Story by Jennifer O’Connor
Greenwood Lake resident Michele Shenker addressed the Town Board at their meeting on Thurs., Apr. 13 in reference to the Town considering the acquisition of property next to the Town Beach at the Thomas P. Morahan Waterfront Park in Greenwood Lake.
Shenker lives next door to the Lakewood Rd. property that the Town is considering purchasing. The home now belongs to the son of Marcellus Brown, who passed away last year. At the meeting, Shenker said to the Board that when Marcellus Brown lived in the house, which is next to the beach, he had a lot of problems with the beach. She stated that there were multiple issues ranging from trespassing to vandalism to noise. She said that when residents called the police to report an incident those involved would jump the fence and go onto his property.
“His property is seven feet from my house. If the property is extended then I inherit all of his problems,” said Shenker.
She told the Board that her first choice would be to discourage the purchase, but she understands that this may not be a realistic goal. Therefore, she suggested that a possible option would be to close off an area of the property at times when the beach is not supposed to be in use such as at midnight.
“If there was a way to close that off then people wouldn’t be five feet from my house. I, at least, want to start a dialogue with the Town as to how the property will be used,” she said.
Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton responded that he first wanted to explain the process. He said that Mr. Brown’s son approached the Town saying that he is going to sell the property and wanted to “engage our interest in this.” Sweeton said that the Town Board had an executive session to discuss future potential for the property and probed as to whether or not the purchase is something that makes sense for future development at the beach.
“We have concluded that it is worth us pursuing obtaining the property. It is our intention that if we moved forward with this it would be for future development. We certainly would like to work with you especially and all of the neighbors to make sure that it’s compatible,” said Sweeton.
As a perquisite to purchasing any property in the Community Preservation Project Plan, such as this one, the property needs to be added to the plan, but this does not obligate the seller or the Town to do anything with it. Later in the meeting, the Board passed a motion to authorize the addition of the parcel to the Community Preservation Project Plan. This authorization allows the Town Clerk to forward a copy of the revised plan to the commissioners of the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, NYS Dept. of Agriculture and Markets and to the Office of Park, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Also as part of the process a public hearing has been scheduled for Thurs., Apr. 27 at 7:15 p.m. in the Warwick Town Hall. During the public hearing, residents may express their concerns or any questions they have to the Town Board.
Sweeton further explained that there will be a planning process if the Town does decide to move forward with the purchase. The Town of Warwick Planning Board would take into consideration and look into the issues presented to them by Shenker and her neighbors.
Due to the lengthy process this is not something that would happen this year. Several things would have to take place before the beach is expanded. First, the Town would need to get approval from the Orange County Health Department.
“There are all kinds of regulations. The more beach area you have then the more lifeguards and other regulations we’ll need,” said Sweeton.
Sweeton also told Shenker that although the Town is looking to extend the beach “a little bit more” to give people more room, there is no intention to take the beach down to her property line.
Town’s Policy Regarding Rights & Safety of Local Immigrant Population
Another resident who addressed the Board at the meeting was Tom Herman. He wanted to discuss a letter that he submitted to the Board in March expressing concerns with the recent policies of the Federal Government in dealing with local law enforcement and local immigrant populations. The letter asks the Board to explain the Town’s policy regarding the rights and safety of the local immigrant population.
“We are with the organization ‘People Power,’ part of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). We are looking for the Town of Warwick to have a stated policy on the interaction of law enforcement with Federal Government agencies – immigration, customs enforcement and customs border control. We are looking for the Town itself to have a policy for our law enforcement in engaging with those organizations. We would like the Town to adopt the ACLU policies as a resolution.” said Herman.
Supervisor Sweeton responded that the Town does have a policy. He said that they do not detain people nor do they go searching for people. He explained that if there is a warrant or someone is caught in the commission of a crime they will be arraigned before a judge or they are released.
When Herman asked if it is a written policy, Sweeton responded, “It is the law. We follow the law. Where the law is not clear we let judges and lawyers work that out. All of us here, including our police officers, have taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States and to follow the laws of the State of New York.”
Herman said, “We know sort of what is coming. We do know that our present Administration would like every law enforcement agency in the Country to extend more than just the law and want extra courtesy.”
Sweeton responded, “A lot of that is already in litigation and I am sure more of it will be in litigation. Once the litigation gets sorted out there will be a law or a case to support a law, and then it will be the law of the land. But until that time we follow the law as we understand it now.”
“What we are looking at here is that the Town’s interpretation or our own law enforcement people’s interpretation of what is asked from them by the Federal agencies in cooperating with them beyond what is required by the law opens everyone up to other litigation. And without a stated policy of what to do in this situation how is an officer or anyone else to behave?” said Herman.
Sweeton then responded that the police have been trained in the law and understand the law so they apply it. When new case law is presented, the police learn that as well.
“The issues that you are speaking to – all the immigration issues are being litigated as we speak. It’s not set in stone. The Federal Government can establish a policy and it get’s challenged. We will wait until we hear the results of those challenges before we act differently than we do today,” said Sweeton.
Total of Police Calls for March
Not only did the Board members listen to concerns from residents, they also gave reports. Councilman Floyd DeAngelo reported on the amount of calls that were handled by the Warwick Police Department during the month of March. In total there were 2,236 calls, of which 258 were in the Town outside of Greenwood Lake; 937 were in the Town proper; 361 came from Pine Island; and 680 calls were from the Village of Warwick.
10-13 Warwick P.B.A. Fundraiser
DeAngelo then asked the Chief of Police Tom McGovern if there was anything he would like to discuss. Chief McGovern said that the Warwick Patrolman’s Benevolent Association (P.B.A.) is holding a fundraiser to help the family member of a Warwick Police Officer who is very ill. The wife of a veteran officer is fighting a battle with leukemia.
“We are asking for people to participate or make a donation. Anything that anyone feels comfortable giving we would certainly welcome,” said Chief McGovern.
The 10-13 fundraiser will be held on Sat., Apr. 29 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Pine Island Fire House, located at 684 County Rte. 1 in Pine Island. The event will feature food, raffles, door prizes, music, a penny social and more. Tickets are $25 per person. To make a reservation, call the Warwick Police Department at 986-5000.
Next ‘Coffee with a Cop’ Set for Apr. 29
Lt. John Rader then addressed the Board saying that the “Coffee with a Cop” event that was to take place in March has been rescheduled due to inclement weather. The event will be held on Sat., Apr. 29 before the 10-13 fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at Derosa’s Deli, located at 42 Ronald Reagan Blvd. in Warwick. Those who attend the event can enjoy free coffee and have an opportunity to talk with the police.
DPW has been Busy & Fees Collected
Councilman Mickey Shuback reported tha the Town Department of Public Works (DPW) has been busy handling repairs to basins, cleaning ditches, filling pot holes and putting up mailboxes that they accidentally knocked down with their snowplows.
Town Clerk Eileen Astorino reported that the total amount of fees collected for March was $7,657.78 and that the fees paid out were $2,713.44.
Be Mindful of Farming Equipment on Roads
In Councilman Russell Kowal’s report, he asks residents to be mindful of farm tractors on local roads. He said that due to the snow in March, planting in Pine Island had been delayed.
“Everyone is now on the fast track to get planting. People will see more farming equipment because everyone is getting out in the fields to plant their crops. If you get stuck behind a slow moving piece of equipment, please have some patience,” said Kowal.
Volunteers Needed for Friendly Visitor Program
In Supervisor Sweeton’s report, he reminded residents that the Friendly Visitor Program will be officially launched at the Town Board meeting that will be held on Thurs., May 11 at 1 p.m. Later in the meeting, the Board passed a motion to authorize them to change the time of the May 11 meeting from 7:30 p.m. to 1 p.m.
The free town-wide program is designed to support older adults and those who have disabilities who live alone. More volunteers are needed and all volunteers will need training. Some of the tasks include providing transportation, help with grocery shopping, home visits, or clerical assistance. For more information call 986-1124, press option 1, and then option 2 and leave a name and phone number in order to be contacted.
Discussion on Alcoholic Beverages in Parks
At the Mar. 23 meeting the Board tabled a resolution granting permission to Kaitlin Perrelli to serve alcoholic beverages at the Pine Island Park on Sun., May 7 for a family party. Sweeton said that it was tabled because when the Board enacted legislation to allow alcohol at Town parks it was in mind to do this at the Wickham Woodland Manor, which is now a rental facility.
“We didn’t specify that in our parks legislation,” said Sweeton.
The Board does not want to encourage drinking alcohol in Town parks, and therefore will amend the local law in the near future. Meanwhile, because Perrelli made the request prior to the discussion, the Board did pass a motion allowing alcoholic beverages at the Pine Island Park for her family gathering.
“We are going to allow this to occur, but in going forward will not allow this in other parks,” said Sweeton.
Dwyer Appointed as Marriage Officer
The Board also approved the appointment of Greenwood Lake Mayor Jesse Dwyer as a Marriage Officer.
Beautiful People Agreement Extended
The Board will extend the Facility Agreement with the Beautiful People Organization for one year from May 1, 2017 to May 1, 2018. The organization provides sports opportunities for children and adults with disabilities. They have entered into an agreement with the Town to use a portion of the property at the former Mid-Orange Correctional Facility, now known as the Wickham Woodlands. They have been raising funds to create a safe-surface accessible ball field, and hope to break ground this summer.
Winslow Application Submitted
The Board passed a motion to submit an application from Winslow Therapeutic Riding Center in the amount of $30,000 to the 2018 Orange County Urban Community Development Program. They are seeking $30,000 to trench and install electricity to three existing paddocks and to four new ones. After the Town submits projects to the County, the County uses a ranking system and will determine which projects will receive the funds.
Watchtower Headquarters Open House
The Jehovah’s Witnesses organization, located at 1 Kings Dr. in Tuxedo Park, will hold an open house for Warwick residents. There will be two sessions – one on Sat., Apr. 22 and the other on Sat., Apr. 29, both from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information visit www.jw.org.
Hazardous Waste Collection
A Hazardous Waste Collection event for businesses, schools, municipalities, and farms will be held on Fri., Apr. 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Thomas Bull Memorial Park, located at 90 Grove St. in Montgomery. To preregister, call 291-3246. An event for residents will be held on Sat., Apr. 29 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the same place. For more information visit http://www.orangecountygov.com/efs.
Watercraft Event & Farm to Fork Fondo
The Board adopted a resolution authorizing the use of Wickham Woodland Park for a non-motorized watercraft event by the Orange County Citizens Foundation to be held on Sat., Jun. 3 from 3 to 7 p.m.
The Board also passed a motion to amend a “Special Event Permit” for the Farm to Fork Fondo cycling event on Sun., Jun. 11. Initially the event, which starts at 8 a.m., was to end at 1 p.m. but will now conclude at 6 p.m. At the previous meeting on Mar. 23, the Board approved the use of Town roads for the charity event that will be held at Pennings Farm, located at 161 Rte. 94 in Warwick. For more information visit www.farmforkfondo.com.
Next Board Meeting
The next Board meeting will be held on Thurs., Apr. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Warwick Town Hall, located at 132 Kings Hwy. in Warwick.