A Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, NY was held on Monday, April 19, 2004 at the Municipal Building, Van Wyck Street, Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520.
The following officials were present:
Mayor Elliott Trustee Grant
Trustee Schmidt Trustee Wiegman
Attorney Waldman Trustee Kane
Manager Herbek Treasurer Reardon
1. CALL TO ORDER:
Mayor Elliott called the meeting to order at 8:00 pm. Everyone joined in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mayor Elliott stated that the meeting is not being broadcast tonight because the cable equipment room is being renovated and equipment has been disconnected and moved.
2. APPROVAL OF VOUCHERS:
On a motion by Trustee Schmidt, seconded by Trustee Wiegman the vouchers were approved unanimously as follows, subject to review by the Audit Committee
General Fund $24,267.12
Water Fund 318.10
Capital Fund 24,000.07
Trust & Agency 6,525.00
Total $ 55,110.29
a. Michael Blau, Village Manager, Briarcliff Manor, re: cost of legal services associated with the Appeal by Millennium Pipeline of the decision of the US Dept. of Commerce. Mr. Blau affirms Briarcliff’s commitment to contribute up to $35,000 for this effort but no more.
Discussion: Manager Herbek said they are concerned that the bill will be more than $35k each and they want to limit their exposure to $35K; the same is true for the Town of Cortlandt – they have limited their agreement to only $35k as well. Manager Herbek has said the Village would make up the difference on this if it goes over $35,000 each. Mayor Elliott said the total amount was based on the Kirkland and Ellis estimate.
b. Gerhard & Nyla Isele, Mt. Airy Road, re: planned affordable housing at Mt. Airy. The Isele’s express their opposition to the proposed housing.
Discussion: Mayor Elliott said he thought the Croton Housing Network (CHN) had adequately explained this at the last meeting, but maybe it would be a good idea if CHN communicated with the Iseles. Trustee Grant stated the need to differentiate between low income housing and affordable housing.
c. Clifford Baum, request for a termination of easement at 358 South riverside Ave. Mr. Baum is notifying the Village that he is terminating the agreement for an easement with respect to the rear of his property.
Discussion: Manager Herbek stated that the effect of this is the elimination of several parking spaces that are used by many people in the Harmon commercial area. Attorney Waldman asked if it was clear that he can do this. Mayor Elliott asked Manager Herbek to review this. Trustee Schmidt said this is a critical area for the businesses in that area. Manager Herbek said he thought a previous problem had been resolved and also that the current parking arrangement is in Mr. Baum’s long-term interest since the Village assumes maintenance, cleanup, litter and snow removal. Mr. Baum owns a narrow strip extending to Wayne Street from his building. He has had the advantage of 3-4 spaces that were solely for the use of the deli and also some short term spaces for his customers;
maybe he needs to have another discussion. Mayor Elliott asked both Attorney Waldman and Manager Herbek to review this. Trustee Schmidt offered his services on this matter as well.
d. Barbara Sarbin, Something Good in the World, re: request for a Special Permit for the purpose of operating a school at 138 Maple Street. Ms. Sarbin notes that the school has received the necessary variances from the ZBA and would like to proceed now with their application.
Discussion: Mayor Elliott referred this to the Planning Board and suggested that a site visit be scheduled.
e. Marjorie Castro, Superintendent of Schools, re: request to have school construction begin at 7am on weekdays.
Discussion: Would this apply to both PVC and CHHS construction? Trustee Schmidt asked if this is to apply to specific work or all the work. Manager Herbek stated that no construction is allowed to start until 8 am on weekdays; union contractors usually start at 7am. Trustee Grant suggested that there be further discussion on this. Trustee Schmidt asked if this were to occur in the summer. Trustee Wiegman said he feels it is coming up now because they are running behind and there is pressure to make it up during this good weather period.
f. Mary McNeill, NYS Dept. of Transportation, re: Paving on Route 9A. Ms. McNeill notifies the village that the State will be repaving a short section of 9A in the area around the route 129 intersection and Municipal Place.
Discussion: Trustee Schmidt pointed out that this is an opportunity to talk to them about realigning the center line in that section. Manager Herbek said he can talk to them about that.
4. CITIZEN PARTICIPATION: - AGENDA ITEMS
a) John Giglio, 50 Emerson Ave.; He lives at the dead-end portion by PVC school; last year the jack hammer was going all day long and even some weekends; he didn’t complain since they started at 8am but he would not favor starting at 7am; would prefer if they were running later in the day.
b) Bob Wintermeier 43 Radnor; He lives right behind the middle school; gets constant noise and traffic of fork lifts; the noise and exhaust is unbelievable; does not want it to start at 7am; the contractor knew this in advance and he is accountable. He would like to see Dr. Castro come here and talk about this matter; public should have chance to discuss this.
c) Maria Cudequest, 84 Grand St. She can hear the construction from where she lives. If we bend this rule for this instance, what prevents us from bending it for another instance?
d) Anne DiCioccio, Irving Ave.; On affordable housing, at the last meeting it was said that all the units would be 1 bedroom but the Gazette said differently. (Gary Cahill confirmed this was an error.) On the taxes, Mayor Elliott said he stands corrected on the payment of taxes. Manager Herbek stated there is a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) to the Village but nothing to the Town, the School District and the County. Ms. DiCioccio stated that Mr.D’Onofrio Town Assessor, says Mt. Airy Woods is all listed as tax exempt; nobody knew this? Mayor Elliott said the CHN has unilaterally agreed to pay some amount to the Village but nothing is paid
to the Town and school district; they may revisit this. Ms. DiCioccio asked if, since this information was wrong at the time of the Public Hearing, should there be a new Public Hearing? Mayor Elliott said it would not change his mind. Trustee Wiegman stated it doesn’t change the need for housing and the CHN said they would be happy to look at an arrangement to pay some money to the Town and School District. Ms. DiCioccio stated that this takes valuable land off the tax roles.
a. Authorizing the Village Manager to award the contract for sportswear to Printwear Inc .
On motion of TRUSTEE Schmidt, seconded by TRUSTEE Grant, the
following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
WHEREAS, Sportswear bid proposals were opened on April 1, 2004 and five companies submitted bids; and
WHEREAS, Superintendent of Recreation Susan Menz after making a comparison of unit prices for the approximate minimum amount they will order for each item is recommending that the contract be awarded to Printwear, Inc., for all but one item, item #17, which will be purchased from an alternative vendor at the lowest price ; and
WHEREAS, the Village has ordered from Printwear, Inc., in the past and we have been satisfied with their quality and customer service;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that the Village Manager is hereby authorized to award the contract for Sportswear to Printwear, Inc., of Mamaroneck, NY for all but one item, item #17, which will be purchased from an alternative vendor at the lowest price.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: that the amount of $3,792.00 be charged to account #7140.0420.
Discussion: Trustee Grant stated the Board should make certain that this is the last resolution we approve that is not posted on the agenda in advance; must get it on the agenda by the Friday before. Treasurer Reardon stated that the spread sheet on the bid analysis was wonderful.
6. CITIZEN PARTICIPATION (non-agenda items)
a) Richard Lee, 82 Grand St.; On affordable housing, it is an admirable cause but many people in village are not as affluent as people in other towns such as Hastings. When budgets are so tight, this (affordable housing) adds tax burdens on to residents in the village. Definitions are rather vague about low income or affordable housing. He’s not against helping people in need but he’s supporting someone’s kids in school who are not contributing; they should pay something; it’s contributing to the decline of the Village. The Board does what they want; not what is in the good of the village. What are you doing
for the little guy?
b) Maria Cudequest, 84 Grand St.; Is it possible to get a copy of the PILOT agreement between CHN and Mt. Airy Woods; are there other PILOTS and can we see them? Do other CHN units pay Town and school taxes? The format of the meeting tonight is confusing. She said it will take her at least 8 to 81/2 minutes to make her remarks. Mayor Elliott said she should keep it to 5 minutes. Ms. Cudequest said she can’t do it. Mayor Elliott explained the two Citizen Participation periods with 5 minutes for each person. Out of respect to community, please keep it to 5 minutes. Ms. Cudequest asked what if she can’t – what is
the penalty? Mayor Elliott stated he has confidence in the citizenry. MCQ wanted to know the penalty – will she be arrested? Mayor Elliott said of course not. She said she cannot keep it to 5 minutes. It does a lot of harm when public officials make inaccurate statements as in the tax info for the CHN units. At the last meeting there were three letters on agenda – not a single complaint, some were informational or thanking the Village board. All three letters were less than a page long. A random review of citizen letters showed most were less than a page. Citizen letters under 200 words should get read and, if longer, get summarized; this would be a reasonable compromise but you didn’t ask the citizens at the meeting. In the last 14 board meetings, not a single resident has ever engaged in a 45 minute dialogue; usually between 9 and 14 minutes. The Board meets just twice a month, and to limit a citizen’s
right to speak is unconscionable; should vote on it. Mayor Elliott repeatedly asked Ms. Cudequest to stop her statement after 5 minutes. With Ms. Cudequest’s refusal, he then asked Ellie Soderlund, the camera and sound operator, to turn off the speaker system after which the Mayor closed Citizen Participation. The Mayor then reopened Citizen Participation after Ms. Cudequest sat down so that others could speak if they wished.
c) Rob DiFrancesco, 56 Batten Rd.: Mr. DiFrancesco asked why are people being unplugged. He read the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. He pointed out the letters in the Gazette that were against this speaking limitation. This is a right that is guaranteed by the Constitution. He asked Trustee Grant what she meant in her comments about speaking being a privilege and said the Board should take Trustee Schmidt’s advice and talk about this issue some more. Mr. DiFrancesco said that speaking is a right. Trustee Grant stated that it is both; the board is unequivocally not stifling people’s right to
speak; there are two opportunities provided at each meeting. The Board feels, jointly, that 5 minutes is enough to express their views; this is not a forum for lobbying the Board for their own individual positions; input from citizens is very important to the Trustees; they are trying to streamline the village business; he might disagree but that is fine too. Mr. DiFrancesco stated that if a person goes over 5 minutes, the Board should not take action by yelling at them; that is not becoming. He asked Trustee Grant what is constructive dialogue; is there a possibility of a vote of the Board on this? Mayor Elliott said that it was discussed as an election matter, also during the LWV debate; three candidates agreed that something should be tried. The Board decided to try this for awhile and see if it works. Trustee Grant stated they had hoped, as a Board, that as this was the time for a clean slate for the new year, that they would have the cooperation of the
community on this attempt; people who continue to abuse this won’t be arrested, of course, but should be embarrassed.
d) Robert Wintermeier, Radnor Ave.: Congratulations to Rob – a junior in high school- for getting up tonight. Mr. Wintermeier said you never realize how important freedom of speech is until you lose it; feels we have lost something with this rule. Trustee Schmidt clarified that Public Hearings don’t have a time limit. Mr. Wintermeier said he could understand why Trustee Wiegman would go along with this change because he is an immigrant – not brought up as an American- with the basic presumption of freedom of speech. He suggests that there be rules but they must be written and published; also suggests that residents submit
their topics with time frames and these should be listed on the agenda; publish it every week. There should be a clock somewhere, even the League of Women Voters give a time warning. On affordable housing, the village’s goal was 32 units of affordable housing units in the village and the new project will bring it to 35. Are we planning more and when does it end?
e) Dave Tuttle, 94 Grand St.; He came to find out what the rules were for Citizen Participation; he understood it was a work in progress; he doesn’t know if a vote is needed. Mayor Elliott said that the rules were instituted to reintroduce a modicum of respect to the community – two Citizen Participations; the first for agenda items and the second for non-agenda items, both with a 5 minute limit. Mr. Tuttle asked if he could speak about more than one agenda item for 5 minutes each? Mayor Elliott stated that speakers are allowed 5 minutes to speak to one or more agenda items. Mr. Tuttle said it needs more refining.
He’s all for civility- but thinks the second Citizen Participation may often come at 10 pm which may eliminate a lot of people from coming. Mayor Elliott said they have had a discussion on this and, while not all in agreement, they want to try it for awhile. Mayor Elliott said many people come for the resolutions as well. Trustee Schmidt said this is one of the big issues that he is not comfortable with. Trustee Grant said this was not a shot from the hip; it has been talked about over time; there is no requirement for Citizen Participation under the law. There are guidelines from NYCOM on public comment; she read from their recommendations; we’re looking for cooperation. Mayor Elliott said the Board is trying to be even more flexible than that.
f) Anne DiCioccio, Irving Ave.: Two things are bothering her. Suppose Mary Fagan comes to complain about her odor problem; she can’t do that? Mayor Elliott said she would be welcome to speak at the second Citizen Participation. Ms. DiCioccio said it sounds like you are still experimenting with this. She suggests 7 or 8 minutes as in Ossining or Peekskill. Mayor Elliott stated that the Board will try this for awhile and then review it for adjustments.
g) Joanne Minett 5 Van Cortlandt Place: Last week’s change in the rules was very abrupt; no warning was given it made her irate. She did have a non-agenda item and had to wait for 7 resolutions and 4 more added that night. She really doesn’t have a problem with the time limit but she has an issue in breaking Citizen Participation into two units; suggest that the second immediately follow after first rather than after resolutions. As for the letters, she recalls Mayor Elliott saying that people should write in to get on the record. By summarizing, this right is taken away. They (the writers) want other people to hear
about their issue. This has everything to do with freedom of speech. This is a closed door government and this is not right. She wishes the Board would reconsider these points. People are being shut out.
7. APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
On a motion by Trustee Schmidt, seconded by Trustee Grant, the minutes of the Meeting of March 15, 2004 were approved as amended by a 4-0-1 vote with Trustee Kane abstaining.
On a motion by Trustee Wiegman, seconded by Trustee Schmidt, the minutes of the meeting of April 7, 2004 organizational meeting were unanimously approved.
On a motion by Trustee Grant, seconded by Trustee Schmidt, the minutes of the regular meeting of April 7, 2004 were approved as amended by a unanimous vote.
On a motion by Trustee Wiegman, seconded by Trustee Kane, the minutes of the Special meeting of April 12, 2004 were unanimously approved.
Manager Herbek: On upcoming events for the weekend: Earth Day is Saturday April 24th. It is one of the ways in which residents can help their village by helping with litter and trash pick up and improvement projects. The CAC has a list of goals for Saturday morning: a good way to give back to the community. Meet at 9 am at Senasqua but remember you can’t go through the tunnel. Also on Saturday morning is the dedication of the new Spencer Field track at 9:30 am. The Rotary Club will be having their annual Kellerhouse dinner event at Crystal Bay at 4 pm.on Sunday. They would like as many in the community to come out and participate as possible; hopefully a nice weather day The Rotary Club is planning on honoring members of committees and
boards in the village for their volunteerism. He asked Trustees to communicate with their liaison committees. The price is $35.
Trustee Wiegman: Regarding the School Board – when can there be a joint meeting with both? They are trying to find a date, probably in June sometime. There are many issues to cooperate on. On Citizen Participation, there were periods of time when individuals averaged 35 – 45 minutes in the years leading up to 2003. The notion of having easily discernible rules is good. He passed out copies of the book State of the World 2004 for all Board members. The theme is consumption and since we are an energy smart community we should be interested.
Trustee Kane – urged all to celebrate Earth Day; different sections of the village will be addressed. And there will be free t-shirts to early arrivals.
Trustee Schmidt: The Arboretum is celebrating Arbor day on Sunday, April 25 from 2-4 and Ken Kraft is commemorating the same on the 28th at 10 am He encourages people to be civil and we (the Board) will do our best to do the same. The grade crossing at Brook Street must be used this summer. If a car is on the track don’t enter until it is across the track; maybe we should have a presentation about safe crossing at a meeting; urges the use of the pedestrian bridge where possible.
Trustee Grant: The daffodils look beautiful on the hill by Bethel; done by the CAC. It’s nice to see the Little League out on the fields. She complemented Rob DiFrancesco - pleased to see him come and he did very well; a good presentation. She thanked Dave Tuttle for his approach and his emails earlier in the day; this is what her hope is. She noted former Trustee McCarthy is in the back of room. Bob Scott had a suggestion from CHOPA days; maybe it is time to have a general town hall meeting.
Mayor Elliott: Elvita Rhodes is appointed to serve on the Water Control Commission to replace Charlie Kane. We are not censoring or editing letters; when time allows we will read more at length. In this meeting a remark was made about immigrants not understanding our rights. We need to remember that we are all immigrants and the Bill of Rights came from the Dutch tradition and their model used in governing New Amsterdam.
On a motion by Trustee Grant, seconded by Trustee Kane, the meeting was adjourned at 9:27 pm on a unanimous vote.
Ann H. Gallelli, Secretary