Two New Police Officers Hired and the Budget for the Next Fiscal Year Adopted

By Joyce Farrell

At the Village of Pelham Board of Trustees on April 9, Trustee Theresa Mohan reported that Fire Chief Robert Benkwitt, III wanted to remind everyone not to go near live wires when they are down as well as not going past yellow tape when it is up. Not abiding by these safety precautions can cause issues for emergency services. Also, the fire department has a newly obtained Lucas compression device, which allows them to perform CPR automatically. Mohan also mentioned that the Chief attended a chiefs’ meeting with Pelham Manor, Yonkers, Mount Vernon, and New York City fire departments to improve coordination. Finally, Trustee Mohan extended the fire department’s condolences to the Pelham Manor Fire Department on the passing of retired firefighter Paul Sutorius from 9/11-related injuries.

In his report, Mayor Chance Mullen announced that the Village is now connected more directly with the Westchester County Department of Planning. A meeting has been scheduled for May 10 with their whole team to discuss the work the Village is trying to do, work that has also been prioritized by the County. 

Mayor Mullen then praised the Pelham police officers who handled an altercation that occurred between themselves and an individual near Lincoln and Fifth Avenues. The mayor stated that the officers handled the situation calmly and professionally and thanked them for their service. 

During public commentary, a representative from the PTA Council’s Pedestrian Safety Committee addressed the Board about safety concerns in light of an accident the previous week in which a Siwanoy Elementary School first grader was hit by a vehicle. Several requests were made including the additions of speed bumps and Stop signs and the decrease of the speed limit to 25 miles per hour. Trustee Russell Solomon and Administrator Christopher Scelza are working on implementing a 25-mile-per-hour speed limit but are unsure of how long it may take to accomplish it. To do so they need to engage the traffic engineer to conduct a village-wide study. Roads like the intersection at Lincoln Ave and Third Ave would remain at 15 miles per hour because it is a school zone. Trustee Solomon also offered his services in the public safety campaign and is planning on meeting with Police Chief Danny Green and Fire Chief Benkwitt and hopes to partner with the Board of Education for further discussion. 

In response to a resident who voiced her concern and that of her neighbors about the detention pumping system at Julianne’s Playground lowering their property values, Mayor Mullen stated that not doing this project would guarantee that homes will continue to flood. Additionally, Village Trustee Mohan emphasized the importance of keeping communication open throughout this process. Mayor Mullen pointed out, moreover, that in two past work sessions, the Board received the information at the same time as the public, that transparency is important, but the public refraining from spreading misinformation is also important.

In place of Mayor Mullen who cannot attend, the Board approved Trustee Solomon to represent the Village at the annual meeting of the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials (“NYCOM”).

At the Board meeting on April 23, Trustee Solomon reported that he spoke with Chiefs Green and Benkwitt regarding the safety pedestrian concerns expressed at the April 9 Board meeting. The police department is looking at the zoning for school areas and other street laws, the Village is moving forward with a study looking at reducing the speed limits to 25 miles per hour, which will take about three to four weeks, and an educational campaign for pedestrian safety will be developed and implemented in September to coincide with the beginning of the school year.

Administrator Scelza reminded everyone that after April 30, there would be no more spring leaf collection and that the Village would be switching over to organic collection on Wednesdays village-wide until the fall. 

The Junior League of Pelham, which has applied for a $250,000 grant and currently has $100,000 at its disposal, presented its plan for updating and fixing Woodland Park. It includes new structures and swings for a bigger age range, music elements, a slide and climb tower, and a spider net. Additionally, they would also remove invasive plants and then plant native ones inside and outside the playground. They would also install a low-maintenance butterfly garden, which would involve planting perennial native flowers. In addition, they would also do fence maintenance and install mulching and may have an Eagle Scout help with the project.

The Board approved special use permits for outdoor dining for Heart and Soul Hospitality Group, Inc., (The Rail House) and for ESG Restaurant Enterprises, Inc., (Sergio’s Ristorante). 

Two new police officers, Luciano Morello, Jr. of Copiague, and Christian Barreto of Tuckahoe were appointed, effective May 6.

Finally, the Board approved the proposed budget for Fiscal Year June 1, 2024, to May 31, 2025, and scheduled a public hearing for May 14 on a proposed local law to repeal and replace Chapter 5 of the Village’s Code of Ethics.

Visit for more information about the meetings and for links to their agendas, videos, and minutes.