A Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Monday, October 2, 2000 at the Municipal Building, Van Wyck Street, Croton-on-Hudson, New York 10520
Present/Absent: Mayor Elliott Trustee Grant
Trustee McCarthy Trustee Harkins
Trustee Watkins Manager Herbek
Attorney Waldman Treasurer Reardon
Call to order:
Mayor Elliott called the meeting to order at 8:10 P.M. Everyone joined in the Pledge of Allegiance.
2. Approval of Minutes:
Trustee Grant moved to approve the minutes of the Regular Board Meeting held on September 18th, as corrected. Trustee Harkins seconded the motion and was approved unanimously.
Approval of Vouchers:
Trustee Grant made a motion to approve the vouchers as follows, subject to review by the audit committee. The motion was seconded by Trustee Harkins and approved unanimously.
General Fund $66932.47
Water Fund 485.35
Capital Acct. 1159.67
Trust & Agency 13,309.95
Manager Herbek read the following correspondence. (Full Text available at the Village office.)
A letter from Louann O’Hora regarding the continued interest for a skate board park. Croton residents have been using parks located in Mt. Kisco and NYC and hope that Croton will have one of its own soon, and not follow the steps of the Town of Cortlandt and its delays.
A letter from Kenneth Verschoor, Deputy Planning Director for the Town of Cortlandt, announcing a Public Hearing to take place on October 3, 2000 for the proposed zoning amendments to Zoning Ordinance for a special permit for senior citizen development.
A letter from Metro-North Railroad requesting permission to “relax” the parking enforcement at the Croton-On-Hudson Train Station during the 2000 Harmon Open House, Saturday, October 21st, between the hours of 10:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M. Trustee Grant made a motion seconded by Trustee McCarthy and was approved unanimously with all the usual caveats.
A letter from Andrew J. Spano, County Executive requesting non-use of flights out of Westchester County Airport violating the voluntary curfew by arriving or departing between the hours of midnight and 6:30 a.m. Trustee McCarthy stated that she believed Congresswoman Kelly proposed legislation to make the curfew mandatory not voluntary. Mayor Elliott stated that Congresswoman Kelly, along with other County officials are pushing this federal legislation, to make the voluntary curfew mandatory.
A letter from Ann Gallelli, Chairperson, Planning Board, regarding a desire by Sprint to conduct a drive test for a possible tower location at the Croton railroad station. Trustee Grant asked when this would take place, so she and others who wanted to, could visit the site. Mayor Elliott replied that he did not have a date yet. He added this would allow the Village, without prejudice, to authorize the test. Trustee McCarthy asked Attorney Waldman if there are any issues the Village needs to address. He replied that it would be the usual issues of liability. He suggested requiring written documentation of insurance.
A letter from the Croton Blood Bank as a reminder to give blood during the 61st community blood drive on Sunday, December 3, 2000 from 9:00 to 3:00 at the High School. Appointments should be made for to prepare a medical staff. Please call Judy Sullivan at 271-4215 or Rosalind Morrissey at 271-8449.
A letter from Walter S. Gillis, requesting permission to hold Harry Chapin Run Against Hunger on Sunday, October 15, 2000. The “Fun Run” is scheduled to start at 12 noon and the 10k run will begin at 12:30 P.M. Trustee Watkins made a motion, seconded by Trustee McCarthy and was approved unanimously with all the usual caveats.
Maria Cudequest came before the Board concerning Item C on the agenda. She stated that according to Mr. Robert Freeman, head of the Committee for Open Government with New York State, the Board has obligations to have minutes of work sessions. She added that not having minutes could put the Board in violation of the New York State open meetings law. She asked that the Board not rescind the resolution and that the Board publish meeting times so the public may volunteer to tape the sessions.
Marc Aarons stated that the flight issues in connection with Westchester County airport are serious. Because of a new vector over the Village, there is an increase in air traffic. He added that erecting a cell tower at the train station would act as a homing beacon and attract pilots and further increase the air traffic. He suggested installing the device on one of the existing electric towers. Mr. Aarons reviewed the package of material given to him by Mr. Herbek concerning Metricom. The three studies in the packet indicate that that the ERFs emitted are less than 5, which does not pose a health hazard. He does, however, have two concerns. First, the amount of the bond ($2500) might not be sufficient to cover costs to upgrade the equipment if need be, one year from now. Second, the “no interference” portion of the agreement presents concerns of prohibiting another carrier to enter into the Village. He added that this requires further study. Mr. Aarons stated that he had an additional concern of disruption of service if these high-speed lines are not installed completely through the area. Mayor Elliott thanked Mr. Aarons for the information and said it would be discussed at the next work session. Trustee Grant asked Mr. Aarons if there are advantages in the plan that would be useful to Village residents. He replied that aside from health concerns, which he does not believe to be an issue, there are several advantages.
James Moore, stated that the proposal by the Board to tape work sessions was an excellent idea, especially for those who cannot attend meetings. He asked Mayor Elliott why the Board would vote in favor of rescinding the resolution. Mayor Elliott replied that any Board member could put a resolution on the agenda. However, the Board has not voted yet. The original resolution was proposed at the request of a Trustee and there now appears to be an issue associated with cost. Trustee McCarthy stated that there are other options that were discussed last week. She added that she is opposed to the upcoming resolution.
Don Daubney stated the issue should be not to rescind the resolution, but how to find a more economical solution.
Mr. Rondthaler made reference to the shirt he was wearing. He told a story of a photographer who created the “Picture Tunnel” t-shirts because of some concerning issues. Mr. Rondthaler created a ballad which he sang to the Board.
Bob Wintermeier stated that he has concerns with the proposal to rescind Item C. He stated that there is a need for accurate records. Not everyone can attend work sessions. He suggested making use of a voice recognition system for transcribing notes.
Joel Klein pointed out that two residents have made reference to the “cell tower that the Boards want to erect”. He wanted to clarify that the Board has not made a decision concerning this. In addition, he requested that during meetings, whenever he is referenced, to be allowed to address the Board. Mayor Elliott said it has always been the Board’s policy to allow public speakers.
Roger Solymosy believes that the material associated with open meetings law needs to be addressed. He added that this shouldn’t be an issue whether or not to record, but rather an issue of the best way to do it.
Tom Szobaszlai suggested showing meetings on TV. He added there are more important meetings that should be taped, such as the Comprehensive Plan Committee. He stated that money to tape these meetings should be invested. Trustee McCarthy agreed that the minutes are very important and suggested the Board post them on the web site. Mr. Szobaszlai stated that the minutes are not detailed enough. Trustee McCarthy added that the Comprehensive Plan Committee will make recommendations to the Board in formal documents, this will be publicly debated, and then the Village Board will make decisions based on those recommendations. Mr. Szobaszlai replied that by the time that occurs, it's too late for any citizen participation. Mayor Elliott stated that he would make this suggestion to other Boards. He added that fast and accurate communication to the public has always been a concern.
Ann Gallelli, Comprehensive Plan Committee Chairperson stated that the Committee has made several efforts to hold open meetings and that suggestions are welcomed. She added that efforts by Trustees Grant and McCarthy have been helpful to ensure that information is communicated.
Trustee Grant made a point that even though the last work session was not taped, Village residents knew about the proposed resolution. She added that the residents could call the Board to obtain information. She stated that money is a concern, however she said a message has been sent that there is a lack of trust. The only time anyone has ever requested a copy of the minutes was during elections. She added that she would not be in favor of a resolution supporting the recording.
Trustee McCarthy stated that the resolution was proposed to allow the Village to keep more accurate records and to promote open government. In addition, she said it would be helpful for new Board members to review material from projects that have been on going. She believes that the Board is legally bound to record the work sessions.
Bob Wintermeier stated that the residents feel it would be very beneficial to have these records available.
Trustee Grant replied that information is already available. Anyone can call a member of the Board anytime. Also, Trustee Grant stated that if there is an agenda item that is important, a resident should make every effort to attend the meeting.
Trustee McCarthy stated that if the Board decided to meet in the meeting room and sit at one table, a camera could remain still and would not need an operator. The burden should not be put on the residents for accurate information.
a. On motion of TRUSTEE Grant, seconded by TRUSTEE Harkins, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
WHEREAS, the firm of Pipher Rein was contracted to clean out the sewer lines to the Duck Pond; and
WHEREAS, funds to pay for this work exceed the budgeted amount authorized by the Village Board; and
WHEREAS, the Treasurer has requested funds in the 2000-2001 budget to be amended to pay for the sewer work; and
WHEREAS: the Treasurer has reviewed the budget and has requested the following budget transfer to accommodate this purchase:
Increase 001-8120.400 by $ 4,000.00 ( Contractual Expense )
Decrease 001-1990.400 by $ 4,000.00 ( Contingent )
Now Therefore be it resolved that the Village Treasurer amend the 2000 -2001 General Fund budget to reflect these changes.
Discussion: Trustee Harkins asked Mr. Herbek if this project is complete. Mr. Herbek confirmed that it is.
b. On motion of TRUSTEE Grant, seconded by TRUSTEE Harkins, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees is interested in providing legal services to represent the Village together with the Town of Ossining, Village of Ossining and Village of Briarcliff Manor in connection with the environmental and routing issues surrounding the Millennium Pipeline Company, L.P. natural gas pipeline project currently under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in FERC Docket No. CP98-150-002, and
WHEREAS, the firm of Kirkland & Ellis has submitted a proposal to provide legal services with regard to the Millennium Pipeline project with hourly billing rates of $275.00 for Neil L. Levy, $200.00 for Michelle Palmer and $145.00 for Jeffrey Williamson,
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that the Village Manager is hereby authorized to sign the retainer agreement dated September 22, 2000 with the firm of Kirkland & Ellis to provide legal services with regard to the Millennium Pipeline project with hourly billing rates of $275.00 for Neil L. Levy, $200.00 for Michelle Palmer and $145.00 for Jeffrey Williamson.
Discussion: Trustee Grant asked if the above mentioned communities all agree on this resolution. Mayor Elliott replied that the Boards needed to touch base. Trustee Watkins questions what portion the other communities will allow as their contribution. Manager Herbek stated that he had an estimate of $8,000-10,000 each.
c. On motion of TRUSTEE Watkins, seconded by TRUSTEE Grant, the following resolution was adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York with the following vote. Voting “aye” Trustees Watkins, Grant, and Mayor Elliott. Voting “nay” Trustees McCarthy and Harkins:
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees approved a resolution at its regular meeting of September 18, 2000, to provide that work sessions be tape recorded and further that upon the request of any trustee that minutes be transcribed from the tapes and submitted to the Village Board to be amended, where necessary, and approved; and
WHEREAS, certain questions have been raised by the Village Manager/Clerk with regard to the costs involved and legal requirements for filing and storage of the audio tapes; and
WHEREAS, the New York Conference of Mayors has informed the Village that audio tapes would have to be retained forever as official records if the audio tapes are not transcribed as minutes; and
WHEREAS, this requirement will add to the existing cost of record keeping and will entail additional work by the Village staff; and
WHEREAS, this was not the intention of the Village Board in approving the September 18, 2000 resolution;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that the resolution regarding audiotaping of Village Board work sessions approved on September 18, 2000, is hereby rescinded in its entirety.
Discussion: Mayor Elliott stated that the issue of recording work sessions was raised at the last Board Meeting due to a discrepancy in what was said. Manager Herbek was not present. Trustee McCarthy made the motion to record work sessions. Trustee Watkins stated that he doesn’t see a necessity to spend the money to have each session recorded, but would be in favor of a volunteer taping. Trustee McCarthy referred to Village Manager Herbek’s memo to the Board in which he stated that audio taping of the work sessions was not a good idea. She said that several issues needed to be addressed regarding Mr. Herbek’s memo. First, Mr. Herbek asked, who would be changing the tapes. Trustee McCarthy said she would assume the responsibility. The work sessions could be moved to the meeting room where there is a smaller table and an audio tape machine is available. Second, Mr. Herbek asked if the tapes had to be stored at the underground storage facility in Pennsylvania. Trustee McCarthy called the State Archives Administrations and they said there is no such requirement. If there were a need to transcribe minutes, records would only have to be retained for four months. Trustee McCarthy stated that she doesn’t see a problem with this proposal. She added that in the past, it would have been helpful to look back at minutes. Trustee Harkins asked what the cost is to record the meetings. Treasurer Reardon stated that the total cost for 1 Board meeting is $275. Trustee Harkins stated that he is in favor of recording the work sessions as well as other meetings. The cost is minimal and it would provide an accurate record of what took place. Trustee Grant argued that taping work sessions is les
s important than taping other meetings, as she questioned the motivation and intent. Trustee Grant stated that work sessions are mere brainstorming sessions and that no official actions are taken. She added that she thinks the need is blown out of proportion. Trustee McCarthy stated that the Board has an obligation to the public to provide this service. She added that the cost would be minimal and that an existing staff member could produce written notes. Attorney Waldman questioned the effectiveness and “real cost” of taping the work sessions. Trustee McCarthy also stated that the equipment in the meeting room had audiotape capability. Manager Herbek stated that he would have to check into it. A resident stated that voluntary taping is a good idea except that the tape would be privately owned. Another resident stated that the Board is underestimating the public’s interest in the meetings. Calling the Board members for information can lead to inaccuracies. Joel Klein stated that he didn’t think the Board could come to a decision unless several issues as to what is required legally are addressed. Trustee McCarthy stated that the open meetings law addresses these parameters. The Mayor asked Trustee Watkins if he would be in favor of taping if there would be no cost to the Village. He said he would. Trustee Grant said she still would not be in favor. Trustee McCarthy stated that this resolution was created to provide a service to the public and unfortunately the resolution to rescind this proposal has taken on an undemocratic tone. Manager Herbek and Treasurer Reardon stated that the camera could not be left alone in the meeting room unattended and must be put away. Manager Herbek stated that he had a proposal from Peggy in the amount of $5,000 to record the work sessions. After some further discussion, Mayor Elliott proposed that a resolution be entertained that over the next two weeks to research legal issues regarding the need for minutes at work sessions, technoloical issues, and cost for each and every scenario to be discussed at the October 16th Board Meeting. This resolution was moved by Trustee Watkins and seconded by Trustee McCarthy. Voting “aye”, Trustees Watkins, Harkins, McCarthy and Mayor Elliott. Voting “nay”, Trustee Grant.
Manager Herbek submitted a memo with various items for the next work session including Hixson Road Residents Trail Committee report and parking at the Croton Harmon station.
Trustee Watkins requested a copy of the enabling legislation for the Millennium Pipeline to be sent to Neil Levy.
Trustee McCarthy reported that some lights on Benedict Blvd. are out. Manager Herbek said he would contact Con Ed, perhaps the problem is on their side.
Trustee Harkins reported that he met with the Chamber of Commerce on the 21st. Holiday decorating week will take place the week after Thanksgiving. He added that he hoped this would be done internally, if not it would be out-sourced. He stated he is working with the management team concerning the pedestrian walkways on several streets including Grand and Old Post Road. The Arboretum will be having a membership drive. If anyone is interested, please leave a message with the Village offices or there is information on the web site.
Trustee McCarthy made a motion to adjourn seconded by Trustee Watkins and approved unanimously. The Meeting was adjourned at 10:45 P.M.
Carolyn Di Cuirci, Secretary