Peekskill Community Congress

Finding shared priorities for community action.

2018-2019 Priorities proposed by Peekskill residents

(in alphabetical order by proposal title)
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A model walkable city. Walkable Cities are the future, and Peekskill walks! Every day students, commuters, shoppers, residents and visitors walk our streets. Peekskill could be a Model Walkable City, yet we are not pedestrian friendly. Walkable Cities don’t just happen, they are DESIGNED. Walkable Cities PRIORITIZE pedestrians. They have safe sidewalks and intersections, good lighting, signage, seating, aesthetic art and landscaping. They promote walking for fitness, community connection and reduced carbon footprint. Let’s create a community-designed Model Walkable City Vision Map for Peekskill – especially encouraging our young, aspiring planners/designers to develop fresh, futuristic ideas. Let’s dream big! Then let’s make it happen. (Greg Gutkes/Margaret Steele)

Basic security for all. Nearly 40% of Peekskill's population is Hispanic or Latino. Yet, many basic city services fail to reflect this diversity and offer appropriate services. For example, many residents need the help of the local police -- even for something as simple as losing a wallet -- they often wait for a long time or revisit the station multiple times until an officer is on duty that understands Spanish. This means that Hispanic/Latino residents aren't given the same basic security that other residents are afforded. The solution is simple and cost-effective: the local police department should have one staff member present 24 hours a day/seven days a week that speaks and understands Spanish fluently. (Rosa Carlos-Caceres)

Cherry Blossom Festival. As many of you may know we had a cherry blossom festival last year. This past fall we planted the last 20 of 100 cherry blossom trees. We will have our 2nd annual cherry blossom festival this year. There will be a plant sale, craft vendors and food trucks. It would be nice to have the community involved in this. Local artists and craftspeople can show their talents and local restaurants can promote their eats. The Peekskill Rotary uses this as a fundraiser to put the money back into the community in the form of scholarships and donations to local charities. (Chappy Manzer)

Code enforcement committee. As our wonderful city emerges from decades of being considered the scourge of the County, we’ve worked hard to help her become The Emerald of the Hudson. A beautiful new Fire House welcomes folks, but we still have commercial and residential properties in the city that are eyesores and definitely not up to code, along with ugly, empty storefronts that detract from the new and exciting downtown vibe. We propose a “Code Squad,” to aid our Code Enforcement staff in identifying violators and proposing solutions and help for owners of those properties to become compliant. (Leslie Masson/John Mucciolo)

Community art space. Peekskill needs a central physical space with enough flexibility where a variety of arts events, classes, exhibitions, performances can come together to serve our own community of working artists. Peekskill prides itself on its arts, and it is one of many reasons people come to our town. The center would be used for: art shows, music performances, theater and dance productions, classes and workshops related to these, both for adults and children. I know we have a new firehouse in Peekskill, and that perhaps that leaves other buildings available. There might be other possibilities, such as factories, warehouses, unused public buildings etc. (Lone Blecher)

Council for the aged. One of the few things that comes without effort is old age. The Peekskill Area Pastors Association would like to become a part of a council that would include seniors, business owners, and other neighbors who would act as advocates for persons aged 65 and above. This council would act to provide information, and support related to issues of safety, medical attention, housing, transportation, referrals, and spirituality. This could easily become a part of another group that is willing to address the interests and concerns of our aging neighbors. (Rev. Stephany Graham)

Crisis intervention team. In 500 square miles Westchester has one mobile Crisis Intervention Team. In the 46 minutes from Harrison to Peekskill, an emotionally disturbed individual will have already been transported to a hospital, not necessarily one that can accommodate their needs, or to jail. Peekskill has the medical and non-medical, spiritual, law enforcement personnel, and local services to assess and direct to the appropriate care. Training is available, in law enforcement, some mandatory. Not every individual who is suffering needs hospitalization, or imprisonment. We need to take care of our own. We can and we should. (Eileen Sullivan)

Early voting site. For the first time starting November 2019 New York will have nine days of early voting before every election. Why does this matter? Well, it eases the pressure on polling sites on election day, also it give New Yorkers more time to vote, and it make access to voting more equitable. The minimum requirement is that there will be one polling site per 50,000 registered, but we believe there should be a polling site in Peekskill. We at the Peekskill NAACP strongly encourage you to come out and vote when polling places and information become available. If you’re not registered, please register so you can participate in the process. (Valerie Eaton)

Fair diversity housing. When you search for a place to live, you tend to have difficulty finding a place. Or when you do find a place, a room could be $600 per month or an apartment could be $1,000 and up. Some don't have a minimum wage that could pay this and their personal need. And, some teens want to move out but can't because they only have a part time job or not a wage that can afford it. This effects everyone, women with children, and teenagers wanting to start living on their own. My proposal is that the City of Peekskill should require builders to build affordable rental housing for all as a part of every or most of their projects. (Christina Diaz/Alliyah Vega)

Give us light. There's not enough street light in urban areas. This is hazardous for the people in the community. To fix this problem people need to meet with the City Council and tell them we as people feel unsafe and are worried we will not make it home walking in the dark. We can all vote or sign a petition as one to gain more lights and safety in our community. We can also make an agreement that we can use energy efficient lights. The cost of new buildings comes with leftover money. That money could go into community lighting and other problems in the city of Peekskill. (Victoria Palmer)

Global girls alliance. In an effort to provide our students with as much support and resources possible, I am proposing that we start a Girls Global Alliance (GGA) Initiative in our district. Very similar to our successful MBK program, GGA will provide our young women with opportunities for sisterhood and fellowship. Our plan is to work with local business and community partners to provide leadership skills, mentoring, self-awareness, community service, STEAM activities, and financial literacy. We are asking local business and women in leadership to volunteer to be speakers or mentors to help us provide our young ladies with experiences that will last a life time. Please contact the Coordinator for Student Support Services with Peekskill City Schools at (914) 737-3300 ext 1560 or if you are interested in donating your time. (Sadika Clarke)

Holiday light extravaganza. Let’s transform Peekskill into one large Magical Holiday display during the month of December. Let’s light our business and residential neighborhoods. Create a magical environment that people from all over will want to come and see Make Peekskill one large holiday light extravaganza. This would also attract positive publicity for our City. This would be simple to do because we would only be responsible for decorating our own home or business. We can kick it off this month-long event at the annual tree lighting. Let’s make Peekskill a visual wonderland in December. (Deb Milone)

Intercultural inclusion committee. The Intercultural Inclusion Committee that would help build a vision for a more united Peekskill that celebrates and represents its diversity. This team would be comprised of people of different ethnic, cultural, socio economic background, policy makers, artists, business owners and youth. They would adopt an intercultural approach that views diversity as an opportunity, minority and migrant groups as a resource, promote power sharing by including people of diverse backgrounds in policy design, and identify ways in which we can celebrate our diversity by engaging in meaningful cross cultural interactions. (Ridvan Foxhall)

Jobs for youth. Peekskill teens want to work. Jobs are all in Cortlandt and are difficult to get to and sometimes only offer a few hours a week. We propose an investment in activities for young people that will also provide us with job opportunities. Also, if there were more stores and businesses here in town, it would be easier for us to work and go to school. We need something like a Boys and Girls Clubs and a YMCA/YWCA to help us be healthier and have more chances to work. To pay for this, any new developer starting a project in Peekskill would have to dedicate some percentage of the cost to providing facilities for youth. (Jakyme Brewington-Smith)

Keep Peekskill informed. Peekskill is missing out. This City has many varied organizations and opportunities for almost every demographic. What it doesn’t have is a consistent, clear process of sharing all that is available and happening. Severe weather informing, maintaining and broadcasting accurate, useful, clear and concise information, and the process by which this occurs needs a better system. I am recommending that the City employ a Public Information/Relations person to communicate with residents regularly, in moments where rapid information is necessary, and tell the story of Peekskill and its successes to the outside world. (Eileen Sullivan)

Non-partisan Peekskill elections. Party lines have done nothing but divided this community and enable a small group of people to decide who runs for local office. Non-partisan elections would bring more people out to run for office and also encourage people to work together on local issues. Nonpartisan elections have existed in New York State since the early twentieth century under New York State’s Home Rule Law, which implicitly authorizes cities to adopt nonpartisan elections by charter amendment. 81 Section 10 of New York State’s Municipal Home Rule Law authorizes cities to adopt local laws related to “the powers, duties, qualifications, number, and mode of selection of its officers.” The purpose of home rule is “to prevent centralization of power in the state, and to continue, preserve, and expand local self-government.” (Brendon Fitzgerald)

One plan: We train. Prioritize one emergency management plan that includes three new critical impacts: 1) the extreme weather conditions of climate change; 2) the new Spectra high-pressure methane gas pipeline; and 3) the decommissioning of Indian Point nuclear power plant. Instead of simply reading different emergency preparedness plans, we develop one plan and we take action on it: we train for it. The City of Peekskill has a solution to develop this plan: update its Peekskill Hazard Mitigation Plan with FEMA support and include the three new critical impacts. (Tina Volz-Bongar)

Open doors for families. As you may know, there have been many fires and families are left without a home due to these incidents in the City of Peekskill. The Red Cross is only able to help these families for 3 days, and after that the families are basically left on the street. My proposal is for the local government and the community to help us by either opening a temporary vacant space where these families can stay or for us as a community to open the door of our homes to allow these families to stay temporarily. (Dinora Pacheco)

Paramount community advisory board. The Paramount Theater is so critical to the health, business and tourism of Peekskill, it deserves our attention and protection.  Sudden shutdowns of this venue cripple community business. A Community Advisory Board consisting of reps from 3 Peekskill entities including: City Hall (owners), the BID (Peekskill Business Improvement District), and an expert in the field of Performing Arts Theaters could help grow this fantastic venue and hopefully divert it from disaster as well. Major decisions for the Paramount could be made with expertise, oversight and input from business owners in collaboration with its own management. (Maureen Winzig)

Peek up the garbage. There's something blowin' in the wind. Garbage. It frustrates us all. Proposed: 1) Educate the community on how to properly bag and place trash for curbside pickup; 2)Push the city to put in more bins in trash-prone spots; 3) Think of a better campaign than "Peekskill is going Green." Put up anti-trash propaganda around town. Merge efforts with #cleanroutine folks; and 4) Most Importantly. Meet-up on a semiannual basis to literally pick up the garbage and meet like-minded neighbors. We could meet on a weekend morning at city hall, split up the streets, divide and collect. (Peirs Droms-Nakano)

Peekskill 2030. Kids in 1st grade this year will graduate from high school in 2030. This year we dealt with flooding, traffic, power outages, watermain breaks, litter, pollution. What will we face in 2030? Making Peekskill more resilient is our priority. We propose a City task force made up of employees, residents, youth, community leaders, business owners, and schools to create a “Roadmap to Resiliency”. It will identify needs city-wide we can tackle to save money, minimize environmental impacts, and prepare for future changes to laws, technology, and weather. Let’s set our City on a path to make it cleaner, healthier, and stronger for today’s 1st graders! (Courtney Williams)

Peekskill comprehensive plan. I would like Peekskill city government to work with the community (including within this process) to develop a city-wide comprehensive plan that considers strategic development, parks, schools, environment, equity, and community, to ensure that, as administrations change we have an agreed framework on which to build our town. (Cara Fraver)

Peekskill music center. We propose creating "The Peekskill Music Center" to serve as a musical hub for musicians of all levels and ages, enabling them to teach, learn, practice, record and perform music in all genres; a community cultural enrichment center where we can cross collaborate with local schools, music professionals, performance spaces, theaters, dance schools and visual arts studios with the goal of establishing a center where present and future generations can create and express themselves through music. Open air summer concerts, a Sunday classical series, a world music program - could easily be produced through the unique artistic synergy of "The Peekskill Music Center." (John Ford)

Peekskill Podium. Let’s keep the Congress in session! Let’s continue, on a monthly basis gathering, sharing, moving our City forward, in communicating and working together. One venue, one morning, one meeting, facilitated, with guidelines, to ask questions, inform, and more. Guest speakers, hot topics, the possibilities are endless. (Eileen Sullivan)

Peekskill skates. Let’s bring ice-skating and hockey back to Peekskill. Lake Mitchell doesn’t freeze for long enough, so we need a more permanent solution. A covered outdoor facility would be a huge asset to our town. With ice-skating and hockey in the winter and event hosting (concerts, art exhibits, weddings, etc.) in summer, the facility would benefit residents, bring in income, and attract outside people to Peekskill. Short-term, we’d get skating and hockey going right away, perhaps by flooding a basketball court or other flat area. We propose forming a committee of residents, city officials, and business leaders to make this happen. (Liz Greene)

Peekskill: City for art. To formalize Peekskill’s role as a city for the arts by creating a mechanism for support from governmental and business entities – perhaps a Mayor’s Council on the Arts. Representatives from the major arts organizations in Peekskill would participate. Goals would include making art accessible (both for spectators and participants) to all residents of Peekskill. This might include mentorship programs, free classes, workshops, programs and exhibits. Additional goals would include making beautification of the city a priority and providing a way for different arts organizations to collaborate. (Robin Kline)

Protect our immigrant community. Law abiding undocumented residents can be supported by a Statement of Best Immigration Practices that protects the safety of all residents, including cooperation from our local police department; and most importantly would make available Municipal ID Cards providing proof of identity for undocumented residents, along with low income elderly and many others with no present access to public buildings, banking services or required documentation of identity/residency. (Jay Forbes)

Redevelopment of lower South Street. Create a unified vision for the enhancement of the existing infrastructure along Lower South Street from Bay St to Welcher Ave that incorporates the growing number of contractor businesses and integrates the development strategy for vacant and underutilized land. There is the need to increase the number of sustainable job-creating businesses and property tax revenues from that area and to improve the streetscapes for the residential areas between Franklin and Louisa Streets. Previous studies and community planning documents exist that can serve as a catalyst for renewed planning efforts with the IDA, the business community, AIM and other local stakeholders. (Mary Foster)

Renters insurance education. Recently, several properties have suffered property devastation due to fires and other disasters. This devastation could be mitigated with insurance. Proof of “renters insurance” should become a requirement for all renters, new ones and those renewing a lease. Simultaneously, educating and informing residents should become a City and community-lead effort just so that renters and landlords understand the importance of it. (Marcela Bobe)

School bus transportation. All Peekskill students should have access to safe school bus transportation. I would like there to be a referendum to formally expand the school bus service to all of Hillcrest, the Middle School and maybe one day the High School. I would like to ask all Peekskill School parents and residents to sign two petitions: one calling on the Board of Education to issue a referendum to release a bid for bus transportation for all Peekskill students and a second to NY State Senator Peter Harckham to call for full funding for Peekskill Schools. (Karla Jones)

Tax incentives=Jobs. This proposal requests that the City of Peekskill adopt a policy that would empower and provide job opportunities for residents of public housing from the tax incentives offered to developers and business investors who launch projects in Peekskill. This policy would delineate a set-aside of job opportunities, a Jobs Reserve program, based on tax incentives given to new developers and businesses. The financial benefits given to developers for job creation for those who need them most will move Peekskill forward for all. (Robin Alpern)

Volunteer Ambulance Corps recruitment. The Peekskill Community Volunteer Ambulance Corps (PCVAC) has been serving the residents of Peekskill for over 50 years.  In 2018, we answered 2,944 emergency medical calls for service. PCVAC needs to continue to recruit volunteers to meet the current and future EMS needs of Peekskill.  As such we have established a goal of increasing our membership by 20% in 2019. As part of our recruitment initiative, we recognized the need to educate the community about our mission.  We are a non-profit and non-governmental agency dedicated to providing 911 emergency medical service to our neighbors. We need your support to recruit new members. (Tim Warn)

Walkability through Peekskill progress. A major reason why Peekskill is special is the presence of a proper, walkable downtown. Peekskill, like any other small city, has not been immune to the last 40 years of suburban sprawl. Our downtown is at risk of disappearing. I'd like city leaders, the BID, and the broader Peekskill community to work with business owners and landlords on keeping the downtown walkable and expanding it to its former borders and glory. We need more retail, bars and restaurants, galleries and unique, local services, not more dollar stores, tax offices, and real estate and insurance brokerages. (Brian Orsi)

World class youth center. I propose that as a community we make youth services, programming and facilities our top priority. We should focus on six categories of programming: Sports & Fitness, Arts & Music, Tutoring & College Prep., Vocational & Entrepreneurship and Community Service. I propose a “Youth Hub” to centralize fundraising efforts through private donations, grants and community donations. “The Hub” will coordinate space and in kind services from The City, School District and Community. “The Hub” will unify enrollment efforts and ensure that ALL school age children can participate in activities. (Keith Berardi)

Youth entrepreneurship initiative. Those who are young now are being propelled into a world of unprecedented challenges. We have fallen short in our duty to prepare and assist them. The young people of Peekskill can create an initiative centered on youth entrepreneurship, and create and manage a viable, self-sustaining enterprise. They will develop skills in leadership, cooperation, teamwork, and community-building. They will be actively supported in learning necessary skills and principles by individuals and organizations in Peekskill who possess the appropriate experience and willingness. The initiative aims to provide proof of concept and a model for communities in Westchester and across the nation. (Paul Stark)