Budget discussions continued during Tuesday’s Lewisboro Town Board meeting with Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Dana Mayclim, presenting her proposed budget for 2021.
Ms. Mayclim said the department’s budget is based on the assumption that they will be unable to present a full slate of programming until June 2021. As a result, Ms. Mayclim said many programs were cut from the budget, such as the winter ski and basketball programs. The proposed 2021 budget also accounts for cancelling the town’s Independence Day Fireworks for the second year in a row.
Ms. Mayclim said the largest budget request is for a second parks maintenance employee to be hired, starting January 2021. The addition of a parks maintenance employee came up last year for inclusion in the 2020 town budget, but the town did not approve the earlier request.
Due to the increased use of Lewisboro’s parks and preserves in recent months as residents have sought more outdoor activity during the pandemic, Ms. Mayclim said now more than ever the parks need the extra attention and “TLC” from a second maintenance employee. Town Supervisor Peter Parsons agreed that the town has been receiving considerable criticism about its upkeep of parks and preserves, and added that if the issue is not addressed soon, the state of the facilities will only grow worse.
The Parks and Recreation department budgeted expenses to be $114,000 in total, which is $391,000 lower than in previous years. At the same time, it forecast revenue to be half the typical annual amount. In prior years the department had slightly over $1 million in revenue, but only budgeted $535,500 in revenue for 2021. Ms. Mayclim said that, aside from the request for an additional worker, the rest of the budget either remains the same or is down from last year due to program cuts.
After the budget presentation, Ms. Mayclim discussed some of the department’s recent programs like the Lewisboro Learning Lot, which has now inspired 21 other municipalities to create similar programs. Board members commented that Parks and Recreation has been instrumental in creating unique programs for residents during the pandemic.
Town Park renovation
Town Planner and Wetland consultant, Jan Johannessen, presented a site plan for an accessible path in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations at the Lewisboro Town Park. Mr. Johannessen is requesting an approval from the town board to issue a Request for Proposal, so the project can go out to bid.
Mr. Johannessen said the project mainly involves reworking the current path at the park to become accessible under ADA guidelines. The current path begins next to the swing set, wraps around the pond in the center of the park, and exits by the town pool.
In order to make the path ADA-compliant, Mr. Johannessen said workers will need to excavate 6 inches into the ground and install gravel. Other aspects of the project include replanting both sides of the path, implementing erosion controls, installing a steel edge on either side of the path and replacing a foot bridge on the path, which will be done with volunteers. The entire walkway is about 800 feet long and 4 feet wide.
Mr. Johannessen said the project is already fully permitted.
Mr. Parsons made a motion to go forward with the project and RFP as proposed. The due date for bids was set for Monday, Nov. 16.
Councilmember Jane Crimmins noted that this project was made possible with funds from the state Senate office of Aid and Incentives to Municipalities. Ms. Crimmins said the town worked with Sen. Peter Harckham to find funds to make improvements to local parks. The state aid will also fund improvements to Fox Valley Town Park.
Town flag pole
Councilmember Tony Goncalves proposed an idea from the Lewisboro Veterans Advisory Committee to place a flag pole in front of the Town House located at 11 Main St., South Salem.
Mr. Goncalves said the pole would be mounted into the ground, and the veterans committee already raised funds for the pole from donations. In addition, there is a tree in front of the town house that the committee is asking for permission to remove.
Mr. Goncalves said the veterans committee would like the tree to be removed so the flag pole can be positioned front and center; he noted that the tree was damaged by lightning years ago and is unattractive. Mr. Goncalves said the company that agreed to install the flag pole can also remove the tree.
Facilities maintenance manager, Joel Smith, said the board will need an opinion from the Architecture and Community Appearance Review Council since it will be positioned in front of the Town House. Mr. Parsons proposed the board approves both the installation of a flag pole and the removal of the tree in front of the Town House, subject to ACARC’s approval. All board members voted in favor. Councilmember Dan Welsh added that the town should brainstorm where to plant a new tree to replace the one that will be removed.
The board discussed changes to the local laws involving accessory apartments and setting a public hearing for the proposed new law.
Mr. Parsons said the current town code requires the Building Department to inspect accessory apartments once every two years. Mr. Parsons said the frequency of these inspections are intrusive, excessive, and only seems to increase the Building Department’s amount of work.
Town attorney Anthony Molé added that the provision requiring frequent inspections reflects a time when accessory apartments were allowed only through the issuance of special permits. That regulation was changed in 2016 in order to make accessory apartments more available and streamline the process. Mr. Molé said the new changes will complete the updating of the law and make it easier for the Building Department to handle its workload.
Building Inspector Joseph Angiello agreed that there was no reason for the provision requiring inspections every two years, and said he thinks it should be changed.
Mr. Molé said that since the proposal involved a code change, the town board must send it to the town and county planning boards. Mr. Parsons proposed to set a public hearing for the change in accessory apartment law for Monday, Nov. 23, and the rest of the board voted in favor.
The board also briefly discussed the addition of a stop sign at the corner of Long Pond Road and Mead Street in Waccabuc. Mr. Parsons and Lewisboro Police Chief David Alfano both opposed the proposal for various reasons. Chief Alfano also noted that the lowering of the town speed limit to 25 mph might improve safety at the intersection. In order to determine if speeding is an issue in that area, Chief Alfano said the department set up an electronic speed sign at the location and said he will present the date to the board next week.
Mr. Parsons said the topic of the stop sign will be revisited at the next town board meeting after the board is presented with the speeding data.
Overall, Tuesday’s town board meeting was much quieter, with fewer interruptions than recent meetings. It closed with Mr. Goncalves discussing another initiative by the Veterans Advisory Committee. The committee is working alongside resident Andrew Lucassen to install banners honoring veterans in the three shopping centers. Mr. Goncalves said residents can sponsor a veteran for $150, and they will be on display from Veterans Day to Thanksgiving. No board action on the matter was needed.