LEWISBORO, N.Y. -- If you should happen to notice some pretty blue hyacinths and cheerful daffodils popping up in certain parts of Lewisboro this spring, you can thank your local community group and its volunteers.
The plantings are among the many successes that the new Golden’s Bridge Hamlet Organization is claiming for 2016, board member Mickey DiNicola said Wednesday.
Just a year old, the GBHO says it has remained true to its mission of educating the community, preserving its history and enhancing the hamlet, said Jonathan Monti, its acting chairman.
Among the challenges it faced as a new organization were learning how to engage the “political system,” inspire community members to become part of the process, and accomplish set goals, he said.
It got off to an “ambitious” and “educational” start last January, Monti said, when it hosted an informational meeting about the proposed expansion of the North County Shopping Center on Route 138.
It invited Robert Lauria, the center’s property manager, and Peter Helmes, the project’s chief architect, to talk to community members about expansion plans.
The GBHO also gave them a wish list which included an outdoor spot for folks to “hang out,” a dog park and, possibly, a gazebo that could be used for community events, such as concerts, DiNicola said.
Monti said the GBHO also acted as a “catalyst” for bringing together key players to inform residents about a proposed affordable housing complex on Route 22.
That project is still up in the air, as far as town approvals go, but the forum gave the community the chance to ask questions.
Attending that meeting was John Bainlardi, manager of the proposed development, town Supervisor Peter Parsons and Edward Burroughs, a Lewisboro resident and former town planner who is now Westchester County’s planning commissioner.
The group also met to discuss a senior housing project for the Old Golden's Bridge section that was proposed by Joan Arnold, executive director of Allied Community Enterprises (ACE).
The GBHO has also been tackling the issue of the crumbling light-diffusing structure that separated routes 684 and 22. The green panels that had topped the concrete barriers were intended to keep highway traffic lights from blinding drivers on Route 22.
The Department of Transportation agreed to take them down, but hasn’t put anything back up to yet because the GBHO has been pushing for barriers that will also reduce highway noise, DiNicola said.
The GBHO has been in contact with state Assemblyman David Buchwald, D-White Plains, and state Sen. Terrence Murphy, R-Yorktown, about the barriers and the re-striping of the North Street-Route 138 junction to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists and they have been “responsive,” DiMonti said.
Murphy has also been helping the GBHO with the replacement of the old “Welcome to Golden’s Bridge” sign at the commuter parking lot. The sign has been down for about 10 years, DiNicola said.
The group would also like to get a bronze plaque for the historic, eponymous Golden’s Bridge, aka L-158.
The bridge was originally built to carry New York Central Railroad traffic over the Rondout Creek near Kingston in Ulster County.
It was taken apart and rebuilt over the Muscoot Reservoir in 1904. In 1960, the span was taken out of service and its tracks removed.
The only remaining double-intersection Whipple truss railroad bridge left in New York, it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
DiNicola said the GBHO would like to see it re-opened for pedestrian use.
Monti said the nonprofit’s biggest accomplishment in 2016 was to gather together community volunteers as a positive force.
In October, nearly a dozen such volunteers spent many hours weeding and hacking through brush to clear the first leg of a path that could, he said, potentially connect Old Golden’s Bridge to neighborhoods off Route 138.
The GBHO is thankful, DiNicola and Monti said, for their efforts as well as those of the volunteer who planted the flowers that will brighten up the hamlet this spring.
For more information, or to volunteer, click here or email Monti at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (914) 232-5081.