North Salem’s getting ready to plug into the future.
In line for a couple of energy grants, it is planning to use the money for several electric vehicle charging stations.
According to Supervisor Warren J. Lucas, the most likely sites are the back parking lot at Croton Falls, behind town offices on Titicus Road and the June Road building that houses its meeting room, court and police department.
Joe Bohrdrum Park on Sunset Drive and Volunteers Park on June Road are also under consideration.
When the new initiative was discussed at the Town Board’s Tuesday, Feb. 9, work session, Deputy Supervisor Peter Kamenstein remarked that electric vehicles are “the wave of the future.”
A dozen-plus EV models are being rolled out this year by auto giants and start-ups alike.
Billions have been invested in the technology, but challenges remain, including convincing gas-guzzlers to make the switch, still shockingly high sticker prices, limited travel range and a lack of public places to charge up.
The good news? At least the town can help with that last one.
The better news? The cost of installing EV stations to North Salem taxpayers will be “minimal,” Lucas said.
Both the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority and the local utility company, New York State Electric & Gas have assured the town that money for the project is waiting “if it wants it,” he said Tuesday.
“This isn’t going to cost us anything; it just so happened the grants were out there,” Lucas added.
If NYSERDA pays $8,000 for each unit and it only costs about $6,500 to buy them, the town could actually wind up “making $1,500” per unit, he explained.
NYSEG is prepared to approve the grant for the electrical installation “as long as it’s within a certain [price] range.”
Lucas is working with an electrical contractor on the design for the units’ installation. Once he has that in hand, he will return to the Town Board.
Security issues are among the things that need to be addressed.
The proposed two-plug EV stations could be expanded to accommodate 20 vehicles, if needed. But Lucas said he would rather hold off on that many plugs because he’s unsure how much use they’ll get in the beginning.
The Town Board was also filled in Tuesday on the progress being made with the Purdys sidewalk project.
Three years ago, North Salem won a $410,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to install pedestrian walkways and new lighting from Titicus River Road to the end of the Exit 7 northbound ramp of Interstate 684.
The money covers about 80 percent of the $512,000 project’s cost; the town is responsible for the rest.
According to Lucas, ELQ Industries Inc. of New Rochelle started installing a drainage pipe and catch basin at the intersection of routes 116 and 22 just west of the traffic light in late October. The improvements aim to ease flooding in the parking area opposite the Swan Delicatessen & Grill during heavy rains.
Work had to be suspended when the weather became too cold for the cement to cure properly, he explained. It will resume as soon as the weather warms and it is expected to be done by early June.
The DOT is set to complete the bridge renovation part of the project this year and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is installing an elevator to facilitate transport from the sidewalk on Route 116 to the station.
The elevator will replace a deteriorating staircase that has been closed since in 2012.
Getting all the moving pieces together for the project has been a long slog, Lucas admitted, adding: “Somehow, after a period or four or five years, we’ve magically aligned and it looks like everything’s going to be done in 2021.”
North Salem’s also moving forward on revamping its policing policies.
Last year, following the unrest surrounding the police slaying of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered elected officials across the state to submit law enforcement reform plans by April 1.
Kamenstein, one of those heading local efforts, said Tuesday that the task force and subcommittees have been working diligently and that a formal document should be finalized this week.
A public hearing will be held in early March on a date to be announced.
“We’re in good shape,” said subcommittee member Councilman Martin Aronchick, adding: “We have some good recommendations that are appropriate for North Salem.”
Things are also apparently going well for the town’s new Climate Smart Communities initiative.
The task force’s leader, Councilwoman Katherine Daniels, said Tuesday that her group has attracted a lot of interest from local environmental advocates on the Conservation Advisory Council. It is in the process of drafting a mission statement, she said, noting that in 2012 the town was part of a general climate action plan put together for Westchester communities.
But, she said, Pound Ridge and other rural areas “had had trouble with that because it wasn’t specific enough.”
If North Salem “does it right,” it could score CSC points and grants.
“It’s probably something we should do anyway, but it will also set us up for getting money to do some of the things we’d like to do,” Daniels explained