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New Castle Master Plan Outreach Starts

Attendees gather for New Castle's first master plan update session, held at Robert E. Bell Middle School in Chappaqua. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
A list of ground rules is displayed for the first public session for New Castle's master plan update process. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
A map of New Castle with Post-It notes attached describing things that are liked. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
Pace University's Tiffany Zezula with a list from a group that she worked with. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
Attendees of New Castle's master plan outreach session broke up into smaller groups, where various topics were discussed. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- The public outreach portion of New Castle's master plan update process is underway.

The first gathering, which was one of four scheduled, was held on Wednesday, May 7, at Robert E. Bell Middle School. The crowd was split into smaller groups.

Attendees had a chance to discuss topics ranging from the environment to services to commercial development. They also had a chance to voice what they liked and disliked. Items liked include walking trails and sidewalks, while concern was expressed about housing type availability and patronizing of downtown. Some residents also expressed concern that the proposed retail development at Chappaqua Crossing would compete with existing business areas and bring added traffic.

Dialogue was civil among groups observed in connection with this story.

The meeting was facilitated by Pace University's Land Use Law Center, which is helping the town with its update. New Castle has not had a major update of its master plan since 1989.

Tiffany Zezula, managing director for the Law Use Law Center, addressed the crowd at the start of the session. She discussed the format and called the master plan “your vision.” In the auditorium, a map of the town was posted, and people had the opportunity to write notes about things they like about the town. The notes were then pinned onto the map.

Supervisor Rob Greenstein, who was among several Town Board members at the meeting, called the event, "an incredible display of community engagement." He also praised Pace's center and Town Planner Sabrina Charney Hull, who has been involved with the process and who spoke along with Zezula.

Two more outreach sessions are scheduled. One will be on Thursday, May 15, at 7 p.m. at Westorchard Elementary School, while another will be on Wednesday, May 21, at 7 p.m. at Seven Bridges Middle School. Another meeting was held Saturday, May 10.

What is gained from the public outreach will be put into a report, according to a timeline of the process posted on the town's website. The town's Master Plan Steering Committee is slated to spend several months analyzing the plan, including what is still applicable and what is either missing or changed. The committee is scheduled to come up with goals later this year, which will then be subject to public response. A draft updated document is expected to be formed between February and April 2015.

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