October 18, 2023
I find myself a bit nostalgic as I complete my service as Mayor, and write this last letter to our community. When I began my first term, in December of 2017, we set out to accomplish a great deal as we launched a community-wide Comprehensive Plan process to identify and evaluate our village’s opportunities and challenges and set a course for the next 10 years. Our plan was created based on feedback from multiple community engagement sessions, and resulted in a list of recommendations to stimulate the economy in the Business District and encourage smart growth and development in different areas of the village. We were honored by the New York Planning Federation and the Westchester Municipal Planning Federation for the process and results of our plan and zoning changes.
Following recommendations from the Comprehensive Plan, the Village continues efforts to reduce our carbon footprint with participation in New York State’s Climate Smart Communities program in which we are Bronze Certified, and striving for Silver. The Board of Trustees adopted the Natural Resource Inventory as a tool to be used in the Planning Board process, introduced a food scrap recycling program, and passed legislation to encourage the development of solar in various zones in the village. We are nearing completion of updates to our Greenhouse Gas Inventory, Climate Vulnerability Assessment, and Climate Action Plan in partnership with ICLEI USA and with funding from New York State. When they were no longer useful, we replaced three vehicles in the Village fleet with new electric vehicles (EV) and have a fourth EV on order that will grow our EV fleet to six vehicles. We contracted for the creation of Westchester’s first municipally sited community solar project on the capped landfill at our Department of Public Works Facility which provides more than $100,000 annually in revenue for the Village, includes energy storage and generates clean renewable energy which is added to the grid, and provides a discount on energy purchases for those who registered to participate in the Community Solar program.
Though it has been a very long and difficult process, we addressed oversights made in the past administration and supported our volunteer firefighters by moving forward with renovations to our fire stations. Responding to the need to boost incentives to encourage volunteerism, we added a ballot proposition for the community to vote on increasing the earned Length of Service Award Program (LOASP) benefits for Volunteer Fire Fighters and Ambulance Corps members. This increase will be paid for by income earned on program investments. We also increased funding to the Ambulance Corps to help it meet significantly increased call volume and move closer to parity with our volunteer fire companies.
We renegotiated the Westchester County Police Contract reducing the annual cost, and added a Community Resource Officer to address quality of life concerns and strengthen community policing. A recent report from Westchester County Police indicated a 12% reduction in crime when comparing 2017 to 2022.
We have enacted policies, programs and legislation to address a variety of long-term and new challenges. This includes policy to eliminate illegal residential units which cause unsafe overcrowding, improved parking systems to simplify and add flexibility, court ordered community service for those who repeatedly violate local “quality of life” regulations, and established the Adopt-An-Area program to partner with businesses, organizations, and residents to beautify previously unkept areas. We established an Emergency Management Committee to improve the Village’s emergency preparedness and adopted an Emergency Management Plan, working with Westchester County we updated our Hazard Mitigation Plan. We approved code to regulate gas-powered leaf blowers, participated in the creation of a Telecommunications Master Plan (funded by Westchester County) to be a guiding document for updating our cellular code and improve telecommunications infrastructure, and updated sign policies to support businesses and reduce sign pollution on public property. We also adopted legislation to increase income thresholds to the maximum allowable limit for seniors and people with disabilities to receive property tax exemptions and established a property tax exemption for volunteer first responders serving the Village. We updated our Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, our Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program, and our Building Code, adopted code to opt-out of allowing retail cannabis dispensaries or on-site consumption establishments in the Village, and working with our Board of Ethics, updated the Village Ethics Code. Having received a Downtown Improvement Grant from Westchester County, we have begun working with an economic development consultant to assess current conditions and make recommendations to support businesses and further stimulate our local economy. We approved a Complete Streets Study which will make recommendations to improve pedestrian safety and the movement of bicycles and vehicles throughout the village.
As is recommended in our Comprehensive Plan, we have invested in our infrastructure to ensure the continued delivery of essential services now and into the future. This includes the much-needed replacement of antiquated water and sewer systems such as critical water mains on Mountain Avenue, North Bedford Road, and Byram Lake Road, replacement of undersized water mains on Woodland Street and Leonard Street, necessary upgrades to our SCADA system that is used to monitor and control our water and sewer systems, and essential improvements to our Saw Mill Sewer Pump Station to increase capacity and bring it to current standards, as well as more than $4 million for paving village roads and sidewalk repair, replacement, or installation. We have also recently completed an addition and much needed renovations to our Water Department building. Significant investment was needed to replace faulty electrical systems in the Henry V. Kensing Memorial Library building which previously did not have a Certificate of Occupancy. Renovations were completed at the Richard A. Flynn Justice Complex to add rental space and provide a home for the Historical Society while also housing the Westchester County Police Mount Kisco precinct. A project is in process to add solar to the roof of this structure. Funding was allocated for downtown streetscape redesign for which we have completed the first phase and are beginning the second. We completed installation of a new elevator along with some restoration work to our long neglected historic Village Hall including fixing the roof, cupola, leaking in the foundation, external wood molding, replacement of the boiler, and clock which had not functioned for more than a decade. It is my hope that before I leave office or soon after, we will complete the installation of electric car charging stations throughout the Village and the installation of generators for Village Hall and the Library.
With assistance from New York State legislators, we have made substantial investments in our recreation facilities, particularly in Leonard Park, where we installed new surfaces on the tennis courts and volley ball courts, added a bocce court, replaced fencing throughout the park, relined the dive pool, are currently relining the main and kiddie pools, replaced and improved flooring in the Charles A. Pieragostini room, replaced large playground equipment and swings, and have allocated funding to resurface baseball fields and create a permeable surface walking trail around the park to improve pedestrian safety. Investment has also been made in the soccer field on North Bedford Road which has been leveled, aerated, and reseeded.
We have sought to be a good employer, settled contracts with bargaining units, promoted from within when possible, added paid maternity/paternity leave, and reorganized the Department of Public Works to allow for job growth and broader distribution of responsibility.
We have done all of this while taking very seriously our fiscal responsibility to the tax payers with the implementation of a Capital Plan forecasting spreadsheet which balances debt and tax burden. We have implemented five of the ten lowest tax increases in the past 30 years. Moody’s increased our credit rating to Aa1 with a note highlighting “the village's continued improvement in cash and reserve levels driven by strong fiscal management.” During the past six years we have saved tax payers money through receipt of more than $18 million in grant funding for projects and programs which contributed to keeping tax increases below the tax cap.
This progress has happened while managing though multiple tropical storms, snow and flooding events, and a global pandemic that took the lives of more than a million people in the United States and shutdown New York for almost a year.
We have accomplished so much. Our Village is well positioned to move into the future. But as always, there are challenges and opportunities ahead. How will the Village address housing needs created by an expensive real estate marketplace and continued pressure from Albany to add more residential units? What additional resources and systems of accountability can be put in place to address those who are unhoused and have addiction and mental health issues? What engineering recommendations and funding will be available to mitigate the increased flooding due to increasing heavy rains? How will we continue to position Mount Kisco as a desirable investment and a place for smart sustainable development to stimulate our local economy and grow our tax base? Local government is strongest and most effective with participation from the community. Please do not be a bystander. Get involved and help identify answers to these questions to ensure the longevity and viability of our beautiful village.
All that we have accomplished is because of the extraordinary efforts of Village staff and volunteers on Boards, Committees, Commissions, first responders and partnerships with local organizations and partners in government. The Village Board of Trustees has the fiduciary responsibility to act with the best interests of the community in mind. It is our role to set an overarching direction through legislation, appoint volunteers, and oversee finances. It is the people around us who get the work done. I applaud and appreciate all who have and will continue to put in the enthusiasm and effort to lead our village forward.
Lastly, I want to express my deepest appreciation to those who have provided me the opportunity to serve as Mayor. The people of our beautiful village are what make it so very special. I have met and worked with so many wonderful individuals and groups who work to organize events, help the unhoused, feed the hungry, blaze trails, beautify areas, make land use decisions, archive our history, celebrate our many cultures, and embrace our differences. To all whom I have encountered over these past six years, thank you for enriching my life.
July 13, 2023
Housing affordability continues to be a topic of conversation across New York State and in Westchester. There is no one solution that will make housing more affordable. A variety of factors, including a lack of new housing, are driving up costs. The Board of Trustees continues to look at options for our community. As discussed in prior letters, one step toward this effort is considering permitting Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) in single family zones. This would allow additional, smaller, housing units to be added to the existing housing stock. We have edited multiple drafts of the proposed legislation which, under specific criteria, would permit small apartments to be added to a primary single-family residence. Our Village Planner is currently reviewing environmental impacts of the proposed zoning change. The legislation and all related information will be shared and a Public Hearing will be opened for feedback from the community.
Improving affordability for seniors and those with disabilities who have fixed incomes is a goal of proposed legislation for updating existing property tax exemptions. The existing code, which is a sliding scale, allows for exemptions for seniors and those with disabilities based on income levels. New York State has recently permitted an increase in the income levels to accommodate for increases in social security and inflation. The Board has reviewed code changes to incorporate the increased income levels.
Additionally, we are considering a 10% exemption for volunteer fire department and ambulance corps members. Those volunteers who own their primary residence in the Village and are certified as active would be eligible.
Public Hearings for the Senior and Disability Exemption and the Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance Corps Member Exemption have been scheduled for August 7 at 7:00 pm at the start of the Village Board of Trustees meeting. Participation is welcome in person at Village Hall, or via Zoom at ID 870 4376 1605.
There continues to be concerns in different areas of the Village regarding pedestrian safety, cars speeding, bicycle access, and on street parking. We have implemented different solutions, including installation of stop signs, stationed police enforcement, and using technology for speed monitoring which have had limited success in resolving the issues. Due to various concerns in many areas, our Village Manager gathered proposals for a Complete Streets Study which would assess current conditions and make recommendations to address these concerns. Some members of the Board have requested a proposal more targeted to our specific needs. To this end, the Board will refine the scope of the project and seek proposals that will provide a plan to address these concerns. As we work through this process, the Westchester County Police will continue to monitor and address any unsafe conditions.
The Board of Trustees accepted a bid for construction on the Mutual Engine & Hose Company fire station. This is the third and final station to be renovated. The company will continue to respond out of this station as external work begins on construction of the additional apparatus bay. Work continues on the Independent Fire Company station. They are responding out of an alternate location until the apparatus bay and equipment room are ready for their return. I hope all appreciate the extraordinary efforts of our volunteers as they continue to deliver a high level of uninterrupted service as they work around the construction projects.
Work on the Byram Lake water main is expected to be completed in the fall. Based on weather conditions, we plan for the road to be resurfaced in the spring.
We officially cut a ribbon to celebrate the installation of new playground equipment in Leonard Park. The equipment offers a range of play experiences for children of varying abilities. This is one of the many investments we have made in Leonard Park with the assistance of fundraisers facilitated by the Recreation Commission and the partnership of New York State legislators Harckham and Burdick who provided grant funding and helped reduce cost to tax-payers. Prior projects include refurbishing tennis and volleyball courts, addition of a bocce court, installation of new fencing, a new gym floor and resurfacing the dive pool. The Board of Trustees recently accepted a bid to resurface the main pool which will begin in the fall. Funding has been allocated to refurbish the baseball fields which we expect will begin next year.
It is our goal to repave all Village owned streets and parking lots across a twelve-year cycle. We are in the eighth year of that cycle. The Village invests approximately $700,000 annually and receive back approximately $150,000 from New York State (NYS) in CHIPS funds. In recent years, these funds have been augmented by additional programs including Pave NY, Extreme Weather Recovery, and Pave our Potholes funds which brings the total from NYS to approximately $245,000 for this year. Our Village Manager and DPW Foreman review all roads and identify those most in need of repair. This year we will be paving Ascot Circle, Cold Spring Court, Rolling Ridge Court, Austin Drive, New Castle Drive, Maplewood Drive, Smith Avenue, the East Hyatt parking lot, the Village Hall/Library parking lot, and the Police parking lot.
Due to the retirement of Department of Public Works (DPW) General Foreman, Mike Corsi, our Village Manager and the DPW team invested time and thought into a reorganization of the DPW Department. In the new structure, in addition to the General Foremen, different groups have team leads which are responsible for overseeing, organizing, and participating alongside staff to ensure that work is completed and to resolve issues as they arise, allowing for a greater efficiency and distribution of responsibility. Each group, Sanitation, Highway, which includes parks and open space, Water & Sewer, and Central Garage have dedicated employees, though some may flex into other areas as needed. The team lead roles also provide professional development opportunities for staff who have successfully grown in the department.
Our DPW team does a great job for the community, but they need your help. Please remember that recycling should not be put in plastic bags. Bottles and cans should be put in bins. Cardboard and paper should be broken down and bundled or put in a bin. Additionally, please use the trash receptacles that are placed throughout the Village. We need everyone’s assistance in keeping Mount Kisco clean.
Important information for those who have previously participated in the New York State School Tax Relief (STAR) program. STAR provides either a property tax exemption or a rebate check for a primary residence for homeowners whose income is less than $500,000. New York State has sent letters asking all homeowners to re-register for the program. If you have not yet re-registered, you are at risk of losing your exemption or rebate check. If you have a letter with a “property key” code, sent by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, you can register by clicking the green “REGISTER” box at https://www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/htrc-registration.htm Alternately, you can call (518) 457-2036 Mondays through Fridays from 8:30am to 4:30pm for assistance.
We are always seeking ways to support our local businesses and strengthen our local economy. To this end, we applied for and were awarded a Westchester Business FIRST Downtown Improvement Grant (DIG). As a grant recipient, our community will receive consulting services that include strategic support to help grow consumer foot-traffic, retain existing businesses, recruit targeted-new businesses, and explore ways to strengthen our local economy through comprehensive analysis and a detailed action plan. We look forward to receiving further details from the County to begin the consulting process.
We continue to seek a volunteer to serve on the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). The ZBA meets once a month in the evening to interpret, and if appropriate, use discretion to grant variances. The most important criteria for sitting on the ZBA is to have the ability to fairly and logically evaluate information to make a determination. Those interested in serving should reach out to our Village Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more.
For residents 55 years of age or older, consider a visit to the Fox Senior Center just off of Carpenter Avenue. In addition to serving lunch Monday through Friday, there are daily recreation activities, special events, and trips coordinated through the center. A typical week incudes Tai Chi, Stained Glass, Bridge, Cardio Drumming, Line Dance, Needle Crafts, Mahjong, Bingo, and Canasta. For more information send an email to email@example.com or call (914) 666-8766.
The Village uses the WCPD (Westchester County Police Department) App to share urgent news such as road closures and water main breaks. The app can be downloaded for free in the Apple App Store and Google Play.
The Mount Kisco Farmer’s Market is open Sunday’s 10:00am to 2:00pm in the South Moger parking lot and continues through October. A few dates to add to your calendar for fall include the Mount Kisco Chamber of Commerce Septemberfest is scheduled for September 8-10. The fun includes a carnival with rides and games, sidewalk sales, music, food, and beer garden. Also, in the Village that weekend, will be the Tunnel to Towers 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit. This 1,100 square foot exhibit includes artifacts and videos to serve as a tribute and to provide education. The Fired Up 5K Run is scheduled Sunday, September 10. Additionally, the annual Fire Department 9/11 Memorial Ceremony is scheduled on September 11th at 6:15pm. To stay up-to-date on events and activities go to mountkiscony.gov or follow us on Facebook at VillageofMountKisco.
The Memorial Pool is open seven days a week with guards on duty through Labor Day. Day passes for walk-ins can be purchased at the front desk. The snack bar is open and chairs, changing rooms, and showers are available. If you have not yet, stop by to enjoy the clean, safe environment and cool off on a hot summer day.
Gina D. Picinich
April 30 2023
Most people do not think about the resources needed to make local government function. Everyone is very busy with their daily lives; family, work, school, and other activities that have us running from morning to night. We pay our taxes, we pay our bills, and we expect that all will happen as it should, until something does not align with our expectations or perceptions. Often, people begin to pay attention when they believe they, or something they value, is at risk. That is why it is vital to have as many residents as possible participate on boards, committees, and commissions. Though Village staff manage daily operations, and Elected Officials on our Board of Trustees make legislative and other decisions, much important decision making, advisory opinions, events, and activities are lead and staffed by volunteers. We have open positions on many boards, committees, and commissions. Of particular importance is our Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). The ZBA is empowered to interpret zoning code and grant variances from zoning ordinances. The most important criteria for sitting on the ZBA is to have the ability to fairly and logically evaluate information to make a determination. Those interested in serving should reach out to our Village Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more.
Just as the seasons cycle through a year so does some Village government activity. We are nearing the end of our 2023-2024 budget process which begins in January and must be adopted by May 1st, as the budget year begins on June 1. Our Village Manager, Treasurer, and department leaders have carefully reviewed past revenues and spending to project the budget for the upcoming year. This was a challenging budget year due to increased costs related to inflation and payments for debt, which cover major capital projects. We are executing our thoughtfully prepared capital plan, and spending down some of our fund balance (while maintaining 25% of our budget in reserve) so that we do not have to add a large portion of the cost of debt payments to the tax levy. The initial budget proposed by our Village Manager resulted in a 2.5% tax increase. After discussions and review, we were able to reduce the increase to 1.99%. Water rates remain unchanged for the eighth year in a row, and there is no increase to sewer rates. We continue to focus on providing the highest levels of service at a fair cost to taxpayers.
The Governor’s proposal to create 800,000 new housing units over the next ten years is a wake-up call for all communities to take a closer look at existing housing stock. Though we recognize the need for more housing to drive down costs, we have been actively advocating against the Governor’s approach, which would remove zoning authority from local municipalities. We anticipate the final state budget will include a policy requiring every municipality to increase the number of housing units within their boundaries. Though Mount Kisco is often cited as one of the more affordable locations in Westchester, the term “affordable” is relative to the environment around us. We often hear from essential workers, such as hospital staff, and our own first responders, that it is difficult to find housing they can afford in our Village. Many are forced to look further north. As a result of our Comprehensive Plan process in 2019, the Village modified zoning to encourage residential development in our downtown to address the need for additional market rate rental housing. We also added the option for townhouse development on Lexington Avenue. We are continuing to review code to allow Accessory Dwelling Units in single-family zones and anticipate a Public Hearing on proposed legislation in the coming weeks. Modifying zoning to allow for a variety of housing options is an important tool our board can use to encourage housing development. We continue to focus on zoning that allows us to maintain a mix of affordable, market rate, and luxury housing in the Village.
Every change to our local code requires a thoughtful, transparent, and interactive process. A board member, Village Manager, Village Attorney or other staff member drafts proposed code. During public work sessions, the Board of Trustees reviews and modifies the draft. A final draft is then presented to the community at a Board Meeting and a Public Hearing is opened. The board listens to and incorporates feedback from the community. A vote on final legislation is conducted during a Board of Trustees meeting. Following this process, the Board of Trustees adopted changes to Village Code Chapter 51 - Building Code. The changes were largely to align with updates made by New York State.
At the request of the Planning Board Chairperson and in consideration of proximity to homes on a pending application, in March of 2022, the Board of Trustees voted to begin the process of alienating parkland in Leonard Park for the purpose of siting a cell tower. Over this past year, we performed due diligence which included engaging telecommunications and legal experts and we have sought and listened to public comment. After a year’s time and extraordinary effort, there were outstanding issues that were not resolved to all board members satisfaction. As a result, we were unable to come to a consensus on a variety of points including the space to be dedicated as parkland to replace the alienated land. It appeared that more time would not enable us to come to consensus. It was unfair for all involved to continue to indicate that Leonard Park was a potential location, if after a year of work, the Board was unable to draw that conclusion. As such, we formally ceased the process, not wanting to continue to dedicate time and resources to this endeavor. Though Leonard Park is no longer an option to site the tower, the application to site a tower at 180 South Bedford Road continues under the purview of the Planning Board.
In past letters, I have shared concerns about vehicles speeding in the Village impacting pedestrian safety. This becomes a particular concern as the weather gets warmer and more folks are walking throughout the Village. The speed limit on most roads in the Village is 30 m.p.h., except where posted as 25 m.p.h. Deputy Mayor Abzun and Trustee Patiño have requested a Complete Streets and Traffic Study to evaluate roadways with a focus on pedestrian safety. Since so many roads in the Village are under the jurisdiction of the New York State Department of Transportation, we are partnering with them to ensure that any recommendations resulting from the study can be incorporated for all roadways.
Pedestrian safety, cellular infrastructure, and housing will continue to be three areas of focus for the Board of Trustees during the next few months.
Village Board of Trustees meetings are scheduled for the first and third Monday of the month and are broadcast live on channels 20 or 40 (depending on cable provider) and on Facebook Live at VillageofMountKisco. Board of Trustees meetings are broadcast live in Spanish. To view, go to Mount Kisco en Español on You Tube.
To ensure the structural integrity of Village Hall, contractors are installing drainage systems around the foundation to stop water flow into the basement. The warm weather has enabled contractors to continue work on the cupola, slate tile roof, the flat roof, and repairs around the skylight. We are giving our beautiful and historic Mott B. Schmidt designed building the attention it needs and deserves as a site listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Construction continues on the Independent Fire Company station on Lexington Avenue. We are planning for the bid for the Mutual Engine & Hose fire station to be released in May. Provided that modifications made to the scope will cause the returning bids to align with the planned budget, we anticipate construction can begin in August.
It was a pleasure to participate in the unveiling of the Legends and Lore marker noting Washington Rock. The Legend says that George Washington sat upon the rock and ate his dinner before marching his troops to Peekskill on November 10, 1776. Thank you to the Historical Society and to Michael Kirsch, Chairperson of the Landmark & Historical Preservation Commission, who pursued the Pomeroy Foundation grant for the marker.
At the request of Hotel MTK, we began a process to rename the street formerly known as Holiday Inn Drive. We asked the community for suggestions and conducted an online vote on the final options. The community she loved so much, selected Pat Reilly for this honor. New signs are posted on Pat Reilly Way.
An important note for all property owners 65 years or older: You may be eligible for senior citizens tax exemptions on your primary residence. Please contact the Assessor’s Office at (914) 864-0017 to learn more.
The Mount Kisco Memorial Pool will officially open for the season Memorial Day weekend. There is still room available to register for Camp Iroquois and Teen Travel. Pool passes and camp registration are available through the Recreation Department. The Recreation Department has open positions for camp staff, life guards, and park maintenance staff. Applications are available online at mountkiscony.gov under Departments under Recreation.
New equipment is being installed in the playground at Leonard Park including toddler swings and a slide and climb structure. We expect the installation will be complete by May 31st. Plans are being made to resurface the baseball fields. Since the season begins on April 15th, we expect this project will begin late winter 2024.
The Spring and Summer bring events and activities facilitated by many community groups including the Mount Kisco Arts Council Summer Concerts at Fountain Park in front of Village Hall. Information about events is posted at mountkiscony.gov under News and on the Calendar. We also share news on Facebook at Village of Mount Kisco, and the Facebook feed is also available on the main page of the Village website. Urgent notifications (such as road closures) are shared via the Westchester County Police Department app available for free in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.
Hoping all have the opportunity to enjoy the Spring and Summer weather. Take a walk downtown, play on the tennis courts, dine alfresco, enjoy an outdoor concert, or any of the many wonderful things Mount Kisco offers.
Gina D. Picinich
January 20, 2023
Happy New Year to all. Hoping that 2023 brings opportunity, health and happiness to everyone in our beautiful Village. The start of the year signals the beginning of the legislative session in New York State and a new budget proposal from the Governor. Working with the Westchester Municipal Officials Association, the New York Conference of Mayors, and the New York State Association of Towns we are actively engaged in advocating for legislation and funding that benefits Mount Kisco. A topic high on the agenda in Albany is the need for more housing across the state and to make housing more affordable. The concept is that increased inventory will reduce cost. In prior years, Albany has taken a draconian approach to this challenge by proposing regulations that would overrule local zoning and force municipalities into one size fits all requirements that would have been detrimental to the Village. Mount Kisco has a prominent seat at the table as we work in cooperation with local leaders from across the state to encourage Albany to partner with us to identify meaningful solutions to the housing challenge that will generate positive outcomes for everyone.
To this end, the Board of Trustees is discussing permitting Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADUs, which are currently prohibited) in single-family zones across the Village. ADUs are often referred to as “in-law” apartments, which are found in single-family homes. Such apartments can provide rental income for homeowners allowing them to make their homes more affordable. ADUs also provide space for elder or younger relatives to live autonomously with family members. They are a sustainable way to maximize and expand the use of existing housing stock. Approximately 50% of Westchester municipalities currently permit ADUs, and many of those who do not, currently have legislation before their local boards in an attempt to demonstrate to Albany that we are taking steps to modify local zoning to address housing needs. We are drafting local legislation in a way that makes sense for Mount Kisco including requiring owner occupancy, additional off-street parking, and maintaining the visual appearance of a single-family home. When we have a complete proposal, we will open a Public Hearing at a Board of Trustees meeting. We expect this conversation will continue through the first quarter of the year.
November’s election results maintained the existing composition of our Board of Trustees with Deputy Mayor Abzun and Trustee Schleimer both having been elected to each fill a trustee seat. More than eighty-five percent of voters approved the referendums to increase the earned Length of Service Award Program benefit for Fire Department and Ambulance Corps volunteers. As we shared previously, the purpose of increasing this benefit is to help retain existing volunteers and motivate others to join our Fire Department and Ambulance Corps. Those interested in learning more about joining should reach out to the Fire Department by sending an email to email@example.com or the Ambulance Corps to MKVACmembership@gmail.com
During the last quarter the Board of Trustees approved amendments to the sign code, which now allows businesses to post portable freestanding signage, such as sandwich board signs, in front of their stores following specific criteria. Businesses will need to work with our Building Department to ensure that their implementation is in accordance with the new code.
The Board of Trustees established an Emergency Management Committee comprised of representatives from our Department of Public Works, Fire Department, Ambulance Corps, Westchester County Police, Village Manager, Recreation Superintendent, and members of the Board of Trustees to focus on updating the Village’s emergency preparedness plans. This committee will work to identify risks associated with emergent situations and hazard reduction and mitigation activities. They will coordinate with the Westchester County Office of Emergency Management to access additional resources and expertise.
The Board of Trustees also approved amendments to our Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program that enable Sustainable Westchester to offer opt-out solar credit savings through the Westchester Power program to eligible residents in addition to our current CCA program. The new solar credit supports local solar projects and enable participants to receive solar credit savings on their electricity bill each month for a minimum discount of 5% off their bill. To learn more about these programs or ask Sustainable Westchester any questions you can visit https://sustainablewestchester.org/.
To stay up to date on Village Board of Trustees activities, you can view meetings which are scheduled for the first and third Monday of the month and are broadcast live on channels 20 or 40 (depending on your cable provider) and on Facebook Live at VillageofMountKisco and on Zoom (ID listed on agenda). We are pleased to share that going forward, Board of Trustees’ meetings will also be broadcast live in Spanish. To view, go to Mount Kisco en Español on You Tube.
Construction is underway at the Independent Fire Company station on Lexington Avenue. This company is responding to calls from a temporary location on Lincoln Place near the Department of Public Works Facility. Working in cooperation with the Mutual Engine and Hose Company, plans have been revised to bring that project into budget. We expect to award the contract for this project by the beginning of March and hope to begin construction in May.
For the safety of your pets and the benefit of your neighbors, please remember that dogs are not permitted off leash on public space anywhere in the Village. Additionally, please remember to clean up after your dogs and dispose of waste in trash receptacles.
Many events occur in the Village bringing our community together in celebration of holidays, organizations, and cultures. Below is a list, by month, of annual events. It is also important to note that our Recreation Department and Library regularly facilitate new events and activities. As dates draw closer, details are provided at mountkiscony.gov under News, and on Facebook at VillageofMountKisco.
· Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
· Mutt Mile - Downtown
· Egg Hunt - Leonard Park
· Little League Opening Day Parade & Ceremony
· Arbor Day Celebration – Leonard Park
· Earth Day Celebration – Village Hall
· Farmers Market – Sundays South Moger
· Memorial Day Ceremony
· Fishing Derby - Wallace Pond Leonard Park
· Memorial Pool Open
· Farmers Market – Sundays South Moger
· Farmers Market – Sundays South Moger
· Juneteenth Celebration – Downtown
· Arts Council Fox Lane High School Aspire Student Fashion Show – Village Hall
· Arts Council Concerts – Village Hall
· Memorial Pool Open
· Camp Iroquois
· Fire Department Parade – Second Friday
· Arts Council Concerts – Village Hall
· Farmers Market – Sundays South Moger
· Memorial Pool Open
· Camp Iroquois & Teen Travel Camp
· Arts Council Concerts – Village Hall
· Cops and Cones – South Moger
· Farmers Market – Sundays South Moger
· Memorial Pool Open
· Camp Iroquois
· 911 Memorial Ceremony – 9/11 6:15 pm
· Fired Up 5K
· Farmers Market – Sundays South Moger
· Italian American Club of Northern Westchester & Legado Latino Italian & Hispanic Heritage Festival – Downtown
· Recreation Department Halloween Events
· Trick or Treating Downtown
· Veterans Day Ceremony – 11/11 11 a.m.
· Holiday Tree Lighting – First Friday in December
· Menorah Lighting – First night of Hanukkah
· Downtown with Frosty & Cookie Crawl – Mid December
Cheers to a great year!
Gina D. Picinich
October 29, 2022
Autumn in Mount Kisco presents many opportunities to build community though events and celebrations. It was wonderful to see residents, businesses and visitors come together and appreciate all that Mount Kisco has to offer at Septemberfest, the Fired Up 5K, the Italian and Hispanic Heritage Festival, and the Annual People, Culture, and Nature Photo Exhibit. Another example of community was a recent celebration at Mount Kisco Elementary School for their renovated Reading Garden. Students and adults from across the Village contributed to the renovation. At the celebration, following recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the students sang Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” With their voices raised, the children sang, “This land was made for you and me.” Together they then sang “Esta tierra fue hecha para ti y para mi.” Though to them it may have been just a song, it was so poignant to see and hear our children share, in two languages, this unified message representing an idea that is central to our great county and our beautiful village.
Participation and engagement by the community are essential to the effective workings of representative government. An important way to participate is to cast your ballot in this year’s elections. Early voting began Saturday, October 29th and continues through Sunday, November 6th. The Henry V. Kensing Library building is one of more than twenty early voting locations in Westchester. Election Day is November 8th. Polls are open from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Voters will cast ballots at their designated voting locations. Detailed information including schedule and polling locations is available at mountkiscony.gov under Quick Links. You can verify your polling location at https://voterlookup.elections.ny.gov/.
This year, two Mount Kisco Trustee seats are up for election, as well as Mount Kisco Library Trustees, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, New York State Assembly and Senate, Westchester County and New York State judges, and United States Senate and House of Representatives.
Additionally, two Mount Kisco referendums will be on the ballot: one each to increase the earned benefit for the Fire Department (MKVFD) and Ambulance Corps (MKVAC) Length of Service Award Programs (LOSAP). LOSAP provides a financial benefit for volunteers, payable after 60 years of age, based on active years of service. The referendums allow for an increase in the maximum benefit amount by expanding the qualifying years of service and the annual benefit to be earned in future years. Our financial models project that the increased benefit can be covered by the excess in investment accounts if they continue to grow at a rate of 4.5% or more. (Since their inception, the investment accounts have grown at an average rate greater than 5.5% and are currently over-funded.) If the projections hold true, no additional tax payer funding would be needed to support the increase in benefit for our volunteers through 2034. A yes vote would enable our volunteers to earn an increased in benefit in the future. More details are available at mountkiscony.gov under Quick Links. Select Ballot Propositions.
New York also has a state-wide proposition on the ballot: Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022. A yes vote would authorize the creation of state debt and the sale of state bonds in the amount of up to $4,200,000,000 for capital projects for the purpose of making environmental improvements that preserve, enhance, and restore New York's natural resources and reduce the impact of climate change. Please remember to turn over the ballot to vote on propositions.
As has been shared in previous letters, the Board of Trustees has spent countless hours reviewing all options and implications of siting a cell tower in the eastern side of the Village. Due to a confirmed gap in cellular service, the Village will ultimately be compelled to permit a tower in this area to comply with federal regulations. We continue to negotiate a lease to site a tower in a wooded area of Leonard Park, though no conclusions have yet been determined. Additionally, we have voted in favor of findings which would allow the Village to move forward to purchase the property at 180 South Bedford Road through Eminent Domain, as this location may be used as an exchange for parkland if a tower is sited in the park. This twenty-five acre parcel could also be used for active and passive recreation, and for utilities, including the possibility of siting a tower with the Village determining the location on the property at a reasonable distance from homes. These actions allow us to keep all options open as we continue to work with our attorneys and Homeland Towers to come to a resolution.
Downtown businesses have asked the Village to allow portable free standing signs (such as a-frame signs) in front of their stores, as they believe such signs are an important part of their marketing plans. After reviewing code from many communities, we have outlined criteria to permit such signs and made other modifications to the code. The Village Board of Trustees has opened a Public Hearing on revisions to Village Code Chapter 89 – Signs. Public Hearings occur at 7:00 p.m. at the beginning of Board of Trustee meetings which are scheduled on the first and third Mondays of the month. Alternately written public comments can be sent to our Village Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org. The draft code is published the Friday before meetings in the meeting packet at mountkiscony.gov under Government, under Board of Trustees, click on Meeting Agendas with the Meeting Agendas, Meeting Minutes & Meeting Videos.
The Village Board of Trustees has also opened a Public Hearing to have energy customers participate in an opt-out community solar program facilitated by Sustainable Westchester. A community solar program provides a credit on the purchase of energy which will provide a modest reduction in the cost. Energy customers who are identified as lower income will be the first group to be automatically enrolled in this program. As more Community Solar credits become available, the program would expand to other energy customers. Though trustees emphasized the reduction in energy cost would be small, there was agreement by the majority to move forward with the public hearing to seek feedback on participation in the program.
The Village continues to make capital investments to protect our assets and upgrade facilities. To this end, investment in Leonard Park continues to be a priority. New playground equipment has been ordered and is expected to be installed in the spring. Thank you to the Recreation Department and Commission whose Food Truck Festivals contributed $13,157 toward the $230,000 investment in new equipment. Senator Peter Harckham also provided $100,000 in State and Municipal Facilities Grant funding which reduces the cost to taxpayers and will significantly improve the playground for Mount Kisco families. We are finalizing plans to replace the split rail fence that surrounds the playground and throughout the park. In the next few weeks, work will begin to reline the main pool and upgrade mechanical equipment. Many thanks to New York State Assemblymember Chris Burdick who provided a State and Municipal Facilities Grant of $125,000 to renovate the volleyball courts and to add a bocce ball court. A new floor has been installed in the Charles C. Pieragostini room at the Memorial Pool Complex that will be safer, more responsive to the steps and bounces of those using the space, and enable a better recreational experience. We are actively seeking grants to finance upgrades to the baseball fields.
The exterior moldings, trim, and ornamental structures on Village Hall and the former Post Office are undergoing a restoration with much needed carpentry repairs and painting. Work on the cupola, skylight, and slate roof on Village Hall will continue until it begins to snow. Any remaining work will be completed in early spring. These projects are part of a multi-phased plan to restore our beautiful Mott B. Schmidt designed building which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Engineers are working with the Department of Health to finalize plans for upgrades to our sewer pump station and sewer line on Croton Avenue, and replacement of the antiquated wooden sewer main that runs along the Branch Brook through an environmentally sensitive area. These projects, like replacing a boiler in your home, are not glamorous, but are vital to protecting our infrastructure assets and ensuring the continuous delivery of essential services today and into the future.
The process to upgrade the Independent Fire Company and Mutual Engine & Hose fire stations has been quite long and frustrating for all involved. The need to reduce cost and scope from the original plans caused a complete change in designs. Bids returned on the revised plans were over budget largely due to increased costs caused by inflation. Working with the lowest responsible bidder, we were able to further modify the scope and reduce cost on the Independent Fire Company station plans. The work on this project should begin by November. We will continue work with our volunteers to modify the plans for the Mutual Engine & Hose station to ensure the design meets their needs and remain in budget.
The end of the year will bring events and activities facilitated by many community groups. The Village shares information on our website, mountkiscony.gov under News and on the Calendar. Recreation program information can be found under Departments and under Recreation. We also share news on Facebook at Village of Mount Kisco. (Facebook feed is also available on the main page of the Village website.) Urgent notifications (such as road closures) are shared via the Westchester County Police Department app available for free in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.
The holiday season is joyous for many, but also difficult for some. Hoping that all can find an opportunity to be generous to others and reasons in their lives to be thankful.
Gina D. Picinich
July 20, 2022
If you are looking for a reason to smile, take a walk through Leonard Park any week day to hear the sounds of laughter as children run, swim, and play at Camp Iroquois. It is a joy to see them interact with each other and their counselors, many of whom were once campers themselves. It is my hope that we can all continue to teach them that the strength of our community is dependent upon respecting and celebrating our differences and recognizing that we have tremendous opportunities to learn from each other. Mount Kisco has always been a wonderful hometown filled with economic and cultural diversity. Though we have varying views on issues, we all share a common interest in raising our families to be good, kind people who care about others. Though the divide in our country seems to grow wider, our Village is filled with compassionate people who see beyond the divisiveness of national political rhetoric. Thank you all for continuing to model for our children the behaviors we want them to emulate.
The Board of Trustees continues to discuss cellular infrastructure with a focus on keeping cell towers away from homes. The Planning Board exhausted all alternate locations when reviewing an application to site a tower on private property at 180 South Bedford Road, which would put the structure less than 300 feet from residences. With the deadline pressure of a federally mandated shot clock, the Board of Trustees voted to begin the process to review alienating land in Leonard Park to site the tower to fill the identified and confirmed gap in cellular coverage on the eastern end of the Village. As was just recently demonstrated in the Town of Bedford, federal courts will require siting a tower if there is a confirmed gap in coverage.
We have heard and understand objections raised by members of the community to siting a tower in the park; no one, including board members, are enthusiastic about the prospect. We must face the reality that the Village will be required to allow the cellular carriers to fill the gap in coverage. At this point, our options are to either permit the tower to be near homes in the originally proposed site or offer the park location. The location in the wooded area of the park would cover the identified gap, provide better service for Mount Kisco (as opposed to providing more coverage for Bedford), generate revenue for the park through the lease rent, and keep the tower at a distance of approximately 1,000 feet from homes.
As we negotiate a conditional lease with Homeland Towers, the Board continues to perform due diligence and seek guidance from our cellular consultant on fair market rents and legal guidance to ensure we can address deed provisions and requirements to release parkland for the proposed tower and accessory equipment. If the tower is ultimately sited in the proposed location, everyone will continue to have full access to the 116 acres that comprise the park (minus 4,000-5,000 square feet). As demonstrated by the cellular tower which has stood for approximately 30 years in a wooded area off Mountain Avenue, the forest and wildlife habitat will continue to thrive.
As requested by the Mount Kisco Volunteer Fire Department (MKFD) and Ambulance Corps (MKVAC), and with guidance from our Village Manager, Treasurer, Actuary, and Finance Committee, the Board has reviewed and voted to add two referendums to the ballot in November related to the MKFD and MKVAC Length of Service Award Programs (LOSAP). LOSAP, which was approved by voters approximately 20 years ago, provides a financial reward for volunteers who have completed at least five years of service. For each volunteer who accumulates 50 points annually (points are primarily earned for response to calls, certified completion of training, and participation in drills and meetings) the Village invests funds which are payable to volunteers beginning at age 60 for MKFD and 65 for MKVAC at a rate of $20 per month for each year of service that points were achieved. The propositions, on which Mount Kisco residents will vote in November, would increase the annual investment by $10 to $30 for each year after January 1, 2023 where 50 points are achieved by a volunteer, creating a maximum monthly benefit of $750. The referendum for the MKVAC reduces the benefit age to 60, creating parity with the MKFD. The program, which is used as a recruiting and retention tool, will bring our volunteers closer to parity with those in surrounding communities. Since the inception of the programs, the Village has been making contributions to investment accounts to ensure the program is fully funded. Financial models project that existing budget allocations and the MKFD and MKVAC investment accounts growing at a rate of 4.5% will cover the cost of the increased benefit for newly accumulated years through 2035. Though financial markets are not certain, over time the accounts have grown at a rate greater than 5.5% and are currently over funded. If the projections hold true, no additional tax payer funding would be needed to support the increase in benefit for our volunteers.
Court challenges to redrawn district maps have resulted in two primary elections this year. The Mount Kisco ballot for the first primary held on June 28th included candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. August 23rd will be a second primary where the candidates for the United States House of Representatives for Mount Kisco will be determined. Village Hall will be one of twenty-two early voting locations in Westchester for this primary. On primary day all seven polling locations will be open in the Village. Details are available at mountkiscony.gov under Quick Links.
We are very fortunate that two volunteers stepped forward to join the Planning Board. These talented individuals will bring their unique perspective and voice to important land use decisions in the Village. As a result, the number of Planning Board members will remain at seven. Though we did not change the number of members, the Village Board of Trustees did vote affirmatively to update the code related to training requirements for Planning Board members. Two alternate seats remain available. Alternates participate in meetings, but only vote when a member is absent. Being an alternate is a great way to build knowledge before taking a full seat. Those who are interested in volunteering should send a message to email@example.com.
The Village looks beautiful thanks to the efforts of so many including individuals and organizations that have adopted areas which they landscape seasonally and maintain. These areas, in addition to the recently completed Phase 1 of the streetscape project, create an attractive and welcoming environment where people want to gather and enjoy the summer weather. We hope everyone will help do their part to keep our village looking wonderful by using public trash receptacles which are placed throughout the community. Though our Department of Public Works (DPW) team picks up litter regularly, they cannot be everywhere all of the time. We need help from everyone to be mindful to put trash in the bins.
As part of our annual paving program, the Village will be resurfacing a number of streets this summer. They include Brook Street, East and West Way, Sunny Ridge Road, Carlton Drive, West Street (from 266 to 300), a portion of Holiday Inn Drive, Kensico Drive (from Hubbells to 19 Kensico), and the Blackeby parking lot. Over the past five years we have invested more than $2.5 million in paving roads throughout the Village. We will continue to invest until all Village roads have been addressed.
Construction on the Byram Lake water main continues. The contractor is doing their best to ensure continuous service, though there will be situations when intermittent shutdowns are required. When there is advanced notice, the contractor will distribute flyers, and Village Hall will send a phone message to those impacted. Notifications are also posted at mountkiscony.gov under News, on Facebook at VillageofMountKisco, and on the WCPD App.
The Village is using the WCPD (Westchester County Police Department) App to share urgent news such as road closures. The app can be downloaded for free in the Apple App Store and Google Play. Step-by-step instructions are available at mountkiscony.gov under Quick Links select App for Emergency Notifications. Those who permit notifications for Mount Kisco/Community will receive a pop up message when the Village posts urgent information.
The Village has partnered with the Mental Health Association (MHA) to provide services in support of mental health and well-being at no cost to residents. Their mobile unit will continue to be in the South Moger parking lot every Thursday through August 11 from 12 pm – 6 pm and for the remainder of the summer from 12 pm – 2 pm. Clinicians will guide confidential conversations for those seeking connection, support, and access to additional resources.
For residents who are parking and commuting into New York City more than one day per week, purchasing a parking permit will save you money. A permit in the South Moger lot is $425 for the year. Assuming an individual takes two weeks of vacation, the cost would be $8.50 per week. Parking for twelve hours is $6 per day. Permits are available for purchase online at mountkiscony.gov under Departments, under Receiver of Taxes or in the Tax Office.
Different groups in the Village have programed some fun activities including the Mount Kisco Arts Council Summer Concert series which continues on alternate Wednesday evenings in front of Village Hall. Our Recreation Department has kicked off summer concerts in Leonard Park. Remaining dates are July 28th and August 4th and music begins at 6:30 pm. The Mount Kisco Farmers Market, sponsored by WMN Unite and DIG Farm, continues every Sunday through October 30th in the South Moger parking lot from 10 am - 2:30 pm.
A few dates to add to your calendar for fall include the annual Fire Department 9/11 Memorial Ceremony on September 11th at 6:15 pm. The Mount Kisco Chamber of Commerce Septemberfest is scheduled September 16th -18th. The fun includes a carnival with rides and games, sidewalk sales, music, food, and beer garden. Information is updated at mountkiscony.gov under News, on the Calendar, and on Facebook at VillageofMountKisco.
Do not let the summer pass without enjoying a day at the pool. Our staff is top notch, with many years of leadership experience, and a great group of lifeguards are on duty to ensure safe and effective operations seven days a week. The snack bar is open, chairs, changing rooms and showers are accessible. Day passes for walk-ins are available.
Gina D. Picinich
April 20, 2022
Spring is in the air, and so are the sounds of construction across the Village. We appreciate everyone’s patience as work continues on Phase I of the downtown streetscape project which covers the area around Village Hall, the Blackeby and Village Center parking lots, and the Shoppers Park Promenade. We expect the work to be complete by the end of June . The granite curbs have been installed and the cement sidewalks are almost complete. Work continues on laying paving stones. During the construction process crews identified a water line that needed to be replaced. That work has been completed. When the weather gets a few degrees warmer, new trees and other plants will be installed.
Construction on the Byram Lake water main began April 11th. This essential project replaces the nearly 100-year-old main, and will ensure the future integrity of our water system. The project is expected to take approximately twelve months. We will notify residents if we anticipate that water will be shut down for any period of time during the process.
Work is expected to begin in July on Croton Avenue to upgrade the sewer main. There has been a lot of activity in the area over the past few years. We expect this will be the last of the major construction work needed on Croton Avenue. This is the first part of a number of upgrades to our sewer system that will include replacing the approximately 100-year-old wooden Branch Brook Sewer Trunk Line that runs through an environmentally sensitive area, and upgrading equipment at the Saw Mill River Sewer Pump Station. These necessary improvements to our sewer system will ensure its strength and longevity into the future.
Bids were returned for the Independent and Mutual Engine & Hose fire house renovations. They are slightly over budget. As a result, we are working to find savings before approving a contractor. We have requested that any bid for this project presented to the Board of Trustees be within budget before being considered for approval.
Winter weather does damage to roadways and sidewalks. Our DPW teams fill pot holes and repair sidewalks as needed. Please help us identify areas of concern using the online form in Quick Links on the main page of the Village website, mountkiscony.gov. A reminder to all that Main Street, as well as North and South Bedford Roads, are New York State roads. We report potholes to the New York State Department of Transportation for them to repair.
The Board of Trustees has been busy with many pressing issues. One priority has been finalizing the budget for fiscal year 2022-2023 which begins June 1. Our Village Manager, Treasurer, and department leaders have carefully and thoughtfully reviewed past revenues and spending to project the budget for the upcoming year. The initially proposed budget resulted in a 1.49% tax increase, which is below the allowable tax cap and below the 2% increase projected three years ago in advance of the funding necessary for the fire house improvements. Included in this budget is funding for a Community Resource Officer, translation services for public meetings, geese management, and an increase in funding for the Mount Kisco Volunteer Ambulance Corps to enable them to deliver more efficient and timely service. Even with these additions, by working with our Village Manager, we were able to reduce the proposed increase to 1.29%. Water rates remain unchanged for the seventh year in a row and there is no increase to sewer rates. We continue to focus on providing the highest levels of service at a fair cost to taxpayers.
Being a public official requires finding solutions and sometimes making very difficult decisions. Cellular infrastructure has been a topic of conversation and a concern for many. As discussed in my letter last quarter, an application to site a cell tower was made on private property at 180 South Bedford Road to address an identified gap in cellular service. The location was within 250 feet of residences. Case law demonstrates that when a gap in service has been identified, federal courts will require municipalities to approve cell tower applications to address the gap. Wanting to mitigate the impact for residences and in an effort to keep the Village out of federal court, we have been searching for an alternate site that would provide the needed coverage for the eastern end of the Village. We presented the challenges, possible solutions, and other information at our Board meetings while soliciting public comment through February and March.
With the guidance of consultants, and after much due diligence and consideration, the Board of Trustees voted to begin the process to alienate land and consider siting a tower in Leonard Park.
We recognize there are some in the community strongly opposed to this decision. When weighing all of the factors, we believe the location in the park would have the least negative impacts. The equipment would be in a wooded area near holes six and seven of the disc golf course. This location is more than 700 feet from the pool, and more than 1,000 feet from any residence, the playground, or ball fields. Decision making was based on this location providing the greatest coverage for Mount Kisco residents, being a substantial distance from residences, and that the revenue from the lease of the tower will go directly to maintain and enhance Leonard Park.
The process to site a tower on parkland requires alienating that land (approximately 11,000 square feet) and replacing it with other space dedicated as parkland. To this end, we have been reviewing two options for space to be dedicated as parkland: purchasing 25 acres at 180 South Bedford Road through Eminent Domain; or declaring Village owned property on Mountain Avenue to be parkland. These conversations have been ongoing during our Board of Trustees meetings. The Board of Trustees meets the first and third Mondays of the month at 7:00 p.m. Meetings are televised on FIOS channel 40 and Altice channel 20, and are streamed live on Facebook. Residents can also view our meetings via Zoom, or in person at Village Hall. Our agendas and videos of meetings are available at www.mountkiscony.gov under Government, under Board of Trustees.
We have also been discussing reducing the number of members on our Planning Board from seven to five. The Planning Board has important decision making authority regarding land use in the Village. Village staff and consultants work with the Planning Board to review applications to ensure they are consistent with Village code and zoning requirements. Currently, our code requires that the Planning Board consists of seven members and two alternate members. A seven member board requires four members to be present for a quorum and four affirmative votes to pass a resolution. We have five very dedicated and capable volunteers currently seated. To date, we have not had the number of volunteers needed to fill the open seats. As a result, we are considering a code change to make this a five member board. A majority of communities in Westchester have five member Planning Boards and New York State Village Law permits five member Planning Boards. Since this action requires a code change, we have opened a Public Hearing on the topic. We welcome public comment. If additional volunteers step forward, we will not need to make the change. Anyone interested in learning more about the Planning Board should contact our Village Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (914) 864-0033.
Many groups have planned activities in the Village in the up-coming months including a Memorial Day Ceremony on May 30th at 11:00 a.m. in front of the Veterans’ Memorial by Village Hall. The Mount Kisco Farmers Market will begin on May 15th and run through October 30th. The market will be open Sundays from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. The Recreation Department is facilitating a Food Truck Festival on Saturday, May 21st behind Village Hall as a fund raiser for Leonard Park. The pool will open Memorial Day weekend. Pool passes are available for sale online. Registration is open for Camp Iroquois and Teen Travel Camp. Details can be found at www.mountkiscony.gov under Recreation.
The calendar at mountkiscony.gov contains dates and times for activities including the Arts Council Summer Concerts, Concerts in Leonard Park, and the Mount Kisco Chamber of Commerce Mutt Mile. The Village also shares information on Facebook at Village of Mount Kisco.
Gina D. Picinich
*edited to reflect resolution passed at 3/7 meeting
January 20, 2022
In the last quarter of 2021, the Village was filled with activity. Children enjoyed Halloween themed games in Leonard Park and trick-o-treating. On Veterans Day, we gathered to honor those who serve to protect our freedom. We lit the menorah to celebrate Hanukkah. Families gathered to greet Santa and Mrs. Claus as the tree was lit in front of Village Hall. Local businesses were, thankfully, busy with shoppers and diners. We all thought we were past the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic when news broke of the Omicron variant which dampened many holiday celebrations.
We again must call upon our skills of flexibility and resilience as we modify plans, implement safety precautions, and learn to live with the challenges we collectively face as a result of this pandemic. Fortunately, hospitalizations and fatalities are not rising at the same pace as virus transmission, largely due to the high vaccination rate in our community. Sadly, those in critical condition locally are predominately unvaccinated. Those who are vaccinated can truly breathe a sigh of relief because they have exercised the option to protect themselves against severe illness. We encourage all who have not yet been fully vaccinated to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
At our last Board of Trustees meeting in November, we thanked Trustee David Squirrell for his two years of service to our community. We also honored Trustee Peter Grunthal as he retired from twelve years of service as a Village Trustee. During his tenure on the Board, Peter advocated for environmentally sustainable policies, economic development, and strong fiscal responsibility. We will miss his fair and well-reasoned approach to addressing the needs of our community. After returning to the Board of Trustees last year, Deputy Mayor Anthony Markus resigned his position to move to his newly elected role as Judge in the Mount Kisco Justice Court.
We welcomed Anne Bianchi and Karine Patiño as they took their seats as elected members of the Board of Trustees. Lisa Abzun was appointed to fill the remaining year of the vacated two-year term, and was also appointed Deputy Mayor. I am excited to work with this team of intelligent, pragmatic, and compassionate colleagues. Deputy Mayor Abzun, Trustees Schleimer, Bianchi and Patiño each bring a unique view and perspective that will add value to the important work and decision making ahead. As a reminder, the Board of Trustees meets the first and third Mondays of the month at 7:00 p.m. Meetings are televised on FIOS channel 40 and Altice channel 20, and are streamed live on Facebook. Residents can also view our meetings via Zoom, or in person at Village Hall. Our agenda is published the Friday before the meeting at www.mountkiscony.gov under Government, under Board of Trustees.
In November’s election, voters approved the dissolution of the Mount Kisco Police Department. This change is largely administrative and simply eliminated the department as an entity. The Mount Kisco Precinct of the Westchester County Police will continue to deliver public safety services, as they have for the past six years.
The Village Board of Trustees is currently reviewing a proposal to add a Community Resource Officer (CRO) as part of our public safety team. This role, which is a result of the Police Reinvention and Reform Task Force, would be different than that of patrol officers. The CRO would not be tied to call response, standard inspections, and shift times. The CRO would proactively reach out to different groups with the purpose of crime deterrence. They would expand relationships with religious organizations, neighborhood groups, non-profits, and the business community, provide education and information to those in need, focus on specific areas of concern to the community, and follow up with crime victims to ensure they access available resources. Additionally, the CRO would support Westchester County’s Project Alliance Mental Health Crisis Teams, one of which will be newly deployed in the Village. This addition to staff would cost approximately $204,000 annually. The Board of Trustees is working with our Village Manager to determine if we can afford this recurring cost without overburdening taxpayers. We are also evaluating to determine if the additional expenditure would yield desired results.
There are several important conversations regarding wireless service occurring in and around our community. The Village is working to create a Cellular Master Plan as part of a consortium with other Northern Westchester municipalities. Westchester County has funded our work with CityScape, a cellular communications consultancy, to assist us in this process. Greater use of cellular services and intensification of use due to streaming video and other data heavy services are driving the need to build a more robust network. The Village will have a data driven Cellular Master Plan to determine optimal locations for needed infrastructure, rather than being at the mercy of cellular providers. CityScape has identified all existing cellular facilities in the area, analyzed existing coverage, projected future coverage needs, facilitated a community survey, and will be presenting recommendations in the first quarter of this year.
Though we are moving through this strategic planning process, there is currently an application before the Planning Board for a cellular tower at 180 Sarles Street. The application, which was submitted prior to the consortium’s creation, has been strongly opposed by local residents. The Village continues to seek alternate locations that will provide adequate coverage, be a greater distance from homes, and have a minimal visual impact. The recommended location for commercial cellular companies is an existing tower on Guard Hill Road in Bedford that currently provides cellular service to emergency responders. Rather than build an additional structure for commercial carriers, co-location at the existing site is the optimal solution. Though the structure already exists, the Bedford Historical Society has opposed and is blocking this solution. As a result, we are forced to find a location for an additional tower. There is a finite number of locations that would provide the needed coverage and each creates some level of concern. At this point, decision-making is based on selecting the “best of the worst” locations and identifying ways to mitigate impacts.
We continue to have success with grant applications as demonstrated by recently awarded funding for a variety of projects. $28,000 was awarded by the Empire State Development Strategic Planning and Feasibility Studies Program through the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council to create a Climate Action Plan. A total of $400,000 was granted through Community Development Block Grants for water main replacement and curb-to-curb paving on Maple, Dakin, and Highland Avenues (these projects will be done over a three year period). The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) also awarded the Village $5,000,000 in Water Quality Improvement Program (WQIP) funds to put toward upgrading our Saw Mill Sewer Pump Station and replacing the antiquated wooden sewer main along the Branch Brook. We will continue to seek alternate sources of revenue to help defray project costs.
The bid is out for both the Independent and Mutual Engine & Hose fire house renovations. We expect responses by the middle of February. If the bids are returned within budget, the construction will begin in the spring. Though the fire companies will be relocated for a period during construction, there will be no disruption in fire service and protection.
Con Edison is continuing work on the gas main on South Moger, Main Street, and Carpenter Avenue. The work was shifted to daytime to minimize evening disruption to residents. Expect traffic delays during the day.
The cold weather has put a temporary halt to the paving and masonry portion of our streetscape project. Work continues to stabilize the banks of the Branch Brook, and remove invasive plants. The area is being prepared for new plantings which will occur in the spring. Other work will resume when temperatures are consistently above freezing.
A reminder to all who live within the boundaries of the Village/Town of Mount Kisco, three different entities levy property taxes. They are the Village, Westchester County, and the Bedford Central School District. County and school tax rates are determined by the budgets those taxing entities create. The Village has no voice in their budgeting and is just their tax collection agent. School taxes are due in September and January. County taxes are due in April. Village taxes are due in June and December.
We are seeking volunteers to fill open positions on many Boards, Committees and Councils including Byram Lake Committee, Conservation Advisory Council, Landmark and Historic Preservation Committee, Leonard Park Committee, Planning Board (Alternate position), Tree Preservation Board, and Zoning Board of Appeals. To learn more go to mountkiscony.gov under Government, under Boards & Commissions. Email letter of interest and resume to Village Manager Ed Brancati email@example.com.
It is our hope that the St. Patrick’s Day Parade will return after a two-year COVID hiatus. The Board of Trustees has approved the requested date of Saturday, March 5th at 2:00 p.m. The route begins on Main Street at Moore Avenue, travels north on Main Street, turns onto South Moger Avenue, and ends at Green Street. The health situation at the time will determine if we hold the parade.
The most up-to-date Village information can be found on the Village calendar and in News at www.mountkiscony.gov, or on Facebook at VillageofMountKisco.
Gina D. Picinich
October 21, 2021
There is something special about autumn in the Hudson Valley and particularly in Mount Kisco. Our Village is the perfect setting for many fun and engaging events including Septemberfest; the Kisco Run 5K; Multi-Cultural Festival; and the Mount Kisco People, Culture, and Nature Photo Exhibit. Though there has been an increase in events and activity, we continue to maintain a consistently low number of active COVID-19 cases. With a vaccination rate of more than 86%, and everyone taking appropriate safety precautions, we hope that we can continue on this path as we head into winter. Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson booster shots are encouraged for those who are 65 years and older and those who have pre-existing conditions or are at a high risk for exposure.
After extensive review and a public hearing that was open for more than four months, the Village Board of Trustees passed legislation to regulate the use of gas powered leaf blowers. Our objective is to reduce the noise and harmful pollutants generated by this equipment. The legislation, which identifies hours and times of year for use, will take effect immediately, except for the ban on use from May 15th to September 15th. This restriction will be implemented beginning January 1, 2024. The legislation also calls for a complete ban on all two-stroke gas powered leaf blowers beginning January 2027.
This year, Mount Kisco voters will be casting ballots for Mayor, Trustee (two positions), Town Justice, County Legislator District 2, County Executive, County Clerk, and New York State Supreme Court (five positions). As shared in a previous letter, there is a local proposition (number 7) to dissolve the Village of Mount Kisco Police Department and replace same with contracted police services.
For the past six years, the Village has had an Inter-Municipal Agreement with Westchester County for the delivery of police services. The Westchester County Police provides public safety services for our community including patrol, investigation, aviation, special operations, and K-9 units. Administratively, the Mount Kisco Police Department still exists as an entity. In accordance with State law, the Village must either dissolve the department or hire additional sworn police officers. Increasing staffing would duplicate the services delivered by the WCPD, cost approximately $1 million annually, and result in an approximately 7% tax increase that would cause the Village to break the 2% tax cap. The Board of Trustees passed a law to dissolve the department. We are required to put the question to the community for a vote. The referendum on the ballot reads: “A Local Law to dissolve the Mount Kisco Police Department and replace same with contracted services.” A “yes” vote will keep all operations running in their current form. A “no” vote will require us to increase the Village budget, and increase taxes to support the additional duplicative staff.
Early voting is scheduled from October 23rd through October 31st at the Memorial Pool Complex in Leonard Park. Election Day is November 2nd. Polling locations are the same as last election. For more information on polling locations and hours, go to citizenparticipation.westchestergov.com
The Planning Board has an important role as they are the decision making authority for land use in the Village. Following zoning and other regulations, they review environmental impacts and approve site plans, subdivisions, change of use, and special permits. They are assisted by staff including the Building Inspector, Village Planner, Village Engineer, Village Attorney, and Planning Board Secretary. We are currently seeking two alternate members. Alternate members have the opportunity to participate in meetings as well as training to build their knowledge. Those interested in learning more, please contact Village Manger Edward Brancati by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 864-0001.
Bulk trash pick-up has ended as the DPW team transitions to leaf collection and eventually snow removal. Bulk pick-up will resume in April. Please do not include large items with your weekly household garbage. For leaf collection, bagged leaves are preferred, as they can be more easily and frequently picked up. Bags should be left curbside. Leaf piles should also be left curbside on your property. Please do not leave piles on the street. Specific equipment is used to pick up piles which is done less frequently than bagged leaves. This year we are trying a new leaf collection schedule. November 1st - 12th and November 29th - December 10th we will pick up leaves on streets that have Thursday garbage collection. November 15th - 26th and December 13th - 24th we will pick up leaves on streets with Friday garbage collection.
Con Edison will be replacing a gas main on South Moger Avenue from Britton Lane to Main Street. The work is expected to begin at the end of October and be completed by the end of the year. Work will be done from 9:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. to minimize vehicle and pedestrian disturbance.
Construction on the first phase of our streetscape project continues. Curbs and sidewalks are nearly complete in the Blackeby parking lot. Work will move to the Village Center/Shoppers Park lot next, then to the Promenade, and ultimately to the area around Village Hall. Work is also being done in the green space along the banks of the Branch Brook. Invasive plants are being removed, while soil and mulch are being added to prepare the area for spring planting.
We are almost ready to take the first ride on the new elevator in Village Hall. Construction will be complete by the end of October. To accommodate the elevator, office space on the second floor has been modified. Additionally, all will now be able to tell the correct time from the restored clock in the gold domed tower atop Village Hall. Our Village Hall was designed in a Colonial Revival style by famed architect Mott B. Schmidt, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We will continue with restoration to this beautiful building as funding is secured.
Work to restore the Gorham Fountain and the Chief Kisco statue is nearly complete. Watch the Village website and Facebook page for a date for the rededication celebration. Our Recreation Department welcomes the community to participate in the Halloween Festival on October 30th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Leonard Park. All are also welcome to join the Moses Taylor Jr. American Legion Post #136 at 11:00 a.m. on November 11th to commemorate Veterans Day.
There is always something happening in The Big Little Village. The most up-to-date Village information can be found on the Village calendar and in News at www.mountkiscony.gov, or on Facebook at VillageofMountKisco.
Gina D. Picinich
Well done Mount Kisco! Together we are successfully making our way out of a global pandemic. Over the past few weeks we have consistently had a low number of active COVID cases in the Village. More than 75% of those eligible in the 10549 zip code, have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine. It is important to note that variants of the virus are spreading. Those who are not vaccinated have the highest risk to contract the virus. Current research indicates more than 99% of recent COVID fatalities are of those who were not vaccinated. We encourage everyone to take advantage of the fact that vaccines are plentiful and available locally at Open Door Family Medical Center, CareMount Medical Group, and through Northern Westchester Hospital.
The State of New York rescinded most COVID safety precautions when the state-wide vaccination rate reached 70%. Following the Center for Disease Control guidance, those who are vaccinated do not need to wear a mask. Those who are not vaccinated should continue to wear a mask when indoors and unable to distance from others. Face coverings are required in some specific environments such as medical settings, nursing homes, and correctional facilities.
In response to New York State’s Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act, the Village Board requested public comment from the community related to permitting cannabis sales in the Village. Based on feedback from residents, and evaluating the pros and cons, the Board of Trustees opted out of permitting cannabis sales with the understanding that we can opt in at any time in the future. The largest concern focused on the fact that the State agencies to regulate and manage licenses have not yet been established nor have all the regulations related to cannabis sales. The Board of Trustees decided not to permit sales until we could review and understand all the relevant regulations. The Board agreed to establish a community-based taskforce to monitor the evolving cannabis industry in New York to determine how and when Mount Kisco should consider opting into permitting sales in the Village. Those interested in volunteering to be on the taskforce should send an email to email@example.com.
Though the Board of Trustees currently opted out of permitting cannabis sales, this decision is subject to a Permissive Referendum. This process would require a community vote on the subject if twenty percent of registered Mount Kisco voters sign a petition, which must be submitted to the Village Clerk, Ed Brancati, by the end of business on August 11, 2021. The Village would then hold a special election to vote on whether to permit cannabis sales. For more details on this process go to Quick Links at mountkiscony.gov.
The Village Board of Trustees has continued the conversation regarding restricting the use of gas powered leaf blowers due to the negative health and environmental impacts resulting from their use. We have received mixed feedback from the public. The greatest concern relates to the cost of transitioning from existing equipment to electric. The Village Board is working to determine an appropriate amount of time to allow residents and business owners to make the transition. The Public Hearing on this subject remains open. Those who would like to share their views can participate in our Board meeting or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the past six years, the Village has had an Inter-Municipal Agreement with Westchester County for the delivery of police services. The Westchester County Police staff the Mount Kisco precinct and provide extensive resources including investigation, aviation, special operations, and K-9 units. This model continues to be the most effective way for Mount Kisco to deliver the highest levels of public safety services at a lower cost than we could deliver with our own department. Administratively, the Mount Kisco Police department still exists as an entity and needs to be dissolved. We cannot continue to have the department exist without increasing staffing. Increasing staffing would duplicate the services delivered by the WCPD and cost approximately $1 million annually, and result in a 7% tax increase. In accordance with New York State law, the Board of Trustees passed a law to abolish the department. Now we are required to put the question to the community for a vote. This is essentially administrative housekeeping. There will be a referendum on the ballot in November to dissolve the department. A “yes” vote will keep all operations running in their current form. A “no” vote will require us to increase the Village budget, and significantly increase taxes to support the additional duplicative staffing.
We are pleased to share that the construction at the Green Street fire station is complete. We expect the Union Hook and Ladder and the Rescue Fire Police will be responding to calls from the station later this summer. The completed upgrades created an improved level of firefighter safety and allows our volunteer firefighters to improve operational efficiency. The redesigns for the Mutual and Independent fire stations are complete. We expect to receive retuned bids by end of fall and construction is expected to begin in early spring. The two engine companies will continue to be fully operational and will respond to calls from temporary locations.
Construction at the Green Street fire station necessitated the replacement of some sidewalks and curbs along Green Street. We seized the opportunity to put in the new streetscape design which includes sidewalks, pavers, and granite curbs. This enabled us to test the design components before we move into Phase I of the streetscape redesign project. The Board of Trustees approved the lowest responsible bid of $2.28 million for Phase I. This initial phase covers the area around the Village Hall fountain, behind the library, the whole Shopper’s Park lot, the Promenade toward South Moger Avenue, and the Blackeby lot. In addition to replacing the sidewalks and curbs, the green space along the Branch Brook will be landscaped with low growing native plants to eliminate invasive species and beautify the area. Construction will begin in August and will be complete before Thanksgiving.
Our yearly road paving program will begin later in July. Each year we invest more than $500,000 in repaving roads most in need of repair. This year we will be repaving Thorn, East Hyatt, West Hyatt, Prospect, Hillside, Fairways, Meadowbrook, and Green, as well as parts of Orchard, Emery, and South Moger. Specific dates will be posted on the Village website and Facebook page.
There has been a great spirit of hope and excitement as everyone begins to emerge from their homes and interact with others. Many have been enjoying time downtown and we see an increase in pedestrian activity. As a result, we are also seeing an increase in littering. Our DPW team picks up roadside garbage daily. Unfortunately, they cannot keep up with the amount of trash that is being discarded. We need everyone to put forward an extra effort to ensure they are using the many trash receptacles located throughout the Village, particularly downtown.
It was a joy to see so many come out to celebrate our Firefighters at the parade earlier this month. There is much to do in the Village through the summer and fall. The trail team has been cleaning and clearing the trail system so that all can enjoy the beauty and peace of the natural environment. The Arts Council concerts continue on alternate Wednesday nights at 6:30 pm in front of Village Hall. The Arts Council is curating three different exhibits at their pop-up art gallery at 141 Main Street through the end of September (Follow MtKiscoArtsCouncil on Facebook for details). Many are enjoying Leonard Park including Camp Iroquois and swimming at the Memorial Pool. The Recreation Department is hosting musical concerts at the park on July 22nd and August 5th. Submissions are being accepted for the Fourth Annual Nature, Culture, and People of Mount Kisco Photography Exhibit facilitated by the Conservation Advisory Council, Historical Society, Arts Council and Tree Preservation Board. Send your photos to KiscoPhoto@gmail.com by August 15th. Downtown merchants and the Chamber of Commerce are hosting Third Thursdays featuring in-store specials until 9:00 pm. We are excited for the return of Cops and Cones, sponsored by the Westchester County Police, and scheduled for Thursday, August 26th in the South Moger parking lot. We will gather with our Firefighters on September 11th to commemorate the 20th anniversary of those we lost on 9/11/2001. Mark your calendars to join the fun at the Chamber of Commerce’s Septemberfest the weekend of September 17th. We look forward to welcoming runners to the Village on September 19th for the annual Kisco Run 5K. The most up-to-date Village information can be found on the Village calendar and in News at www.mountkiscony.gov, or Facebook at VillageofMountKisco.
Keep up the great work Mount Kisco. When we are all responsible for our actions, we achieve great things.
Gina D. Picinich
April 21, 2021
It is wonderful to see people beginning to emerge from the challenges created by the pandemic. As more individuals are vaccinated, the closer we get to fully opening activity in the Village. Until we reach a high level of immunity it is essential that everyone continue to follow health safety precautions and isolate and test if they believe they have been exposed to the virus.
COVID vaccine appointments are available through New York State by using the Am-I-Eligible app at ny.gov or by calling
1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829). Appointments are also available through the Westchester County Department of Health at health.westchestergov.com. Locally, Northern Westchester Hospital, Open Door Family Medical Center and CareMount Medical Group often have appointments available and can be made by calling them directly. We encourage everyone eighteen years and older to make a vaccine appointment as soon as possible.
The Village fiscal year ends on May 31. Though we faced many unknowns and additional costs due to the pandemic over the past year, we are pleased to report that the Village continues to be in a strong financial positon. We accurately anticipated revenue reductions and ensured spending was aligned accordingly. This is largely due to the diligent work of our Village Manager, Treasurer, Assistant Manager, and all department leaders. Heading into Fiscal Year 2021/2022 New York State set our tax cap, including an allowable growth rate, at 1.78%. The Board of Trustees approved the new budget with a modest .95% increase, far below the allowable limit. We continue to focus on providing the highest levels of service at a fair cost to taxpayers.
Our Water Fund continues to maintain a healthy balance. This allows us to invest in replacing antiquated water mains and other related equipment. For the sixth year, water rates remain unchanged. Approximately $9 million of investment is needed to upgrade our sewer pump station and to replace a 100 year old wooden sewer main. To ensure we have the funding needed, sewer rates are increasing by $2.00 per 1000 cubic feet. It is important to note that even with this increase, sewer rates in Mount Kisco continue to be the lowest in the county.
We have a responsible Capital Plan that allows the Village to make essential investments in infrastructure. We anticipate installation of the elevator at Village Hall will be complete by July. The Green Street fire station will be complete by the end of June. Construction estimates were returned on budget for the Mutual and Independent fire stations. Provided bids are within budget, we will be able to move these construction projects forward.
Due to the pandemic, we delayed the start of the streetscape redesign. If bids return within budget, we expect to start the first phase before summer. This includes new sidewalks, curbs and stone work in the interior areas around Village Hall, through the Shopper’s Park municipal lot and up the promenade area heading toward South Moger Avenue. This also includes replanting the areas around the Branch Brook, which will enhance our downtown greenspace. The second phase of the project, along Main Street in the downtown area, will be scheduled in 2022. Since Main Street is a New York State road, we must work with the Department of Transportation which requires extensive lead time and coordination.
The American Rescue Plan Act, the most recent federal pandemic relief legislation, will provide $1.1 million to Mount Kisco. This funding, provided over two years, is intended to off-set pandemic related expenses. We await the first installment of this funding and instructions on specific ways in which the money can be allocated.
By a 3-2 vote, the Village Board of Trustees voted against moving forward with the Kirby Commons downtown development project. The proposal was to add residents to our downtown resulting in millions of dollars in spending being added to our local economy. I’m sure we all look forward to hearing alternative plans to stimulate our economy from Deputy Mayor Markus and Trustees Schleimer and Squirrell.
The Village Board has begun a conversation to regulate the use of gas powered leaf blowers and other landscaping equipment. Due to the negative health and environmental impacts of gas powered leaf blowers, municipalities across Westchester have restricted their use. As with all legislation, the Board of Trustees reviews and discusses drafts at public work sessions. When there is agreement on general principles, the legislation is presented at a Board of Trustees meeting and a Public Hearing is scheduled to get feedback from the community. Community ideas are incorporated as appropriate, and then the legislation is brought to a vote.
New York State passed legislation to legalize the sale of cannabis. Local municipalities can opt out of allowing dispensaries and on-site usage though a local law. The public can override that decision through a public referendum which requires gathering signatures to put the question on the ballot for voters. If a municipality does not opt out by the end of 2021, sales will be permitted. A sales tax will levied on cannabis sales and 3% will be returned to the local municipality in which the revenue was generated. Through the next few months the Board of Trustees will seek input from the community so that we can make decisions incorporating public opinion.
Following a presentation by Laurie Kimsal, Chair Person of the Mount Kisco Landmark and Preservation Committee, the Village Board of Trustees authorized the restoration of the D.F. Gorham Memorial Fountain. The base and statue, referred to by many as Chief Kisco, has been standing in the Village since 1907. The base was created by local monument artisan employed by David Fletcher Gorham Marble and Granite Works. The statue, created by J L Mott Iron Works, is representative of mass produced art from the industrial age. At the time the statue was created, there was a boom in creating public art works to demonstrate a town was important. The statue will be restore to one of the original finish options – a solid bronze color. The restoration will remove the erroneous personification and recast components that have broken including fingers, feathers on the headdress, the bow, and a lion head on the fountain spout. The statue will be removed from the base, restored, and returned in the fall. It is important to note the statue is not representative of the Native Americans who originally lived in our community. An informational sign about Native Americans indigenous to the area, as well as an historic marker about the fountain will be placed at the site. Those interested in supporting this effort can make donations online at xxxx or by sending a check to Village of Mount Kisco at Village Hall 104 Main Street Mount Kisco, NY 10549
Early bird Camp Iroquois registration closes on May 1st. After this date, the fee will increase and available spaces will be limited. Information about camp, pool passes and other recreation programs is available at mountkiscony.gov. From the main menu select Departments and then Recreation.
Though COVID safety guidelines are still in place, slowly restrictions are being amended to allow for more public activity. We are looking forward to getting back to having fun. The Mount Kisco Arts Council has begun to schedule their summer concert series which will take place in Fountain Park (in front of Village Hall) on alternate Wednesdays at 6 pm beginning on June 2nd and continuing through September 1st.
The Chamber of Commerce has scheduled the first Mount Kisco Mutt Mile on May 22nd. This is a stroll around downtown for Mount Kisco dog owners to showcase their canines, celebrate 2021 and the playful nature of dogs. Registration is required. More details are available at mtkiscochamber.com under events.
The public health situation and New York State guidance will determine if we can proceed with other traditional Mount Kisco events. If safety guidance permits we will look forward to the Firefigher’s Parade which is always the second Friday in July. We are also hoping the Chamber of Commerce can host Septemberfest the weekend of September 17 which culminates with the annual Kisco Run 5k on September 19.
This letter highlights activities and events in an attempt keep the community informed. To receive the most up-to-date information go to News at www.mountkiscony.gov, or Facebook at VillageofMountKisco. To register to receive weekly phone message with COVID-19 updates and other reminders please send your name, address, and phone number to email@example.com.
Gina D. Picinich
January 22, 2021
The challenges of 2020 were foist upon us and they continue, but so do we. The struggle is real for many who are suffering through illness and financial adversity. The creativity, fortitude and compassion of the people in our beautiful Village who have sought ways to help, has been impressive. So many have stepped up and stepped forward to assist at food distributions, make donations, visit a lonely neighbor, participate in a fund raiser, support local businesses, learn new skills, find happiness in simple things and create new ways to celebrate. At times of adversity, we must continue to build strength and kindness in our community, as this will be the legacy that carries us forward through the current and future challenges.
It has been a year since the first cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States and we have had to adapt to a different way of living our lives. Sadly, the coronavirus is still, very present and active throughout the world. We cannot yet ease our vigilance in following safety precautions that slow the spread of the virus. Limiting social interactions, maintaining safe distance from others, wearing face coverings and maintaining fastidious hand hygiene will continue to be needed until at least 70% of the population is immunized.
Currently, demand for COVID-19 vaccines far exceeds the supply. More than 7 million New Yorkers are currently eligible to receive a vaccine yet only 250,000 doses are available to NY weekly. As more pharmaceutical companies apply for emergency authorization for their vaccines and production expands, we anticipate supply will increase and more local sites will have appointments available to accelerate distribution. We know it is challenging to continue to exercise patience, particularly after this very difficult year. Ultimately everyone who opts to receive a vaccine will have access. When appointments are available, they can be scheduled at am-i-eligible.covid19.vaccine.health.ny.gov or by calling 1-833-NYSS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829)
After a decade of service as a Village Trustee and Deputy Mayor, Jean Farber has retired from public office. We extend tremendous appreciation to Jean who has been an active liaison to many groups across the Village. Though we will miss her at the board table, we look forward to her continued work with the Mount Kisco Arts Council. After a brief absence, we are fortunate to welcome Deputy Mayor Anthony Markus back to the Board of Trustees. Tony’s practical and well-reasoned voice will add value to our decision making.
The Board of Trustees unanimously voted to extend the deadline for Village tax payments for those who certify financial hardship due to the pandemic. Forms, are available at mountkiscony.gov. Questions can be answered by our Receiver of Taxes, Joanne Cerrentani at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (914) 864-0034.
Additionally, the Board of Trustees passed a resolution to suspend requirement to renew senior tax exemptions for the 2020/2021 assessment roll. This means that property tax exemptions for seniors from 2019/2020 will automatically be applied to the assessment roll in the new tax year. Carrying over senior exemptions is authorized only for the 2020/2021 tax year. Seniors who did not have a previous exemption and believe they are eligible will have to file paperwork. Questions can be answered by Assessment Clerk, Lynn Princisvale at (914) 864-0017.
The Board of Trustees is nearing completion of contract negotiations for Kirby Commons, the mixed use development downtown. We expect this will be on our agenda at our February meetings. Documents, images, and other project information is available at mountkiscony.gov under Quick Links. Updated information will be added as available and shared in the Board of Trustees packets which are available the Friday before meetings. Also important to note that the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals have had full agendas. All meetings are broadcast on Facebook Live and on our television channels Altice 20 and FIOS 40. Schedules and agendas are available at mountkiscony.gov.
We continue our investment in essential infrastructure. Village Hall is undergoing renovations needed to install an elevator. We anticipate this work will continue through spring. Some staff are working in temporary space during the construction, while others have moved to permanent new locations. Our Tax Assessor is sharing space with Recreation on the first floor and some Recreation staff have moved to Leonard Park. This change puts all high traffic customer facing services on the main floor of the building allowing for easier access.
The SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system used to monitor and maintain our water and sewer infrastructure has been upgraded. This $500,000 investment provided improved …Ed can you fill in new features or improvements.
The Green Street fire station renovation is on schedule. The external structure for the additional vehicle bay has been erected. Plumbing and waste water piping have been installed. We expect this project will be complete before summer. Extensive work continues on redesigns for the Independent and Mutual fire stations. The key focus is to ensure essential operational and safety needs are incorporated within budget. Our goal is to bid the projects before the end of winter.
A new radio communication system which will be used by our Fire Department, Ambulance Corp and Village staff will be deployed in the next few weeks. This new system will allow for much needed, coordinated in-building communication. This $750,000 investment was made at no expense to tax payers. Funding resulted from a Village agreement with the MTA in exchange for permitting them to use space on a cell tower on Village property. The much needed improvement in communications will positively impact safety and efficiency during fire, medical calls and other emergencies.
After a ten month break, beginning January 4, paid parking is being enforced throughout the Village. A new parking application, Passport Parking, can now be used at all parking lot pay stations and on street meters. The user friendly app requires your license plate and a numbered zone which can be found on signs and stickers in the lots and on the meters. A reminder that parking is free in all lots on weekends and on street on Sundays.
In a continuing effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are encouraging all Mount Kisco residents and businesses to purchase green energy and subscribe to a Community Solar project. All power customers in Mount Kisco are automatically registered to purchase standard energy from Westchester Power via Sustainable Westchester. Power customers have many options including selecting the green energy option, participating in a community solar project or selecting a different energy supplier. Though green energy costs a bit more, community solar programs offer a 10% reduction on the cost of power. The slight increase in cost can be off-set and this change can have a very real and positive impact on the environment. The Mount Kisco Community Solar project went online the first week in January. Those that subscribed to participate, should begin to see 10% reduction in the next billing cycle. More information is available at sustainablewestchester.org under the Programs menu or by calling (914) 242-4725.
This quarterly letter summarizes activities and projects that occurred during the past quarter. More frequent communication is available in News at mountkiscony.gov, on Facebook at VillageofMountKisco. To register to receive weekly phone message with COVID-19 updates and other reminders send your name, address, and phone number to email@example.com.
Gina D. Picinich
October 20, 2020
It seems inconceivable that nine months after the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in New York, we continue to battle the challenges this disease presents, and yet here we are. Each day we continue to put one foot in front of the other and find a way to successfully move forward in this very difficult environment. Our children have returned to a modified version of school. Some of us have returned to work in our offices, while others continue to work at home. Those in retail and service businesses have focused on creating a safe environment to shop, dine, and exercise. Even with increased commerce and activity, our community has consistently maintained a low infection rate.
Though Village Hall is open to the public, we continue to seek ways to deliver services while limiting in person contact. Program registration, paying bills, applying for parking permits and many other services are available online at mountkiscony.gov.
During these uncertain times, the Village continues to closely monitor and manage finances. We are pleased to share that Moody's Investors Services upgraded the Village to AA1 credit rating. In their report, Moody's noted that the Village's fiscal management is strong. Your government leadership focuses on striking the right balance between saving and spending. We will continue to invest in our infrastructure, remain below the tax cap, and continue to efficiently and effectively provide high level services at a fair cost to tax payers.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation formally acknowledged Mount Kisco's substantial efforts to address the challenges posed by climate change, certifying the Village as a Bronze level Climate Smart Community. The Village achieved this recognition in part due to our conversion of all street lights to LED, the adoption
of our award winning comprehensive plan with sustainability elements, the purchase and use of electric vehicles as well as the installation of charging stations, our participation in Sustainable Westchester's Community Choice Aggregation program, the adoption of the Unified Solar Permit, Property Assessed Clean Energy legislation, our Natural Resources Inventory, and our Tree Inventory and Management Plan, just to name a few. Mount Kisco is one of just 55 municipalities in New York State to receive this designation. While we are extremely proud to receive this recognition there is still much to be done and the Village is committed to taking the steps necessary to further improve the quality of life of our residents and for future generations.
The solar project on the capped landfill at our DPW facility is nearing completion. Those who have registered for this community solar project will receive a 10% reduction on energy bills . Mount Kisco energy customers are automatically signed up to purchase standard power through Sustainable Westchester ' s Westchester Power program. All energy customers can positively impact the environment by switching from the standard option to the green energy option at sustainablewestchester.org.
The Board of Trustees continues to take steps to move forward the Kirby Commons mixed use development downtown. Putting residents in the same location as businesses is vital to ensuring a strong and vibrant downtown economy that is not dependent on shoppers driving from other communities. Documents , images , and other project information is available at mountkiscony.gov under Quick Links.
Construction began on the Green Street Fire Station. Work will continue through the spring. During the construction period, the full force of our Fire Department continues to respond to all calls and ensure the safety of those across the entire fire district.
The renovated tennis courts at Leonard Park are open for use and are being enjoyed by many community members . Basketball and volleyball courts remain closed, as NYS considers those sports high risk for spreading the coronavirus. The phosphorus reduction project in Leonard Park is expected to be complete by the end of the year. Sand filters are being constructed to absorb phosphorous and reduce the amount of phosphorus that makes its way into the Kisco River and the Croton watershed.
The roadway bridge on Lieto Drive has been repaired and paved. We continue to seek a financial commitment from the MTA for the needed repair work for the Preston Way bridge. We expect the $4.2 million project will be funded through a NYS grant and funding from the MT A and the Village.
Voters in New York have multiple options for casting ballots this year. Some have chosen to vote via mail using an absentee ballot, others have opted to vote early from October 24th to November 1st at the Memorial Pool complex in Leonard Park. It is important to note that those who plan to vote on Election Day, November 3rd, the Board of Electio ns changed two Mount Kisco polling locations. Those in Election District 2 who previously voted at Village Hall, and those who reside in the Mount Kisco Chase community, are assigned to a new polling location at the Memorial Pool complex in Leonard Park. All other voters in Election District 5, who previously voted at the Ambulance Corps, will be voting at Neighbors Link on Columbus Avenue. There are no changes to other polling locations in the Village, and you can verify your polling location at https://voterlookup.elections.ny.gov/.
Bulk trash pick-up has ended as the DPW team transitions to leaf collection. Bulk pick-up will resume in April. Please do not include large items with your weekly household garbage. Leaves should be kept at the edge of residential property, not on the road. Bagged leaves are preferred, as they can be more easily collected. Piled leaves will also be picked up , though less frequently.
Those in residential areas continue to have concerns about drivers using excessive speed, passing stop signs, and loud vehicles that have been modified to amplify the noise emitted by the motor or exhaust system. The speed limit throughout the Village is 30 miles per ho ur, except for Valley View Terrace, Knowlton Avenue, and Grove Street where the speed limit is 25 miles per hour. All should be aware that we have a renewed focus on enforcement of traffic regulations to ensure the safety of all in our community.
The Village is prolific in providing up to date communications via Facebook, as it is a fast easy way to share information. Understanding that not everyone uses Facebook, we have embedded a feed on the front page of the Village website. All posts are shared in both English and Spanish. For those who are less comfortable online, the Village has been sending a weekly phone message to provide a local COVID-19 update and general Village info rmat io n. If you would like to rec e ive phone messages please email your name, address, and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Village Board of Trustees, Planning Board meetings are broadcast on FIOS channel 20 and Altice channel 40. Additionally, we are streaming these meetings and Zoning Board of Appeals on Facebook Live. Public comment is welcome by phone, online in comments or by writing to email@example.com
As we move toward colder weather and spend more time indoors, it is essential that we all redouble our efforts to follow safety precautions. A key concept to remember is that individuals who are not exposed to the virus will not contract the disease. Safety precautions, including limiting social i nte raction, mask wearing, physical distancing, and maintaining clean hands are essential for avoiding exposure. I trust that the wonderful and compassionate people of this community will continue to do all we can to keep ourselves, our families, and our neighbors safe.
Gina D. Picinich
July 21, 2020
It is good to see life returning to the Village as we unPAUSE from New York State stay-at-home safety restrictions. As we move cautiously forward, it is important for all of us to remember that our actions directly impact the spread of the Coronavirus. Village residents have done extraordinary work to keep the number of local positive cases low. It is imperative that we all continue to implement safety precautions including limiting social interactions, extensive handwashing, and wearing face coverings when unable to physically distance from others. Those who are feeling ill, should isolate until they have been tested by a healthcare provider. We are hopeful that research will soon result in a vaccine that will provide a long-term solution to this health crisis. Until then, we are all dependent on each other to be accountable for our actions to keep us all safe.
Our Village is not immune from the national conversations and challenges regarding race and equity. Every individual is the sum total of their experiences. The joy, the sorrow, the fear, and celebrations all contribute to the collective that makes each individual who they are. The depth of our passion or care will not enable us to see the world the same way as another. There is splendor in this, in that every person forms their own opinion and presents a view that is unique. But there is also challenge in this as we can never truly understand the path that someone else has walked. Times such as these present an opportunity. As always, we have choices. We can remain steadfast in our own position or we can engage to share and learn from each other. The true heart of our Village is filled with compassion. Please take the time to listen to others. Though we may not all agree on specific ideas or concepts, please know that we can embrace different views and still be good and kind to others.
After being inside our homes for months, it is wonderful to see the Memorial Pool complex filled with activity. Village staff have been working diligently to create a safe and fun environment for residents to enjoy. Newly implemented safety procedures and systems are working effectively. Pool passes can be purchased online at mountkiscony.gov or at the pool. Walk-ins are welcome if space is available. Many families and individuals have found the pool to be a wonderful refuge and a place to safely enjoy the summer sunshine.
Tennis, baseball, and soccer have all returned to Leonard Park. Basketball and volleyball courts remain closed, as those are considered high risk sports. Though small group clinics are permitted for high risk sports, full games with teams are not.
Fishing licenses and boating permits are available for Byram Lake. Online purchases can be made at mountkiscony.gov on the Receiver of Taxes page. Though swimming and picnicking are strictly prohibited, the area around the lake is a beautiful location for walking. Byram Lake is our primary water supply. We ask that everyone please be mindful of water conservation, as this is a limited resource. You can check for leaks by looking at your water meter. If there is no water running, and the number is moving it is likely you have a leak or running toilet. Working with a plumber to make corrections will save water and save you money.
Annually, the Village invests in repaving roads that are most in need of repair. We completed paving on Grandview, Lafayette, Drake, Beverly, Willets, East Hyatt, Ward, High, Pine, Lawrence, Spencer, St. Marks, Boltis, and High Street Extension. We are planning work to begin shortly to fix the bridge roadway on Lieto Drive. We are also in discussions with the MTA to make a financial commitment for the needed repair work for the Preston Way Bridge. The $4.2 million project will be funded through a grant for $1.9 million from the State through the Bridge NY program, funding from the MTA, and the Village.
The Village continues to invest in replacing antiquated water systems. The water, and storm water replacement on Woodland Street is almost complete. We appreciate everyone’s patience through the inconvenience resulting from this construction. This work is essential to ensure the safe delivery of potable water for years to come.
It is anticipated that the solar field on the capped landfill at our DPW facility will be completed and operational by the end of October. This community solar project is fully subscribed. Those interested in signing up for other green energy and solar options can do so at sustainablewestchester.org. The Planning Board is reviewing an application for another solar project on a 25-acre property on Sarles Street. Those interested in learning more and participating in this conversation can review the application and associated materials posted at mountkiscony.gov on the Planning Board page under Agendas and Minutes.
The Board of Trustees has accepted a bid for construction on the Green Street Fire Station that is consistent with the revised budget. Though it has been a very long and challenging process to get to this point, we are expecting construction will begin in the fall. Bids for the Independent and Mutual Fire Stations will be opened in the fourth quarter of this year. Other capital projects including installation of an elevator at Village Hall and resurfacing the tennis courts at Leonard Park are moving forward. We have put the streetscape redesign project on hold until the economy has stabilized and we have a clearer understanding of the financial outlook.
The Board of Trustees continues to work with Gotham and Charter to reach a mutually acceptable agreement and lease for the Kirby Commons multi-use downtown development. This project is not financially feasible without some level of tax abatement. The Village/Town of Mount Kisco does not have the authority to grant such abatement. As such the development team has applied and been granted approval by the Westchester County IDA. Step-by-step, with great consideration and thought, this process continues to move forward.
The Village’s 2019-2020 fiscal year ended on May 31st. Though we have not yet closed the books, our initial review indicates that we ended the year with a positive variance to budget. Despite the revenue shortfalls caused by the healthcare crisis, the prudent fiscal management by our Village staff has enabled us to add money to reserves which will be used for capital projects. The 2020-2021 fiscal year began on June 1st. Our Board of Trustees authorized a budget that maintained all existing services while accounting for a reduction in expected revenues.
If you have not done so already, please make it a priority to complete Census 2020. Those that have not completed the survey by August 1st can expect to have a Census Enumerator knock on their door to gather the needed information. One person in each household should complete the survey by going to my2020census.gov or by phone at (844) 330-2020 (English) or (844) 468-2020 (Spanish).
Village Board of Trustees and Planning Board meetings are broadcast on FIOS channel 20 and Altice channel 40. Additionally, we are streaming these meetings and Zoning Board of Appeals meetings on Facebook Live. Public comment is welcome by phone, online, or by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org
As we have all been required to stay close to home, so many folks have been appreciating all that Mount Kisco has to offer including walks through Leonard Park, downtown, or on local trails. There is plenty of opportunity to enjoy time in the Village by supporting our local stores. Business owners continue to invest in our community and have worked to create a safe environment for customers. Retail shops are open and many gyms are conducting small group outdoor exercise classes. We encourage folks to dine al fresco at our local restaurants or pick-up takeout and enjoy a picnic in Leonard Park or along the Branch Brook. We appreciate everyone’s participation as we all continue to work together to support and strengthen our community.
Gina D. Picinich
January 10, 2020
The dawn of this new decade brings with it great excitement about the opportunities ahead for our beautiful Village. With energy and enthusiasm we proceed into the future, focused on implementing the strategies outlined in our award-winning Comprehensive Plan. This important work includes: smart development to build a long-term, sustainable economy; advancing environmental initiatives to protect the natural environment; generating clean renewable energy and reducing our carbon impact; and addressing quality of life issues such as excess speed, littering, and traffic.
At our organizational meeting in December, we welcomed David Squirrel as a new Trustee to our Village Board. Thank you to Trustee Isi Albanese for his exemplary service to our community during the past two years. His focus on beautification and economic development will have long lasting positive outcomes for our Village.
Building a long-term viable downtown economy is centered on the concept that we must put people in the same place as businesses. To this end, the Village Board of Trustees signed a Letter of Intent to partner with Gotham Development and Charter Realty to develop residential, retail, and parking structures in our downtown. Throughout 2019, the Village Board has discussed, evaluated and ultimately decided that Gotham and Charter best understood the vision to provide a quality project that will enhance our downtown, as outlined in our Comprehensive Plan. Their proposal, named Kirby Commons, includes 217 residential units, 50,000 square feet of retail space, and 900 parking spaces. The architectural design is reflective of materials and shapes consistent with surrounding existing structures and conforms to our new form-based code requirements. The next step in the development process is for Gotham and Charter to perform a full site evaluation to ensure they have a full scope and understanding of the property before proceeding to a formal contract and agreement. The developer and the Village have much due diligence to perform as we move forward methodically and cautiously, while ensuring that all impacts are carefully considered and concerns are addressed.
Continuing to deliver a high level of service at a fair cost to taxpayers is at the center of all that we do. Strengthening and leveraging partnerships with the County, neighboring municipalities, the school district, and local non-profits provides an opportunity to identify shared services that can reduce costs. In cooperation with Westchester County, the Village renewed our five year contract for Public Safety services. The new contract reflects an annual cost savings of approximately $400,000. We value our partnership with the Westchester County Police and County government, which enables us to identify the savings and continue to deliver a high level of day-to-day policing and services to ensure public safety.
Our Food Scrap Recycling program, which launched in November, is off to a strong start. The staff of our dietary program at our Fox Senior Center and more than 60 households are participating. We estimate that more than 16 tons of scraps are being composted each month. The greenhouse gas avoidance is equivalent to taking approximately 20 cars off the road.
Voters approved an additional $4 million to renovate our fire houses. This brings the total renovation budget to $14.25 million. As discussed in a previous letter, adding this debt to our capital plan will result in an estimated Village tax increase of 3.53% for the 2020/21 fiscal year. As we move through our budget planning process, we will work to keep the operating budget as lean as is reasonably possible without compromising services, with the intention of trying to reduce the estimated tax increase.
Our Capital plans focus on renovating and fortifying infrastructure to ensure delivery of essential services for today and future generations. In an effort to reduce the financial burden for taxpayers, we continue to seek grant funding. I am pleased to share that the Village has been awarded $5.375 million from NYS for water and sewer infrastructure projects. These grants will contribute to funding replacement of a 100 year old water main on Byram Lake Road, upgrading systems at the water treatment facility, upgrades to our sewer pump station, and replacement of a 100 year old sewer main that runs along the Branch Brook through a Department of Environmental Conservation regulated wetland. Engineering work has already begun on some of these projects. We are expecting to be able to publish bids for some of this work in the spring.
A most important effort through the first half of this year will be ensuring a full count of all Village residents in the 2020 Census. Every ten years, the United States Government conducts a count of the population. The results of this decennial census is used to determine the people’s representation in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as the State Legislature and County Board of Legislators, Westchester County’s sales tax apportionment to local municipalities, and eligibility for local municipal grant funding from all levels of government. Future funding and governmental participation is dependent upon all residents participating. In March, every household will receive a postcard providing information on how to complete the survey. Choices include online, by phone, or to request a paper copy. The survey simply asks the number of people in your household, their names, ages, gender, race, and cultural origin. We ask your assistance in encouraging your friends and neighbors to participate.
Our DPW team will continue to pick up bagged leaves (not piles), brush, and Christmas trees. Items left at curb side are identified and picked up regularly. Please contact DPW (914) 666-8193 if items have not been collected after 3 days.
Our Board of Trustees meetings are broadcast live on channel 20 (Altice) and 40 (FIOS). Public comment is always scheduled at the end of every meeting. For those who would like to comment live, you can phone in at (914) 420-0383 when Public Comment is announced during a meeting. Meeting schedule and agendas are posted at http://www.mountkiscony.gov/. Select “Government” from the main menu. Select “Board of Trustees” from the dropdown list.
Summer Camp registration is expected to begin in February. Watch Facebook or sign up with the Recreation Department for information. Winterfest (formerly Fire and Ice), facilitated by the Chamber of Commerce has been rescheduled to Saturday, January 25th. Fun and festivities include ice carving, music, marshmallow roasting, hot cocoa, and fire dancers.
On a personal note, I want to extend my gratitude to the kind and gracious people of this community for your continued support. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to serve as your Mayor.
Gina D. Picinich
July 15, 2019
We are so fortunate to live in this extraordinary Village. We all appreciate the beauty, convenience, access to services, shopping, restaurants, and natural environment, but it is the people that make our community so special. We have varying perspectives and views, yet we manage to transcend our differences to focus on what is best for our Village. It is the kindness, generosity, and spirit of volunteerism that is the engine that makes our community work. A fire or health emergency in the middle of the night are answered by volunteers. Music, a trail walk, a carnival or parade downtown are facilitated by volunteers. Decisions regarding planning, zoning, or architecture are made by those who graciously donate their time. If you can lend your talent to participate as an alternate on our Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals or Architectural Review Board please contact our Village Manager, Ed Brancati at email@example.com.
In April, the Board of Trustees passed the zoning changes recommended as part of the Comprehensive Plan. Changes include: permitting residential in the downtown area; adding uses in the Radio Circle area to maximize underutilized property; and adding a new housing option, townhouses, as a permitted use in some areas on Lexington Avenue. Passing the zoning was an essential step forward to allow us to begin negotiations with reference to potential development on the North and South Moger parking lots. We have narrowed our options to two developers who are seeking to invest more than $120 million in our Village. The proposals are mixed use, including residential and some retail space. They both maintain existing parking for commuters and shoppers and add spaces for residents. We will share more information as we move forward with this process.
The Planning Board completed their due diligence with reference to the application to elevate the cellular communications tower on Mountain Avenue. They worked closely with Crown Castle and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to reduce visual impacts and issued a negative declaration with reference to environmental impacts. The Village Board of Trustees approved the lease of property and installation of the new tower. The additional height will accommodate emergency needs of the MTA, as well as co-location for commercial carriers, which will improve service in many areas in the Village. As part of our partnership with the MTA, they ceased to pursue a tower on Kisco Avenue and are providing Village first responders and staff much needed access to radio communication systems.
The NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) continues their work at the intersection of Rt. 117 and Rt. 172. The timeline indicates that the project will be complete by mid-September. Our Beautification Committee and the Adopt-an-Area team are working with DOT to create a landscape plan. Some plantings will be done in the fall and others in the spring. DOT also informed the Village that they will be replacing the sidewalk along Rt. 117 from New Castle Drive to the Fountain of Life Church driveway. They indicated this work will be done this summer.
We have a rotating schedule for paving Village roads. This year, we will be investing to pave Spring Street, Lieto Drive, and Kisco Avenue. This work will be done through August. Con Edison will be working on projects on East Way and West Way. Their work will conclude with restoration of those streets. Scheduling has yet to be determined.
As noted above, the Adopt-an-Area team has been hard at work. The program, in its second year, provides an opportunity for businesses, non-profits, and individuals to participate in beautifying our community. Organizations contribute money and time to plant and maintain the areas. In addition to having the satisfaction of making a contribution, names are listed on signage in the adopted areas. Our DPW team waters the areas, which they had previously mowed and maintained. This program is a great example of how public/private partnerships can generate positive results.
Many are aware that our most substantial financial challenge relates to funding firehouse renovations. The full scope of the project, which has not changed, is estimated at $18 million (the original estimate of $10.25 million was erroneous). The renovations include: updating the buildings to comply with the American with Disabilities Act; renovating bathrooms and kitchens; expanding truck bays and equipment storage; and creating additional office and meeting space. Our fire companies have asked the Board of Trustees to include a referendum on the ballot in November asking if voters will authorize an additional $8 million to fully fund the renovations. To cover the additional debt, the Village would have some years of tax increases that exceed the tax cap. There is agreement that our firehouses need renovation. The question for the voters to answer is how much can they afford. More detailed information will be shared through the fall.
We have begun planning for the 2020 Census and are forming a committee to help ensure that all residents in our community are counted. Federal, State, and County funding is often tied to population. Something as basic and essential as the sales tax returned to the Village from Westchester County is based on our population, so it is essential we have an accurate count. Using tools and resources from the County and Federal governments, the committee will create strategies to ensure every person who resides in our Village is counted. Please contact our Assistant Village Manager, Ken Famulare (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you can participate on our 2020 Census committee.
We expect the solar field on the capped landfill by our DPW facility will be operational before the end of the year. We have leased this property to BQ energy. They will install and manage the solar equipment that will generate clean, renewable energy. The energy will be fed into the ConEdison grid and delivered to users. Mount Kisco energy users can benefit by reducing their power bills by 10%. To register to participate in the program, go to solarizewestchester.com, select ConEd Customers, and select Mount Kisco Community Solar.
In our continuing efforts to reduce the Village carbon footprint, we are evaluating implementing a food scrap recycling program. Residents who would like to participate would collect food scraps in a counter-top pail available for sale at Village Hall. Contents would be transferred to a larger bin that residents would bring to our DPW facility. We are currently working to determine if we have the space needed to compost locally or if the materials would be hauled to a larger facility. More research and planning is needed before we can implement the program. We will share more information as we continue with our research.
Please refer to the insert to clarify any further questions about recycling. You can also go online to mountkiscony.gov select Departments, select Public Works, select General Recycling information to view short videos of what to recycle and how.
We hear many concerns from residents with reference to cars speeding, particularly in residential areas. This is a tremendous concern that is incumbent upon all of us to fix. The posted speed limit in the Village ranges from 25 to 30 mph. We all have to be conscious to drive safely in accordance with the speed limit. Driving at 25 mph decreases stopping distance, gives drivers and pedestrians more time to see each other, and improves a driver’s ability to avoid crashes. Vehicle stopping distance improves by 45 feet (23%) when driving 25 versus 30 mph. This small 5 mph decrease in speed means many crashes can be avoided. If crashes do occur, the severity of injuries is reduces at lower speeds. Please be aware of the risk you create when driving more than 30 mph anywhere in the Village.
Thursday July 25 is Mount Kisco day at Playland. With proof of ID, residents will receive discount coupons. Take the opportunity to enjoy this fun family amusement park so close to home. Also be sure to check out the Mount Kisco Arts Council Pop-Up Gallery in their space on the promenade off of South Moger Avenue. Details about the many events in the Village this summer including, music and trail walks are available at mountkiscony.gov and on Facebook @VillageofMountKisco and Twitter @VillageMtKisco. Sign up for our enewsletter at mountkiscony.gov under Quick Links.
Gina D. Picinich
January 14, 2019
As we move into 2019, I hope you will allow me the opportunity to thank all who have done so much to positively impact our community in the past year. The Beautification Committee and DPW have worked with sponsor businesses to beautify areas throughout the Village. The Arts Council and Recreation Department have brought music and family events to our Village. Our Historical Society, Conservation Advisory Council, and Tree Preservation Board have provided opportunities for us to appreciate the environmental beauty in our Village through exhibits, events, and walking trails. The Economic Development Council facilitated a new business open house to promote Mount Kisco as a great place to invest. We welcomed many new businesses to the community thanks to our Building Department, Planning Board, Architectural Review Board, and Zoning Board of Appeals who have all moved applicants efficiently through the process. Our Marketing Committee helped to share all that has been happening in the community, garnering positive press about The Big Little Village. We have improved communications by launching a Facebook page, distributing an e-newsletter, and sending a quarterly letter with water bills.
Financially, we are fortunate to have a leadership team that has crafted a lean budget that keeps taxes below the State mandated tax cap. The Village was pleased to again receive a Moody’s Aa2 rating (the highest we can obtain). We were identified as having “strong budget management, ample reserves, and liquidity.” Our Finance Committee is keeping a close eye on projected capital expenditures. We plan to invest in infrastructure while balancing our reserves and limiting debt to ensure we do not over commit our future. The Finance Committee also recommended we invest in NYClass which optimized yields while maintaining maximum safety and liquidity. This investment and rising interest rates have generated increased returns from our reserves.
The Board of Trustees authorized renovations and improvements for the Henry V. Kensing Memorial Library building and the Police building in the Richard A. Flynn Justice Complex. The library requires upgrades to the electrical system and ceiling structure. During renovations, sections of the library will be closed to guests. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we make these improvements. The police building will receive upgrades to the electrical system and interior layout as we consolidate space used by the Westchester County Police, Parking Enforcement, and Animal Control, to improve efficiencies and create rentable space to increase revenue for the Village.
We continue to work on the Comprehensive Plan. The Board of Trustees incorporated feedback from the Public Hearings and a new draft is available for public review on the Village website. When complete, the plan will identify the steps the Village will take going forward. Chapter 11 is the implementation plan that includes initiatives focused on environmental sustainability, traffic calming, improved pedestrian and bicycle access, and engaging and activating downtown.
The Village is discussing the possibility of adding a cell tower to improve our communication infrastructure. Siting a tower on Village property would enable us to have control over the location and generate additional revenue. However, we recognize that for many this has been a difficult conversation. Siting a tower is never an easy choice. We take seriously the concerns that have been raised by residents and seek to find a balance that will address the needs of the whole community. We expect Homeland Towers to present data and visual renderings for two possible locations at our January 28th Board of Trustees meeting. As always, we welcome feedback.
When will North Bedford Road be paved? ConEdison committed to the NYS Department of Transportation to resurface the road. As we shared in the past, we accelerated our water infrastructure work and met our deadline. We are being told that ConEdison will pave in the spring. The Village also plans on replacing the sidewalk, curbs, and paving Mountain Avenue when warmer temperatures return.
The Board of Trustees passed a Solar Energy Law. The legislation identifies specific criteria for roof top solar and adds an option for large ground mounted installations and open air carports in specific non-residential zones. There is currently a proposal before the Planning Board for a ground mounted solar system on an unused portion of property at Oakwood Cemetery.
The Village Board has worked closely with our Building Department and Counsel to create a Building, Fire, and Zoning Code Enforcement Policy. This policy is intended to reinforce existing NYS Building and Fire code as well as Village code for all properties, including commercial and residential. We want to clearly state that the Village will not compromise on building and life safety issues. In addition, it is important that we enforce our local Zoning Code which a number of properties have violated through the years. These situations must be corrected and our Building Department will work with property owners to ensure they understand their path forward. In most instances full remediation, including restoration to legal zoning, will be required. These issues have been discussed for many years and it is time they are addressed in a way that is fair, practical, and in the best interest of the whole community.
You will notice when driving on Main Street that we have installed a new community sign at the entrance to Shoppers Park. Community and school organizations can reserve a space to advertise their events (reservation form and details are available on our website). This sign will provide a central location for advertising events and eliminate the visual sign pollution in other areas of the Village.
Though it has been a relatively mild winter to date, we expect more snow. We remind everyone to watch for snow emergency alerts. When alerts are issued, no on-street parking is permitted throughout the Village during specific hours so that roads can be cleared. Alerts are sent via e-notify email system, posted on mountkiscony.gov and Facebook, and are available via phone at 914 241-SNOW (7669).
Please know that you can also pay water bills, parking tickets, and register and pay for Recreation Department programs online. Go to Online Services under Quick Links at www.mountkiscony.gov.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians will host their annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 9th. The parade kicks-off at 2 pm and will proceed down Main Street with a reviewing stand on S. Moger Avenue. Hoping to see many along the parade route, enjoying this festive family event.
To receive current information on Village activities sign up for e-notify at www.mountkiscony.gov, follow us on Facebook @VillageofMountKisco, and on Twitter @VillageMtKisco.
Gina D. Picinich
October 20, 2018
We welcomed autumn in Mount Kisco as the Chamber of Commerce launched Septemberfest and Kisco Run hosted the 5th Annual 5K. Thank you to all who provided the opportunity for our community to gather for family fun, music, great food, fitness, and sidewalk sales. We look forward to continuing to build public/private partnerships that provide opportunities for more events that strengthen our community.
In August, we released a draft of our Comprehensive Plan. The draft was compiled by BFJ Planning, consultants with more than 35 years of successful planning experience in Westchester County and worldwide. Their participatory process included feedback from five community workshops, a public survey, and the guidance of a volunteer Steering Committee comprised of community members. The plan contains eleven chapters and reviews all aspects of our Village including: Land Use and Zoning; Population and Housing; Downtown; Economy; Environmental Resources and Parks; Community Facilities, Historic, and Cultural Resources; Transportation; Infrastructure. We encourage everyone to review the draft at www.envisionmk.org (hardcopies are available in the library and at the Fox Center). In November, we are holding Public Hearings during our regularly scheduled board meetings.
We have begun to see some new businesses opening in different locations across the Village. As we streamline processes and share success stories, many are realizing what we all know; Mount Kisco is a premier destination in Northern Westchester to invest. Though we have had some success, we have a lot more work to do. Attracting new business is just the first step. Those businesses will not thrive and grow unless we create an active downtown environment. We continue to focus on strategies to build a strong local economy for the long-term. A chapter in the Comprehensive Plan focuses on activating our downtown. One of the recommendations is to change the zoning code to permit residences in our central business district (residences were permitted until the late 1980’s). In doing this, we would put people in the same place as the businesses, resulting in a larger presence and increasing foot traffic.
The Village has renewed our contract with Sustainable Westchester. All power customers in Mount Kisco are automatically registered to purchase power through Sustainable Westchester (power is delivered by Con Edison). We all receive the benefit of a low price point realized by purchasing through a consortium. The new three year contract maintains the current rate for residential and large commercial customers. Small business customers will realize a savings, as they have been provided the residential rate. Sustainable Westchester will be sending a communication to customers providing more details.
Mount Kisco residents are automatically registered to receive “Basic Energy.” We strongly encourage customers to switch to the “Renewable (Green) Energy” option. For approximately one third of one cent per kilowatt hour, you can positively impact climate change. The “Renewable Energy” supply is backed by 100% clean energy sources including solar, wind, and hydropower. To switch call (914) 242-4725 or go to www.westchesterpower.org (select Energy Choices and then select Switch to Renewable).
The Board of Trustees is discussing legislation to allow for solar installations in various locations in the Village. The legislation identifies specific criteria for roof top solar and adds an option for large ground mounted installations in specific zones. The large installations would be permitted in identified non-residential zones on private property. You can review the draft legislation at www.mountkiscony.gov. Go to Government, Mayor & Board of Trustees, Solar Energy Law Draft.
The Parking Task Force, which focused on improving the user experience, presented recommendations to the Board of Trustees. Their ideas included free weekend parking in all lots, improved signage, increased visibility of the mobile parking app, and improved lighting at pay station kiosks. We are working on implementation plans for many of the recommendations. You will hear more in the new year.
We continue with our infrastructure projects. The water main replacement on North Bedford Road has begun. We expect to have the work under North Bedford Road completed in time for Con Edison to pave in November. Construction will continue on the sidewalk through the first quarter of 2019. On Mountain Avenue, we are working on water and storm water systems. It is our hope to be completed by the end of the year. The dive pool at the Memorial Pool complex is being resurfaced so that we are ready for swim season next year.
The Department of Transportation has begun some work at the intersection of Routes 117 and 172. Through the middle of December they will be moving the utilities and working on sidewalks. In the spring, evening work will begin on the roadway. As further information is available, we will provide updates through eNotify, Facebook, and Nixle.
Our DPW team will continue to collect leaves. Please bag your leaves and keep them curbside on your property. Leaf bags can be purchased in the Tax Office; $2 for a bundle of 5. Brush should be tied in manageable lengths. Collection is done throughout the week during gaps in the garbage collection and maintenance schedule.
You will notice an insert with this mailer includes instructions on how to pay your water bill online. We continue to identify ways to make your experiences with local government easier. We are hoping this additional method of payment makes the process more convenient for many.
Veterans Day is November 11th. The Moses Taylor Jr. American Legion Post 136 will stand guard at our Veterans’ Monument and preside over a ceremony at 11:00 a.m. Everyone in the community is invited to participate and honor all of those who have given so much to protect our freedom.
To receive up-to-date information on Village activities sign up for eNotify at www.mountkiscony.gov, follow us on Facebook @VillageofMountKisco, and on Twitter @VillageMtKisco
Gina D. Picinich
July 18, 2018
Our beautiful village is alive with activity this summer. The Memorial Pool Complex is open seven days a week and is a welcoming family destination. Campers have been running, swimming and visiting fun locations with Camp Iroquois and Teen Travel. Many residents have been enjoying the Mount Kisco Arts Council downtown concert series. Others have been dancing and singing along with the Recreation Department’s band concerts in Leonard Park. The Historical Society has provided access to the beauty of our natural environment with the opening of the Peninsula and Wetlands walking trail. The streets of downtown were filled with smiling faces as the bands and trucks passed in the Annual Firefighter’s Parade.
While many are enjoying summer vacations, we have been busy working on our Comprehensive Development Plan. Through this year’s long process, we are reviewing all aspects of the village including infrastructure, natural environment, transportation and traffic, land use, zoning, and housing. We identified a need for additional mid-market studios, one and two bedroom rentals. The North and South Moger parking lots, which are owned by the village, are very desirable locations for transit oriented housing. We will be sending out a Request for Proposals to identify a development partner. We encourage everyone to review details about the Comprehensive Plan at envisionmk.org.
Building a robust local economy and increasing the overall assessed value of our village are essential for keeping tax increases to a minimum. To this end, our Economic Development Council welcomed a crowd of commercial real estate brokers and potential business owners at a New Business Open House. We had the opportunity to educate all on the process of working with our Building Department and to share the benefits of opening a business in Mount Kisco. Our message was clear; Mount Kisco is open for business. With many understanding that now is the time to invest in our community, we have seen a substantial increase in interest in filling empty spaces and some new leases have been signed.
A resident team of volunteer marketing professionals has introduced a branding concept for Mount Kisco. The Big Little Village (insert graphic) speaks to the tremendous activity and vitality that are packed into our 3 square mile hometown. You will see and be hearing more about the ways we use this concept to position our village as a premier destination to live, work, play and invest.
The Board of Trustees has selected BQ Energy as our partner to install and maintain the solar project on our capped landfill. The implementation will take approximately two years. We anticipate the project will generate approximately .75 megawatts of clean energy which will be available for residents to purchase. We also expect more than $2.5 million dollars in revenue over the 25 year lease.
We passed legislation to modify the Light Manufacturing District (333 North Bedford Road) to permit Full Service Grocery. We have also added Family Recreation as a permitted use in this zone and in the Research and Development zone (Radio Circle.) These changes allow ShopRite to begin the planning process to move to Mount Kisco. We have also opened the possibility for additional Family Recreation facilities to fill empty spaces in these zoning districts.
Paving has been completed on a number of streets throughout the village and a safe and the sidewalk was fully restored on Main Street by Lexington Avenue. We know Con Edison needs to repave the southbound lane on North Bedford Road. We have asked them to delay that process to enable us to complete work on a water infrastructure project which will again cut up pieces of that roadway. By waiting, the village saves approximately $2.5 million dollars on paving costs. We expect to have the work under the road complete by October so that Con Edison can complete the project before winter.
Many are aware that New York State passed legislation in response to the $10,000 cap on State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions adopted by the federal government. This would allow New Yorkers to make charitable donations to certain state and local municipally established funds in exchange for a tax credit. Essentially this would be a charitable donation write-off which would reduce taxable income. It is unclear whether these charitable contributions will be recognized at the federal level. The village is waiting on creating a charitable fund and implementing the process until we receive guidance from the IRS. We encourage all residents to work with a tax professional regarding the benefits and risks of municipal fund charitable donations related to their personal taxes.
There are so many ways to get involved in the community. The Beautification Committee, Arts Council, Historical Society, Conservation Advisory Council and many more groups would benefit from greater participation. Find your passion and share your ideas and enthusiasm with our community. To learn more about village committees go to mountkiscony.gov To receive up to date information on village activities including summer concerts, parades, historical trail walks, art exhibits, and more, sign up for enotify at mountkiscony.gov. Follow us on Facebook @VillageofMountKisco and on Twitter @VillageMtKisco
It appears that Spring is finally arriving in Mount Kisco. Thanks to the hard work of our village staff and community partners who helped us emerge from the long winter. It is a time for renewal and reawakening. Get outside. Walk downtown. Dine alfresco. Shop local. This is a time for us all to appreciate our beautiful village.
Our community has launched a Comprehensive Plan process. This is a vital step forward, as this Plan will be the blueprint to our future. We encourage everyone to get engaged and share your opinions and ideas at the second Downtown Design Workshop on Saturday, May 12 or the third Public Workshop on Wednesday, June 13. This is an opportunity for your voice to be heard and to contribute to our strategic plan. Full details about our Comprehensive Plan process are available at envisionmk.org.
Plans are moving forward for renovations to our fire houses. Architects have been working closely with the fire companies to finalize construction and designs documents. We expect construction to begin at the Green Street fire house in the fall. Work at our two engine company buildings on Lexington Avenue and Main Street will follow.
Our Board of Trustees is evaluating proposals for a solar energy installation on the capped landfill off Columbus Avenue. This project will produce clean renewable energy which residents will have the option to purchase. Leasing the otherwise unusable space to the solar developer will generate additional revenue for the village.
The Board of Trustees is evaluating zoning changes for the property at 333 North Bedford Road. These changes would permit Full Service Grocery and expansion of existing and potentially new Family Recreation Facilities on the site. A zoning change requires careful thought and consideration. The Public Hearing regarding these changes remains open. We encourage everyone to share their perspective. You can access the proposed text changes on the Board of Trustees page on the village website at mountkiscony.gov.
You can expect to see continued construction on the roads and sidewalks through out the village. We have widened and repaired the sidewalks on North Moger Avenue and Carpenter Avenue that improves pedestrian accessibility to Downtown. Con Edison is completing work on North Moger Avenue, continuing their work on Lexington Avenue, and will be continuing their work on North Bedford Road. We are evaluating a major water main replacement which will impact North Bedford Road. Our improvements to the Department of Public Works Garage continue to move forward with the additions nearing completion and work transitioning to renovations of the existing building throughout the remainder of the year. We know these projects are inconvenient for all, but it is essential that we maintain and upgrade our aging infrastructure and facilities to ensure the highest level of service for all residents.
Our Recreation Department is working with the Department of Public Works to get our Memorial Pool ready for opening day on Saturday, May 28. Residents can purchase pool passes and register for Camp Iroquois and Teen Travel at the Recreation Office in Village Hall.
In addition to their annual Clean Up Days and their Garden Contest, our Beautification Committee has launched an Adopt-an-Area Program. The committee has selected specific high visibility areas which businesses or residents can adopt to plant and maintain. Adopters will be recognized on social media and through signage on the site. More information is available on the Beautification Committee page on the village website at mountkiscony.gov.
Many wonderful programs and events are happening in Mount Kisco largely due to the tremendous efforts of our village staff and volunteers. To receive up to date information on village activities including summer concerts, parades, historical trail walks, art exhibits, and more, sign up for enotify at mountkiscony.gov. Follow us on Facebook @VillageofMountKisco on Twitter @VillageMtKisco and on Cablevision Channel 20 and Verizon Channel 40.