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Friday, June 12, 2015
Editor’s Note: This week, NewCastleNOW asked Town Planner Sabrina Charney some questions about the Comprehensive Plan outreach scheduled for Monday, June 15, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Bell Middle School. Below are her responses.
NCNOW: What is the purpose of next week’s outreach?
Charney: Next week, the public gets to understand how their visions for New Castle begin to fit into a planning document. They can see, for example, how the desire for sidewalks or bicycle paths gets incorporated into Comprehensive Planning language.
The Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee needs the public’s input and suggestions regarding the Comprehensive Plans goals and objectives that incorporate the priority issues, assets and challenges that the public identified at the previous public outreach meetings. This document helps guide the local government officials as they make land use decisions for the future of New Castle.
NCNOW: Why should residents attend?
Charney: It’s important for the Town of New Castle and the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee to make sure they have input from the public regarding these larger goals, so that when it comes time to think and evaluate a variety of strategies and options, the public understands what goal they are trying to meet and how best to accomplish that goal.
NCNOW: Will residents hear about specific options for improvements to New Castle?
Charney: No, this is simply goals and objectives. We need to get this right before we move to the variety of options that might meet each goal.
NCNOW: As I’ve understood so far, Monday’s outreach is partly a review of the results of last spring’s outreach sessions, confirming residents’ input and partly a chance to have more input from residents.
What kind of input do you want from residents this time?
Charney: The public’s comments from last spring have been categorized, analyzed, and then turned into comprehensive planning language goals-and-objectives.
On Monday, the Committee is asking the public: “Do we have this correct?” “Are we missing other goals or objectives?” “Do we agree upon these goals before we move forward?”
The Committee will be asking residents to ensure that our synthesis of last year’s input is not only accurate and complete, but also represents their vision of New Castle.
NCNOW: Where can residents see those results to refresh their memories?
Charney: On the town’s website: New Castle Master Planning Public Engagement Report, July 2014.
NCNOW: So Monday’s outreach will be limited to “goals and objectives,” not the “how-we-get-there” or “strategies” part of last year’s outreach; when does the “how-to” part happen?
Charney: Next fall, the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee will return to the community with draft planning strategies designed to achieve the Comprehensive Plan’s stated goals and objectives.
NCNOW: Will the work that Pace’s has done—studying “existing conditions” and a “Downtown Opportunities Memorandum” including Chappaqua and Millwood—be part of Pace’s presentation?
Charney: We (Pace Land Use Law Center, the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, Town Staff) have not yet finalized the documents but will be presenting preliminary findings at the workshop on Monday. Draft versions of the documents are scheduled for release to the public on June 30th.
NCNOW: Will all five Comprehensive Plan topics be discussed?
Charney: Yes, but participants may see them in a different format that is in response to the ways in which the Comp Plan Steering Committee has now reviewed and evaluated the variety of discussion topics relevant to the Comp Plan.
NCNOW: Can you remind us what those five topics are?
Charney: The five topics were Commercial Development and Hamlets; Housing; Public Works Infrastructure; Environment, Habitat and Scenic Resources; Public Services and Recreation.
NCNOW: Will the format and method be similar to the outreach sessions of last spring: an initial presentation by Pace (Kevin Dwarka and/or Tiffany Zezula), then particiapnts will break into smaller groups for discussion of “goals and objectives” for the five topics?
Charney: Yes. After the initial presentation, participants will break out into rooms and will discuss a variety of similar goals and objectives related to a certain overall theme.
NCNOW: Will copies of the “Downtown Opportunities Memorandum” and “existing conditions” by Pace be available to residents before the meeting, or at the meeting? How does this memo fit into Monday’s “goals and objectives” theme?
Charney: These documents will be released on June 30th to the public in draft form. The public will be invited to submit input on the documents throughout the summer to make sure that we have captured all the relevant data and existing condition information and have presented it accordingly in the documents. This fall this document will be finalized and synthesized into the Comprehensive Plan Update document.
NCNOW: Last spring’s various outreach sessions drew, in total, around 300 residents to participate. Are you satisfied with that number? There are between 10,000 and 12,000 adult residents in New Castle. What have you done to ensure the June 15 outreach is well-attended?
Charney: We’re never satisfied. Our hope is that the prior 300 will attend—and their friends. We have emailed out the flyer to all those that participated last year, including asking other organizations to blast the information out to others that might be interested. Information has also gone out via the e-newsletter, on the Town’s website, posted on facebook, door-to-door efforts and posting at public spaces. Some kind of summer outreach will also be done but has yet to be determined—suggestions from the public are welcome.
NCNOW: Will there be food?
Charney: Light Refreshments will be provided.
NCNOW: Are merchants being encouraged to attend?
NCNOW: Will their input be solicited specially, as a group—or, if they come, are they just a part of the overall participant group?
Charney: Merchants have been invited to attend a merchant-only breakfast meeting or lunch meeting on Monday. They are also being encouraged to attend the public meeting if they cannot make the breakfast or lunch meeting. [There are two options for merchants: 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. at Jardin du Roi in Chappaqua, and 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. at Pizza 238 in the Millwood Town Plaza. Merchants need not be residents. Contact Tiffany Zezula at email@example.com to let her know to expect you.]