By Eileen Gallagher
This week rolled out the community segment of the town board meeting. Our very own town historian, Gray Williams, spoke to an audience of over two dozen residents about his position on the New Castle Landmark Advisory Committee, which recommends possible new landmark sites and buildings to the town board as part of the landmark process. Currently, there are 32 or 33 landmarks in New Castle, some of which have a place on the National Register of Historic Places. During Tuesday night’s meeting, two more were approved by the town board.
The Washburn-Barnes house at 113 Campfire Road was owned by the Washburn/Barnes family from the middle of the 18th century to the early 1900’s. According to Williams, John Washburn built the house shortly after the Revolutionary War and lived there until his death. At least three generations of the family lived there until it was sold.
The current New Castle Arts Center at 939 Hardscrabble Road is the only property which remains structurally as it was in its original capacity as a two bedroom home. It later became Kipp School, according to Williams, a “common” school with basic education up through the eighth grade. Originally built around 1900 “right in the middle of the old Kipp homestead,” it remained in use until 1926, when it was absorbed into district 4, now Chappaqua Central School District. The building served as the district’s kindergarten until 1964, when it was retired and purchased by the town to became a successful arts center, “an important monument to one of the most important aspects of our town, our educational system,” finished Williams.
“The Spa at New Castle” anything but tranquil
Residents in the area of Kipp Street, Roseholm Place, Armonk Road, and Sheather Road have more in common than their zip code. Several residents of this New Castle neighborhood in the Bedford School District with a Mount Kisco zip code attended Tuesday night’s town board meeting to make their voices heard regarding the proposed “Spa at New Castle.”
The concerns center on the potential disruption of the bucolic residential neighborhood by a proposed mixed use complex at the former residence of the Legionaries of Christ. In addition to a spa, there would be a restaurant accommodating 150 guests, 50 non age-restricted condos, 34 hotel rooms, an outdoor pool, tennis courts, a basketball court, and a parking lot.
Throughout the public comment portion of the meeting, during which there were no limits to the speakers’ time at the microphone, repeated fears of heavy traffic, drainage problems, encroachment on wildlife, and noise and lighting issues were heard by the supervisor and board members. At the outset of the presentation, each member reiterated the fact that there would be no decisions made until the entire process had taken place, and that no one had made up their minds as to how they would vote. Lisa Katz stated that the goal was to “figure out what is of concern to everyone. We promise to listen and to read everything that everyone sends us.” Elise Mottel assured “we are looking at it with an open mind.” This is the opening of the “scoping session,” the audience was informed, solely to identify concerns and not to determine whether or not the project is right for the location.
The town administrator, Jill Shapiro, stressed the importance of putting all concerns in writing so that they will become a documented part of the process. Though people are welcome to speak at the meetings or participate via online chatting, Jill also encouraged sending in comments under “Current Land Use Applications”, “The Spa at New Castle” on the town website, www.mynewcastle.org. This way, “all emails get circulated, on paper, and it ensures that they are memorialized, and won’t get lost.”
The public forum will be held open for the time being, at least until February 11.
The master plan process has begun with an online question. “What type of services, events, shopping, etc. would you like to see in downtown Chappaqua or Millwood in the evenings/night-time?” Have you “liked” the Town of New Castle, NY page on Facebook yet? There are updates posted frequently. For those not on Facebook, or the internet in general, Rob Greenstein stated that the town board will be reaching out to the public aside from internet and meetings online. “That is the reason for hiring a consultant, to make sure we get to all with handouts, mailings, etc.”