Pelham Board of Trustees votes 7-0 to create village arts council

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The Village of Pelham Board of Trustees voted 7-0 Tuesday to create the Village of Pelham Council on the Arts following a public hearing.

In introducing the legislation, Trustee Mike Carpenter said the local law was “drafted with three goals in mind. Establish an arts council with statutory authority over the design and placement of all works of art to be acquired by the village, placed on land owned or leased by the village, placed anywhere in the public right of way, or otherwise utilizing public resources, including communication platforms and the village’s government access television channel. Allow the council to establish its own guidelines and procedures for the consideration of temporary and permanent artwork. Empower the council to alter its guidelines and procedures to correspond to the norms of the village in the future.”

Prior to this, the village did not have regulations on the placement of art on village property. The idea for the council developed after the producers of “Pelham Laundry,” an art installation highlighting acts of racism in the village, asked that the work be placed on village land and were turned down because Pelham lacked any guidelines.

During the public hearing, Pelham Art Center Chairwoman Lisa Koonce said the center “stands ready to assist the council with a broad network of artists’ facilities and professional expertise in an engaged non-profit institution.”

Mullen said it was important to have “a council that represents the diversity of the community” and that “members don’t share the same view about the world, diversifying the council.” The council would need expertise in grant writing, curating public art exhibits and filmmaking and broadcasting, he said.

“We know we need this arts council to have the opportunity to proactively attract exhibits in our local spaces,” said Mullen. 

Residents interested in joining the council can apply on the village website.

Regarding Halloween festivities in the village, Mullen said Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not issued any executive orders, however the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has specific guidance on their website. The mayor said he did not recommend trick or treating, and instead noted alternative town events, including the recreation department’s Halloween House Decorating Contest and a Pelham Pumpkin Parade hosted by the Scouts on Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Woodland Park. Masks are required, and costumes encouraged. 

The board of trustees also discussed whether a third plot, Young Avenue Field, be labeled parkland and added to the Highbrook Highline. Pelham Preservation unanimously voted to support the move, as did the Junior League of Pelham. Officials said the addition of the third piece of land would help in applying for grants.

“I think it is parkland, it should be parkland, and that’s the future of that space,” Mullen said.

The board needs to confirm that the plot lines are clear before designating the space parkland. The possibility of sinkholes and other unsafe conditions were brought up and these issues wouldn’t allow for an immediate decision that Young Avenue Field become part of the highline.

Friends of Highbrook Highline said the three plots that together potentially would make up the highline would account for 22% of Pelham’s open space. The land will be discussed at the next village board meeting.

Resolutions on on-street parking meter zones, payment of an invoice for Sam Schwartz Engineering’s consulting services and the renewal of an agreement between the County of Westchester and the Village of Pelham for the removal of snow and ice on county roads in the village were all approved.

Concerning Covid-19, five active cases were reported as of Oct. 27, after a positive test on someone associated with Colonial School. “The virus is still out there, and as a nation we are headed for a tough stretch,” Mullen said. “Please continue to social distance and wear masks in public.”

The board members present practiced social distancing and sanitation procedures throughout the duration of the meeting, and only essential members were present.