Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Council meeting roundup

Actions include Irish recognition and voting for grant applications
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Joseph Squillante

Two proposed Peekskill development projects, on opposite ends of Howard Street in the downtown, got the green light to show intent to apply for a $2 million Restore NY state grant during a special meeting of the Common Council on Monday, March 18. 

“Let the best project win,” said Councilman Dwight Douglas. 

The proposed project at the corner of Howard and N. Division streets.

The two projects are James Guerriero’s 201 North Division Street project and Chuck Lesnick’s (part of Broad Howard LLC) North Broad and Howard Street project. 

Rendering of the proposed homes along Howard Street as part of the Broad Howard project.

The city recently put out a call for any interested party that wished to apply through the city for the Restore New York (NY) grant. This outreach attempt yielded five interested applicants.

The Restore NY grant is administered by Economic State Development, and provides municipalities with financial assistance for the revitalization of commercial and residential properties. The program encourages community development and neighborhood growth through the elimination and redevelopment of blighted structures. The maximum amount of funding a Peekskill project could receive is $2 million. 

At the March 18 work session, Director of Planning Carol Samol presented the council with two projects staff have recommended for the city’s application. 

Initially city staff only recommended the North Broad and Howard Street project, but after learning that the city can submit two notices of intent, staff concluded that the 201 North Division Street project should also be considered for the city’s application. (A second resolution was added to the special Common Council meeting later in the evening to reflect this change). Samol said that submitting two notices would give the city an advantage to have continued discussion on both projects.

The Broad Howard LLC project proposes the construction of a three and a half story mixed-use residential building with frontage on Howard, North Broad, and Main Street. The project will feature 57 one and two bedroom residential units, a 26,357 sq ft subsurface parking structure, 5,350 sq ft of community courtyards, 2,890 sq ft of amenity space and approximately 813 sq ft of commercial space. 72 parking spaces are proposed in this project, 57 covered and underneath the building and 15 surface spaces.

The 201 North Division Street project proposes the construction of a five-story mixed-use building at the corner of Howard and North Division Street. The project will include 125 apartments, 13 of which will be affordable and workforce housing units, and a 5,285 sq ft ground floor commercial space. 135 parking spaces are proposed in this project, with an additional 18 spaces for the commercial space. Developer James Guerriero is seeking parking waivers from the Planning Commission for 22 residential spaces since the project is within 500 ft of the James Street parking garage. 

Before making their recommendations, staff assessed each application against a range of criteria: the city’s needs and goals, community benefits, project state of readiness, and fulfillment of Restore NY funding criteria. Both projects are ‘shovel-ready’ and meet all these points to a certain degree, noted Samol. It should be noted that the city is competing for a state-wide grant against various municipalities, so funding through Restore NY is not guaranteed. 

Although the city can submit two notices of intent for two projects, one will have to be selected for the final application process. The deadline for the notices to be submitted is March 25, 2024.

“For the applications that are not selected for the continued conversations for Restore NY, we’re working to support the projects – keep them in mind for other opportunities, learn more about them and find other ways that the city can support their efforts to redevelop,” said Samol.

Samol noted in her memo that final applications are due on May 22, 2024, prior to which a public hearing will be held and publication of a property assessment list of all properties involved and considered will be made available. 

March 11 Council Meeting 

At the March 11 council meeting, Planning Director Samol presented a climate grant opportunity with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And, the council passed all 12 resolutions on the agenda unanimously. The meeting also included a public hearing on the proposed parking meter rate and fine increases; more information is available here

City Manager Report

City Manager Matt Alexander told  the council that the city was recently notified of the upcoming decommissioning of Indian Point’s Emergency Alert and Notification System siren (ANS). According to Alexander, D&M Electrical Contracting has entered into a contract with Holtec International for the decommissioning and removal of the existing Indian Point Emergency ANS Sirens. That project was set to begin on Friday, March 15.

The emergency warning sirens from Indian Point were expected to be removed last week. (Jim Striebich)

Alexander also reviewed topics discussed at recent Quality of Life Committee meetings, such as overcrowding and property maintenance issues. He stated that the Police Department has been busy recently with detective work and they have been successful in addressing drug issues affecting the city. He did not provide further details. Alexander noted that the city’s “Park Walk and Talk” program, where a policy officer is out every weekday in the spring, summer, and fall, has been well received by the community. Relatedly, Alexander said that the city has received approval from Westchester County to hire an additional parking enforcement officer. Interviews for this new position will begin the week of March 18. 

Alexander also provided updates on the “Cleanup Peekskill 2024” initiative. He stated that city staff have been working on signage for the downtown that would explain city rules and regulations. Alexander added that the city sent a letter to businesses and residents via the Business Improvement District (BID), and will follow up with door-to-door meetings explaining when garbage may be put out, and what the law says about how that garbage has to be maintained.

Garbage cans in downtown are frequently used for residential trash. (Photo by Regina Clarkin)

EPA Climate Pollution Reduction Grant 

Samol spoke to the council about the Planning Department’s desire to participate in a coalition proposal submitted by Hudson Valley Regional Council (HVRC) for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Climate Pollution Reduction Grant.

According to Samol’s memo to the city, Peekskill is a member of a coalition that is run by the HVRC, which has been participating in the Climate Action Planning Institute (CAPI) since 2023. CAPI is a program developed by HVRC to guide a cohort of local governments through the development of government operations greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories and climate action plans.

“It’s always easier to do these things together with smaller municipalities and that’s exactly what the HVRC is doing with CAPI,” said Samol. This grant is an opportunity for the city to work together with neighboring municipalities and HVRC to significantly lower emissions produced by the city’s Police and Courthouse building.

Peekskill Police Station, City Court and Field Library are one of the municipal buildings that will be assessed for reduction of use of fossil fuels as part of achieving goals established by the state.

Samols memo stated that the coalition proposal aims to significantly cut government operations greenhouse gas emissions in the Mid-Hudson Region by enhancing municipal building efficiency and decreasing fuel oil and natural gas consumption. This multi-municipal effort will help New York State meet the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act as well as the United States’ goal to reduce GHG emissions 50 percent by 2030.

The council unanimously passed a resolution later on in the regular meeting, that authorized the city manager to enter into a memorandum of agreement, in order to participate in a coalition of municipalities under the leadership of HVRC to submit an application to US EPA Climate Pollution Reduction Grant Program. 

Proclamation and Recognition for Residents 

Mayor Vivan McKenzie presented Michael Morey and Maureen Whelan with recognitions from the city of Peekskill in honor of Irish American Heritage Month. 

Council members with Irish American Heritage honorees Michael Morey, fourth from left and Maureen Whelan next to him. .

Maureen Whelan has served as treasurer for the Peekskill Arts Alliance, and has played a key role in the planning and execution of the Peekskill Arts Alliance Open Studios Weekend. She is currently a member of the Board of Tax Assessment Review and serves as the Treasurer of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce. For close to 20 years, Whelan worked with such Wall Street firms as JP Morgan, Bankers Trust Co. and Republic National Bank of NY. In 2006, she founded Whelan Financial Planning, which provides financial planning and income tax services. 

Michael Morey, is a partner of SKDK, with over 20 years in communications, politics, and campaign management. He is a national public affairs leader, specializing in crisis communications, war room operations, and campaign management for large scale public affairs campaigns, philanthropic organization, and Fortune 500 companies. Morey has served on the Peekskill Industrial Development Agency Board, the Paramount Theater Board of Directors, Chair of the Peekskill Democratic City Committee, and helped establish Fred’s Food Pantry with CHHOP at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Morey has also worked as a regional director and press secretary for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. 

Hafsah a-Yunus being awarded by Mayor McKenzie for her work with Boy Scouts Troop 5164, the first all-girl troop in the greater Hudson Valley. Ba-Yunus, who is studying linguistics, speaks six languages.

Hafsah Ba-Yunus also received a proclamation from Mayor McKenzie. Ba-Yunus is a member of Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Troop 5164 since its founding in 2019, the first all-girls troop in the Greater Hudson Valley BSA Council, for which she has served as Assistant Senior Patrol Leader. Ba-Yunus is currently a student at Stony Brook University pursuing a degree in Linguistics with a double minor in Theatre Arts and Globalization Studies. Upon the completion of her studies, she is considering a career in Foreign Service with the U.S. Department of State. 

Resolutions

Other resolutions unanimously passed at this meeting include:

  • A resolution authorizing the city manager to execute a professional service agreement with NY Life to administer a voluntary life insurance benefit for full-time employees.
  • A resolution authorizing the city manager to send a letter of support for an increase in aid incentive to municipalities (AIM) funding from NYS.
  • A resolution authorizing the city manager to submit a grant application to NYS Archives to enhance records management in the city. The resolution also allows the release of a request for proposals for professional management services for the city.
  • A resolution authorizing street closures for Cinco de Mayo celebrations on May 4, 2024
  • A resolution authorizing street closures for the BID’s Flea Market, held Sundays from March 17 to December 15, 2024

 

About the Contributor
Peekskill native Jeffrey Merchan is a 2022 graduate of Peekskill High School. He is the Collegiate Journalist at Peekskill Herald, funded by a grant from the DJ McManus Foundation. He is currently enrolled at Westchester Community College where he is studying journalism. As the inaugural recipient of the McManus grant, he will be covering city government, schools and feature stories with a focus on Peekskill’s growing Hispanic community.