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2019 is almost history. Here are just some of the highlights. A special thank you to the Town Board, department heads, employees and civic activists who helped us overcome some of the bumps, false starts, setbacks along the road to accomplishments. We have a good organization and team in place and got a lot done in 2019.
TAXES WON’T GO UP…AND FINANCIALS
A tax rate reduction and a tax levy freeze in the 2020 town budget.
Westchester County also announced a tax rate reduction for county taxes in 2020.
We are tightening many of our management procedures. Department heads are being asked to develop step by step work plans so we can review tangible measurable goals. We are working with department heads on developing cost benefits for each new project. At our last Town Board meeting the Board voted to install GPS systems in all town vehicles. We continue to conduct independent reviews of different departments --looking for ways to make government more efficient. We implemented consultant recommendations dealing with the courts a few years ago and are implementing recommendations from DPW consultants--a work order system for DPW and a health and safety initiative for employees.
Maintaining Aaa bond rating by Moody's and Standard & Poor's --bond rating increased 3 times during my tenure to highest rating possible
We had two auctions of foreclosed properties-the last auction generated 2.7 million dollars. We have started using a professional auctioneer to help us maximize revenues from auctions.
Forming committee to review proposed requests for proposals to maximize competition from bidders
HISTORY--the Odell House and 9-11
We received a $600,000 grant from NYS to restore the historic Odell House on Ridge Road, Hartsdale. We hope to turn the building into a museum.This house played a major role in the Revolutionary War. At long last – we’re close to getting the Odell house transferred from the Sons of the American Revolution to the town. Last week the NYS Attorney General's office authorized the SAR to transfer the property to the town--which will happen in early 2020.
We started the 9-11 Living History stories--video interviews of those impacted by the 9-11 tragedy. The interviews air on public access TV and can be accessed on the web. The 9-11 living history stories is modelled after the Veterans living history initiative (about 150 veterans of World War II, the Korean conflict have each participated in half hour interviews).
PEDESTRIAN AND MOTORIST SAFETY
New sidewalks completed at Columbia Ave, Fair Street, Lawton, a small portion of N Washington Ave and Glendale Road. Construction of new sidewalk to begin shortly on Central Ave between Marion and West Hartsdale Ave. About six miles of new sidewalks have been built or funded in recent years --with more to come! In April the town received some more good news: We received two grants (from NYS and from CDBG) totaling $1.2 million dollars to build a new sidewalk on Hillside Ave and on Old Tarrytown Road. Residents will be able to walk from Route 119 to the Parkway Gardens/Homes neighborhood and from Town Hall to Knollwood Road!
5 different pedestrian accidents around town. Town Board includes substantial funding in 2020 budget for pedestrian safety improvements. We also are studying the possibility of either building a sidewalk on Ft Hill Road or making road one way ( a suggestion raised by residents). A community meeting has been scheduled with a local Edgemont civic association in January to discuss plans to hire a traffic consultant to review options. There are other safety concerns on streets around town. We will use funding that has been approved by the Town Board for digital speed boards and other traffic calming devices. The town has offered to pay for a traffic light on Central Ave in front of Sacred Heart Church if NYS allows us to install a light at this location--where there was an accident earlier this fall. NYS said they don't have funds in their budget for the safety improvement.
Starting to review need to improve traffic flow on E Hartsdale Ave. Board agrees to study upgrading of traffic lights. Sensors, synchronizing lights to reduce congestion and to increase traffic flow.
We enhanced crosswalk at Edgemont and Ardsley Road. Enhancement completed just a week ago.
We added a crossing guard to Ardsley Road/Fort Hill Road--making it safer for children to cross during school hours
We awarded the bid for a traffic light at Ardsley Road/Sprain Road. We expect installation to be completed in the spring of 2020. This location will be much safer.
We selected a consultant to review the proposal to revitalize the 4 corners in Hartsdale--and will address stormwater, traffic issues.
Building a sidewalk, installing lights or enhancing crosswalks takes a lot of work. Our town professionals have to coordinate with other government entities if work is going to take place on state or county roads. We have to coordinate with Con Ed -moving utility poles. We need to make sure that we're in compliance with ADA requirements dealing with the disabled and have to make sure that the work we do does not create drainage related problems. The crosswalk light fixtures took months to arrrive at Edgemont and Ardsley Road. After we awarded the bid for a traffic light on Ardsley Road/Sprain we were advised that it takes 4-6 months for the special fixtures to arrive. Most people are not aware of all the details that go into designing and implementing safety improvements.
Metro North announcing plans to build elevator at Hartsdale train station- work to start in 2020.
Reactivating disabled advisory committee
Greenburgh opened up Westchester County's first cricket field at Richard Presser Park in Hartsdale. Encouraging the county and other municipalities to recognize how much people love cricket.
The abandoned WESTHELP homeless shelter is now being renovated for affordable senior housing. It's exciting to see the WESTHELP parking lot fill of cars--contractors doing the renovations. The affordable senior housing will open up in 2021.
NEW POLICE CHIEF AND COUNCILPERSON TRANSITIONS
A smooth transition of Police Chiefs--Brian Ryan is our new Chief, replacing Chris McNerney who now is Chief Investigator for the DA
Councilman Kevin Morgan passes away after a short battle with cancer. He helped hundreds of residents over the years, was involved in many community activities and will be greatly missed. Ellen Hendrickx appointed to the Council for seven months. Gina Jackson elected to a full term in November.
NY Court of Appeals upheld my interpretation of Edgemont incorporation petition. Appellate division had previously found that the petition for incorporation did not comply with statute requirements. A second petition was filed. I found that the 2nd petition also did not comply with the statute. Those who filed the petition have filed a lawsuit which is pending.
POLICE AND COURTS
A shooting at an Ardsley Motel resulted in no fatalities of innocent bystanders or police. Our SWAT team responded quickly, a Greenburgh police officer who was shot at was wearing a bullet proof vest and is OK. Highlights the importance of being trained and prepared.
We have saved over 12 million dollars so when we sell the current court house/police we won't have to borrow as much --enabling us to address infrastructure in an affordable manner. Town hired CBRE and Lothrup to help us review real estate options and design. We hope to present the community with a proposed plan for the court house and police station in 2020. And, will be conducting tours of our existing facilities and community meetings before we finalize any decision.
NYS STARTED TO REPAVE SAW MILL RIVER ROAD IN ARDSLEY
NYS started repaving Saw Mill River Road in Ardsley –a road fill of potholes. Work to be completed next year. 36 student interns had lobbied for the road repaving in 2018. NYS promised to repave Hillside Ave but the company went under so there were delays with the project. The state did start some sidewalk, drainage work and will complete the road repaving in 2021.
RECYCLING and food scraps
We increased recycling of paper and plastics from every other week to every week.
We obtained a grant from NYS for $250,000 to purchase trucks to begin curbside recycling of food waste. Trucks to be ordered in 2020. Service to be offered to villages and unincorporated Greenburgh.
We have started seriously considering the possibility of opening up a food scrap composting site on Taxter Road ---currently food scraps from around the region are sent out of county.
ASSISTED LIVING DISCOUNTS
The Chelsea Assisted LIving Facility is offering discounts to Greenburgh residents--they hope to open in 2020 on Dobbs Ferry Road. They also have some affordable units for those who meet income guidelines. They expect to open in 2020.
Brightview seeks to build independent living, assisted living facility at portion of Metropolis. Plan under review.
Maplewood is seeking approval to sell their swim and tennis club on W Hartsdale Ave to an assisted living facility. We are reviewing traffic, neighborhood concerns.
We created land use advisory committees around town involving residents impacted by proposed developments in the land use review early on. These land use committees also help us select the traffic and environmental consultants we hire to review the application. We want the community to be involved in partnering with the town government.
SOME SMART PEOPLE—INCLUDING A NOBEL PRIZE WINNER
A Tarrytown man won the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Gregg Semenza attended Sleepy Hollow HS, one of the schools serving the Greenburgh community.
GRANT FROM STATE FOR NEW AMBULANCE-ARDSLEY SECOR VOLUNTEER AMBULANCE CORP
Mayor Nancy Kabbolian and I met Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins two years ago seeking state funding for a new ambulance for the volunteer ambulance corp. Senator Cousins recently announced that NYS will fund the new ambulance for the volunteers.
First time Early Voting was tried in Greenburgh during the town elections. Voter turnout was higher than usual in an off off year election.
Progress being made - implementation of a work order system in the Department of Public Works. Will enable the town to better track complaints and work requests.
Town Board approved funding for enhanced social media initiative –want to get our message out to those who don’t subscribe to traditional media
Taking steps to formalize an official Technology Committee that can help the town keep up to date with technology.
HOT ASPHALT MACHINE ENABLES TOWN TO REPAIR POTHOLES IN WINTER
Greenburgh is one of the few communities around that has purchased a hot asphalt machine to repair potholes in the winter months. The asphalt companies don't operate in the winter months and most communities use cold patches to repair potholes. These pothole repairs don't last long. This investment enables us to repair potholes efficiently and for the work to last.