0 million. That cost would be offset by selling the current highway garage site (after the building was demolished) for $1.5 million. According to Supervisor Grace, the balance of $2.5 million would be obtained from grants.
In preparation for the vote, town staff had already completed the Environmental Impact Assessment Form and conceptual site plans had been prepared for the relocated highway garage/Parks Department building and the new commercial building. Town staff would prepare the detailed site plans for both buildings and seek all the approvals (the “soft costs” involved in the development approval process) from the Planning Board and outside agencies. Once the site plan was approved, the town would turn around and sell the land to a developer who would construct the building according to the approved plan.
It was Supervisor Grace’s contention that while the plan wasn’t a panacea for the Heights area, it was a start and that once the new commercial building was built, it would make Yorktown a destination. He said that his plan had been well received by the public.
After the 3-2 vote, the next steps will be moving forward with the SEQRA process and reaching out to the DEC and DEP to get their feedback on the conceptual site plans.
Supervisor Grace also said he would be looking into the availability of some “repurposed” steel buildings that might be available in Peekskill in lieu of the town erecting brand new butler-type buildings.
Highway Superintendent Paganelli supported project. He said that when he was a member of the Town Board, he favored the project only if it didn’t cost the taxpayers any money. However, he said, while the project as currently proposed leaves the financing of $2.5 million up in the air, he felt that over the long term, once the property was developed and put back on the tax rolls, it would generate revenue that would, over time, possibly 18 years, recoup the cost of the project.
In response to Supervisor Grace reasons in favor of the project, I agreed with him that the relocation of the two garages would create cost saving efficiencies. I also agreed that in a perfect world the highway garage should be moved out of the downtown area and the property returned to the tax rolls; I just questioned whether now was the time to proceed with such a project. I questioned the supervisor’s assumption that the new building would revitalize Yorktown’s downtown and become the new heart of downtown Yorktown when the commercial building would be across the street from an auto body shop and down the street from parked garbage trucks and UPS and bus depots. Citing existing commercial vacancies in Yorktown and surrounding communities, I questioned whether now was the time to plan for another commercial building. I also questioned some of the cost assumptions and the procedure that would be used to sell the highway garage site and whether there would be competitive bidding.
After the 3-2 vote, town staff will proceed to contact the DEC and DEP for input on the project.
Town Board, 3-18-2014
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.
Town Board, 12-31-2013
The supervisor advised the Board that the Phase II report for the garage site had come in clean and that an open spill on the site would be closed. (Note: According to the town engineer, the report was not available to the public as it was still in draft stage.)
Town Board, 10-15-2013
Citing past uses on the site, Stewart Glass was critical of the Board’s recent vote to proceed with a Phase II study of the site. He said the town was opening itself up to a potential costly cleanup. In response, Supervisor Grace said the town had a moral obligation to the 38 employees who worked in the building and that any future remediation requirements would be related to how the site was eventually used.
Town Board, 10-8-2013
On the recommendation of town engineer Sharon Robinson, the Board voted unanimously to hire Hydro Environmental to do a Phase II study of the highway garage site at a cost of no greater than $20,000. Three proposals had been submitted, ranging from $18,165 to $31,825, although there were differences in the scope of work for the three proposals. The money will come from fund balance.
In voting to proceed with the study, Councilman Bianco said his vote was based on his concern that if there are environmental issues with the site, the town should take care of them and that his vote should not be taken as necessarily being in support of relocating the highway garage.
Although highway superintendent DiBartolo said that there was no lead or asbestos in the building, Hydro Environmental will be asked to check for the presence of these materials.
If the Phase II study does identify environmental problem/s, then the town would proceed to Phase III which would require remediating the problem/s.
Town Board, 9-3-2013
Bill Kellner voiced his support for the Depot Square concept, adding that the devil was in the details which still had to be worked out. Supervisor said that he has received new estimates totaling about $400,000 for the new highway garage and parks department garage. Councilman Paganelli noted that Eastchester is considering a new 26,000 square foot butler building garage but that the cost estimate for the fully outfitted building was $3 million.
Town Board, 8-13-2013
(Note: The discussion and subsequent votes went back and forth between the two Request for Proposals (RFPs) being requested by Supervisor Grace: hiring an architect to design the new buildings, and an environmental consultant for the Phase II study. For clarity, the following summary tries separate the two items.)
Highway and Parks building
Councilman Bianco questioned whether Supervisor Grace’s $300,000 estimated cost for the highway garage, noting that when two bays were added to the existing garage many years ago it cost $180,000. He said he wanted to see more numbers. He also raised the issue the county trailway that crossed the site, the need for input from DEC and DEP and he wanted to know who owned the Hill parcel, the sewer district or the town, Supervisor Grace said he had checked the records and that it was owned by the town. When Councilman Bianco suggested that any design wait for the new highway superintendent, Supervisor Grace said he wanted to take advantage of the outgoing superintendent’s 18 years of experience.
Councilman Paganelli said he wanted the project to be cost neutral to taxpayers, that he thought the sale of the property could bring in more money than the new garages would cost to build, but that he wanted to see more cost information in writing. Citing what appeared to be current commercial square foot construction costs, Supervisor Grace estimated that the 1½ acre site was worth $1.8, plus an unspecified amount for demolition and cleanup. He said the demolition cost would be absorbed by the purchaser and held out the possibility of brownfield grants for the cleanup. (Someone in the audience added: if any are available.) Councilman Paganelli noted that in Greenburgh, the buyer of the contaminated former Franks Nursery was obligated to pay for the cleanup. And in response to his question about what would happen to the existing Parks Department building in Downing Park, Supervisor Grace said that the department already had ideas for its future reuse.
Planning Director Tegeder suggested that the issue be broken up into small steps, with an initial step being getting more information about the cost factors. Councilman Bianco agreed with the idea but it wasn’t clear if he meant that town staff should gather some of the additional information before going out for an RFP or the RFP should generate the information.
After two votes were taken about the Phase II RFP (see below), Supervisor Grace said he would proceed with the RFP for the architect. (Note: it was not clear to the observer if there was a motion, second, or vote for this RFP
(Note: in a separate discussion, the Board decided to eliminate the sludge composting operation and instead awarded a bid to truck out the dried sludge as a cost saving measure, irregardless of a decision relating to the relocation of the highway garage.)
Phase II Environmental Study
Councilman Paganelli suggested that the issues of the removal of the highway garage and its relocation be taken up one at a time and that the town first get the quotes for the Butler buildings and then get input from the DEC and DEP in order to make sure that the Hill site is adequate. Councilman Murphy said he wanted to proceed with this RFP as he wanted to make sure the site was safe for the staff in the building and Supervisor Grace said it was irresponsible not to deal with a suspected contaminated site, even if it was a minimal contamination.
Supervisor Grace told the Board that going out for an RFP didn’t mean that that an award would be made and that there would be votes at every step. In response Councilman Bianco said that once the town did an RFP, a project typically moved ahead, to which Supervisor Grace responded: it doesn’t have to be that way.
When Councilman Patel suggested the Board wait until January and asked, “What’s the hurry?” Supervisor Grace said the town has already waited 14 years for this project, a point challenged by Councilman Bianco.
On a motion from Supervisor Graceto proceed with the RFP, seconded by Councilman Murphy, the Board voted 2-3 with Councilmen Bianoc, Paganelli and Patel voting against the motion.
After the vote, Councilman Paganelli asked town engineer Sharon Robinson, town attorney Jeannette Koster and Mr. Tegeder for their opinion about doing a Phase II. Ms. Robinson said that in the past, if a Phase I had been done, she recommended that a Phase II be done although, she added, Town Board’s haven’t always taken her advice. Mr. Tegeder said he had no objections to a Phase II RFP as it was only to determine what the cost would be to do one. He said advertising for an RFP did not mean the town had to actually select someone.
Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, said she supported the concept of relocating the highway garage but questioned Councilman Murphy on why he favored a Phase II now when he opposed having the town do a Phase II in 2010 when it was proceeding with the $2.3 Granite Knolls purchase . In response he said he opposed the purchase because he felt the property should have been foreclosed on but Councilman Bianco added that he did vote for the purchase. She also questioned why the town didn’t do Phase II studies on other town-owned property if it was concerned about the welfare of its employees. In response to her comment about why the rush to do a Phase II in the absence of any buyer, Supervisor Grace said he had at least four people interested in the property.
A second vote was called for (it wasn’t clear who made the motion or seconded it) and this time the Board voted 5-0 to advertise for the RFP.
Town Board, 8-6-2013
The supervisor explained his plan to eliminate the existing sludge composting operation on the Hill and use the site for a new 36,000 square foot highway garage, 20,000 square foot building for the Parks Department and a wash shed. According to figures compiled by the Town Engineer Robinson, he said that the town could save between $104,000 to $130,000 a year if it trucked out the sludge. The town is currently awaiting bids in order to get a firmer figure on the sludge removal cost.
Ms. Robinson explained that new regulations governing sludge composting would be more stringent beginning 2014. She estimated that the sewage treatment plant generates 20 tons of sludge per week; the sludge would be stored in 25 ton dumpsters before being trucked out.
In addition to the sludge savings, the supervisor said the new facilities would save the town money by increasing efficiency and reducing the wear and tear on town vehicles and equipment which could be stored inside. Based on figures he has gathered, he estimates that a large Butler building would cost $140,000-$300,000 and the smaller one for Parks about $140,000. He said there would be additional interior build out costs but he did not identify what those costs would be.
The second part of the presentation dealt with the plan to revitalize the highway garage site and the need for a Phase II environmental study. He showed the two architectural drawings of what a proposed new building would look like and repeated earlier comments that he has both developers and tenants interested in the site. He dismissed concerns about the site being contaminated as not a problem, explaining that the site was never continuously used as an industrial site and also because of where the garage was located; if there’s any contamination, he said, it would be further down the street, but that’s not where the town would be digging. (The supervisor also mentioned getting brownfield grants for any needed cleanup, but it wasn’t clear whether he was talking about the town getting the grants, or the developer, or whether the developer would be doing the cleanup.)
The supervisor said that the site had “real value” but did not disclose a number and Councilman Murphy thought the sale of the property could make money for the town. The supervisor also said that any future developer would save on soft costs as the town would get all the necessary approvals.
After he concluded his presentation, Supervisor Grace asked the Board to vote on resolutions to go out for two RFPS (Requests for proposals): one to hire an architect to begin planning the new highway garage and parks buildings and a second for the Phase II Environmental Study.
In response to the presentation, Councilman Bianco called the change in the sludge operation a “great idea” but was concerned that the supervisor’s cost figures which he said were too low; he didn’t believe them. He said he wanted more cost information before voting to hire an architect. He suggested that the Board deal with the sludge issue first, especially as the Board would have firmer cost figures on the sludge trucking alternative once the bids were received in about two weeks.
Councilman Paganelli was concerned that the Board was putting the “cart before the horse” and thought the town should discuss the issue first with DEC and DEP to see if the agencies had any objection to putting the garage on the Hill. In response, Supervisor Grace said he couldn’t believe the agencies would be against a plan that would remove the sludge composting operation from the watershed. And, in response to the Councilman’s question as to the future use of the current Parks building at Downing Park, the supervisor said it could be used for recreational programming.
When Councilman Patel suggested that any decision to move forward on the plan be postponed until a new Board took office in 2014, Supervisor Grace said he was not going to put off the project until January.
When it became apparent that some Board members had questions and were not ready to vote for the RFPs, Supervisor Grace asked the Board to think about the issue and that he would put it on the August 13 work session agenda for a vote.
(At Courtesy of the Floor, which was at the very end of the meeting, Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, asked the Board to either postpone a vote until September 3 when the public would have a chance to comment on the project, or let the public speak at the work session.)
Town Board, 6-25-2013
In an aside prior to another discussion, Supervisor Grace said he expected to ask the Town Board for $20,000-$25,000 for a Phase II study for the proposed project that had been unveiled earlier in the day at a press conference at the Chamber of Commerce office. He said he did not anticipate any major environmental issues as no factory had been located on the site and that when the nearby Yorktown Auto Body did a Phase II study, no problems were uncovered. Citing Greenburgh’s example with the former contaminated Frank’s Nursery site, Councilman Paganelli raised the issue of whether the potential buyer should pay for any possible remediation.
Town Board, 9-4-2012
Supervisor Grace said he was “hoping to get” a state grant to pay for the Phase II environmental study of the highway garage site that would be used as seed money for the future construction of a new “green” highway garage. He said that the town’s request for grant funds for his Route 202 plan had been “enthusiastically received” by state officials.
Town Board, 7-10-2012
Supervisor Grace said that now that the Phase I report for the highway garage site was done, he wanted the Board’s authorization to have the Planning Department submit an application to the state for a Consolidated Funding grant for Phase II.Board members had not seen the Phase I report.Both Councilman Bianco and Paganelli said they had no problem with submitting the application as long as it didn’t involve the expenditure of any Town funds. The board voted to authorize the submission.
Town Board, 6-19-2012
The CIY observer learned, quite by accident, late Wednesday afternoon, that the Town Board met in an open session at 5pm Tuesday, prior to going into closed session for interviews for the Comptroller position, to discuss authorizing Phase I and Phase II environmental studies for the Highway Garage. Several department heads were in attendance. The Board apparently voted to spend $2,100 for a Phase I study but not authorize the Phase II. It then went into Executive session before reconvening in open session at 7:30pm.
Town Board, 4/17/2012
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 it 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.
Town Board, 4/10/2012
Saying that the board should have an idea of what the Town’s long term infrastructure needs are before it decides to spend money on a project, Supervisor Grace asked Planning Director John Tegeder to come up with a prioritized list of potential projects.Mr. Tegeder gave the board copies of the capital projects list his department compiled last year based on input from department heads and he said he would ask department heads for an updated list.
In addition to citing a leak in the Police Department roof, Supervisor Grace repeated his interest in relocating the highway garage to the Hill on Greenwood Street so that the current site, which he called an eyesore in the center of town, could be redeveloped. He envisioned holding a forum with area stakeholders, much like the Route 202 forum, to discuss a future village-like area that could include Railroad Park and Richard Place.
In response, Councilman Paganelli expressed concern about potential environmental issues on the site. These were dispelled by Highway Superintendent DiBartolo who joined the conversation midway through the discussion. Mr. DiBartolo said that the area had been cleaned up several years ago when additions were put on the original building that was constructed in 1957. He went on to highlight the advantages of centralizing all the Town’s equipment in one location, adding how much better Downing Park would look if the existing Parks Department maintenance facility could be relocated to the Hill. He estimated that the proposed “butler building” type of structure could cost $500,000-$600,000.
Joining the discussion, Acting Town Engineer Sharon Robinson advised the board that given the site’s proximity to the Hallocks Mill stream and its location in the watershed, state and city regulatory agencies might have a problem with siting a highway garage on the Hill, adding that even within the NYS DEC, one unit likes the existing leaf recycling pile while another unit is concerned about runoff into the nearby stream which feeds into the Croton Reservoir.
Citing the rotting windows behind the board table as an example, Councilman Patel raised the issue of other possible high priority infrastructure needs.
Town Board, 10-21-2014
The board opened the public hearing on amendments to Proper5ty Maintenance law regarding collection bins
Howard Frank was the only person who spoke during the hearing. He suggested that the bins be located near fire hydrants and where there were street lights. He also called the board’s attention to two problem bins on Veterans Road across from the YCCC. In response to his comment that the property owners should pay a monthly fee, Supervisor Grace explained that there will be an annual fee for each bin.
The hearing was closed and the board adopted the new law with a 3-0 vote.
In a related action, the board awarded the RFP for picking up recycled textiles from town collection points to USAgain for one year. The company will pay 10cents per pound. Kim Angliss Gage, the Recyclnig Coordinator said that the new program would begin in 2015. In addition to being able to drop off items in five bins on town property, items will be able to be dropped off at the recycling office on 14 designated collection days. Also, clear plastic collection bags will be provided free of charge for pick up during the regularly schedule bulk pick ups.
Town Board, 9-23-2014
RFP: Kim Angliss Gage, head of the Recycling Department, reported that the town had received four responses to the RFP for companies to pick up textiles from bins located on town property and also the proposed pick up at homes. Focusing in on the differences between two companies that both offered to pay 10cents/pound, she recommended to the board, and the board accepted her recommendation, to go with the company that would base the payment strictly on pounds collected and with a one year contract. The company’s software will be able to track the volume of collections at the 5-6 sites the town anticipates placing collection bins (possible sites are: 2 at town hall, Shrub Oak pool, library, Sparkle Lake, and possibly the YCCC) so the bins could be moved based on actual usage. In addition, Ms. Gage is proposing to spend about $2,000 to purchase clear plastic bags that will be made available to homeowners who want to dispose of textiles at curbside.
Law: Town Attorney Koster reviewed the text of a draft law that would allow businesses to apply for permits to have collection bins on their property. The permits would be granted by the building inspector, or the approval authority if the location involved a site plan. Based on feedback from the board, she will make changes to the draft governing the number of bins permitted on site (it will be a sliding scale based on acreage). The board agreed to a $300/year fee on the theory that the town’s goal was to restrict the number of bins. A public hearing on a revised draft is expected October 21. Supervisor Grace said that as this law would be something very new, the town could always amend the law after a year based on experience.
Town Board, 9-2-2014
Explaining that the town has been in the forefront of efforts to encourage the recycling of used and unneeded textiles, the board voted to support a statewide textile recycling program.
Town Board, 7-8-2014
Refuse & Recycling Coordinator Kim Angliss Gage and Town Attorney Jeannette Koster discussed the parameters of a proposed local law regulating the placement of clothing recycling bins on private property. Based on the discussion, the attorney will draft a local law that will require property owners wishing to place bins on their property to obtain a special permit from the Planning Board at an initial cost of between $300-$500 per bin, with an annual renewal fee of about $150. (Councilman Murphy noted that currently the owners of the bins are paying $75/month to the property owners.) The Planning Board would review the location of the bins, as well as the possible number of bins, based on site plan conditions.
Bins currently located on private property would be subject to a Notice of Violation if, once the new law is passed, they did not apply for and receive the permits.
Ms. Koster said she would have a draft of the new law ready in a month’s time.
Supervisor Grace directed Ms. Gage to notify the one company that has a 15 year old contract to locate a bin in the commuter parking lot next to town hall that the agreement will be terminated. She is also to notify other vendors with bins on town property that they are to remove their unauthorized bins. The supervisor added that he would like to “clean-up” the remaining eyesores in the lot.
Town Board, 7-1-2014
Will advertise an RFP for a program that will give residents options for disposing of unwanted textiles.
Town Board, 6-10-2014
Refuse and Recycling Coordinator Kim Angliss-Gage presented a two pronged approach to resolving the issue. The first part will be to amend the zoning ordinance to allow commercial property owners to apply for a special permit to have the bins on their property. The town attorney will draw up the legislation for a special permit provision which the board hopes will be ready for a public hearing on August 5.
The second part provides for the town to set up collection boxes at various locations and issue an RFP (request for proposal) for vendors who would pick up from the town’s collection points and give the town a share of the profits from the sale of the recycled items. It was not clear if there would textile pickups at individual homes. Ms. Angliss-Gage has prepared a draft RFP which will be advertised at a future meeting.
Town Board, 2-25-2014
Citing the proliferation of clothing bins, Supervisor Grace said something needed to be done about the problem. He suggested that either the town establish a licensing program for the bins and recoup some of the revenue that the bins generate, or enforce an existing law that allows the town to confiscate the non-approved bins and destroy them. He said he would ask Kim Angliss-Gage, the town’s recycling coordinator to weigh in on both approaches.
The supervisor explained that for profit companies pay businesses approximately $75 a month to place a bin on their property, even though the bin may be in violation of the approved site plan, and that the company then makes an arrangement with a not-for-profit group to put its name on the bin in return for a portion of the proceeds from selling the contents for their rag value.
Town Board, November 14 & 15, 2013
(Note; the following discussion was held with Kim Angliss Gage, the town's recycling cooridnator, during her department's 2014 budget review with the Town Board.)
Supervisor Grace initiated a discussion about the proliferation of used clothing collection bins throughout town. After Ms. Angliss Gage explained that the two licenses only two vendors: Goodwill and Ragas Unlimited which sends the town a check each year (she did not specific the amount), Supervisor Grace said that the town may want to consider licensing the other vendors as a source of revenue. He said his office has received complaints from some businesses where storage bins have been placed without the property owner’s consent, although Councilman Paganelli noted that in some instances, the businesses agree to having the bins on their property in exchange for getting a share of the profits made by the collection vendors.
Town Board Vacancy
Town Board, 1-6-2014
Although not on the agenda, after I raised the issue the issue, the board voted to hold a special election to fill the two vacancies on the Town Board on Tuesday, March 10.
At the beginning of the meeting, I expressed surprise that there was no draft resolution on the agenda calling for a special election as Supervisor Grace had advised me the day before that he had no interest in appointing anyone to the board, and indeed had not even reached out to the two registered Republicans I had suggested to him for the one year Bianco seat. As I had made it clear at the December 19 and December 31 meetings that if the board could not come to an agreement on one or two appointments by January 6, I was prepared to vote for the special elections at the January 6 meeting, I had expected a resolution would have been prepared. None was.
When Supervisor Grace said he was prepared to call for a vote based on an oral resolution, both Councilman Patel and I repeated the position we have stated on more than one occasion that, with the exception of emergency resolutions, we wanted written copies of resolutions at least 24 hours in advance of any vote so that we have time to review the resolutions. However, in order not to have to wait another week to vote on the election, we agreed that if the town attorney drafted a short written resolution, we would vote for it. Which she did, and we so voted.
Note: Unlike regular town elections when voters select two councilmen and the two candidates with the highest number of votes win, for the special election, there will be two separate positions on the ballot since the two seats have different expiration dates. The ballot will indicate which candidates are running for which seat.
Town Board, 12-16-2014
As Town Board observers know, the Courtesy of the Floor segment of board meetings can always be a surprise. And it certainly was on Tuesday when approximately 12 people addressed the board asking for a special election to fill the two vacancies and citing the November referendum that was overwhelmingly supported by the voters. Supervisor Grace and Councilman Murphy made a motion and second calling for a special election on March 2 just to fill the vacant Bianco seat; the motion was defeated 2-2 when Councilman Patel and I voted against it.
In explaining my vote, and in response to the public comments, I repeated my position that my goal was to get the board up to full strength as of January 7th and that one way to accomplish that goal would be by agreeing to we to two appointments. (I pointed out that the special election law retained the board’s ability to fill vacancies by appointment for a 30 day period before considering a special election.) When Supervisor Grace rejected that compromise position for a second time, I told him I would get back to him with a second, and different, compromise option.
Town Board, 12-2-2014
In an item not on the agenda, I raised the issue of the vacancies on the Town Board. I suggested that in the spirit of cooperation and compromise, and to bring the board up to full strength as soon as possible, that simultaneously Supervisor Grace appoint one person and Councilman Patel and I appoint the other and that neither side have a veto over the other’s selection. The appointments could be made on January 6 and the new members would serve through the end of the year.
Supervisor Grace and Councilman Murphy rejected the suggestion. Supervisor Grace said he was not going to engage in any “horse trading” and Councilman Murphy said that after spending months debating “may” and “shall” versions of the special election law, the voters wanted an election. In response, I reminded him that the recently passed special election law gave the board the option to fill vacancies by appointment for a period of 30 days.
Supervisor Grace and Councilman Murphy made two separate motions to fill Councilman Bianco’s seat (the only vacancy that currently exists) by special election. The motion died with a 2-2.
Town Board, 11-25-2014
(Note: At the Supervisor’s direction, Councilwoman-elect Siegel did not participate in this discussion.)
Supervisor Grace indicated that he wanted to proceed with a discussion of appointing someone to fill former Councilman Bianco’s seat. When Councilman Murphy suggested that the discussion be expanded to discuss the filling both vacant seats so that the board could plan for the situation as of January 1, Deputy Town Clerk Quast advised the board that it could only discuss one vacancy as only one vacancy currently existed.
When Councilman Patel indicated that one possible approach was for each group to appoint one person, Supervisor Grace said he was “shocked” by the councilman’s changed position and the councilman responded that circumstances were different.
The discussion ended without any resolution.
Town Board, 10-7-2014
Sheila Schraier expressed disappointment that the special election law for filling vacancies of elected officials and which will be a referendum question on the November ballot uses the word “may” instead of “shall.” She said the “may” version could lead to the same gridlock that the board experienced this year.
Town Board, 9-16-2014
Councilman Bianco said that while he preferred the “shall” version, he could go along with the “may” version, adding that the “may” version could be changed at a future date.
When Councilman Patel made a motion to adopt the “shall” version, Councilman Bianco seconded it, but the motion died when Councilman Murphy and Supervisor Grace voted against it.
When Councilman Bianco then made a motion to adopt the “may” version, the motion passed with three votes. Councilman Patel voted against it.
The law will now be put on the November ballot as a referendum question.
Town Board, 9-2-2014
(Note: two separate hearings on the “may” and the “shall” versions were opened and closed. The following summary combines the comments on both hearings. Supervisor Grace explained that the vote will take place on September 16 so that Councilman Bianco would be able to vote. )
Supervisor Grace explained that that major difference between the two versions was that the “may” version gave the board some discretion about scheduling a special election that could take into account when the vacancy occurred. i.e., avoiding holding a special election immediately before the November general election. He said the “shall” version did not have this flexibility, an interpretation questioned by Susan Siegel (the person writing this summary.) Ms. Siegel said she supported the “shall” version, but believed that the two options for filling the vacancy by election (a special election or the general election) gave the board the flexibility it needed.
Sheila Schraier said the “may” version was too “wishy washy” and left too much wiggle room and suggested the word be changed to “must,” a change supported by Mark Michaels and Ed Ciffone. Supervisor Grace stated that in law “shall” means must and Town Attorney Koster said that the difference between may and shall has been argued in court and that depending on the context, “may” could mean “shall.” She said she had no problem with the “shall” version.
In response to a question from Babette Ballinger, Supervisor Grace stated that if the “may” version had been in effect this year, there might not have been a special election to fill the vacant seat. In general, he said he’d rather have three NO votes on the board than a 2-2 split.
Mara Ziedins suggested that if the board were to appoint someone to fill the vacancy that the person be of the same party as that of the vacated seat.
Town Board, 8-5-2014
The board set September 2 for a public hearing on two different and new versions of a local law dealing with filling vacancies in elected positions. (Note: The town clerk said copies of both versions would be put on the town’s web site, www.yorktownny.org.)
Initially, the only version on the table would have given the board 30 days to fill the vacancy by appointment and if that did not happen, the vacancy “may” be filled by the board calling for a special election or waiting until the next general election.
After Councilman Patel raised concern about the possibility that a future board could find itself in another deadlock over appointment or a 2-2 vote to hold a special election, the board agreed to a second version that changed the “may” to “shall.”
Both versions will include new language stating that the special election be held not less than 60 days or more than 90 days from the date the election is called for.
Town Board, 7-8-2014
Having been given two versions of the proposed law, one with and one without a 30-day appointment option, the board appeared to agree to proceed with the 30-day option version, but with some additional tweaking. Supervisor Grace, in a change of position, said he would work with the town attorney to make the changes and that he would support the law.
As currently proposed, in the event of a vacancy for any elected official, except town justice, the law would give the board the option to appoint someone within 30 days of the vacancy occurring. If no appointment is made, the board would call for a special election. However, depending on how close to the November general election the vacancy occurred, there might not be time to hold a special election.
The revised text will also clarify that in the event the position is not filled by appointment, the person elected at a special election would take office as soon as the Board of Elections has certified the winner. If an appointment is made (and a person is elected to fill the unexpired term at a November election), the appointed person would serve until the end of the calendar year and the newly elected person would begin serving as of January 1.
Town Board, 6-18-2014
At the conclusion of the Spectra discussion, Councilman Bianco asked if the board was going to take up the revised drafts of the special election law that had also been on the June 10 agenda. The answer was no, and there was no discussion.
Town Board, 6-10-2014
Although a revised special election law was on the agenda, it was not discussed because a quorum was not present.
Town Board, 5-20-2014
Based on comments made during the hearing, from board members as well as residents, the board voted 2-2 to not adopt the law as proposed and then directed the town attorney to prepare a third draft for a new public hearing that addressed the concerns discussed during the hearing. Councilmen Bianco and Patel voted for the law as is and Councilman Bianco asked why Yorktown was having a problem enacting a law that the county and other towns already had.
As written, the law would have given the board 30 days to decide on an appointment to fill the vacancy. If no agreement was reached, the board “shall, at its next regularly scheduled meeting… call for and set a date for a special election...” Town Clerk Roker said that she has asked the Board of Election commissioners to review the draft and that they had no problem with its provisions. Councilman Bianco said the 30 day appointment time frame coupled with the special election provision gave the board options.
During the hearing, four issues were raised.
1. If the board was deadlocked 2-2, how could it vote to set a date for the special election?
It was agreed that to avoid this possibility, the language should be revised to mandate that the special election take place – while preserving the 30 day appointment option. Supervisor Grace argued the law should be appointment or election and not both.
2. Should the board be allowed to consider an appointment, after the initial 30 day period had expired?
Councilman Murphy suggested the law allow the board to make an appointment even after the special election date had been set – but before the election actually took place. Several residents spoke in opposition to this suggestion, noting that it would be unfair to candidates who spent money preparing for the election to suddenly have the election canceled. It would also mean that the money the town spent to set up the election would be wasted. The board appeared in agreement to reject this suggestion.
3. When would the special election take place?
Given the uncertainty as to when a position might become vacant, e.g., resulting in the death of an elected official, Supervisor Grace raised the possibility that a special election could be held just before the November election, something that didn’t make sense. He also noted that if the vacancy occurs on January 1, the election couldn’t take place until the end of April/early May at the earliest.
When Ms. Roker advised the board that state Election Law, which she said takes precedence over local law, addresses the timing issue and would apply to Yorktown, Supervisor Grace said that local law takes precedence over state law.
4. How would candidates for the special election be selected?
It was explained that under state Election Law, for special elections, the political parties choose their candidates but that nominating petitions, required for regular elections, are not required. Supervisor Grace thought this was unfair because it didn’t give party members an opportunity to challenge the parties’ selection in a primary challenge. In response to the question of how independent candidates could get on the ballot, it was explained that they would have to get petitions, but that there was likely to be a short time period for them to get the required number of signatures. This discussion also raised the issue of which law takes precedence: state Election Law or a local law.
The board directed the town attorney and the town clerk to meet with the Board of Elections commissioners to review the legal issues and prepare a new draft law for discussion at the next board meeting.
Town Board, 4-22-2014
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.
In a related matter....
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.
Town Board, 4-15-2014
Town Attorney Jeannette Koster explained that although the board had asked her to draw up the proposed law, she was not given a lot of guidance on what to include in the law. As a result, she used a somewhat similar law from another town, consulted with town Clerk Roker and also put in her own thoughts.
The law, which would go into effect in 2015 if approved by the voters in a November election, would call for the vacancy to be filled by a special election if the Town Board didn’t appoint someone within 30 days after the position became vacant.
After several problems, some minor, others more significant, with the proposed law were identified during the hearing, by Supervisor Grace as well as some speakers, the board voted unanimously to reject the proposed law and then, in a 3-1 vote, with Supervisor Grace voting no, directed the town attorney to prepare a new law that reflected the following significant changes.
1. the law should make clear that the person elected at a special election would serve for the remainder of the term left vacant. The first draft only had the newly elected person serving until the end of the year.
2. the law will add the town justice position so that it covers all elected officials.
3. if the board cannot agree on an appointment within 30 days after the vacancy occurs, a special election will be held even if there’s a 2-2 split on the board about holding a special election. (For a resolution to be approved, it requires three affirmative votes.) In the first draft, it was ambiguous as to what would happen if there was a 2-2 split.
4. The law will have both “not less than” and “not greater than” dates for setting the date of the special election. The first draft did not have an outside date.
During the hearing, both Tony Grasso and Gary Ajello, both former councilmen, called on the board to fill the current vacancy for the remainder of 2014 by appointment . Mr. Grasso, who was adamant that the board do its job, also argued that the board’s previous vote to appoint Rich Campanaro which received two ayes and two abstentions was sufficient to appoint Mr. Campanaro. (See below for more about Mr. Campanaro. ) Mr. Ajello called for picking the person from a lottery containing the names of all former board members.
Supervisor Grace repeated his opposition to any version of the proposed law stating that it was the board’s responsibility to fill the vacancy by appointment. When he began to say that holding special elections would be an unnecessary cost, Town Clerk Alice Roker said that wasn’t the case, but no specific cost numbers were given.
Ed Ciffone asked that the board be polled to see if there would be three votes in support of a revised, but board members responded that the board could not make a decision without a law in front of them.
After the public hearing was closed and the votes taken, Supervisor Grace made a motion to appoint Mr. Campanaro, repeating the reasons he gave at the April 8 meeting. After the motion was seconded by Councilman Murphy, Lisa McKay, speaking on behalf of the Democratic Town Committee, stated that the Committee does not support the appointment and that Mr. Campanaro had advised the executive committee of his intention to switch back his registraiton to the Republicann Party which prompted Counciklman Bianco to say, "hat's what this is all about," and Supervisor Grace advised Ms. McKay that any further comments she wanted to make should be at the second coourtesy of the floor but that the board did not entertain comments from the public when it was voting on motions.
After the board voted 2-2, this time with Councilmen Bianco and Patel voting no, Councilman Bianco repeated that he would not discuss the appointment in open session, citing the opinion of the town attorney. When Supervisor Grace disagreed with him, the councilman advised the supervisor that he wasn’t the town attorney.
Town Board, 4-8-2014
Supervisor Grace proposed appointing Rich Campanaro, and speaking directly to Councilman Patel, said that the latter should have no problem with that appointment because Mr. Campanaro received only a couple of hundred vogtes less than he did and ran on the same Democratic ticket. In response, Councilman Patel said that one vote made a difference. The Supervisor then made a motion to appoint Mr. Campanaro that was seconded by Councilman Murphy. The ensuing vote was two for Mr. Campanaro and two abstentions. Councilman Bianco said it made no difference whether he voted no or abstained and repeated his earlier position that he would not discuss the appointment issue in open session.
Town Board, 3-25-2014
Citing the need to have a five member board when difficult issues comes up, Rosemary Panio and Aaron Bock, speaking on behalf on the Chamber of Commerce, said that the board should fill the vacancy by appointment. Ms. Panio said that the board should choose someone who wasn’t going to run in November and who had demonstrated that they could look at issues objectively and had experience on a decision making board. She said that the Chamber had been discussing plans for an industrial park with the county and wanted to be able to work with the town as a partner.
Lisa McKay, executive director of the Democratic Town Committee, approached the board and read a statement in support of the proposed local law (see below) and stressing the fact that it was a fundamental right of the people to choose the board member.
At one point, when Supervisor Grace suggested that a Republican should be appointed to replace a seat vacated by a Republican, Town Clerk Roker (a Democrat), advised the supervisor, “Not to go there.”
While Ms. McKay cited statistics showing that the board has been able to function since the vacancy occurred and that there have been no tie votes, Supervisor Grace said that the resolutions that had been passed unanimously dealt with ministerial issues only and that things needed to get gone.
Proposed local law requiring special elections to fill vacancies
Supervisor Grace said he opposed the law which would call for special elections if the board could not agree on an appointment within 30 days after the vacancy occurred. He said the law would be time consuming and costly, could lead to multiple elections in succession, and could stymie town processes, saying it would be dangerous to constrain the workings of the town if the board had to wait for an election to take place.
Town Clerk Roker pointed out that if the vacancy occurred close to the time of a November election, state election law would take precedence over the local law. If passed, the law would not go into effect until 2015.
The board voted 3-1, with Supervisor Grace voting no, to schedule a public hearing on the law for April 15. “Do what you want. I don’t think it’s worthwhile,” he said. Because of the law’s limited content, the board decided there was no need to refer out the draft law to advisory boards or departments.
Town Board, 3-18-2014
During courtesy of the floor, Ed Ciffone 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.
Town Board, 3-11-2014
After Councilman Bianco said he would not make public the three names he was suggesting to his fellow board members to fill the vacancy but would discuss the matter in a closed session, Town Attorney Koster suggested that the board members meet in pairs to discuss potential candidates. Supervisor Grace said he had no problem with such caucuses. (Note: by state law, when at least three members of the board are together to discuss town business, the meeting is considered an official meeting that must be properly noticed and conducted in the open unless it falls within the exceptions that can be discussed in closed executive sessions.)
After the board agreed to these informal discussions, Councilman Bianco asked about the status of the proposed local law that had been discussed at the previous meeting that would have allowed the town to hold special elections to fill any future vacancy on the board. In response, Supervisor Grace said he was having second thoughts about the wisdom of such a law which would take the appointment power away from the board. Ms. Koster then explained that the local law could be written in such a way that it preserved the board’s ability to appoint someone within a fixed number of days after the position became vacant (she suggested possibly 30 days) and that if the board couldn’t agree within that time frame, the position would be filled by a special election. Both she and Town Clerk Roker said there were timing issues with special elections but they did not elaborate on what those problems were.
Councilman Bianco asked that a draft local law be discussed at the board’s next meeting.
Town Board, 3-4-2014
Noting that the board has known for five months about the vacancy, Dan Lefkowitz asked the board what it planned to do about filling the vacancy which he said should be done. In response, Supervisor Grace said that he planned to have a discussion with the board next week and hoped there would be a consensus on an appointment.
Town Board, 2-25-2014
Supervisor Grace said he wanted to move forward to appoint someone to fill the position until December 31, something, he said, the board should have done sooner. He said the town had an obligation and responsibility to fill the position and avoid the possibility of a 2-2 split vote, especially since there were likely to be some controversial issues coming before the board. (The only potentially controversial issue he identified was the convalescent home.) He said he wasn’t looking for someone who necessarily agreed with him and that disagreements among board members was healthy. He also noted the problems that could occur if one or two board members were absent from meetings and that it was his obligation to do the town’s business in a timely manner.
He said he had submitted three names to the other board members (two democrats and one republican) and asked them to also submit three names. Initially, he said that the other councilmen had not submitted requests, but then acknowledged that Councilman Bianco had submitted names. When he was ready to make his selections public, Councilman Bianco said the names should be kept private.
Councilman Murphy said that in a town of 36,000 people, it was a shame that the four board members couldn’t agree on a name. It was time, he said, for the board members to act like grown-ups.
When Councilmen Bianco and Patel stated that they believed the vacancy should be filled by a special election so that the people could decide, the town attorney, acknowledging that her previous opinion regarding a special election was in error, said that before a special election could be held, the board would first have to pass a local law that would be subject to a mandatory referendum, and that only if the referendum passed, the board could then schedule a special election. Given the time these steps would take, she advised the board that holding a special election was not practical. Citing her changing legal opinion, Councilman Bianco asked the attorney for a clarification. (The board also learned that the Board of Elections has set June 24 as primary election day for federal elections.) Councilman Bianco also pointed to the fact that the board has functioned with four members, citing the many resolutions it had unanimously passed that night.
In response to Councilmen Bianco and Patel, Super visor Grace said that in our representative form of government, the people elected the representatives who would make the decisions and that the elected officials didn’t have to go back to the voters very time they needed to make decisions. He said that holding a special election politicized the issue.
Councilmen Patel and Bianco said they had no problem with advancing the local law about a special election so that it could be ready if needed at a future date, but they held firm in their belief that the current vacancy should be filled by special election.
Supervisor Grace asked the board members to consider the issue again prior to next week’s board meeting at which time they could discuss the appointment issue again in closed session.
Greenwood Street Organic Recycling Facility
Town Board, 11-12-2015 (2016 budget review meeting)
This was a joint discussion involving the R&R Department. Both Superintendent Paganelli and Ms. Angliss –Gage agree that this operation should be/can be changed to create a revenue stream. The issue is how. (The nature of the operation changed in late 2013 after a specialized piece of machinery broke down; since then an outside vendor has been processing the material.)
Based on how the site has been used in the past, it is being suggested that the facility be open 3 days a week (Friday, Saturday, and Monday) from mid-April to mid-November and be staffed those times by one person from highway and a seasonal employee. Disposal would be limited to residents only; no commercial landscaping companies would be permitted. At issue is whether to begin charging a fee for disposal, or rely on the sale of the fine mulch end product to landscapers (for residents, the mulch could be free) to cover the expenses. Mr. Paganelli and Ms. Angliss-Gage will refine their numbers, work out the details and report back to the board. No changes in the sharing of expenses for the operation will be made in the 2016 budget.
It was also suggested that the Parks Department would be able to save money if it “purchased” the mulch produced on the Hill rather than from an outside vendor.
Town Board, 8-12-2014
Highway Superintendent Paganelli advised the board that the 90-day license for R&S Waste Services to clean up the backlog had expired on July 28 but that the situation is “not what we want it to be” due to equipment breakdowns. Given the fact that the RFP for a long term solution has not yet been prepared, and that the RFP process would take at least two months before a new vendor could be selected, he recommended, and the board agreed, to a 90-day extension of the R&S contract to run through October 28. He said that commercial operators had been prohibited from depositing material on the site for the past six weeks.
On the positive side, Mr. Paganelli said that the quality of the mulch, which is the end project of the grinding, was very high and that currently there is no mulch left.
Town Board, 8-5-2014
Susan Siegel (the person writing this summary), asked whether homeowners would still be able to bring brush to the site once the 90 day license with R&S Waste Services expired (which had, or was about to happen) and with no new plan in place for the future operation of the facility. In response, Highway Superintendent Paganelli said he hoped to have a discussion about the long term RFP (Request for Proposal) at next week’s board meeting and that in the interim residents would still be able to bring brush to the site.
Town Board, 6-10-2014
In an item not on the agenda, Highway Superintendent Paganelli gave the board an update on the status of the hill clean-up. It was not clear how much of the brush/log backlog had been removed, but he did say that the operator had been experiencing equipment breakdowns. If the backlog is not taken care of in time, he said the town could use its fallback position which he did not identify. He said the Parks Department had been able to take a sizable amount of mulch for its use and that as part of a general clean-up of the site, staff from his department had uncovered buried light poles. Before auctioning off the poles with some trucks, Mr. Paganelli will consult with the Planning Department about possible uses for the light poles.
Although listed on the agenda, there was no discussion about the RFP for a permanent solution for the operation of the facility. (When Mr. Paganelli informally asked the town attorney whether the issue would be discussed, she simply shook her head no.)
Town Board, 5-13-2014
In a update, Highway Superintendent Paganelli advised the board that R&S Waste Services had completed processing about 20% of the backlog, adding that more could have been accomplished had the company’s equipment not broken down.
In response to Councilman Bianco’s question to the town attorney as to the status of the RFP for a permanent solution to the issue (the current R&S license is only for 90 days), Ms. Koster said the document wasn’t done yet and appeared to indicate that it wouldn’t be ready by the board’s next meeting. She then had a short private conversation with Councilman Bianco.
Town Board, 4-22-2014
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.
Town Board, 4-8-2014
Supervisor Grace explained that R&S, the company that currently has the garbage contract, has submitted a proposal to take over the town’s Greenwood Street recycling program for brush and logs. According to Highway Superintendent Paganelli, there is now an overwhelming 13 month backlog of material on the site, some of which dates back to Hurricane Sandy, that hasn’t been processed – with more material coming in every day – and the town has stopped having commercial companies dispose of their debris at the site (see January 28, 2014). The problem was exacerbated with the November breakdown of the machine that grinds the logs and brush. Mr. Paganelli estimated that it would cost the town $80,000 to remove what’s already on the site. The disposition of the damaged equipment was not clear but Mr. Paganelli said it was covered by insurance.
The proposal calls for R&S, or one of its affiliated companies, to bring its equipment to the hill and process new material it would bring to the site in addition to the town’s material. The company would also process the backlog. The company would then sell the chips to its existing customers. The town would give the company a license to do the processing. (Note: There was no discussion of bidding out the work.)
R&S chairman Joseph Spiezio estimated that his proposal would save the town about $300,000 a year, but Mr. Paganelli offered a more conservative savings of about $250,000, mostly due to the elimination of two full time workers plus seasonal workers, plus savings on fuel and equipment costs. However, when Councilman Bianco asked if that meant that the highway department would lay off two workers, Mr. Paganelli said no, he would reassign the workers, which prompted Councilman Bianco to add: “so there won’t be a savings.”
Recycling Coordinator Kim Anglis-Gage whose department is responsible for the town’s brush and Christmas tree pick-up program, added that it would still be necessary to have an attendant on the site to make sure that people didn’t bring inappropriate items, like construction debris, to the site. Noting that she had not been informed earlier about this proposal, she also asked about how much space the R&S proposal would use and how this would work for the proposed relocation of the highway and parks department garages. In response, Supervisor Grace said that there was ample space on the site for both uses, especially after the backlogged material was disposed of. Councilman Bianco also expressed concern about the possibility of other inappropriate items being brought to the site.
When Councilman Bianco asked Mr. Spiezio about the existence of a violation for the Front Street location where his garbage trucks are parked, he said there was no violation, only a “notice to remedy.” He also said he had no plans to park the garbage trucks on the hill.
When Councilman Patel suggested that the town do a study of how other towns handle their brush, Mr. Paganelli said that other towns use different companies to handle their brush.
Councilman Murphy said he saw no problem giving the company a one year license to “clean up the disaster. “Why are we even discussing this?” he asked. Supervisor Grace also supported the idea that he said would benefit the town by freeing up space on the hill, but he did add that there could be some issues with a DEC permit.
While he supported the idea in theory, Mr. Paganelli said the devil was in the details, including what type of material the company would process, as well as the traffic to and from the site. He noted that the R&S proposal calls for less traffic but larger trucks.
The discussion ended with no further action taken.