The Northern Westchester Examiner

New Signage, Town Center Eyed for Downtown Yorktown

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Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace and a citizens’ group that supports “intelligent and responsible business growth” announced plans last week to “set the tone” for improvements in downtown Yorktown and other areas.

Supervisor Michael Grace
Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace

“When you want to lead, you have to set the tone,” Grace said in front of business leaders, town officials and other onlookers at the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce offices. “The town can set the tone. Once you do that, it becomes a contagion for intelligent development.”

The first project envisioned involves creating monument signs at entranceways to the town, starting near Town Hall.

“The idea is to create a real gateway, a real entranceway into town that will strike you when you get into that intersection,” Grace explained. “You’re in a town that cares about itself, cares about its community and gives you a warm welcome.”

The signage concept was designed by architect/designer Heike Schneider, and the first monument will be donated to the town by Tim Beachak, owner of SignsInk in Yorktown. Each sign carries a price tag of approximately $10,000 and Grace is hoping some area businesses will help defray the cost.

Other signs are being planned at the intersections of the Taconic State Parkway and Route 202, Taconic and Route 6, 202 and Route 118 and Kear Street and Underhill Avenue

The second and more ambitious project would involve relocating the town’s Highway Department on Front Street to the Hallocks’ Mill sewer plant to make room for a mixed use, town center type building.

The multi-story structure, with commercial and residential components, would be called Depot Square, paying homage to yesteryear in the town in the 18th Century.

“In that area was a famous hotel called the Whitney House, long ago demolished.  The inspiration for the new plaza, conceived by architect Michael Piccirillo, is that very hotel,” said Bill Primavera, public relations spokesperson for Citizens for a Progressive Yorktown.

“This location was the center of the town historically,” Grace said. “This is where they loaded the trains. Restoring that area will be incredible for the Heights area. It’s great to float a concept. I would love to see where it goes.”

Any development on the one-and-a-half acre site would require Planning Board approval, but since the property is owned by the town, Grace and Planning Director John Tegeder said “there are ways of speeding up the process.”

“To me it’s economic development and an economic revitalization project,” Tegeder said.

Grace noted the property would be brought back on to the tax rolls and serve as an anchor for a linear park to Town Hall, Railroad Park and other nearby parks.

“From a fiscal perspective this is a win for the town,” Grace said. “Government moves slower than molasses in winter. We have an opportunity to move this thing along. The plans being revealed today have been on my agenda since Day One (January 2, 2012).”

Yorktown Councilman Nick Bianco, who is challenging Grace for his supervisor position this November and noted he was not invited to last week’s press conference, said the town needs to cover all its bases before proceeding with moving the Highway Department.

“From what I have read the revitalization of downtown is an interesting concept. Caution is needed especially with the relocation of the Highway Dept. to the Hill. Is this location acceptable?” Bianco said. “This location is subject to review by NYSDEC and NYCDEP.  The environmental issues there need to be discussed openly and considered. If we do not have a suitable location for the Highway Department then it would be foolish to spend taxpayers’ money. My suggestion would be to have an engineer do a rough site plan-something more than a conceptual plan. This review should be brought to DEC/DEP to see (if the) site will be acceptable.”




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