By Eileen Gallagher
Hard to believe, but winter is (officially) almost over. This winter has been rough in many ways, not the least of which on our downtown. Merchants did not have a level of sustainable activity typical for this season. To that end, the town board is considering a proposal to have a three month period of “Shopping Local” during which parking time limits will be extended to allow for three hour parking. If the experiment is successful, three hour parking would become the new regulation.
For those who ride their bicycles to the Chappaqua train station, the board is planning to purchase bicycle stands, or rings, to provide a place to lock the bikes. Currently bikes are chained to the metal fence at the station, which impedes handicap access to the elevator. Jill Shapiro, town administrator, will look into selecting a grassy area for the bikes, out of the way of the cars at the station.
Next week’s town board meeting (Tuesday, March 11) will feature a public hearing on the proposed changes to the ethics code and board. The board discussed, among other things, an amended code of ethics for New Castle. Also on the table are the expansion of the ethics board from three to five members, and the elimination of party requirements. The ethics board would no longer include a town employee, and all members would have to be elected by a supermajority of the board (four out of five vote minimum rather than three).
As an aside, Rob Greenstein mentioned that he will be sending an apology to a member of the ethics board that just resigned, alluding to a statement he made at the last board meeting that the ethics board “is a joke.” Greenstein clarified that, in his statement, he was referring to the way the board is set up, not the integrity or ability of the individual members.
The word “vision” was highlighted throughout a presentation given by engineers at WSP, a professional services firm out of Pleasantville. What is the vision of the town? How would they like the look and feel of the downtown to be? David Weiss and Robert Severance stressed their eagerness to collaborate with the board on all aspects of proposed improvements, including reinforcing roads, “bumping out” sidewalks, and restructuring the intersection of King Street and South Greeley Avenue (by Starbucks) to be safer and “less confusing” for drivers. According to Severance, the traffic would flow more efficiently with an all-way stop sign, and even better with a traffic signal. These options will be up for discussion.
One question for WSP was the cost of burying the downtown’s electric, phone, and cable lines as part of the work being considered, and possible ways to mitigate these costs. Weiss indicated that there are ways of cost sharing to make it more manageable, and would include such costs in their proposal.
Timing of work such as gas line replacement and pavement reinforcement is a big concern. After the major disruption during the Route 120 bridge work, the board would like to ensure that any work taking place will be the most cost efficient and convenient for merchants and shoppers. Work would likely take place during the summer, when school is out, traffic is not as dense, and there are fewer weather related stoppages.
For information on several topics currently trending in town, consider attending the newly announced “Conversation With the Supervisor” sponsored by the League of Women Voters of New Castle on Tuesday, March 18, from 10 a.m. to noon. As their website states, topics and issues to be discussed include: Master Plan update; Moving Town Hall to Chappaqua Crossing; Updates on development projects: Chappaqua Crossing, Conifer’s Hunts Place, The Spa and Mosque proposed plans; Property revaluation; and Westchester County government consolidation of services considerations.