Steering Committee goes to town on Master Plan review, reactivates volunteer groups

Master Plan Steering Committee
L to R: Standing are Town Planner Sabrina Charney, Maud Bailey, Rob Greenstein; sitting are Hala Makowska, Dick Brownell and Bob Kirkwood.
March 7, 2014
by Christine Yeres

On Tuesday, members of the Master Plan Steering Committee met with Town Planner Sabrina Charney to talk logistics on the roll-out of the Master Plan review.  Each of the them will re-activate the groups of volunteers who were put on hold during the committee’s sluggish start up period, comb through the 1989 “Town Development Plan” to see where it now falls short and needs updating, and meet with the Town Board and Pace Land Use Center consultants to discuss their results.

“My concern,” said Bob Kirkwood, “is that we’ve really been slow on getting this off the mark and the Town Board has a lot of time pressure on it.  We need to really jump start this process.  The Town Board is under this gun, and is trying at the same time to do this outreach, asking ‘If we do what this or that applicant is proposing, what does it mean in the hamlet, or here, or there, or everywhere?’  What about changing institutional lands to commercial uses?  What about changing residential lands to commercial uses?”

Because the fate of the Chappaqua Crossing, town hall and the Legionaries properties are not only hot topics but ones viewed as having time constraints, the committee will front-load the review process to consider them fully.  They estimate that to finish the complete Master Plan review will take a total of 18 months’ time.  “This is an update of the TDP,” said Kirkwood. “The rocks haven’t changed, streams flow the same way.  A lot of the data remains good and accurate. As far as ‘parks and recreation,’ for example, we know we have an issue with the capacity of fields. OK. What do we do about that?  This is the kind of question we’ll ask ourselves.”

Starting with the existing 1989 Town Development Plan, Bob Kirkwood, Dick Brownell, both Planning Board members; Hala Makowska, Chair of the Millwood Board of Fire Commissioners; Maud Bailey, a past president of the League of Women Voters who participated in the creation of the 1989 Plan; and Supervisor Rob Greenstein, replacing Adam Brodsky, will each take a subject area and—with those residents who volunteered to assist—will compare the 1989 version against their current experience, common sense and knowledge of the town, noting what areas need updating.

“And let’s not be worried about consensus in our groups,” said Kirkwood. “Put all ideas up, with nothing considered outlandish.  Then narrow these down to five for each of us.”

• Maud Bailey: Public Services and Recreation
• Dick Brownell: Environment, Habitat and Scenic Resources
• Rob Greenstein: Commercial Development and Hamlets
• Bob Kirkwood: Housing
• Hala Makowska: Public Works Infrastructure

Town Planner Sabrina Charney noted that since all their subjects are interconnected they will naturally find themselves crossing over into their colleagues’ areas of study.

With the results of their preliminary review of the 1989 TDP under their belts, on March 18 the Steering Committee will meet with the Town Board and Pace consultants to discuss details of the community outreach. “We will have framed the issues by then, so that the public outreach is intelligent and directed—not a mush,” said Kirkwood. “We’ll chase it down, identify areas that need changing, frame them, and then have a good meeting with Pace.”  Outreach to the broader community will begin soon after.

Although the contract the town is negotiating with Pace is expected to last through the end of June, Charney assured committee members that “if all this is not realistic within the time frame of that contract, then Pace will come back and do another outreach session. Pace is coming on the 18th to discuss their program to see what the Town Board wants and what your committee wants.”

“If you don’t inform the public about what you’re doing at the beginning,” Brownell cautioned, “it’s very hard to get buy-in. We should take what facts are available, our impressions, and identify core issues.”

“In the end, though, the Master Plan is not just ‘issues,’” said Kirkwood. “It about the community’s vision.  It produces a lot of noise, but from all the noise comes a vision, and then some specifics.”

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Related:

• 2003 Vollmer Report:
www.newcastlenow.org/images/uploads/Vollmer2003Report.pdf

• From NCNOW’s archives:  An outline of the PPS report, “PPS Report on Downtown Chappaqua from Fall 2006

• To view the full PPS report in PDF form, click here .

• August 2008 Comprehensive Landscape Design Project

In August 2008, The Town of New Castle retained a team of design consultants, Pouder Design Group, to advance a vision for the revitalization of the streetscape within the Hamlet of Chappaqua.

http://mynewcastle.org/images/SiteImages/Information/Concept%20Presentation-1.pdf


• In this article from NCNOW’s archives is a very useful critique of the 1989 Master Plan by the Planning Board of two years ago: Planning board tucks into 1989 town development plan with an eye to revision and participation; members choose their five-ish top priorities for the future, NCNOW.org, 3/16/2012

• For NCNOW’s collected articles on Master Plan, click HERE.

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