Story by Katie Bisaro
The Warwick Valley Community Center, a gathering place for young and old on Hamilton Ave. in the Village, is hoping for funding from the Orange County Community Development Program for repairs and upgrades to the center. The Village of Warwick Board of Trustees held a public hearing on Mon., Apr. 17 to discuss projects to be considered under this funding program.
Examples of eligible projects include acquisition and disposition of real property; public works, public facilities or site improvements; code enforcement, housing and health codes; clearance, demolition and rehabilitation for public use or economic development; housing rehabilitation loan and grants; special projects for the elderly and handicapped; provision of public services, shelters, clinics, senior nutrition, etc.; payment of non-federal shares of other grant programs, relocation payments and assistance.
Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard commented that the Board has already received a request for funds from the Community Center, a non-profit organization, for two upgrade and repair projects. The Center is requesting a total of $98,000, which includes $73,000 for floor repairs and $25,000 for electrical upgrades and repairs.
The deadline to submit proposals for grant funding is Sat., Apr. 29. Past projects completed under Orange County Community Development, which includes state and federal funding, included the many sidewalk rehabilitation projects throughout the Village. Grants are awarded under strict guidelines and are based on the income levels of various neighborhoods.
As a result of information gathered in the last census, many neighborhoods of the Village no longer qualify for the grants. Therefore, the Village is looking to partner with non-profit organizations such as the Community Center in order to qualify for federal funding.
Joe Lawlor, a Village resident, had no suggestions for potential grants but did ask the Board as to who oversees the projects once grants are awarded. Newhard explained that the process is overseen by Orange Country Community Development committees and there is a bid process. If a project is awarded to the Village alone, the project is also overseen by the Village Engineer and Department of Public Works.
There was no other public commentary, nor any further comments from the Board. The public hearing was closed.
Later, during the regular Board of Trustees meeting, the Warwick Valley Community Center’s Executive Director, Karen Thomas, introduced Rob Corter, Director of the Summer Leadership Academy, who spoke about the Youth Advisory Board and programs and activities that take place during the Summer Leadership Academy. Topics covered with those involved in the leadership academy include: media literacy, financial literacy, and healthy and abusive relationships. The students also participate in community service. Recreational activities include trips to the Bronx Zoo, Yankees and Mets games, and the Museum of Natural History.
“A lot of what we do is helping develop young men and women to progress and build life skills [that] they can take and succeed in life,” Corter said.
Warwick Valley High School Senior Sabrina Rice, the High School mentor with the Leadership Academy, spoke about the Youth Advisory Board, which consists of students who have completed the Leadership Academy. The Board meets once or twice per month and participates in volunteer projects. “We learn to be leaders throughout the year, to keep going, to make [leadership] a routine,” Rice said.
Several members of the Youth Advisory Board were also present, each standing to introduce themselves and personally thank the Board of Trustees for their continued support.
Concerns Over Building Projects on Overlook Dr.
A second Public Hearing was held to discuss zoning issues for construction on Overlook Dr., off Galloway Rd., in the Village. It was more of an informational discussion and no decisions were made.
Builder Brian Singer is developing property he owns at 2 Overlook Dr., which is zoned General Commercial, and the project is before the Planning Board to have it approved for either office or apartments on the second floor.
The property at 4 Overlook Dr. is currently zoned Residential. Singer would like to have a limited office overlay approved for that property in order to put offices in that building as well. If this is not approved, then the apartments in 2 Overlook, the larger of the two buildings, will be made into office space.
If offices are put into the buildings, Singer has interested tenants, including attorneys, a doctor, a surveyor, an insurance company and a computer company. All interested businesses are currently in the Village but are looking for more space.
Several residents expressed their concerns about the development of the properties on Overlook Dr., including parking issues, noise, and unsightly construction materials that have been left for long periods of time.
Antoinette Quinn, whose Galloway Hts. residence backs up to the Overlook properties, said in a prepared statement that she is “very much opposed” to the project and is concerned about privacy and quality of life issues. She has already noticed an increase in noise, trash, and overhead lighting from the businesses already on Galloway Rd.
Quinn agrees that the recent development of businesses has improved the appearance of Galloway Rd. However, behind those facades [facing her property] is a “mess” and that certain boundaries have not been respected as trees have been removed from her property without her permission.
“To approve further development and commercial encroachment on our neighborhood is unreasonable. There is no advantage to the residents on Galloway Hts. or Overlook Dr. or the general public to build up additional commercial properties outside of the business district on Main St. Please don’t destroy the integrity of our neighborhood by approving this proposal,” Quinn stated.
Frank Sinopoli, of 6 Overlook Dr., agreed with Quinn’s account, particularly with the situation regarding the level of disrepair and construction material that has been sitting adjacent to his property for over a year. Sinopoli pointed out that parking is an issue now. He gave the example of when there is a tournament at the Tae Kwon Do center and participants park up the street. “I don’t know how many more parking spaces they’re looking to add, or change, but right now there’s not enough parking for what’s there,” Sinopoli stated.
Additionally, the residents in the immediate area of the Overlook properties were disappointed that the Village did not notify them about the Public Hearing in a timely manner. There was a miscommunication and although flyers were distributed by the Department of Public Works, the residents felt that was inadequate notice. The Board agreed to correct the communication situation for future notifications.
The comments and information brought forth in the public hearing will become part of the record for this issue. Another public hearing will be held specifically on the zoning of 4 Overlook Dr. and the Limited Office Overlay proposal.
Operation Clean Sweep Apr. 28-30
Julia Vargas, of Girl Scout Troop 423, announced to the Village Board that the annual Operation Clean Sweep will take place, rain or shine, on Apr. 28 to 30 throughout the Village and Town of Warwick. Free garbage bags and plastic gloves can be picked up from the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce at the Caboose on South St., at which time participants can register the road that will be cleaned.
On Sat., Apr. 29, in addition to on-site registration for roadside cleanups at the Caboose, there will be other ways to help with “spring cleaning”.
In the South St. Parking Lot, on Sat., Apr. 29, the Warwick Lions will offer paper shredding from 9 a.m. to 12 noon for a $5 suggested donation per box. During the same time frame, the Lions will be collecting old eyeglasses and hearing aids. From 8 a.m. until 12 noon, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence will be collecting used cell phones.
An unused prescription pill drop-off, sponsored by the Warwick Valley Coalition, will take place at the Caboose on South St. from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. The Computer Guy, located at 14 West St., will take electronics for recycling from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Leo Kaytes Ford, located at 145 Rt. 94 S., will collect motor oil for recycling on Fri., Apr. 28 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Sat., Apr. 29 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Operation Clean Sweep is sponsored by the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce, St. Anthony Community Hospital, Myles Wealth Management, and ShopRite.
Bonds to Be Issued for Water System Improvements
Among the motions approved during the Board meeting were two resolutions authorizing the issuance of bonds for water and sewer projects.
The first resolution authorized the issuance of $110,000 in bonds to pay the cost of design studies and resulting improvements to the Village’s water system. The second resolution authorized the issuance of $225,000 in bonds for design studies and equipment replacement for the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The next meeting of the Village of Warwick Board of Trustees will be held on Mon., May 1, at 7:30 p.m. in Village Hall, located at 77 Main St. in Warwick.