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October 13, 2019


New Castle

People before Politics

In this edition:
> Destination Downtown
> Sustainability Video
Destination Downtown
Often some of the strongest memories people have are of their hometown; and the “Downtowns” are the center of the action, a place where friends gather to enjoy life, watch their children play, host bake sales and festivals, enjoy dining out and shopping. That is community. We are energized and excited to help strengthen the bond between residents and our commercial districts; help businesses succeed now (in the 4th quarter of 2019); and do what it takes to build vibrant hamlets and commercial districts for you to enjoy in the years to come.


Vibrant Hamlets (and commercial districts) are a key component to a Vibrant Community for at least the following four reasons:

(1) Impact on Resident Lifestyle: New Castle’s commercial districts are part of the experience and vibe of living in Town, and a chance for the community to come together. Our downtowns and their businesses are a vital community asset.

(2) Impact on Finances and Town-Wide Services: Our commercial districts help broaden our tax base so that, for example, more roads get paved without further burdening residential taxpayers. Many residents never go to our hamlets based on where in Town they live, but they should still benefit from vibrant hamlets.

(3) Impact on Town-wide Property Values: Downtown is the very first thing anyone looking to buy a house in Town experiences- is this the Town you have always dreamed of calling home? We did our research and we spoke to local Realtors. The feedback is consistent: buyers are making decisions based on downtown amenities when they compare, for example, New Castle to Armonk.

(4) Providing New Business and Employment Opportunities: Commercial districts provide an opportunity for local small-business owners to be founded and for part- and full-time employment for our family members. We would like our downtowns to encourage new business ideas from residents or pop-up stores as a way to keep our downtown stores fully occupied and bring foot traffic to our downtown.


Our Destination Downtown campaign incorporates several elements to make our hamlets and commercial districts work for our Town – access, zoning, promotion, special events, and an optimized business and recreational composition. On the heals of the Downtown Infrastructure project we are incredibly optimistic that our Hamlets and commercial districts can each succeed.

Below are some key points, see our full article on Destination Downtown by clicking here

A. Chappaqua Hamlet in the 4th Qtr

If elected we would not take office until 2020, but there is an urgent need to help merchants and business owners in the Chappaqua hamlet recover from the downtown construction. Our downtown businesses cannot wait until 2020. We support them. We will continue to meet with numerous stakeholders—merchants, landlords, town employees and residents—to help with a plan that is actionable in the short-term and timely (the upcoming holiday period can represent about 30% of annual revenues).

We urge the current Town Board to consider action that will help increase foot traffic and revenues for our local businesses. These steps take time and planning but do not carry a significant cost. Seemingly simple details can make a big difference. Convenient, hassle-free and safe access, and promotion, are key components.

B. Town Board to form and chair a Downtown Alliance

Team New Castle believes open and routine communication between stakeholders and a Town Board member is essential to growing the Chappaqua and Millwood business districts, the upper King Street area, and the commercial area at Chappaqua Crossing. Lauren’s retail background, as well as her relationships with the merchant community and former role as Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce, would make her an ideal Town Board chair; a new Town Board would be lucky to have someone of her caliber in that role. We believe the Alliance of stakeholders is a much more powerful (and cheaper) method of building downtown than creating a government Office of Economic Development or Economic Development position as has been proposed by our opponents. It is about how the business community works and how to exercise meaningful leadership within it.

The Downtown Alliance would include merchants, business owners, real estate agents, and landlords. They could meet or communicate routinely to address any town issues (parking, traffic, signage, etc.) and to coordinate special events. Their primary role would be to take the steps necessary to grow our hamlets and their businesses to become stronger assets for our Town and our residents, including new business recruitment.

C. Preserving and Maintaining Our Investment with a Hamlets Foreman

The $14M downtown infrastructure and streetscape renovation was a significant investment for the Town and it necessitates enhanced maintenance guidelines and increased standards to preserve it. These increased standards should apply to the Millwood hamlet as well. This effort requires dedicated resources, a hamlets foreman.

D. Downtown Fund, Events, and Support for The Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce

We do not believe fees, fines and grant programs will help attract new businesses or make our existing businesses flourish. Façade improvements and new awnings, as our opponents have proposed funding with Town budget, are nice, but in our experience those things do not generate significant enough increases in foot traffic to make a business or downtown succeed. And merchants we have spoken with in our Town and in successful downtowns elsewhere, similarly agree. There are ways, however, for the Town to help bring foot traffic into downtown. Case in point was the amazingly successful Chappaqua Book Festival on October 5th—it brought visitors from neighboring Towns and NYC to our downtown. These type of special events bring real foot traffic and we believe inspire visitors to come back or even move to our Town. Supporting and helping facilitate these events is important.

We support allocating an incremental annual budget of $25,000 that is focused on bringing additional cultural and recreational events into both hamlets, as well as communicating and marketing those events. Like the Beautification Board, it is critical to establish a Downtown Fund to help drive traffic into our Hamlets. This may include helping get a new event off the ground—like a chili-cookoff street party on Lower King street on an otherwise quiet Sunday. Or a car show in the train parking lot. Or it could include supporting existing events through additional marketing support beyond our Town or mailers offering a Shop Local discount pass.

E. Enhancing Community Assets

We believe our community buildings and recreational spaces are a key element of our Town as well as our commercial districts because of the foot traffic they bring. We support new recreational opportunities, including the ChapLine path from Downtown Chappaqua to Chappaqua Crossing and other multi-purpose trails in Millwood. We need to see other projects to full completion as well, such as the lighted basketball/pickleball court that has been 20+ years in the making. We also support much needed attention to our existing assets, such as the Millwood Park tennis courts and the Community Center.

Conclusion – Future Focus

The above strategy aside, the next Town Board will also be required to foster and execute on the vision for the future of our hamlets. What will Chappaqua and Millwood look like in 20 years? What will it look like when our children decide to move back here? Or will it be a place they want to move back to? The Town Board will soon decide on zoning changes that will drive what can and cannot be built in the Chappaqua hamlet. We take these decisions seriously. It will be the most important decision a new Town Board will make. We want what is ahead to be practical and workable given everything New Castle is. And we will ensure that the process is inclusive and transparent so that it reflects what you want from your Town.
Jim Smith talks about The New Castle Environment
Donate to Team New Castle (click here) Thank you!
League of Women Voters Election 2019 Announcement and Candidates Night 10/23. 
Are 4 out of 5 Town Board Seats at Stake?
Yes.  There are 5 seats on the Town Board. Only 3 seats are on the ballot November 5th. But a scenario exists where a 4th person, an unelected person not currently on the ballot, could join the board.

Scenario 1: If Jim Smith is elected, Ivy will remain on the Board. Voters will have decided on 1 elected Supervisor and 2 elected Town Councilperson seats.

Scenario 2: If Ivy Pool is elected, a newly elected board will appoint a replacement to fill her vacancy. The voters will not have an opportunity to decide on this board member.  

The bottom line is that voters will decide on 3 seats, but 4 out of 5 board seats are at stake in this election.

Many of you have asked how you can help our campaign given your busy schedule.

We won't ask you to go door-to-door with us (although it is our favorite part of the campaign). There are many other ways to help. 

Email us to host a lawn sign or just tell your friends about us or have us over for coffee with your neighbors. 

You can also donate to our campaign by clicking here

Missed our last newsletter? (click here)
Election Day is Tuesday, November 5th
(click below for candidate biographies)

Jim Smith for Town Supervisor
Lauren Levin for Town Councilman
Sean Maraynes for Town Councilman
Click for Team New Castle Airport Briefing
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