CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – The New Castle Town Board and the Chappaqua Board of Education met briefly Tuesday night but opened the doors for better communication when it comes to emergency response planning and increasing the town’s commercial tax base.
The emergency response discussion was made even more relevant because of Hurricane Sandy in October. The town’s communication and infrastructure management came under fire during the storm, while many parents praised the school district’s constant emails and phone calls.
The school board and Superintendent Lyn McKay agreed to help the town set up a similar robocall system.
The two boards also discussed designating a permanent shelter in the town. Horace Greeley High School typically welcomes residents to shower and warm up during a blackout, but the high school was without power for much of the storm.
To be a permanent shelter for the town, Greeley would need a generator, which John Chow, assistant superintendent for business, estimated would be between $250,000 to $300,000.
“I don’t think there’s anybody in this town that wouldn’t agree that we need a shelter,” said school board member Jeff Mester. “I think the real issue, and I don’t think I have any answer for it today, was a six-figure cost of having a generator that could generate an entire building with that.”
The boards agreed to look into the possibility of a state grant for a generator.
The second-half of the meeting focused on increasing the town's commercial tax base, specifically the town board-initiated proposal to rezone Chappaqua Crossing for retail development. Several school board members understood concerns about historic preservation, but seemed in favor of the revenues it would generate for the town and school district.
“We can’t pretend that this is 1970,” said school board member Alyson Kiesel, who has lived in Chappaqua more than 40 years. “We need commercial revenue to offset what we’ve lost and the escalating costs. And it’s important that it’s tasteful and relevant to the needs of the community.”
The boards ran out of time and were unable to get to the third agenda item, which focused on unfunded mandate relief, and agreed to schedule another meeting soon.
“We should plan this and do this more often,” said School Board President Victoria Tipp. “It’s been very helpful.”