School, Town Boards Discuss Chappaqua Crossing, Storm Response

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New Castle Supervisor Susan Carpenter, left, and Chappaqua school board President Victoria Tipp met Tuesday night at Horace Greeley High School.
New Castle Supervisor Susan Carpenter, left, and Chappaqua school board President Victoria Tipp met Tuesday night at Horace Greeley High School.

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.”

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Comments (4)

I echo knshriber's comments.

Ms. Bassett - the facts are that the Chamber has come out publically oppossing the project, and further stating that they do not "know anyone who is in favor of it." Their proclamation is pretty clear and obviously self-interested. In consistent fashion, many of your comments are quite severe and one-sided. Perhaps you feel that you need to be attacking, with guns blazing to overcompensate for a lack of real substance. I agree that a master plan should be include Chapp Crossing. I also agree that the school board should do a better job of containing costs and managing their budget. So, for a change, let's have a productive exchage of ideas and input from all affected to include residents vs. a continuation of old guard, "don't change a thing" views about commercial development. Our town has a real fiscal emergency and must look at ways to improve the commercial tax base.

Perhaps this is the wrong town for you., knshriber.
The Chamber has made a huge difference in town for the better. I have seen nowhere that they profess to speak for all.
If you believe that you and your side have the numbers, then do the work and organize .
I am sure that you know the high taxes we pay are the school taxes.
If that is your concern you should educate yourself on the poor job the School Board has done to manage the schools and their budget. Alyson Kiesel
was on the Board for the last giveaway to the teachers. She does not have a leg to stand on. Any fair analysis of their work going back 15 years shows their poor decisions. I speak as one who supports a strong school system.
In my opinion, there is much more that can be done to broaden the tax base within the existing hamlets.
It would be a huge overreach to create a third hamlet without an updated Master Plan which would surely show along with other pertinent information whether the majority of the town's residents approve this idea.

Alyson Kiesel is right on point. There are many residents who want development in our sleepy, tired town of Chappaqua, and the chamber of commerce should not proclaim that they speak for all. We are an extremely under-served community compared to neighboring towns of Pleasantville and Mt. Kisco. Even Armonk is developing a new retail center. A retail center at Chappaqua Crossing is a perfect solution, will add value to homeowners, and drive additional business to our existing downtown which the data suggests.