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Phase 2

A.  The Plan


1. Overall Concept and Approach

Recommendations for the Master Plan for the Village of Croton-on-Hudson are based on the following broad concepts:

A.  That the residents of Croton-on-Hudson consider parks, recreation facilities, and open
space as essential to the quality of life in the Village, and that improvements to the existing variety of resources are essential to the changing population and life style

B.   That the needs and wishes of the residents, expressed through various public
       processes and through enrollment in activities, must be addressed to accommodate
       changes in demographics, in use of leisure time, and in recognition of changes in
       recreation activities

C.   That all proposals must address access, parking, environmental and cultural

D.   That the Hudson River waterfront and the Croton River are significant assets to the
       Village and can provide recreation and open space opportunities for the residents

E.    That additional facilities at existing parks and new facilities will necessitate
increased funds for additional staff for maintenance, programs and administration.
(Emphasis added to reinforce concept of adding increased funding for maintenance as capital funding is programmed for each improvement)

In recognizing these broad concepts, the Approach taken has been to identify the large scale needs for the future, while also addressing smaller scale improvements to facilities and operations.  The smaller scale improvements can be accomplished in phases over the next few years, while the large scale improvements must be planned ahead because of the complexity of related issues including design, environmental constraints, the process of obtaining resident input and approval, the need to identify financing options, and the consideration of impact on staffing and maintenance

The two major large scale improvements identified by the Village of Croton-on-Hudson as important needs are:
·       More playing fields
·       A Community Center  (this should include indoor gym space, a clearly identified need, as well as other spaces, detailed in this report)

2. Facility Recommendations

2.1. Short Term Recommendations

The following recommendations have been developed into part of a Five Year Capital Plan based on priorities, costs, needs for construction sequencing, and urgency.  These recommendations are based on observations made at the facilities by Cherbuliez/Munz, on discussions with Village staff, and on priorities identified by the public, especially the Recreation Advisory Committee.

A.      Because of the continuing increase in the number of teens in programs, a space must
 be created as soon as possible for them. The garage room can be well adapted as a
space for the teens, by adding a dropped ceiling, walls, heating, electrical work
 including lighting and ventilation.

A.      Add signage prohibiting the feeding of geese with brief explanation of importance of not feeding; install 8’ wide path on far side of pond; add plantings and benches along path and in other areas around pond.
B.      Reorganize playground area and make playground adhere to current ASTM Standards and Consumer Product Safety Standards (CPSS); make ramp to playground ADA compliant.

(Note: The Consultants recommend further clarification by the community of the use of Duck Pond Park.  While the pond area cannot be considered a natural resource, it does serve residents as a place to walk and sit despite its being somewhat noisy due to the traffic on the adjacent Route 9 and Riverside Avenue. The playground area is quiet as it is buffered by the hillside.)

A.      Construct small lavatory building (sinks and 2 toilets - 1 HC & 1 for both male/female).
Project may be done with Little League. Village may contribute plumbing and electrical work.

A.      Renovate restroom building.
B.      Do conceptual plan for park improvements, to make park more attractive, eliminate flooding at playground, and to coordinate design with new road and parking at Croton Landing;
Implement plan, including drainage & site improvements.

A.      Add benches and tables for picnicking; improve plantings (due to previous vandalism at
Park, involve High School students and local merchants in design of improvements, in order to create sense of ownership and responsibility).

A.      Construct a playing field, which is flexible in use, i.e. a large soccer field, 200’ x 300’ to be used also as four fields. Add a small storage building for goal posts and other equipment.

Note: While playing fields are considered in this study as a large scale, long term improvement if land must be acquired, it is clear that it is possible to construct a soccer field at Croton Landing within the next few years, as this project is neither a very costly endeavor, nor would it detract from the waterfront setting. Locating such a multi-use field at Croton Landing can be defended as compatible with passive use, if certain guidelines are maintained.  These would include the use of portable goal posts which would be removed when the fields are not in use, no fencing, and use of the field for various activities, such as gatherings for concerts or art shows, kite flying, informal play.  Any use would have to be balanced with the provision of adequate parking to serve the use.  In addition, permits by the Village should be issued for the use of the field for soccer games and any other events, in order to maintain the site in good condition.

B.      Make other site improvements (to be determined).

A.      Parking lot: reorganize parking lot layout, add permeable surface such as gravel or tar and chip; remove invasive vines from trees; remove wood chips, possibly spreading them on trails, such as Croton Gorge Trails.
B.      Replace wooden steps from road down to swimming area, repair/replace handrails.
C.      Bath house Area: make exterior visual improvements, including adding plantings,
Replace concrete steps going to beach area.
D.      Connect pavilion to park with path.
E.      Add picnic tables in flat area along road down to swimming area.

A.  Organize and improve parking area, preserving the seven large oaks
B.  Renovate small building for recreation office and for storage
C.  Provide picnic area with shelter, tables, waste containers for group and individual use
D.  Develop park for boating, possibly by concessionaire (rowing, canoeing, and/or
kayaking); add new building for storage and maintenance of boats; make necessary site    improvements at waterfront as needed for boating

2.2  Long Term Recommendations


Current Conditions
Most Village Recreation programs are currently held in the Community Room, located in the basement of the Municipal Building on Van Wyck Street.  Youth, Teen, Adult and Senior activities and programs are all held in this room.
The community room is approximately 3500 sq. ft. in size and can accommodate approximately 110 people. It has a small kitchen and a big screen (50”) TV.  Seating (folding tables and chairs) and game tables are stored against the walls when not in use.  The room can be accessed by a ramp from the parking lot, an elevator or stairs.  Teen activities draw 50 to 80 youths with as many as 100 plus attending certain functions.  Senior programs usually serve between 75 and 100 attendees.  Youth and adult classes vary in number from 5 to 40 attendees.

Limited additional programming for small groups is held in the Recreation Conference room of the Municipal Building, at the Parish Hall of St. Augustine’s Church and in the all-purpose room at the CET Elementary School.  Community-wide events and indoor athletic programs are held in the gyms at the High School and CET elementary school.

Parking is a serious issue at the Municipal Building, especially on Wednesday, when Village Court is in session.  There are no public bus lines to the Municipal Building.  There is a senior van that will be replaced with a new one in the early Fall, 2002.

Programs are limited in size and in variety because of the lack of space. There is not sufficient space to hold different programs simultaneously. There is limited indoor gym space available; the need for additional indoor gym space has been strongly expressed.

Temporary Solution for Teen Programs
It is possible that the second floor of the new Harmon Fire House could temporarily accommodate teen programs for up to 150 youth at a time.  The second floor is accessed by an elevator.  Note that no parking is available at this site.  Currently, the younger teens are dropped off, which creates the need for an official emergency dismissal and retrieval process. An auxiliary drop-off and retrieval location should be designated.  This solution should be investigated by the Village.

Criteria for the site for New Community Center:
·       Property must be 2.0 acres minimum, depending on topography, access to utilities, and other site conditions.
·       Parking for at least 175 cars
·       Preferably near other Village facilities in order to share parking
·       Possibly accessible from public transportation lines

General Community Center Needs:
§       Increased and flexible programming space, including gym and large events
§       Ability to serve multi-generational programming
§       Ability to accommodate simultaneous uses and events
§       Enlarged kitchen facilities
§       Adequate parking and access
§       Administrative and storage space

Criteria for Building:
§       Seating for 250 people in an all purpose room (could also serve as large gym)
(with portable stage and storage)
§       A kitchen facility and food service for up to 120 people
§       A small gym/dance/exercise studio
§       Classroom/library/study area with computer/internet access
§       Administrative offices
§       Storage (for furniture, AV equipment, games and programming supplies)
§       Service areas: restrooms, corridors, coat closets, janitorial space, etc.
§       Accessible to the disabled, elderly, young and old

To meet the above needs, it appears that approximately 8,000 square feet will be adequate for a Community Center.  This number is based on a study done for the Town of New Castle, whose population is larger: 16,000 versus Croton’s population of approximately 8,000.   This figure includes the 7,606 population plus the non-resident students, 20% of the school population, who attend Croton-Harmon Schools.  The figure also includes their families, all of whom may also use such a Community Center. The Village’s needs are similar to those of New Castle, and suggested space was 10,000 square feet for the population which is approximately double Croton’s.  This square footage should be further refined as the process develops.  

Approximately 175 parking spaces should be sufficient for such a facility, assuming capacity of 250 people plus staff.  Assuming 200 people come at least two in a car (thus 100 spaces), and 50 come alone (50 more spaces), plus space for 10 staff and 10 outside event or program personnel, a total of 170 spaces is the maximum anticipated. Depending on the location, overflow parking could be provided. The area needed for parking and pedestrian access would be between approximately three quarters of an acre, while the area needed for the building footprint if it was to be on one floor, would be approximately a quarter of an acre. Therefore a site of approximately 1.5 to 2.0 acres would be sufficient for building, parking and site work, with space for a small expansion if needed in the future.

Evaluation of Village Owned-Properties for Community Center  (See Table A for several properties)
Based on criteria above, the existing Village-owned recreation facilities that can be considered for the location of a Community Center would be:

1) Croton Landing
1.      Sufficient acreage: 30 acres
2.      Ample parking: 230 parking spaces available through an agreement with the Half-Moon Bay Homeowners Association.
3.      Adjacent outdoor space for large-scale functions
4.      Accessible from Rte 9 and the Village Trail system
5.      Identified in the Greenway Vision for Croton Waterfront and the Feasibility Study for the Village Waterfront Property as a cohesive unit with Senasqua Park
6.      Provides a use and presence year round, including winter when the Waterfront is less used.
1.      Not a waterfront use
2.      Indirect access
3.      Not located in the Village Center
4.      Property visually and physically cut-off from Village by RR tracks
5.      Pedestrian Bridge over Rte 9 not senior friendly
6.      Agreement with Beaverkill Conservancy Inc. (BCI) gives them control over review and approval process on any use changes at this site.
7.      Does not conform to preferred Development Plan

2) Maple Street Parcels (#15 of OSI)
1.      Large enough at 4.2 acres
2.      Potential building site
3.      Accessed off Maple Street and Dailey Drive
1.      Currently serves useful recreational purpose (dirt biking), and keeps bikes off other properties
2.      Drainage issues
3.      Wooded
4.      Will be objections from neighbors
5.      Part of the land is leased from the church which thus may have jurisdiction over usage

3) Vassallo Park
1.      Located in Village Center
2.      Existing public parking area
3.      Located one block from High school and Middle school (PVC)
4.      Access to public transportation
1.      Too small, only 1.1 acre
2.      Adjacent to stream; drainage issues
3.      No expansion possibilities
4.      Residents who neighbor the park would most likely oppose

All other Village owned parks are either too small, not well located or are currently used successfully in the capacity for which they are intended.

Evaluation of Privately Owned-Properties (on Open Space Inventory) for Community Center (see Table B)

4) NY & Albany Post Rd.
        1.   18.5 acres of 3 separate parcels (one parcel of 10 acres is owned by Gouvea
       family) – Gouvea or other parcels large enough for Center and parking
2.      Views of Hudson from some parts
3.      Access from main road
4.      Some utilities probably available
        1.    Probably expensive to purchase
2.      Some steep slopes, water courses, woodlands, rock – need investigation
3.      Question of need for and use of existing structures

5) Croton Nursery School Property
        1.   Large enough site – 9.8 acres
        1.   Land-locked per OSI map – no apparent access to site from roadway, although
      there may be easements
2.      Many steep slopes, rock out-croppings, mature trees, water courses and gorge
3.      Potential opposition from neighbors

6) Duck Pond Properties
1.   Near existing park
        1.   Not sufficient space in one area (2.4 acres in 2 lots)
2.      Very steep, wooded, and rocky
3.      Primarily residential neighborhood

Evaluation of Privately Owned-Properties (NOT On Open Space Inventory) for Community Center (see Table C)

7) Corner Maple St. & Municipal Place (owned by Katz)
        1.   Sufficient size – 2.4 acres
2.      Good location within commercial area & close to new skate park
3.      Good access off Maple St. and/or Municipal Place
4.      Buildable site - gently sloping land, small trees, no evidence of water
5.      Utilities probably easily available
        1.   Small size of site may limit future expansion possibilities
2.   Not adjacent to Village Hall


While it is clear that Croton needs more fields, the Village does not own properties that are suitable for fields, except for the waterfront property.  (See comments under Croton Landing).  County facilities such as the fields at Croton Point Park are available only on a limited basis and no preferential treatment is given to municipalities.

For a limited time, when school construction takes place, the HS field will be used as a staging area and thus will be out of commission, a constraint that may last up to three years.

In addition, since there are not sufficient fields, there is no possibility of having fields “off-line” for rest and maintenance except in extreme cases.

Possible Solutions
The constraints expressed by both Croton Little League and Croton AYS0 are clear and compelling.  The fact that there is little available land appropriate for fields in Croton is also clear.  Other solutions must be found, which could include other structural solutions, such as collaboration with adjacent municipalities in purchasing land, or approaching nearby corporations with substantial land holdings to assess their interest in a cooperative venture.  A more daring non-structural approach may be to propose that children wait until they are age six to start in organized sports.

Recommendation to Collaborate with the County
Under the County’s Westchester Legacy Program, the County has expressed a willingness to look into working with the Croton Recreation Department to have Croton manage a playing field such as the one at Croton Gorge Park. It is recommended that the Village approach the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation to evaluate this possibility, and what arrangements can be made to rehabilitate the existing field, which is in poor condition. The big question will be to make an arrangement that can assure that the Village has regular use of the field.

Potential Locations for a Field or Fields:
On Existing Village-Owned Land:

Croton Landing: Although the Proposed Waterfront Development Plan (as summarized in Phase One of this Study, page 4) recommends passive recreation areas, C/M recommends reconsideration of the idea of locating a flexible soccer field at this site. There is adequate space as indicated in Alternative D. Since the other active recreation facilities shown on Plan D (tennis courts, basketball court and play area), are not facilities requested by the Residents, it may be that they can be eliminated from the plan. Without these three uses, additional space would be freed, and parking demand would be minimized.  In addition, a field provides open space and permits views. Unlike tennis and basketball courts, soccer fields do not need visually obtrusive fencing, and with portable goal posts, can be used for many other purposes.  Such a plan has been developed at the recently developed Irvington Waterfront Park.
Other Sites: No other Village-owned site is suitable.

On Acquired Land: At this time, the Consultants, with the Village, have not identified land to be acquired in the near future for fields.  See below for possible land acquisitions in the more distant future, i.e. beyond five years.

See Tables B and C for a summary of properties for consideration. The only properties that may be possible for consideration in the distant future for fields are the NY and Albany Post Rd. properties, which total 18.5 acres.  These properties may also be considered for a Community Center.  Further examination of the properties must be done, to identify and analyze natural features, in order to determine which property is most suitable for fields. It is possible, however, that the cost of these properties will be too high to justify purchasing them.   

It is recommended that the Village participate with Westchester County, adjacent municipalities and private entities in the establishment of the Greenway/Hudson Riverwalk.  Development of the Village Waterfront property will facilitate this Riverwalk.  Linkages should be established to adjacent municipalities, and connections made to any adjacent recreational facilities.  

At this time, there are no recommendations of properties to be acquired for the Riverwalk.

3. Property Acquisition Recommendations for the Near Future (approximately 5 years)

A. In order to fulfill the recreation needs identified in this study, acquisition of the property on the corner of Maple St. and Municipal Place (owned by Katz) is recommended to accommodate a Community Center with related parking.  Since this site is located in a commercial area, connections can be made to existing utilities, and access is available from surrounding streets and sidewalks.  In addition, traffic and other activity will not be disturbing to the surroundings; as such activity would be in a residential area.  It is also possible that arrangements could be made with adjacent commercial facilities for use of parking for overflow, for larger events than could be accommodated in parking dedicated to the Community Center.

B. If it is not possible to acquire the Katz property, it is recommended that the Village assess the NY and Albany Post Rd. properties, which are comprised of three separate lots.  While these sites are currently not for sale, they may, in the future, become available and could serve for either a Community Center and/or playing fields.   The three lots together, and possibly separately, are large enough to provide a site for a Community Center as well as ballfields, both with related parking. A site analysis will have to done, to assess the impact of the natural features (topography, water courses, rock, vegetation and wildlife) on construction; the suitability of the property for construction of the Center and/or playing fields, with parking and other support facilities; the availability of utilities; and site access.  In addition, the cost to purchase the land will be a factor of considerable significance.

4. Program Recommendations

Current Village Recreation Programs, especially sports-related and senior programs, can be expanded to meet the strong demand demonstrated by the Village population.  Over-booked, popular programs should be limited, due to insufficient space, until additional facilities are created or secured.

Athletic programs:
·       Youth programs should continue as demand remains.  Coordination between AYSO and Little League needs to be facilitated by the Village to minimize conflict and to provide for optimal field utilization.  (See Operation recommendations).

·       Additional programs that focus on self-defense, gymnastics or strength training would expand the youth audience. One-time, seasonal clinics for tennis, cross-country skiing, golf, skateboarding and in-line skating could be created.

·       Adult programming could be expanded to provide activities beyond health and fitness to include coed activities and clinics such as those listed above.

·       Senior programs to promote health and fitness should be created to meet the increasing demands of the senior population.  Walking groups, basic stretching and weight training could be introduced.  Senior activities should take advantage of the outdoor recreational facilities that exist.  

Educational Programs:
·       Preschool programming that includes story time, music, dance, would serve the needs of the preschool population.  Coordination with the library and local daycare centers would be appropriate.
·       Youth Activities could be expanded to include offerings in art, music, dance, computers during the major school vacation weeks.  
·       Activities on the Hudson River throughout the year in addition to the April “Earth Day” Clean Up, to increase youth awareness of the River’s resources.
·       After-school study groups for school age children with senior mentors could be explored.
·       Exploration of additional programming at local Coffee Shop, for more music and/or poetry reading, as part of teen programs
·       Senior activities could be created to combine multi-generational programming such as introductory internet use and video-game tips

5. Operational Recommendations

5.1.    Staffing
5.1.a   Existing Staffing
1 full time Recreation Superintendent
1 full time Recreation Supervisor
2 full time maintenance workers (1 foreman, 1 laborer)
1 full time Secretary
1 part time Senior Citizen Director
Part time staff for seniors (as bus driver)
Part time for teen programs
Part time athletic staff

Part time staff for specific programs (such as youth dance, women’s
exercise, open gym, etc.)       
        Part time staff for Skate Park
Seasonal staff for parks, such as maintenance crew and attendance staff at
                Senasqua and the Boat Basin (Harbor Master, dock aides)
        Seasonal staff for tiny tots for summer
Seasonal workers for maintenance (5)
Seasonal Day Camp Staff for summer
Seasonal Swimming staff (aquatic director, life guards, gate attendants)

5.1.b   Other Staffing
Currently the Recreation Department contracts for grass cutting, some tree
            services, pest removal, ballfield reseeding and special services.

5.1.c   Background:
As there are currently only 2 full time maintenance staff, the absence of
one member, such as for disability, has a major effect on the maintenance of the facilities. The Recreation Department calls on DPW for assistance, which, in turn, impacts DPW’s performance.  In addition, there is no staff on duty during the weekend, the time when the parks are most strongly used.  The Department hires staff for overtime for weekend events, an expensive means of obtaining coverage.

The Recreation Department has cut back on maintenance at the three high school tennis courts.  Because of limited staff and limited community interest, the Rec. Dept. no longer collects fees for tennis permits, and therefore has no source of income to offset the cost of maintenance. The Department has thus cut back on maintenance to three mornings a week. It is not clear if the tennis courts, which will be removed during the high school construction, will be replaced by the school with three new courts, two new courts, or none.

The new Skate Park opened in the summer of 2002.  Part time staff has been hired to run the park and the current maintenance staff is maintaining it. This includes garbage removal, sweeping, leaf removal, and general clean-up.  Inspection of the park equipment (obstacles, ramps etc) is done weekly by a maintenance worker to insure safe conditions for the users.

With two maintenance workers, there is not sufficient time to conduct monthly or weekly inspections of each playground, a responsibility which one of the maintenance workers could follow when he is at the playground for garbage pickup and general cleanup.  One worker has been trained by the National Playground Safety Institute, and could obtain certification if recommended by the Village attorney.  

Currently, no maintenance is provided to the Trails under the jurisdiction of the Rec. Dept.  The Dept. makes repairs in response to citizens’ calls about conditions.  With additional staff, regular inspection and maintenance to the trails could be provided.

With the trail and small parking lot at Croton Landing to be completed in the near future, additional maintenance staff will be needed there.  The park will have increased usage both for the trail as well as for general use, necessitating lawn cutting, garbage removal, general clean-up and repairs.  The Parks Department will maintain the park, the trail, and surroundings, again indicating a need for additional maintenance personnel.

5.1.d    Short Term Recommendations
It is recommended that at least one new full time maintenance worker be hired now that the Waterfront Trail is completed and in use.  The increased usage of the Waterfront Park will necessitate additional presence there and additional care. If a ballfield is developed there, care of this facility will also be needed.  While some of the field will be part of the contractual services, some care will be needed by in-house staff.  This worker would assist in maintenance at both the Waterfront Park and at other parks, as needed, and would provide coverage if one of the other workers is not available. This additional staff person is especially necessary for such tasks as regular garbage pickup, small necessary repairs such as to fences or playgrounds, playground inspection, and special care needed after storm events, such as for erosion or tree and branch removals on trails.  In addition, and very important, weekend coverage would be possible, with a rotating schedule of one worker on Tues. through Sat. another on Wed. through Sun., and the third Mon. through Friday.  This would reduce the need for overtime workers for weekend events.  Furthermore, the additional worker would not only allow a weekend presence at the parks and at events, but also allow both more regular park maintenance and regular documented inspections of playgrounds (weekly quick walk-throughs with monthly more carefully documented inspections).

5.1.e    Long Term Recommendations:

During the Planning Phase of the New Community Center, staffing needs should be addressed in order to anticipate the financial needs. It is possible that a Director of the Center will be needed, on a full or part time basis, as well as a staff member to run and care for the building. New or additional programs may need additional staff , although these will probably be part time.
5.2           Management of Facilities
The current Recreation Superintendent is responsible for the management of all facilities.  In addition, the Superintendent meets with a representative of the school system, Little League, and AYSO in the planning of field use.  It is understood that school sports programs take priority over the other providers.
These planning meetings are satisfactory, based on information from the current Recreation Superintendent.

5.2.a. Maintenance and improvements
Funding for maintenance and improvements is best related to the amount of use by each provider.  It is not reasonable to expect the Recreation Department to maintain fields or courts where they have few if any programs.  Level of maintenance needed can also be resolved during these discussions.  As done in other communities, users such as Little League and AYSO, are expected to pay based on the number of children playing and the number of times a field is used.

5.2.b.   Inspection of Facilities
Weekly documented walk-throughs of each playground should be conducted, to check for such items as loose connections and the condition of safety surface.  Playing fields should be checked prior to each game.  A more detailed documented inspection of  the Skate Park, playgrounds and parks (benches, fencing etc.) should be conducted monthly, with a rigorous safety inspection done yearly according to the standards and documentation of the National Playground Safety Institute.  In addition, trails should be inspected monthly as well as after storms.  Such trail inspection could be done by a group of interested volunteers, under the guidance of the Recreation Department.

5.3.          Financial  Issues

5.3.a    Expenses vs. revenue
Municipalities have different criteria for the percentage of revenue dedicated to the Recreation Department to cover the expenses for recreation facilities, programs, staffing and other responsibilities. Some municipalities, for instance, receive tax revenue to cover half of the recreation expenses, with the other half covered by revenue from fees for programs, camps, and other services, including fees paid by Little League and Youth Soccer, based on the number of players, and number of games.  The fees for services are thus set with the goal of covering this specific percentage.  Capital expenses are more normally paid through a combination of tax revenue, bonding for major projects, and referendums for very costly projects. In some cases, developers are required to pay money into a recreation or open space fund, related to permits, variances, and approvals.
It is recommended that the Village Staff examine all expenses for running the Recreation Department: all programs and events, maintaining facilities and salaries, in relation to the income derived from taxes, fees and other revenue.  In addition, summer programs and swimming should be examined in the same light.  An initial policy can be established for the percentage of expenses to be covered by fees and by taxes.  Then fees can be examined, considering number of attendees to best achieve the desired percentage.  It may be that the percentage will be altered, or the fees increased, or the services decreased, to achieve numbers that the Village can accept.    Certainly every municipality has free events, such as parades, special holiday events, as well as open access to park facilities. Fees for permits for special functions, special uses, and for special populations, however, are standard and should be implemented. Whether for tennis court permits, boat dock permits, or group use of picnic areas, these special use permits but must be examined regularly to see that they reflect actual expenses.

In addition, consideration can be given to charging a higher fee to School District Residents, who are not Village Residents.  Other municipalities that have similar situations follow this procedure, since the non-Village residents are not paying taxes, and therefore should be providing some income to offset the services they are receiving.

The Staff recommendations as well as others suggested here can be presented, with justification, to the Recreation Advisory Committee for their approval.

5.3.b    Camp and Swimming Fees
To assist in assessing the balance between revenue and expense, two charts are included comparing Croton’s fees for Camp and Swimming to those of other communities of a similar size. With the population, the median price of a house is also shown. Croton-on-Hudson has the lowest median price, and while the prices from 1998 have certainly increased, there is no reason to believe that there is a significant change in which municipalities have more costly houses.  Tax revenues from municipalities with higher priced houses are normally higher, and fees charged for services are also higher, since services are often more extensive and expensive to cover.  Nonetheless, the more modest community can still establish what percentage of expenses should be covered by revenue.  These figures, not currently available for all the municipalities noted, reflect different attitudes, ranging from a policy that all programs (camps, swimming, etc.) must pay for themselves, to the policy that nominal fees are charged and the rest of expenses are covered by tax revenue.

Examining the chart for swimming indicates that Croton’s fees for swimming are far below other municipalities, even when examined in relation to median house value. In addition, Croton’s fee for non-Village residents is also significantly lower than other communities. Camp fees are less dramatically different for the communities shown.

5.4       Other Recommendations
Consideration can be given to the composition of the Recreation Advisory Committee.  With seven people on the Committee, it appears that one person who is a non-Village Resident is sufficient representation for that population, who does not pay taxes to the Village, other than school taxes, yet certainly has an interest in the Recreation facilities and programs.

6.    Summary of Major Recommendations

6.1          Make improvements at the parks, as part of a Five Year Capital Plan.
Evaluate recommended improvements and budgets on an annual basis, to verify that the improvements suit the community needs and wishes.  Specifically evaluate the type of improvements and the need for those for Duck Pond, Senasqua, Croton Landing, Silver Lake, and Black Rock Parks.

6.2          Collaborate with the County on improvements at Croton Gorge Park ball field.    

6.3          As part of Long Term (Large Scale Improvements), purchase, if possible, the Katz
     property for a  New Community Center and construct the Center.

6.4          Consider other property acquisitions, if necessary, such as the NY and Albany Post   
     Rd. properties, for recreational facilities.  

6.5          Further develop the Riverwalk in conjunction with the County.

6.6          As a new Community Center is developed, provide new staffing and additional

6.7          Hire one additional maintenance worker as soon as feasible.

6.8          Refine fees paid for use of Recreation Department fields by other entities.

6.9          Evaluate and determine percentage of costs of Recreation Department expenses to  
    be paid by revenue from taxes and fees;  examine all fees, especially swimming   
    and day camp which can be increased, as well as those from non-Village

6.10    As park improvements are made and new facilities brought on line, increase   
           funding for Recreation Department maintenance and operations.


B. Plan Implementation


1.     Five Year Capital Plan (See Table F)

A Five Year Capital Plan has been developed and is shown on the attached Chart. In addition, projects for the Future are included on this plan.  The Plan is not “fixed in stone” as the priority and sequence of improvements may change, the costs may change based on extent of work and the economy, and some new improvements may be added and some may be deleted, based on changing needs in the Village.  The Plan can serve as a guide or a blueprint for the future, to be modified as the needs arise.

As no survey material, plans, or designs were available for these parks, costs were based on measurements taken in the field by the Consultants, and on their experience with similar projects and costs in the Westchester area.  The scope of work has been determined for each park, based on the Consultants’ observations and Village staff’s needs.  It is possible that the scope of work could change over the years, especially since there are no recent Master Plans done for Duck Pond, Silver Lake, and Black Rock Park.

2.     Cost Estimates for Capital Plan
These estimates are order-of-magnitude costs. In some cases, estimates were based on the Consultants’ ideas of recommended improvements.  In other cases, the Recreation staff provided input.  No escalation costs for “cost of living” were added. Prior to making final budget decisions, estimates should be revisited, to assess both the proposed budget and the scope of work.
       A.  New drop ceiling, some new walls, electrical work
 (including lighting, heating, ventilation, some equipment)
          (cost based on 1,500 sq. ft. @  $30./sq.ft. = $45,000 +
          $5,000 for miscellaneous and equipment =                              $50,000

A.        Path of stonedust  (8’ wide x 1600 lf.= 12,800 sf @ $6/sf)             $76,800
          Selected plants at path, say 800 lf x15’ depth,=12,000sf @ $2/sf=        24,000
          Selected plantings at other areas to prevent erosion, say                  4,000
           6  benches, @$700. each                                                           4,200
           Signage                                                                           1,000
                                                                    subtotal             $110,000
        B.   Reorganize playground for safety                                   $15,000
           Redo ramp                                                                       5,000
                                                                      subtotal          $20,000
                                                                        Total             $130,000

         (cost estimates for restroom bldg. And other improvements
         not calculated, but derived from experience with similar projects)

         3 benches @ $750 =                                                    $2,250.
         3 picnic tables @ $1,200=                                             $3,600.
         3 Waste containers @ $800.=                                   $2,400.
         Plantings, say                                                                $5,750
                                                                Total             $14,000

         Soccer Field, 200’ x 300’= 60,000 SF @ $3/sf=                 $180,000
         Storage Building                                                               $ 20,000
                                                                Total           $200,000

A.      Parking :  Remove invasive vines and weed trees and remove
           Wood chips,                                 say               $10,000
                    Improve & clarify 2 parking areas – provide approx.70 spaces
                          1)approx. 70’x250’=22,500 sf. @ $3/sf                          $67,500               
             in place with grading & some rock moving  
             Add wood guide rail 620 lf, @ $30/lf                        $24,800       `            
                           2)approx, 18’x250’=4,500 sf. @ $3/sf                   $13,500                                                                               subtotal        $125,800
         B.  Replace wood steps to swimming; add railing, say            $25,000       
              (use deadmen or make concrete steps)
  C.  Visual improvements to bathhouse with plantings;
     replace concrete steps to beach, say                                $10,000
D.  Make path from Pavilion to park, say                                      5,000
E.  Add picnic tables and waste containers                        6,000
                                                                Total           $171,800
                                                                  Say           $175,000

   A.   Add insulation and heat to small building                        $50,000
B.      Improve parking area, preserving 7 large oaks
and other trees; reorganize lot & add guiderail
Gravel parking, 100’ x 225’ = 22,500sf @ $3.                            $67,500 
Wood guide rail, 600 lf. @ $40/lf.                                               $24,000
                                                                               Subtotal        $91,500
C.      Create picnic area with pavilion                            Say                $60,000  
                                                                                    Total           $151,500           
                                                                                              Say             $152,000

          land and building costs not known

9.       SKATE PARK
         New equipment estimated at $20,000 based on cost of existing equipment, and the
          projected need to replace it, after normal wear and tear.                                             


Opportunities for resolving certain major issues have been suggested in the text of this report, such as working with the County on a field at Croton Gorge, and installing, under the Capital Plan a soccer field at Croton Landing.  Other possibilities have also been suggested for fields, such as allying with a neighboring community to purchase land and construct playing fields, or investigating the possibility of a cooperative venture with a nearby private entity (such as a corporation with large land holdings) to construct playing fields.

Certain municipalities have formed not-for-profit organizations, such as Friends of the Parks, which can fund-raise in order to provide funding to the municipalities for specific facilities or programs.  In addition, municipalities have found corporate and business sponsors for events, and upon occasion for actual construction of facilities, thereby cutting their own expenditures.  Such sponsorships must be evaluated carefully to determine the requirements or expectations of the sponsors and whether they are compatible with the goals of the municipality.

With current fiscal constraints, there are few grants available to municipalities, and of the few many focus on access to water bodies or enhancement of the natural, cultural or historic aspects of water bodies.  Grants through the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), such as those under the Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act and those under the Environmental Protection Act of 1993 are currently not available. Other grant programs administered through OPRHP include Municipal Trail Grants, Boating Infrastructure Grant Program, and Regional Community Historic Preservation Benefit Plan Grants. The latter is available from September through 11/15/02 usually on an annual basis.  Information can be found on the Web Site, at

Through federal funding, there is grant money available for a Recreational Trails Program, with funds from the Federal Highway Administration, these applications being available from September/02 through 11/15/02.

Finally, Croton is well aware of the Community Development Block Grants, federal money administered by the County of Westchester, in three year cycles. Croton has received such grants, and may find that certain park projects outlined here could meet the requirements for the next funding cycle, beginning in the Spring, 2005.