Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

City applying for $1.4 million in state funding

Interior of the Paramount Hudson Valley which announced this week that comedian Pete Davidson will be headlining a show on August 17.

What would you do with nearly $1.4 million of New York State funding? 

At the June 3 Common Council meeting, Director of Planning Carol Samol presented her wishlist for the 2024 New York State (NYS) Consolidated Funding Application, which allows municipalities to gain access to multiple state funding resources with one application. Samol discussed the Paramount Theater (heating and cooling system renovations), Fleischmann Pier (dredging feasibility study), and Depew Park (renovations) projects.

Also on June 3, Chief of Police Leo Dylewski informed the council that Senator Pete Harckham awarded the city a $100,000 grant for upgrades to the police department locker rooms. On June 10, the chief said that the police department received about $315K in grants from the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services for the development and purchase of law enforcement technological equipment.

Consolidated Funding Application (CFA)

For the Paramount Theater Renovations (notably the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system – HVAC), the city is seeking $500,000 from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). If approved, this request would require a 25 percent match from the city’s Parkland Trust Fund.

For the Fleischmann Pier Dredging feasibility study, the city is requesting $100,000 to $200,000 from the state’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and/or Empire State Development’s Corporation Strategic Planning and Feasibility Studies Program, each requiring a 25 percent match from the city’s General Fund.

Fleischmann’s Pier at Charles Point. The area will need a study to determine what amount of dredging needs to be done to take full advantage of the pier.

“This year we will be opening Fleischmann Pier and Charles Point Park but for us to take full advantage of the pier, we recognize that we need to do further dredging,” said Samol. “We need to study a bit more before we go investing in that.”

For the Depew Park Renovations, the city is seeking $675,000 from OPRHP with a 50 percent match from the city’s Parkland Trust Fund.

Councilman Dwight Douglas suggested the Planning Department request grant funding for Riverfront Green, specifically for shoreline stabilization work.

In 2022, Peekskill was awarded $1.4 million from the NYS Regional Economic Development Council through the NYS Consolidated Funding Application for the construction of a connector trail at Riverfront Green. As of June 2024, the connector trail project has not moved forward, noted Douglas. This is due to increasing flood levels and issues at Riverfront Green.

In response to the councilman’s suggestion, Samol stated that the city recently submitted a Congressional Directed Spending application, which included a $1 million request for a Hudson River resilient shoreline study and engineering. She added that the reason for the delay in the project is that the city is awaiting a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Douglas also asked if the $675,000 request for Depew Park renovations would go towards Veterans Memorial Pool. Samol responded “I think we want to explore that with NCP [New City Parks] and get their guidance and it may not be exactly this source, so we may come back to you with a more specific source.” 

Samol had also presented a proposal to turn 41 Division Street, the former Workers’ Compensation Board building owned by Louis Lanza, into a City of Peekskill Welcome Center and an African American Museum. This project was left off the June 10 Consolidated Funding Application resolution, but is expected to be brought back at a later date once city staff meets all the requirements of the grant.

At its June 10 meeting, the Common Council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the city manager to submit the city’s NYS Consolidated Funding Application for the Paramount Theater, Fleischmann Pier, and Depew Park projects. The 2024 NYS Consolidated Funding Application is due July 31, 2024.

Police Department Grants

At the June 3 Common Council meeting, Chief of Police Leo Dylewski said, “Happy to inform you that – I got bank.” Dylewski stated that Senator Pete Harckham awarded the city a $100,000 CREST (Community Resiliency, Economic Sustainability and Technology Program) grant for upgrades to the police department locker rooms. 

On June 10, Dylewski told the council that the police department had been awarded $316,405.76, through the Law Enforcement Technology Grant Program (LETECH), which provides funding to municipalities for the development of law enforcement technological equipment. The following technology items were requested: License Plate Readers (Mobile/Fixed); Unmanned Aerial Vehicles; Handheld Radios; Patrol Vehicle Equipment (PC/Tablet, Scanners, Printer); 3-D Crime Scene Laser Scanner; Lighting Systems; Speed Signs (2); Tower Computers (10).

At its June 10 meeting, the Common Council unanimously passed two resolutions authorizing the city manage to accept the CREST grant and the LETECH grant

The Common Council authorized permission to accept a grant so the police department could build locker rooms to be used for female officers. (istock photo)

Dylewski’s memo to the council stated that over $450,000 in project costs have been identified for locker room upgrades at the Police Department. Now that the council has authorized accepting the CREST grant, the Police Department will go out to bid for the locker room project.

Liaison Reports/Concerns and Issues

As efforts are being made by the city to move along the Boys & Girls Club project, Councilman Scott emphasized the need to work out what the city would look like with both the Boys & Girls Club and Youth Bureau.

On June 3, Scott told council members that at a recent Youth Bureau meeting, there was a discussion about what the Youth Bureau could do to make sure it does not lose its identity when the Boys & Girls Club arrives. Scott said the Youth Bureau board is open to rebranding.

Artist rendering of the renovated Kiley Center where the Boys & Girls Club would be housed.

Mayor Vivian McKenzie commented on Scott’s remarks, “I think people at home as well as the board should be very aware that the intention of the Boys & Girls Club is to collaborate with the Youth Bureau. There is no intention of taking the identity of the Youth Bureau. There is no intention of replacing the Youth Bureau. As a matter of fact, they will be working together to find out what program the Youth Bureau is doing, so that we are not duplicating it in the Boys & Girls Club.”

Councilwoman Talbot’s report featured Paramount Theater news: on August 17 at 7 p.m., comedian and actor Pete Davidson will take center stage at the Paramount. According to the Paramount website, this event will be a phone-free experience: “Use of cellphones, smart watches, smart accessories, cameras, or recording devices will not be permitted in the performance space.” 

Mayor McKenzie then asked Carol Samol what happened to the proposed art pieces at the end of Pugsley Park, part of the park’s Artwalk. Samol responded, “Beyond what’s up now, I think we agreed to just pause and look at what it looks like. We can come back and talk to you further about it. The park was open for Open Studios weekend on June 1-2. 

During Open Studios weekend, many residents reported an overflow of trash across the city. McKenzie stated that she spoke to City Manager Matt Alexander about the issue. 

Household garbage in a trash can on N. Division Street. (Photo by Regina Clarkin)

“I know Matt is working with Chris [Department of Public Works DPW Superintendent] to address that because at the end of the weekend, there was just a tremendous amount of garbage. I want the community to know that it’s not falling upon deaf ears, we are looking at it and trying to figure out ways of fixing this and getting more support out there to make sure our city is clean and appealing when people come here.”

Alexander added that code enforcement was out during open studios and made contact with people that were disregarding the city rules and did education outreach. He stated that after speaking with Chris Gross, he is looking at a solution that involves staffing that day.

At the June 10 council meeting, during his city manager report, Alexander informed council members that city staff have identified household items as the reason for trash bins around the city being overloaded. To address this issue, the city staffed an extra person this past Sunday (June 9), whose sole job was to address those bins. The city will continue to staff and do educational outreach, said Alexander.

In addition, Alexander told council members that the Building Department is working with the Fire Department and Police Department in obtaining portable radios and protective gear to protect staff while they are out in the field.

Also of note, Alexander spoke of a multi-jurisdiction operation conducted in the downtown area addressing prostitution and quality of life issues. He stated that six arrests were made and one arrest for the criminal possession of a controlled substance. No further details were provided.

Public hearing on smoking ban

On June 10, the city held a public hearing on a proposed amendment to the city’s current “Outdoor Smoking” code, which would prohibit smoking in outdoor dining areas in the city’s Business Improvement District. Three residents spoke during the hearing, generally against or at least ambivalent about the proposed amendment. Two residents noted that banning smoking in outdoor dining areas could actively discourage people from coming to Peekskill, thereby reducing economic activity in the downtown district. A third resident noted that this amendment would effectively be unenforceable (the current law of no smoking in parks is not being enforced), and wished the city would spend its efforts to remove the broken glass regularly found at Lepore Park.

A Peekskill resident speaking against the proposal to ban smoking in outdoor dining areas at the June 10 public hearing.

Other resolutions passed on June 10

At its June 10 meeting, Peekskill’s Common Council unanimously passed these additional resolutions:

About the Contributor
Jeffrey Merchan
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.