By Lisa Ballou
Photos by Isabel Greenberg
10. Because the community is committed to a healthy lifestyle.
From local green initiatives to global environmental concerns, Chappaqua residents put a premium on living in a vibrant sustainable community.
Recently, the town developed the New Castle Sustainability Board (SAB) to provide guidance to town decision-makers to ensure that policy decisions and programs reflect the integration of environmental, economic and social impacts for the benefit of the entire community’s health and prosperity.
SAB has hosted community events such as Energy Forums, Climate Reality Project and a Sustainability Summit, where more than 100 residents of all ages met to discuss how to reduce New Castle’s carbon emissions and save energy dollars.
Chappaqua’s Farmers Market grew out of the desire by residents and the Sustainability Board to bring locally-raised and produced food to our community. It is comprised of local farmers, vendors and great culinary innovators, who, along with community groups and entertainment, create a lively weekly event and unique local shopping experience.
9. Because the hamlet boasts a state-of-the-art library.
The Chappaqua Library acts as a community center for its residents, serving approximately 600 patrons daily.
Besides access to the many books and magazines, the library provides innovative and educational programming for the entire community.
“No other library in the county offers 16 children’s story hours each week,” explains Pamela Thornton, the library director. “Our adult programs cover a wide variety of topics: Great Decisions Foreign Policy Group, Menus in the Movies, Memoir Writing Workshops, Concerts, book discussions, etc.” Patrons have access to online databases for research, e-books for loan and free downloadable music. Additionally, the library generously offers individual computer and Internet training on a one-on-one basis.
8. Because it is picturesque.
The name Chappaqua comes from the Native American word, “shah-pah-ka,” which means “the rustling land.” The flowing brooks and streams, stunning rock outcroppings and tree-lined streets are what make Chappaqua so beautiful all year long.
“Chappaqua provides meticulously restored colonial homes, new developments and vintage properties set on winding roads that reflect a lovely quality of life,” says Houlihan Lawrence real estate agent Debbie Goldenberg. “When I take my clients through the different neighborhoods, they often remark on the rural feel of the quaint town.”
7. Because we have remarkable organizations committed to the safety of New Castle residents and visitors.
Emergency medical service and fire protection in New Castle are both provided by volunteer organizations.Chappaqua Volunteer Ambulance Corp (CVAC) is now celebrating 75 years of service in the community, responding to more than 500 emergency medical calls annually. The Chappaqua Fire Department is celebrating 100 years of service and the Millwood Fire Department is in its 87th year. All three organizations operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are 100 percent staffed by volunteers. Together, along with a first-rate police department, these volunteers work tirelessly to keep us safe.
One thing that is unique about a volunteer organization is that the members are all stakeholders. “The people we service are our friends, neighbors, and businesses that we patronize,” explains Fire Chief Russell Maitland. “We have a deep seeded interest in providing the best possible outcome of all incidents we respond to. It’s a great feeling when you are able to help out a neighbor or friend in a time of need.”
“Growing up in Chappaqua and serving the fire department and community for 30 years is my way of giving back to a community that gave so much to me in both my youth and adulthood,” the chief adds. Volunteerism is a key component to small town living–it’s what makes New Castle thrive. CVAC and both the Chappaqua and Millwood Fire Departments are always looking for additional volunteers to help them better serve the community.
6. Because there is great opportunity for recreation.
With more than 100 different activities sponsored by the New Castle Parks and Recreation Commission alone, there is truly something fun for everyone. The programs include everything from youth sports, ski trips and art programs to men’s basketball and softball leagues and various women’s sports.
The commission maintains seven parks, totaling 517 acres. Some of these include Rec Field and the Gazebo, Gedney Park, Whippoorwill Park, Millwood Park, Smith Park and Glazier Arboretum. Aside from town-sponsored programs, countless Chappaqua residents are actively involved in activities such as running and biking groups, tennis, golf, paddle, poker, Mah-jongg and Bridge, to name a few.
5. Because it takes a village and we indeed are one.
In the wake of natural disasters, family tragedy and illness, I personally have experienced and witnessed the coming together of this resilient and loving community. Together we get through it all: from the mundane (carpooling) to inconveniences (power outages) to hardships (illness and death.) “Being a working mom with three children is certainly a challenge,” proclaims Jillian Winoker, a partner at A.W. Rush & Co., a legal search firm. “There is no doubt that it takes a village to make my life work. Chappaqua is really much more than just a town, but a true community. I have been fortunate to make wonderful friends and neighbors who are always so helpful–whether it’s sharing the driving or sharing the babysitter, together we make it work.”
4. Because religious diversity is alive and well.
Together the religious leaders from Jewish, Catholic and Protestant congregations in town as well as the Baha’is of New Castle, the Chappaqua Friends Meeting and the Upper Westchester Muslim Society have created the Chappaqua Interfaith Council, which has developed some uniquely wonderful opportunities for joint action, dialogue and worship.
“As a rabbi and Jew committed to joining hands with other faith communities, I do find Chappaqua’s religious diversity to be very exciting,” states Rabbi Joshua Davidson of Temple Beth El. “Having come to know the lay and clergy leadership of the other congregations in town and partner with them in meaningful community programs has been truly fulfilling. The leadership of all these organizations remain committed to working in collaboration not only with each other but also with the other institutions of our town on any issues that arise that affect the life of this community.”
Chappaqua resident Julie Goldberg illustrates the point: “When we decided to move out of Manhattan it was important for us to find a community that had religious diversity. I grew up in a town that was not diverse, and I remember feeling uncomfortable being the only Jewish girl in my class. We wanted our children to have tolerance for all religions while at the same time enjoy practicing Judaism locally.”
3. Because you have the best neighbors.
Chappaqua is a family-oriented community that is fortunate to have residents who actively participate in making it an extraordinary town.
“Talent and expertise are one thing but Chappaqua is filled with talented people who are doers and executors,” explains Mara Weissmann, a resident and founder of Second Shift, a network organization for moms with careers. “They tirelessly raise their hand to volunteer and ensure we have high-quality scholastic, athletic, and other community programs. I always marvel at how hard they work to make our programs run well and be meaningful and substantive. For me, that really is the essence of what makes Chappaqua so special.”
Our new Town Supervisor Susan Carpenter agrees: “I think one of the best things about New Castle is the willingness of town residents to give of their time as volunteers to make this the wonderful place it is. From our parents who coach sports, the PTA, the volunteer ambulance and fire department, the many school related organizations, the Rotary and all the town volunteer boards and commissions, this town would be just a place to sleep without the dedication, creativity and generosity of these many volunteers.”
Former Supervisor Barbara Gerrard echoes the sentiments: “Dedicated to family and community, experts in many fields, and volunteers in so many activities: your ‘neighbors’ is an important reason to love New Castle.”
2. Because the hamlet boasts wonderful merchants and is ideally located.
Chappaqua’s charming village is comprised of friendly merchants. When you stop into any store in town, you are always greeted with a warm smile and very often by name. The service is typically outstanding and that is why it is such a pleasure to shop locally. At the same time, one of Chappaqua’s greatest draws is the convenience of Metro-North, and the easy commute to New York City. The proximity to highways, four major airports, beaches and skiing are just some of the additional benefits of Chappaqua’s location. “Add to that the incomparable cultural experiences in the city and you have this wonderful advantage of living so close yet in such a charming community,” says Gerrard.
1. Because “Chappaqua schools have been and remain a hallmark of our community,”exclaims Alyson Kiesel, the district’s school board president.
In fact, Horace Greeley was ranked #51 in the 2011 US News and World Report annual rankings of “America’s Best High Schools.”
The board, despite recent state and federal mandates, is determined to continue to provide all students with a high-quality, well-rounded education. It currently spends in excess of $18,000 per student whereas the average expenditure in the nation is just under $6,000 per child.
“Having gone through the system myself, it’s great to see that while things have changed to keep pace with advancements around the world, there is still the same, long-lasting commitment to education that brought my parents here many years ago,” adds Kiesel.
Lisa Ballou is a freelance writer. She resides in Chappaqua with her husband and three children.
New resident says
Very interesting article with 10 reasons! We wish the town and the community could reach out to the new residents. It was very tough for us to start in New Castle, but now is getting better.