Around 100 attend first of the Master Plan outreach sessions and brainstorm freely, amicably

Zezula taking notes
Next opportunity is Saturday, May 10, at Greeley 9:00 a.m. to noon
See photos of the evening in “Read more…”
May 9, 2014
by Christine Yeres

A crowd of around 100 attended the first of the town’s outreach sessions to hear what residents like and dislike about their lives in New Castle.  Facilitators from Pace Land Use Law Center managed to engage breakout groups of 18 to 20 in different classrooms, saw to it that everyone was heard from, and jotted down words and phrases that captured the gist of each participant’s comments and ventings on the five major topics in the agenda. The format was relaxed.  Marian and Gray Williams attended, with Marian calling several times in her group for “Quick!-a-show-of-hands!” on various issues.  I asked her afterwards for her impressions of the evening.

“Our group was unfailingly civil,” wrote Williams in an email, “and the likes and dislikes aired freely.  Tree removal and sidewalks had mixed reviews, placing “workforce” housing and senior citizen accessible housing among the mansions was considered a positive by all.  Reaction to the Hunts Lane Conifer location was negative.  Concerns about access and condition of roads vis-a-vis Chappaqua Crossing were fully aired, with some suggestions about the Roaring Brook-Readers Digest Road-Sawmill intersection—including an overpass—addressed.  A fair amount of other useful information was shared.  The library, the schools, and the recycling center got great marks.  Playing fields are in poor condition and need expanding and relief.  A pool at Chappaqua Crossing was roundly approved.”

The sheets and sheets of notes jotted down by facilitators will be faithfully reproduced by Pace in more convenient form.  The notes will themselves become the subject of discussion in a next phase of the Master Plan review. 

Topics included:

• Trails, fields, parks and open space

• Parking and transportation

• Community amenities and services

• Commercial areas

• Housing needs

• Economic development

Sessions remaining:

Saturday, May 10 at Horace Greeley High School 9:00 a.m. to noon

Thursday, May 15 at Westorchard Elementary 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 21 at Seven Bridges Middle School 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.

ground rules


We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

So much for the Supervisor’s talk about “World War Three”!  Looks like it was a party!

By Glad to see this on 05/09/2014 at 7:13 am

While there ideas aplenty, the number of practical and do-able ideas was minimal. A very many of Our residents who want tax relief simply do not grasp what is required for sewers, sidewalks , shuttle busses, and a parking structure.  The same people who expressed desires for these items also strongly urged the retention of the town’s country look and feel.  Some people actually believed that a multiplex or parking structure was consistent with that thought. 

My observation was that , As a whole, the townsfolk have a wish list that is impossible to fulfill. One 60 year resident obseved that all the suggestions were raised two and three even four times already over the past decades, with none of them ever being implemented. The point I see is that. , if an idea never worked in our thriving past (multiple times) what makes anyone think that it would work now when we are in decline.

one person in my group made it a point to add to Some ideas the following words: “to the extent practical” to the palpable consternation of some people.  Another advocated for an increased empty nester focus.  There were many logical voices, but not enough to make a difference in the overall vision for the future.

By Participant on 05/09/2014 at 9:47 am

Well, participant, I think you’ve hit it on the head when u say “if an idea never worked in our thriving past (multiple times) what makes anyone think that it would work now when we are in decline”

That’s why it will work this time, because it has to now!

By It has to! on 05/09/2014 at 10:13 am

Credit to the current Town Board for hiring Pace.  They were great.  This is great.  Proud to be part of the process!

By 10514 on 05/09/2014 at 10:21 am

Question to the editor:

Since each session is the same are residents allowed to attend multiple sessions?  Would not that be like voting multiple times?

Editor’s Note: Each session is conducted in the same manner, covering the same topics.  You don’t NEED to go to more than one, but you MAY go to as many as you like.  No, it’s not like voting—it’s brainstorming.

By Question on 05/09/2014 at 11:25 am

To Participant – It is possible to further develop the downtown while still maintaining the overall quaint ‘small town’ feel… there need not be a trade-off between the two. New Castle’s “residential character” can be not only maintained, but enhanced, through smart, tasteful development in the town centers.

The reality is that the vast majority of New Castle’s land will always remain residential (it has already been subdivided and built as such). Currently, commercial, office and retail businesses utilize less than 2% of the physical land of New Castle. Adding amenities and vibrancy to the relatively compact town centers can add value to the remaining 98% of the town which can remain its residential character. Having places to gather, and walk, eat and communicate with fellow residents could enhance the sense of community.

There are 7+ acres of blacktop downtown for commuter parking, which currently detracts from what you call the town’s “country look and feel”. Therefore, a parking garage – if built to certain design standards and placed appropriately near the tracks (and away from Greeley Ave) – could free up significant space to add more ‘village appropriate’ shops, restaurants, housing or even community/park space to enhance the ‘small town feel’. You also mock the compatibility of a movie theater and a ‘small town feel’. I would point out that most ‘quintessential’ small towns do have theaters (sized appropriately) as a draw to the downtown areas and a place for residents to get together, enhancing the sense of community.

Ideally the updated Master Plan will provide guidelines that ensure a careful balance between the desires of the community for additional amenities/conveniences and the maintenance of the ‘character’ of the town.

By DG (who was likely in Participant’s sub group) on 05/09/2014 at 11:34 am

to those who think a parking garage will work-last we got numbers the cost per space was over $25,000 for each space.  To deck the lot was over $15,000.  these numbers were
several years ago.  For a 400 car garage, costs will be over $10 million.
Now to reality-with a 2% cap-all capital projects count toward the cap.  First we need to fix the water and sewer lines in down town that are becoming a serious problem.  We don’t need to plant more trees to clog up the drainage.  we also don’t need to use “brick” in the cross walks.  Be creative and figure out how to get a nice look and feel to the streets for s minimal expense.

By JJS on 05/09/2014 at 2:02 pm

While your words appear to make sense , it is fantasy.  If you, personally, will foot the bill and are repaid only from a pool of increased revenues, fine.  But the reality is that there would be more dissension than CC.  Worried about traffic, you said,  what do you think a multiplex will bring?  I will support your personal efforts to pay for it out of your pocket with the assumption of risk that goes along with it.

By Dear d g on 05/09/2014 at 2:44 pm

Dg’s well written piece shows that there is magic available to the town and that 10 million dollars is pocket change.  That structure will be by its very nature an inconvenience.  The hand full of stores, even if thriving, do not justify it.  No worries, dg will offer to pay for it out of his altruistic sense of community. 

After we pay for conifer subsidies, and for sewers at 1600000 per mile, and sidewalks that destroy the country feel and the not to be reduced taxes that defeating CC will occasion, and shuttle busses , and bike lanes, and purchasing land so as not to be developed, the $26000 tax bill on a house will be $40000 for starters.

If money were no object , that would be one thing . But for working stiffs like me, is is a consideration .

Create a B I D and let all the commercial properties raise and spend money for improvements they feel will help their interests.

Another problem is that there are too many cooks in this town that spoil the broth. chef dg ignores that fact

By Dear jjjs on 05/09/2014 at 3:04 pm

Please come down to earth everyone.  We all try to control what we want for our fillies and lifestyles .  Problems occur when person x. Tries to dictate to person y how to live and where to spend person y money to gratify peron x agenda

By Ideals on 05/09/2014 at 4:47 pm

@ JJS, do you really think the town would need to pay for the parking garage?  You are very naive.

By Come on on 05/09/2014 at 4:51 pm

While I agree that something MUST (wishfully) work, the sentiment you express is analogous to that of a desperate, losing gambler who MUST win his next hand. The town’s Current financial situation has no room for making costly mistakes. We were able to absorb mistakes in our economically healthy past, but not today.

If Chappaqua Crossing creates the hoped for revenue stream, we can see how the shake out downtown plays out and make strategic moves at that time rather than making guesses now.

By Dear it has to! on 05/10/2014 at 7:12 am

Won’t there be a log jam to get out of any structure at evening rush hour? Won’t that add at least 10 minutes on to everyone’s commute by adding to the current waiting time at the exit points? Just asking.

Why do I feel it will be like trying to exit the parking structure at
Yankee stadium after a game,,,, every day.

Who is going to pay for the construction? I would expect through parking fees and summonses. If it’s $15 for dialing parking or $250 monthly and $30 tickets if issued in the structure, maybe.

According to some, over-the-top costs are irrelevant if the design is nice enough.

By commuter parking structure questioner on 05/10/2014 at 1:18 pm

One of the reasons I moved here was the convenient and virtually free commuter parking.  I Fear that a new Parking dynamic will adversely affect the town’s desireability .  It creates a chore.

By Yikes on 05/10/2014 at 7:10 pm

My view is these 4 session all crammed into a few weeks this month has significant limitations. I think word of mouth spread out over more time would result in increased citizen involvement. Or maybe tables scattered around town or at community events with people explaining the process but I guess the budget would not allow it.

By Resident on 05/11/2014 at 7:24 pm

The headline puts this NCN site into perspective.  The editor writes that the town residents “brainstorm freely, amicably.”  The only place in town that that does not happen is here in the anonymous comments at NCN.  It should not be a surprise.  This site is not the norm for Chappaqua.  Me thinks a little perspective on this site can go a long way.

By Just Saying so on 05/12/2014 at 9:45 am

I went to the Saturday visioning session for the Master Plan, and thought it was really interesting. That said, there were only about 25 people there, and the younger demographic was not well represented – in fact, I don’t think there was anyone under 40. In my breakout group, only two people had kids in school. There are two more sessions – on Thursday, May 15 at Westorchard from 7pm to 10pm) and Wednesday, May 21 at Seven Bridges (also from 7 to 10). If you have concerns or desires – and who does’t!? – you want your voice heard. We talked about everything from sidewalks to trees to retail development, parking and housing and more. I know well how hard it can be to get out of the house in the evening for three hours, but it’s really something to make time for.

By maggie christ on 05/12/2014 at 11:47 am

I think the master plan process should also afford residents of the area to write in their responses to the same questions being asked at these meetings. I think their should be a process for area residents to either send in an actual old fashion letter by old fashion U.S. Mail, or by the gold standard of today, by electronic email. Perhaps, we can also entertain faxing in our letters. Mr. Greenstein I would like you to consider adding this kind of aspect to the process. Therefore, I would need to know what is being asked of the community in person that can’t be supplied somehow in the above formats. Thanks

By Add write in letters and email on 05/12/2014 at 11:47 am

4 sessions crammed into a single month has limitations?  You would like to see tables scattered around town?  Why don’t we just have a travelling Master Plan Mobile that will play music and reside in various neighborhoods?  How about private in house consultations?  We have 4 public sessions set up at various times, along with other volunteer opportunities.  Will this accommodate everyone?  Obviously not, but that would be impossible.  Will this provide enough opportunity for a sufficient portion of the community to be heard?  No doubt.  Is this orders of magnitude beyond prior years when the town couldn’t even get past square one in the master planning process?  I think the answer to that is obvious.

But of course, this has “limitations”.

By Resident Insanity on 05/12/2014 at 3:31 pm

Editor, what happens after these brainstorming sessions are concluded?  I assume Pace prepares some sort of report or summary, provided the town can pay for it. After that, what happens?  Thanks

Editor’s Note: Report by Pace goes to the Master Plan Steering Committee, then the community is consulted again.  Not sure how.  At some point, data from the County enters into the picture, and the current Master Plan is gone over to see what remains relevant, what needs revising according to what the community input has been.

By RCR on 05/12/2014 at 5:16 pm

Write in, yeah right. Just like the town survey. That survey showed an equally divided town on CC, with opponents voting 3 and four times.
The truth was and is that an undeniable majority wants it. All people who want a voice should show up and be heard. What’s wrong with that Americanism?

By write in are packed on 05/12/2014 at 8:29 pm

What you responded to so vehemently and rather rudely was a polite suggestion on how to generate more word of mouth. There is nothing wrong with that suggestion. The master plan sessions are significantly staffed by volunteer residents. They too have expresed concerns about gettimg the word out more effectively to generate more community involvement. This phase of the master plan process unfurled in a very limited time frame due in large part to the terms of the contract with Pace.  So far 125 residents out of more than 10,000 adults have participated. It seems that is hardly a cross section. While i agree that some progress is better than none, recognizing that perhaps other outreach is needed is appropriate. Maybe a letter campaign will work for a portion aa suggested or e mail. These are good ideas. But jumping upon a polite suggestion as to how to broaden participation is contrary to the essence of this process.

By To resident insanity on 05/12/2014 at 11:30 pm

When will the parcels of land be looked at?  Don’t see this in the questions.  Since the last master plan,the town has built 2 fields at amsterdam hoag cross road area. We have added fields at Gedney park.  Developers have subdivided many properties, zoning regulations have changed.  we are more concerned with wet lands, tree removal, and storm water run off. We have changed how we measure many things in the building code.
Are these changes positive or are some of them too restrictive or do we need to continue to tighten our building regulations.  Seems we need to think about how the remaining land in the town should be used.  The master plan is supposed to be a guide for the town going forward.

By LBG on 05/13/2014 at 1:07 am

Look at the comments in the Patch article about BGR closing.  Issues seem very familiar and Mt. Kisco has a much better footprint for its downtown than either of the hamlets in NC.  One comment mentions how they expect things to get even tougher based on outcome of Chap Crossing.

By Diff town – similar challenges on 05/13/2014 at 11:00 am

I disagree with the post that this site is the only place people brainstorm uncivilly.  Many times I have seen uncivil words or attitude from our prior supervisor, from current board members when they were running, from the current supervisor and from residents at board meetings and work sessions. I love this community, warts and all, but I have seen plenty that is not amicable other than on this site. I think the headline had something to do with the videos of master plan related conversations that showed a relatively high level of emotion about how these sessions would pan out. The constant ” blaming” of this site as being the source of bad conduct and words is very much misplaced.

By JF on 05/13/2014 at 3:54 pm

@JF: Well I think we both agree that civility should be the norm, not the exception.  Certainly, we should expect it in our elected officials.  I hope we can reach it here in the anonymous comments on NCN.

By Just saying so on 05/14/2014 at 10:05 am

What about the whispering pines lot for affordable housing ?is it any smaller than hunts lane/conifer?

By Ben on 05/14/2014 at 6:58 pm

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