Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Newsworthy Notes from the week

Holtec sues NY over wastewater disposal law; Brickhouse killer sentenced to 15 years

Holtec sues state to overturn wastewater disposal law

In a federal lawsuit filed on April 18 in the US Southern District of New York, attorneys for Holtec International allege that New York state has no power to make laws regarding waste water disposal in the Hudson River from the former Indian Point nuclear power plant.  

“This case concerns the State’s blatant infringement on the federal government’s exclusive right to regulate the discharge of radioactive materials from nuclear power plants,” the lawsuit alleges. “This is impermissible. By allowing the State to regulate radiological discharges from a nuclear power plant, [the state law] infringes on the exclusive authority of the federal government and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission the Atomic Energy Act. ECL Article 30 is federally preempted and must be set aside.”

Attorneys for Holtec want the court to find the state law unconstitutional and have the state pay Holtec’s court costs. 

The environmental group Riverkeeper reacted to the lawsuit, asserting the state has the right to make laws to protect New York.

“Federal law allows for states to regulate their own interests, including economic interests. The Save the Hudson legislation is not only an appropriate use of state power, it is necessary to protect New York from the economic damages that would come from using the Hudson River as a dumping ground,” said Tracy Brown, President of Riverkeeper. “Riverkeeper continues to advocate for storing the radioactive wastewater on site for at least twelve years, which is one half-life of tritium, while reasonable and advantageous disposal methods can be determined.”

Holtec acquired Indian Point in 2021 and began the decommissioning process then.

The next meeting of the Indian Point Decommissioning Oversight  Board is scheduled for April 25 at the Cortlandt Town Hall.

– By Jim Roberts

Shooter receives 15-year sentence in Brickhouse murder

Ricky Brickhouse was 35 when he was killed.

Ricky Brickhouse’s killer took a plea deal from prosecutors and received a sentence of 15 years in state prison.

On Jan. 29, 2023, at approximately 4:16 p.m., Arnold Fernandez, then 19, allegedly fired three shots at the 35-year-old Brickhouse, striking him once, on Spring Street in Peekskill. Fernandez killed Brickhouse following a dispute over a woman.

Earlier that day, Brickhouse called police to report that Fernandez was driving with a gun in his car. In a second call from Brickhouse, police could hear him yell, “What up?” as brakes could be heard screeching. Then gunshots were heard and Brickhouse yelled, “They hit me! They hit me! I got hit.” He told the desk sergeant he was on John Street near Spring Street but then said nothing more, according to court papers.

Brickhouse was transported to New York Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital in Peekskill and then Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, where he died.

The Peekskill Police Department arrested Fernandez and two other men, following a pursuit on the Sprain Brook Parkway in Greenburgh. Fernandez was charged with murder and criminal possession of possessing a loaded .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, the murder weapon. Errick Lowe, 26, of Cortlandt Manor, and Omar Williams, 20, of Peekskill, were also charged with felony criminal possession of a weapon. 

Fernandez was the only one who faced a homicide charge. Williams pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and was promised a seven-year prison term when he is sentenced May 22. Lowe, facing the same charge, is due back in county court.

Fernandez’s lawyer, Jeffrey Chartier, said his client continues to maintain he did not fire the gun and admitted only that he was acting in concert with others, according to a published report.

State Supreme Court Justice Larry Schwartz accepted the guilty plea and the 15-year prison term offered by prosecutors and scheduled sentencing for Fernandez for Aug. 21.

The Westchester County Department of Public Safety, the Westchester County Department of Public Safety’s Real Time Crime Center, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office High Technology Crime Squad, and the Westchester County Department of Laboratories and Research assisted with the investigation.

Levenberg launches survey on state road usage, conditions

State Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg has launched a new survey about state road usage and conditions around the 95th Assembly District. 

The brief survey has two questions and two spaces for open-ended responses, and is intended to help ensure equitable advocacy regarding state roads throughout Assembly District 95. Levenberg’s office is promoting it widely to help constituents in all corners of the district make themselves heard on the topic.

Assembly District 95 is part of New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Region 8, which encompasses the Hudson Valley counties of Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess, Ulster, and Columbia. Region 8 has more lane miles of state roads and bridges than any other NYSDOT region, and also has the most roads that are rated as being in “fair” or “poor” condition. 

Hudson Valley legislators have been pushing to bring more attention and funding to NYSDOT Region 8 to address the region’s widespread road and bridge issues.

The survey provides the opportunity for respondents to indicate whether they walk and/or bike on and along state roads and use the open-ended space in the survey to talk about their experiences as pedestrians and cyclists. 

Residents are encouraged to continue to report potholes and other issues on state roads by calling 1-800-POTHOLE, as this is the most direct way to notify the NYSDOT of problems that need immediate attention. The responses from this survey are intended to supplement these reports and help inform the Assemblywoman’s ongoing advocacy for the district’s needs.

DoD, VA share resources to increase health care services for Hudson Valley Veterans and soldiers

The Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are expanding their existing partnership to allow Veterans, soldiers, cadets, and other beneficiaries to receive care from the Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point or at the VA Hudson Valley Health Care System, with locations in Montrose and Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

Under this partnership, Veterans in the Hudson Valley region can receive care at Keller from both Keller and VA clinicians; and it expands specialty access to select gynecological services, virtual traumatic brain injury care, and inpatient behavioral health at Montrose VA for soldiers, cadets, and other beneficiaries. This provides improved access, quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of healthcare to area Veterans, soldiers, cadets, and other beneficiaries. 

The partnership, which is the first of its kind in New York, is a key part of the VA’s comprehensive strategy to modernize the VA health care system nationwide — including through nationwide partnerships with DoD. This is one of hundreds of partnerships across the country with DoD, including 14 near- and long-term projects to expand access to care for Veterans. Through this effort, VA is aggressively working to expand access to care for Veterans and address challenges associated with aging facilities.

Mayors stress importance of approval process, tax breaks for new housing

A panel of chief executives from three major Westchester cities were upbeat about their respective economies and downtown revitalization programs fueled by unprecedented multifamily development projects currently under construction and in the pipeline, according to an article in the April issue of Real Estate In-Depth.

White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach, New Rochelle Mayor Yadira Ramos-Herbert, and Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano chronicled the tens of thousands of new apartment units under construction and in the approval process and all noted that at present property owners are experiencing strong leasing demand and expect that trend to continue going forward.

Mayor Ramos-Herbert said the key to the city’s economic resurgence was form-based zoning enacted in 2015 that allows developers to secure approvals for projects in the downtown district within 90 days as long as it conforms to the city’s zoning codes.

All three mayors also stressed the importance of Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) as a tool in facilitating new development. While New Rochelle and Yonkers have their own IDAs, the projects in the City of White Plains are serviced by the Westchester County IDA.

The complete article is available here.

Sales decline, prices rise in March Westchester home sales

March Co-op sales in Westchester County experienced the largest decline in homes sales categories at 28.4 percent, followed by single family homes at 14.3 percent, and condos, at 12.8 percent, according to figures from HGAR, the Hudson Gateway Association of REALTORS®.

Sales prices for all three property types rose, with condos seeing the highest jump at 9.4 percent to a median of $499,500. Single-family home sales rose by 4.2 percent to a $758,000 median and co-ops, 4.1 percent with a median of $202,000, 

New condo listings were up by just 4 percent, but co-op and single-family home listings fell by 18.3 percent and 14.9 percent, respectively. Inventory was down in all three sectors, with the largest drop in co-ops at 41.4 percent, followed by single-family homes at 31.3 percent, and condos at 16.8 percent. Westchester’s overall pending sales were down by 2.3 percent.

Film and TV work generates millions in Westchester

Part of “Fallout,” an original Amazon show, was filmed at the former Verplanck quarry.

Film and television production work in Westchester produced an economic impact totaling $622.4 million in 2023, according to the county. 

The industry supported 2,053 jobs accounting for $198.2 million in wages in Westchester during the year. The production activity generated $1.9 million in sales tax, $950,000 in lodging-related revenue and over $1 million in permit and property rental fees in 2023, according to the county. Those numbers were recorded despite the impact of the SAG-AFTRA actors’ strike, which shut down most production between July and early November. It came on the heels of a strike by the writers’ union that also affected film and TV production.

For the two years 2022 and 2023, the economic activity from film and TV production totaled $2 billion with 6,796 jobs and $656 million in wages reported during those two years.

According to the county, productions filming in Westchester in 2022 and 2023 included: “The Crowded Room” (Apple TV+); “FBI: Most Wanted” (CBS); “Feud: Capote vs. The Swan” (FX, Hulu); “The Gilded Age” (HBO); “The Girls on the Bus” (HBO); “Leave the World Behind” (Netflix); “Life and Beth” (Hulu); “Maestro” (Netflix); “Poker Face” (Peacock); “Succession” (HBO); “Severance” (Apple TV+); and “The White House Plumbers” (HBO). 

“Westchester is a top-tier destination for film production thanks to our diverse locations, film-friendly communities, and a skilled and supportive network of people and businesses,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer. “This report underscores the film industry’s vital role in driving our local economy, creating jobs and boosting tourism. Film, television, and commercial production provides thousands of jobs for our residents, boosts local businesses and puts our stunning scenery on the global map.”

The county’s film office provides location guidance for production companies seeking to shoot in Westchester, offers site visits, and facilitates the process of obtaining permits for filming when required by various municipalities.

Northern Westchester Career Fair May 1 in Yorktown

On May 1, the Westchester-Putnam Career Center Network in collaboration with the Town of Yorktown, the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce, and the Catalyst Westchester County Economic Development, are hosting an on-site career fair at the Albert A. Capellini Community & Cultural Center, featuring an array of employment opportunities in northern Westchester County. 

Attendees should dress professionally and be prepared to interview with hiring managers. Remember to bring multiple copies of your updated resume and to review the attending employers prior to the job fair in order to be fully prepared. Register here. 

Annsville Creek Cleanup by kayak set for May 4

Hudson River Expeditions will host a Cleanup of Annsville Creek by kayak from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 4 for the 13th Annual Riverkeeper Sweep. 

Kayaks will be provided or you can bring your own kayaks, paddles, and PFDs. Volunteers must be experienced paddlers. This is a rain or shine event.

Volunteers will meet at Annsville Paddle Sport Center, 1 Annsville Circle, Peekskill. Parking lot is available.

We recommend all sweep volunteers bring a hat, sunscreen, a full reusable water bottle, insect repellent, work gloves, and hand sanitizer. Please choose non-cotton, quick-drying layers, appropriate for the weather and cold water, as well as waterproof footwear. Bring a change of clothes in case it is needed.

This event is not suitable for elementary-aged children.

Questions? Contact Riverkeeper at [email protected] or Brian Grahn at [email protected] or call Brian at 914-490-9023.

Register for the event here

‘Climate Bingo’ raised $500 and educated the crowd 

The first event hosted by the newest chapter of CURE 100 raised nearly $500 on Sunday, April 14 during Climate Bingo with some 40 participants playing the game at the Division Street Grill. 

Peekskill is the newest chapter of the non-profit  Communities United to Reduce Emissions organization and looks to assist initiatives with the city, school district, WASS (Westchester Alliance for Sustainable Solutions), and the Conservation Advisory Council, along with letting the public know there are efforts they can undertake to reduce carbon emissions. 

“We want to engage people in the community that are not engaged, and we want to make it fun,” said Ingrid Whitman, one of the co-founders of Peekskill’s CURE 100.  

At the bingo event, where prizes included bags of compost donated by Anthony Carbone of CRP, a composting facility on Roa Hook Road in Cortlandt, players were asked questions about Peekskill’s food scrap program along with fun facts about what types of vehicles are better for the environment. 

CURE 100’s goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 100 percent by 2040 and there are multiple ways of doing that according to Whitman, such as “low or no mow May”, where residents can allow native plants to grow that attract pollinators. Another easy thing for people to do is keep food scraps out of the waste stream and bring them to the Saturday drop off at the Department of Public Works’s Louisa Street facility, so they can be turned into compost. 

And when people drop off food scraps on Saturdays they may get to meet the Decarbonizer Bunny who makes occasional appearance to drum up awareness of how we can reduce carbon emissions. 

Angels on Call Homecare receives Leader in Experience Award 

Angels on Call Homecare, located in Peekskill, has received the distinguished Best of Home Care 2024 — Leader in Experience Award from HCP, an independent experience management company in the home care industry. 

The Leader in Experience award is the highest recognition granted by HCP to home care businesses based on caregiver and client satisfaction ratings. As a Leader in Experience, Angels on Call Homecare is recognized among the top 10% of home care providers nationwide participating in the HCP Experience Management Program. In addition, Leaders in Experience must also have earned both Best of Home Care’s Provider of Choice and Employer of Choice for the year.

“We are absolutely delighted to have been recognized with these awards,” said CEO Robert Dalton. “This achievement is a testament to our agency’s unwavering dedication to the families we support, and showcases the immense compassion and expertise of our caregivers and nurses.”

“It’s a testament that my family’s commitment and investment into the idea that reimagining the way dementia and memory care is delivered, does in fact have a positive impact for the families, clients, and our caregivers,” said says Eric Dalton, vice president.

Apropos Restaurant at The Abbey Inn added to MICHELIN Guide

MICHELIN Guide Inspectors spend all year on the road uncovering the best restaurants to recommend – and their discoveries are too good to keep secret. 

Whet your appetite with a sneak peek of the 2024 MICHELIN Guide New York selection featuring ten new additions spread across New York City and the metro area.

With over 300 MICHELIN Guide restaurants spread across the city, it’s no surprise that New York City is commonly known as the “City That Never Sleeps.” This year, that long (and delicious) list of restaurants saw the addition of ten newcomers. Included in that list is Peekskill’s Apropos Restaurant at The Abbey Inn 

From the Guide: The Sisters of Saint Mary’s certainly didn’t eat like this, but if you take a one-hour train ride from Grand Central to Peekskill’s Apropros Restaurant at The Abbey Inn, you will. This 120-year-old abbey perched high above the Hudson River has been painstakingly restored and transformed into a lovely inn and restaurant. The grounds, and the views, are worth the trip alone but the wine cellar boasting an impressive collection and the farm-to-table kitchen are equally rewarding. 

The menu leans traditional, with dishes ranging from rich lamb ragù atop tangles of thick pappardelle to grilled petite filet of beef finished with a textbook green peppercorn sauce. Pannacotta flavored with moscato and finished with an apricot and chili preserve is a lovely send-off.

City police dispatch officers play critical role in public safety

Officer Woodland with Dispatcher Homer LaFuente, Police Leo Dylewski, Dispatcher Pat Wisker. Dispatcher Chris Curry was not on duty on that day.

In recognition of “National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week”, the city of Peekskill Police Department honored the city’s dispatchers for the critical role they play in keeping the community safe and saving lives.

“The amazing communications team members are the voice citizens hear that helps guide them during a crisis and we cannot thank them enough for their hard work and dedication.”  Baskets were given to Dispatcher Homer LaFuente, Dispatcher Christopher Curry, and Dispatcher Patrick Wisker.

Jim Reed’s Truck opens new facility at 1 Corporate Drive

The signs are up on the new Jim Reed’s Truck Sales 10,000-square-foot service and parts facility at 1 Corporate Drive. Just down the street from the original store, the building triples the company’s service footprint allowing them to better serve customers.

For over 60 years Jim Reed’s Truck Sales has been the place to shop for commercial truck needs. They are Mitsubishi Fuso, UD Trucks, Bobcat Construction Equipment, Ottawa Yard Tractor, and Stellar Hooklift dealers in the Northern Westchester County suburbs of the New York Metro Area. 

Jim Reed’s provides commercial truck sales and leasing, construction equipment sales and leasing, Mitsubishi Fuso Parts, UD Truck Parts, Bobcat Parts, Ottawa Parts, and full service including collision work and body repair. They specialize in Mason Dumps, Stellar Hooklifts and Roll Offs, Landscape Trucks, Aluminum Dumps, Refrigerated Trucks, and Utility Trucks.

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About the Contributor
Jim Roberts
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.