Editor’s Note: It was a hotly contested election this past November with Jeremy Saland and Hala Makowska winning two Town Board seats. Last election, we featured “Team New Castle,” so I decided to meet with Hala and Jeremy too in December at Chappaqua Station to simply glean their thoughts–at least the way they stood at holiday time–and for some “quick takes” on various hot button topics in town! It was a pleasure getting to know each of them a little better!
Since the election, I enjoyed some down time with my family and am ready, excited and looking forward to my role and responsibilities for the town of New Castle. We have everything we need to be a very well-functioning board, and I feel that our diverse perspectives will help us have healthy discussions and ultimately lead to excellent decision making. At this particular point in time, I am focusing on the Master Plan and the downtown revitalization strategies–and making sure that the process ends up being as productive as it can be for the town.
I see Chappaqua Crossing on the top of our priorities, and I would like it to be successful so that our tax base can increase. Also, I think the Roundabout to address the traffic problem on 117 is another good focal point. I think that valid concerns remain about the intersection between the high school and the Whole Foods entrance and the exit from the Saw Mill Parkway coming into the retail zone. The safety concern is for the amount of traffic from retail shoppers, from the high school, and from the parkway.
Regarding Chappaqua Affordable Housing and the Hunts Lane location: As we know, I am not in favor. It is an unsuitable piece of property. That is where a town parking lot could conceivably go, and I am disappointed that no new site has been identified or rezoned, frankly. I think that should have been the first priority. Now this will be more difficult. I have started to take a look at both the original permit and the present specifications. I am hoping that we can help find alternative locations. This is a timely issue since the provision expires next year.
The ChapLine is another hot topic. (The ChapLine is a functional recreation path which could connect downtown Chappaqua to Horace Greeley High School and to Chappaqua Crossing.) I think we need to closely weigh how the $1.5 million contribution from Summit Greenfield would be spent before it is committed to the ChapLine. And, I think that a more inclusive process to discuss how the available money could best be invested to make Chappaqua an even better place to shop, eat, and socialize, etc. I believe it’s local government that has the greatest impact on the quality of our everyday lives and the value of our property. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Town Board to protect and improve both for all New Castle residents and business owners.
Hala Makowska can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am very excited to get to work on behalf of New Castle to move the town forward. I am grateful our community had the confidence in me to do so. There are a lot of things going on now and I expect there will be many more things happening during my term and in the years to come. I believe we all benefit when each one of us tries to do our part.
Conifer and affordable housing is one issue that demands immediate attention. It is simply a horrendous location. Living between the Saw Mill Parkway, an exit ramp and the train tracks is not the most welcoming place even though we, as a community, are open and inclusive. It is incumbent upon the Town Board to find a solution, and make sure any development of this type is a safe, inviting and a healthy place to reside.
Whether you support Chappaqua Crossing or not, it is here to stay. Of grave concern is that Chappaqua Crossing created a new hamlet and business district. This development will have a significant traffic impact and change our quiet community as we know it. We need to concentrate on downtown Chappaqua’s development and revitalization to offset this third hamlet. The same is true for Millwood. It is critical that we examine how we can better develop and utilize our existing hamlets while building their infrastructure and making them more attractive destinations.
Another important issue is the proposed ChapLine. On an island it is a good idea, but residents, not just Summit Greenfield and the Town Board, should be involved in this discussion. It’s not often a municipality can potentially access $1.5 million dollars. This opportunity should not be squandered. If the developer wants the best for a community that they are vastly changing and profiting from, then this process should be an open one. Whether it is giving matching funds to businesses, purchasing property, or some other idea, a common good can be reached if all of us are engaged.
Whatever issue New Castle faces, I am confident that with an ethical government, we can work alongside our neighbors and businesses to reach our true potential. Jeremy Saland can be reached at email@example.com