A proclamation for quick thinking, swearing in of new volunteer firefighters and passing resolutions

Monday’s Common Council meeting features everyday business


New firefighters taking the oath of office from Mayor McKenzie. Arthur Esposito with his hand raised, behind him from left are James Lobato and Christopher Koski.

By Jeffrey Merchan

Before the Common Council began the work of passing resolutions at its Monday meeting, which Councilman Ramon Fernandez was absent from, a proclamation was presented to James McGrath, a DPW employee, by Mayor Vivian McKenzie for his quick reactions on June 14. in the fire at 1 Bank Street. 

Jim McGrath coming forward to receive his proclamation from Mayor McKenzie at Monday’s Common Council meeting.

Early that morning, McGrath was operating the city’s street sweeper when he noticed a burning smell and spotted smoke coming from around the light fixture in the soffits of the building on the corner of Bank and Park streets where the Burger Diner is located. McGrath quickly notified the fire department and potentially prevented more damages to the Burger Diner and surrounding buildings. McGrath, who has worked for the city of Peekskill for 21 years, received a standing ovation from the Common Council and the audience in attendance.  After the proclamation was read and given to McGrath, three new volunteer firefighters were sworn in. 

Three Volunteer Firefighters Sworn In

Friends, family members, and fellow volunteers packed the council chambers to watch Arthur Esposito, Christopher Koski, and James Laboto be appointed to the active volunteer list of the Peekskill Fire Department. As of 2022, the active volunteer firefighter list contained 75 members. 

During the work session before the meeting began the Council heard from City Manager Matt Alexander about the creation of a city Climate Smart Task Force. See story here

Bond Resolution Water and Sewer Improvements 

The common council authorized the issuance of up to $14.3 million bonds for the city to finance the costs of the acquisition, construction and reconstruction of water and sewer system improvements in and for the city of Peekskill. Read more here.

Safe Streets and Roads For All Grant and Action Plan

The city manager was given authorization to submit a “Safe Streets and Roads For All (SS4A)” grant application for approximately $10.8 million to the US Department of Transportation. The SS4A funding would be used to complete the Pedestrian & Cyclist Connectivity Project. 

The SS4A funding along with the $2.7 million in allocated DRI funding will add to a total project cost of $13.5 million. The grant application deadline is July 10.

Following the authorization to submit a SS4A grant application, council members authorized the “Corridor Report” to serve as the city’s Traffic Safety Action Plan and a city task force. In 2023, the city of Peekskill delegated city staff to create a Traffic Safety Task Force after a record high number of collisions between vehicles and pedestrians the previous year. The task force worked with the town of Cortlandt and Yorktown and the NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) to identify specific traffic safety improvements on Route 202/35 – Route 6 – Bear Mountain Parkway corridor, including in downtown Peekskill. This past month the NYS DOT published the “Corridor Report” , with input from the Traffic Safety Task Force, which will be used to achieve the city’s goal of zero roadway fatalities and serious injuries for the coming years.

2023 Riverkeeper NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Grant

Peekskill’s riverfront

Council members authorized the city manager to sign a letter of collaboration between Riverkeeper and the city of Peekskill as part of the application process for the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Grant Program. This new grant opportunity would continue a four year collaborative effort between the city and Riverkeeper, a non-profit environmental organization devoted to the protection and restoration of the Hudson River and its associated estuaries. The grant application deadline is July 12. 

2023 Resurfacing of Streets and Joint Pavement Agreement with ConEd

Authorization was given to the city and the DPW to exercise a second year contract extension with Waters Construction Company for the resurfacing of various city streets in need of repair. In the event Waters Construction Company is unable to hold their prices from last year and declines the second year option, part of the resolution also authorizes city staff to advertise for bids from other companies for the resurfacing of streets. 

In addition, the Common Council gave authorization for the DPW to enter into a joint pavement agreement with Con Edison. Two lists were provided to the council at last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting which featured streets targeted for paving and streets that could potentially be a part of the joint pavement agreement with Con Edison. The city manager is authorized to adjust and change both lists under specific circumstances. 

C3 Zone Amendments: Set 3rd Public Hearing  

This proposed building at the corner of Howard and North Division Street is in the C3 zoning district which will be the subject of a public hearing on August 21.

The proposed C3 Zoning Text Amendments will be up for a third public hearing after receiving approval from council members. The Common Council has already held public hearings on February 27 and March 27.

The third public hearing will take place on August 21, not July 17 as previously expected.

Downtown Stamped Concrete Crosswalks 

The council gave authorization to the city manager to release bid documentations for the construction of the Downtown Stamped Concrete Crosswalks project. 

The city has $133,990 to fund project construction. The goal of this project is 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.

Memorandum of Understanding with PCSD and SRO’s

The city manager will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and the Peekskill City School District after receiving authorization from the council. The MOU is used to define the roles of school resource officers assigned to Peekskill schools by the Peekskill Police Department, part of the school district’ safety plan. The terms of the  MOU for the 2023/24 school year is identical to the one from the previous year. 

Abandoned Shopping Cart Ordinance 

Shopping cart downtown on Monday night.

Council members approved scheduling a public hearing for July 17 for the local law establishing chapter 465 of the city code entitled “Shopping carts” with revisions to the penalty section. 

In other matters, a lawsuit filed by Jahmar Smith in the amount of $105,000 was authorized by the council. See story here