Eagle Scout Ashok Seecharran Receives Proclamation and Police Officer Julio Rivas Is Sworn In

By Joyce Farrell

On January 8, Village of Pelham Manor Mayor Jennifer Monachino Lapey issued a Proclamation to Eagle Scout Ashok Seecharran, during the Board of Trustees meeting, noting that only about five to six percent of scouts, including Ashok’s older brother, achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. For his Eagle Scout Service Project, he provided a community benefit at the Highbrook Highline, a two-acre park and community trail, by creating platform steps made of pressure-treated wood, with gravel poured into each one, and topped with a thin layer of mulch to provide visual appeal, so that those using the park can safely ascend and descend a steep slope. Besides being safe and aesthetically pleasing, his mindful design enables those with strollers and bicycles to use the steps.

It was also announced that a contract for sewer smoke testing was awarded to Fred A. Cook, Jr. Inc. as that company’s bid of $90,480 was markedly lower than the other bids for the contract.

During the public commentary portion of the meeting, a resident who asked about the status of the stormwater grants from July 2023 was told that the grant awards will be announced in January and that Westchester County has allocated funding in its new budget for stormwater issues in Pelham Manor. The funding is from a new program, which involves more regional issues. Village Manager Lindsey Luft asserted that the Village is always looking for funding for these projects, and Trustee Maurice Owen-Michaane spoke about the interim measures and projects that the Village has done to mitigate the stormwater mitigation. The same resident asked about the Save the Sound lawsuit, and Village Attorney Cornachio replied that the Village is in the middle of finalizing a settlement with Save the Sound, which all sides think is fair.

Another resident, commenting on the Board’s December meeting, said that he agreed with the Village that invasive plants do a lot of damage and that using native species is preferable, but he did not agree with the No Mow Zones. He also stated that he was not in favor of changing the venue for Village elections as the cost to run a local election, approximately $6,000, is just a small part of the Village’s $18,000,000 budget. 

At the beginning of the January 22 meeting of the Board of Trustees, Mayor Lapey mentioned several current and former residents who passed away recently and asked that residents take a moment to read their obituaries online. Additionally, Trustee Owen-Michaane spoke about attending the Eagle Court of Honor, the formal scouting ceremony recognizing the achievement of Eagle Scout, the court of honor for Eagle Scout Scott Ashok Seecharran, who received a proclamation from the board at the last meeting, and Trustee Daniel McLaughlin commended the DPW for its work on the roads during recent bad weather.

Police Commissioner Breda Bennett reported that she attended a meeting of the Westchester Municipal Officials Association (WMOA) Meeting in Rye at which Dr. Chethan Sathya, Director of the Center for Gun Violence Prevention at Northwell Health, spoke about gun violence as a public health concern. Northwell Health approaches gun violence, which affects all ages from the young to the elderly, as a public health issue and is seeing a reduction in gun violence.

Police Officer Julio Rivas, who began his career with the City of Mount Vernon Police Department, was sworn in by Mayor Lapey. Police Chief Thomas Atkins then reported about a fraud committed against a resident, who purchased a vehicle for $21,000 from someone on Facebook Marketplace and subsequently discovered that the vehicle was stolen. The perpetrator left on foot, and the case is still under investigation. Chief Atkins suggested that anyone meeting someone to purchase something do so during the day in a public place, such as a police station, in front of security cameras. He also reported that recently someone propped open a store’s door, attempting to steal its ATM, but the ATM was bolted down. He reminded merchants to install their ATMs bolted down, away from doorways, and in front of security cameras. He also reminded all that the police should be the first call if there is an attempted crime. Recently, witnesses in another such case posted a video to social media rather than calling the police, and even the store’s employee was looking for the store’s manager rather than calling the police first. At the close of his report, Chief Atkins stated that unlocked vehicles were recently rummaged through, and reminded residents to lock their vehicle and home doors.

In her report, Village Manager Luft stated that the Village received $93,099.14 from Westchester County, the first of two payments in the fiscal year ending May 31, 2024, for the Village’s share of the County’s semi-annual collected mortgage tax. Mayor Lapey then asked Village Manager Luft to discuss the proposed resolution to amend to the Village Traffic Code to add stop signs, two of which will be on Hunter Avenue at the cross streets of Grant Avenue and Oak Lane, and two of which will be on Monroe Street and Penfield Place where they cross Clay Avenue, which the board then passed.

Lastly, Richard Genovese, Bridie Doino, Rocco Doino, and Sydney Thayer were appointed Election Inspectors for the Village Election, which will be held on March 19, 2024.