Author Archives: Ron Belmont

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Column: Show us those house numbers

I am happy to report that three new police officers have joined the Harrison Police Department. The officers were sworn in at a Jan. 30, 2015 ceremony in Town Hall. The new officers will complete their Police Academy training before receiving their assignments. I am completely confident that these new officers will carry out their duties in a professional manner and will be an asset to the Town/Village of Harrison.

It has come to my attention that many homes in Harrison, do not adequately exhibit their house numbers. House numbers are vital for emergency personnel, when determining location, and should always be clearly visible. The Town/Village of Harrison has an ordinance requiring property owners to standardize the display of house numbers on buildings. For instance, the Town Code requires that the figures be at least three inches in height and must be placed on the front of the building in a prominent place.

If you do have proper identification on your home, please be aware of the following tips. Trees or shrubs, in front of the house, may have grown and the number is no longer visible. House numbers require maintenance when they get dirty and may not be reflective or contrasting if they are covered in mud or dirt. Snow drifts or snow piles, created by snow plows during the winter, may be high enough to conceal the number. Should this occur, the number should be raised so this situation does not repeat.

Harrison’s Town Code, Chapter 108, clearly outlines all the specifications required for house number visibility and I encourage all residents to familiarize themselves with the ordinance and comply with the requirements.

As the Harrison Public Library’s renovation remains on course, I look forward to new and innovative programming currently in development. An important concern, which our library addresses, is the need for our community to adapt to changing technology. The Harrison Public Library has presented a new strategic plan which outlines how the library will update its facilities to include technology. The library staff intends to work with schools to encourage reading and learning through new technologies. In addition, the staff will develop a plan for reaching the community through social media, websites and news outlets while seeking community partnerships. The strategic plan reflects the transformation of the library, from the collection and preservation of books and other media, into a center for the community using technology as a facilitator. It’s an exciting time for the library, and our community, and I anticipate great success.

In closing, I would like to thank our Department of Public Works for doing a wonderful job clearing our streets after last week’s snowstorm. The crews plowed and salted our municipal roadways, in record time, and I would like to commend them for their hard work. I would also like to thank residents for moving their cars into driveways to help with street plowing efforts.

The next “Lunch with the Mayor” is on Friday, Feb. 6 and I will be at Silver Lake Café, located at 17 Taylor Square in West Harrison. On Friday, Feb. 13, I will be at Harrison Pizza located at 248 Halstead Ave., in downtown Harrison. I will be at these locations from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and look forward to meeting with residents and talking about issues facing our community.

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Column: Library work underway; pantry comes through

Given the dangerous weather condition our region experienced last weekend, I would like to, once again, bring your attention to the “My Community Alert” system. Residents, who signed up for local alerts, were notified on Sunday morning of the black ice and freezing rain. The alert system allows Harrison police officers, and other town officials, to notify Harrison residents in the event of an ongoing emergency. Text messages and emails, including photos and videos, will be sent out to registered residents when the police department believes that the Harrison community should be informed of a local incident or event. Residents can register with “My Community Alert” at mycommunityalert.net. I encourage all residents to take advantage of this very useful new
technology.

I am happy to report that the Harrison Public Library project is well underway. Construction commenced on Oct. 27, 2014. H3 Architects, from New York, are the project architects and Piazza Inc., of Hawthorne, was selected as the general contractor. The first phase of construction was the demolition and abatement of the interior, which has been completed. The second phase of construction, presently taking place, is the rough carpentry, framing of walls and soffits, rough plumbing, electric, and heating and ventilation. While there have been a few surprises, exposing existing conditions that have to be corrected, the work is progressing on schedule for substantial completion by late June of this year.

This holiday season, the Harrison Food Pantry saw an increase in participation. During the months of November and December, many families feel the financial strain associated with the holidays. Fortunately, the generosity of the Harrison community was incredibly present and enabled the Department of Community Services to help feed a total of 132 Harrison families, comprising of 250 adults, and elderly and 146 children.

After a fifth consecutive year, the Holiday Project was also a huge success. Championed by Tabatha Marraccini, the Holiday Project was able to supply holiday gifts and toys to 124 Harrison families, 374 total adults and children. None of this could be possible without the amazing outpouring of support from Harrison citizens, local civic and religious organizations, the Harrison Central School District and local businesses, alike. Donations came in many forms including clothing drives, food drives, toy drives, coat drives and monetary contributions which all demonstrate the giving spirit of the holiday season and what it means to be a part of the Harrison family. As donations, after the holidays, tend to dwindle even though food insecurity is still very present, I urge anyone who is interested in contributing to the food pantry to call the Community Services Department at 670-3025.

In closing, congratulations are in order for the Harrison High School Varsity boys basketball team for last week’s hard fought game, against Mamaroneck, in the 18th annual Tiger Tournament at Mamaroneck High School. Justin Stagg and Joe Nannariello were named co-MVPs. The entire team, and coach Chiarella, have a lot to be proud of and should be commended on their success.

The next “Lunch with the Mayor” is on Friday, Jan. 23 and I will be at         Goldberg’s Rock’n Bagel Cafe located at 379 Halstead Ave., in downtown Harrison. On Friday, Feb. 6, I will be at Silver Lake Cafe located at 17 Taylor Square in West Harrison. I will be at these locations from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and look forward to meeting with residents and talking about issues facing our community.

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Cheers for Verizon

One of the first issues I dealt with, after being elected to my first term, was to revive negotiations with Verizon, regarding their FiOS service. Where and when the service was offered was at the sole discretion of Verizon and, for quite some time, we were informed that Verizon was not expanding its footprint and, therefore, would not be negotiating with our municipality. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, discussions stalled as the utility company repaired its badly damaged infrastructure. I continued to be in regular contact with Verizon representatives, urging them to enter into a franchise agreement with Harrison. Over the course of the last several years, I remained committed to bringing competition to Harrison and was very happy when, in June 2014, our negotiations were successful. The utility company and the town entered into an agreement which was then filed with the New York State Public Service Commission for its mandated review. The agreement was reviewed and approved in December 2014 and residents are now free to contact Verizon for their FiOs service. I appreciate the patience Harrison residents demonstrated, as I persevered, and I am glad that there is now a choice for our consumers.

Recently, town personnel and I attended a conference on the 2015 economic forecast for Westchester County. The event was hosted by the Westchester County Association and featured Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, along with a panel of economic and real estate experts. It was a highly informative event, giving local municipalities an opportunity to hear about, and discuss, economic trends for business communities in the year to come.

Please be aware of the following sanitation notice: Christmas trees may be placed curbside for pick-up until Jan. 31. Please do not place trees in plastic bags. Decorated holiday wreaths or roping must be placed in trash bags and will be also be collected by the Sanitation Department.

As reported in my last column, Monday, Jan. 19 is the Martin Luther King holiday and a sanitation schedule change is in effect. Garbage and recycling normally collected on Monday, Jan. 19 will be collected on Tuesday, Jan. 20. Garbage and recycling normally collected on Tuesday, Jan. 20 will be collected on Wednesday, Jan. 21. There will be no bulk trash pickup on Wednesday, Jan. 21. The normal collection schedule for household trash and recycling will resume on Thursday, Jan. 22.

In closing, I would like to thank the Highway Department for doing a wonderful job clearing our streets of leaf piles and brush. The highway crews have cleared the majority of our municipal roadways, in record time, and I would like to commend them for their hard work. They are currently in the final phase and our roads should be completely cleared before long. Now that winter is upon us, I would like to remind residents that, as a snowstorm approaches, please remember to put cars into driveways to help with street plowing efforts. In addition, when clearing driveways and walkways, please refrain from shoveling snow into the streets.

The next “Lunch with the Mayor” is on Friday, Jan. 23 and I will be at Goldberg’s Rock’n Bagel Cafe located at 379 Halstead Ave., in Downtown Harrison. I will be at this location from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and look forward to meeting with residents and talking about issues facing our community.

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Column: There’s a lot going on this year

I would like to take this time to extend my warmest wishes for a happy and healthy new year. I hope you, and your family, had a peaceful and joyous holiday season, appreciating and celebrating the blessings in our lives. As we begin 2015, I am happy to report that Harrison continues to build on the success of the last few years. In addition to our improved bond rating from Moody’s, Harrison’s 2015 Budget was adopted and remains under Gov. Cuomo’s mandated tax cap. Three new police officers were added to the Harrison Police Department. DPW staff remains steady and buildings and equipment have been kept up to date. The Recreation Department continues to increase and improve its programs, with a record number of residents using the facilities. The town board successfully entered into an agreement with Verizon, allowing residents to enjoy FiOS service. I am proud to say we have made great strides while keeping tax increases in check, maintaining a healthy reserve and providing all necessary municipal services. Building on this momentum is a priority and I look forward to the challenges and opportunities in the year ahead.

Recently, my office was contacted by the community relations officer from the online publication, Safe Choice Security. The Town/Village of Harrison has been named one of the 20 most improved cities in New York. To ensure the accuracy of rankings, the publication compared crime statistics, including both property and violent crimes, of all municipalities, with populations of more than 5,000 from the years 2007 to 2012, to determine the list of the safest cities. Visit http://www.safechoicesecurity.com/blog/20-cities-in-new-york-with-the-most-improved-crime-rate/ for the full list.

I would like to bring your attention to the Harrison Girl Scouts.

Frequently, over the last several months, the Girls Scouts have generously donated Girl Scout cookies along with creating art work and cards for the Senior Citizens that receive Meals on Wheels.  These items have been received with much joy and appreciation. During the holiday season, the Scouts sang holiday carols, prepared holiday cards and provided candy canes. Thank you to all involved, specifically Troop 1880 Leader Selena Cefaloni, Troop 1896 Leader Anna Catanzariti, Troop 2376 Leader Lindsey Helmer, Troop 1885 leaders Patti Rube and Morela Paris and Troop 2468 Leader Veronika Frohlich for their thoughtfulness and generosity.

The Harrison Public Library is continuing its community movie program. While the library is under construction, the new location for Brown Bag Cinema is in Harrison’s Town Hall. The library staff will show “Gone Girl” on Jan. 16 at noon. For more information, call 948-2092.

Please make note of the Ssanitation schedule change for the week of Jan. 19, 2015:  Monday, Jan. 19 is a holiday and town offices will be closed.  Garbage and recycling normally collected on Monday, Jan.19 will be collected on Tuesday, Jan. 20. Garbage and recycling normally collected on Tuesday, Jan. 20 will be collected on Wednesday, Jan. 21. There will be no bulk trash pickup on Wednesday, Jan. 21. The normal collection schedule for household trash and recycling will resume on Thursday, Jan. 22.

The next “Lunch with the Mayor” is on Friday, Jan. 16. I will be at Casa D’Italia located at 265 Halstead Ave., in Harrison. I will be at this location from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and look forward to meeting with residents and talking about issues facing our community.

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Column: Town Board wants to dialogue

At the Dec. 4 town board meeting, a public hearing was held regarding proposed legislation for residential parking permits in the area surrounding the Metro-North train station. At the meeting, the town board suggested a plan to host an informal Town Hall forum, in early 2015, to further discuss the implementation of the proposed legislation and to answer questions from residents. This Town Hall forum is part of the board’s continued commitment to offering members of our community an opportunity to connect.

I hope it will foster dialogue that will lead to more ideas and solutions to the commuter parking issue.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Harrison High School winter concert. The students have exceptional talent and should be commended for their abilities. The musical pieces were energetic and beautifully executed. I think I can speak for the entire audience when I say that we thoroughly enjoyed
the show. Congratulations to all the performers, staff and parents for this highly entertaining production.

I would like to take this time to recognize Harrison High School senior Sal LoMedico. Sal has signed on to play lacrosse for Southern New Hampshire University in the fall. As part of a very competitive process, recruiting coordinators evaluate athleticism and the academic standing of student athletes from all over the country. Congratulations to Sal, his parents and his coaches for this very impressive accomplishment.

Recently, my office was contacted by the president of United Way of Westchester and Putnam concerning the county foster care system. United Way has asked for assistance in recruiting foster care parents for vulnerable children in our area, especially for teens and sibling groups. If you are interested in finding out more information on how you can help, please visit uwwp.org or call 997-6700.

Please make note of the following sanitation schedule change for the upcoming holidays: town/village offices will be closed on Christmas and New Years Day. During the week of each holiday, the Sanitation Department will be working on a holiday schedule.

For the week of Dec. 22, Christmas, garbage and recycling normally collected on Thursday, Dec. 25 will be collected on Wednesday, Dec. 24. There will be no bulk trash collected on Wednesday, Dec. 24.

For the week of Dec. 29, New Years, garbage and recycling normally collected on Thursday, Jan. 1 will be collected on Wednesday, Dec. 31. There will be no bulk trash collected on Wednesday, Dec. 31.

In closing, I wish you, your family and loved ones a very happy holiday season and a peaceful and prosperous 2015. May the holiday spirit be with you today and throughout the New Year.

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Column: High bond rating, low taxes

On Friday, Dec. 5, the Town/Village of Harrison was notified that Moody’s, a bond credit ratings service, has raised Harrison’s bond rating from Aa2 to Aa1, which is one notch below the highest designated rating of triple A.

Harrison’s rating has significantly improved over the course of the last several years, increasing from Aa3 in 2011 to the current Aa1 rating. Moody’s cites several factors for this year’s rating rationale: the village’s improved financial position, a sizeable and affluent tax base, which is expected to benefit from commercial development in the near term, and a manageable debt burden with a lower than average pension liability.

They also cite, as strengths, Harrison’s large tax base, which is also expected to benefit from commercial development and our municipality’s healthy financial position bolstered by recent reserve growth.

I am encouraged by this recent report and am confident that Harrison will continue along this very steady and favorable trajectory.

I would like to thank town personnel for all their hard work in preparing for this review.

In other good news, at the Dec. 4 town board meeting, the board adopted the final budget for 2015. Once again, Harrison is within the tax cap mandated by Governor Cuomo.

For the 2015 tax year, the levy increase allowed is under 2 percent. The 2015 tax rate, for the town of Harrison, is 1.986 percent. What this means to the average taxpayer in Harrison is, if the assessed value of your home is between $650,000 and $700,000, your increase is less than $7 a month. You will still be receiving exceptional municipal services. As in previous years, Harrison will not be utilizing a New York State program which allows local municipalities to borrow in order to pay their pension bills. Harrison will once again be paying the entire bill, at the end of 2015, without borrowing.

Curb side, bulk leaf collection will be in effect through Dec. 12. At that time, the Highway Department will make a final curb side collection, in each neighborhood, after which residents must place any additional leaves in brown bags for collection by the Sanitation Department. At present, most leaves are piled on the roadside, thereby narrowing the passage way, so please drive cautiously as we continue to clear our municipal roadways.

Each year, the weather pattern determines when the leaves fall, and some years, like this one, all of the leaves dropped at the same time. This means that our crews take longer to remove the piles. Town personnel make every effort to remove the leaf piles as quickly as possible. To expedite the process, we ask that residents remove all rocks, bottles, branches and other debris, take leaves to the curb and avoid parking on or around the piles. It is also important that leaves are not placed in the storm drains, or catch basins, as this may cause flooding. Our Department of Public Works is not able to indicate exactly when crews will be in a specific neighborhood, or on a particular street, as those work details are contingent on the day-to-day progress of our Highway Department during the leaf removal season. I appreciate your patience as we continue to clear our roadways.

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Column: There’s a lot going on this season

belmontI hope you all had a peaceful and joyous holiday weekend. Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends to express gratitude for all that we treasure. I am especially grateful for the wonderful community we have in Harrison. As we gather this holiday season, and reflect on the good tidings of the past year, I encourage you to celebrate the season of giving. State and local organizations will be increasing their efforts to assist food banks and soup kitchens. Donating food, stocking shelves and feeding those in need are meaningful ways to volunteer your time and celebrate the spirit of generosity. It’s an excellent opportunity to celebrate life’s good fortune and I urge all to take part. For more information on how you can get involved, please call our Community Services Department at 670-3025.

It has come to my attention that there is some inaccurate information being circulated concerning a proposed local law regarding residential parking in downtown neighborhoods within close proximity to the train station. To clarify, the town board is considering a law that is designed to protect residents, in those neighborhoods, from high volume commuter parking. The board has received numerous complaints from residents, in those neighborhoods, that, due to commuter parking, they are unable to park their vehicles on their streets during the work day. The proposed law would require residents in the effected neighborhoods to obtain permits, free of charge. The permits will be affixed to their car(s), thereby enabling them to freely park in their neighborhood.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our police chief, Anthony Marraccini. The New York State Shields, a law enforcement fraternal organization, honors active officers who have done outstanding work in fostering positive and professional working relationships among various law enforcement agencies. Chief Marraccini is the recipient of this year’s “Boss of the Year” award and I am happy to recognize this very commendable achievement.

Harrison is a wonderful place to begin your holiday shopping. Locally owned shops and restaurants offer a warm and welcoming atmosphere and it’s a great spot to get together, with neighbors and friends, as you get ready for the season’s celebrations. While making your way through your shopping list, be sure to drop in to local establishments and join in the festive mood.

If you would like to create something beautiful for yourself or your loved ones this holiday season, join the West Harrison Library staff’s earring making program. No need to bring anything but your creativity. All that is asked is that you make one pair, to donate to a battered women’s shelter, for every batch you make. Donations of beaded jewelry, including broken pieces, are welcome. This program is open to adults and children, nine and up.

Our Recreation Department is currently taking applications for winter programs. Back by popular demand, basketball, archery and pre-school soccer clinics will be offered in January. Please remember that parents must have current ID cards to register children for all programs. Cards for 2015 are now available for purchase. Proof of residency required. For more information, call the Leo Mintzer Center at 949-5265 or the Sollazzo Center
at 670-3039.

On a related note, the Recreation Department is now receiving “Letters to the North Pole;” please include your name and home address. Letters should be addressed to the “North Pole” and dropped off at the Sollazzo Center, the Mintzer Center or at the Recreation Department in Town Hall no later than Dec. 19.

The next “Lunch with the Mayor” is on Friday, Dec. 12. I will be at Sophia’s Pizza located at 212 Harrison Ave. in Downtown Harrison. I will be at this location from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and look forward to meeting with residents and talking about issues facing our community.

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Column: Luncheons, music and feral cats

Last week, the Senior Citizen Thanksgiving luncheons were held in both downtown and West Harrison. More than 100 guests were served turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, vegetables and several selections of the most delicious pies. Many of the guests have been enjoying this annual banquet for a number of years, and look forward to it with great anticipation. Thanks to the Recreation Department for organizing the event. This feast is truly one of the highlights of my holiday season and it was wonderful to be included.

It is with great pleasure that I am able to extend my congratulations to Bob Amelio and Rocco Turso. Both of these Harrison residents have been selected by a panel of judges and will be inducted into the Westchester County Senior Citizen Hall of Fame. It is an honor to recognize both of these deserving individuals for their service to Harrison and to the greater Westchester community.

Harrison’s own Cris Spinner, music teacher and host of her own radio program, “The Cris Spinner Show,” heard every Tuesday at 8 p.m. on WVOX 1460 or wvox.com, is producing and performing in “Voices Heard 6—Celebrate the Holidays,” a concert to benefit The Center for Discovery. The event will be held on Dec. 7 at the Will Library in Yonkers at 2:30 p.m. Kick off the holidays with a fabulous concert of holiday favorites. Visit the following link for all information and to order your tickets: https://voicesheardholidayconcert.eventbrite.com/

On Sunday, Dec. 7 at 3 p.m., the Hudson Valley Chamber Singers will be performing in Harrison Town Hall. The 15-member group, under the direction of Eugene Sirotkine, will perform free of charge. The 40-minute concert, “Music on a Sunday Afternoon,” has been selected for musicality and beauty. The Hudson Valley Chamber Singers will be performing pieces by Mozart, Bach and other giants of classical music.

Recently, I had the privilege of attending the Annual Thanksgiving Diversity Breakfast hosted by the American Jewish Committee of Westchester and Fairfield counties. It was a very informative event focusing on ways in which different religions can build relationships by mutual understanding and cooperation. Together, different faiths can unite, collaborate and advocate on issues of common concern. It was a wonderful symposium and I was honored to attend.

In closing, some residents have contacted my office inquiring about our area’s feral cat population. Many have expressed concerns as well as support for these cats that also call Harrison “home.” Feral cats are members of the domestic cat species, just like pet cats, but are not socialized and are, therefore, not adoptable. Cats have been living outdoors, near humans, for thousands of years. They typically live in groups called colonies and have strong social bonds with their colony members.

Trap-Neuter-Return is an effective and humane way to stabilize feral cat populations. Cats are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinarian, where they are neutered and rabies-vaccinated. Kittens and socialized cats are placed into loving homes. Healthy, adult feral cats, cats that are wary of human contact, are return-
ed to their colony site, where volunteer colony keepers provide them with ongoing care and shelter. Trap-Neuter-Return works. No more kittens. The cats’ lives and health are improved, and the population stabilizes and declines over time. The behaviors and stresses, associated with mating, spraying, yowling and fighting, stop.

Harrison is partnering with The New Rochelle Humane Society to conduct Trap-Neuter-Return for local feral cats.  If you have questions about this program or want to help get feral cats in your neighborhood TNR’d, please contact Town Clerk Jackie Greer at 670-3030.

The next “Lunch with the Mayor” is on Friday, Dec. 5.
I will be at Cobble Stone located at 620 Anderson Hill Road in Purchase. I will be at this location from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and look forward to meeting with residents and talking about issues facing our community.

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Column: Tragedy, veterans and tree lighting

belmontI begin this column with great sadness concerning the untimely passing of Harrison High School student Andrew Gurgitano. Andrew was cherished by many, and I hope that those who knew and loved him can draw strength from the sense of community we have in Harrison. Because Andrew was such a good person, this tragedy represents a loss not just for his family, friends and teammates, but for the entire school system and the Town/Village of Harrison. We must try to find solace in celebrating Andrews’s short but meaningful life and in remembering better times.

Last week, I had the honor of walking with Harrison veterans at our annual Veterans Day Parade. Our military members, both past and present, deserve recognition for their courage and commitment to our nation’s safety and security. They have selflessly dedicated their lives to serving our country and defending the freedom and values we cherish. The parade and ceremony was a wonderful way to show appreciation to our veterans, and their families, and it was a privilege to be included.

I would like to take this time to recognize the Interfaith Congregational Laymen’s Committee, ICLC, of Harrison. Each year, the ICLC hosts a community Thanksgiving service consisting of readings, student compositions, music, singing and benedictions. Non-perishable food offerings are collected for the Harrison Food Pantry. It’s a wonderful annual event, held at St. Anthony of Padua Church in West Harrison, and I look forward to attending each holiday season. In addition to the host church, participating Harrison congregations are All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Congregation Emanu-el of Westchester, Greek Orthodox Church of Our Savior, Jewish Community Center of Harrison, Memorial Community Church, Purchase Friends and St. Gregory the Great. The ICLC is an interfaith fellowship of lay representatives of these congregations.  For more information on ICLC, call Lola Geiger at 939-7066.

Although Thanksgiving is still a week away, it’s never too early to mark your calendar for the annual West Harrison Christmas Tree Lighting and Holiday Celebration. This year, the celebration will take place on Friday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. with a rain date of Sunday, Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. Refreshments will be served following the festivities, at the West Harrison Senior Center. There will be singing and entertainment so I hope to see lots of friends and familiar faces at this
great event.

If you visit Town Hall, you may notice orange mesh barricades in front of the playground at Ma Riis Park. As reported in one of my previous columns, perimeter fencing is being installed to add an appealing aesthetic as well as to protect children who use the park. The color of the brick will compliment the façade of the library and the Town Hall building and should require very little maintenance. I look forward to seeing the finished product as we strive to improve our municipal campus.

In closing, I would like to congratulate Morgan Stanley’s Purchase facility for its recent installation of energy fuel cells. I recently attended the ribbon cutting ceremony and celebrated the installation of fuel cells that will supply power to the building. This is the latest in a series of initiatives to improve the facility’s energy efficiency and resiliency. The fuel cells will supply approximately 250 kilowatts of environmentally sustainable constant baseload power to the building, as well as grid-independent electricity to power the building during grid outages.

The next “Lunch with the Mayor” is on Friday, Dec. 5. I will be at Cobble Stone located at 620 Anderson Hill Road in Purchase. I will be at this location from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and look forward to meeting with residents and talking about issues facing our community.

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Harrison hit with a loss

I open this column with a heavy heart. Earlier this month, Joseph Lopez, a student at Harrison High School, lost his mother in a horrific car accident. His father was seriously injured and his mother was killed by a drunk driver.  On Friday, Nov. 14, there will be a memorial/charity soccer game held at Harrison High School from 3:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The school will be collecting a $5 admission fee as well as collecting donations. All money raised will go directly to the Lopez family to help with medical bills and funeral costs. I encourage our entire community to support this very important cause.

Four years ago, the Holiday Project was created in an effort to spread holiday cheer to families in need right here in Harrison. Those in need comprise over 360 individuals, ranging in age from infant to the elderly.

Through the generosity of local merchants, and with monies collected, each sponsored family receives a “Holiday in a Basket” that includes a grocery gift card, clothing, a toy for each child, a small gift for the parents and a pizza gift certificate. A small portion of the monies collected will go towards stocking the Harrison Food Pantry shelves for the holiday season.

If you are interested in sponsoring one or more families, please send a check, payable to “The Town of Harrison Holiday Project,” for $150 per family, to: The Town of Harrison Holiday Project, c/o Christina DiRusso, 15 Magnolia Drive, Purchase, N.Y. 10577. This is the perfect time of year to help our neighbors feel the joy of this year’s holiday season. If you would like to get involved in this year’s efforts, please contact Tabitha Marraccini at 393-9647.

It has come to my attention that feral cats are living in certain areas of our community. Generally, they are not a threat to humans or domesticated pets and often find shelter in wooded areas. Residents are advised to refrain from leaving food out for these cats, as their group will multiply causing a nuisance in the affected neighborhoods.

The West Harrison Fire Department inspection and dinner was held last weekend and I am happy to report that the department’s equipment is in excellent condition. The department should be praised for its dedication to excellence. The dinner, following the inspection, was fantastic and I would like to congratulate the entire department for its accomplishments. In addition, I would like to recognize Peter Girillo, Jr., Anthony Girillo, Alfred Riguzzi and Nick Renn for their 50 years of service to the department and Michael Marinelli for his 20 years of service. It was a memorable evening and an honor to be included.

On Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, 7:30 p.m. at the Purchase Community House, The Harrison Youth Council is sponsoring a workshop entitled “Parenting To A Less Stressful Home.” Stress can be a reason why children and adults turn to drugs, alcohol, gambling and other risky behaviors. This workshop, for parents of children and adolescents, will examine the reasons for the stress that children and parents experience, due to the pressure to succeed—in academics, sports, and work—and will explore strategies to reduce that stress.

This workshop, made possible in part by a grant from the Rye Presbyterian Church Women’s Association, is free to all Harrison residents and anyone interested from surrounding communities. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, contact the Harrison Youth Council at 835-7500
info@harrisonyouth.org or the Purchase Community House at 949-2638.

The next “Lunch with the Mayor” is on Friday, Nov. 14. I will be at Aria Asia Fusion located in the Claremont Shopping Center, 385 Halstead Ave., in downtown Harrison. I will be at this location from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and look forward to meeting with residents and talking about issues facing our community.