GovernmentThe Examiner

New Castle to Start Engaging Residents on Future of Town-Owned Land

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New Castle officials will soon launch a website to engage town residents in hopes of reaching community consensus regarding the future of 23 acres of town-owned land around the Chappaqua train station now being used primarily for parking.

Sometime during the first week in February, the town anticipates going live with, being designed by Nexus Creative Design of Mount Kisco. It will provide the public with information and updates about the process.

The town is also working with the Pace Land Use Law Center to hold several events this spring to connect with residents. There will be a walking tour of the town-owned land downtown, a pair of public workshops in the first half of May and as well as outreach to the public at town events this spring to encourage residents to provide feedback on what they might like to see done with the acreage.

“We’re going to use the website that was created as our main talking point because part of the process of the community visioning is to be inclusive, diverse and to get as much engagement as possible,” said Anastasia Guadron, who is representing Nexus in working with the town.

Other features of the website are the ability to store feedback, to advertise the schedule of events surrounding the effort and to keep the public conversation going, Guadron said. The site will also be ADHD and vision-impaired friendly and can be translated into multiple languages.

Over the past several years, the town has wanted to explore whether there is a better use for some of the town-owned land that takes up a large portion of South Greeley Avenue between Washington Avenue and Woodburn Street.

The large expanse of space at the train station parking lot has been underutilized since the start of the pandemic nearly four years ago, and while some of that commuter parking is returning, it is mainly Tuesdays through Thursdays as many people continue to work from home part of the time, said Town Administrator Jill Shapiro. She said the parking lots on Monday and Friday are mostly empty.

The walking tour has been tentatively scheduled for Monday, Apr. 29 at 5 p.m., said Tiffany Zezula, deputy director of the Pace Land Use Law Center. Facilitators will lead groups of up to 20 to 25 people on a roughly half-hour tour of the town-owned land.

Zezula said the tours would start at Town Hall with a brief presentation before visiting four other locations – between the parking lots C/D and B, Memorial Circle directly in front of the train station; the train station parking entrance; and the frontage on South Greeley Avenue and in front of Recreation Field.

Councilwoman Holly McCall was one of the Town Board members who expressed some concern last week about what type of turnout would be attracted on a late Monday afternoon and whether they might miss commuters. Furthermore, those on the tours could be distracted by returning commuters looking to get home, and asked whether a Saturday would be more advantageous.

Zezula responded that Pace has scheduled weekend events in the past, but they are generally less well-attended than during the week.

“When we do these events, not everyone can attend everything, and that’s why the walking tour, we’re having it at a time and date where we can use your Town Hall and to walk this area,” she said.

The two public workshops are scheduled for the evenings of May 6 and 15 at Robert E. Bell Middle School. Zezula said there will be a pop-up event during the town’s Multicultural Festival scheduled for Saturday, May 18.

Pace Land Use Law Center personnel could also attend the weekly Saturday morning Chappaqua Farmers Market, which opens in May.


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