ARMONK, N.Y. – The North Castle Town Board found itself in an “annoying” discussion Wednesday night when last month’s controversial 3-to-2 vote on a motion to withdraw from the Association of Towns of New York State was brought up at the Town Board meeting.
Heated discussion began after Town Supervisor Howard Arden read a letter from Association of Towns President Tim Whitesell, as requested by Whitesell in the letter.
Whitesell stated “regret” in North Castle’s decision to leave and aimed to clarify that the Association of Towns is not directly, or indirectly, involved in the lawsuit involving North Castle and former North Castle Town Board member and current Association of Towns Executive Director Gerald Geist.
While Arden intended the letter to be the only mention of the subject, Councilman Michael Schiliro voiced his disdain for the decision.
“I’m glad the association sent this letter back to us clarifying exactly that the association of towns has absolutely nothing to do with this litigation in any way,” said Schiliro. “Just to refresh everyone’s memory, the majority of this board — not unanimously — voted to discontinue our membership from the association of towns.”
Schiliro explained Arden’s postponement letter to the association left him “no choice but to send a letter to the association clarifying my opinion.”
Schiliro read his personal letter, which stated, “There are several sections of the letter where Mr. Arden has misrepresented my opinions by his references to opinions of the Town of North Castle and or opinions of the North Castle Town Board.”
Arden responded to Schiliro, telling him the opinion of the Town Board is collaborative, even when decisions are not unanimous.
“You know, I’m really sorry Mike, that you chose to try and drag this out again. It was a decision that was voted on. The board approved the dropping out of the association together,” he said.
“That’s the 'we' in the letter. We’re a group and majority rules. I’m sorry you don’t agree with the majority, and that’s fine. But for you try and drag this along is really counter productive and a waste of time.”
Schiliro said he was sorry Arden felt that way.
Councilman Stephen D’Angelo, who voted against the motion with Schiliro, tried to clarify the confusion.
“I think that the question that’s been asked is when would we consider rejoining the association?” he asked. “And does the result of the lawsuit have a bearing on what that decision is going to be?”
Arden restated his reasoning one more time before moving on to the rest of the meeting’s agenda.
“This is really annoying that I have to explain this to you again, but just so we’re clear," he said.
"I felt — and obviously the majority of the board felt — that they had a violation, a conflict of interest in their charter and their bylaws based on our interpretation. So when that issue is resolved, then we’d be clear to rejoin that association.”