By Eileen Gallagher
For the first time since 2011, the question of garbage collections in New Castle came up at the town board meeting.
The town’s contract with SaniPro ends on January 1, 2015, and the board is preparing an RFP (request for proposal) for refuse collectors. To that end, the board is requesting costs for both once and twice weekly pickups.
Board member Elise Mottel reiterated her opinion from her days on the board that made the decision to cut the collection days. Increased recycling has resulted in less garbage, she feels. In reaching the decision at the time, both the town and sustainability advisory boards believed that the 33 percent reduction in trucks on the road would save about 9,500 gallons of diesel fuel, as well as save the town $200 thousand in costs. Mottel also pointed out that the “green” award ($194 thousand) received by New Castle for reducing the pickups is only one year into its three year term.
Fellow board member Adam Brodsky has spoken with several residents who bemoan the fact that, despite “the significant amount of money [paid] in taxes,” a quality of life service such as garbage collection was cut in half.
Supervisor Rob Greenstein reminded the board, “If we are going to rule out two day a week pickup, it does not help our negotiating position. We want to get the best possible price for the service.” He pointed out the town was midway through its contract with SaniPro when the change in collection terms was originally made.
Moratorium, or not
Have you been asking yourself what a moratorium is, and how it would affect the town? According to Merriam-Webster, it is “a legally authorized period of delay, or a waiting period set by an authority.” For New Castle, issuing a zoning moratorium would halt all development, and could potentially be struck down. According to Greenstein, the courts have struck down moratoriums that are used solely as a means of putting the brakes on controversial projects.
Also, Greenstein observed that the loudest call for a zoning moratorium seems to be coming from residents opposed to the spa at New Castle project. He went on, “ We must remain open for business and keep moving ahead.” Continuing, Greenstein added, “Some residents prefer hamlets to not grow or change. This is not economically sustainable.” Greenstein believes that our property taxes make our community unaffordable to both empty nesters and young families just starting out, and will ultimately drive down our property values.
Addressing the matter of development at Chappaqua Crossing, Greenstein stated, “if we get this right, the town has a tremendous opportunity to not only help with the Chappaqua Crossing campus and its productive use, but to rejuvenate our existing business hamlets at the same time.”
In his address to the town board, Chairman of the Westchester Board of Legislators Mike Kaplowitz touched on the proposed affordable housing at 54 Hunts Place, stressing that the county is committed to the creation of 750 units of affordable housing, but acknowledged that the legislators “do not have the expertise on health and safety matters.” For that, they are relying on the expert opinion of the New York State Board of Variances, who are due to issue their findings as to the eight variances petitioned by Conifer in their April 8 hearing. Kaplowitz assured the town board they are monitoring the situation very closely. “We don’t want to put anyone in potential peril.”
Responding to the supervisor’s request for the board members’ vision and priorities, Jason Chapin relayed his thoughts on the positive aspects of New Castle, concluding, “we must be doing something right if the Clintons, Gov. Cuomo and many others have chosen to live here.” Acknowledging the “daunting challenges” the town is facing, such as high taxes and struggling businesses, Chapin expressed his willingness to pursue limited retail at Chappaqua Crossing and some development at the site of the proposed spa. Chapin went on, “I’m open to exploring the feasibility of moving Town Hall to Chappaqua Crossing if it does not negatively impact our hamlets, if it makes financial sense and if there is public support to do so.”
Observing the current town board, Chapin pointed out that “all five members are dedicated to serving the town to the best of our abilities, but there are significant philosophical, managerial, and financial differences of opinion. That has led to some vigorous debates and is part of the democratic process.” He concluded by encouraging resident involvement as the town’s master plan update continues.