Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, NY was held on Monday, April 16, 2007 at the Municipal Building, Van Wyck Street, Croton-on-Hudson, NY.
The following officials were present:
The following official was absent:
1. CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Schmidt called the meeting to order at 8:03 p.m. Everyone joined in the Pledge of Allegiance.
2. APPROVAL OF VOUCHERS:
Trustee Kane made a motion to approve the vouchers as follows; the motion was seconded by Trustee Gallelli and approved unanimously.
Mayor Schmidt re-appointed Witt Barlow to the Zoning Board. The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the appointment.
A. E-mail from Phyllis Morrow of Nordica Drive dated April 3, 2007 recommending that Mayo's Landing be closed on a temporary basis to replant and prevent further destruction of the property and further requested that a fence be installed to block entry while the conservation project is taking place.
Trustee Kane advised that the Croton River Compact Committee has developed a Management Plan for Mayo's Landing and after many months of work the committee wishes to present the Plan to the public and the Board at the next Regular Meeting to be held on May 7th. Trustee Kane also recommended a site visit by the Board between now and May 7th.
Trustee Gallelli suggested that this e-mail be forwarded to the Croton River Compact Committee so that they can see what is being suggested.
Mayor Schmidt advised that, in conjunction with this, a meeting has been scheduled on May 3, 2007 at 7:30pm with the Town of Cortlandt. Mayor Schmidt said that the same agencies that were represented the last time this meeting was held will also be present. Mayor Schmidt said that this is an opportunity for the public and those who live in that area to come and express their concerns. Mayor Schmidt said that hopefully we will have a preliminary draft report so that we can indicate to the public where we are heading and what goals and objectives we have moving forward.
Trustee Konig said that the Police Chief has advised that the Police Department is taking steps so that this season will be better than the last.
Mayor Schmidt said that the Police Chief has also been asked to attend the meeting. Mayor Schmidt said that the Town has also taken steps to contain the parking availability on the other side of the river, the Police Boat is also going to help but we still need to determine how we are going to manage Mayo's Landing.
Trustee Kane stated that the police patrols have made a dramatic difference in the quality of life for those who live in this area.
B. Letter from Emilie Spaulding, Director of Government Affairs, dated March 29, 2007 advising that the Starz and Encore channel positions have been changed to enable customers to more easily locate these very popular channels.
C. Letter from Harold Lockwood, Parade Marshal, dated April 2, 2007 inviting the Mayor and Board of Trustees to attend the upcoming Fireman's Parade scheduled for Saturday, May 19, 2007.
D. Letter from Rosemarie Noonan, Executive Director of the Housing Action Council, dated April 4, 2007 advising that there are available funds for income eligible property owners to make needed repairs to their properties.
Mayor Schmidt asked that this be put on the Croton Web-Site and also be passed along to the Croton Housing Network and various houses of worship because they may know people who may be eligible.
Trustee Gallelli also asked that the letter be forwarded to the Croton Caring Committee.
E. Letter from Daniel O'Connor, P.E. dated April 11, 2007 regarding a Building Permit Extension Request from the property owner at 181 Cleveland Drive requesting an additional six (6) month extension.
On motion of TRUSTEE GALLELLI seconded by TRUSTEE KANE, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
RESOLVED that the owner of the property located at 181 Cleveland Drive, Croton on Hudson, New York is hereby granted a six (6) month extension on their Building Permit.
5. CITIZEN PARTICIPATION - AGENDA ITEMS
Fran Allen, 7 Finney Farm, Croton, said that the Retainer Agreement with Peter Woodcock for consulting services with respect to the Hudson National Golf Club indicates that he is an Urban Forester. Ms. Allen said that she didn't believe that this is an urban area and was wondering why the Village looked for an Urban Forester. Ms. Allen said that she is also interested in finding out more about what is being planned.
Village Manager, Richard Herbek said that Mr. Woodcock is an expert on tree matters, has a Masters Degree from the University of Massachusetts, and has been in the business for many years in addition, a number of municipalities have retained Mr. Woodcock for his tree expertise. Mr. Herbek said that there are a number of issues that the Board is taking a look at with respect to Hudson National Golf Course to include certain cutbacks in some of the tree plantings around the golf course. Mr. Herbek said that Mr. Woodcock will be reviewing the Golg Course's Consultant Report and preparing a report of recommendations to the Village Board.
Mayor Schmidt said that this potential tree-cutting is all part of the Village's negotiations with Hudson National with respect to their certiorari. Mayor Schmidt said that the Village owes Hudson National $625,000 in back taxes. Mayor Schmidt said that this and a couple of other issues are part of a negotiation that the Board is working on to see what we can do in bringing that number down. Mayor Schmidt said that if this works out it will be in the best interest of the Village.
Maria Cudequest, 84 Grand Street, Croton, asked that we let Karen Bernard know as these things can impact the Arboretum.
Mayor Schmidt closed Citizen Participation on Agenda Items
a. On motion of TRUSTEE KANE seconded by TRUSTEE KONIG, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
WHEREAS, it is necessary to hire a security firm for night security at Senasqua Boat Basin and Senasqua Park; and
WHEREAS, night security bids were sent out and 3 bid proposals were received and opened on March 29, 2007; and
WHEREAS, Special Services Bureau, Inc. of Bronx, NY was the lowest bid proposal; and
WHEREAS, the Superintendent of Parks and Recreation recommends that the Village award the bid to Special Services Bureau,
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that the Village Manager is authorized to award the bid proposal to Special Services Bureau, Inc at the amount of $13.50 per hour and $18.90 per hour on holidays,
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: that the total amount for the summer season of $16,461.90 will be charged to account #A7140.0400
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: that this amount is divided between fiscal year 2006-07 at $1,860.30 and 2007-08 at $14,601.60.
B. On motion of TRUSTEE GALLELLI, seconded by TRUSTEE KANE, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
WHEREAS, The Village has been negotiating with Hudson National Golf Club on a number of issues; and
WHEREAS, Hudson National would like to amend the planting plan and environmental management plan that is part of its site plan; and
WHEREAS, the Village requires consulting help with the review of these plans; and
WHEREAS, Peter Woodcock, an urban forester, has provided a proposal to the Village,
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that the Village Manager is hereby authorized to accept the proposal from Peter Woodcock at a rate of $65 per hour for consulting help with the review of Hudson National Golf Course’s environmental management plan and planting plan.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: that the cost of Peter Woodcock’s services will be charged to the Planning Account #A8020.4000.
Trustee Gallelli said that one of the things that Peter Woodcock will be doing is comparing their proposed cutbacks to the extensively detailed Environmental Management Plan that the Planning Board developed years ago when this was approved. Trustee Gallelli said that the Village is taking every step that this does match the concerns that were expressed during the environmental review.
Mayor Schmidt said that a lot of the cutbacks that they are looking for are cutbacks that are trees they were asked to plant that are now compromising the function of the golf course. Mayor Schmidt said that part of the problem is that there was over-planting.
Trustee Kane commented that the water quality basins that were developed on this site are most important to protecting our Village from flooding and they should be protected and maintained and he is hoping that the tree cutbacks will not affect those water quality basins.
Mayor Schmidt agreed and said that this will be another issue that will be looked as to whether or not the water quality basis are being maintained and whether or not the over-plantings are compromising the functioning of some of those detention ponds. Mayor Schmidt said that we will not approve anything that will lead to any kind of further exacerbation of our storm water management issues that we have in Croton.
c. On motion of TRUSTEE KONIG seconded by MAYOR SCHMIDT, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
WHEREAS, Local Law No. 3 of 2003 was approved at a regular Village Board Meeting held on October 7, 2003; and
WHEREAS, this Local Law called for the setting of Village Fees through Board Resolutions; and
WHEREAS, it would be of benefit to both the Village and the general public to have all fees conveniently placed in one resolution, which may be amended from time to time; and
WHEREAS, a master fee schedule was adopted on October 7, 2003 and has since been modified a number of times,
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Village Board of Trustees hereby adopts the attached updated master fee schedule effective June 1, 2007.
Trustee Kane said that he is not in favor of increasing the parking permit rates. Trustee Kane said that the increase since 2005 for residents is 25% and for non-residents 26%. Trustee Kane said that during this time there has not been any upgrades at the lot and felt that the Village should not be charging this increase at this time.
Trustee Gallelli said that she agrees with Trustee Kane and suggested that we separate the parking fees from the rest of the Fee Schedule and just vote on everything other than the parking fees.
Mayor Schmidt said that the Village has made it clear that we are going to keep all the fees together and felt that there is no point in separating them. Mayor Schmidt said that that our costs for maintaining the parking lot have gone up over the years and indicated that there were no increases last year. Mayor Schmidt said that in terms of maintenance of the parking lot, he does agree that maintenance could be better and has made a promise that this is not going happen this coming year; we are going to get better maintenance and make sure that this lot is kept the way that it should be kept.
Trustee Gallelli said that when this happens then we can raise the rates. Trustee Gallelli said that we are going into a second rate increase that is not justified based on improvements in the quality of the parking situation.
Mayor Schmidt asked Trustee Gallelli if she wanted the Croton taxpayers to pick up the additionally loss of revenue?
Trustee Gallelli said that she understands that the revenue will be shifted but cannot support a 25% increase in two years.
Trustee Kane said that he finds if ironic that our legal expenses have increased $365,000 and this increase in the parking rates will add about $335,000 to the Village coffers. Trustee Kane said that these numbers are very close and it seems that the residents and non-residents are funding the legal battles that we have at 1A Croton Avenue. Trustee Kane said that the lot flooded yesterday, today and is going to flood tomorrow.
Mayor Schmidt said that the Village enacted provisions to make sure that the people are protected, cars are not allowed to park in those areas that flood, provisions for shuttle busses to get people to the station have been made, provisions for e-mail notification has been made, and we have contracted and hired an engineer which costs the Village money to look at the solutions to the flooding problem. Mayor Schmidt said that the flooding problem has never been addressed; it has been neglected for a long time and feels very confident that we are going to solve the problem. Mayor Schmidt said that it costs the Village more every year in staff time to run that lot and we have a responsibility to the taxpayers of Croton to make sure that we are getting the fees that are necessary from the operations that we run in this community to keep it moving it forward. Mayor Schmidt said that the purpose of purchasing that lot was to have non-taxable revenue for the Croton community.
Trustee Gallelli said that she agrees that there are costs that are associated with running the lot that have gone up but they have not gone up 25%. Trustee Gallelli said that she is in favor of some degree of increase but not what is being proposed.
Mayor Schmidt asked if Trustee Gallelli is willing to give that to the taxpayers.
Trustee Gallelli asked that we amend the resolution and separate the other fees from the parking fees.
Trustee Kane said that there is $500,000 in grant money to fund the engineering studies that is not coming out of the pockets of our residents
Mayor Schmidt said that this is Federal Tax dollars that is going to be used to help pay for improvements on the lot that will resolve the flooding problems.
Trustee Gallelli said that parking lot fees are not being channeled to the engineering study.
Mayor Schmidt commented that you can split hairs and say that you have this money and you can take it out of here, it is an accounting issue and we can all play these games. Mayor Schmidt stated that the problem is that we have a Department Head that has not done his job in maintaining the lot. Mayor Schmidt stated that he has been asked repeatedly to clean the lot and nothing has been done and this is why we were are having these problems.
Trustee Konig said that there were non residents who came to the Budget Hearing who had definite solid complaints about the day to day issues regarding the lot. Trustee Konig said that the Village would be dishonest to raise the rates and not have them see over the next year that their money has gone to some "day to day improvements" and some "long term improvements". Trustee Konig stated that we have ignored the problems at the lot for thirteen years.
Trustee Kane said that the Village received a grant for $500,000 two years ago to improve pedestrian safety and traffic issues.
Mayor Schmidt said that the primary problem is the flooding so why would we fix how traffic flows if people cannot get their when it floods, it didn't make sense then and it doesn't make sense now. Mayor Schmidt said that we have made the commitment to move forward and solve the flooding problem, this is the big issue and we are going to solve that problem.
Roll Call: Trustee Konig Aye; Mayor Schmidt Aye, Trustee Gallelli Nay, Trustee Kane, Nay
Mayor Schmidt asked that the resolution be brought back for the next Board Meeting.
7. CITIZEN PARTICIPATION - NON-AGENDA ITEMS
Maria Cudequest, 84 Grand Street, Croton, said that we have some obligation to non residents such as keeping the lot clean, keeping it plowed, and well lit, but, quite frankly, she does not intend to subsidize people who park there and who live in communities whose taxes are significantly less than Croton's. Ms. Cudequest said that the parking lot is a business and we should run it as such and fees go up all the time.
Maria Cudequest commented that she is not surprised that Regus was evicted for failing to pay their rent and attorney's fees; because the records show that the recent violation issued by the DEC for non-payment of DEC Monitor Fees and a litany of other reasons she has shared with the Board, showed that this company was having some sort of financial issues. Ms. Cudequest said that residents should also get a full accounting of what these negotiations have cost the Village. Ms. Cudequest said that this issue has always been about the health, safety and welfare of our Village and trying to undo the damaged inflicted upon it by officials who may have thought that they knew what was best, but clearly didn't. Ms. Cudequest said that this last election was a referendum; the Board has a very clear mandate to do what they can to keep Croton trash free and protect our Village.
Mayor Schmidt advised that our special counsel has sent a letter of objection to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation opposing the transfer of the permit from Regus to the new entity that has been set up.
Bob Wintermeier, 43 Radnor Avenue, Croton, congratulated the members of the Board who continue to fight against Regus. Mr. Wintermeier said that according to the press, Greentree has evicted them from the 1A Croton Point Avenue facility for non-payment of rent and current indications are that they will be unable to even pay their termination fees. Mr. Wintermeier said that it is evident that they were in trouble for a long time; he spent many a day traveling across the Half Moon Bay Bridge and was pleased to see virtually no activity over the last four months. Mr. Wintermeier thanked Ms. Cudequest for going out of her way in keep the Board aware of what was happening regarding their status at other locations around the Northeast and the Village owes Ms. Cudequest thanks for her efforts. Mr. Wintermeier said that the Village needs to take steps to prevent a future Regus from taking over the facility which may involve rezoning, purchase or a condemnation through Eminent Domain. Mr. Wintermeier said that we should not forget that the DPW needed a new facility a year ago and we can use the additional parking spaces as a source of revenue. Mr. Wintermeier said that we also need to get our congressional representatives to work on legislation to close the loophole that Regus hoped would allow them to use the 1A Croton Point Facility. Mr. Wintermeier stated that we have given use of our parking lot to any kind of charitable organization that wants run a program gratis. Mr. Wintermeier said that you won't find this in New York City; you will pay $24.00 to park regardless of whether it is a charitable or non-charitable event. Mr. Wintermeier said that when approving contracts, he would like the term "not to exceed" incorporated into the contract. Mr. Wintermeier said that he did some analysis on the proposed parking permit fee increase, the increase amounts to $ .30 a day and felt that it was not too much to ask additionally, the $500,000 grant does not come free and the Village probably have to contribute to that grant. Mr. Wintermeier said that the Village also has additional costs with respect to lights, salaries, etc. and these costs should be taken into consideration. Mr. Wintermeier asked if the Croton Sailing School will be contributing to the additional security fees indicated in the resolution.
Mayor Schmidt stated that the security service is to cover the Croton Boat Basin and because the Croton Sailing School is located there, they will benefit from this security service. Mayor Schmidt said that the Board negotiated an increase in rent which would include security services.
Mayor Schmidt said that he and Mr. Herbeck spoke with Mr. Gerard of Congressman Hall's office and brought him up to date on the status of the Village's position with the STB, urging him to either have Congressman Hall show up at the April 19th hearing in front of the STB or at least send written comment supporting closing this loophole in the law regarding waste transfer facilities. Mayor Schmidt said that we expect them to do something on the Village and other community's behalf. Mayor Schmidt said that he also sent information to Senators Clinton and Schumer's office to see what they can do. Mayor Schmidt said that the April 19th hearing is not a Croton hearing, it has to do with a facility in Massachusetts and while it is of interest to us, we are not allowed to offer testimony because it is not our case, but they are allowed to hear Congressional testimony and that is why he has encouraged Congressman Hall to appear or send written comments.
Ms. Cudequest said that she heard from Linda Raymond of the Wallburn/Willmington collaborative and they have been given five minutes to address the STB as well.
Mayor Schmidt closed Citizen Participation on Non-Agenda Items
8. APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
TRUSTEE KANE made a motion to approve the minutes of the Annual Organizational Meeting held on Tuesday, April 4, 2007 as amended. TRUSTEE GALLELLI seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously to approve the minutes
TRUSTEE KONIG made a motion to approve the minutes of the Regular Board Meeting held on Tuesday, April 3, 2007 as amended. TRUSTEE KANE seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously to approve the minutes
TRUSTEE GALLELLI made a motion to approve the minutes of the Executive Session held on Tuesday, April 3, 2007 as amended. TRUSTEE KANE seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously to approve.
TRUSTEE KONIG made a motion to approve the minutes of the 2007-2008 Public Hearing of the Tentative Budget held on Monday, April 9, 2007 as amended. TRUSTEE GALLELLI seconded the motion. The Board voted approved the minutes
Trustee Kane abstained.
Village Manager, Richard Herbek, advised that lots G & H were closed due to the storm, and is pleased to advise that the procedure for transporting commuters to the train station went very well. Mr. Herbek said that the Village had flooding along Albany Post Road and the roadway was closed for a period of time. Mr. Herbek advised that our Water Foreman was stranded at the watershed area, he had come in the night before because he was concerned about the pump station and when he woke up at 5:00am he found himself trapped and had to be rescued by the Police Department and unfortunately did lose his car. Mr. Herbek advised that they have not been able to get to the old pump house, but suspects that water has gotten in their also. Mr. Herbek also advised that the Blackrock Building also sustained water. Mr. Herbek said that the County might be eligible for emergency grants depending on the amount of damage. Mr. Herbek said that he has never seen such a quantity of water flowing over the Croton Dam; it is quite a site to see. Mr. Herbek asked that the Board hold a work session on Monday, April 30th. Mr. Herbek advised that they need to move the Village's wood chips from Croton Landing to another location and suggested the Municipal Place site or at the back parking area at Blackrock.
Mayor Schmidt asked if the ability to drop the level of Kaplan's Pond was effective in helping the storm water along Brook Street.
Dan O'Connor, Village Engineer, said that it lasted until 6:00pm and even though the value was open, the pond was filled up. Mr. O'Connor said that there was some minor damage in the area but not that extensive.
Trustee Konig stated that she was at the parking lot at the height of rush hour and the Police Department and Department of Public Works did everything in their power to make things run smoothly in light of this extraordinary day. Ms. Konig said that the flooding and the needs of our Department of Public Works are a good argument for the Village to pursue Eminent Domain over 1A Croton Point Avenue. Ms. Konig said that we are happy that Regus nor the railroad it was associated with are not going to be operating in the Village, but the Board needs to continue to move forward carefully and yet aggressively to settle the situation at 1A Croton Point Avenue. Ms. Konig said that there appears to be this company that was created the day after Regus was evicted but we have our eyes on it as well as our attorneys and we will be reporting on that as soon as information becomes available.
Trustee Kane advised that the CAC will be sponsoring the annual Earth Day Village Clean-Up on Saturday, April 28th. Trustee Kane encouraged residents to visit the Croton Dam; it is spectacular to see and does not happen all the time. Trustee Kane gave a little history of the Croton Dam; "in October of 1955, a large hurricane hit the area and during that hurricane nine inches of rain fell, at that time the spillway was higher and the spillway was actually damaged and leaking. Trustee Kane said that New York City drained the reservoir, repaired the spillway but it still leaks from the damage of 1955. Trustee Kane said that between 1955 and 1965 the Croton River was entirely dry every summer and the trout population was destroyed each summer. Trustee Kane said that the Department of Environmental Conservation would come in on April 15th, stock the stream with thousands of trout and by July they were all gone. Trustee Kane said that at that time, they knocked the spillway top section off and the first and second sections of granite were pushed into the lake to make the lake and the spillway eight to ten feet lower than it was originally so that it would take the pressure off the Dam itself and there are now agreements with New York City that will no longer allow it to dry up."
Trustee Gallelli agreed that the Police and the Department of Public Works did a terrific job handling the parking lot. Trustee Gallelli said that she was advised by Mr. O'Connor that this was a five year storm and many municipal projects, as a standard, are engineered to handle five year storms and in some cases ten year storms. Trustee Gallelli advised that the seniors will be holding their 50th Anniversary event in October. Trustee Gallelli advised that the seniors currently have 167 active members. Trustee Gallelli reminded everyone that the end of May is the last day to sign up for the Village's Sidewalk Program and encouraged anyone interested in participating in the program to sign up. Trustee Gallelli asked what the status of the Nextel Application is. Trustee Gallelli also asked what the status of the Town Youth Center proposal was because she had heard from one of the Town Councilmen that Croton had rejected it.
Village Manager, Richard Herbek, stated that he has not signed the Nextel Agreement because there were some changes made in the design drawing that are being reviewed by the Village Engineer and as soon as that is completed he will sign the Agreement.
Mayor Schmidt said that they did not reject the Town Youth Center Proposal, but rather suggested at that time that the Recreation Advisory Board and the Recreation Superintendent make contact with the Town to discuss what it is that they are planning and they would then bring back their suggestions to the Board. Mayor Schmidt said that we need to remind them to schedule that meeting.
Mayor Schmidt reminded the Board that on April 30th there will be a work session to discuss DPW and other issues, on May 3rd, a meeting with the Town and representatives from the DEC to discuss issues regarding Mayo's Landing and the Croton River, and a Healthy River Walk will be held on Saturday, May 5th.
On motion of TRUSTEE KONIG seconded by TRUSTEE GALLELLI the resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York to enter into an Executive Session to discuss ongoing litigation with 1A Croton Point Avenue.
There being no further comments to come before the Board, a motion to close the meeting at 9:35pm was made by Trustee Kane and seconded by Trustee Konig. Motion was unanimously approved.
Peggy Keesler, Village Clerk