City seeking federal funds to complete trail from riverfront to downtown

State money will be used for crosswalks at four downtown intersections


Example of a stamped crosswalk in Hoboken, NJ. Hoboken is a vision zero city with a goal to eliminate all traffic-related injuries and deaths by 2030. (Photo by Greg Gutkes.)  

By Jeffrey Merchan

Federal and state dollars for major street safety and infrastructure repairs in Peekskill took center stage at Tuesday’s Common Council work session that lasted a little more than three hours. 

“Safe Streets and Roads for All” (SS4A), a federal transportation grant opportunity, was presented to council members by City Planner Peter Erwin. The grant would help complete the Pedestrian & Cyclist Connectivity project, part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), to create a dedicated bike trail and improved pedestrian sidewalks from the riverfront and train station to downtown along Central Avenue.  According to Erwin, the city can apply for up to $10.8 million in SS4A funding along with the allocated $2.7 million in DRI funding to meet the 20 percent local match requirement for a total project cost of $13.5 million. 

Eligible municipalities must have completed a Comprehensive Safety Action Plan or similar study to qualify for construction grants. New York State’s Department of Transportation recently completed a limited study of the Route 6 – Route 202 – Bear Mountain Parkway transportation corridor (“Corridor Study”). Planning Department staff analyzed and mapped vehicle accident data within the City of Peekskill to identify priority intersections for investment. Together, the Corridor Study and the vehicle accident analysis will be used for the action plan requirement. “The Planning Department has worked with the Police Department to geocode some of the vehicle incident reports so that we can understand hotspots where crashes occur frequently and where pedestrians and cyclists have been hit,” said Erwin. 


Image from city planning documents supporting a federally funded grant application.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is taking SS4A grant applications through July 10, which was established to fund regional, local, and tribal initiatives to prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries. The proposed application was discussed with the council a week after a 79-year old man was struck by a car in a hit-and-run incident on Howard Street, resulting in his death three days later. A resolution will be prepared for Monday’s Common Council meeting that authorizes the city manager to submit the application for SS4A funding.

2023 Resurfacing of Streets 

Christopher Gross, Director of Public Works, provided council members with a list of streets throughout the city that have experienced damage due to weather conditions, overall use, and excavations and are in need of repair. The 2023 Resurfacing of Streets will be funded by a state grant known as  CHIPS (Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program).

Streets  targeted for paving are: Brown St. from South Division St. to Broad St., Elm St. from Maple Ave. to Wells St., Homestead Ave. from Washington St. to McKinley St., Horton Dr. Overlook Ave., Franklin Ave. from Simpson Pl. to Washington St., Liberty St. Brandt Ave. McCord Pl. Buena Vista Blvd. James St. from Brown St. to Main St., Husted Ave., Central Ave. from Nelson Ave. to Park St., Howard St. from High St. to Broad St. and Parks & Recreation office parking lot in Depew Park.  

Also listed by Gross were potential Con Edison Joint Paving Agreements of streets that had work done to them by Con Edison last year in order to insert plastic gas mains. The list included Depew St. parking lot (dead end), Diven St. (North Division to Nelson Ave), Grove St. Requa St. (South St. to Washington St.), Bay St. (South St. to Washington St.), Franklin St. (South St. to Washington St.), Roosevelt Ave., Smith St.,Simpson Pl., Washington St. Ramp (South St. to Central Ave). 

The DPW is seeking authorization to use the “second year contract extension option” with Waters Construction Company if the company is able to hold their prices from last year. If not, the DPW is requesting to allow bids from companies for resurfacing of streets. The DPW is also hoping to enter into Joint Paving Agreements with Con Edison, regarding the above listed streets.

“Certainly this summer we will be paving. Definitely before the fall.” said Gross. Paving could be delayed an extra month if bidding is required.

C3 Zone Amendments: Set 3rd Public Hearing

The revised C3 zoning text is set for a third public hearing after the Common Council previously held public hearings on February 27 and March 27

Council members along with Director of Planning Jean Friedman agreed that the zoning text should be changed to 1.25 parking spots per housing unit. At Monday’s meeting, the Council is expected to vote to set a public hearing for July 17. 

Downtown Stamped Concrete Crosswalks 

City Planner Erwin asked the Council to have City Manager Matt Alexander release bid documentations for the Downtown Stamped Concrete Crosswalks project. The city was awarded a $100,000 State and Municipal (“SAM”) grant from Senator Pete Harckham for this project. The grant funding will be used to install high quality, durable and attractive stamped concrete crosswalks at four intersections downtown: Main Street and Nelson Avenue in front of City Hall. Central Avenue meets Nelson Avenue, Bank Street and Park Street between the James Street Municipal Parking Garage and C Town.

Main and Bank intersection where crosswalk is crumbling. (Photo by Greg Gutkes) The other end of Bank Street is one of the four intersections in the downtown getting a new crosswalk.

CPL Architecture, Engineering, and Planning (“CPL”) is designing the improvements and drafting construction documents. CPL will also provide bid support and construction inspection services. The Planning Department will coordinate with DPW so that bid documents are not released until any necessary excavation, repair/maintenance, or paving work at each intersection is completed. A resolution will be prepared for the June 26 Common Council meeting. 

2023 Riverkeeper NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Grant 

A new grant opportunity was presented to the council which would continue a collaborative effort between the city of Peekskill and Riverkeeper, a non-profit environmental organization devoted to the protection and restoration of the Hudson River and its associated estuaries. 

The city’s new watershed inspector will coordinate efforts with Riverkeeper and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation engineers to identify road salt and excess nutrients considered highest priority contaminants in the watershed.The analysis will utilize the DEC’s Loading Estimator of Nutrient Sources to estimate the sources of nutrients affecting the city’s watershed. The report created by this tool, combined with the data collected for the DWSP2 program will be used to prioritize the rehabilitation of critical areas that are contributing excess nutrients to Hollowbrook Creek.

Water and Sewer Superintendent David Rambo asked for authorization to allow the city manager to sign a letter of collaboration between Riverkeeper and the city for this part of the grant application. A resolution will be prepared for the June 26 Common Council meeting, which would give authorization to move forward with this grant application and meet the July 12th deadline. 

Reject Bids for Improvements to Pugsley Park & Monument Park

View of Pugsley Park from Howard Street.

New York State awarded Peekskill $573,248 for improvements to both Pugsley Park and Monument Park under the DRI grant. After design and engineering costs of $76,000, the city has $497,248 to fund construction.

The City held a bid opening on Friday, June 9, 2023, where 14 plan holders purchased bid documents, but the city only received two bids. The two bids came in at $1.6 million and $2 million,  significantly higher than the allocated DRI funding. Erwin and City Manager Alexander suggested that the council hold off on rejecting the bids and see if any other grants become available. “Even though the DRI grant is small, it’s a once in a generation opportunity and I think improving Pugsley Park and Monument Park would have huge multiplier effects for us” said Erwin.

“From our initial conversations with the state, we are not the only DRI community to run into problems with pre and post pandemic pricing. They’re encouraging us to explore other options and to see if there are other funding streams available to us” said Alexander. The bidders are required to hold their prices for 60 days. 

Councilman Dwight Douglas expressed his disapproval of the bids the city received. “This project as it stands is not acceptable. We got two bidders that are way out of whack from anything we estimated and I don’t see why we don’t just reject them. I cannot vote if we get more money in grants for these bids that are twice what we said they should be,” said Douglas. Douglas recommended interviewing the plan holders that passed on the bid documents and see what they’re thinking. In addition, Douglas suggested the city speak with a contractor and get input into what makes the costs so high and how to save costs. Alexander agreed with Douglas and said he would report back to the council with results from those conversations. 

Initially, a resolution for the city manager to reject both bids was placed for next week’s common council meeting but the council agreed to hold off on rejecting the bids for 30 days. If no funding becomes available, the planning department will go back to the drawing board.

Revised Abandoned Shopping Cart Ordinance 

A group of shopping carts on Main Street at Dayton Lane.

The controversial abandoned shopping cart ordinance returned this week with an updated draft showing revisions to the penalty section.  At the June 5th Committee of the Whole meeting council members requested staff amend the penalty section of the draft to mirror the penalty section of the city code for littering. Every other aspect of the ordinance besides the penalties will remain the same. 

According to the revised penalty section of the “Shopping carts” ordinance, any person or entity who violates the provisions of the chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not less than $150.00 and not more than $250.00 for a first offense. A second offense against the provisions of this chapter (committed within a three-year period, looking back from the date of the violation, regardless of the fines imposed on the prior violation) shall be punishable by a fine of not less than $250.00 and not more than $500.00. A third offense against the provisions of this chapter (committed within a three-year period, looking back from the date of violation, regardless of the fines imposed on prior violations) shall be punishable by a fine of not less than $500.00 and not more than $1,000.00. All subsequent offenses against the provisions of this chapter committed within a three-year period, looking back from the date of the violation, regardless of the fines imposed on the prior violations, shall be punishable by a fine $1,000.00 or by imprisonment for a term not to exceed 15 days or both.

This revised shopping cart ordinance will be placed on the agenda for the June 26 council meeting to schedule a public hearing for July 17. 

Memorandum of Understanding with PCSD for School Resource Officers 

The Peekskill police department teamed up with the school district to host a barbecue at Riverfront Green Park on June 8 for middle school seventh graders that featured a football game and lots of food.
Hungry 7th graders wait for burger grilled by police officers.

Towards the end of the work session, Chief of Police Leo Dylewski spoke about the renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the 2023/24 school year.  A MOU is a type of agreement between two or more parties where it expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action. The City of Peekskill and the Peekskill School District have a shared services agreement that includes the assignment of School Resource Officers to the high school and middle school. The school district must have an annual MOU with the City of Peekskill and its Police Department in which the roles of the SRO are clearly defined. The terms of MOU are identical to the 2022/23 school year. A resolution will be prepared for next week’s common council meeting. Read the memorandum here