We continue a busy post-Labor Day schedule of meetings, as we are in the heart of budget season; will hold a public hearing to replace the existing law restricting sale of vape products (and settling litigation); concluded contract negotiations with our office workers (Teamsters 456 – White Collar Unit); will form a Complete Count Committee with the goal of counting every individual in Bedford in the 2020 U.S. Census; will form subcommittees to the Planning Board to develop a new Town Comprehensive Plan.  
NEW POSTS
Coming Up at the September 17
Town Board Meeting

Budget Work Session

The Town Board will hold its first budget work session, following meetings which Comptroller Abraham Zambrano and I have had with each department head to discuss proposed 2020 budgets.  

Comptroller Zambrano and I also have had one on one meetings with each Town Board member.  Tuesday’s work session will review the proposed 2020 budgets for the following departments/budgets: Assessor, Libraries, Police, Tax Receiver, Planning, Personnel, Finance, Town Clerk, Supervisor and Town Board. Each of these budgets, except for the Police Department, is relatively small and entails minor changes from the 2019 budget.  Comptroller Zambrano has provided the Town Board with the following highlights:

The submitted budgets do not include unusual requests and reflect wages and expenses that the department managers will need to run their operations in 2020. In each of the departments being presented, the Personal Services, Overtime and Part-Time Labor lines reflect increases based on Collective Bargaining Agreement obligations or modest wage increases. However, I would like to highlight the following:
 
Town Board:
$15,000 in funding has been added to the Consultant line for the Town’s Climate Action Plan program and $5,000 for Co-Sponsored Special Events.
 
Town Supervisor:
The 2020 Budget includes $25,000 in funding for Interns in the Supervisor’s Office.
 
Libraries:
The 2020 Budget makes provisions to add $12,000 for each of the Town’s Libraries; bringing the total funding to $382,856 for the Bedford Free Library, $424,579 for the Bedford Hills Library and $$636,227 for the Katonah Library.
 
Tax Receiver:
The Outsourced Contract line includes necessary funding for necessary upgrades to software.
 
Assessor:
The Assessor’s office includes a decrease in Printing & Reproduction due to the fact that the need to reproduce records has decreased drastically over the past couple of years.
 
Town Clerk:
The additional funding in Research & Advertising is for additional advertising/legal ads that are the responsibility of the Clerk’s Office. This amount also includes funding for records preservation.
 
Personnel:
The 2020 Budget for the Personnel Director includes a modest amount for education and travel as well as for telephone.
 
Planning:
The Planning Director’s 2020 Budget includes a modest decrease in Vehicle Maintenance due to the fact that the gas powered vehicle used by the Planning Director was replaced with a Zero Emissions Vehicle that in addition to meeting the Town’s reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the vehicle requires little to no maintenance.
 
Finance:
The Finance Department’s 2020 Budget includes $3,800 in additional funding for Education & Travel and $5,000 for Software Maintenance. 

Updated Budget Work Sessions:
New Local Law Regulating Sale of Vape Products

The Town Board will hold public hearings to implement a settlement of litigation against the Town which resulted in an injunction against the Town barring enforcement of our existing vape law. 

There will be two public hearings; one at 7:55 PM to repeal the existing law and the second at 8:00 PM to replace it with the new local law.  

Here are the details as reported in our 9.6 newsletter:

Town Board Approves Settlement Agreement
Regarding E-Cigarette Litigation

The Town Board took action to settle litigation regarding the Town’s Local Law restricting the sale of electronic cigarettes and other “vape” products to the RB Business District (which is the commercial area of Route 117 in Bedford Hills).  
The litigation was brought by businesses selling vape products outside of the RB Business District. 

The Board took the following action:
 
1.        Authorized me, as Supervisor, to enter into a Settlement Agreement with the Plaintiff businesses which secured from the Supreme Court, Westchester County a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of the Town’s vape product law.
2.       Scheduled a public hearing for 7:55 PM on September 17 to repeal the existing Local Law.
3.       Scheduled a public hearing for 8:00 PM on September 17 to adopt a new Local Law to replace the repealed law. 
 
What is the result? 
We would “grandfather” the businesses presently selling vape products outside of the RB Business District.  However, any such business would lose its grandfathered status if for a period of six months or more, it discontinues sales of vape products. If a business is located outside of the RB Business District and is not presently selling vape products, it is prohibited from doing so (these restrictions are the same as under the existing Local Law).  

It might be asked whether we feel that the replacement Local Law would be on a firm basis. The most substantive change to the new law is that it was adopted under the Town’s general police powers and not based solely upon zoning. That is significant and addresses the primary argument raised by the Plaintiffs and relied on by the Court in the litigation.

There is also substantial information about the dangers from vaping to youth to support the Local Law. In addition, the limited number of businesses that are able to sell e-cigarettes outside the RB District was included, in part, to allow adults who may be using the products to stop smoking to have access to the products and to address concerns raised about interfering with existing businesses constitutional right to continue selling these products.
 
In taking the action, the Town Board considered the advice of the Town’s counsel which carefully reviewed the options available regarding the litigation. We feel the outcome is a sensible course of action which avoids the possibility of a less desirable outcome should the Town appeal the Court’s decision and lose on appeal.

Following the settlement, the repeal of the existing Local Law and the adoption of the new Local Law, the Town will have one of the strongest Local Laws in New York State with regard to the regulation of the sale of vape products.  While we would prefer that the federal, state or County governments take action, we do not believe that we should sit by idly waiting for such action in the light of the dire health consequences which the use of vape products cause, especially to our youth.  

In fact, it was recently reported that a significant number of people, including teenagers, have died or suffered serious respiratory illnesses as a result of the use of e-cigarettes and other vape products.
We are doing what we can at our local level to address this issue. 
 
Mark Thielking to Return as Director of
Energy Resources and Sustainability

We are delighted that Mark Thielking has offered to serve our town on a pro bono basis for a six month period as Director of Energy Resources and Sustainability.  

We have known and worked with Mark for more than decade. He is highly regarded as one of the leading experts in climate action.  He launched Energy Improvement Corporation with a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and growing EIC it into a statewide organization.  He served as EIC’s Executive Director from 2015 through 2019 during which time he managed the funding, development and implementation of municipal based services to facilitate the scaled uptake of energy related upgrades in residential and commercial buildings. 

Prior to his work at EIC, he was Bedford’s pro-bono Director of Energy Resources from 2008 through 2013 with responsibility for identifying problems and crafting solutions relating to the Town of Bedford’s community use of fossil based energy; Bedford’s Sustainable Energy Finance Legislation before the N.Y. State Legislature; developing our GHG reduction priority scoping list for the Bedford Climate Action Plan.  It is no overstatement that Mark has been at the forefront of cutting edge initiatives in through and in partnership with Bedford 2020 and Sustainable Westchester.  

He outlines an ambitious program:
It is clear that lowering energy consumption while integrating environmentally sustainable practices within the Town’s operations is key to addressing the challenge of climate change as well as continuing the Town’s leadership in these areas. With that in mind and given the success within the Bedford community in lowering GHG emissions, I propose that a 6-month volunteer position be created to research and propose ideas and options for the Town in the areas of energy use, resiliency and environmental sustainability.
 
Potential Projects:
  • Evaluate and present opportunities to lower energy use and carbon pollution in Town facilities 
  • Evaluate and compare current Town purchasing and material use policies to the best practices in use by other municipalities 
  • Assist in the design, implementation and future monitoring of Town’ sustainability policies
  • Assist in the collection, production, and generation of a variety of energy and sustainability related metrics
  • Represent the Town of Bedford at public events and conferences as needed
  • Investigate grants for energy efficiency, renewable energy and general environmental sustainability within Town’s facilities
  • Investigate and coordinate with existing programs that support residential and small commercial building owners in the areas of:
  1. Energy Efficiency
  2. Renewable Power
  3. NYSERDA and Utility incentives
  4. Financing for residential upgrades

  • Investigate and coordinate incentives and technology around renewable energy projects in Bedford
  1. Sewage to energy facility at Bedford Hills Prison
  2. Combined Heat and Power potential within the town
Complete Count Committee – the 2020 Census

As I’m sure you’ve heard, the United States Census which is conducted once every ten years will be carried out in 2020. The 2020 United States Census is of critical importance to the Town. Its data affects funds available for our schools, housing, seniors, low and moderate income populations, sales tax revenue, grant awards; business decisions; redistricting; emergency planning; fire departments; hospitals and much more. 

Work on the census already is underway with U.S. Census workers already knocking on doors to identify correct addresses and make preparations for the actual count early next year. The U.S. Census Bureau in March 2020 will begin  mailing invitations to respond  to nearly every household in the country with April 1, 2020 designated as Census Day.

The Census Bureau and Westchester County, in cooperation and partnership with the Census Bureau has urged all municipalities in the County to consider establishing a “complete count committee” to raise awareness and help ensure a complete census count.  On Tuesday, the Town Board will consider adopting a resolution to form the “Bedford 2020 Complete Count Committee” to be comprised of a broad spectrum of Bedford residents working with local government and community leaders and other community partners to promote and encourage response to the 2020 Census in our community.

The goal of the Committee very simply:
COUNT EVERYONE.
The committee will be charged with developing and implementing a 2020 Census awareness campaign based upon their knowledge of the local community to encourage a response. The Committee will also help connect local residents with Census job opportunities currently available.  The committee is to be comprised of Town residents representing the faith-based community; schools; seniors; veterans; and historically undercounted populations in the Town.  We are recommending to the Town Board that the Town Supervisor, Town Clerk and Town Planning Director collectively make recommendations to the Town Board for appointing the members of the Committee at the meeting of the Town Board scheduled for October 3, 2019. 

I am delighted that Westchester County Planning Commissioner Norma Drummond regarding 2020 U.S. Census will make a presentation to the Town Board at the meeting.  

The following link can be utilized for further information:  https://www.census.gov
Subcommittees to Develop New Town Comprehensive Plan

New York State law which provide municipalities the authority to enact local zoning laws requires that zoning laws be adopted in accordance with a comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan is intended to be the backbone for the local zoning law. The comprehensive plan sets out the official land use policy of the Town and presents goals as well as a vision for the future to guide official decision-making.

The Town Board previously designated the Planning Board to write a new Town Comprehensive Plan which hasn’t been updated since 2003. The Planning Board has identified areas to be addressed in a new TCP which take into consideration “developing technologies, demographic changes, new federal and state standards, the installation of new infrastructure such as sewers” as well as sustainability, recreational needs, housing and revitalization of our hamlet centers.
The Planning Board advises the formation of subcommittees to involve as many stakeholders as possible, with such subcommittees reporting to the Planning Board which will coordinate and oversee their work and, in turn, the Planning Board will report progress to the Town Board on a regular basis and seek the Town Board’s input.  
The Town, the Planning Board, recommends should employ a planning consultant to assist the Board in the work.  
Subcommittees:
1.   Mini hamlet master plan subcommittees; one for each hamlet center: Bedford Hills, Katonah and Bedford Village
2.  Transportation infrastructure subcommittee
3.  Horse Farms and Other Agricultural Uses Subcommittee
4.  Sustainability Subcommittee

In addition, certain topics and matters would be delegated to existing committees which are advisory to the Town Board: Wireless Committee; and Recreation and Parks Committee
Certain issues would be studied directly by the Planning Board, including, the Route 117 Roadside Business Zone; affordable housing outside the hamlet centers (in consultation with Blue Mountain); lighting issues (Dark Skies local law); noise and other nuisance issues; review of Special Permit issues regarding non-residential uses in residential zones (Eleemosynary uses, schools, houses of worship); integration of changing work patterns into the Master Plan; and other issues that may be identified in the course of this work

The Planning Board would take responsibility to oversee the possibility and endeavor to meet certain deadlines with a view to completing the process in December 2020 or January 2021 culminating with Town Board adoption of a new Town Comprehensive Plan.  Memorandum for the Planning Board to Supervisor/Town Board
New Collective Bargaining Agreement
with our Office Workers

The negotiating teams of the Town of Bedford and the Teamsters 456 - White Collar Unit, which represents the Town’s office workers, met several times starting on January 25, 2019 to negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for the period January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2022.  The Board set certain parameters for the Town’s negotiating team with a view to producing a fair, equitable and fiscally responsible CBA.
Following several bargaining sessions, the teams reached an agreement in principle which conforms to the parameters which the Town Board had set. The agreement has been set out in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and ratified by the union’s membership. Comptroller Abraham Zambrano, on behalf of the Town’s negotiating team, will be presenting the MOU to the Town Board for approval at Tuesday’s meeting. 

Comptroller Zambrano submitted to the Board a memorandum and spreadsheet which details the financial ramifications summarized as follows:
Financial Impact 
Based on the negotiated terms, the net financial impact for 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 will be $88,908; $74,489; $41,360 and $36,657 respectively. These amounts are the net of changes in wages, longevity, and employee health insurance contributions. The total financial impact on the budget over the four years of the contract is $241,413.
Initiated by the Town Board’s willingness to bring certain positions to par with similar titles in other Westchester communities and to become more competitive as several members of the bargaining unit are near retirement, the CBA includes two (2) additional steps in each of the salary schedules, some of which also include flat amount increases at the higher steps and a 1.5% increase in wages across the board after the first year of the contract. The MOU also reflects the Union’s longevity increase request as well as the additional contributions to health care based on annual salary for those hired before March 2, 2016 and a 15% contribution for those hired after contract ratification.
Consequently, since the financial impact of the agreement is within the guidelines set by the Town Board and the terms are fiscally prudent, it is being recommended that the Town Board of the Town of Bedford approved the MOU with the Teamsters White Collar Unit for the period January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2022.
Counsel for the Town, Stephanie Roebuck, also provided a memorandum detailing the terms of the MOU:
Agreement with NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for $1 Million Grant for Sewer Project

My thanks to Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn for securing a $1 million grant from DEC to help fund our Phase I sewer project.  

Commissioner Winn is submitting to the Town Board for approval an agreement providing for the grant and the Town’s responsibilities regarding it.  
OTHER NEW POSTS
Update on I-684 $13 Million Paving Project
Members of the Team that moved this forward in front of i684 before the press conference. Front row ( l to r:) Lee Roberts, Kate Galligan, Kitley Covill, Chris Burdick, Shelley Mayer, Andrea Stewart Cousins, Marie Therese Dominquez, Peter Harkham, MaryAnn Carr. Back row: Don Scott, David Buchwald, Lance MacMillan.
On Thursday, September 12, I joined State Senator Shelley Mayer, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, State Senator Peter Harckham and Assemblyman David Buchwald in a press conference celebrating the I-684 paving project at long last coming to fruition. We were honored to be joined by New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez.
The $13 million project will provide asphalt pavement for the first time on the 50 year old road surface providing for safer, quieter and smoother travel.  It covers approximately two miles from Harris Road to just north of Exit 6 (Route 35 overpass).   This is a robust project which has sufficient funding to see it through to proper completion.  
I am delighted that the project will go beyond a temporary fix pending the outcome of the Department’s corridor study.  It will cover all lanes and exit and entrance ramps for the entire length of concrete road surface.  It also will address drainage problems and replace broken guide rails.   The road crews first are preparing the concrete surface, including replacement in the entirety of some badly deteriorated concrete slabs. The job is scheduled for completion in late November/early December, subject to weather and other unforeseen developments.    
Town Board Member MaryAnn Carr, Bedford Commissioner of Public Works Kevin Winn and Peter Nardone, who was instrumental in providing crucial data on safety issues regarding 684.
Community should please take note on project impacts and schedule:
  • A good portion of the work (but not all of it) will be carried out at night from 9:00 PM through 5:00 AM to reduce impact on motorists. One lane of traffic always will be kept open.
  • Motorists are advised that a closure is expected on the northbound and southbound ramps for Interstate 684 to and from Exit 6 (Route 35), nightly Sunday, September 15 through Thursday, September 26 from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., while crews perform construction activities, weather permitting.
  • Motorists should follow the posted detour and anticipate possible delays. We are grateful to NYS DOT Engineer in Charge Dina Colavito for ensuring that the detours will not take traffic onto local roads. 
  • As I mentioned last week, we all need to recognize that throughout the duration of the project, it will be noisy, dirty and the project sites will be floodlighted for the safety of the workers and driver. Please be patient.
REMINDER
REMINDER: Public Information Session
on Phase I Sewer Project

Please join us for a Public Information Session this coming Thursday, September 19, 2019 at 7:30PM at the Bedford Hills Train Station
With all of the bid documents complete, the Town Board authorized soliciting bids for the construction of the sewer system.

At the information session, the Town’s design engineers, Woodard & Curran, will be explaining the schedule (see table below), including the bidding process which starts at the end of this month. The schedule provides that the Town Board award the construction contract at the Board’s second meeting in December.  

Business district property owners and merchants, please take note that we’ve paid heed to your request to avoid construction in the peak sales season.  Construction is scheduled to start on March 30, 2020. We will work to minimize disruption. There always will be one lane of traffic open and we are considering night work (budget permitting). 

To help us get feedback from the business community, we will be asking a few property owners and merchants to provide feedback and suggestions. That said, though we’ll do our best to minimize disruption, please understand that like the paving project for I-684, some disruption and inconvenience is unavoidable.

We intend to stay on course with the timelines for the project which I mentioned in my July monthly report. For those who did not see it, here they are again:
           
Milestone Dates:
The Antioch Baptist Church kicks off their
125th Anniversary Weekend by "Walking the Hill"
The congregation was out in full force on Friday evening to begin the celebratory weekend. beginning at the Bedford Hills Train Station, the joyous song and community spirit filled the air on the walk up Main Street to the Church. The festivities continue all weekend. All are welcome to join!

Saturday, September 7 th
The Burning of Bedford

Scenes from the Revolutionary War and
Re-enactment on Bedford’s Village Green 

Photos by MaryAnn Carr
Bedford stepped back in time as the Revolutionary War
came to life in Bedford.

There were cavalry demonstrations; an encampment; musket drills and colonial games and dances; blacksmithing demonstrations; lessons with the School Marm; and a grand finale Burning of Bedford re-enactment on the Green.
THIS WEEKEND:
  September 13-15

Saturday  September 14
6:00 om – 8:00 pm

Katonah Museum of Art invites you to the final
American Popular Songbook

Mark your calendars for a cool evening complete with drinks, gourmet food trucks and great music celebrating what makes the KMA the place to be.

Enjoy a curated selection of bands and performers across many genres. $20 members, $25 non-members.

Tickets include complimentary soft drinks, craft beer, wine and specialty cocktails. Children under 18 are free.

Bands subject to change. Rain or shine. Light refreshments served.  Click here to purchase tickets.

COMMUNITY EVENTS CALENDAR  
WEEK OF 9.13-9.22

SAVE THE DATE:

September 21, 2019
Katonah Art Stroll
Details to follow.


CB Gallery:
FADE
September 4 - Opening
Opening Reception - September 21, during the Art Stroll.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

SAVE THE DATE
ADOPT A PRISON


Bedford Hills Train Station House
at Depot Plaza

 4:00 – 6:00 PM
County Executive George Latimer will be joining us on September 22, 2019 for this event which the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision is co-sponsoring with the Town. 

The Town and DOCCS has a long standing partnership which has been of great mutual benefit.  

The community will have the opportunity to learn about that partnership as well as from former inmates who have made a new lives as productive members of society.  

Learn more about our neighbors in our local prisons, and the “Adopt-A-Prison” program being started by The Town of Bedford, Bedford Hills and Taconic Correctional Facilities, and Interfaith Prison Partnership.
This free event open to all. 
On view through September 22, 2019:

PRIOR POSTS OF
CONTINUED RELEVANCE
NOTICE:

School Taxes become delinquent after September 30. 
Please pay them on time. 

Our Tax Receiver has posted to the Town website the following notice regarding the collection of school taxes for the 2019-2020 fiscal year for the school districts.  
Tax bills were mailed out on August 23. If you did not receive your tax bill please call the Tax Receiver’s office at 914-666-4475. You also can pay your taxes online .
Highlights of the September 3, 2019
Town Board Meeting 
Board Adopts Amendment to Table of Uses
Residential (Affordable Housing)

As I mentioned last week, the Town Board held a public hearing on an amendment to “Table of Uses – Residential”.  The purpose of the amendment is to provide notice to developers of new options and flexibility to developers and the Planning Board with regard to fulfilling affordable housing provisions of the Zoning Code. By way of background, the Town Board earlier this year adopted amendments to the Zoning Code to allow the placement of affordable housing units off site for subdivisions of five or more units, under certain circumstances.  

The law provides authority and flexibility to the Planning Board to modify the required minimum lot size for affordable housing units.
In order to make the changes more evident to persons seeking to develop subdivisions, our counsel and Planning Department advises that a note be included in the Table of Use Regulations – Residential. Read the local law here.

Board Adopts Amendments to Local Law on Alarm Systems

As I also mentioned last week, the Town Board held a public hearing on amendments to the Town’s local law pertaining to alarm systems in order to ensure that all outstanding permit and false alarms and fees can be collected and to ensure timely notice and an opportunity to be heard.

The amendments provide as follows:
1.    The Comptroller is designated the “Alarm Administrator” for issuing permits and licenses for alarm systems.
2.   An Town Board is designated as the Alarm Appeals Board to hear appeals from determinations of the Alarm Administrator.
3.   The term “Alarm User” is added to clarify who is subject to fees and charges for permits and for false alarms.
4.   In the event that an alarm user refuses or fails to pay for fees and charges, then following notice and an opportunity for a hearing before the Town Board, the Town Board may include such delinquent fees and charges on the property owner’s property tax bill, similar to the provision for delinquent water charges. Read the local law here.
Public Statement Hearing on
NYSEG Proposed Rate Increase

On September 5, I submitted a statement to the New York State Public Service Commission at a public statement hearing in Yorktown with regard to NYSEG’s filing with the PSC for a 22.7% rate increase.  I do not believe that it is appropriate for the PSC at this time to grant NYSEG a rate increase. I consider the proposal unconscionable for a number of reasons:
 
1.        NYSEG’s unacceptable performance both for lack of proper preparation for, and poor response to, the March 2018 prolonged and widespread power outages.
2.       NYSEG previously had received a rate increase in 2016 funds for which should have been applied to the vegetation management and infrastructure improvements which NYSEG stated in its filing would be financed from any increase granted under this year’s filing. 
3.       NYSEG should proceed with the overdue projects to achieve greater resilience and reliability for its electricity distribution system.
4.       The PSC has not concluded its [investigation] into NYSEG’s performance in regard to the March 2018 power outages; an investigation requested by County Executive George Latimer, State Senator Shelley Mayer, Assemblyman David Buchwald, the Town of Bedford and other Westchester municipalities.
I addressed several components of the rate filing, as well as certain omissions from the rate filing.
 
Vegetation Management
           
NYSEG stated in its filing that it will provide a more robust vegetative management program (tree trimming and removal).  The more robust program would include “ground to sky” trimming, which has proven to be quite successful in Connecticut, and removal of the debris/wood if the property owner does want it. I am very pleased to have learned that NYSEG’s proposal includes the removal of the debris/wood, which has been a sore point for years.  NYSEG should, however, align its vegetative management program with Con Edison’s. Along with other northern Westchester supervisors and County Legislator Kitley Covill, we have asked the PSC to require NYSEG to adopt a three year trimming schedule, as in Con Edison’s service area, rather than the present five year schedule.  This will reduce the incidence of hacking and, in certain cases, destruction of trees which provide shade and screening.  The shorter schedule would allow a more sensitive and careful approach to tree trimming, while still reducing tree-related downed wires and outages.   
 
“Hardening the Grid” for Greater Resiliency and Reliability
 
Speakers at the hearing noted that NYSEG is using a good deal of 1950s technology in its power distribution system.  Over the year and a half since the March 2018 outages, NYSEG has embarked on important upgrades to “harden the grid”, some of which have been completed.  We applaud these efforts, however, there is much more to be done.  NYSEG’s rate filing states that it has significant further projects that it would carry out with the funds from the requested rate increase.  I asked the PSC to require NYSEG to specify on a municipality to municipality basis the projects which would be undertaken, including the schedule for performing the work and the anticipated enhancement in reliability and resiliency which would result.  
 
Geothermal and Electric Vehicles
 
We are pleased to learn that NYSEG intends to launch incentives for residential geothermal and electric vehicles.  I expressed concern that the proposals are vague and undefined, and importantly, there appears to be no plan to collaborate with NYSERDA or, here in Westchester, Sustainable Westchester on these programs.  
 
Response to Outages – Rate Filing is Silent
 
A significant omission in the filing is NYSEG’s plan for improving its response to outages, and in particular widespread and prolonged storm related outages.  I mentioned the following concerns which should be addressed:
 
1.        Failure to communicate with municipalities with regard to the status of storm damage assessment; deployment of make safe and line crews; “make safe” work (de-energizing power lines); clearance of downed lines, tree and debris; restoration of power.  
2.       Failure to coordinate with the public works departments of municipalities.  This has occurred on several occasions. NYSEG skips over valuable assistance which our road crews otherwise would provide in clearing downed lines, trees/debris and opening roads. This is nonsensical as it prolongs power outages.
3.       Dissemination of inaccurate information needlessly causing resident frustration and inability to plan.  The information posted to the NYSEG power outage map is notoriously inaccurate ranging from failure to identify areas with outages, an unreasonable length of time for “assessing” the storm damage and inaccurate and regularly broken estimated time for restoration of power.   
NYSEG president Carl Taylor acknowledged at a recent NYSEG Municipal Officials meeting that the Brewster Division lagged in reliability and resiliency, NYSEG’s substandard performance has taken a toll on confidence and trust; and NYSEG has to do much more to restore confidence and trust. While I commend his candor, it points to a more appropriate course with regard to the 22.7% requested rate increase.  NYSEG should perform now, show significant positive results and then the PSC might consider the filing. No increase should be granted now.   
 
The PSC is still seeking comments on NYSEG’s rate filing.

Some further information:
 
I attach the July 30, 2019 letter from the PSC and fact sheet
New Ramp installed at the Bedford Hills Post Office

It is a longer ramp with an low slope and easy access railings.
Our thanks to Al Ciraco, Superintendent of Buildings and Frank Zipp and crew for the installation.
Update on Saving and Restoring Merestead

As you may know, Westchester County, under the auspices of its Parks Department, operates a 130 acre property known as Merestead located on Byram Lake Road in Bedford.  The historic Merestead mansion is in a state of serious disrepair including leaking roof which threatens the entire structure and artifacts within it. 
I am delighted that Westchester County Executive George Latimer together with County Legislator Kitley Covill are moving ahead with sensible and practical plans to reverse the deterioration.  We strongly support the County’s proceeding brought in Westchester Supreme Court to allow use of a fund created by the original donor of the property to the County to help cover the costs of repairs and relax deed restrictions that prevent the County from using the property as it does other parks. The County would be permitted to sell a select few works of art from the Merestead collection to help finance restoration of the house.  

The proceeding is consistent with the original donor intent.  Combined with County funds, the proceeds from the sale and relaxed deed restrictions will save the mansion and put the County on the path to restore the mansion and the surrounding lands to their former glory.
The Town is working with the County on an agreement between the County and the Town to ensure against unreasonable levels of noise, traffic or other disturbance from events or other activities at Merestead.  

In addition if the County intends to convey all or any portion of the property it would provide the Town right of first offer for nominal consideration. 
UPDATE for AT&T Cell Service Customers
Other Internet Service Issues?
My thanks for the post on the Katonah Parents Facebook group alerting me to the AT&T cell service outage (the mention of my name on KPFG triggered an e-mail notification to me – it worked!).  And thanks as well to those who e-mailed us with the specifics.   

We were in touch with AT&T Wireless on Wednesday and Thursday who contacted their field team.  Yesterday, I was put in contact with an AT&T representative higher up in the food chain. I don't know whether she was responsible for the service restoration or whether it was in the works anyway.

In any case I now have a person I can go to other than those lower down who we went to earlier this week when you folks alerted us to the problems. So please do let us know if you have any continuing or future service problems and we'll do our best to get it taken care of. Thanks for your patience.
      
And going forward, for anyone having service issues, here are some numbers: 

Customer Service for Verizon /Fios: 1 800 922 0204

Customer Service for Optimum/ Altice: 718 860 3513

Customer Service for AT&T (cell phone service): 800 288 2020

We’ll try to help after you've exhausted your options with customer service support. Please feel free to contact Phyllis Cohen at pcohen@bedfordny.gov or me and provide the following:
 
  • Name
  • Address
  • Account number
  • Phone number(s)
  • E-mail address
  • Description of the issue (dates of intermittent or lack of service, etc.)

COMMUNITY NEWS


Recreation & Parks
FALL BROCHURE

Recreation and Parks has a
IMPORTANT MESSAGE
REGARDING TRAFFIC SAFETY
ON THE FOX LANE CAMPUS

Superintendent of the Bedford Central School District, Christopher Manno posted this on the Stanwood-Cedar Downs Neighborhood FB page:


NWH Center for Healthy Living Grocery Tours
with a Registered Dietitian

Led by a Registered Dietitian, these tours will help community members choose the healthiest and most cost-effective grocery options.


Space is limited to 10 participants for each tour and
we do anticipate these tours to fill up fast. 
Autism Registry forms

An Autism registry has been implemented on the Bedford Police Department website. The Bedford Central School District has been given access to the forms to distribute to students and parents. You can also download the forms here .
Senior News

New Series at the Bedford Playhouse

Lunch & A Flick begins on September 24!
PRIOR POSTS OF CONTINUED RELEVANCE
(CONT)
The Supervisor's Show
Master Wireless Plan

The Town Board is acting upon the recommendations of the Wireless Facilities Working Group (WFWG) to enter into an agreement with CityScape Consultants, Inc. for the “Study and Report of Emergency Service and Wireless Telecommunications Infrastructure Master Plan for the Town of Bedford”.  

By way of background, following the adoption on December 18, 2018 of the new Wireless Telecommunications Facility Law (which was adopted for the purpose, among others, to establish uniform standards for the siting, design, permitting, maintenance, and use of wireless telecommunication facilities in the Town), the Town Board this past January appointed the WFWG. 

The mission of the WFWG is to assist the Town Board in addressing cell service deficiencies which may exist in certain areas in the Town which could potentially affect public safety including the ability of the Town’s Police Department, Fire Departments, Volunteer Ambulance Corps and other emergency responders to communicate in the most effective manner with one another and with those who need emergency aid and for those who need emergency aid to communicate with emergency services.  

The WFWG also was asked to develop a consolidated, comprehensive and cost effective approach to the wireless telecommunications needs of the Town and its residents through the creation of a wireless master plan.  
 
The Town’s counsel has reviewed and recommended adoption of the agreement.  CityScape proposal, agreement  and   related documents

Traffic Calming Measures – Speed Humps

One of the most significant issues for our community is traffic with speeding and other dangerous driving being of greatest concern.  The Town Board and the staff have been working to identify and address these issues.  Part of the means of addressing it is through the work of the Traffic Safety Work Group which comprised of staff and residents considers problems brought to our attention and possible solutions.
 
One traffic calming measure is the use of speed humps. I am very much open to considering speed humps. They work. They slow down traffic and make our street safer. Of course they are not suitable on every road where requested. When the Town Board decided to install speed humps on Cherry Street, I recall one resident expressing concern that we were creating a precedent that would lead to requests all over town. I replied that the Town should consider such requests on a case by case and where appropriate move ahead and install them. As to a campaign for them, it should start with the community letting us know especially those on the street where they would be installed. Talk to the homeowners on Church and on Babbitt. See what they think. How would they feel if they have a speed hump in front of their house (bearing in mind that they are noisy when drivers speed over them)?

We need to involve our Town staff to consider what might be appropriate locations. I'm happy to discuss - just send me an e-mail at supervisor@bedfordny.gov or give a call at 666-6530.





Evaluating Solar Panels for Town Facilities

The cost of solar cells, panels and installation has declined over the last several years and coupled with New York State incentives to municipalities, we are working to identify cost effective and appropriate sites. As way of background, the plans for the Police Station had long included carports to extend the life of police vehicles and reduce police officer time in making them ready for operation in inclement weather. We initially reasonably believed the carports would be financed through third party solar developers. Due to a change in tax and state incentive programs through the Public Service Commission, the financial viability for such third-party, tax advantaged projects in NYSEG service area disappeared. As a result, the Town proceeded with the carports at a total cost of $302,436. If the Town had elected to proceed with carports without solar panels, the cost would have been approximately $250,000 or about $52,000 less. It should be noted, however, that the Town will receive a credit estimated at $18,067.50 from NYSERDA reducing the difference to about $34,400. It is estimated that the solar panels will generate over 60% of the electricity needs of the station. 

The status of the carport project is as follows:
  • The carport structure requires a 10 to 12 week manufacturing window, which from the time of the order puts delivery between October 1 and October 15.
  • Once the contractor has a firm shipping schedule, they will coordinate with Chief Padilla on a staging area for the installation work.
  • The contractor will commence the installation work immediately after the steel arrives. We anticipate 3 weeks to erect the carports and another 1 week for the solar array installation and 1 week for lighting, electrical interconnection, punch list and final commissioning.
  • If the steel arrives by October 15, we expect to done and ready to "flip the switch" before Thanksgiving.

In addition, the roof to the salt shed (which is a large structure) at the Adams Street Highway Yard was specifically designed (weight load, pitch and orientation) to accommodate solar panels.  We also will be considering the maintenance building at the Highway Yard. The contractor for the solar carport at the Police Station believes that the salt shed is a good site and the maintenance building may be as well.   

The firm is reviewing plans for the maintenance building and, I anticipate, will be providing feedback. As with the carport, we would bid out the project.   



 Tree Maintenance and Planting Program

Why we’re taking action:
 
To recognize and appreciate that trees produce oxygen, capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, provide air purification, prevent soil erosion, control flooding, assist in water purification, contribute to the quality of life by providing cooling shade, provide habitat for wildlife, reduce noise levels, and aesthetically enhance the landscape. 
-Inspiring words from the Town of Greenwich

       We are moving ahead with the Town’s ambitious tree maintenance and planting program based on a plan which was funded by a grant from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. The Town, following Conservation Board study and recommendation, selected the Davey Resource Group (DRG) to carry out the one year study of trees and potential tree planting sites on certain Town properties, including the hamlet parks, other Town green spaces and Town rights of way along Town roads. DRG issued a comprehensive Tree Maintenance and Planting Plan, which the Town has adopted resulting in the largest tree maintenance and planting program in the Town’s history. I know of no municipality in New York with as ambitious a program on a per capita basis.  Under the Town’s Capital Plan we are funding $65,000 per year for each of 2019, 2020 and 2021 for maintenance and planting.  
 
      The Town’s Recreation & Parks Department for the most part will carry out DRG’s maintenance plan for Town parks and green spaces, though some outside contractors will be used. The Town’s Public Works Department, also for the most part, will be implementing the maintenance plan for the Town’s rights of way along Town roads, and will be utilizing Town contractors more extensively for take-downs and pruning.  
 
    I met on Thursday with the group to discuss the planting plan. The tentative plan is to plant as many as 30 trees this Fall. The Parks Department aims to plant 10 and 20 would be planted by a contractor selected by the Town.   The group will be carefully selecting species and size of each tree, hand picking each one, and also carefully choosing the corresponding planting location from the 561 potential locations which the DRG Tree Maintenance and Planting Plan identified, and other appropriate sites. 
 
 My thanks to the committee comprised of Heather Langham of the Tree Advisory Board, Linda Merrill of the Bedford Garden Club member, Virginia Maybank of the Bedford Garden Club, Simon Skolnik, chairman of the Conservation Board, Susan Roos of the Conservation Board, Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn, Deputy Superintendent of Recreation & Parks Kim O’Brien, Comptroller Abraham Zambrano, Parks Foreman Tom Megna and Park Arborist John Goodman.  
ClearGov – Transparency in Government
 
The Board approved the recommendation from Comptroller Abraham Zambrano to subscribe to ClearGov’s software for digitizing and organizing data and information from the Town Government to present it in a comprehensible format to the public. Please see the presentation regarding the ClearGov platform.

For more information go to ClearGovBedford
Living Green
Incentives for Electric Vehicle Purchases
 
Over the last couple of issues of this newsletter, I’ve mentioned the financial and environmental benefits to municipalities and individuals which electric vehicles provide. As you may know, the Town of Bedford in partnership with Sustainable Westchester’s Clean Transportation Program is alerting residents to the attractive discounts and rebates for the purchase of electric vehicles.  

These include the following:
 
  1. The federal tax credits have entered the phase-out stage (a credit is a dollar for dollar reduction in any federal tax liability you may have and so is far more valuable than a deduction).  The phase-out varies by manufacturer depending upon their EV sales. Fortunately the $7,500 credit for the Nissan Leaf still is in place.
  2. Up to $2,000 instant discount off the sales price through New York State.
  3. $5,000 instant discount off the sales price through Sustainable Westchester’s agreement with Nissan of New Rochelle for Nissan Leafs.
 
Please click here for a complete list/chart of popular electric vehicle models and the applicable discounts and rebates. 

Also, don’t stop there, if you don’t see the model your considering, please contact Ron Kamen of Sustainable Westchester’s Clean Transportation Program at ron.kamen@earthkindenergy.com . Ron has offered to go into the dealership with you to negotiate a special discount (no guarantees, but he’s been pretty successful at this).
 
The Town of Bedford also has one of the highest (if not highest) number of electric vehicle charging stations per capita in the state, because we want our residents to have flexibility whether they are commuting to New York or enjoying one of our hamlet parks.  
Pollinator Pathways
 
You may have heard talk of “pollinator pathways”.  So what are they and why are they beneficial?  Let’s start with bees, butterflies, birds and other insects and animals which help pollinate flowers and plants, without which we have no food. According to the United States Forest Service, over 80 percent of flowering plants depend on insects or animals to help them pollinate. These insects and animals are the pollinators. Their habitat has been fragmented, reduced, compromised and damaged over the years.  We can help by forming connections or pathways between green areas by keeping them healthy for the pollinators.  The Town of Bedford long has supported the Healthy Yards Program.  Please consider joining the Healthy Yard program . It’s easy to carry out and actually will reduce your yard and other landscaping costs.
 
Filippine de Haan of Bedford 2020 has graciously provided the following links for more information: Westchester Pollinators
 
Also the Bedford 2020 website has a special page for Bedford: Healthy Yards
Heat Smart Offers Attractive Opportunities
Thanks to a grant from New York State Energy Research & Development, homeowners in the towns of Bedford, Lewisboro and Pound Ridge now have a unique opportunity to determine whether heat pumps might provide a more comfortable home while saving on energy bills.  Heat pumps draw from either the ambient air (air source pumps) or the earth (geothermal pumps). Geothermal provides a constant temperature of about 54 degrees allowing for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. 
 
The program is spearheaded by Energize NY, in partnership with Sustainable Westchester, Abundant Efficiency and NYSERDA, provides homeowners in the three towns the opportunity to learn whether these new renewable energy choices are right for you.  Energize has launched an ambitious community outreach program to introduce homeowners both to the technology and reputable, certified heating and cooling and energy efficiency experts who offer the latest clean energy technologies including air source and geothermal heat pumps and energy efficiency improvements. The contractors are Bruni & Campisi (914-269-6760), Healthy Home Energy & Consulting, Inc. (9144-242-9733) and Dandelion Energy (833-436-4255)
 
On Thursday, June 26, the Heat Smart team was on hand for the community to explain the program (together with service Tacos). Like to know more?  Please click on this link https://www.heatsmartny.com/westchester or call 914-302-7300 x1     There is no cost or obligation to learn whether Heat Smart is right for you.
 
Our thanks to Lauren Brois, Bedford 2020, the contractors and the Heat Smart campaign team for an excellent presentation.
Pilot Food Waste Pick-Up Program

The Town in partnership with Bedford 2020 is pushing ahead with measures to further reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  We’re potentially getting help from the State.  With a 50-50 match grant program, NYSDEC is encouraging municipalities to submit innovative and promising projects for GHG emission reduction.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency reports: that about 94 percent of the food we throw away ends up in landfills or combustion facilities. In 2015, we disposed 37.6 million tons of food waste. Food waste comprises by weight a considerable portion of the solid waste flow going into landfills. Collecting and composting food waste will reduce methane emissions from landfills and lower our carbon footprint. 
 
The proposed project, which Bedford 2020 endorses, is a pilot program consisting of forty families, chosen each year on a first-come, first-served basis, for curbside food waste pick-up. It is proposed that after each year of the three year program, residents on the pilot program wishing to continue the pick-up would make separate arrangements for such services at that time. The total estimated value of donated time over the three year period is $37,855.70 for a total project cost of $75,295.70. 
Recycling News
Beaver Dam Yard Waste and Compost Facility

The Town of Bedford Beaver Dam Compost Facility processes recyclable wood waste and leaves from the Town and provides beneficial reuse of the waste as compost and mulch. The facility provides an extremely cost effective method for this recycling as well as an environmental benefit of local recycling with minimal transportation requirements. It is open for residents to dispose of recyclable wood waste (logs and branches up to 6” diameter, brush, and leaves), as well as pick up wood mulch and leaf compost. This service is free to Town of Bedford residents between 7:30 AM and 3:00 PM Monday to Friday, excluding Town holidays.

With Spring clean-up and planting season here, you may find these services helpful. I encourage you to review the updated information by clicking on  Beaver Dam Compost Facility on the Town’s website.
Cyber Security – Don’t Fall Victim
           
Most of us at one time or another have had to deal with fraudulent credit card charges, attacks through our e-mails or other schemes to steal funds.  Fortunately, there is a great deal of advice on how to protect yourself. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission provides excellent practical pointers to thwart scammers using e-mails or text messages to lure you into turning over personal information. Please see https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-avoid-phishing-scams .  Another source is https://www.usa.gov/stop-scams-frauds   

The website of the Town of Bedford, as previously reported, was attacked and we had to disable the site for a couple of days to restore the website.  

Fortunately, the damage was minor and easily fixed. We have excellent defenses such that no data of the Town, residents or anyone doing business with the Town was ever at risk (online transactions are handled by third parties with robust security systems).  
 
THE 2018 ANNUAL REPORT 

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A regular reader of this weekly newsletter asked why I repeat certain posts from week to week. I do so because not everyone reads my newsletter on a weekly basis, much information provided remains relevant and I wish to continue to alert the community about it. In response to the comment, however, you will see that I've divided the newsletter into two sections "New Posts" and "Continuing Posts". Both sections are relevant and, I believe, worthy of review.

I wish to thank readers for making suggestions and comments; over the years, I've not only changed format but added content based on them
(for example, why the flags are flown at half-staff.