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North Castle Daily News

Wampus Brook Park South
Wampus Brook Park Expansion

Updated September 23, 2015
At its September 9 meeting, North Castle’s Town Board approved plans to develop an extension of Wampus Brook Park. The new park referred to as Wampus Brook Park South is to be located at the corners of Route 22, Maple Avenue and Bedford Road. Recommended by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, this corner, known as the “gateway” to the hamlet of Armonk, is described as a welcomed area that will be available for residents to meander in a serene and natural setting, one that's just as inviting as Armonk’s Wampus Brook Park.

The plan, presented by Joseph Cermele of the town’s engineering consultant firm, detailed benches, walkways, open fields, a path that meanders along the stream bank, and a parking lot of 20 spaces. The park will have evergreen trees screening Route 22 and along Elide Plaza. Throughout the park, there are also a mix of shade and ornamental trees, as well as perennial flower gardens. In addition, the area along Maple Avenue, on the west side of the stream, will be more natural looking. Much of this area's slope will be cleared selectively, removing dead vegetation, vines, and underbrush, as well as trees that are in poor condition. The slope will then be planted with a low maintenance mixture of vegetation that will only be mowed a couple of times a year; loosely placed boulders will line the stream to prevent bank erosion.

As with any new plantings, an irrigation system will be essential to properly maintain a lawn; for at least the first year of the gardens, other new plantings and shrubs around the park will be also watered. "Given the rain scarcity that we experienced this summer," Joan Goldberg, North Castle's town administrator, asked if "the water for the irrigation system can be drawn from the stream."

Since the stream is publicly available for permitted contractors to draw water from Wampus Brook, Town Board Member Barbara DiGiacinto, along with other of her colleagues, agreed that they want to see the irrigation system feed from Wampus Brook or from the storm water cisterns in the parking lots, rather than from the town’s potable water supply. The Town Board then set an approval condition that the irrigation system use the stream as its primary water source, when possible.

The park’s construction will be paid for by North Castle’s Recreation Subdivision Fund that has a balance of $397,500. Goldberg said, "We estimate $300,000 of that will go towards the plan."

Recreation subdivision fees have been collected from much of the town’s multi-family development for many years. A recreation fee of $3,000 per unit has been paid to North Castle for all multi-family development, except for assisted-living units and the middle-income units, which have a reduced requirement of $1,000 per unit.
Last year, two alternative site plans were considered for the parking area of Wampus Brook Park South. The option chosen was for entire parking to be located in the park itself, rather than shared parking with Elide Plaza.

Further administrative details will be required to move the plan forward. The North Castle Planning Board and the Conservation Board must review the final plans. In addition, a wetlands permit is required, as will a Westchester County stream control permit.

Armonk's postmaster
Changes to Downtown Armonk

Sidewalk Improvements

Updated July 17, 2015
In the 1990s, $68,000 from the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) was designated to improve the sidewalks on Armonk’s Main Street. Yet, the Town had negotiated with Developer Michael Fareri to complete the sidewalk of one side of the street, and the other side was completed more recently by the Armonk Square developers. So the $68,000 remained available from NYSDOT for sidewalk improvements elsewhere in the Armonk hamlet. Hence, North Castle used the DOT funds recently to improve the sidewalks in four other Armonk locations:

• Bedford Road in front of Elide Plaza
• Corner of MacDonald Avenue and Bedford Road
• A small section in front of the Hergenhan Recreation Center on Maple Avenue
• Near the Armonk Branch Library on Whippoorwill Road East

Pedestrian Crossing Signals

The DOT is currently overseeing the installation of new pedestrian crossing signals at the corner of Main Street, Whippoorwill Road East and Maple Avenue. These devices will signal WALK and DON’T WALK with a timer to notify pedestrians when it is safe to cross the street. They will also replace three of the corner utility poles with taller poles. For safety measures, the sidewalk areas will be closed while the construction work is being done. When completed, the paver stones will be replaced.

Affordable Housing on Old Route 22

Construction has begun by Lazz Development of ten affordable housing apartments at 22 Old Route 22. There will be ten apartments constructed in two pre-fabricated buildings on the .70-acre lot. These ten units will satisfy North Castle’s obligation for Westchester County’s requirement of affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH).

Westchester County has paid a deposit of $370,000 for the modulars. Westchester County also plans to pay an additional $450,000 towards the construction of the on-site infrastructure that includes parking lights and storm water management, said Norma Drummond, Westchester County Deputy Commissioner of Planning.

The multi-residential housing Cider Mill development, also on Old Route 22, was required to build eight North Castle middle income units. The building of these units will release the $200,000 bond provided for the Certificate of Occupancy for the completion of the last few of the 27 townhouses built in the Cider Mill complex. The obligation of the North Castle middle-income unit requirements was transferred by the Town of North Castle to fulfill the obligation of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) affordable housing units.

In addition, two of the ten affordable units fulfill the AFFH requirements of the ten apartments at Armonk Square.

The property was formerly known as Crabapple Property, and before that, Smith-Cockren property. Drummond said that the property was donated to the current owner, Grasslands Terrace Housing, owned by Lou Larizza of Lazz Development. Westchester County has placed deed restictions on the peroperty in regard to the affordable housing. Crabapple Property was owned by the developers of Cider Mill and Armonk Square — Dominick Dioguardi, John Dioguardi, and Alan Zaretsky.

The estimated selling prices of the two-bedroom condominiums (if approved by the Attorney General) will be $208,000 for an inside unit, and $218,000 for an outside unit. These prices are subject to change.

Based upon the HUD guidelines, the median income of qualified buyers depends on how many people live in the household. There is a limited income of about $76,000 for a three-person household, which is the estimated number of people that would live in a two-bedroom apartment. The units will be marketed for 90 days in nine counties, including the five boroughs of New York City. The applications, which may be in the hundreds, will be processed in the order of a public lottery, said Drummond.

This new development and improvements to Old Route 22 will change the face of the area. Adam Kaufman said that the Town of North Castle advocated to Westchester County to connect the affordable housing to downtown Armonk by sidewalks. He said Westchester County has agreed to provide approximately $250,000 to North Castle for improvements to the Old Route 22 streetscape.

The affordable apartments will be located across the street from Gavi Restaurant. A new sidewalk will begin in front of the ten apartments and will continue to a crosswalk across Old Route 22, near Gavi. Then the sidewalk will meet up with an existing sidewalk that now ends near the Cider Mill complex. This sidewalk continues on to Main Street where there is a sidewalk that connects to downtown Armonk. There will also be curbed parking and new streetlamps added along Old Route 22.  

In addition, Kaufman says New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which owns the former Armonk Bowl property, will construct a dozen or so public parking spaces in a new small lot of the Armonk Bowl property off of Old Route 22, near George Smith Place.

George Smith was Armonk’s Postmaster from 1957 to 1978. Smith’s childhood home was located at Smith’s Tavern on Route 22. He also lived in an old green house on the Smith-Cockren property. Smith’s house was torn down five years ago to make room for Armonk’s first affordable housing units.