In response to feedback from frustrated residents over New Castle's handling of the Hurricane Sandy aftermath, town officials have announced of litany of plans for improvement.
The plans, announced at the start of Tuesday's New Castle Town Board meeting, are both short and long term in nature.
More immediately, officials announced that the town is eyeing adoption of robo-call technology to better alert residents in emergencies, which was a tactic employed by the Chappaqua school district after the hurricane. Town Administrator Penny Paderewski expects a recommendation for which company to go with to be made next week, although there is interest in one that piggybacks on the Nixle text and email alerts system currently employed by the town. The other major immediate-action item is adopting a mapping software program, which Paderewski said could help people know which streets are closed and could take input from residents.
“We just started looking at this be we think it has great potential," Paderewski said. The goal, she said, is to have a program running by January, with a presentation of it at a board meeting before then.
Deputy Supervisor Elise Kessler Mottel gave a list, almost point of point, of what the town is doing in response to comments raised at a contentious post-storm meeting held earlier in November. The steps include: a 50-percent cut in the fee for landscapers bringing in storm debris to the recycling building (residents can for free), town officials attending feedback meetings with Westchester County and Con Edison and acquiring stop signs that could be used at intersection where traffic lights go out.
Further down the line, the town intends to work on significant changes. Mottel said that they include having the town work with Con Edison, the town's Conservation Board and residents on tree removal and pruning near power lines, studying the cost of power line burial, looking at other towns' emergency plans, and working with other elected officials to file a complaint with the state's Public Services Commission over Con Edison's Sandy response.
Although officials at the meeting looked forward, they also took a chance to thank firefighters and ambulance workers, some of who, Town Board members apologized, were not included in previous messages of thanks for the community. Organizations thanked included the Chappaqua, Millwood and Mount Kisco fire departments, and the ambulance corps of Chappaqua and Ossining, which all serve parts of New Castle.
“We're celebrating all of them," said Councilman John Buckley.