Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Newsworthy Notes from the week

Peekskill marketing campaign kick-off; Kitchen Incubator project on track
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City marketing campaign kicks off at Chamber lunch

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Peekskill introduced the city’s new advertising and marketing agency last week, charged with bringing word of the city to the rest of the world.

Speaking at the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber’s February 2 meeting, which was held at Gleason’s downtown, John Connor of Weinrib & Connor framed the task ahead for his agency.

“Where’s Peekskill today, where did it come from, and where is Peekskill going,” Connor said. “We have to think about how we can capture the essence of the city and the surrounding area as you promote it throughout the metropolitan area.” 

The Weinrib & Connor campaign will cover a wide range of approaches, involving branding, marketing, social media, content creation, launching the campaign, and its evaluation. Two sub-contractors, Marcelo Rodriguez and Chereese Jervis-Hill, will target the Hispanic community and other communities of color.

An emphasis will be placed on reaching millennials as a target audience for becoming new residents through short video formats. Investors interested in bringing fresh capital for development will also be targeted.

Weinrib & Connor was chosen over 19 other bidders at a price of $175,000. The campaign will run through September. The money comes from the $500,000 budget the city received as part of the $10 million state grant from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

“One of the most important elements of a marketing campaign is to bring new people to Peekskill, to shop in our stores, and keep our downtown lively,” said City Manager Matt Alexander. “We also want to celebrate the people who live here and show them what they can enjoy. Many people have to get up in the morning and go to work and pay the bills so they don’t have the chance to experience all the things the city has to offer,” Alexander said.

“For people who are thinking about making a move, we want to tell you the story of Peekskill, and why this might be the right place for you.”

Washington Street Kitchen Incubator project on track

The former Centennial Hose fire station on Washington Street.

Turning an old firehouse into a modern commercial kitchen that will launch new chefs and restaurants is a tall task, and the Peekskill Industrial Development Agency is moving forward toward that opening.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced on February 5 a $995,000 state grant to the Peekskill Facilities Development Corporation (PFDC) to adaptively reuse the former city firehouse to develop a Kitchen Incubator. Its mission will be to provide a pathway for local underserved individuals to create culinary jobs and small business opportunities, partnering with Westchester Community College, Peekskill schools, and private industry in Peekskill. [The PFDC is a public authority independent of the city.]

The PFDC also won a $2.4 million grant from the United States Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration to support the project. The PFDC has also pledged $699,500 in local funds toward the project making a total project budget of just over $4 million. The target opening date is Spring 2025.

Also, on February 5 the Westchester County Board of Legislators returned the 2.3-acre parcel of land at the former Centennial Hose Fire Station to the city of Peekskill. The county had purchased the land from Peekskill in 1927.

City & State ranks McKenzie in Top 100 list of Black Leaders

Peekskill Mayor Vivian McKenzie was recognized as one of the top leaders in “The Power of Diversity: Black 100,” written and researched by City & State magazine.

The list highlights the latest activities and accomplishments of these influential leaders and dozens of other Black leaders who are standing out in the spheres of government, business, nonprofits, organized labor, health care, law, advocacy, and academia. 

“The first Black female mayor in Peekskill’s history is Vivian McKenzie, who holds an office that once launched George Pataki’s path to the governor’s mansion. Last year, McKenzie touted the strength of Peekskill’s finances, noting that the city’s debt has decreased while home values are on the rise,” the magazine wrote, calling Mayor McKenzie one of a “… trio of trailblazers are transforming the power structure in the Hudson Valley.” 

Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard of Mount Vernon and Mayor Yadira Ramos-Herbert of New Rochelle joined McKenzie at the 62 position of the Top 100 rankings.

Grand Marshal, Aides installed for 35th Peekskill St. Pat’s parade

Aides to the St.Patrick’s Grand Marshall from left, Pete Peterson, Pam Sgroi, Fr. Vernon, Richard Jackson. Grand Marshall George Pataki. (Photo by Jim Roberts)

The Peekskill St. Patrick’s Parade season began on February 10 with the annual installation ceremony at the Abbey on Fort Hill as former Governor George Pataki and his four parade aides were honored by a crowd of more than 130 in attendance.

“I remember the first parade when Dr. McGurty, Sr. was the first Grand Marshal and other times when Jim Guinan was the Grand Marshal and I’ll be thinking of some of those great times,” Pataki said. “I’ve been lucky and have had a lot of honors through the years but I’m still a Peekskill guy and it means a great deal to me when the people from my hometown recognize me. I’m really excited and grateful.”

Governor Pataki recalled his Irish roots where his maternal grandmother hailed from County Louth in Ireland and his mother Margaret Lagana passed on their rich Irish heritage.

The former Governor’s aides in this year’s Parade are Pam Sgroi, Richard Jackson, Father Vernon Wickrematunge of Holy Spirit Parish in Cortlandt Manor and Pete Peterson.

The 35th Annual Peekskill St. Patrick’s Day Parade kicks off on Saturday, March 9 at 3:00 p.m. in downtown Peekskill. The Peekskill St. Patrick’s Committee is still accepting parade applications for those who would like to participate in this year’s parade. Please click here to download and complete the application by February 29. 

Red Devils basketball, wrestlers head to tournament play

The brackets for the 2023-24 boys’ high school basketball tournament will be announced on February 12, when the Peekskill Red Devils will find out who they play on February 16, when they host their first playoff game. The team carries a 16-game winning streak into the matchup.

The squad capped off a sensational regular season with a 82-36 win over Walter Panas, winning their league championship with a record of 8-0. Overall the Red Devils were 19-1 on the season, with the only loss coming in the fourth game of the year, a close four-point defeat in overtime to Byram Hills. 

The Red Devils wrestling team capped off a successful season by sending four members to the County Sectional Champions at the County Center in White Plains this past weekend.

Martin Palomeque, Naseer Johnson, Brandon Cultherbson all qualified for the competition, and Palomeque and Johnson won fourth-place medals. Congratulations to Coach Raul Ortiz and the entire squad on a great season!

Honoring the outstanding women in Peekskill

Nominations are now being accepted for Women’s History Month. During the month of March, the City of Peekskill would like to honor outstanding women in the community for their personal or professional achievements, civic contributions, or general good deeds that have favorably impacted our citizens. If you would like to nominate someone, please complete this form by Thursday, February 29. 

Maple Up at Depew Park

The Peekskill Parks and Recreation department is holding a maple sugaring workshop led by John Neering for all ages on February 17 and March 2 from 9:00 am. to 10:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For more information and to register, please call the Parks and Recreation office at (914) 734-7275.

140 Kitchen latest new entry in Peekskill’s restaurant world

Enzo DeRaco and Anthony Maguire, owners of Slainte Peekskill, are back at it again with their new eatery, 140 Kitchen. 

Setting up in the former Gleason’s location at 911 South St., their latest restaurant offers premium bistro fare in a comfortable, welcoming environment. To bring their vision to life, Anthony worked his contractor magic on the physical space and they brought in Executive Chef and General Manager Shauna Leigh Franz to head up the cuisine and operations. 

The restaurant kicked off with a soft opening on Friday, February 9. 

140 Kitchen held a tasting on Wednesday evening to give a preview of their offerings.  The tasting menu gave a tour of their Asian-infused offerings. The tour began with the smokey hoisin wings appetizer and wrapped up with honey buttermilk bread dessert. Along the way, diners sampled broccoli tempura, pork belly bao buns, sliders (with bacon!), smoked gouda mac & cheese, salad with house ginger dressing, and two mains: their New York strip steak and bbq smoked brisket. 

The space feels like a cozy modern steakhouse or upscale casual bistro making it the perfect kickoff spot for a night out on the town, as the restaurant features a full bar. When Spring comes to Peekskill, there will be additional outdoor seating on the South Street sidewalk.

Phone is (914) 257-4000. Follow 140 Kitchen on Instagram.

– Story and photo by Steve Pavlopoulos

The high cost of living

A reader writes in about how expensive his monthly bills have gotten due to two jolts now arriving each month.

He warns – ALERT! Check your Con Ed bills. I just found out that I paid over $600 more in energy over the past seven months, due to City of Peekskill participating in an aggregated electricity program (ESCO). I was automatically signed up for 100% renewable energy at a rate… 15.281 kWh. 

“Apparently a lot of people are not aware of this automatic sign up into an ESCO (Constellation Energy) that offer renewable energy products to help limit our carbon footprint. That’s understandable, but there are many that cannot afford to pay the higher rate vs. putting food on the table. Our poorer residents are being burdened and don’t know why their energy bills are so high,” he said. 

[When the Common Council created this program, they automatically enrolled everyone. You must fill out a form to un-enroll from the program. To change your enrollment status, you can go to the following site:  

https://sustainablewestchester.org/wp/con-ed-area-choosesupply/]

Our friend also faces another drain on the monthly pocketbook because his Homeowners Association fees have gone up by 400% after insurance rates rose following the fire at Hillcrest Park that destroyed a building last January.  

Funding, support for startups available from Business Council

The Business Council of Westchester (BCW) seeks entrepreneurs who want to join the Westchester Innovation Network’s (WIN) 2024 cohort of innovators. 

The ideal BCW WIN participants are startup organizations that have a minimum viable product or service to test. BCW WIN matches innovators with established businesses in Westchester County that help evaluate the new market ideas. 

“The Westchester Innovation Network puts innovators in front of companies that are in positions to give emerging companies their first big breakthrough,” said Marsha Gordon, the BCW’s president and CEO. 

“Just recently, BCW WIN helped the Canadian startup Last20 undertake a test of its plastic-infused asphalt at a new parking lot at Regeneron’s global headquarters. The BCW WIN program is ready to help innovators set up more of these valuable opportunities.” 

The BCW WIN network is composed of small and mid-sized companies, professional services firms, and non-profits along with well-known brands like IBM, Pepsico, MasterCard, Heineken, Danone, Morgan Stanley, and Regeneron. It also includes some of the largest hospitals and healthcare systems in the world and many colleges and universities. 

Last year’s successful matches included Clarapath and EverFoam Products. Clarapath of Hawthorne received a $10,000 BCW WIN Champions Award in November to support the company’s efforts to automate human and animal tissue slide development and facilitate disease mapping and treatment discovery. EverFoam Products of Yonkers received a $5,000 BCW WIN Champions Award in November to manufacture and market sustainable and reusable party décor. 

Other successful 2023 matches included KELLS’s collaboration with the YMCA of Central & Northern Westchester in White Plains, where the company screened adults at the Y’s early learning childcare program using its artificial-intelligence powered oral health screenings; VAE’s retail launch of its caffeinated energy spray in 20 Chestnut Market stores; and Undercare’s test of its adaptive underwear for people with limited mobility at the Meadowview at Wartburg, an assisted-living facility. 

To learn more about becoming an Innovation Partner or joining the BCW WIN program, visit https://thebcw.org/westchester-innovation-network/.

Second applicant seeking marijuana store special permit

A second candidate trying to win a special permit to operate a licensed marijuana retail store in Peekskill is heading to the Planning Commission on Wednesday, February 14.

Chris Calabrese and Kyle Knapp are proposing to open a store at the Nardone’s Furniture building on Washington Street and will present their plan to the Commission at the 7:30 p.m. meeting in City Hall. They follow the first candidate, Gracious Greens LLC, based in Poughkeepsie who made their pitch on December 12, 2023 to operate at 32 N. Division St. 

Two other proposals are in various stages of winning both permission from the city of Peekskill and a state license. Those two, Valley Greens and Papi’s Secret Stash, have not yet submitted applications to the Planning Commission for special permits.

Newest member of the Peekskill police force

From left, Peekskill police detective Adam Renwick, Deputy City Clerk Jeanette Moore, Officer Anthony Tarantino and Police Chief Leo Dylewski.

Police Officer Anthony Tarantino has joined the Peekskill Police Department as its newest officer. Tarantino joins the force with six years of police service, most recently with the Town of Carmel PD. PO Tarantino is currently assigned to the department’s Field Training Program, under the tutelage of PO Rivera and he will be an asset to the Peekskill community. 

Peekskill man arrested driving with license suspended four times

Yorktown Police charged Fredy Fernando Chalco Urdiales, 33, of Peekskill, with a variety of motor vehicle violations on February 3.

During a traffic stop, police determined that the car’s registration had expired and that Urdiales’ driver’s license had been suspended four times.

Police arrested him after stopping his vehicle at 8:30 p.m. during routine patrol on Route 202 near Hawthorne Drive. Police say the auto was exceeding the posted speed limit. 

He is charged with second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation, a misdemeanor, and speed in zone, unregistered motor vehicle and unlicensed operator, traffic infractions.

He received four uniform traffic tickets at the scene and was released on his own recognizance, due to appear in Yorktown Justice Court on February 22.

Police Blotters throughout Westchester County

TOWN OF CORTLANDT (NY State Police)

Dec. 24, 2023 – Jonathan C. Smith, 25, and Eric Pena, 29, of Peekskill were arrested and charged with third-degree robbery, a Class D felony, in the Town of Cortlandt at 1:30 p.m. and held without bail.

Feb. 10 – James T. Floyd, 64, of Montrose was was arrested and charged with petit larceny shoplifting, a Class A misdemeanor, in the Town of Cortlandt at 1:30 p.m., and was released and issued an appearance ticket.

MOUNT KISCO (Westchester County Police)

Feb. 5 – A Peekskill man was charged at 4:15 a.m. with Driving While Intoxicated and Criminal Impersonation, misdemeanors, after an officer observed his car failing to maintain its lane of travel on West Main Street near Maple Avenue. The driver, who gave the officer a false name, was taken into custody after he failed a field sobriety test. He was booked at the Green Street precinct and released pending a Feb. 15 court appearance.

About the Contributor
Jim Roberts has been in this business for more than 35 years (hard to believe) and still learning every day. A third-generation Peekskill resident, he started as a lowly researcher at the Westchester Business Journal in 1986 and learned how to be a reporter from many veterans in the field. He’s worked in private companies, Connecticut state government and wrote for the Co-op City Times for 10 years before retiring from full-time work in 2019. Roberts wants to contribute to building the Herald into a news website for residents who care about what’s happening in Peekskill.