2018 is now history. Very pleased that so much was accomplished. Here are just some of the highlights.
1) Town complies with the tax cap. Our tax increases have never exceeded the tax cap since the State Legislature and Governor offered the incentive to local governments. NYS enacted the tax cap to encourage communities to help end our state's distinction of being the highest taxed communities in the United States. Other communities in Westchester exceeded the tax cap this year.
2) Town maintains Aaa bond rating from Moody's & Standard & Poor's bond rating agency. We have the highest bond rating possible. As a result, when we borrow our costs are reduced by six figures!
3) Election great for Greenburgh-- the mid term elections were excellent for Greenburgh. Our Congresswoman, Nita Lowey is the new chair of the House Appropriations Committee. She will be responsible for all federal appropriations. Our State Senator, Andrea Stewart Cousins is the new Majority Leader of the NYS State Senate --one of the most powerful leaders in NYS. And, Congressman-elect Sean Casten from Illinois is a graduate of WOodlands HS and Phil Weiser, my first campaign manager for Town Supervisor is the new Attorney General of Colorado.
4 the town was able to accept prepayments of town taxes in 2017, enabling participating taxpayers to deduct the town portion of the real estate taxes (before the new law took effect. --many residents took advantage of the opportunity to deduct a large portion of their real estate taxes one last time. Hope that the federal government will authorize deductions in the future and repeal that portion of the law. NYS authorized charitable deductions of property taxes but the IRS indicated that the deductions would not be allowed.
5) The Greenburgh police were successful in closing down spa's involved in sex trafficking on Central Ave and around town. News12 praised the Greenburgh police efforts.
6) Groundbreaking -start of construction for new assisted living facility at the former Frank's nursery. For years the nursery was the subject of lots of controversy over potential uses. We worked with the community and reached a compromise! The property has been cleaned by the developer.
7) Taking steps to revitalize 4 corners in Hartsdale. The Town Board sent a proposed vision plan to the Planning Board and we purchased two old building on W Hartsdale Ave that could be removed and used for an eventual right turn turning lane --to reduce traffic congestion on W Hartsdale Ave. During the budget process the Board appropriated $150,000 to study traffic and stormwater issues.
8) Students stepped up and helped organize the winter 2018 snow angels program-- helping seniors and disabled residents after each snow storm. The snow angel program will soon begin our 28th year of service to the community.
9) 36 student interns worked at Town Hall this summer and lobbied NYS to repave NYS roads located in Greenburgh. They met with the regional director of the NYS Department of Transportation, our state lawmakers. They organized on line petitions and their efforts attracted the attention of the media. They worked with the Town Attorney, Town Clerk who arranged for interesting meetings with prominent community leaders and learned about government. Today's interns will become tomorrow's officials!
10) The Town Board approved plans to upgrade our website: www.greenburghny.com. Implementation scheduled for 2019. Less clutter. Easier to find info you need. You can sign up to receive fewer e mails and town notifications if you wish.
11) We received a grant to study ways to improve the 119 corridor - and are working with other localities and NYS to make the corridor more bicycle friendly.
12) Working with the Greenburgh Nature Center, Greenburgh opened up a food scrap recycling drop off location at AF Veteran Park. The program is enormously successful and we hope to eventually have curbside pickup of food scraps. We're expanding the initiative to the villages within the town. Westchester County acknowledged the town and Nature Center and awarded us their Eco Award for outstanding contribution to the county’s environment. The Nature Center also expanded their zero waste education effort in our local schools and community organizations
13) In February the police chief announced that burglaries are at the lowest level since we started recording burglaries. Thank you Greenburgh Police.
14) A major new restaurant, Shake Shack opens on Central Ave creating momentum for the Avenue.
15) The Town Board appointed a highly qualified new Town Judge - Christie D'Alessio who was elected to a full term as Judge.
16) During the first quarter of the year many residents experienced power outages. Thankful to the CERT volunteers who provided emergency shelter and assistance to neighbors without power. And thank you to the Greenburgh Police for responding providing help to those neighborhoods that experienced downed trees.
17) Although the town foreclosed on properties that hadn't paid taxes we were able to help hundreds of families and property owners avoid foreclosure by putting them in touch with non profits and groups who were able to help them come up with a plan to save their properties. We auctioned off properties that the town now owns.
18) Greenburgh is a diverse community. We celebrated the 17th year of the Evergreen Chinese Club- which meets at the Theodore Young Community Center.
19) The post office continues to make lots of mistakes (mail not delivered, if mail is delivered some mail delivered to wrong addresses). Reached out to the United States Postmaster General and other Washington officials. Believe we got their attention. They replaced the Hartsdale Postmaster and made some other changes. There are still major problems but hopefully they will work to improve the service.
20) Our Greenburgh Human Rights Committee is one of the most active committees around. Among initiatives: they produced a know your rights video for immigrants.
21) The Town Board approved funding and design for a new light at Sprain and Ardsley Road. I anticipate that the light will be installed in the spring. Had hoped it would of been installed by the end of this year but the engineers needed more time. People have been asking for the light for decades!
22) NYS installed a left turn arrow on Underhill and Old Army Road heading to Central Ave-- a major quality of life improvement.
23) After reports of coyote sitings a representative of the NYS DEC made a presentation to the Town Board, advising residents what to do if they see coyotes. Over 1000 people have already seen the video! It's very helpful.
24) After years of controversy some positive action: Westchester County, the town of Greenburgh agreed to turn the former WESTHELP homeless shelter into affordable housing for seniors. Construction to take place in 2019.
25) I'm an avid cyclist and I'm excited that the new Mario Cuomo Bridge will include a bike path--something I advocated for. This past week I learned that NYS will be working with the arts community and installing sculptures at both ends of the bridge. I had called for an outdoor art museum along the 3 mile path.
26) We continue to work to make Greenburgh more pedestrian friendly. The design for the Columbia Ave sidewalk, Central Ave sidewalk (Marion to W Hartsdale) and Fair Street to Juniper Hill have been finalized and the new sidewalks should be open to pedestrians before next summer. We have applied for grants to build a sidewalk on Hillside, are working to build a sidewalk on Old Tarrytown Road and in other neighborhoods around the town. A new railing for pedestrians using the relatively new sidewalk from the Scarsdale Golf Club to E Hartsdale Ave will be installed soon to reduce the stress levels for pedestrians worried about walking down slippery sidewalks. We are working with the county to improve the crosswalk on Ardsley Road/ Edgemont Road and hope that plans will be finalized very soon. We have given out free reflectors to pedestrians --it's difficult seeing pedestrians, dressed in dark clothing walking.
27) A new café will open at the Greenburgh Library - thanks to a NYS grant.
28) Making progress on the 9A bypass --a road improvement that has been talked about for decades. Follow up meetings planned for early January.
29) Riley Wentzler and Felicia Barber appointed assistant Town Historians. They write an interesting article we post on the town website about Greenburgh history,
30) We're involving the community in the decision making process- the future of Elmwood. The controversy: single homes or senior condo's. People have different thoughts. Representatives of both sides will help select a consultant to review the proposals, analyze the traffic and quality of life impacts.
31) The Appellate Division of the NYS Supreme Court unanimously ruled that my decision to deny the Edgemont incorporation petition was correct because the statute was not complied with. Incorporation proponents have announced that they will ask the NYS Court of Appeals to hear the case (which is discretionary). I was pleased with the Appellate Division ruling because it confirmed the fact that my decision was based on the statute not being complied with, not my views on whether or not incorporation is good or bad for the town. Proponents of the incorporation have submitted a petition to the NYS Court of Appeals asking the Court to grant permission to appeal (which is totally discretionary on their part). Sometime in the coming months should know if the Court of Appeals will hear the case.
32) We have a very dedicated Town Board, department heads and town employees. Many answer e mails late in the evening, weekends and holidays. They really care about the town. Grateful to the team.
33) A group of retiree's with extensive management experience, meet with me (some weekly) to review my management style and to make constructive recommendations. This has been extremely valuable and helping to make the town more efficient.
34) Previous County Executive's said no, but our new County Executive George Latimer is working with those of us who advocate allowing a limited number of non motorized row boats on the Sprain Lake off of Jackson Ave. I have been pushing for this for many years. If we can work out the details area high schools will be able to provide students with another college scholarship opportunity -rowing. And we will be turning a beautiful lake into an important recreation asset for our community.
35) The Town Board authorized a change in the 2019 recycling/garbage schedule. We will be picking up paper and commingles weekly instead of every other week and continuing twice a week garbage.
36) The Greenburgh School district, which is independent of the town, plans a $116.6 million dollar bond referendum for February 12. The school districts wishes to consolidate all schools to the Warburg campus. The Town Board recently hired a traffic consultant to review traffic issues and should release the consultants findings before the Feb 12th referendum.
37) The Town Board met with representatives of a company that would like to install a solar farm in the E Irvington section of town. We are working with the E Irvington Civic group. They will help the town select a consultant to review the application once it is submitted.
38) The town received almost 5 million dollars for major water infrastructure . We plan to upgrade the water supply infrastructure. Will be connecting the Rumbrook and Knollwood PUmping stations. Joining the two pumping stations is a vital infrastructure upgrade and will allow each station to complement the other's supply capabilities, better ensure sufficient water volume and pressure during periods of peak demand and provide a continuous water supply when either station is undergoing maintenance. This is probably one of the most significant infrastructure initiatives the town has been involved in during recent decades. A big thank you to our Water district advisory committee.
39) NYS met with town and village officials at Town Hall to discuss plans to build a new Ravensdale bridge off of Jackson Ave. NYS completed construction on the Payne bridge and re-opened Payne Street.
40)- The Greenburgh Nature Center Manor House’s 100th year was recognized in 2018 AND
Phase ll of our Manor House restoration project, focusing on exterior work and including new shingles, windows and doors, commenced in November and will restore the building’s handsome character.
41) Sad news. Two giants passed away. Lois Bronz, former Deputy Supervisor and the first African American female Chair of the Board of Legislators. Olivia Hooker, 103 years old, one of the last survivors of the Tulsa Okla race riots and the first African American Woman to serve in the US Coast Guard.
42) 9-11 living history: We formed a committee to record the experiences of those impacted by the 9-11 tragedy –Greenburgh first responders, volunteers who helped out after 9-11, residents who lost friends and loved one’s or who personally observed the tragedy. We will be interviewing the residents on local TV and sharing the interviews with historians, schools and civic leaders.
43) Introducing legislation to require a certain number of units in future assisted living facilities to be affordable.
44) We are trying to save the Odell House – a historic house on Ridge Road that played a significant role in the Revolutionary War and is falling apart. It is privately owned. We applied for a grant from NYS—unfortunately did not receive the grant. But a meeting with state officials has been scheduled for early January. This house must be preserved for future generations. The Odell House was Rochambeau’s headquarters for six weeks in 1781 during the Philipsburg Encampment. The Sons of the American Revolution own the house. At least a half a million dollars will have to be spent to save the building.
45) A bike share company that went out of business donated to the town 105 bicycles which we gave to those who could not afford bicycles (including non profits).
46) We renewed an agreement with Westchester Power to supply power to residents at lower cost. Over a 25 month period from June 2016 to June 2018 Greenburgh’s participation in the Westchester power program has resulted in 191,709,288 kilowatt hours of electricity have been served, customers saved $2,156,547 collectively. Residents saved about $194.51 – a modest savings of $7.78 per month.
47) The Multiplex theater in North Elmsford will close in the spring. The landlord is negotiating a lease with another tenant but I have been asked not to disclose until the lease is signed.
48) I continue to coordinate a jobs club which has helped hundreds of residents find employment. Share job opportunities with those who subscribe to the e list. And we sponsor periodic job sharing tip programs.
49) New WIFI at the Anthony Veteran pool grounds. A newly renovated outdoor shower installed. Women’s bathroom renovations at the pool.
50) Continuing to push NYS to provide the town with a grant to make Jackson Ave safer. Meeting with state officials scheduled for early January. A traffic light on Ardsley Road/Sprain is being designed and should be installed by the summer of 2019. It’s funded.
I would like to thank the Town Board, town department heads, our hard working employees, civic leaders and community volunteers for their contributions in making 2018 a great year. We wish you and your family a healthy and happy 2019 and promise to do everything possible to make the coming year a great one.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor