By Paul Feiner
2009 YEAR IN REVIEW
The year of the great recession - 2009 - is coming to an end. Greenburgh, like the rest of the nation, experienced the effects of the recession: mortgage tax revenues were down by $1.4 million, sales tax revenues down by 12.5%, assessed valuations decreased by $7.6 million. NYS mandated pension contributions up 67% in A budget, pension contributions up 33% in B budget, and there were additional six figure expenses mandated such as the MTA payroll tax. The New York State Legislature reduced STAR payments – causing school property taxes to go up between $300 - $600. To offset the bad news the town is offering employees early retirement if positions are not filled. We’re seeking permission from the State Legislature to tax hotel guests (like they do in cities and counties). We are also trying to sell surplus properties that are not needed. We made significant cuts in town departments to offset the loss of revenue.
Despite the bad national economic news the town has some positive news to report.
NEW BUSINESSES. Regeneron announced plans in December to expand their space. A new building is being built in Greenburgh. The 3rd building will generate 300 more jobs. Regeneron is a bio tech company that develops and commercializes medicines for treatment of cancer and serious illness. In the early fall of 2009 they dedicated two other buildings at the Landmark in Greenburgh.
BIO TECH NATIONAL HQ - OSI. Another major bio tech company is relocating their national headquarters to Greenburgh in the unincorporated section of Ardsley. Hundreds of new jobs, relocation of employees to the Greenburgh area from other parts of the nation and state, and more ratables for our town. A minimum of 200 employees will be relocated to the headquarters shortly. OSI anticipates an additional 400 jobs at the site within 5 years. OSI strives to turn pioneering science into breakthrough therapies from life threatening diseases including cancer, diabetes and obesity.
TWO NEW SUPERMARKETS. The town will be getting two new supermarkets in 2010. Shoprite received approval for a variance to build a supermarket at Midway Shopping Center, and the Town Board approved a rezone application to allow for a supermarket (Stop & Shop) to be built on 119 near the Tarrytown border. Construction is expected in 2010. Benefits for the town: The Stop & Shop supermarket will generate more than food, taxes and jobs for the town. New sidewalks for the neighborhood will be built by the developer ($238,000). Revised plans and traffic improvements ($1.5 million), $100,000 to the town for recreation and another $100,000 to the town to reduce the town’s contributions to the comprehensive plan study. Over half a million dollars in improvements to Bridge Plaza in Tarrytown. $325,000 in building permit/storm water permit fees.
WALGREENS TO OPEN DRUG STORE ON CENTRAL AVE/ARDSLEY ROAD. The vacant old Central Square Cafe is being replaced with a Walgreen's drug store. The old restaurant was demolished in December and the new store will open in 2010. Magnetic Analysis Corp. is moving to Greenburgh from Mount Vernon – 85 jobs! A few new restaurants on Central Avenue are being built or opened up.
ARDSLEY ROAD REPAVED. The county completed a major Ardsley Road repaving and drainage initiative.
NEW COMPTROLLER, POLICE CHIEF, COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC WORKS, COMMUNITY RESOURCES. Joe DeCarlo replaces John Kapica as Police Chief. Victor Carosi is the new Commissioner of Public Works and Bart Talamini is the new Comptroller. William Carter is Commissioner of the Department of Community Resources.
BUDGET CUTS. We continue to downsize. The Town Board offered employees an early retirement incentive if they retire and if they are not replaced with full time employees.
CSEA ZERO PERCENT SALARY HIKE: CSEA members approved a contract with a zero percent salary hike in 2009.
STUDY ON FIRE DISTRICT CONSOLIDATION. The town has one police department which serves 100% of unincorporated Greenburgh, and 3 paid fire districts which serve about 73% of the unincorporated section of Greenburgh. The cost for a police department: $22 million. The cost for 3 paid fire districts which serve less than 73% of the same territory: $28 million. Alan Hochberg was appointed to chair a fire district consolidation commission. A report will be released in the spring of 2010. The New York State Legislature approved a new law that will enable voters to petition for a referendum on consolidations of fire districts. Voters, not politicians, will make the decisions re:consolidation. We also received a report from a consultant re: ways to improve efficiencies and to share additional services between the Greenburgh Police Department and the Dobbs Ferry Police.
To address the growing unemployment problem in Greenburgh I have created a job club. I post job openings on www.linkedin.com
(Greenburgh jobs group). I have asked residents to notify me of job openings in their companies. My group has helped over 30 people secure employment.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING. The Village of Ardsley approved a new affordable housing overlay zone. The Town Board has received an acceptable offer from a developer to purchase the Waterwheel property on 9A for $1.2 million dollars. The town will receive a non refundable deposit –final payment will be made when approvals are granted. Some affordable housing for volunteer firefighters and ambulance corp members will be built. We also sold foreclosed property at 27 Main Street in Dobbs Ferry and rezoned property in the Fulton Park section of town for working families housing.
VETERANS COMMITTEE. A new veterans committee was formed. Among initiatives: a Veterans Day function in Hartsdale and an oral history video (in planning stages).
SEEKING NEW REVENUE SOURCE. We're going to seek permission from Albany to impose a tax on hotel guests to generate revenue for the town.
DISCOUNTS FOR SENIORS. Town Clerk Judith Beville led a successful effort that resulted in seniors being offered a $1 discount off taxi ride fares to and from a doctor’s appointment or grocery/food shopping.
THE BUILDING DEPARTMENT EVACUATED SOME ILLEGAL HOMES. One house was occupied by 9 people on the first floor and 11 on the second floor. Other homes were also shut down by the Building dept. Electrical violations, light switches smoldering and melting. Steam irons used to provide heat. The safety of children and adults at stake.
SAD NEWS - CYCLIST KILLED BY BUS. Merrill Cassell, a Hartsdale cyclist, lost his life when a bus hit him on Rt. 119. A ghost bicycle was dedicated at the site in Merrill’s memory. The Town Board met with bicycle safety advocates and will work on making Greenburgh more bicycle friendly for cyclists.
STANDARD & POOR’S MAINTAINS TOWN’S AAA BOND RATING - HIGHEST POSSIBLE. 2009 was the year many localities around the nation saw their bond ratings decline. S & P maintained the AAA bond rating, which was just increased in 2008. Only 3% of all localities in the nation have the highest bond rating possible. This rating reduces our borrowing costs.
THE TOWN BOARD AND PLANNING BOARD agreed to use developer escrow funds to build a new playground at Webb Field Richard Presser Park, Central Ave. The playground will cost $120,000 (NON TAX DOLLARS) and be dedicated in 2010. Children will be invited to help the town select equipment options.
STORY WALK. The Greenburgh Nature Center inaugurated Story Walk, an innovative idea from Vermont. Pages of children’s books are placed on a stake and the book is spaced equidistantly along the length of a wooden trail.
CNN/MONEY RATES GREENBURGH AS #12 IN LIST OF SIX FIGURE TOWNS. The nations best places with high income.
XPOSURE AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM HAS STUDENTS INVESTING IN STOCK MARKET, STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS. The Lanza Family Foundation was so impressed by the Xposure After School Program that they increased their annual donation from $170,000 to $220,000. Children, ages K-8th grade, participate in weekly finance classes. They save and invest their money in the stock market. The program was featured on the cover of Scholastic Magazine.
GREENBURGH GOES GREEN - REQUIRES COMMERCIAL CONSTRUCTION TO BE LEED DESIGN. The Greenburgh Town Board approved a local law amending the town code requiring commercial and multifamily buildings to incorporate LEED green building measures in new construction. We received a grant of $169,000 to install energy efficient solar hot water systems at the Theodore Young Community Center pool from the U.S. Congress and $186,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to reduce energy use and emissions by undertaking projects improving efficiencies.
100% ELECTRIC CARS. Mini’s of Westchester invited Greenburgh to test 3 of the 450 all electric cars that are being tested out around the nation for eleven months. We are providing the company with feedback on the experiences we have with the car. It is anticipated that the all electric vehicle could be available to the public within 5 years.
EAST HARTSDALE AVENUE CONCERTS. Town Clerk Judith Beville organized (at no cost to the taxpayers) weekly concerts on East Hartsdale Ave. during the summer farmer’s markets.
COURT OF APPEALS RULES FOR THE TOWN. The NYS Court of Appeals ruled that the town complied with state law re: funding of town parks.
LANZA FOUNDATION RESTORES POLICE SUMMER YOUTH CAMP. We received a $65,000 grant so we can continue the Police Camp which serves over 20 children between the ages of 12-17. It’s a junior police academy. Youngsters are placed in a setting similar to that experienced by a police recruit.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN – A draft of the Comprehensive Plan document is in preparation and will be released in 2010 for comment and approval. We anticipate that the cost of the plan will be reduced by $100,000. The town entered into an agreement with the developer of the Stop & Shop proposal to contribute $100,000 towards the plan.
U.S. AIRMARKS $118,750 TO ENHANCE EAST HARTSDALE AVE. The U.S. Congress gave the town grants for improvements at East Hartsdale Ave. East Hartsdale Ave. has experienced an economic turnaround in the past year. 2 years ago half the stores were forced to close for weeks because of flood damage after a storm. Today the main business area has one vacancy.
A special thank you to the members of the Town Board: Sonja Brown, Diana Juettner, Kevin Morgan, Francis Sheehan, Town Clerk Judith Beville & all the Commissioners and employees for their hard work during 2009. Have a happy holiday season and a great 2010.
Energy Office 2009 Report
Allegra Dengler, Energy Conservation Coordinator
December 22, 2009
This was a very busy year for the Energy Office. The activities here in Greenburgh reflect the increased attention to increasing energy efficiency and alternative energy at all levels of government. The new Obama administration rolled out $40 billion dollars of energy conservation grants. Green job creation started ramping up, and the private sector showed serious interest in investing in all things green. The year ended with the Copenhagen conference in which the nations of the world tried to reach an international agreement to lower carbon emissions to reduce the severity of the climate impacts that are beginning to be felt worldwide. The failure to develop meaningful policies in Copenhagen means that the effort of local governments like Greenburgh are all the more important. The best energy policies improve our economy, create jobs, reduce our reliance on foreign oil and improve our chances of avoiding the worst case scenarios of catastrophic climate destabilization.
Activities of the Energy Office in 2009
The Greenburgh Climate Action Task Force
The Greenburgh Climate Action Task Force worked many hours, meeting once or twice monthly to achieve the Five Milestones of ICLEI, as per the charge from the Town Board to the Task Force. This groundwork has already proven very valuable in supporting grant applications for energy conservation measures.
Preparation of a GHG (GreenHouse Gas) inventory of municipal operations.
Preparation of a GHG emissions target
Preparation of a draft Climate Action Plan, ready for hearings and adoption in 2010.
Presentation by all members of the Task Force of the Draft Municipal Climate Action Plan at the Greening Greenburgh Earth Day Climate Action Summit April 22 to an audience that included elected officials County Executive Andy Spano, Legislator Tom Abinanti, Supervisor Feiner and the Town Board.
Assistance with the preparation of grant applications. The GHG Emissions Inventory and Draft Climate Action Plan were especially helpful as supplementary materials to grant applications.
Research and evaluation of energy efficient street lighting
Review of Climate Action Plans from Westchester County, Bedford and New Castle for best practices in the County
Participation in the Lower Hudson Valley Sustainability Forum at Mercy College on June 15 which included leadership from Greenburgh and all the Rivertowns, including school, business, municipal leaders, Mayors and other elected officials.
Prepared new legislation based on LEED for commercial which was revised by Thomas Madden and passed by the Town Board.
Prepared a revision of the Energy Star for residential code to update it for safety and current standards. Awaiting adoption.
Prepared a resolution to adopt the Climate Smart Communities Pledge promoted by NYS DEC. Awaiting adoption.
Prepared a GHG Emissions Target resolution, the third milestone in the ICLEI Five Milestone process. Awaiting adoption.
Several programs were organized by Deann Cartwright, Outreach Coordinator, until her resignation at the end of August. On Earth Day, April 22, Greenburgh was one of just 10 communities out of hundreds of participants nationwide to host a Spotlight Conversation on Climate Change. This event gathered Greenburgh elected officials, environmental leaders, civic activists and staff to encourage ongoing collaborative sustainability actions. The event was sponsored by ICLEI, Local Governments for Sustainability, the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, AmericaSpeaks and Earth Day Network.
In addition to the very well-attended Earth Day event in April, the Energy Office organized events at the Greenburgh library to help homeowners reduce their energy bills. An example was the program, “LEARN HOW TO REDUCE HEATING & ELECTRICITY COSTS IN YOUR HOME.” Deann Cartwright also put together the program Greening Greenburgh for Greenburgh TV.
The Energy Office regularly responded to calls and drop-ins by Greenburgh residents who requested information about energy savings.
The Energy Office worked with Winsome Gordon and the DPW to get an EECBG grant in the amount of $156,000 for energy efficient LED street lights as a pilot project for this new type of energy efficient lighting. It is estimated that energy savings will be in the neighborhood of 75%.
The Energy Office got an EECBG grant for $30,000 to supplement the activities of the Energy Office for 2010, including planning and evaluating the pilot LED project and setting up a Trust and Agency account for energy savings as called for in the grant.
The Energy Office worked with Blue Springs Energy, a consulting firm, to obtain a PON4 grant of $24,500 for energy audits of Greenburgh municipal buildings. In connection with this PON4 grant, Blue Springs will be providing a website of information for Greenburgh residents and businesses for one year. The website service is valued at $4,000 for the year. These energy audits will provide good data to use for planning and to apply for grants in the future.
An application has been submitted and is pending for $9,050 for energy efficient lighting for the Theodore Young Center and for the Parks Department.
Sustainable Energy Loan Program: Greenburgh Green Homes Project
The Energy Office prepared preliminary work for developing a program to assist homeowners and businesses in energy conservation and alternative energy retrofits in existing buildings. This is based on the Babylon Green Homes model, which provides financing for weatherization projects for homeowners. The loans attach to the homes and not the homeowner, which removes a major barrier to weatherization and alternative energy projects.
In November, New York State passed PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) Finance Enabling Legislation, but it does not allow private matching funds. This is likely to be amended to make the program feasible. Without this amendment, Greenburgh would need home rule legislation similar to that of Babylon or Bedford. The Energy Office is also exploring working with the Town of Bedford, which is in the process of setting up a non-profit LDC which would provide staff for processing, marketing and quality control for a weatherization program.
I represented Greenburgh at local and national events to network about best practices regionally and nationally to bring these programs back to Greenburgh, and to promote Greenburgh’s initiatives. As a consultant, I attended these events, trade shows and conferences at my own expense and no cost to the Town.
Bedford Environmental Summit, Jan 31, 2009. “Greening a Town Building Code: Greenburgh’s Experience” presentation by Allegra Dengler
AIA Energy 2 Symposium Greenwich, CT Feb 25. Presentation by Allegra Dengler, “Greenburgh’s experience with Energy Star Law”
Local Climate Leadership Summit: ICLEI Northeast Regional Conference. May 15. Rye, NY.
ICLEI National Conference. May 18 to 20. Washington DC
Lower Hudson Valley Sustainability Forum. June 15. Mercy College. An inter-municipal Rivertowns forum to implement sustainability efforts collectively by sharing experiences and information. The Greenburgh Climate Action Task Force participated, along with experts, staff and elected officials like Drew Fixell, mayor of Tarrytown and Chuck Lesnick, City Council President of Yonkers.
USGBC Urban Green Expo 2009. Sep 22. New York City
Sustainable Hudson Valley. Community Based Climate Change Strategies. Oct 20 New Paltz
Greenbuild Phoenix. Nov 2009. This is the premier green building conference in the US, sponsored by the US Green Building Council. This year speakers included Al Gore, who called for a green building revolution. Gore said, “ We have a climate crisis at the same time we have an economic crisis at the same time we have a national security crisis. We need to create millions of good new jobs. Well, I know where we can get at least 2.5 million good new jobs: by building green buildings and retrofitting.”
Green2010 Green Buildings and Energy Conference: Education and Workforce Development for the 21st Century Economy. Dec 4. Hudson Valley Regional Council. Cary Institute for Ecological Studies, Milbrook.
Westchester County Climate Change Advisory Council, WMOA Municipal Officials Committee and others: Frequent meetings, including a summit with ICLEI, County Executive Andy Spano and countywide officials at the Westchester County Center on May 12.
Energy Conservation Coordinator
Town of Greenburgh