June 27, 2016 If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of life in Westchester and desire a peaceful place to spend the day, a quick turn onto Old Orchard Street in North White Plains will bring you to the hidden treasure of Cranberry Lake Preserve. This oasis is a 165-acre property filled with wetlands, forests, wildlife, and a breathtaking lake formed by glaciers that used to inhabit the area.
Immediately, visitors are greeted by colossal trees that line four distinct trails ranging in distance from one to three miles. Each path provides a tranquil and scenic view, and none are too difficult for even the most inexperienced of hikers. The Blue and Yellow Loops, each around one mile, offer access to Cranberry Lake. Visitors can rest on the giant rocks that surround the lake and enjoy the scenery, or continue through the rest of the forest. The Purple Loop, while a bit longer, passes by the 450-foot quarry. The Red Loop, which is the longest, stretches around the perimeter of the park. No matter which route you take, colored markers on trees throughout the woods make it easy to stay on track.
What makes the preserve so distinct is its biodiversity. If you ask the staff at the Nature Lodge, they will warn you not to miss the vernal pools. Situated next to the parking lot, these pools are seasonal wetlands that are home to myriads of unusual plants and animals that are equipped to survive in such unique habitats. Among these species are fairy shrimp, wood frogs, spring peepers, and mole salamanders.
If exploring the trails is not fulfilling enough, Cranberry Lake Preserve hosts year-round educational programs and activities run by trained professionals. These programs include learning about the wetlands, the history of the property, predators of the sky, and the different types of habitats that make up the preserve. Each activity costs $75 and lasts for about an hour.
For those who do not particularly enjoy hiking, the preserve is the perfect location to relax, read a book, and enjoy the sounds of chirping birds and scents of the outdoors. Even on the sunniest of days, the trees provide adequate shade for a comfortable afternoon away from the chaos of everyday life. There are also picnic tables near the Nature Lodge, which is located about fifty steps from the parking lot.
The preserve closes at 4:00 p.m. Dogs, bikes, and fishing rods are not welcome. A sign before entering the trails will remind you to “take nothing but memories”. Leave your daily stresses behind and prepare for a relaxing and revitalizing summer hike.
Rec Building Demoed & Future of Area Uncertain
July 30, 2015 The recreation building at the North Castle Community Park (NCCP) in Business Park has been demolished. The cost of the building’s demolition and disposal was $19,800. This fee was covered by the Town budget, said Town Administrator Joan Goldberg.
The structure was built as a cinder block building with all of the infrastructure built within the cinder block walls. The building was demolished because of its condition, said Goldberg. After analysis, it was deemed not financially feasible to retrofit the space for the Town’s use. To retrofit and expand the building, the cost was estimated to be $2 million. The building consisted of a lobby, locker rooms, two small offices and bathrooms. The rooms needed to be larger, but Goldberg said the concrete walls could not be moved because they were supportive structures of the building. “It did not make sense to spend that kind of money,” said Goldberg, “to retrofit the building then have it still not meet our needs.”
The Town is discussing the community’s needs and the potential future use for the area. They will then entertain suggestions, she said.
The North Castle Sports Associates (NCSA) operate and manage the multi-sports facility and bubble adjacent to where the recreation building was located. There is a public/private license agreement between the Town of North Castle and NCSA. The agreement was renewed in 2014 after the first 10-year agreement expired. The new terms are for another ten years. The renewed guaranteed ten-year base rent starts at $200,000 per year and is incremented by $5,000 per year, with the last two years equaling $240,000. The total 10-year rent agreement is $2,220,000. This second ten-year lease is in excess of $1 million over the first ten-year sum of $1.2 million.
In addition to the guaranteed base rent, the rent calculations add 15% of a gross revenue point that is set on a sliding scale over the ten years. This set gross amount increases each year during the ten-year agreement. For instance, from September 2014 to August 2015, the guaranteed yearly base rent was $200,000, plus 15% of the gross over $1,540,000. From September 2015 to August 2016, the guaranteed yearly base rent is $205,000, plus 15% of the gross over $1,575,000. Goldberg said the excess 15% was only triggered a few times during the first ten-year contract.
At the request of the Town’s Recreation Advisory Board, North Castle is permitted to have full use of the field house for up to five days, for two hours--at a mutually agreed upon date and time--between November and March. The intent is for the Town and NCSA “to work together to develop more programs.”
In addition to the rent, the renewed license agreement says that the NCSA will pay for the upkeep and periodic replacement of the Town’s tennis courts and turf field. NCSA will also pay $130,000 toward the capital expenditure to the repair the public parking lot of about 200 spaces. This lot is scheduled for a full-depth reclamation and resurface before Labor Day.