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Work Session Report for August 8, 2005

August 9, 2005

River Walk Project

The River Walk project is a $1.4 million dollar project, funded by Westchester County, for the continuation of the handicapped accessible trail running along Croton Landing at the north end of our waterfront. Ms. Munz , landscape architect, showed detailed graphics of the design and identified the variety and species of trees and plantings that will be placed along the trail.

A high quality black chain link fence will be installed to separate and protect users of the trail from the adjacent railroad tracks and various plantings and shrubs will be planted along the lengthy fence to soften the appearance. Plans focus on protecting and appreciating the extraordinary views of the Hudson River and the Palisades for the enjoyment of all.

Croton Water Qualify

Representatives from Chazen Environment Services presented the results of their recent study of the quality of Croton’s water and wells required by the County Health Department. The results were extremely positive and they reported very encouraging results from the multiple water samples taken over a period of several months. There is absolutely no evidence that surface water seeps into our extremely well-filtered and deep wells.

The water continues to be pure and of excellent quality. After general discussion about occasional problems with “brown water” in resident’s homes, Chazen was directed to prepare a proposal for examining the need for and identifying the best kind of corrosion control system for the distribution of water to village residents.

Symphony Knoll Senior Citizen Housing Project

Nance Shatzkin, President of the Croton Housing Network, gave the board an update on the status of the senior citizen’s affordable housing project to be built on the property at the bottom of Mt. Airy Road, known as Symphony Knoll. Good progress Is being made in addressing the many complex approvals, cooperative agreements, design and construction of these much needed units. She clarified that the units would be built for senior citizens – age 55 and older, who meet the minimum and maximum income requirement guidelines established by the funding agencies.

The proposal constitutes plans for a 3-story, ground level-access with elevator to second and third stories building. Ms. Shatzkin outlined the steps that are ahead for the Village Board In completing this project She also described how a new and valuable link In the village's trail system would be provided through the site. It appeared to this observer that Nance Shatzin was able to provide suitable and satisfactory responses to questions a few board members presented and all seemed comfortable with the plans as they continue to progress.

Village Streets – Trees – Sidewalks

There was general conversation about our tree lined streets and the problems and concerns relative to healthy and unhealthy growth and possible interference with views and pedestrian traffic. No definitive conclusions were reached and it would seem that each situation would be addressed individually as presented.

There was also interest expressed by individual board members that the 50/50 reimbursement program for sidewalk replacement program should be continued indefinitely. Again, no conclusion was reached.

***

Please address any questions about the following topics which were discussed at the Village Board Work Session on August 8, 2005 meeting to the Mayor or any Village Board member.

FYI: Regularly scheduled work session meetings are held for the Mayor and Board of Trustees to hear reports of pending issues and concerns, and discuss together ways and means they might be addressed. Absent any emergency situation, they are announced, scheduled meetings, held in the Village Manager's office and are, of course, open to the public.

On August 11, 2005 8:45 AM, weewill said:

Thanks for the advice. It would have been nice to have it come from the Mayor and Village Board via a public announcement or statement or press release. It would have had more impact coming from our officials. I hope I’m not being pessimistic but too many of our residents don’t seem to give a damn! It’s only a few of us who do and we need lobbying in force, not from just a few!

Thanks Don Diego - this will be done today. Not only to the 3 federal representatives but to the newspapers as well. We can get the fax numbers from their web sites.

This is too important to Croton residents so we should all get on it asap and make them know exactly how we feel…

On August 10, 2005 10:42 PM, Don Diego said:

Ross W. is surely correct that we can not look to Dr. Schmidt for leadership or direction. But we can look to him for answers.

Note to weewill: What you received from Schumer’s office was an automated acknowledgment of your e-mail. You would get the same response if you sent a blank e-mail or one attacking him. It is worth the time to send a fax instead of an e mail. When their fax machines start backing up with real paper, they pay attention. Also, if you can, fax both the Washington and New York offices for Clinton, Schumer & Kelly. The more they get the better.

Don Diego

On August 10, 2005 3:28 PM, weewill said:

I emailed all three representatives today - Kelly, Schumer, Clinton and received the following response from Schumer already. I think we may have also call their offices because we have so little time between now and the deadline of August 15th when the STB is to render its decision. Sure hope it’s not too late!

From Schumer: Thank you for your e-mail. Each and every piece of correspondence I receive is important because it allows me to better understand the New Yorkers I serve in the United States Senate.

As you can imagine, my office receives a great number of messages every day regarding a variety of issues – this is particularly true of e-mails. It makes me proud to know that my constituents take an active role in our government by corresponding with me, and I look forward to responding to your concerns in greater detail. In the meantime, I just wanted to let you know that your e-mail has been received, and to ask for your patience until I send you a more detailed response.

Again, thank you for writing. Please feel free to visit my website to follow my work in the Senate and to learn more about the services my office can provide to you.

On August 10, 2005 1:01 PM, TeaDrinker said:

Don Diego” - No direction is needed from Dr. Mayor Schmidt. We can all advocate individually in defense of the Village!

ACTION SUMMARY:

Its said that the Surface Transportation Board does appear to respond to letters of concern from public officials. Apparently, they stalled an application in Massachusetts after Sens. Kennedy and Kerry weighed in.

Unlike many government agencies, the STB appears to move with lightning speed.

PLEASE. Email Sue Kelly, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer’s office and ask them for a letter on our behalf sent to the STB by August 15.

Recently, the STB issued a stay of the application by NIR last Friday, Aug 5. Then, the STB said NIR should reply to the Village’s brief by August 15. We should assume that August 15 is the date by which time STB would be most effected by letters from our Congressional delegation.

The Village wrote to Kelly, Schumer and Clinton on Tuesday, August 9, 2005, asking for support letters from them to the STB, sent by August 15th.

Key for such constituent (THAT’S YOU CROTON RESIDENTS!) letters to be effective in this case is that they:

  1. have clearly worded subject lines: I suggest “STB” and “waste transfer stations” or ‘quasi railroads’ be in the subject line.

  2. should be short and simply ask for a letter from Kelly/Clinton/Schumer to the STB Secretary Vernon Williams to be sent by 15 August.

  3. make clear that writer wants Kelly/Clinton/Schumer to take a stand opposing the ‘quasi railroad’ loophole being abused by waste hauler who want to avoid environmental review.

  4. arrive in a relatively concentrated time frame (before 15 August which is next MONDAY).

  5. point out that Senators Frank Lautenberg and Jon Corzine and Representatives Robert Menendez and Bill Pascrell, Jr. have introduced legislation on to curb this abuse of Congressional intentions (ie. get on the band wagon with your fellow lawmakers!).

Each of the 3 key lawmaker’s websites below has a “Contact” or “Write me” button that the resident can use to paste a message into an email.

Check the Metro Enviro section Village of Croton-on-Hudson website for some additional reference information.

Please also check back to Crotonblog after you have written and leave a comment on this article detailing your experience and results.

On August 10, 2005 12:35 PM, Don Diego said:

Mayor Schmidt has a lot of questions to answer and he better start talking. Riverwalk? Street Trees? Affordable Housing? All worthy pursuits on some other day, but a waste of valuable time when a 24 hour a day garbage dump is trying to take over Croton. In an e-mail yesterday, the Village just got around to officially letting us know about the 1000 pound gorilla sitting in the room. But how long has our Mayor known about this looming problem? Why are we just hearing from our government now, at the 11th hour?

As near as I can figure it, Dr. Schmidt ran for office on two major issues: “Open Government” and “Never negotiate with Metro Enviro”. So far he has failed on both counts. Let me tell you why I say that.

I don’t know what the mayor meant when he used the phrase, but to me, an open government is one which is transparent and lets the people know what is going on. If Ms. Cudequest is the geek in the sideshow, then Mayor Schmidt is the ring master. His foremost obligation, even without a platform of open government, is to let the people of this Village know the threats we face. Our Village is small in size but rich in human resources and citizens have never failed to step up to the plate and help. But we can only help when we know there is a problem. Should we be writing letters to the Federal government? To our senators? Our congresswoman? What can we do to help stop this scourge on the Village from becoming a reality. Aren’t there lawyers and other experts living in the Village who might have had some good ideas to offer if they had been told there was a problem?

So the question remains, how long has our Mayor kept this garbage dump masquerading as a railroad a secret — and why? Lots of folks I have spoken to want to know when the issue was first discussed in any session of the Village Board, executive session or otherwise. How many public televised meetings of the Village Board have there been since our mayor learned of this issue during which he sat silent and failed to let us in on the secret?

Judging by the rapidity with which the federal government turned down the initial application for an exemption, this is a situation where every minute counts. But valuable time has been lost and little remains. Was that time lost because our “open government” was actually closed to the public?

And the “never negotiate” mantra. Has it really served us well? Obviously not. As much as I dislike having Metro Enviro in our midst it sure is looking a whole lot better than endless garbage transiting the Village. Won’t the Riverwalk be aromatic next summer? Half Moon Bay should be delightful! The Little League can play on new fields at Croton Landing to the aroma of rotting garbage. Wonderful!! And how much fiscal trouble will we be in when property values plummet and tax revenues drop along with them?

Mr. Mayor: tear down the wall of secrecy you have created and tell us the truth.

I remain…

On August 10, 2005 9:44 AM, poppins said:

A writer recently posted on this blog the importance of watching and participating in VB meetings so we understand the problems faced by our elected officials. While we surely can’t attend every meeting (many can be pretty routine and boring) we can take the responsibility to try to fully understand isssues being dealt with by the board. And if we can’t by ourselves, we can always call or e-mail the Mayor and Trustees.

Get all sides of the issues and don’t depend upon rumor and innuendoe to make your decisions. Check this blog, be a regular visitor to the village website, and watch the televised village board meetings to educate yourself. By doing these few simple things, we’ll get the information needed to reach our own decisions. And these tools also provide an easy means of letting our elected officials know our personal opinions, Only then will we have a truly “open and participatory” government.

Thanks once again blog and bloggers. You provide a valuable service to this community.



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