August 14, 2019


New Castle

People before Politics

In this edition:
> In the Spotlight: Rec Facilities
> Gun violence
> Register to vote
> Apply for an absentee ballot

In the Spotlight – Rec Facilities
The Town Board meeting on Tuesday brought back a familiar question: Will the Town ever get an outdoor basketball court? Nothing has been more elusive. Here’s the history, a broader discussion about Town
recreation facilities, and how we would move forward.Efforts to build a basketball court go date back to at least 1996 (23 years!).  A resident survey in 1999 said it was the #1 Town priority. From 1999-2007 a plan to build a court on school property off Senter Street came close at a price of $205,000; the layout was staked out and the bond process approved, but the project fell apart.  The focus shifted to building a court at Gedney by 2008.  It was cheaper, estimated closer to $100,000, but it never got past half court.  Then the 2016/2017 Town Board advanced a larger plan and engineering to build a lighted basketball court and inclusive playground.  Finally? Not so fast. Delayed downtown construction pushed the court and a single bid came in high (slimmed down yet still estimated at over $1 million).  A combination of a $259,000 bond and previously received grant money wasn’t enough. So when a $250,000 grant was recently made possible by State Senator Harckham as part of New York’s $475 million annual Municipal Facilities grant program, it seemed reasonable to use it to finish off the inclusive playground and the 20+ year in waiting basketball court.  I think all involved would welcome Senator Harckham to join in for the first game of basketball or a game of pickleball on the finished court.Our opponents currently on the Town Board proposed shifting the grant for use in Millwood Park. At the meeting it was suggested they did it for political reasons during an election year. We won’t go there, in fact we support them in looking to devote some funds to Millwood, and specifically renovating Millwood Park, it needs renewal.How would Team New Castle candidates approach this situation?  There were enough cooks in the kitchen Tuesday night, but this would be our approach: (1) We believe in finishing what we start and what we promise first.  The basketball court is 20+ years in the making, the plan is ready to go and engineered, so completing it should be a priority. Get it done.

(2) We believe recreation facilities in the Town, especially Millwood Park, need work and it isn’t ‘fair’ that all the focus of the past few years has been on Chappaqua hamlet.  But as of now there is no formal or detailed plan or estimate for the work required or desired in Millwood Park, it was only presented with casual detail.  Don’t commit a grant to that site without an idea about the overall project scope and cost (work there would likely far exceed the amount of the grant). The site also has parking challenges to consider and required ADA upgrades.

(3) Before committing to another project, in order to make efficient use of taxpayer money, the town-wide recreation priorities and costs must be investigated either through an updated Parks and Recreation Master Plan or the good work and advice of the seven-member Parks and Recreation Commission, input from the Superintendent of Recreation & Parks, and input from residents including the Millwood-West End Advisory Board;

(4) We think Supervisor Greenstein’s Millwood plan is a good one to consider.  He called for the full renovation of Millwood Park and actually suggested a way to pay for it that would be largely cost neutral.  How? A new cell tower will soon be installed in Millwood that is expected to earn the Town revenue almost sufficient to cover the annual cost of a 30-year bond.  Residents in Millwood will not only get better cell service but the revenue from that could also give them better parks.

(5) We also think Councilwoman Hala Makowska had a good idea in looking to tie the North County bike trail to Downtown Millwood with a picnic pavilion. We love this fresh idea. We’ve been exploring a related idea we believe would be a huge improvement for Millwood at a modest cost: connecting Gedney Park with downtown Millwood with a bike and walking trail.  How is that possible? Well, a trail already exists, the NYC DEC aqueduct goes from Gedney to the Millwood bike trailhead parking area. With approval, which according to the DEC is possible, we would allow many more people safe access to downtown Millwood, Gedney and the North County trail making Millwood the recreation center of our Town.  The distance to connect is only 600 yards.  There is a lot we can accomplish when we come together.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 5th
(click below for candidate biographies)

Jim Smith for Town Supervisor
Lauren Levin for Town Councilman
Sean Maraynes for Town Councilman

Donate to Team New Castle (click here)

Town Board discusses Basketball Court and Inclusive Playground Proposal (see our take below)

 “We must choose between the violence of adults and the smiles of children, between the ugliness of hate and the will to oppose it. Between inflicting suffering and humiliation on our fellow man and offering him the solidarity and hope he deserves. Or not.— Elie Wiesel, Open Heart 

Gun Violence
Jim posted this on Facebook last week; we thought it worth restating here:“Like everyone I was angry and sad over the week following the senseless mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. I found two charitable foundations that have enabled me to condemn these acts by directly helping impacted families: The Dayton Foundation  and The El Paso Community Foundation.  Help if you can.I turned to the relentlessly tolerant and optimistic words of Elie Wiesel who I had the privilege of knowing; it has been three years since he passed, but his words will always inspire me and humankind (See above).  Those words capture so much, including the hope that we can find the next young male who has such an intense hate for his world. And then, instead of excluding him as too odd or awkward, we talk to him and listen to him to find out why; and maybe change the course.

I also had a conversation with retired Giant’s wide receiver Victor Cruz on Thursday while in East Harlem. We didn’t discuss football (I’m no Giants fan!) but we did talk about the cleats inked with “R.I.P. Jack Pinto” that he wore in December 2012 and ultimately gave to a grieving 11-year old Ben Pinto, who had lost his brother in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. What struck me about what Cruz did was that it was selfless and human and it made a difference. In a self-absorbed society we must push harder for ways to be selfless and human.

I was shocked by the yelling and finger pointing that followed these events on social media: isn’t it obvious that this contributes to the problem? How is the next would-be killer, lurking on social media, impacted by these sour exchanges? And how can we possibly work together and do what needs to be done to prevent the next tragedy if we aren’t even having a reasonable conversation?

I hope through all this we have a genuine national ‘conversation’ about this problem, about guns and health, and do what it takes to ensure a better and safer country. But no action can have an immediate enough impact so let’s look at what we can do locally and personally right away:

(1) Let’s support and advance local efforts to make our schools and other public spaces safer. I commend the CCSD Board of Education and administration for taking action on school safety, including at the last BOE meeting where the updated District Wide Safety Plan was presented and a commitment to School Resource Officers was made. The Town (our Police Chief and Sup. Greenstein) also deserve credit for pushing for SRO’s;

(2) Let’s tone down the rhetoric on social media and talk to each other in person; and

(3) let’s be more tolerant in our communities and include more people in our lives who might be isolated and different before they turn for the worse.

Share your ideas with each other and let’s all listen and consider them because we all share a common interest in keeping our community and families safe.”

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Register to Vote
Recently move? Just became a U.S. Citizen? Turned 18?  Take a minute to register to vote today. You can download the form here. Complete and mail to: Westchester County BOE; 25 Quarropas St; White Plains, NY 10601. The last day to postmark an application is October 11th.

Absentee Ballots
Headed to College? Going south for the winter? Serving our country in the military? If you will be away from your home county on Election Day you can apply for an absentee ballot.  You can download the form here.  Complete and mail to: Westchester County BOE; 25 Quarropas St; White Plains, NY 10601. The last day to postmark an absentee application is October 29th. 
Note: If you are active duty military on deployment, we thank you for your service. Please see this website for instructions.


Want to better connect our Town? Let’s consider an aqueduct bike trail connecting Gedney Park to Downtown Millwood and the North County Trail

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Jim, Lauren & Sean

Contact Us: TeamNewCastle@tnc2019.org