Westchester Watch Graphic

White Plains, NY — At their regular Board meeting, the Westchester County Board of Legislators voted unanimously to approve a $1 million bond act for a critically needed mental health clinic in White Plains, and a $1.5 million bond act to revitalize Merestead Park to preserve its historic significance. Additionally, items in the areas of contracts, sustainability, and tax amendments were moved forward, reflecting the Board's proactive stance addressing pressing community issues and enhancing public services.

Board Chair Vedat Gashi (D - New Castle, Ossining, Somers, Yorktown) said, “This year, we are already making great strides, doing the work on behalf of the people of Westchester County. From approving projects for a Mental Health Clinic, addressing the county’s critical mental health needs, to maintaining critical infrastructure and alleviating financial burdens for vulnerable residents, the efforts we made at last night’s Board Meeting continue to contribute to the overall betterment and well-being of the residents of Westchester County.”

Mental Health Clinic

The Board approved a $1,000,000 Bond Act to fund a Mental Health Clinic at 112 East Post Road, White Plains. The clinic aims to increase access to essential mental health services for residents who require immediate assistance, particularly those individuals with complex needs.

Budget & Appropriations Chair Legislator Jewel Williams Johnson (D- Elmsford, Greenburgh, Tarrytown, White Plains) said, “I am super thrilled we passed transformative legislation last night that marks a significant milestone in our commitment to the well-being and prosperity of our community. Our approving funds for the first new mental health clinic in our county since the closing of all of them in 2011, enhances our public health infrastructure and increases mental health resources, which has been one of my goals since I was first elected to the BOL. I am more than grateful for our Commissioner of Community Mental Health, Michael Orth and his staff who are working hard to bring this to fruition. The approved funding to revitalize two parklands adds to our environmental and recreational goals and the streamlining of our emergency contracts process enhances our response capabilities. I am very pleased as we also passed legislation, taking advantage of recent state law, to provide much-needed tax relief to senior citizens. I am hopeful this will ease financial burdens and enable our seniors to enjoy a more secure and comfortable life. Each initiative was unanimously approved and is a step forward in building a more supportive, vibrant, and resilient County for all our residents.”

Human Services Committee Chair Nancy Barr (D - Harrison, Port Chester, Rye Brook) said “Access to quality mental health care continues to be a challenge, especially for those who have complex diagnoses. The bond amendment the Board approved tonight will fund the cost of design, construction management and construction of the County’s new mental health clinic in White Plains. The building, which already houses the Department of Health, is centrally located near other County services, making it ideal for helping clients with the wide array of problems that may contribute to, or be caused by, their illness. This is another great example of the Administrative branch and the Legislative Branch of County Government working together to bring life-saving services to the community.”

Legislator Erika Pierce (D - Bedford, Lewisboro, Mt. Kisco, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Somers) said, “Given the ongoing mental health care crisis in our nation, investing in the mental health of our County residents is critical to us as a Board and I am excited to see this first of hopefully two clinics move forward.”

Infrastructure Upgrades

Merestead Farm House
The Board approved a $1.5 million bond act to revitalize the Farmhouse at Merestead Park in Mount Kisco, a cherished landmark dating back to the 19th century. This initiative involves not just restoration but also additional design and construction services. The Farm House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, holds immense cultural significance, making this a much-anticipated restoration effort. Merestead, a park donated to the County by the Patterson family in 2002, spans 130 acres and includes several historic buildings such as a mansion, farm, and carriage house. Despite its beauty, the park has significant investment needs, complicated by deed restrictions inherited upon donation. Over the past four years, efforts have been underway to alleviate these restrictions, enabling this beloved property to be restored to its former grandeur.

Legislator Erika Pierce said, “This was a long awaited big night for Merestead Park. Not only did we vote to support the settlement of the special proceeding, which concluded with all parties – including the Patterson family – happy with the outcome, but we also voted on the bond to commence work on the historic farmhouse at Merestead. This farmhouse, once restored, will breathe life into this park and symbolize our commitment as a County to the proper stewardship of our history and our County assets. And with the deed restrictions lifted per the settlement, we can plan the future for this beautiful park, and put it to use for the benefit of Westchester residents.

Legislator Catherine F. Parker (D- Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Rye) said, “Larchmont participated in Westchester’s Fields for Kids program almost 20 years ago that saw Larchmont take over maintenance of County roads within the municipality in exchange for Alma Field at Flint Park. Given the need for the County to upgrade drainage for the field we are happy to partner once again to see Alma Field get some much needed amenities.

Flint Park Improvements, Alma Field Turf Replacement and Expansion
The County and the Village of Larchmont have entered a 15-year inter-municipal (IMA) agreement to develop Alma Field, covering 27 acres. The project will make over this versatile sports field to accommodate soccer, lacrosse, Little League baseball, and softball, with planned enhancements including lighting, seating, picnic areas, scoreboards, and drainage systems. The total project cost is $2.2 million, with the County financing $1 million for design, permitting, and construction management in exchange for granting all County residents access to the facilities.


Source Separation
The Board is rolling out new recycling measures to make “going green” easier for businesses. Their proposal adjusts the Westchester County Source Separation Law with simple changes like requiring separate waste and recycling bins in public places and clarifying rules on food composting. By streamlining reporting requirements and aligning with state laws on hazardous materials disposal, the Board aims to make recycling second nature for businesses. These steps reflect the Board's commitment to creating a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable Westchester County for all.

Legislator Pierce said, “This update to our law makes it clear that recycling is the law in Westchester County. Businesses must provide appropriate receptacles for recycling wherever they accept trash so we continue to divert recyclables and reduce waste.”


Emergency Contracts
The Board passed a Local Law to streamline emergency contracting procedures throughout the County by extending emergency contracts beyond the current one-year term. With supply chain challenges persisting since the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to unforeseen project complexities, emergency contracts have faced delays and complications which the Law will help remediate. The law also mandates detailed reporting to ensure transparency and accountability. These changes will enhance the County's ability to respond effectively to urgent situations while maintaining oversight and adherence to legal requirements.

Income Eligibility for The Senior Property Tax Exemptions

The County is amending its local law regarding the Senior Citizen Property Tax Exemptions in response to authorization from the New York State Real Property Tax Law. This adjustment aims to broaden the eligibility criteria by excluding their social security income from the adjusted gross income calculation. This change will give seniors living on fixed incomes increased benefit from tax relief, easing the financial burden for those with limited resources and ensuring they can better afford their homes and age in place.

Minority Whip James Nolan (R- Yonkers, Eastchester, Bronxville) said, “As Chair of the Committee on Veterans, Seniors, and Youth, I am happy that we are supporting our seniors during these tough economic times. Our seniors in Westchester County have dedicated their entire lives to building our community, and they truly deserve financial security. This legislation will assist seniors on fixed incomes so they can more easily afford their day-to-day expenses and live out their golden years with dignity. I am grateful for this initiative and hope it will help many seniors in our community.”

Legislation Chair Colin D. Smith (D- Cortlandt, Peekskill, Yorktown) said, “This legislation aligns with federal guidelines. Now, eligible Westchester residents can claim this benefit, and we have made more seniors eligible for property tax relief.”

Legislator David J. Tubiolo (D- Yonkers, Mount Vernon) said, "As an original co-sponsor of the Senior Citizen Property Tax Exemption, I applaud County Executive Latimer for his initiative and leadership on this issue, and my colleagues for their collaboration. When originally passed, this legislation was intended to expand the scope of eligibility for our senior population who are living on fixed incomes. As legislators, we have a responsibility to do our best to ensure a sustainable quality of life for all populations under our charge, but especially those on fixed incomes who chose to age in place. By eliminating Social Security from the income calculation for eligibility, it is my hope that even more seniors in our County will become eligible for this benefit. Although the property tax levied by the County is only one component of the overall cost of property taxes levied amongst the many municipalities, every little bit helps."

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