1 Year and Counting – Report Card
Town of Ossining Assessor Fernando Gonzalez – A+
Fernando has brought his “open door” policy to the Assessor’s office here in Ossining. Residents, as well as commercial property owners, have been welcomed in the office and encouraged to ask questions about the assessed value of their properties. All have been encouraged to come to the office before spending any money on those so-called “assessment experts”.
The “Open Door” policy extends to the Villages and School Districts. Each affected municipality (Villages of Ossining and Briarcliff) have been to several joint meetings, along with our school districts (Ossining and Briarcliff). Whenever there have been settlements, all involved have been invited to the Assessor’s office to discuss the rationale behind, and the entire progression of, the settlement process.
Fernando, along with our Town Attorney Wayne Spector and Deputy Town Attorney Mark Reisman, have spent a great deal of time this past year negotiating and settling certiorari cases. The process involves working with the commercial property owner’s attorneys, sometimes for several weeks or months, involving the counsel from the Villages’ administration and schools, bringing those settlements to the Town Board for approval and then ultimately bringing them to the County Court for a judge’s final approval.
Before the municipalities and schools issue any refund, a process of determining the correct amount of refunds must be completed, including measurement of impact on all districts within the Town. This whole process is detail specific and time-consuming- the costs associated with preparing the refunds are often more then the settlements.
Town Hall Meeting Schedule
During 2013, we will continue to hold Town Hall Meetings at the Ossining Library every six weeks. The first two were full of information. On January 29th, we had a great presentation from Lieutenant Alongi from the Westchester County Department of Safety about self-reliance and neighborhood reliance so that we are all better prepared for the next storm (and there will be a next storm!) You can find his Powerpoint on the Town web page. On March 5th, we hosted County Executive Rob Astorino, who gave a presentation on the state of the County and answered questions from the audience. Our meeting schedule for the rest of 2013 is as follows:
Tuesday, April 16th Tuesday, June 4th Tuesday, July 16th Tuesday, August 20th Tuesday, October 1st Tuesday, November 12th
Please remember, these are YOUR meetings- an opportunity to discuss any topic with the Town Board and, at times, our special guests. No matter the topic we suggest for the meeting, the residents can always bring up any subject and it will either be immediately addressed during the meeting, or researched and reported in a timely manner.
Ossining Town Parks & Highway Department
At this time every year, the Parks crew is hard at work preparing our parks for spring sports, activities and use by our residents. This year has presented special challenges- Super Storm Sandy’s winds ripped through the parks, resulting in a great deal of damage to our fields and pavilions, and caused the loss of many large trees. We have been very busy working with our insurance companies and with FEMA to ensure that the fields, dugouts, pavilions, parking lots and all-purpose areas are ready for our residents as the weather warms and we all spend more time outdoors.
Many thanks to Henry Atterbury, our Superintendent of Parks & Recreation, as he schedules our staff, delegates work to contractors, and supervises the work being done in our parks, along with Albert Rivera (Town Parks Foreman), Mario Velardo (Assistant Park Foreman), and Steven White, and the newest addition to our staff, Danye Smith-Robinson. We decided to hire an additional member of the Parks crew this past month; the budget cuts that were necessary at the peak of the financial crisis both reduced the size of our Parks crew and diminished the quality of care and the time we were able to give our parkland. We are proud to now be in the position to restore all of the Town Parks to the best possible condition.
We also owe thanks to the Highway Department, namely the members of the Highway Crew, who not only continue to do their work impeccably, but also, continue to support the Parks Department whenever needed. A great example of this teamwork is the recent collaboration between the department staff to install the Town Boat Ramp, ensuring that boats can access the river for the season.
Kudos to our Highway Foreman, John Martin, without whom we would be lost, and special thank you to Rick Planamenta, Matteo Velardo, Kevin Moore, John Orlando, Mike Blanco, Gary Cecere, Chuck Bouton and Marco Piscopiello- we appreciate everything you do, all of the hard work you put in every day, and your commitment to our residents.
Continuing to foster public/private (volunteer) partnerships will help us to improve the condition of our parks even further. These partnerships are effectuated with the approval of the Teamsters Local 456, and make certain that the work performed by volunteers compliments and enhances the work done by our Parks staff.
One exception to this would be Stash the Trash on April 20th (rain date April 27th)- we encourage all of our residents to come out that day and help clean up the areas of the Town that have struggled through this harsh winter, on top of the damage caused by the strong winds of Sandy. Please be patient with us as we work to make the Ossining Town Parks the exceptional open spaces all of the residents deserve.
Please don’t forget to join us on April 20th, for Earth Day/ Stash the Trash 2013. See the Green Ossining webpage (www.greenossining.org) for more details.
PLEASE feel free to forward this e-mail to any of your family, friends, acquaintances, or business associates who may have an interest in these, as well as other Town subjects.
As always, please feel very free to contact me with any questions.
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Susanne Donnelly, Town Supervisor 16 Croton Ave, Ossining NY 10562 914-762-6001 email@example.com